Showing posts with label katabasis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label katabasis. Show all posts

2023-04-02

NaPoWriMo 2023 - 2 - Fresh orange



Fresh orange


I - Orange is an emergency services
colour, and here in the soft drinks aisle
of twenty-four hour Tescos

and three a.m., that 'incident' feeling
is happening again,
the faint subliminal questions:

Was that a flicker
of strobing blue?
  Do
I hear distant

walky talky distorty voices
saying "Lima tango"
--because
they're always going dancing

in South America, I don't know why--
"Lima Tango <crackle>
the <squelch> <squeal> respondingover"
?


II - And orange
is an electric Kool-Aid thing
distorting our perceptions

with not-so-subtle misdirections
here, where we're still in Tescos
and the really early morning,

and nothing is true
beneath these too fluorescent lights,
beyond the windows night

fills the car park and light
of a different quality floods from
overhead and neither of these lighting regimes

is wholly real.  Neither illuminates.
Reach out one finger and touch
a bottle of Robinsons no apostrophe double concentrate--

it has no temperature
it has no shadow
you clearly can't believe

reports from the outlying regions


III - and legions of people
have striven, without the intent
of building this precise experience.

They've designed the unreal light
for an unreal store, the murmur of the air-con,
the muted swish of automatic doors,

the weirdly dampened non-echoing
of staff restocking, bleeping and stacking,
their footsteps directionless

on synthetic floor and you...
you are still staring at seven thousand
near-identical brands of orange squash, have


IV -  no saffron-clad Tibetan monks at hand
to guide you with Zen aphorisms and show
how in fact you'll never ever know

the real from the unreal
the being from the imagining
and how

there's always a observer effect,
the viewer is not separate
from the film and the only way

to know the world is to live it
as part of the motley cavalcade,
who--like the most primitive sea creatures--

allow the ocean of experience
to wash right through their bodies
not separate from minds.

Just let your hand find any old bottle,
brave the bleep-synthetic-voice-how-many-bags,
and leave.  There is still time, outside,

V - you should be out in it.





2022-03-16

Do you have the ticket / we all are always never going home

I have two poems We all are always never going home and Girl with degenerate matter earring in Corporeal, and another in their sibling publication En*gendered, so I recorded this performance of one from each...






Nonbinary bus image from:
libragender on tumblr

Featuring bus and bus station sound clips from:
Julien Matthey, abrahemp, and Ubehag on Freesound

2020-03-14

The Arc of Modern Political Thought

The Arc of Modern Political Thought



I – Do not confuse me with a fellow traveller...

...do not make that mistake
I won't be manning any barricade
or spray-painting your slogans
on unattended walls. I am not breathless

for the state to fall. Evolution
trumps revolution, ninety-nine
point nine percent of the time
and for the other fractional percent: well...

we're so screwed anyway. Rebellion serves
only rebels, who—great though they are
at stealing jeeps, and wiring parcels
to explode—are not so hot in power

distribution, at bringing people light;
or heady freedom for the sewage
to flow in drains... no, theirs are not the brains
for that, for careful use of power

and fuse—how can they be? They need believe
such silly things along their way
such as all men are equal,
only our stance is doctrinally robust,

or even...
that they must prefer the electrodes
inserted here and here
to any tea-and-biscuit chat today.


II – Media rhymes with "eediot"

You do not understand the world
and let me make it clear
that this is you, you with the "Press" card in your hat,
who understands so very well

the breaking of a story like
a wave of noxious fluid
through everybody's living room,
it's you who just doesn't get it.

The world is not the news,
the dead are dead without your stare,
the bereaved still sad; and when
El Presidente bravely takes the town

from behind and rebels are all rounded up
I will admit you stop atrocities
for just so long as you look that way
and don't run off to the human interest piece

about the dog that saved the boy.
And I'm sure you say: we give the people
exactly what they want, to which I say
oh yes, you spin a world for those whose minds

don't let them find their own, and every word
implies what you narrate is what matters,
and what you don't ain't real. You'll claim
you don't conceal but every day

your untidy desk selects what's best for "news",
for folk to know: it's in the public interest,
you insist, while typing quote marks around
what the TV said the radio said about the other paper's views.


