Tag Archives: poem

Will be back soon: Gone Lookin’

Fear is a good thing[…]fear is what drives us to take risks and extend ourselves beyond our normal limits, and any writer who feels he is standing on safe ground is unlikely to produce anything of value.

– Paul Auster, “Invisible”

Dear Void,

I have felt fear this past nine weeks. A lot of fear. I smelled the sulphur breath of a dragon still many miles away but surely snorting in anticipation of meeting me. It was healthy until…

…I stopped writing every day. You may have noticed. The fear became stale and crippling. The sulphur had plugged my synaptic junctions.

My thoughts now stray so far that my hands are always playing catch-up without ever catching up.

So here’s a pensive pause.

I’ll miss looking into you, dear Void, but I need to look into finding fresh fear.

I hope you’ll miss me too.

I shan’t be long.

Love,
Sam

To feed on fresh fear
confidently go Pale Fish
to water’s surface

Pond (c) Sam Rappaz

Seeing “The weight of One Self”

"The weight of One Self" - marble sculpture of height 2.7m by artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, in Lyon, France.
“The weight of One Self” – sculpture of height 2.7m by artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, in Lyon, France.
I look at my limp
body in my arms and I
wonder who saved whom.
I can only hold
the weight of my own conscience,
talk the truth I know.
Never a hero
was made by saving himself-
Completely untrue.

 

You can read more about this philosophically forceful sculpture here.

Enlightened by Winter’s Paradox

There is nothing
more extraordinary than,
when snow
can make sharp
the contours of the landscape
by covering it smoothly,
the crushing pressure
accumulated by crystalline snowflakes
that alone amount to
less than a water
drop,
the giant ego of a stony mountain made bigger
by ephemeral showers
of cold cotton,
seeing clearly
the line at which
visible life stops
to let heroes ascend
to immortality.

It is OUR loss

Voiceless art
speaks volumes about
a culture
of courage.
When made silent the message
screams ferocious fear.

 
This is a shadorma which I wrote after reading the following quote,

In this latest video, an unidentified man says Islam calls for the destruction of all idols. The museum worker was dismissive of this piety, saying the militants “don’t care about the statues” but rather are trying to “send a message to all the world.”

Source: NPR Blogs (Remembering The Relics And Rich History Of Mosul, Before ISIS)
 
In addition to the article linked above I also recommend the powerfully resilient poem “dimensions” by John Flanagan.
 
Here’s how Iraq has responded,

If this was my last poem…

If this was my last
poem, I should suffer
immeasurably.
I’d wake
late in the day-
there’d be nothing
in the early light
of collective awakening
to record in cursive letters.
I’d eventually lose
my sight
for irony and ecstasy
in the mundane, then
life would be perfectly
uninteresting.
The ream of used printer paper
recycled for blotted thoughts
would gather dust
and no more dreams.
This pen would be left
standing nib-up
in an old coffee mug,
until its ink dried. When
taken later to quickly scribble
an address or number
it would grate
angrily against
the grain.
I’d let my wrist
loose and jerk
the pen and the air
would be moved
to whip me.
I’d feel shame
for once
I had used this pen
as a whip.

 

Inspired by daily prompt: Last Words & my ongoing study of the Imagist free verse form.

Erasure poetry: Stranded

Here’s my second attempt at Erasure Poetry which is a type of Found Poetry. My first attempt was just an abridgement of the text!

I have used the text from ‘The Voyage Out‘, the first novel by Virginia Woolf from erasures.wavepoetry.com. It’s a useful website with a number of interesting texts (and poems derived from them), to practice erasure poetry. I don’t know how much I’ll pursue this particular form but I have tried another way of jumpstarting my creativity by fusing free-write and found poetry which was rather fun (poem: Ramble On! Sing That Song!).

Poem: Stranded

Stranded, an erasure poem (c) Sam Rappaz
Stranded, an erasure poem (c) Sam Rappaz (I noticed a couple of punctuation errors here. Oops!)

The sun down, dusk at the
hours to kill-
coffee and cigarettes,
unusually dull.

Plump animals
had been fed
their silence
in the lion-house,
hippopotamuses, swine, some loathsome reptiles–
mauled.

Glance fixed
points at you
whichever way
you approach
them, that fixed
attention too far
to hear.

 

Original text:

Passage from 'The Voyage Out' by Virginia Woolf used for erasure poetry.
Passage from ‘The Voyage Out’ by Virginia Woolf.

 

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Day 9: Prompt-Landscape; Form-Found poetry; Device-Enumeratio (let’s just call it ‘Catalogue’, shall we?)

 

Twin beds

I lost my dreams in between these mattresses
we share. The gap is pressed against my spine
and I wake up feeling disjointed. Sensory
elusion, recession at this gorge-made of bed sheet-
marking our sleep, where dead cells accumulate.
Vertical blinds open at one slat allow
light through without interference to light
the room in grey tones. My right-foot heel
is stuck in the enveloping gap between
our mattresses. I bend my toes in unison
and then stretch them out to get blood going.

 

I lost my dreams in between these mattresses
we share. I stretch my arm over on your side
to feel the impression of your body and it feels warm.
My arm flails ruffling the sheet and your duvet is far.
In an awkward angle I find your pillow,
and I bring it to my face and inhale your new-age
man musky sweat smelling of AXE power and Gucci
‘Made to Measure’ and this gap between our
mattresses widens as I shrink. I fall into it helpless
remembering your curved spine for which
I’d cross this gap each night.

 

I lost my dreams in between these mattresses
we share but grasp at this illusion of poetry
I found in waking up without you.

(..)

