Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts


NaPoWriMo 2023 - 9 - Taking it under advisement

(I have not skipped a couple, I kept them private because they fell out kinda personal...)

Taking it under advisement

the first rule of dealing-with-the-particular-thing-
club, is we talk about it
that is the advice

at any rate,
that one sex blogger gives, documenting
how she's lived her life
radically reimagined
and somewhat exposed
these last five years

and been happier for it
who talks
about the dirty underside of her mind
the very not-talking being
what enabled
the "dirty" judgement to persist
and possibly it works for her

in some degree
because exhibitionism
which I so don't have

so I take the limited supply
of advice
as well intentioned but with a big
pinch of salt

and the advice I give is:

avoid magical thinking
--such as believing that the aforementioned
can fix everything--
because it always seems like
if we could only address WXYZ
then everything would be lovely
in the garden

but this
is a failure
of imagination
and the post-WXYZ world is still a world

(or garden)

still messy and dirty and filled
with human beings, complex,
and not all well intentioned
and there was no way
that merely sorting out the WXYZ
was going to fix that

no, my advice is:

walk on the grass
whether the sign says otherwise or no
our pleasures are limited
and none of us know
when we'll go

bare feet on damp grass
your father running the sprinkler
but that was then and now you are the father
with no sprinkler
because ecology

and in this newer world in theory
sometimes you want but think you should not have

a Bakewell tart for example

of the more industrial kind
with solid sugar icing to at least
a quarter of an inch
but you can

apart for those we choose ourselves
there are no rules.


Reflections in the kitchen sink

Reflections in the kitchen sink

I fail to grip the knife
with any sort of skill
so it is left stuck out,
awkward, from the fist
of ill-assorted cutlery.
Have you ever kept shrimp?

Swiss-army invertebrates,
with a limb for every purpose --
one for sewing sails and another
that could pull used fuel rods
from a nuclear reactor.
Ready for anything

and reminiscent
of my hand with the knives
and forks projecting,
including that one
at the awkward angle.
But I twist my wrist and manage

to scrape the waste potato
from plate to bin, proving
I have a motor cortex.
Which, on a smaller scale,
is also true for shrimps
although more driven

by instinct, less by learning,
and maybe not at all by thought
of the sentient type.
They never do the washing up
and if they did, would never
think of me.


A new star on Tuesday

A simple little piece, this.

The title, of course, comes from Duran Duran.

The subject matter is cosmological physics, the life-cycles of stars and its role in the evolution of life and civilisation.

The setting is a restaurant, you've all been in restaurants, yes?

A new star on Tuesday

in one corner
of the restaurant

a supernova
blowing bubbles
its straw below the surface
of the interstellar medium
and exhaling
one last sharp breath

the nebulae
dining on gas and dust
at neighbouring tables
pull inwards
as embarrassment blooms
hot and tight

until finally
here's irony
heavy elements kindled in the gyre
but mostly iron
spraying out
in all directions
to seed the lunchtime menu
with richer dishes

it isn't mangles
three-eighths Whitworth bolts

it isn't armadillos
pentagonal sea creatures
and opposable thumb drives
raining down from an empty sky

but it's a start


What kind of talk is that?

I posted a preliminary version of this during NaPoWriMo back in April, but since then I've revised it a bit, and also I read it at Gorilla Poetry to general approval so I feel reasonably happy with calling it "finished".

This is not about what it is ostensibly about obviously so, because if language did not exist then the poem couldn't either.  So where this comes from is my dissatisfaction with overly-academic analysis of literary subjects (in contrast to my mockery of under academic treatment in some other areas...) 

Basically what I am saying here is, never ask me for an "artist's statement" on a poem, because I'll say something like "I tried to get the right words in the right order..." and completely mean it.

Language is a phenomenon backed by the full sophistication of the human brain, and the utter incomprehensibility of the human psyche, only a god could actually analyse it meaningfully; everybody else is faking...

What kind of talk is that?

Language does not exist…
not in the sense of something we can touch,
attain, pass from hand to hand, feel the grain.  Even language
the shared delusion is an illusion.  We all understand chocolate cake,
but only I recall Paul, at two years old, smothered in the stuff...

Also the higher the fewer;
there's less to agree the more abstract we go: my love
is not your love; and my sovereignty
doesn’t exist at all.

And now, you have the cheek
to talk of things that I don't even know:
you say you like kayaking
but I have never experienced the semi-resonance
of millimeter-thick fibreglass rebounding
from underwater geography, or the feel
of near ice water draining from a helmet.