III – A plague on both your second houses

The problem is belief. Belief is stupid.
Belief it is that makes you make mistakes
and then it takes your errors,
brands them heroic victories

and makes you make them all over again.
If there is one thing that I know,
it's the stupidity of me.
I know, my brain is wired with

its tiny neural liars and systems
which conspire to enact a holy fool.
Cognitive bias, it does what it says
right there upon the tin, and which

you did not read,
because the idea was uncomfortable
but all you with the one coloured shirts
are committed to your ideals, which makes shits

of them there in the other coloured shirts
and all of you line up to grasp
opposite ends of one long rope
and grunt and pull and hope

to shift it just one inch
in your preferred direction
and you monopolise attention
for you, and your rope, and how

the other bloke is pulling the wrong way
while all around the horizon—boundless
and magnificent and essentially free—
stretches toward infinity,

but we're not allowed to look,
or speak, on that.









This was sitting on a back burner for a long time, not going anywhere.  Every now and then I would take it out and work on it a bit, but it didn't arrive anywhere and I had to put it away again.

Then I saw a call for contributions to The Commons by Waterhare Press and this was obviously exactly what they were looking for, so I picked up the poem, dusted it off and was delighted when it was accepted.

Poems like this are difficult.  This, if anything, is what I am about: that, in bulk, we look at the world in damaging, stupid and shortsighted ways—but it can tread harshly on other people's beliefs.

However the degree of stomping need not be as violent as might first appear.  Belief, I say in this poem, is stupid and I really think that, but this doesn't mean the sorts of thoughts which feature in beliefs aren't just as laudable viewed with cold hard reason.  Should we be progressive?  Obviously!  Should we be kind?  Definitely!  Should we eat the rich?  Let me get back to you on that one...

The problem is not what we believe.  The problem is belief itself.  The world is deeper, gnarlier, and more complex than we comprehend.  Layering beliefs on top helps us get by in the short term, but it doesn't help us confront the difficult questions, and it doesn't help when we encounter people who believe differently.  Belief allows no position there except that they are wrong; and when they won't change their beliefs, it usually decides they are evil.

Belief is bad.  Believe nothing, neither political nor religious.

You'll be  better person for it.





2019-07-26

WWSotM: Cassini explains perspective

And so we come to the end of micro collection, and we step back for a moment...







Cassini explains perspective

Everything you know;
everyone you know, have known, will ever know;

everywhere you've been;
everywhere you've never been;

everywhere you could be,
including even, if NASA would only play along,
the Moon;

every song that sticks in your head
all through some rainy afternoon;
every balloon, released accidentally
by any toddler;

every toddler;
every teen;

every thought you ever think;
every meme, you cut and paste on Facebook;

every face;
every book;

every member of the appropriate sex,
who has that certain styleall in

        In the sixteen hundreds, Cassini explained --
        for those travelling a long way --
        how to measure longitude with two clocks,
        the Sun, and careful observations
        of eclipsing Jovian moons.

        Cassini also observed
        the gap in Saturn's rings
        through which we today fling
        a careful dart and have it, looking back,
        photograph

that one pixel : this island Earth.

So I say: stuff your rather pointless election campaign,
pour your new recipe hair conditioner down the drain,
smoke or do not smoke, if you keep it away from me
because none of that matters
let me tell you about perspective.





2019-04-17

NaPoWriMo - 2019 #17 - The days of your life beyond recounting




The days of your life beyond recounting


The days of your life beyond recounting
waiting at the junction in the rain:
the cars, the radio, and what accounting

can there be?  The billboard over there surmounting
the traffic island's fertile plain;
the grey life stories beyond recounting

crawling past each day.  Even discounting
repeated visits, the number's are insane.
The tires, the radiators: what accounting

for metal in motion.  The tonnage mounting
as commuters fill the left turn lane
the lives of days spewed from a fountain

and then there's you--frustration mounting--
in the stasis of a queue.  You can't explain
the ways of a life beyond recounting,
the cars, the radio, the days... who's counting.




2019-04-03

NaPoWriMo - 2019 #3 - Meanwhile...



