Monday, September 30, 2013

daily haiku, Sept 30th

there is nothing like
fear to fuel creativity
deadlines fuel the fear

Meh... I don't like this haiku that much. I find the last few have been pretty lame.

As one of my recent ones said, I'm trying to get enough good (i.e. funny) haiku together for the haiku death match happening on Wednesday (it's Monday today), and I don't feel I have them.

I just need to write enough in a row that one will eventually be ok. Last year, Una and I were feeding off each other, and we had a lot of good ones.

I started with the idea of:

X statistics - where X was a 2 syllable word, i.e. vampires, zombies, werewolves and playing off that.

zombie statistics
3 in every 4 zombie
prefers live, fast food

vampire statistics
3 in every 4 vampire
hates the twilight books


Hmmm... yeah, need to sit and brainstorm a bit more. I'm a lot less prepared than last  year. :(

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

daily haiku, Sept 27th

it rains then sunny
then rain, then sun again then
rain. It's Wellington

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

daily haiku, Sept 21st

quote: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."  ~Leonardo DaVinci

the simplicity
of a touch, the ultimate

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

daily haiku, Sept 17th

don't play candy crush
the latest facebook game craze
it will eat your soul

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

daily haiku, Sept 15th

I know, I just had one with this title, but I missed a couple of days from being on interviews in Auckland.

don't feel contempt for
the guy with the ferrari
he's compensating

daily haiku, Sept 15th

a ball in the face
hurts less than missing the catch
don't ever do both

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

frequent haiku, September 12th

I missed yesterday
and also the day before
I need to write three

one down and two more
I decided everything
will be in haiku

windy Wellington
the plant life is so friendly
it's always waving

Monday, September 9, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

daily haiku, Sept 8th

an airplane back home
to my girl, who I don't love
I hate connections

Got this idea from: "Take this Waltz", a great movie... the haiku needs some work

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Daily haiku, Sept 6th

a butterfly lands
then takes flight from your shoulder
your world stays the same

"State of Being" opera

I know, I know, that's three posts in a day, but this one is exciting.

Back in May, someone got in touch with Poetry in Motion (my poetry group) to do the libretto for an opera. It's called "State of Being" and music was composed by Warwick Blair, a New Zealand composer. The video of the opera was just released yesterday and I watched it today.

There were four volunteering poets, including myself, and I did all the coordination with our contact in Auckland. We were supplied music for each section on Soundcloud, and were asked to write 8 pieces of about 10 minutes each. I aimed for 500-600 words per section.

We quickly divided up the different sections, which were based on eight different concepts: love, maths, jazz, sex, death, drugs and truth (dance is another section, but has no libretto).

I wrote maths and love, words attached below.

Warwick Blair was quite liberal with the libretto. There were very few parameters put in place to tell us how it would be sung, or how it would be used. When I listened to the video, I realized he took, at most, 3 or 4 lines in a row, sometimes modifying, sometimes repeating a line over. Very little of the two poems below remain - just a stanza or two of each. Still - it's fantastic and somewhat surreal to hear your own libretto sung by very talented singers.

I've learned a lot about poetry since May, so I'm a bit embarrassed by these pieces, but hey - they were good when I wrote them. :) I think I would concentrate on making them tighter, with more control over stanzas and meter, and pay especially attention to the internal rhymes and sounds/chimes. Still, I enjoy reading these still, so that's a good sign.


It makes perfect sense
that evolution and biology play a role in our daily lives
Irrational in the extreme, every scheme is of infatuation
A flick of hair, a flash of cheek, give weakened knees
Our horny and joy roar, like the shore’s crashing waves
Where then fits love? Is it the shining light we imagine?
Or just the pumping, pulsing flow of hormones?
We do not know.

