Saturday, 31 March 2012

peak flow victory!

so after all the knee shenanigans i had some annual leave and decided that was the week i'd carve all the inactivity weight off and make or break my knee joint. a couple of easy roll outs and all was fine - legs were good, lungs felt fine. then i had a day making some wooden stuff for a friend of mine. nothing i haven't done before, i was working outside but no, no mask. the following day i was feeling a bit off, went out on the bike anyway and felt reasonably unwell on my return. and that was the cue for two weeks of proper chest infection. after a week i couldn't breath, my peak flow had dropped by a third and i's voluntarily gone to the doctor where it was antibiotics and inhalers. obviously the weather is lovely!

another week passes and finally my lungs feel something like themselves. i'm still coughing but i decide to get the peak flow thing out. victory! back to normal! so the first thing we do is get the canoe out for an afternoon's paddling thru perthshire. naturally i don't look at the guide properly so we go about twice the distance we'd intended but it didn't put us off. the sun shone, the water was lovely, we saw all manner of wildlife including signs of beaver! we were proper done when we got back tho and managed little more than tea then bed. a grand way to spend a day and what better to get back to a bit of recovery.

Friday, 30 March 2012

maria grech ganado

Wave State

For years I’ve stalked you.

Not consistently.

There were times I lost the trail -
or else some other tore my eyes away, because
I’ve always had a curious mind, preferring
to be the seeker than the prey.

It was your spores of light which sometimes played
in thickets or in clearings, on stone, through trees
which still distracted me, slipping from night to night
flitting in space, as if place and momentum
could be measured simultaneously
no matter what Heisenberg had claimed.

And yet, about uncertainty – well, he was right –
for even when I catch you moving, I’m moved too
to find out where I am, or who. My principles
grow watery, unsure. I become prey.

I wish you’d let me stalk you as before, controlling
my own time from spot to spot, stopping
to watch you sport as particle or wave – by turns,
not both at once, at once both wild and tame.

This tension is immense. Immeasurable.

I do not need it fathomed, or explained

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

too much time on your hands...?

top that!

bejan mitur

When the Wheat is Cut

Of your leaving a home at night
Of caressing its pillar
Of your speaking
That night I was turning around you.
The hand that caresses the wheat remembers.
Circling you
A name uttered from a mouth.
Names carry memory.
Childhood is not just about lying side by side
That’s not how it is.
y burden belongs to me
Like the shower of rain now falling
On Istanbul, rain falling on that moment
And your sleeping there.
In a sleep like the world you’re tied to.
You covered me up and departed
To become prey for wolves in the snow
And the night.

A deep blue light
Rain now over the straits.
A poet speaks of hands
Of the poetry your hands knew
Your hand that understood
A pillar
A dark house.
Circling with you is the cosmos
Whispers of being.
When the wheat is cut
What will appear from now on
Is not loneliness
But the daily bread that falls to our lot.

trans by ruth christie and selçuk berilgen

Saturday, 24 March 2012

jit narain

Working all day, dreaming at night

Working all day, dreaming at night –
Aja’s appearance is something like mine.

My ship was not called Lalla Rookh
and my country’s name became Holland, meneer.

I flew KLM, I left Surinam.
When the memory of you arose,
I went in search of history.

The sap of this story is not sacred nectar,
the feeling it gives holds my mind in its grip.

Why he left India, that I can fathom;
that India never left him, is the burden I bear.

trans by paul vincent

Friday, 23 March 2012

the ink spots - apocalypse

i was thru at geo's the other day when young j demanded a bit of ink spots. the ink spots i said? how do you know them? oh, said young j, they're the soundtrack to fallout 3. they're great.

one of the things i like about my more fresh faced acquaintances is not only the breadth of music they listen to but their refusal to be pigeonholed by it, something that definitely didn't happen when me and geo were j's age. so to him an evening of ink spots, death metal, advert jingles, maria callas, ice music (terje isungset) and french pop is all to the good.( i should point out he can't do any balkan music yet but we're working on it.)

