Archive for January, 2009

A trickle of water
from lofty reef knoll, hastens
through craggy gorges, spills
into weirs.

On a jagged edge  –
dangling his feet in a rock pool,
smooth young legs
in stillness as though
sculptured in marble
– sits a David

his mind in slow motion.

The prompt over at one single impression this week  is ‘slowly’.

(Warning: the remainder of this post contains nudity)


Image of Michelangelo’s David, Florence, Italy.

downloaded by mbell1975 at flickr.


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Swamped, originally uploaded at Flickr by Nicholas_T.

This week’s challenge at Read Write Poem is to write a sestina. I have to confess that the sestina is my least favourite poetic form. However, I’m a masochist so I’ve written one with the following constraints: I’ve taken six nouns, randomly chosen as suggested by Tom and I’ve attempted to write something intelligible. The reason I don’t like sestinas is that most of them, and I don’t include Elizabeth Bishop’s  called Sestina strike me as artifice and nothing more; form without content. My poem may, of course, lack artifice.

Beyond the Swamp

A writer in an obscure genre,
and a girl looking for romance
are sent to a house beyond the swamp,
never before reached by any mortal.
The journey will test their tolerance
and ability to survive shipwreck.

“These seas have seen many a shipwreck,”
warns the captain, “but not of a genre
you know. You must show tolerance,
not dismiss my words as romance,
then you will do something no mortal
has done. You’ll  reach the house beyond the swamp.”

The wind is wailing across the swamp,
enticing them as they leave the wreck,
it sings of the shortness of mortal
lives. To proceed we must choose a genre.
Is it to be fantasy or romance?
Reader, I need you to show tolerance

because my subject is tolerance.
It’s what they need to cross the swamp.
I may throw in a little romance
to keep her spirits up and it won’t wreck
all chance of choosing another genre.
The writer clasps the girl, full of mortal

fear and weakness. No other mortal
has passed this way. His tolerance
is about to snap. A fantasy genre
will stop them sinking into the swamp.
Bars of black light descend on the wreck
as the girl still dreams of romance.

The writer is sinking; thoughts of romance
far from his mind. There will be no mortal
rescuer. A radiance now shrouds the wreck
(once again I crave your tolerance)
which starts to slide across the swamp,
clinching the preference for genre.

So out of a wreck comes tolerance,
maybe a future romance. No mortal
force saved them. Fantasy is the genre.

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E = mc2….., originally uploaded by ezekial.

Einstein’s theory says
moving clocks tick more slowly
than fixed timepieces.
My earthbound shuttle
hurtles ever faster.

One single impression prompt from Gemma at Greyscale Territory is ‘If only I had time’.



Einstein relates the
slower tick of moving clocks
to a fixed timepiece.
My earthbound shuttle
hurtles ever faster.

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A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a long time ago, two peoples lived together in a magnificent land. They were alike in every way apart from their eyes: the Aristians had blue eyes and the Proliens had brown eyes. Some Prolien elders also claimed to  discern a difference in the cadence of their voices. The Aristians lived in the most fertile parts of the land, where the resources were most plentiful whereas the Proliens were concentrated in areas where the land was poor and there were few resources. Their children received little or no education.  Eventually, most of the Aristians lived inside the walls of the cities where the Proliens were only allowed in to work or on ceremonial occasions. The two peoples lived separate lives.

Life was hard for the Proliens but hope was kept alive by the prophecy that every mother passed on to her children. One day, a mighty prince would rule over the land. He would have brown eyes like them and he would rule with love, wisdom and justice. “How can this be?” the children would ask. “The Aristians keep us outside the walls. We will never be powerful enough to overthrow them.”

One day, the Aristians were celebrating a royal marriage, when a Prolien woman pushed through the crowd and sat down in front of the royal carriage as it passed through the streets. The king was beside himself with rage and had her thrown into prison. The Prolien people were also getting angry: they were tired of being humble all the time. This woman was an inspiration to them. They started to demonstrate in order to voice their grievances. To their surprise, they found leaders amongst their numbers. One leader’s eloquent speech gave them a dream of a better future, hardening their resolve. They won concessions. One  Aristian king finally agreed that the Proliens should receive a proper education alongside their Aristian peers.

Aristian kings continued to rule over the land: some were good and some were not so good. When Princess Aurora announced that she was pregnant, she received the best care available. However, as the time for her confinement drew near, she became more and more withdrawn; there was a mysterious expression in her clear blue eyes. When she gave birth to a son, everyone was delighted until the midwife noticed the colour of his eyes: they were brown.

In the months that followed, many wise men put forward as to why the young prince’s eyes were brown. Maybe he was a throwback to many generations earlier and the king’s line was not as pure as he had claimed. Maybe her husband did not have a pure Aristian pedigree. The princess listened to all the arguments going on around her with the same mysterious look in her eyes as when she was pregnant but she kept the truth to herself.

And so the prophecy came to pass. The prince grew up to be gracious to all his subjects; both Aristians and Proliens, with whom he  mixed with equal ease. When the time came for him to marry, he chose a Prolien woman. This shocked his grandparents at first, but such was his charm that he won them round.  What they didn’t know was that a well as his brown eyes, and the cadence of his voice, discernible to some of the elders,  a big part of his heart belonged to the Prolien people.

My perspective  on the inauguration of Barrack Obama, as the 44th president of the United States of America is affected by having a mixed race grandson. Most of us have mixed ancestry but this shows up most dramatically when one parent is black and the other is white. I see iObama as resolving the binary opposition between black and white. He has identified with the black community by marrying a black woman, a descendent of slaves, but he also owes much of who he is to his white mother and grandparents.

I’m aware that what I’m presenting here is too simplistic. I’ve glossed over the question of identity and colour isn’t the only thing that divides people; language and religion are also a source of conflict.

The following poem was in my first ever blog post on 24.09.06.

To My Grandson

Slung between cultures, your cradle is rocked
Between two islands half a world apart;
Your Taiwanese grandmother’s shaken and shocked;
Her daughter’s betrothal has broken her heart.
Forsaking tea houses where your forbears fled,
You may come to England to make a new start;
She makes chicken soup to counter her fear
Whilst I long to hold you and play a small part.

The tribes of Europe have mingled and merged
Through conquest and change of location;
Shamrock, flamenco, a Russian Jew’s smile,
Bed down with developing nation.

The future belongs to small people like you,
As east meets with west you’ll surely win through.

(Rupert Sebastian or Kai Chiang was born in Taiwan on November 3rd 2002. He now lives in Switzerland where he is being educated in French.)

Blue Mink – Melting Pot

Ceremonies is the prompt at Totally Optional Prompts and cadence, humble and resolve are the words at 3WW

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Eden relinquished, he hauled
his bruised cadaver
from the bog. He rode

on sunfish, soothed
his aches in ocean pools, kindled
a flicker to an incandescent glow.

The junk of centuries, he sorted
into piles; ammunition to malign
anyone brave enough to smite his intent.

Mischief in retirement: he could leave
greedy short traders and fly by night bankers
to rip-off bushed administrations and (Blair) witched principalities.

Old Nick is an English name for the Devil or Satan.

bushed (adjective): 1. exhausted
2. Autralia, New Zealand bemused: perplexed and confused.

witch (verb):  exercise witchcraft; to cause or change something by witchcraft

The Blair Witch Project is a film.

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