Archive for the ‘experimental’ Category


Final poem for April 2014. Today, for I think the first time, I’ve used the prompt from the NaPoWriMo web page. Actually, it’s yesterday’s prompt as they are a day behind Australia.  It gives a complex 20 step recipe for a poem e.g.:

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.


I followed the instructions closely, and then massaged the results. For instance I relocated the poem to Cuba, which I visited about 8 years ago. The result does not necessarily make sense, but, as an experimental poem written within specified constraints, I think it’s sort of interesting. Only after finishing this draft did I find that Cohen actually went to Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion (read about it here) – don’t know whether that came from my subconscious or is pure coincidence.

Leonard Cohen in Cuba

Over Havana

the sun is eclipsed.


In the false dusk

the cab-drivers

are like porn stars


The street beggars yearn

for the touch of skin.

Their beds are of cardboard

scented with cheap rum


In the bars,

there is salt

on the rims

of the glasses


but the punters

can only taste collapse

and endure the complaints

of disappointed women


Leonard comes to town.

He corrects me:

“It wasn’t cardboard,

it was newspaper.

They stank of urine not rum.

and these cigars are utter tosh”

“Llame a la policía!” he shrieks


The bars are flooded

in a freak storm.

The cab-drivers go home

for dinner with their families.


On Sunday,

the ceiling collapses

from the weight of expectations.


The embassy recommends

we move to a monastery

safe from the police

and the constant

attentions of the jineteros


Leonard sneers

at his entourage.

The boss is unimpressed.

“It will end in tears” he warns


The belligerent nuns

whisper that the drunken priests

are the only ones

to be trusted


 © Mike Hopkins 2014

Not much gas left in the tank of ideas, so today I’m doing an ‘erasure’ poem. This involves taking a random slab of text and erasing words to produce a ‘poem’ from the remaining words.

I’ve used a great web site called “Erasures” to automate the process. The source text is History of the Gatling Gun Detachment by John Henry Parker, and I’ve called the poem “Erasing the Box”

Erasing the Box







© Mike Hopkins 2014



This morning I cycled 22 kms and ran a 5km race before breakfast. Then I did a load of washing, spent the afternoon sanding and painting. Then went to the library, did my week’s shopping and picked my son up. And you still expect me to write a poem today? Well don’t expect it to be a complete one.


This Poem Is Under Construction

it needs a better title

and a first line that says

something the reader

doesnt already know


the middle is coming together

but the format



a bit

all over the place


it then meandars

without adding anything meeningful.

before coming to a faltering end.


That ending definitely needs a rethink.

And it needs a spellcheck too.


© Mike Hopkins 2014


“The Government has given the go ahead for the purchase of 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) at a cost of $12.4 billion – making it the nation’s most expensive Defence asset.” (ABC News, 23/4/14).


Reasons to Spend $12 Billion on Fighter Jets


  1. Saves on medical bills – less Viagra needed by politicians and military top brass.
  2. Loud, fast, impressive flypasts at motor races
  3. Avoids arguments between bureaucrats about whether to spend the money on health or education
  4. Sounds really impressive in speeches – sexy words like ‘strike’, ‘JSF’, ‘fighter’, ‘f-35, ‘hornet’
  5. Exciting daily rides for large numbers of Australians – well 58 of them at least
  6. Wonderful vote of confidence in those great, great people in the armaments industry
  7. You can get somewhere really fast – if you’re on your own, a qualified F-35 fighter pilot and the ‘somewhere’ is an air force base or aircraft carrier
  8. Got to love those vapour trails
  9. Easy to park – can fit into just 4 normal car park spaces *
  10. Gives lots of our money to a really needy country … the U.S.A.
  11. Stimulates jobs … in the U.S.A.
  12. Shows how independent we are from everybody (except the U.S.A.)
  13. Scares the shite out of boat people when you fly really low over them
  14. Big boost to the sales of plastic model aircraft kits and glue
  15. Video stores get increased demand for rentals of  “Top Gun”
 * car park spaces must be at the end of a 750 metre runway


You know it makes sense.