Egon’s fingers

Source: wikigallery.org
Mother and son (“Mutter und Kind”, 1912, Oil on canvas) Source: wikigallery.org
In Art that lives on expression of dead subjects his genius shines. With each hard brush stroke he claims a retinal cell and soon my vision is conquered. I see scratches of a forgotten soul emaciated and under hardwood floors, of loneliness. He has scratched in the face of a mother and her newborn.
One’s eyes are closed and the other’s opened in terror. They are a beautiful, pristine and hypnotic striking blue of a whirlpool.
The dreary sombre browns of the mother’s face and her strangling embrace of her child; her long bony fingers that grasp him and her thumb behind his back to: hold his spine? or to press a nerve? One can guess.
It is the rosy life of the child that blushes on the edges of the scream. He is locked within the frame of the portrait with no release. His left palm stretched and pressed. His thumb hooked and too far away from his parted red lips to provide a comforting suckle.
Where is the child’s right hand and in what position under this shroud of smothering darkness?
I can only wonder at Egon’s fingers.

 

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Day 7: Prompt-Fingers; Device-Assonance; Form-Prose poetry

 

I love Egon Schiele’s works. I felt their power first-hand in the art museums of Vienna. I went there primarily to admire Gustav Klimt’s paintings and designs and came back being more profoundly impacted by Schiele. I had never experienced such rawness and vulnerability in a painting before. Schiele broke all social rules and didn’t do it as a gimmick. He lived a life of loss and died before he could enjoy commercial success. The “Dead Mother” series, to which the above painting belongs, is incredibly moving. If you are ever in Vienna please visit the Leopold Museum to enjoy Schiele’s masterpieces.

Goodbye

Continued...
 Please read the first part here.

 

It was a chemical reaction; an effervescent response to the idea that happiness could be distributed over the counter.

Aren’t they marvellous: these Marketing people,

who study humanity’s weaknesses with microscopic precision taking apart every decision made with free will knowing fully well that there was no free will to begin with.

who laugh secretly in their cubicles and then in harmony in their meeting rooms as their formula turns into a positive case study for future business grads.

Meanwhile my mother is trying everything she can to make her love appealing.

Her apron is stained with dejection and the colours are faded on the side where she rubs her hands when she is nervous.

How can she compete with business models market analyses graphic designers extraordinaire dream-sellers food pornography?

She can’t so she responds by giving in, by buying me what I want and I love her for it and she grieves in her own way.

I am still young and manage to eat my way through my troubles without a problem but my mother doesn’t know it for I don’t eat her cooking.

She has lost me and she doesn’t know it.

 
 

I am faring a mile high above, trying desperately to spread frozen butter evenly on hard white tasteless bun, on my way to get an over-priced education in Real Life.

I land nervous and cold, hungry for anything familiar and see signs of familiar designer food in a different currency.

I feel safe in that tub of luke warm curry sauce, dunking my salty fries.

I am thanked by a wooden garbage bin for clearing my tray and I walk away with my oversized plastic drink which will soon just be ice.

I feel sick and so I call my mother: She asks me if I have been eating well and what I cooked for breakfast lunch dinner and I tell her nothing

She asks me if I have some instant soup and crackers at least and to avoid fat and to take fluids, take lots and lots of fluids.

She asks me to make rice porridge: grind roasted rice grains and cook the powder in milk and add a bit of sugar (because I like sugar and she knows that that’s how I like it).

She asks me if I can manage-Yes, Mother, I can and I will and I must.

I learn international cuisine for it’s easier to avoid a label when there’s no smell of my heritage.

Pasta al dente mediterranean roasted chicken baked beans from a can french salad dressing aceto balsamico and I am settled in.

 
 

She came to visit me recently and brought some homemade spice mixes–the whole spices roasted in the right order in the right proportion, a perfected method distilled from centuries of meditation on sensation–in ziplock bags.

I opened a bag and the world around me dissolved, and there was just the whistle of that pressure cooker

and that sizzle of fresh green chillies in hot oil and the popping of the black mustard seeds that would fascinate me and would always pop onto my face

and I would turn around to bury my face in my mother’s apron that smelled of turmeric cumin coriander

and I cried for my homogenised existence.

Goodbye

The familiar aluminium pressure cooker screaming in one, two and three whistles so that the neighbour knows that we are having rice again today for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Steamed grains or batter in one-portion moulds to accompany spicy traditions of chutneys stews lentils vegetable curries yoghurt.

I remember twisting my face and knotting my eyebrows in distaste at the ordinariness of the contents of my plate.

I saw American television shows while my mother-the cook-revisited her Indian cookbooks to pin clipped magazine articles that had a new twist on an old recipe.

She watched cooking shows and took notes to annotate later with experience.

I took note of every time she served me the same boiled, steamed, heaped food.

She tasted it before serving and added her pinch of concern and stirred in some creamy advice on a low flame.

It was tasty; it was never a matter of taste.

One day I couldn’t swallow it; the familiarity gagged me, and I was learning so much from television.

Those young people, looked cool and happy, over a cheesy stuffed-crust pizza and a litre of cola.

Those fashionable rich kids knew what it took to be universally accepted.

I refused her service and left her standing over the fire of adolescent rage to reheat memories of my swift childhood.

I left her for deep fried meals packaged with a smiley in front, branded to remind me of nursery rhymes and innocence.

I left her for a chicken in a bucket of future guilt and medical bills.

I left her for a whopping good time, caught in the delirium of backlit neon menus, designed from a focus group survey.

 

This is the first part of a poem I am working on, in Biblical Free Verse form that I am slowly learning. Where do you draw the line between prose and poetry? I am slowly learning.

Image Credit: Charles Haynes CC BY-SA 2.0