Monday, 28 February 2011

leo marks

A Code Poem For The French Resistance

The life that I have is all that I have
And the life that I have is yours.
The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have,
Yet death will be but a pause,
For the peace of my years in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

nizar qabbani

Light Is More Important Than The Lantern

Light is more important than the lantern,
The poem more important than the notebook,
And the kiss more important than the lips.
My letters to you
Are greater and more important than both of us.
The are the only documents
Where people will discover
Your beauty
And my madness.

trans by b frangieh and c brown

Friday, 25 February 2011

russian disco-ology

i've posted this elsewhere but it's so good i see no reason not to do so again here. you can get the info re the gig and what not here. and while i would recommend a good sit back and listen to any or all if there's only one (and if you've any feelings for boney m), grab a cup of tea, put your feet up and listen to this

Sunday, 20 February 2011

track cycling - manchester keirin

back in the day t knew very little about competitive cycling so you can imagine the joy that greeted my first sitting down for three weeks for the tour. fair credit to her tho, as she sat down with me and got me to explain just what it was i was looking at. over the ensuing years she (and her mum!) has turned into quite the afficionado, so much so that the previously closed world of track cycling is something she gets quite excited about (and, when it comes to the ticket prices for the olympics, enraged!)

we were thinking about going down to manchester for the world cup this weekend but my shifts didn't coincide so she's been down in london shouting at racists in the street, trying to get along to some demonstration about corvid culling and hanging out in the william morris gallery. probably just as well as, despite all the other racing, the events of the keirin (don't be looking if you're squeamish) were not pretty ( a close up here - now that has just got to smart!). for the full excitement minus the injuries watch this -

the word is that awang is okay but needing a bit of surgery. hopefully he'll be up and about and ready to race again for the next round

naomi shihab nye


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the
Indian in a white poncho lies dead
by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night
with plans and the simple breath
that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness
as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness
that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Lam Thi My Da

Bomb Crater Sky

They say that you, a road builder
Had such love for our country
You rushed out and waved your torch
To call the bombs down on yourself
And save the road for the troops

As my unit passed on that worn road
The bomb crater reminded us of your story
Your grave is radiant with bright-colored stones
Piled high with love for you, a young girl

As I looked in the bomb crater where you died
The rain water became a patch of sky
Our country is kind
Water from the sky washes pain away

Now you lie down deep in the earth
As the sky lay down in that earthen crater
At night your soul sheds light
Like the dazzling stars
Did your soft white skin
Become a bank of white clouds?

By day I pass under a sun-flooded sky
And it is your sky
And that anxious, wakeful disc
Is it the sun, or is it your heart
Lighting my way
As I walk down the long road?

The name of the road is your name
Your death is a young girl's patch of blue sky
My soul is lit by your life

And my friends, who never saw you
Each has a different image of your face

translated by martha collins and thuy dinh

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


i was reading a wee something todays about gill sans and the odd proclivities of eric gill today which got me to thinking about fonts in general, the need to watch helvetica again sometime soon and, via a bit of internet here and thereness to mark simonson's website which, aside from being a fine thing of itself, contains this gem of filmic font errors. lovely!

(*and the flickr link is worth a browse also)

Monday, 14 February 2011

vladimir holan

Mi Lascio

I learnt tonight from a book on astronomy
that certain stars are the oldest
and near to extinction... Grateful for the news
I opened the window
and looked for the youngest star... But I could see
only clouds when someone's mean laugh
(like the wind howling in a crematorium chimney)
drove me to find
a star in interstellar space
as dawn was breaking...

O my love, how shall we love and not despair,
how be desperate and wise at the same time?

trans unknown

Saturday, 12 February 2011

dylan thomas

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heyday of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it, was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

rollapaluza wednesday/thursday

rollapaluza finally comes to scotland. in the winter. when i'm weak! working on wednesday but if i can get my head together i think edinburgh's a definite possibility. see this for the general vibe.

Battle Cranks 2010: The Crankiest Bits from HerrNick on Vimeo.

but this for craig maclean showing absolutely how it's done. frightening leg speed!

charles simic

My Turn To Confess

A dog trying to write a poem on why he barks,
That's me, dear reader!
They were about to kick me out of the library
But I warned them,
My master is invisible and all-powerful.
Still, they kept dragging me out by the tail.

In the park the birds spoke freely of their own vexations.
On a bench, I saw an old woman
Cutting her white curly hair with imaginary scissors
While staring into a small pocket mirror.