fallout 3 is (i think) a game in a post apocalyptic nuclear holocaust world soundtracked in part by music from the 40s and 50s (young j - i love those andrews sisters - who were they?). it was only when young j explained this were his feathers slightly ruffled. you haven't played it, he asked? nah, i said, i don't play games. but why not he asked? i just think they're boring i said. a long discussion ensued....

the ink spots tho.... quality!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

frederick siedel

Evening Man

The man in bed with me this morning is myself, is me,
The sort of same-sex marriage New York State allows.
Both men believe in infidelity.
Both wish they could annul their marriage vows.

This afternoon I will become the Evening Man,
Who does the things most people only dream about.
He swims around his women like a swan, and spreads his fan.
You can’t drink that much port and not have gout.

In point of fact, it is arthritis.
His drinking elbow aches, and he admits to this.
To be a candidate for higher office,
You have to practice drastic openness.

You have to practice looking like thin air
When you become the way you do not want to be,
An ancient head of ungrayed dark brown hair
That looks like dyed fur on a wrinkled monkey.

Of course, the real vacation we will take is where we’re always headed.
Presidents have Air Force One to fly them there.
I run for office just to get my dark brown hair beheaded.
I wake up on a slab, beheaded, in a White House somewhere.

Evening Man sits signing bills in the Oval Office headless—
Every poem I write starts or ends like this.
His hands have been chopped off. He signs bills with the mess.
The country is in good hands. It ends like this.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

czelaw miloscz

An Honest Description of Myself with a Glass of Whiskey at An Airport, Let Us Say, in Minneapolis

My ears catch less and less of conversations, and my eyes have weakened, though they are still insatiable.

I see their legs in miniskirts, slacks, wavy fabrics.

Peep at each one separately, at their buttocks and thighs, lulled by the imaginings of porn.

Old lecher, it’s time for you to the grave, not to the games and amusements of youth.

But I do what I have always done: compose scenes of this earth under orders from the erotic imagination.

It’s not that I desire these creatures precisely; I desire everything, and they are like a sign of ecstatic union.

It’s not my fault that we are made so, half from disinterested contemplation, half from appetite.

If I should accede one day to Heaven, it must be there as it is here, except that I will be rid of my dull senses and my heavy bones.

Changed into pure seeing, I will absorb, as before, the proportions of human bodies, the color of irises, a Paris street in June at dawn, all of it incomprehensible, incomprehensible the multitude of visible things.

trans by robert hass and czeslaw milosz

Thursday, 15 March 2012

wisława szymborska

Cat in an Empty Apartment

Die—you can’t do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here
but nothing is the same.
Nothing’s been moved
but there’s more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

Footsteps on the staircase,
but they’re new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.

Something doesn’t start
at its usual time.
Something doesn’t happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.

Every closet’s been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken:
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.

Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.

trans by stanisław barańczak and clare cavanagh

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


some familiar faces appearing on the adventure show this week. jo cardwell looking unexpectedly burst - i say the as the couple of times i've been cycling with jo it's me who has laid sole claim to the cycling face as she's gaily out-fitted and out-skilled me. but it just goes to show that when it's not your day on strathpuffer day then it's just not your day. typically this year featured soloists and i, for sure, would have been the very one to have exemplified the unlucky ethos.

whether it's been flu, dodgy knees, the ignominy of the disintegrating bum year, or last years freak fall and bruised liver the strathpuffer just isn't a lucky race for me. watching it today i could only wonder had i got in what would've happened this year. then again last year, in fact the last fifteen months have been poor for injuries, so much so my attachment to mountain biking is as low as it's ever been in direct contrast to the road which, esp this week as i'm actually managing to get some miles in, i'm loving more than ever.

but that's the way it is in this cycling lark - you can never account for how the mood takes you and at the end of the day it's (should be) all about the cycling. i may be all jaded with respect to the mtb but watching tonight's article on off road touring and i couldn't help but thinking how soon iy might be before i can give the cairngorms loop a serious go.