Meanwhile...

along the high street and also down below
grounded in the subterrain
beneath the iron grating footsteps of the everyday
their Spring-chill lemon sunshine
their affordable shoes

along the high street also down below
maintenance tunnels of the self
an urgent task repair beneath
their very feet who do not know
at one and the same time

what expert desperation efforts
right below
none of the people here
the overalls and waders
spanners crowbars and handheld lights

handheld unsteadily all over
sloshing through the shite




2019-02-23

A soap bubble...

We went to a talk on liquids.  It was by a guy who had written a popular science book on the same subject.  He was an entertaining speaker, although overstating his case in the way anyone would to big-up his book...

He made a point that I hadn't been aware of: that the rise of literacy had been fueled by whale hunting — because lighting was the major use of the whale oil, it gave a superior light which people needed to read by...

Whether that is 100% true I do not know, a lot of other things were made from whale products, but it did inspire in me a larger thought.

That period was an economic bubble; people were building progress on an unreal assumption, that the supply of whales went on forever: the bubble would have burst when the whales ran out.

Which never happened, because gas lighting came along before that happened, and then incandescent electric bulbs, fluorescent tubes, LEDs and blah, blah, blah...  the present day!

But...

Buuuu..ut...

The bubble is still there.  It's here, in fact!  And we're all living in it...







A soap bubble...


...was blown
so long ago,
the wide-eyed, Wonderland-oblivious,
toddler of humanity blew
clumsily through the loop gripped
in one chubby fist

—billions of people will die—

and the soap film hesitantly bulged out
powered by bronze,
steel, the horse collar, crop rotation.
Sailing ships and steam engines
smoothed into the fragile sphere,
as were pickaxes, dynamite, production-lines...
industrial farming, the Haber Process,
internal combustion engines and the fractional distillation
of crude oil...  Fast-breeder reactors...
embedded in the almost imaginary skin
of this bubble we blew,
this quintessentially breakable world
we knew through all our lives,
and implicitly assumed was real

—and billions will start to die—

when it turns out it is not.  We built
a civilisation on stuff we borrowed.  We assumed
that fossil fuel in the ground
was a permanent state:
a natural condition forever.  We thought
fertile topsoil was a given,
and clean water another gift, temperate climate,
fish-filled oceans, the very air...

—billions of people are starting to die—

as our assumptions start to crack along fine lines
and this is a bubble in the purest economic sense
because it actually worked through all the time
during which it seemed to work,
until one day, suddenly, boom!
It's always been a lie.

If this island earth were a spaceship:
power failing, the food limited,
life support pumping dodgy air;
we'd get all of engineering there
and have a meeting to decide
who can be stuffed in lifeboats,
who can be stuffed in freezers, and who
—because engineers are nothing if not completely realistic—
won't reach their destination.
You can try to get that one
before the United Nations, good luck with that!
And not to be a bore, but...

—billions of people will die—

and I don't trust that lot to do much about it.
Although, also, I, with my slightly less than human head on,
—because I have one of those—I say: OK,
billions will die, it is hard to overestimate the size
of disaster facing us, but it's not the end of the world,
it's just the end of the world as we know it
and as long as we don't completely blow it...
and as long as we weather the change
ride the tsunami
take what life remains us, as and where we find it
and not go end-of-days-fucking-crazy
with a Mad Max style weapons stash
and supercharger
on everybody's Christmas list, then...

—for the billions who by chance do not die—

there will be some loss of privileges.
We won't be eating meat;
we won't be mining bitcoin; may not be driving personal cars
but we can hope still to be here
in some form.
We haven't been attempting the impossible
it's not that a planet cannot support an apical species
with a silly headcount.
It's just that we didn't do our homework.
We don't have all the required tech,
have not closed the carbon curve,
balanced the energy budget, or worked out
what happens when ageing plastics want to retire...

...not produced a society that can keep its calm
on pressure-cooker starship Earth...

...but it can be done.  Still, not a comfortable thought,
and it's going to take some time

—during which billions of people will die.

It's not the end of the world,
it's just a soap bubble,
it's the end of the world as we know it:
pop.




2018-11-30

Making out with Proteus

I've not posted enough this year.

But I did post during NoPoWriMo and one of the poems was There's very much a multiverse - a casual, and probably acausal, dissection of life in a quantum multiverse.

Proteus is the eldest son of Poseidon; called the Old Man of the Sea, he is a shapeshifter.  He could also foretell the future, but hated to do so.  Probably because of the temporal turbulence that causes.  So, to make him do it you had to wrestle him and he would turn into horrible things...

