Mercury: by John Looker

This conference – by videophones –
would stop Marco Polo in his tracks,
take the wind out of Columbus’ sails,
and has messed up meal times
in five separate time zones.

Dinner in Shanghai
but breakfast on Wall Street.
Luncheon in London’s City
and in Frankfurt am Main.
Tea in Mumbai.

Listen! … so what do you think?
There it is again:
the delicate sound of a glass
on a glass – a clink,
a disembodied clink!

(first published in The Human Hive, by John Looker,
Bennison Books, 2015)
John Looker’s poetry collection, The Human Hive, was selected by the Poetry Library for the UK’s national collection. His poems have appeared in print and in online journals and will be included in three anthologies for publication in 2017. A selection of John’s poetry can also be found HERE.

RIEN N’EST QU’UN MOT: by Gilles-Marie Chenot

RIEN N’EST QU’UN MOT

Le cœur qui bat
N’a nul besoin de mots
Pour ressentir la clarté de la nuit
Et le chatoiement de l’étoile
Les mots sont des parures volatiles
Que le dénuement enjolive
Mais ne ruisselle dans leur aura
Que le fil de tungstène
Porteur de la volupté
Des caresses intérieures

ET UN MOT N’EST RIEN

NOTHING IS ONLY A WORD

The heart that beats
Has no need of words
To feel the night’s clarity
And the star’s shimmering
Words are volatile adornments
Deprivation embellishes
But in their aura flows nothing
Other than tungsten wire
Carrier of voluptuous
Internal caresses

AND A WORD IS NOTHING

To read more work by Gilles-Marie Chenot (1963-2104), click HERE.
To find other poems by GMC on this blog click HERE.

Angst: by Liliane Richman

………………..Perhaps it was the snow
……………….blanketing all
………………refusing to melt
……………..papering pelting us blind
…………….with its swelling flakes
……………or lassitude
…………..a veil at the front door
………….wrinkled and stained
…………from filtering myriad horror

………..May be midlife crisis unrelenting
……….demanding doomsday income tax accounting
………wrenching flesh spitting

……..Or else a chrysalis
…….harbinger of tender life anew
…..in full evolution

….And what of it
lack of talent? spent imagination?
..should we never more tap words
.on the clavier?

Forget the rot
the self mutilated finger
your amputated leg
Oh! young Rimbaud
How is it you did not mourn the poetry
tracing of the pen writing
revising upon virgin paper?

 

 

To find more poetry by Liliane Richman on this blog, click HERE.

Liliane Richman’s recently published memoir, “The Bones of Time” can be found HERE.

hands suspended: by anonymous 20th century poet

had i the resources
to create today
an image external
of the inside of my brain,
you would see before you
a juggler,
eyes cast down
at objects once suspended
patterned
blink to blink
now rendered chaotic
on static floor.

 

To hear more poems by anonymous 20th century poet, click HERE.
To read more poetry by anonymous 20th century poet, click HERE.

A Brief History of Babel: by Robert Okaji

Borders, windows.
Sound.

Trudging up the steps, I am winded after six flights,
my words smothered in the breathing.

The Gate of God proffers no favors.
When the spirit gives me utterance, what shall I say?

Curiously, no direct link exists between Babel and babble.

A collective aphasia could explain the disruption. One’s
inability to mouth the proper word, another’s
fluency impeded by context.

A stairway terminating in clouds.

Syllable by twisted syllable, dispersed.

Separated in symbols.
And then,
writing.

To see the sunrise from behind a tree, you must face
east: higashi, or, a discrete way of seeing
the structure of language unfold.
Two characters, layered. One
thought. Direction.
Connotation. The sun’s
ascent viewed through branches
as through the frame
of a glassless
window.

Complexity in simplicity.
Or the opposite.

I have no desire to touch heaven, but my tongues reach where they will.

Who can know what we say to God, but God?

And the breeze winding through, carrying fragments.

 

Listen to a reading of the poem by the poet:

You can find more poetry by Robert Okaji on this site or on his blog HERE . A collection of Robert’s poetry is available in his chapbook “If Your Matter Could Reform” which was published as part of the the National Poetry Month series by Dink Press 

Language’s Power: time travel

In my previous post, Language’s Power: across the universe, I mentioned the power of language to create and transmit images across time and space, a pas de deux between writer and reader. How far back can we travel through time? One of the many inspiring things I encountered in 2016 was some poetry that had its beginnings in the 21st century BCE: a new and utterly gripping translation by Andrew George of the Epic of Gilgamesh along with fragments of other Akkadian and Sumerian poems. What a flood of fascinating images! Interestingly, the ones that have stuck with me are the ones that I can’t resolve because they are are so unfamiliar; as when, in the Old Babylonian poem In those days, in those far-off days, the goddess Inanna takes an uprooted willow from the banks of the Euphrates to plant in her garden:

‘I, the woman, did not plant the tree with my hand, I planted it with my foot.
I, Inanna, did not water the tree with my hand, I watered it with my foot.’

I’m fascinated with this image of the goddess of beauty, love, lust, wisdom and war carefully planting and caring for a tree with her foot rather than her hand. Why? Like Andrea Moro’s lizards not stopping to dream from the previous post, this image was so unexpected that I’m still happily turning it over in my mind months after having encountered it.

Another inscrutable image comes from later in this same poem, after Inanna’s willow tree has matured and been converted into lumber for her ‘pure throne’ and ‘pure bed’ and the roots have been made into playthings for the king, Gilgamesh/Bilgames, that then fall into the netherworld. Bilgames’ servant, Enkidu, goes in search of the king’s toys and remains trapped in the land of the dead. His spirit temporarily returns and gives the king an account of how things are organized in the afterlife in a wonderfully rhythmic and repetitive series of questions and answers:

‘Did you see the man with one son?’
‘I saw him.’
‘How does he fare?’
‘For the peg built into his wall he bitterly laments.’
‘Did you see the man with two sons?’
‘I saw him.’
‘How does he fare?’
‘Seated on two bricks he eats a bread-loaf.’

I can get to the second image with ease but the first is like a little rock in my brain’s pockets – I keep foodling with it, trying to make sense of the peg in the wall and the lamenting man. I wonder what connections sparked to life in the neural networks of those young scribes who copied these poems as part of their lessons, being both readers and writers? Certainly the ‘peg built into his wall’ had some specific sense to them so perhaps an Akkadian scribe would just have passed over it, carefully copying out the cuneiform and looking forward to arriving at the fate of the man with seven sons so that he could stop for a barley-beer break before plowing ahead with sad fates of eunuchs and barren women. I, however, remain standing in the bare, unfurnished room with a peg in the wall, staring in fascination at a solitary, weeping man and I’m (forgive the pun) dying to ask him: ‘so, what’s with the peg?’

Even if you have zero interest in ancient poetry from the fertile crescent, it’s still amazing that we have the possibility, through the diligent work of a vast network of people from the poets who composed and recited the original works to the scribes who recorded them more than four millennia ago to ancient kings who valued culture, like Ashurbanipal, to the archeologists who found and preserved them, to scholars like Andrew George who have deciphered and meticulously translated them. Of course, without interested listeners and readers, much of that work would not have been done at all or have been about as useless as ‘a crack in the floor…filled with dust’.
Are you a poet? Make your mark and send in your ‘clay tablet’– short works and epics equally welcome – IPM 2017 is now open for submissions.
Are you a reader who is ready to take part in the creative network, doing the essential task of responding to and playing with the poets’ images? Go to the upper right of this page and you can sign up for an e-mail subscription.

"Tinker" - copyright Matthew Broussard 2016