All of us are, at best, sitting in the darkest places, holding the smallest candle
Lighting up the flickering, unsteady space around us
Once in awhile, someone finds a corner and sits
Those are the knowledgeable, the scholarly, the enlightened
Purposeless and endlessness fit together like pieces of an ever-changing puzzle
And any solid space feels like certainty in the vast darkness

So, how do you know when you’re in love?
Rather than picture her naked
You think of
The smell of her skin
the sun shining on her hair
the curve of her cheek
and softness of her lips
her eyes on yours
the throaty laugh
and smart remark
her timely blush
the crinkle of her eye
when she smiles
her attention
her discussion
her every word
No. That’s infatuation!

And unrequited infatuation at that
So, what is love?
The Greeks got it wrong
They think all blonde curls and batting eyelashes
Love is not the soft, pretty, feminine figure they imagine
No. Love is the twin sister to war
She is as fierce and her armour has barbed spikes
She can sometimes look so appealing, so sweetly curved
Do not be fooled, she is the harshest avenger
Ruthless and uncaring about the damage she leaves behind

If Love comes to you, run away from her
But know this, know this
You can never run fast or far enough
For her legs are long and tireless
Her breath steady through the miles
And even if she catches you alone in the wilderness,
She can reach into your chest
Tear out your heart, rip it into pieces
and fling them into every direction
Somehow, you still remain alive
Your heart keeps beating, shattered though it may be
And life goes on

Later, you meet love again
But this time, her foul mood has abated
And your heart remains intact
And she touches you lightly on the cheek
Gives you a hug and tells you to be well
Life is good, the birds are singing
The world is brighter and more colourful
Food tastes better,
Even the bruise black clouds do nothing to dampen your mood
The rain feels like sunshine
The pain in your muscles feel like rest
And your golden glow cheers all around you.
I am still waiting for her good mood.

Lost and listless, loveless and restless
Strangers are my only comfort, my only comfort
Cold, distant, the horizon seems closer than you
Take the distance and hug it tight
Take it to your breast and hear its heartbeat
the rhythm matches “I don’t love you any more”
And,while wishing you the best, it cannot comfort
Still, is this the essence of desire, or attraction?
Somehow, in the loneliness, you conclude
All love is self-love
You are surrounded by yourself always


Shaking the tree of mathematics yields
a biosphere of tensor termites
algebraic ants, exponential earwigs
logarithmic locust and binomial beetles
truths falls before our eyes
derived from nothing but the letter x

A special search for truth
One that might actually yield results
unlike “What is the meaning of life?”
or “Where did we come from?”
questions asked and unanswered
through the generations
Not math; math gives answers,
Time after time, it teases
Time from time and answers from answers

Sorely needed, desperately seeking
The deepest truth past number’s meaning
Truth seeking mathematicians spend lifetimes understanding why
One plus one equals three won’t fly
The very mind of God revealed
Years and decades go by
and as they come near
These truth seekers become like gods themselves,
gods of imagined spaces, warriors of the mind
lords of numbers

Searching, peeking, hunting, seeking
lighting a candle in the darkest places
not snuffed out by ignorance taking
no interest in their spaces

Imagine a life of searching, truth seeking
Answers always just around the bend
closer and closer with each derivation
but when you round the very last corner
What do you see?

Godel’s wall, looming large
bricks of incompleteness
and mortar of uncertainty
form tightest tightness, no cracks, no brightness
shine through
Truth is on the other side, forever from reach
Godel didn’t build it, but was the first to find it
And was the first to write graffiti upon its vastness
In bold, red, spray-painted letters
sit, “This sentence is false”
But if the sentence is really false
then it must be true, and if it’s true
it must be false

Many have tried, but when they find the wall
They know better, stop, take stalk, sigh and turn back
The best but skirt its infinite edges
getting lost in self references, logical paradox
unworthy of mention, axiomatic suspensions
Newer, unrevealing invention

So instead, they turn to sexy hyperbolas, curves of choice
Twisting to the apex of spiral joy
Shapes of planar-cones intersections
Injuring the soul of the circle, always bound end to end
the snake swallowing its own tail
forever lusting for freedom, but denied