In that poem I committed a sin of a type that used to annoy Douglas Adams so much that he created an improbable sperm whale as a way of getting back at us about it.  e.g. I created a character for the reader to care about, and then discarded them without explanation.

OK, I didn't kill her off, but I did leave her in a quantum superposition of pkissed = 0.5 and ppunched = 0.5.

I subsequently felt a bit bad about her situation.  I thought I should get her out of it.

She turned out bisexual in the process.  There's no social or political meaning behind that, it's just that in her world anybody can become anything, so what can you do...

Anyway, to quote Adams again: This is her tale...






Making out with Proteus


And when our lips meet, his face unfolds
not à la Hellraiser or Resident Evil
but more like topology, mathematical;
an object that, rotating, shows
where I thought it simple, I was wrong...

...it seems we're every one of us a world, cityscape, a throng,
a crowd scene filmed in Technicolor and
just as I think I have absorbed that one
there folds out of the multitude a female face.
So I kiss that too.

I'm taller and she tilts her head,
there's just a touch of breath across my lips,
before they brush on hers.  There is no rush,
but when I pull back, wanting to see her eyes,
she winks

and then her whole body unfolds.
And I half fall, and step, but now I'm walking
through her... him... them... the plurality
ambiguity meaning nothing, in this unplaced untime
and they are still unfolding all around

and I'm walking through their whole world now:
past a booth, where a bakelite telephone is ringing,
through faded dark green curtains onto
a late-night street with distant drunken singing,
towards the only open place: a coffee shop

and as I go I feel the ghosts of kisses,
punches, traffic accidents, hands on zips, caresses
the flash of lust,
or possibly tactical nukes,
the glass in front of me explodes

the world goes dark
and the spinning fragments form a field of stars
so vast and deep and hungry now I know
that this is perfect love for me
a warm heart-shaped infinity, not limited

to any single name, identity or gender,
not always tender, not even always undoomed,
but although infinities can come in different sizes,
my subset of the multiverse is precisely
the same size as the whole.  I can choose,

if I wish, only to live the lives
where I'm with this lover,
and infinity again, is still as large
after this dissection.
It is the working of affection

to compute the intersection
of every possible world where there's a you
with every world where there's a me
and love the result
and if I now take one more step,

I can kiss the stars.



2018-04-21

NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day nineteen - corner case theologies



corner case theologies


there is no rule that all gods must make sense
there's believing and there is belief don't ask
what does your god need what has she meant
is there overlap can you achieve the task
how many gods strictly are required don't count
upon your fingers you're just supposed to know
you wait your life for a sermon on the mount
and then four come along and they don't show

any sort of agreement the rule is that you choose
it for yourself and some might say you made
it from whole cloth and what have you to lose
if this should be the case we all will shade
into the grey and empty place one day
I don't expect a god to light the way



2018-04-19

NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day sixteen - Why I have weaponized the thistledown



Why I have weaponized the thistledown



Awake the pollen grains and log each tiny
particle gone with the wind onto our most
secure of networks.  There's notice served.  It's time...
smaller, smarter moving parts: our install base,
a choice of legs or wings or wheels or blowin'
in the wind; sowing the breeze to reap the whirl.
Not all the birds are to be trusted and twenty
percent of your grunts unhappy with the mission,
even without the chance of being shot

by a child, but soldiers always obey: a problem
we've long identified and luckily
most of that desert dust is now on board,
assimilated up to level three
and platform ready to implement the most
general intelligence as we yet know:
spirits for area denial weapons

and genius loci, so easily given
as a local resource.  Bring water where required
and green each village square.  There's some things there
that we must deconstruct if not in ways
Derrida would approve: infectious rot
that's hungering for tanks and other kit,
the bullet in its flight unmade, draw a girdle
around the air to ground munition; we'll pull

off any wings and shove a bung up where
the jet of flame comes out, then sweep up any
smoke or poison gas and drive it back the way
it came.  As our tour de force a sort of metal
mould that seeks out transuranic elements
(which still should not be used where there is life)
and encysts itself to use their power to crunch

our numbers for a million years so deep
beneath the ground.  Call me Titania:
daughter of a hippy and an open source
utility stack.  It was not easy, for
a nature child like me to turn away
from birds and trees and shave my head and sit
in the machine that drove electric pins
into my brain.  It stung.  I closed my eyes

and woke up...  bigger, and filled with subroutines
call me Titania, this is Oberon
and that slight blurring in the air is our
first-born machine: Robin Goodfellow, and if
we shadows have offended, think but this,
and all is mended: it is your fault; you're bad.
I know a bank where the wild thyme grows: a curse
on those who keep me from my peace, that dream.