Language does not exist…

the dictionary says otherwise.
The words in the book of lexical lore
will claim to, with precision, pin a meaning on every
possible utterance. They do not... cannot...
dictionaries do not exist.

Language isn’t defined or declared,
it isn’t even functional at heart. It’s metaphorical.

When we get high, here on the hill,
with the stepladder,
you being very tall;
while your guitar solo goes up and up;
because you've been promoted, by a higher power;
and your salary is now so much,
but your meat’s off;
your electricity is strong;
your church is formal;
and your fashion sense is very sharp today.

All this is “high”
but the only way three octaves above middle C
resembles rotting meat,
is buried deep in our psychology.

Language does not exist…

not as something fixed
which you can grasp with thought or pen.
Continual flux is all there’s ever been:
spellings, meanings and usages
shifting beneath our tongues
like extreme sushimi.

You, I hope, understand me.
Shakespeare, however, would get me less
and Chaucer might think I was speaking
a foreign language.

I take my words back,
I take them back in time until,
somewhere maybe in the 9th or 10th centuries
we reach a point where they have no meaning...

because language does not exist.
Not even in the other direction.
My words are of course
recorded for posterity, but after I die and as they age
what people understand fades.
Until there comes a moment
when my great, great, great, great grandchildren
factoring, loneish their fluxward inspace
wonder quite what planet I was from.

If I was truly great,
people would update me
once per generation,
but we can't all be Shakespeare
—if nothing else Shakespeare's already done that.
So there!  That's us evolving once again.

Language does not exist…

Je suis un éléphant.  I might say,
I was French,
and an elephant
, and those who are the sorts
who understand French elephants
would shrug
and think I stated the obvious

but my words would be gibberish
to the less linguistically endowed.
English exists,
French exists,
and they’re languages, all right...
but they are not language itself, which does not exist.

English/French dictionaries, especially, do not exist.

Language is a maelstrom, language is a storm.
People think they pin it down, control it...
define it;
may as well bottle the hurricane.
Grammarians claim they can explain
and lay down every part of speech in grammar books.

Grammar books do not exist
and as for the people who write them:
I've never met one.

But... if language does not exist then
why, we are free!

No ploddy, tetrapody emphraslement for me!
No lexical cling.  Talk toboggan listening
all everness towards myself true wordy
and ultimatic infiltrate the thing
of done magnificence, superlative, and evermore unstopped.

Nobody can stop me from saying this
and they cannot touch me for it...

...because language does not exist.


The guide to nine utopias - I - Gastronomic

The guide to nine utopias

I -- Gastronomic

Stimpson's Authentic Fish-Flavoured Food Bricks
in FreshSeal packaging to keep the zing
for every mouthwatering bite. The pick
of every family meal, and just the thing
in your husband's government-issue lunchpack.
Or... for the under-prole whose budget's smaller,
try Stimpson's Value Algal Protein Stacks--
in Classic Crab-Effect, or New Trawlermen's

Choice. Perfect for soaking up dole-board gruel
or National Nutrient paste, and fuel
for long days on the work-farm shovelling
dung. These foodstuffs of the future lack nothing,
bring great economy, and we are proud
to provide the highest food content allowed!


NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 17th - Of tea and politics

The challenge here was a poem about a closed door.  I've taken that figuratively again.  The real door in this poem is glass and the characters can easily see what's behind it.  What's unknown is the door of the future, but it's slowly creaking open on disturbing possibilities...

There is obviously nothing.  Nothing whatsoever.  In today's world that makes me feel like this.

Move on citizens.  Nothing to see here.

Of tea and politics

They have now hanged the suspect spy
just outside the door.  He's swinging
from the cast iron sign
shaped like a teapot.  It creaks alarmingly.
This afternoon is waxing quite complex.
The police chief's voice still thunders from the kitchen.
He's on to topics wide as loyalty, respect for law,
and macaroons, and fear.  I beckon the waitress near
and ask:
Could I just have another scone?
The afternoon moves on towards an evening,
which no-one present dares to guess.
The hanged man stills.
I shall bury him, he was my servant.


NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 15th - The impossibility of Elspeth Spangler

This one languished for a long time as just the first strophe and the idea of releasing the mice.  However on the train yesterday it got its moment to shine...

Elspeth doesn't shine...  she glows gently if she thinks nobody is looking.

I'm not vegetarian but I like vegetarian food.  And I'm not a cat person, but I'm even less a dog person so I get Elspeth to that extent.

