December 21, 2016
It’s 12 degrees in Bethlehem
right now, a satellite says.
Cold, but not cold enough
to freeze a woman, kill a man,
or icicle a donkey.
But babies are mere hope,
hope wrapped in folds of flesh,
and that needs relief from wind.
Even 12 degrees will bite
a baby with teeth of blue,
suck out crimson hope
faster than any ghoul.
So came a shed, some hay,
the pleasant fug of cattle.
And god, mewling in the grain,
seeding time, forever.
It’s 12 degrees in Bethlehem,
a satellite says, just now.
The funny thing is that when I searched for the weather in Bethlehem, I was first directed to the United States where there’s another place by that name.
Have a wonderful Christmas and see you next year (through my special reverse-blog glasses).
December 22, 2015
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (from ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’)
I would have sworn that I had posted this before, but I can’t find it. Doesn’t matter anyway, as it is a lovely piece that deserves frequent reading. The repetition of the word ring is quite remarkable. William Blake is always good, too.
We’re yet to reach the rule of the larger heart or the kindlier hand, and the times seem pretty cold, even here in a very hot Australia. But Christmas is a time to hope for renewal. As is Easter, but let’s not get head of ourselves…
Best wishes to everyone reading, and Merry Christmas from your ex-atheist blogger, as we move towards 2016.
November 24, 2015
Just when it has begun to dawn (as opposed to dawning to begin) that next week contains some of a month called December, I see that next year is already totally stuffed with events, like a Christmas stocking full of jolly wee gifts. (I would be quite happy with a stocking full of miniatures of vodka, rum and gin. But Santa never heeds my blog written hints. Either that or his historic sponsorship by Coca-Cola has made him renounce alcohol, the capitalist running dog.) Jason Nahrung has a very useful list of next year’s literary festivals on his blog:
Hilariously, the Adelaide Writers Week dates are set until 2019, which is so redolent of 5 year plans as to be practically North Korean. Though the wine in South Australia is undoubtedly better (listen, Santa, Goddamn you!) and they have luxuries like food, too. If you know of any other events, let Jason know!
Just had my first poem published in the Australian Poetry Journal, called “Secondary ghosts”. In his introduction, editor Michael Sharkey touches on ecopoetry, birds, and questions of popular appeal/playfulness. It seems to me, on first reading, that the volume is chockas, if not chookers, with winged things (my words, not Michael’s). Hence my arranging the journal next to by embroidered cockatoo cushion (that is a most playful bird) on a chair which is covered with a fabric called Virgin Lawn. (No kidding.) The colours of the beautiful cover of the APJ (painting by Lise Temple) reminded me of the chair. And, as the person who wrote the ghost poem, here’s a little poem about that poem:
I do the ghosts
In all their unseen glory,
or whingey postlife
booing or ruining feasts.
Which is not to say
that some feasts don’t need ruining.
Which is not to say
that a good scare is a bad thing.
Yes, birds flutter
through pages like
olive leaves. Some simply
go away, evermore,
but so many leave
droppings, and so we
put them into poems;
poems of soar or seediness.
But there are other
neither here nor there.
So I do the ghosts.
This is all getting a tad intertextual, which is when Santa leaves a new pen next to the list of gifts (which read Vodka, Gin, Rum) after amending it to read New Pen.
Tuesday Poem is going through something of a reconfiguration at the moment, but I certainly intend to keep posting on Tuesdays. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets by pressing here.
Next week there will be fewer brackets.
December 22, 2014
Just like the title says, to all readers.
If you press this link, you will find a radical poem by Emily Brontë about her relationship with God, along with some rather bashful commentary at the Tuesday Poem hub. (I wrote the commentary, and Emily Brontë overawes me a little. I felt as if I was putting one of those idiotic jokes that you find in Christmas crackers below something ineluctably profound.)
Now, like the entire population of Australia (give or take a few hundred thousand more sensible souls) I am off to drink and eat far too much. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, and neither do I post lists of what I achieved this year, in the manner of the fearsomely scary and boastful letters that some Americans send each other. (‘Clara is graduating from NASA as an astronaut with a sub-major in Klingon, and Peter just bought Harvard to match last year’s Yale.’)
There really is no ‘end of the year’. Time is not a commodity that we control, or which gives any attention to our calendars. But that is no reason not to have fun, and to reflect a little.
I intend to do some reflection in rock pools, and to splash in the surf.
God bless us, every one!
December 17, 2013
The research scientist discovers snow
The first time she saw snow
she thought it must be a film,
perhaps that old Christmas flick shown
in forty degree December heat
— that’s celsius, she’d explain
to bemused Americans,
wearing bright badges
of innocent face —
year after turkey-stuffed
mince-pie jammed year,
as they lay on the sweating couch
too whale-like to go to the beach,
full of cold-climate food, rendered
into puddings themselves,
leaking custard from pores.
Somehow the grainy surface
of that dreadful sentimental
drifting narrative had been
projected onto the sky,
and she ran outside to greet it,
overwhelmed and underwearing.
It was another language, this snow,
as weird as a marsupial to old Europe’s
bemoused science. It was harder
than she thought it would be,
not cloud-thrown confetti
settling in pillows, but
much blunter than sand to her splayed feet.
It is not a reversed beach
at all, snow. It is not a soft bunny blanket,
or a white towel to lie on.
She felt it for the first time, this dinted
elemental heaviness, as if water had collided
with steel, a sky highway pile-up,
and felt her heart melt, for the sea throb,
and the sharp sprint to water
when sand cuts like glass, too hot for flesh,
and light spears eyes with shards of clarity.
She was suddenly blue, as she stood in snow,
shivering, clamouring for that biggest island,
crouching, sunning itself, languorous;
the world’s big browning bottom.
Her first white Christmas, and surely,
she swore, nervous bikini clutching
chickening skin, her last.
This one was included in my first collection, The Glass Violin. I didn’t see snow myself until I was quite old, and remember reading about an Australian studying in the United States who gave herself mild hypothermia from running around in the snow without sufficient clothing.
I was reminded of this poem by the snow on my blog, the snow in Christmas cards, and generally everywhere. Meanwhile, the Australians are beating the English in Perth in 40 degree celsius heat. The visitors are melting like oddly clumsy snow. It’s a game of ashes and snow.
Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year, and particularly to those brave souls who have commented.
May peace and love be part of your life in 2014.
I can’t resist the combination of Christmas and cricket…
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