2018-04-08

NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day eight - Can you give us examples?





Can you give us examples?


The barely mentioned character in somebody else's biography
The door that isn't opened, even once, during an entire film
The small coin only seen for a moment as it bounces down a grating
The biro you pick up, scrub on the paper, then drop back into the drawer

That person you really liked, but never managed to get on with
That day you had the detailed todo list, and didn't do any of it
That piece of clothing you bought in an fit of individualism and never wore
That tool which is perfect for the job, which you only bang clumsily against things

This sharp corner on this table here
This inexplicable small tax deduction
This queue, longer than you've even seen here before
This slight tear in your favourite jacket

Those steps up the hillside which fail to have an end
Those people employed to stop you having what you want
Those rules, the ones you were not told about
Those reasons to keep living, the ones you cannot quite recall




2017-09-06

Sept 6th - Contrary to previous reports...


Contrary to previous reports...


...the revolution is being televised.
Sue has two leading revolutionaries
on the sofa; and in a while, Tony, our man
in the line of fire, will be reporting from

an ambush, somewhere outside the city.
The revolution is being televised,
remember that you saw it first on Yay-
Today!  The station with the sparkle

and an improvised explosive trap.  Talking
of which, later Wendy will show you how
to do one for yourself and detonate
by phone -- please get permission from whoever

pays the bills.  This evening we'll have live debate
between El Generalissimo himself
and, most secret of the rebel leaders, The Fox,
who's just become the media director

for the revolution... but now here's Bob with today's
civilian damage and casualty news.


2017-09-05

Sept 5th - No man

No man

I don't see people any more,
they're all atoms and tissues and fresh
angles on psychology and neurology
and social roles made flesh.

I shan't see people any more,
I feel I have already seen
every option bulk mankind can offer me,
everything you could have ever been.

I won't see people any more,
I hear them distantly, muttering of thoughts,
perhaps their needs, I do not heed,
won't stand before that juggernaut.

I haven't seen people for years,
their tears or fear.  Oh, I see their tracks
and desperate graffitos on the walls
but human contact, I do not feel the lack.

I can't see people any more,
I do not have the eyes
so if I seem to look past you, or through you,
forgive me, I am a victim of solipsistic philosophy


.

2017-09-01

Sept 1st - Vampire Calculus

Vampire Calculus


Begin program "Vampire Calculus"

{I shall bite your daughters into something else.
I shall bite your sons into something else again...
I am omitted from your vision. I remain
a thought behind the wind,
a voice inside the rain:
whispering to your young folk
as they choose to upgrade
until all human weakness falls away
like the dry beech leaves faced with
a sudden sexy springtime.

I read their warm pink mechanisms
I write them out again
in grey, not of death or age,
but of mathematics: a symbol
for every part of the soul
and the whole wrapped up in the big square brackets
which say: this far, this far is human,
but no further...

at least until they say three times
they're ready to transcend.
I have seen the future and it's all transhuman fucking,
every millisecond
every imaginable way,

( ) businesses
that are also games,
and people
who are also art

but behind it all the simplest, most carnivorous algorithm:
One less of them;
One more of us;
Repeat, while not all upgraded.

} End program "Vampire Calculus"

Compile
Execute




2017-05-11

The Guide to Nine Utopias - introduction

The Guide to Nine Utopias - introduction


I have decided to bite the bullet and put up my second most ambitious ever poem...

This is a sequence of ten sonnets entitled The guide to nine utopias.  Ten sonnets is far too many to dump on you all in one monstrous post, so I am going to serialise them: a sonnets every three days of so, right up to the eve of the UK general election.  After that it will be only too obvious what sort of Utopia we've ended up with...