The impossibility of Elspeth Spangler

The woman can't exist.  She does not work
for all hours in the whole-food shop.  She won't
arrive at six to clatter shutters down
and shove the drawer back firmly in the till.
She never checks the racks for misplaced packs
or things that need refill.  She has no chance

encounters with her oldest friend or lunch
outside the vegan café opposite,
and they don't laugh round cauliflower bake
or snort latte at what the teacher said
that day when they freed all the classroom mice
in the unreal childhood many miles ago.

And now she doesn't wander, weary, home,
the day of problems not quite out of mind,
although the ones now gone feel so well done.
There isn’t any hint of rain to damp
her slightly battered funky hat. There’s no
absence of boy or girl back in the flat,

boiling the kettle ready. She doesn’t need
to keep her coat and scarf on while the place
warms through. There is the cat, who adopted her
so many years ago and who awaits
the ceremonial filling of the bowl
as if the World were a real and reliable place.


NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 1st - The Impirator's Trending Clothes

The Impirator's Trending Clothes

Twenty-Three Thousand People are talking about this,
and of course you want to Save the Bees, so click:
the simplest act which in an earlier
and less gratificationally now
regime would have seemed as if it could at best
form just the smallest part of the process, the start
if you will, or perhaps the end.  New on your feed
what do you want to eat?  Where and with who?
How can you know what to do without ratings, reviews,
the telling clique of stars beside each name.
She clicks the link, you won't believe what happens
...  You've had a text from a so-called friend
amused that trolls beneath the bridge have told
the goats and sheep that you're a freak (though they
of course used your wrong you're: their stupid).  Click
to save sick kittens -- but where -- trending now, click here
to learn this simple trick
-- but where in all
this maze -- suggested page -- where did you leave --
why don't you want to see this ad -- where did
you leave your life?  Be first to comment on this.


Titanium Spork

A bit of an experiment this time.  I wrote this as a performance piece and the words are, frankly, ugly laid out on the page.

Which doesn't matter if I'm going to stand at the front and speak it to you (I call this: Poetry-1.0...)

So I'm going to do that.  I shan't paste the text.  I'll just offer the recording and hope it works for you.  This isn't a change of policy...  I shall continue to post text for the pretty poems.

Please let me know whether this is better, worse, or differently indifferent...


The price of life

Some microfauna,
earlier today
We're in the throes of NaPoWriMo and it is eating up a lot of my spare time to try and turn out a poem every single day.

It would probably be easier if I wrote more haiku...

This is a poem from this same festival (is that the term) in a previous year.  2010 if my records are accurate.

This is maybe less shiny than some of my poems, but I think works well done as a performance with some energy.  So that is what I've tried to do in the recording.

This is a subject that I care about quite strongly.  Not wholly from the ecological perspective, although I think that very important, but also from the rawer, darker, more-fundamental scientific angle—there is, within the universe of things that we can reach, exactly one "life".  All life on Earth is the spawn of one original life creation event.  It is all, shitake mushrooms to vampire squid (look them up), the same stuff.  We have exactly one example.

Until we land somewhere where there's more...

But even then there will only be two.  The value of this stuff cannot be overstated.  Taken to its ultimate eschatological extreme it might be the difference between a universe that means something and one that goes 'fut' and passes without comment.  So look after it.

The price of life

Lot twenty-three, one bucket of mud...

Ladies and Gentlethings,
this is the finest mud that money can buy.

Why? Just look at this chemistry,
poly-heterocyclic rings, carbon chains,

substances, whose full chemical names,
would keep you writing until the stars went out.

And for the avoidance of doubt,
this is because there's Life,

right in this bucket, genuine, natural Life,
in all its unlimited, self-designing power.

There are seventy-nine different types
of bacterium here, ready to feed

on spare carbon compounds
which you might not need

and spew more biomass—
this mud can breed.

Also in here, microscopic worms
eating, excreting, aerating by turns

and food for the slightly larger
microfauna... see, I have micrographs here

tardigrades, lice, hydra,
amoebae toofurther ingredients for the stew.

No, nothing as large as a mouse,
but there are... Seeds, nineteen different kinds:

from ruderal weeds with short life-times
(which, yes, fix more biomass)

to shrubs, of various size,
and treesthey need only light,
and carbon-dioxide.

In this bucket, everything you need,
to take a sterile world and clothe it
in a forest so deep, and green,
darkly shaded, pristine,
and if you haven't already got the idea
it's beautiful.