I didn't say anything then,
But that night I lay slumped on the floor,
Chewing on a pencil,
Sighing from time to time,
Growling, too, at something out there
I could not bring myself to name.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

mary oliver

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

read this...

hari kunzru interviews michael moorcock in the guardian. i haven't read a moorcock book in years but when i was young i devoured them. it may be that they're not your cup of tea but even so, this article's inspirational!

Friday, 4 February 2011

friedrich holderlin

Die Titanen

Nicht ist es aber
Die Zeit. Noch sind sie
Unangebunden. Göttliches trift untheilnehmende nicht.
Dann mögen sie rechnen
Mit Delphi. Indessen, gieb in Feierstunden
Und daß ich ruhen möge, der Todten
Zu denken. Viele sind gestorben
Feldherrn in alter Zeit
Und schöne Frauen und Dichter
Und in neuer
Der Männer viel
Ich aber bin allein.

und in den Ocean schiffend
Die duftenden Inseln fragen
Wohin sie sind.

Denn manches von ihnen ist
In treuen Schriften überblieben
Und manches in Sagen der Zeit.
Viel offenbaret der Gott.
Denn lang schon wirken
Die Wolken hinab
Und es wurzelt vielesbereitend heilige Wildniß.
Heiß ist der Reichtum. Denn es fehlet
An Gesang, der löset den Geist.
Verzehren würd’ er
Und wäre gegen sich selbst
Denn nimmer duldet
Die Gefangenschaft das himmlische Feuer.

Es erfreuet aber
Das Gastmahl oder wenn am Feste
Das Auge glänzet und von Perlen
Der Jungfrau Hals.
Auch Kriegesspiel

und durch die Gänge
Der Gärten schmettert
Das Gedächtniß der Schlacht und besänftiget
An schlanker Brust
Die tönenden Wehre ruhn
Von Heldenvätern den Kindern.
Mich aber umsummet
Die Bien und wo der Akersmann
Die Furchen machet singen gegen
Dem Lichte die Vögel. Manche helfen
Dem Himmel. Diese siehet
Der Dichter. Gut ist es, an andern sich
Zu halten. Denn keiner trägt das Leben allein.

Wenn aber ist entzündet
Der geschäfftige Tag
Und an der Kette, die
Den Bliz ableitet
Von der Stunde des Aufgangs
Himmlischer Thau glänzt,
Muß unter Sterblichen auch
Das Hohe sich fühlen.
Drum bauen sie Häußer
Und die Werkstatt gehet
Und über Strömen das Schiff.
Und es bieten tauschend die Menschen
Die Händ’ einander, sinnig ist es
Auf Erden und es sind nicht umsonst
Die Augen an den Boden geheftet.

Ihr fühlet aber
Auch andere Art.
Denn unter dem Maaße
Des Rohen brauchet es auch
Damit das Reine sich kenne.
Wenn aber

Und in die Tiefe greifet
Daß es lebendig werde
Der Allerschütterer, meinen die
Es komme der Himmlische
Zu Todten herab und gewaltig dämmerts
Im ungebundenen Abgrund
Im allesmerkenden auf.
Nicht möcht ich aber sagen
Es werden die Himmlischen schwach
Wenn schon es aufgährt.
Wenn aber
und es gehet

An die Scheitel dem Vater, daß

und der Vogel des Himmels ihm
Es anzeigt. Wunderbar
Im Zorne kommet er drauf.

The Titans

Not yet, however,
The time has come. They still are
Untethered. What's divine does not strike the unconcerned.
Then let them reckon
With Delphi. Meanwhile in festive hours,
And so that I may rest, allow me
To think of the dead. In olden days
Died many generals
And lovely women and poets,
In modern times
A host of men.
But I am on my own.

And sailing into the ocean
The fragrant islands ask
where they have gone.

For something of them has been
Preserved in faithful writings
And something in lore of the age.
Much does the God reveal.
For long already the clouds
Have worked upon what's below them,
and holy wilderness, pregnant with much, has grown roots.
Hot is wealth. For we lack
Song that loosens the mind.
It would devour
And would make war on itself
For never the heavenly fire
Will suffer captivity.

Yet men are gladdened by
the banquet, and when in celebration
Our eyes are bright, and with pearls
The virgin's neck.
Martial games no less

and through the walks
Of garden blares
The memory of battle and, soothed
Upon the slender breasts
Of children quiet lie
Loud weapons of their heroic ancestors.
But around me hums
the bee, and where the ploughman draws
His furrows, birds are singing
Against the light. Many give help
To heaven. And them
The poet sees. It is good to rely
Upon others. For no one can bear this life on his own.

