Cloud Towers

•July 12, 2018 • 1 Comment
Thunder is grumbling down again,
Out of that un-ironed pile of forgotten clouds,
towering over the Alps.
Sweltering, breaking heat
A few 11 o’clock fireworks,
Even here.
.
.
.
.

Communion

•July 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This evening’s fresh clouds burst, Scattering across the asphalt a handful of rain’s unseasonable black confetti.

A jug of wine,

No loaf.

No thou.

I feed among the lilies of this resplendent sky.

 

Mothers and Daughters: Communicating Vessels

•June 25, 2018 • 1 Comment

One year when the awakened plane trees
find themselves struck yellow in the night,
there will be nothing left of me but
a memory in your hands as they pull
wet laundry from the spun drum or
open the window’s case –
inviting October’s last, warm breath
to communicate the dust
between one room
and another.

by Bonnie McClellan

 

This was first posted in May of 2013.

False Nettle

•May 19, 2018 • 1 Comment

I am early / the train is late / the image is ubiquitous as false nettle / poetry is a red cat in a sunny window / lying to get out.

Gare du Montparnasse: Sonnet for Georges Méliès

•May 4, 2018 • 2 Comments

This week’s Google Doodle reminded me that in 2013 I wrote a poem about Georges Méliès, one of the first film-makers, the father of special effects and author of the first political film: L’affair Dreyfus (1899). I had known nothing about Méliès until, in the course of my work as a translator and language coach I was working with Dr. Barbara Grespi, a professor of cinema and visual culture. Now, Barbara is one of those insanely intelligent, sophisticated, and stunningly beautiful Italian women who makes someone like me feel somewhat ‘less than’. So, I was thrilled that she had asked me to work with her on an English language presentation about tarot iconography in the films of Georges Méliès. When she first talked with me about the topic, I said George who? She graciously replied, “He’s famous for the film of the Moon with the rocket in its eye.” Sure enough, I wiki-ed and then Youtube-ed and came up with the familiar images.
In the process of finding out about Méliès I also got a bit of information stuck in my head. Five hundred of his films were confiscated by the French army in WWI in order to recycle the celluloid into heels for soldier’s boots.
When I started writing the poem that had been poking and shifting in the back of my head for over a year. I wrote 10 lines of blank verse and then I sat still and started again. It all came in rhyming couplets (which I rarely use and then never one after the other) and it turned into the first eight lines of this sonnet:

Gare du Montparnasse: Sonnet for Georges Méliès

 

What kind of boot heels do you think they made

Five-hundred films for la deuxième armée?

 

Celluloid soles France’s poor bastard sons

It is difficult to avoid the puns:

 

“Attrition: boot(less) battles lost when won.”

“Headline: (well)heeled dead sink in sanguine mud.”

 

Harder yet, the dramatic phrase hold back:

“Verdun: Europa’s epic fade-to-black.”

 

The cinemagician’s vanished oeuvre leaves

me, stumbling barefoot through 1916.

Fumbling across mounds of nameless bones;

Agape – Agape, from this place no train goes home.

Dancing couplets I misstep and massacre the waltz,

Lost within the sonnet’s frame, I’ve borne their witness false.

 

 

I ended up adding the last 3 couplets because I couldn’t help asking myself: “why are you writing about a toy maker and a special effects man when the ground is full of the blood and bones of the people who died wearing those boots?” Somehow, I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing a Google Doodle about Verdun any time soon.

The Mountains Are on Fire: by Bonnie McClellan

•May 9, 2017 • 1 Comment

The mountains are on fire with clouds,

burning wet they billow up,

choking the spaces between the trees.

 

I hear the ticking of two clocks.

 

Furrowing through the valleys

fat white engulfs the state road,

levelling even the bell tower’s lopsided stones.

 

The crackling ash of rain stops.

Implied subject || sottofondo: by Bonnie McClellan

•March 25, 2017 • 4 Comments

It is the thing that lies under
……..under    lies
below the foundation
……..like a time signature
……..signalling in silence:
there
there
there
there
……..we are.

È la cosa che sta sotto……..
sotto    stante
sotto il fondo.…….
come il tempo quaternario
segnalando in silenzio
ci……..
ci……..
ci……..
ci……..
siamo.

 
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