Or, the Pythagorean truth where
the trig fairy sits on their shoulder
Whispering “hypotenuse”, “hypotenuse”
over and over into their ear
The very height of mountains,
the diameter of the sphere
distances to anything of worth
a giant euclidean tangle
from the sun to the earth
contained in the smallest triangle

Or, they slum with the layman and accountant
planar geometry and basic arithmetic
barely mathematics, of lowly aesthetic
columns of figures - addition and subtraction
where one and one, of course, make two
Where no one even question their actions
No formulae of Newton’s domain
No abstraction more complex than a fraction
The gods left alone on the higher plane
No Reinman, Gauss or Leibnitz
Just bean counters counting their beans
stones tossed into clay bins
to count the minutes and the seconds
no lords of numbers
no warriors of the mind
no mathematicians

NOTE: the idea of the maths poem comes from the story of Kurt Godel, a mathematician/logician from the mid-20th century who is famous for Godel's incompleteness theorems. Many mathematicians of the day spend nearly their lifetimes working on a axiomatic definition of all of mathematics. One of these was the famous mathematician and atheist Bertrand Russell. Much of their life's work was destroyed by Godel's theorems, who determined than an axiomatic definition of mathematics was not just difficult, but impossible. So, once your life work is destroyed, what do you do next?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Poetry exercises

I asked on facebook for some poetry writing exercises, since I have felt a little stale lately. It's quite amazing what a few random exercises thrown out can do. I'm pleased with some of the output, which might form the basis of a new slam poem sometime soon. It's certainly much better than the tripe I've been writing lately. I notice that I am quite heavy with both internal rhyme and chimes, that is, words that sound somewhat similar, but aren't actually rhymes. I like the sounds when read out loud.

1) Find a poem you love, start your own poem with the first line of that poem. When you're finished, throw away the first line.

Starting with Galway Kinnell's Blackberry Eating:

I feel the cold seep into my skin
the first signs that summer's fled
the light dying early in the dry, cool air
it's comforting in a way, but I can't say
the same for everyone, they're some who
hate the late days of summer, the dying
grasp of warmth, the claws of winter
scraping at the door you've closed
to keep in the heat, you'll soon meet
the fire in your stove, the deep pockets
of the armchair in the corner,
the love of a good book and
many reasons you want to stay indoors

my favourite bits: "late days of summer", "the claws of winter/scraping at the door", "the deep pockets of the armchair"

2) Write a poem from your latest grocery list:

Are you taking the pith from that mandarin
because it feels like you are, and I don't appreciate
the strips of mandarin peel that lay on the counter
when they should be in the compost bin
next to the browning carrots and the
thin onion skins and the twin broccoli stalks

turn away from my voice, put some cream
in your coffee and walk away, towards music
and heat in the other room, pretending that
you just want to eat cookies and read your book
when I know your truth, our truth
that you never wanted cream in your coffee

my favourite bits: "taking the pith" (that always makes me laugh), "compost bin" -> "thin onion skins and the twin broccoli stalks", the sounds just feel good here - lots of similar sounds in thin, onion, skin and twin, and "broccoli stalks" has a lovely cadence that I enjoy. I also really like "that you never wanted cream in your coffee", but don't quite get why. The whole 2nd stanza is packed with implied meaning, but without stating anything explicitly.

"truth" is on my grocery list. It's always the first item. I've never found it at the grocery store, but I keep looking, just in case.

3) Go to a cafĂ© and write a little poem about someone you see there - imagine their life and troubles or joys and write them a little summin summin.

he's alone at his table
every other stable with
groups of two or three
he's not quite sad looking
but concerned, or discerning
why she didn't come home
at her usual time

Favourite bits: I like the implication here of what he's thinking about and all the many, many pieces of his life that are implied by him being concerned that his partner didn't come back at her usual time... it's probably nothing, but maybe it is... he doesn't know.

