Monday, 30 January 2012

suheir hammad


it is written
the act of writing is
holy words are
sacred and your breath
brings out the
god in them
i write these words
quickly repeat them
softly to myself
this talisman for you
fold this prayer
around your neck fortify
your back with these
may you walk ever
loved and in love
know the sun
for warmth the moon
for direction
may these words always
remind you your breath
is sacred words
bring out the god
in you

Friday, 27 January 2012

stephen dunn

In Love, His Grammar Grew

In love, his grammar grew
rich with intensifiers, and adverbs fell
madly from the sky like pheasants
for the peasantry, and he, as sated
as they were, lolled under shade trees
until roused by moonlight
and the beautiful fraternal twins
and and but. Oh that was when
he knew he couldn’t resist
a conjunction of any kind.
One said accumulate, the other
was a doubter who loved the wind
and the mind that cleans up after it.
For love
he wanted to break all the rules,
light a candle behind a sentence
named Sheila, always running on
and wishing to be stopped
by the hard button of a period.
Sometimes, in desperation, he’dlook
toward a mannequin or a window dresser
with a penchant for parsing.
But mostly he wanted you, Sheila,
and the adjectives that could precede
and change you: bluesy, fly-by-night,
queen of all that is and might be.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

star wars


Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.

naomi shihab nye

i don't have the text of this which is a shame as it's so full of good lines. more of this at the poetry foundation

maxine kumin

Whereof the Gift Is Small

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

And short the season, first rubythroat
in the fading lilacs, alyssum in bloom,
a honeybee bumbling in the bleeding heart
on my gelding’s grave while beetles swarm
him underground. Wet feet, wet cuffs,
little flecks of buttercup on my sneaker toes,
bluets, violets crowding out the tufts
of rich new grass the horses nose
and nibble like sleepwalkers held fast -
brittle beauty - might this be the last?

Monday, 23 January 2012


for a variety of reasons butterflies are exercising my mind at the moment. and then, as if by magic, i see that i've has schumann's papillons sitting on my piano for months! t thought she heard me playing it but it was this. i wish!!

frightening accuracy

i do not, and never have used the term 'stoked'. or 'rad'. or 'phat' or 'epic'. nor do i own a 29er...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

the luck thing

sometimes you just have to feel the inevitability of things, or perhaps that they are just against you. certainly the signs were there....

i was out last week on my regular hard tail summerish bike, forgetting that if i don't absolutely clean the drive to clean room standards that at the merest whiff of mud i'll be getting chainsuck of epic proportions. and unfixable too i'm told (tho only after replacing all of the aforesaid drive)

midweek, i got away up glen almond on the rohloff bike. true, i chosen a wending easy route to see if the 'fixes' to it were working. sadly no. taking some advice on it, it appears that my lbs haven't takne chain line into account at other than the most guesstological level. if i wanted that level of work done on my bike i'm thinking it would be me doing it...

so yesterday i decide to dig out the winter bike. true, last time i was out on it i got a bruised liver but that was something i wasn't thinking about. there's really no such thing as a jinx bike, honest. the drive looked pristine and, aside from a few not being used brake issues, it seemed fine. at least it was until we were butting along, i decide to change gear and, for some reason best known to itself, the chain pops off the outside of the big ring, wraps round the cranks and i'm in an instant faceplant.

the second i hit the ground (on my bad knee of course) i knew all was not well. i think the urge to throw up was a clue plus the look on super g's face when i wasn't jumping up again. even lying on the ground i could feel fluid hosing into the joint. super g raced off for the van and i hirpled back. even one legged pedalling wasn't working but that was nothing coma red to trying to get the clutch working in the van.

t, who is no fan of injury, took one look at my pineapple knee and shouted 'put it away, put it away'. which i took to me a couple of ice packs and let's go out in the car to take my mind off it. doubly foolish. by the time we got back the joint wouldn't straighten or bend. more ice packs.

today it's slightly better but i can't paint because i can't kneel which is going to be causing me significant problems real soon. at least it's bending tho and i can weight bear more effectively. will it need aspirated? time will tell. one thing's for sure - i'll not be back on the bike for a couple of weeks. on top of all last year's injuries i'm feeling just a tad deflated.

on the upside now i have to write because i can't do anything else! hurrah!

carl rakosi

Fluteplayers from Finmarken

How keen the nights were,
Not a star out,
not a beat of emotion
in the humming snowhull.
(Now and then an awful swandive).

It seemed ordained then that
my feet slip on the seal bones
and my head come down suddenly
over a simple rock-cistvaen,
grief-stricken and archwise.
Thereon were stamped
the figures of the noble women
I had followed with my closed
out to the central blubber
of the waters.

(There is not a pigeon
or a bee in sight.
My eyes are shut now,
and my pulse dead as a rock).