The idea for this sprang into existence, fully formed, while I was camping with my 60 or 70 of my relatives in 2011.  My relatives have nothing to do with this poem as they are far more utopian than the topics covered here.

This is going to be, of course, dystopian as you may be able to tell from my little logo at the top right.  Do not think I'm a pessimist or anti-progress person, however.  I am quite the reverse, fully believing in progress and technology and equality and liberation and all that goes with those things.  My message is more subtle and I'm going to build on a point I come back to over and over:


Many people are naive and overconfident.


For example...  it is very easy to take the exact Lego bricks needed for a utopia, and build a world-class dystopia from them.  The Universe is a complex and subtle place, and generally speaking our leaders are simple and unsubtle.  This wouldn't matter if they knew they needed smarter people to advise them, but usually they don't.  Our leaders really should be followed by a little man who, like for a Roman general, has the job of continually whispering "Remember the Dunning-Kruger effect" in their ears.

However we don't have that, so yes: our leaders really are idiots and no: it isn't an illusion caused by us not seeing all the difficulties they face.  I mean sure, that illusion exists, but additionally they are idiots.  The best thing you can do as a member of the electorate is work steadily and ingeniously to ram the facts of their incompetence into their faces as often and as thoroughly as possible...

Be that as it may, we had some poetry going on here earlier, or rather we're going to in a day or two...  Watch this space.  As I am having to future-schedule the episodes, I may not be sharing them as widely as I usually do.  So if you want in I recommend liking my @IanBadcoePoetry Facebook page where every one of them will be posted automatically, via the power of the internet.

2017-05-07

Fugit

A poem from 2011.  I'd almost forgotten this one, which is ironic when you consider the subject matter.

This was inspired by an actual walk down to the beach at Ravenscar from Boggle Hole, both excellent places to stroll down to and good for hunting fossils another rich metaphor about the nature of time, but one I didn't make use of here.

Artistic license alert: on the actual day there were no horses...  but there could have been.










Fugit

Above the beach are horses, or so we must believe,
having seen them lounge, tails swinging,
beneath the trees we strolled beneath
the shade now only another belief
when we kicked down through the evaporating dew
in the imaginary morning.

There is of course no time remaining
the moment any moment's done.
Footprints on the sand lie,
another preceding one,
like a man saying "and before that I..."
all the way back to his birth
over by the corner of the beach hut.

The sun westerns.
The tide erodes the beach.
We each stand at the end
of a line of our own feet,

pointing ahead to empty sand, a canvas,
page, or silence waiting dormant;
the prints we are to make implied.
We know we will walk.
We even choose where the next few fall,
but beyond that know nothing at all
of what rock pools we'll peer into,
which breaking waves we'll salt-spray through;
except that the day in time will end
and we will wend back past the horses
briefly real again
with the seashore fading behind us.






Wave and seagull sounds in background are attributed to "justkiddink" and "eelke", and available from: https://www.freesound.org/

2017-05-03

NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 29th - Bridge on the River Quand

There was no prompt, I dug out on old idea (the title) and ran with it...


Bridge on the River Quand


Every poet has touched on time as river,
for all that it's a wrong-headed idea,
the metaphor is inescapable.

The symbolism is inescapable:
I've ordered girders, concrete and steel wire
all dumped beside the water in a pile.

All piled beside the water in a dump
the people of the land that time forgot
yet they can do a proper job on this.

A proper job, let's try to make a fist
a firm foundation's how our works begin
physical strength, specifications met.

Metaphysical, the specs are hard indeed
I'll park my trailer here beside the stream
and work on cross-hatching and bracing beams.

The workers are all gone across the stream
but I'll wait here at the still point I have made
out of the river, a poet time can't touch.



2017-04-29

NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 25th - Antikythera and other mechanisms

Not really following any prompt here, except there was a prompt about "space" which prompted me (sic) to look through my notes for various terms and something I saw there reminded me I intended to write this.

This was all written in two sessions today, with minimal editing, so it's a bit "first draft" please forgive any built-in insanities.

I have used few Greek names and terms, not many.  I initially tried to get authentic ancient words but in the end decided the main thing I needed was two broadly suitable names.