4) Start with a critical yet reasonable stance on something then, line-by-line, let your argument deteriorate into invective and hyperbole

They really shouldn't beat nuns in Syria
I mean, really - what have they ever done?
Well, I mean, except for the ones
Who were mean to kids in school, act
as stubborn as mules, who might not
understand the plight of the average,
and think that the church isn't
abusing children, you know - all of them
Really - they might deserve a beating
Not that I would support behaviour
of that sort, not for sure, well, I've never
been in that situation to know
I might, especially if they looked at me
wrong, or talked in some funny language
or, you know, acted like Catholic nuns

my favourite bits: I enjoy using "really" and "I mean", "you know", "well" etc... sometimes several times, to add a conversational sound to it. I also like the internal rhymes and near rhymes, "done"/"ones", "school"/"mules", "might"/"plight", "support"/"sort". Many of them came about naturally when I was writing, but some were added after a bit of revision...

5) Let your current location be an inspiration.

my mind is blank under my blanket
as I slouch on my couch
I blaze through what I'm browsing
nothing sticks, and my mind remains blank
under my blanket
as I slouch on my couch

Favourite bits: nothing - this one was just silly. I did like blank/blanket though.

6) Write a poem from the perspective of someone who is something you are not - (e.g.) blind, deaf, gay (or hetero)...

I chose someone who is deaf:

I feel the deep rumble of the cars going by
and see their bright surfaces flash
or the splash of rain from their frames
the silence comforts, the lack distorts
but silent, always silent

they say the waves crashing make a lovely sound
to me, they are always the whitest white
curving, laying, bowing down to the shore
pushing pebbles quietly, smoothing divots
equalizing, traumatizing the beaches

Favourite bits: I enjoyed implying deafness, i.e. "I feel the deep rumble", "they say the waves ... make a lovely sound". I think I went too far with "the silence" and "... silent, always silent"

7) How about a poem or prose poem in which you have to include 5 things: orange, a child in water, easterly breeze, a Stop sign, and an alarm!

there’s a child in water, screaming
the scream streams in through my ears
screech, stop, screech, stop, for a long time.
It’s splashing is violent, but silent
my alarm: screaming, as my eyes open
violent, NOT silent, a buzz that generates a groan
from my lips, my daily zen koan, daily irritant
sheets wet, the child’s water, keeping me cold

the first chore, steep steps from my door, dragging
feet, raggedly tracking my home into the real world,
pulling collar to collar bone as I meet the whirling easterly breeze
my car stutters at the stop sign and I find time
to scoff an orange, spraying my hands with juice
the orange scent mixes with the spruce-scented
air freshener, mixing into a surprisingly unpleasant odour.

Favourite bits: I enjoyed this one quite a lot - I have been playing the internal rhymes and chimes, "scream"/"screech", "stop"/"long", "violent"/"silent", "groan"/"koan"/"cold", "dragging"/"raggedly".

I do like "collar to collar bone" and the image it implies of steeling against the wind.

The dream of a child screaming being an alarm was a bit heavy I felt. Also, the blatantness of the child's water being sweat on the sheets feels a bit unnecessary. Maybe leave that out in revision. I also was a bit uneasy with "chore"/"door". Still, fun. There are lots of pieces of these things that I can use later.

I feel that I could improve my use of chimes and be more deliberate, and less obvious with rhymes - if they are natural, fine, but otherwise, they feel a bit forced and there's no point. At the moment, chimes are used nearly arbitrarily, simply for sound. I think I would like to pick and choose and imply more. I like the implied pieces quite a bit. I think if I continue to write regularly, there will be more and more of this that comes out.

Also, none of these used meter at all... I didn't think of meter even once while writing them. Line length and stanza length were deliberately (approximately) uniform, but nothing else. I was listening for the sounds more than anything.

Daily Haiku, Sept 5th

a baby screaming
I awake from my nightmare
my alarm screaming

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"daily" haiku, Sept "3rd"

I realized that I might as well write another haiku for Sept 3th, since I missed it

Fuck society!
I realize the issue
where does the cock go?

"daily" haiku, Sept 4th

I missed yesterday - things happen. I'm looking for work... life gets in the way.

Anyway, onto the haiku:

please like this haiku
if you're a poet, you'll know
we're attention whores

Sunday, September 1, 2013