The Swedish mate says he recalls
this fungoid program of the mind
and matter,
where the abstract signals to the
and the mind directs the final
white lens
on the spewing of the waterworm
and the wings of the midsea.

It was not clear what I was after
in this stunted flora
and husky worldcold
until the other flutes arrived:
four masters musing
from one polar qualm to another.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

colm breathnach

Good Night, Ya Bastard

(to my father)

In Ballyferriter on holidays
we stayed above Seáinín na mBánach’s shop
and some nights
a crowd of locals
and summer visitors
would return after closing time
in Daniel Keane’s pub.

We, the children, lying in suspense
feigning sleep in our beds
waiting for the soft murmur ofthe company
making its way up the stairs.

Things would start with a bit of a chat,
stories being told, fun beingpoked,
you acting as shy host
’til the Beamish gave you voice
and you called for a song.

Everyone joining in the chorus,
the hiss as another bottle is opened.

And when the revelling was over
we’d hear the people going,
down on the road in the early morning
someone shouts, “Good night, ya bastard.”
in the full of his voice on the village street.

My sorest wish
to have grown up in time,
before you died,
so I could come
to a night you organised
over Seáinín’s shop
in Ballyferriter.

And when the night was over
and the company were going
I would head for my own lodgings too
in Baile Eaglaise or the Gorta Dubha.
Before I left I would turn to you
and say “Good night, ya bastard,”
fondly, tipsily.

Monday, 16 January 2012

jenny lewis


My face
is changing again

I caught it in a different light

the flaky grey
of ocean-going

my face has turned
to someone else's

inside the inside
of the ocean, fish are hanging

they sway, silent
not even a rattle of bones

and the dead stir in us too,
coming as they do from the weight
of darkness

they want our breath

want to tunnel out of us,
force apart our gullets,
appear stark-white

and raving at daylight

one more moment
they plead
just one more.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

speaking the language

having spent a large part of the day dodging work and getting myself involved in a debate regarding diane abbot's perceived racism (the long story short version - yes she is, all the way back to the finnish nurses thing which i wrote to her about at the time. i've no wish to reiterate any of this but i can forward you onto where i have been on about it should you wish) rather than writing the poetry which is so desperate to get out of my notebooks i find myself mulling over the linguistic interactions that have coloured and informed my work life, just the sort of thing that wouldn't have happened had ms abbot had her way.

for a good part of last year i was working with a finnish-swedish girl (who trained in newcastle - it was a strange, strange accent). when i was attempting finnish it was, she said, obvious 'to anyone who had ears' that i had some sort of swedish thing going on as i was unable to pronounce any of the finnish words without that hurdy hurdy hurdy cadence going on, a description that both hurt and pleased me at the same time.

i looked after a poor wee french woman for a while and tho it's true my french these days is execrable at least she understood me and i, for the most part, her (i have a colleague who is half french for back up for the difficult bits!). this was grand but my moment of the year was going into another poor wee woman who while she did speak english had, in her illness, reverted back to her native italian. now my italian doesn't extend much beyond - hello, how are you. my name is mr swiss and i need a blood sample - but i had that magic moment when her eyes opened and i knew the language had gone in. the nurses were loving it also. ask me i need a blood sample they say. all of the shift. ho ho, how we laughed...

i'm liking the german these days and really must make more of an effort seeing as how there are actually quite a number of germans round these parts i could actually practice with. i had a beautiful afternoon at the end of autumn where i spent a bit of time with friend chrissie and her her dad just listening. i get the odd word but the grammar and such like to hook it all up just isn't there. this almost inevitably leads to that moment when the german speaker will ask me why it is i know these fragments from the tongue of goethe and schiller and, esp if they're from the east, there's that impossibly weary sigh as i admit i know most of my german form listening to rammstein

this week, in a set of circumstances that would've made diane abbot's blood run cold, i was working with a girl fresh of the plane from romania, never been in the uk, never spoken to a scottish person before. i did try to check google translate to check if i could remember any romanian greetings but for some reason it doesn't work at work. nevertheless my mangled romanian was understood and off we went, me with a new friend for the night. it's amazing just how quickly you can break the ice if you can just say your name and hello in the other person's language, something i've tried and broadly failed to get others to do in hospital for years but has seen me getting stuck into everything from cantonese to farsi.

my favourite last year was after getting my haircut (and the big fiery cotton bud in the ear) by a man whose accent i couldn't place, who turned out to be turkish, turkish hairdressers being the latest immigrants around these parts. i was straight round to waterstones and back again - er, i said, tessukur edirim? my first ever turkish!

speaking languages badly is great fun. true, there can sometimes be misunderstandings but the one thing it's necessity to do is listen. and then having listened shape someone else's words in your mouth. it's an adventure!

as an aside, one of my friends is a fluent russian speaker and fan of putin - we exchange many things russian. my favourite advert this year is this one. burger king in moscow - who knew?