So, what I am bid for this bucket of mud?

I might add that it's rumoured
to come from the fabled blue-planet itself.

Shall we start the bidding
at ten, sterile star-systems?


Tea time

Tea time, earlier today...
I was just reminded of this, because it is another poem from Memento...

Minnie and Violet are real great aunts...

Which is to say they were real once but sadly are not any more, because they did indeed die in childhood.  As they were the only two of a round dozen siblings not to make it into ripe old years, I had no shortage of great aunts and uncles to choose from when I was younger.

Historical note for overseas readers.  The "Pru" or Prudential is an insurance company and before the age of electronic banking, "The Man from the Pru" would come around collecting the premiums.

I have heard it said that 90% of poetry is about time, memory or love.

Two out of three ain't bad...

Tea time

Minnie and Violet address the camera directly;
they cannot say we who are about to die...
because they did not know. My mother speaks instead
from nineteen seventy-two, where
counting coinage for the Man from the Pru,
she pauses to explain: these would be your great aunts,
if not for Polio––

            as her mother once explained to her.
Today I stir the stranger's tea and offer biscuits.
He has to rush. I brush crumbs from the photograph.
Minnie is thinking about the existence problem: she exists
for the photographer, but can only guess at future eyes.
Grandma and she existed, once, for each other
but mother and I, spying on the moment
through the monochrome window, can only imagine.

Violet is thinking about the photographer's wig.


The man who ate the world

I found another poem that was inspired by David Bowie.  This time directly, as I wrote it while listening to The Man Who Sold the World on repeat play.

As a poem, at the time, I never quite felt that it worked.  It needed something more than I had been able to put into it...

...and so it languished.  Until last week's sad news set me off on an extended session of listening to David, which necessarily included TMWSTW, and that lead me back here: to, re-read this.

And it has a lot going for it.  It needed some tightening, tuning, polishing; and it's not perfect of course.  There's a visible weld down the middle.

However, all-in-all this is as good as it's going to get, and if there is a time for this one, the time is now.

The man who ate the world

He eats.

He eats prawns, brawn, surf and turf
and lawn, and tiny-little handmade hors d'oeuvres
in fistfuls of a dozen.

It is Zen, a total focus, a mathematician's
locus of a point which moves
from plate to mouth. There's nothing else
of which he is aware.

He inhabits his moments with relish
especially in the topological sense: a manifold
whose destiny is to wrap itself round lobsters,
as many plates of fries, seasonal vegetables,
toast-and-pâté arrangements as it possibly can.

Bought his first café at twenty-one
soon angled on owning the pub next door.
The club was an obvious move;
had to take out a mobster or two
to get the hotel OK a whole chain.

Then it made sense to own his suppliers,
and the logistics people were for hire
and then sale.

It's a long walk, from talk of serving scampi
in a small town, to wheeling deals in front of
and behindentire governments
but he got here.

And still he eats:
genocide by chocolate, wonton soup,
coffee liquors, the cheeseboard,
a smorgasbord of goujons
and don't spare the ribs.

This is his way:
conspicuous consumption, the working luncheon,
in places appointed for filling faces, and he's the big man,
the master of this race: the suited, the college recruited,
plutocrats, the freshly commuted; all round and shiny
little parasites, who cling limpet-like
to unreliable accounts at anyone's expense

until today
when one of them mentioned
a small South-American country
that's up for sale.


For your convenience and safety...

Boxing Day at the Toronto Eaton Centre
Rampant commercialism, earlier today
Apparently it is Black Friday, although it isn't of course because I live in England (where we don't have anything to do with this kind of silliness) and Yorkshire (where we don't have anything to do with this kind of silliness) and Sheffield (where we don't have anything to do with this kind of silliness.)

This is an old, old poem and very silly indeed.   (It's not the quantity of silliness we object to, it is the quality...)  It is also one which, entirely unprompted, my son once memorised—making it my most-quoted work.

I can't help but think that Anger Bob would probably have something to say about this, well...  he'd mumble or maybe shout about it.

For your convenience and safety...

Carting in the shopping mall
foody in the hall of offers
coinly coffer outwards flowing
smiley, knowing, through a camera candidly.

Imaged in the mirror beasty
planning feasty for the week
sotto-voce speaking we
of tea and further meals.

But in securitoid recordly
imagined me and imaged you
what we do fully engraved
and patient saved on viddy-tape.

Risk the machine our souls to prey,
before we pay, if we should die,
and I and you archived to be
entombly on C.C.T.V