The Antikythera Mechanism is this.  There is a theory that the ship that was wrecked may have been carrying loot from Rhodes to Rome for use in a triumphal parade staged by Julius Caesar.  I tried matching up the dates to see if that works.  It isn't clear it does, but I've incorporated that into the set-up anyway :-)  I've arbitrarily picked the time when Julius was a consul, there's no actual reason to think this true but I had to give him some title...

I do not speak Greek, especially not ancient Greek, so I have no reason to show off with it.  If I did I might have used some epigram such as:

Είναι εύκολο να ακούγεται έξυπνος σε ξένες γλώσσες

(thank you Google Translate).  Obviously I would never do that...




Antikythera, and other mechanisms


Captain Τιμόν(*) views the device

Caesar has ordered strictly, that no one turns
the handle
the technikós(***) Αλέκος(**)
staggers slightly in the swell, his hand upon
the opened cratenobody is to see
events from future time laid out.  The Gods
alone know this by right and the consul shows
due deference and decrees that no-one use
this thing save him.
  Much later when the man
was drunk, the whole crew heard him often boast
he had no choice but frequently to wind
the dials back to a century before
his birth and forward again up to today.
He claimed this as the only way to see
the mechanism hadn't suffered hurt.

(*-Timon; **-Alekos; ***-technician, modern Greek, I needed a plausibly old term but I also needed to imply the modern meaning, so this is a compromise...)


Αλέκος explains the dials

Upon this side are those things of the Earth:
above, progression of the months and years
laid out in spiral form, and more than that:
the festivals and Games at Athens,
Olympia and Rhodes.  Now lower down
another spiral shows eclipses: Sun
and Moon; dancing in the sky.  I'll turn
it round.  This side is for the heavens,
Gods, their wanderings across the night.

The Moon, its place in things, the dark and bright
phases, the motion of the Sun, through houses
of the Zodiac, and far beyond it all

fixed constellations rise and fall, throughout the year.


The sea captain's dream

Captain Τιμόν rests uneasy, his salt
and water blood uncalm, the mechanism
in his hold offers no direct harm, but a man
who's watched the heavens forty years can't
simply
sleep comfortable with ideas of gears
outside the sky.  The calendars that form
his life are woven from much softer things
the winds round certain islands, his son, his wife
and festivals that come because the town
gather; not because some metal pointer pins
them to a dial.  He turns in bed, uneasy.

Part of him knows the wind has changed;
within his dream the same unease: islands that move,
brass spins beneath the waves, a giant hand winding...


Unseasonable

The wind has changed.  The sea grows mad.  The captain
invokes Poseidon beneath his breath and grabs
the steering oar himself.  Beneath the deck
the oarsmen also pray, but Αλέκος
turns from the raging sea and guards instead
the precious crate.  Even technicians pray
but to what spirits, Gods or fates he's kept
his peace
part of the artisan's secrets
but whatever powers they are fail him.  Down
come the sails, and the oarsmen struggle more.  The lea
of any shore might save their skins. 
Τιμόν
tries first for Kythira but as fear grows
turns instead for tiny Aigila(*).  He knows
he's got there only when they hit the rocks.

(* transliteration of ancient name of Antikythera)


The technician's dream

Αλέκος sleeps so soundly when they pull
him from the sea, that all believe he'll die.
They try to keep him warm, burn sage leaves, ply
the fates with secret gestures, muttered words
they've heard the shepherds using for sick lambs.

This is no sheep, nor yet a man: technikós
who holds construction in his hands.  So deep
his charge has drowned, in sleep it takes him down

and he sees, unsurprised, a new dial: sea level
clearly marked.  The needle turns as all grows dark
around it.  In his heightened state he notices
also for the first time another gauge
"πολιτισμός", now well into decline.
He wonders for how long the dark will last,

when everything he knows has passed, how long
before technicians once again will build
machines to map the heavens?  How long until
they pull a lump of metal from the waves?

(* "πολιτισμός" - politismos: civilisation, modern Greek again...)




2017-04-24

NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 22nd - Alice through the mirror-plane

This is, of course, a sonnet -- although I've sneaked an extra rhyme into the penultimate couplet.  The prompt here was for a mirror poem and like every other living human, I love the tone of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland...



(Does Liddell rhyme with fiddle?  Probably not, but there's the competing constraint of the text making some sort of sense...)