But when the busy day
Has been kindled
And on the chain that
Conducts the lightning
From the hour of sunrise
Glistens heavenly dew,
Among mortals also
What is high must feel at home.
That is why they build at houses
And the workshop's astir
And over currents the ship.
And, bartering, men hold out
Their hands to one another; pensive it is
On earth, and not for nothing
Are eyes fixed on the ground.

Yet you also sense
A different kind. For measure demands that
Crudity, coarseness exist, so that
What is pure shall know itself.
But when

And down into the depth
To make it come to life,
Reaches he who shakes all things,
They believe the Heavenly comes
Down to the dead, and mightily
In the unfettered abyss,
The all-perceiving, light breaks.
But I do not wish to say
That the Heavenly are growing weak
Though now it erupts
But when
and it rises

Up to the partings of the Father's hair, so that

and the bird of Heaven
Makes it known to him. Then
Marvelous in anger he comes.

trans michael hamburger

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


titanium from swiss on Vimeo.

so what does the new frame feel like? rather playful but, coupled with the fiddling of fixing my new camera to it, maybe i was a bit distratced when i went to destination x the other day. certainly i wasn;t expecting the back injury i got about fifteen minutes after this. i can road bike now tho so at least i'm on the mend (and it gave me time to experiment with the vimeo thing - apologies for the shoddiness but it's a first go!)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

arab strap

it happens that i'm reading the celestial cafe by stuart murdoch (singer for belle and sebastian), sort of because i've never really got into belle and sebastian but also because it's a wee change on the collections of letters i've been reading of late (but in the same ball park). but while i'm writing this i find myself not wanting to listen to belle and sebastian (who i will, just later) but to falkirk's finest, arab strap, who, to me are a wee bit like belle and sebastian's bad cousin.

i hated arab strap the first i heard them and in particular i hated the song new birds which is the very one i'm listening to now (it's on the philophobia album). of course this was a time when i was into electronic music so i scorned everything that had voices and instruments on it and i had a loathing for al that indie music of the, to me then, twee belle and sebastian ilk. the things you think!

of course now it's all different. listening to arab strap now is to take me back to a certain time, a certain set of feelings that can only be falkirk. i wrote a story once in which i described falkirk as the bad penny of central scotland towns. there's nothing there except industry (and not so much of that now), unemployment and, for those of us unfortunate enough ot have to live there, a need to flee. now it may be that you live in falkirk and like it which is fair enough but, as i described it just recently, i was never unaware when i lived in falkirk that i didn't fit in and even if i doubted it there were plenty of people to remind, a fact that remains unchanged to this day.

so listening to arab strap i remember those visits, later now, where all there seemed to do was to drink in dreadful bars and shout mundane conversations over appalling music to people you weren't really interested in but might be forced into having sex with later. just for something to do. and arab strap capture that in spades - maybe why i disliked them so much at first!

all the more irony then that two of the bands i'd regard as touchstones these days, arab strap being one, are from the falkirk area, the cocteau twins being the other one (and they being from grangemouth, another unspiring town of mudflats and chemical refineries). and yet, unlovely as those images might be to have a wee listening session to either, or both, is to be transported. if i have a soft spot for falkirk, and i do (just), it's somewhere to that music.

of course now that i've got to thinking about music and place (and people) that's got me to thinking about the beta band. but seeing as i'm looking at rain clouds coming that'll need to wait for another time. i'm off out on the bike...

anne sexton

Cigarettes And Whiskey And Wild, Wild Women

Perhaps I was born kneeling,
born coughing on the long winter,
born expecting the kiss of mercy,
born with a passion for quickness
and yet, as things progressed,
I learned early about the stockade
or taken out, the fume of the enema.
By two or three I learned not to kneel,
not to expect, to plant my fires underground
where none but the dolls, perfect and awful,
could be whispered to or laid down to die.

Now that I have written many words,
and let out so many loves, for so many,
and been altogether what I always was -
a woman of excess, of zeal and greed,
I find the effort useless.
Do I not look in the mirror,
these days,
and see a drunken rat avert her eyes?
Do I not feel the hunger so acutely
that I would rather die than look
into its face?
I kneel once more,
in case mercy should come
in the nick of time.