however just like i'm an unlucky mountain biker i'm also a dirty mountain biker which is not the case for all of us. tonight's adventure show showed kate of teacake fame, initially foregoing the hospitality of strathpeffer's hotels for a tent (a good choice i think!), then having a moment with a wheel (eerily familiar after the freewheel incident). all of which was not to be unexpected. what was to be expected was the appearance of the riders in a muddy rather than an icy puffer. and the muddiness was evident in all. all except that is our kate, who appeared fresh faced in every camera take. t suggested she may have had a wee hot towel moment prior to passing thru the transition area. perhaps it was a special mudguard. kate, i think we should be told....

Monday, 12 March 2012

zbigniew herbert

Achilles. Penthesilea

When Achilles with his short sword pierced the breast of
and as usual twisted the blade thrice in the wound, he
that the queen of the Amazons was lovely.
He laid her carefully on the sand, took off her heavy helmet,
unclasped her hair,
and gently arranged her hands on her bosom. He lacked,
however, the courage
to shut her eyes.
He gave her one more, last, farewell look, and, as though
suddenly overpowered
by an outer force, cried—the way neither he nor other
heroes of that great war ever cried—in a quiet, mesmeric,
aimless voice, ebbing with grief and with
rue, whose cadence was new to the offspring of Thetis. The
cry’s lengthy vowels, like
leaves, were falling upon the neck, breasts, knees of
wrapping the length of her grown-cold body.
She herself was preparing for Eternal Hunts in the
fathomless forests.
Her still open eyes stared from afar at the victor
with azure, steady hatred.

trans by joseph brodsky

Sunday, 11 March 2012


spent the last two nights looking in vain for any signs of auroral activity courtesy of the sun increasing its activity and throwing coronal mass ejections our way. most likely we'll be out on a bivvy tonight doing more of the same. that said we're aware that what we'll be seeing this far south is not what we'd expect where we used to live. which is why if i can put enough money by we'll be off up the arctic circle this time next year for the predicted solar maximum. why so, you ask? for something like this....
you can see this image and more here
talking of skies all five naked eye planets should still be up in the sky at the same time (tho mercury might be tricky). jupiter and venus have been particularly pretty this last wee while

knee rehab

managed to get my knee up to a whole 25 miles today - the weather being just too nice not to push it just that little bit further. i did realise on the way round tho that far from damaging my bad knee i had in fact just made a mess of the other one so that now i've got two crocked knees!so glaringly obvious it made me wonder about the sort of tricks your head plays on you. iced and rested and no sign of ballooning at the moment. it's a week off for me so all manner of intensive rehab adn abck on the roadness intended otherwise i'll be in a right old mood!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

louis macneice

Prayer before Birth
I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
waves call me to folly and the desert calls
me to doom and the beggar refuses
my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither or hither and thither
like water held in the
hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

kenneth patchen

“As We Are So Wonderfully Done with Each Other”

As we are so wonderfully done with each other
We can walk into our separate sleep
On floors of music where the milkwhite cloak of childhood lies

O my lady, my fairest dear, my sweetest, loveliest one
Your lips have splashed my dull house with the speech of flowers
My hands are hallowed where they touched over your
soft curving.

It is good to be weary from that brilliant work
It is being God to feel your breathing under me

A waterglass on the bureau fills with morning . . .
Don’t let anyone in to wake us.

Monday, 5 March 2012

john keats

Bright Star

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art —
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —
No — yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever — or else swoon to death.

More of the wraiths

more stuff cyclists say

i am astonished by just how many of the things above i have actually said

this next one will see me getting a beating from a certain friend of mine but i can't watch it and not think of her

and what do i say?
does it still look swollen?
do you think the tens machine will really work?
no, i'll be cycling again maybe may, maybe june. okay so maybe i'll need to write off this season but it's not like i won't be cycling again. ever. is it?

Friday, 2 March 2012

maya angelou

Touched by An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.