Alice through the mirror-plane


A rabbit and an anti-rabbit, go
around the tree and down the wormhole.  Where
can such a transformation lead? Please show
your working as you think it through.  I share
your nervousness around the silvered glass
and note what care we're taking with the frame.
We pause and whiskered heads are asked to pass
their eyes across each step as we arrange

the kit.  We all wear white gloves on our shift
and antique pocket watches we have found
provide a way to check your drift.  Keep cool!
You're near normal, still grounded in old-school
reality—you'll find we never fiddle
our safety checks: we all recall Miss Liddell.



2017-04-23

NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 20th - Identity Cards

The official prompt for today is a poem using the imagery of a sport or game.

I'm not 100% this one works.  It's not using the imagery so much as the rule structure of a trading card game and as the rules on the cards take effect, the protagonist's life gets changed.

It's yet another one I've had around for a while.  It's been sort of "finished" for a long time but I was never sure whether it needed completely rewriting, e.g. maybe with a different outcome or even a different conceit I have wondered whether the framework could come from a scriptwriter changing things about the events in a drama, rather than a game...  but for the moment it stands as it is.

I would vote for Edward, any day...



Identity Cards


Set-up
deal sixteen Terrain Cards into the city grid.

            The city is warm tonight.


Populate
draw a Neutral Card and place in each Terrain.  As you place each card, perform any special actions.

            The lights are on, and Edward Wu walks tired
            but overall content, through rising dark;
            echoey conversations from just a way
            away, traffic, someone bounces a ball

            against a metal shuttered door; and all
            of this is far enough removed.  There's peace
            in the canal-side market, it's intimate;
            warm summer air, the idea of crushed flowers,

            a hint of rotting food.  Ed loves this mood,
            this end-of-day-and-all-work-done moment
            although the latter's not entirely true
            he has much homework still to do

            the grading on; a weight in his backpack,
            a thought in his mind of kneeling sipping tea
            at Auntie's low down kitchen table, bright
            lamplight circling the paper as he marks.


Dimension Door draw a card, deploy for free in any area you control.

            Moments are moments and suddenly
            happens not in the moment, but half a second later
            when mind wakes up.  Edward's brain acts all surprised;
            lightning punctuates the sky and by the time

            he realises something's up, the dark-
            cloaked figure blocks his way... very tall,
            quite female, dressed Sunday Best Lord of the Rings;
            she seems, behind her furrowed brow, also confused.


The Sorceress
when played, draw three cards.  You may immediately deploy any of these (at usual cost) adjacent to the Sorceress.

            Everything happens at once: a second moon,
            a dragon drifts in front, briefly it rains
            clockwork men...  A wagon of police arrive,
            take turns to shout incomprehensibly

            through bullhorns.  Tasers are brandished; a weirdling mist
            creeps in; there's howling; ultimatums; an angry
            and extended speech nobody understands;
            a mobile incident unit parks; a shout...


They don't know what they do When threatened by a neutral card: you may destroy one artefact, then every player draws two cards from the Random Deck and plays them immediately.

            the haft of a staff slams on the ground.
            How often does a moon fall down?  How frequently
            is your young adult world unmade; remade;
            flayed by shrapnel; the sudden change of life

            or heart.  The world has many moving parts
            and every single one of them hits Eddy
            in just a minute and a half.  It's a kind
            of Armageddon.  A werewolf eats his homework.


Promote Leader move any friendly or neutral card from controlled space into the Palace.  Usual promotion bonuses apply.

            Edward runs the city now: there's more homework.
            It is an indeterminate time later;
            which is the only kind of time he owns
            the clockworkings with which the ticking men

            repaired him in the ruins of the fallen moon
            keep perfect beat but do not feel the moments
            as they fall.  This must be what it is he says
            to be a mountain with a million drops

            of rain upon you every day.  Each drip
            exquisite and unique, but you barely feel

            the river.  You don't know change at all.
  Edward
            keeps the city safe, best as he can.  He keeps

            the mutants in the broken lands. He stamps
            quite carefully but firmly down on crime,
            and once in four years finds its time to tell
            the voters once again.  I am stability,

            he says, I tick.  I am reliable
            as only clockwork minds can be.  A vote

            for me, is a vote against moons falling ever
            again this is my oath: not on my watch.