© Mike Hopkins 2014

Today saw a case of severe writer’s block. The harder I tried, the worse the ideas became. The more I searched poetry books, the web, old notebooks, the less inspiration I had.

Eventually, getting sick of it, and just wanting to eat and relax, I’ve gone back to the earlier idea of a google search bar poem.

This one is loosely inspired by recent events in New South Wales, where the Premier has had to resign over a gift from a corrupt businessman of an expensive bottle of wine.


google corrupt


© Mike Hopkins 2014


According to a not very reliable website I read today, humans are different from animals in 15 ways. These include crying (really?), farting (I know that’s not true because I’ve smelt dog farts and heard elephants fart), hiccoughs (maybe), blushing (likely), shaving (obviously), pins and needles,  risk taking and daydreaming (how would we know).

I started this poem as a list of those ‘weirdnesses’, and then turned it into the record of one side of an interview. I’ve given it the number 1 – the inquisition may continue.

Interview 1

How long since you last slept?

Have the hiccoughs always been this bad?

And when did the tears begin?

Have you measured their volume?

Do you usually blush this easily?

And this shade of red?

Why did you take the risk?

Now that you are here, do you think it was worth it?

How did the pins and needles start?

Why did you laugh so hard?

But nobody else did. Why do you think that was?

Do you usually kiss her on the mouth?

What about that particular morning?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?

When did your ‘personal’ problem surface?

Did it affect your relationship?

What about the deformity?

Why did you blink at that question?

What was your daydream about?

Was it in 3-D?

And colour?

Which side of your face do you usually shave first?

Wet or Electric?

How long since you last had sex?

Man or woman?

When did you realise you were the only survivor?

Are you glad?


© Mike Hopkins 2014

New Age Bull


This one came from a Facebook post this morning, about a “New Age Bullshit Generator” (here). You press a celestial button on the site and it generates a page of New Age bullshit – you know, rebirth, unicorns, the cosmos, chakras etc.

So I challenged fellow Poem A Day-er Tracey Korsten to a duel – write a poem out of the New Age bullshit.

So here’s mine:


“The Universe is Buzzing ….“

…with bio-electricity” she says.  “We exist as bio-feedback.”


-          I am reminded I haven’t paid my power bill.


“The solar system is calling to you via vibrations.” she says “Can you hear it?”


-          I cup my ear, but the vibrations are overwhelmed by bar chatter and the cash register


“We will be reborn at a crossroads of power and discontinuity” she says


-          I had a Robert Johnson record once, but I scratched it.


“Who are we? Where on the great mission will we be reborn?”


-          I hadn’t realised she was one of the Stolen Generation.


“We are in the midst of an event that will remove the barriers to the cosmos itself so that we will enter into infinite space-time”


-          I see myself as a young Captain Kirk, in an early episode of Star Trek


“Bondage is the antithesis of growth. Desire is born in the gap”


-          I think she’s trying to hit on me


“Reality has always been full of adventurers”


-          She IS trying to hit on me


“Imagine a maturing of what could be. It is time to take aspiration to the next level” she says


-          No, she thinks I’m too old


“Astrology may be the solution to what’s holding you back from an epic fount of potentiality. Confront the things that can exterminate” she says


-          Astrology instead of Viagra? Or maybe it’s Dr. Who.


“Our chakras are engulfed in the wonders of curiosity” she says


-          “I’m skint. I was wondering if you could buy me a pint?” I say.




© Mike Hopkins 2014



Pressure can be a good thing. It can make you write without thinking too much. And then what comes out might be the product of your subconscious, or it might be nonsense. I’m not sure what this one means, but it was inspired by Jane Hirschfield’s “A Hand”.


A Shoulder

after Jane Hirschfield


A shoulder is not a joint of meat

not clavicle and tendon

scapula and ligament


A shoulder is not a shelf

of bone and muscle

not a socket

for ball and joint to lock

not a projection

where collar and cuff collide


A shoulder

is not a resting place

for vagrant or stray

not a landfall

for the lost

not a spyglass slope

nor bloodhound’s hideout


A shoulder

is not a hollow

for the tears of the stricken

not a launch pad

for armed assault


The shoulder

sacrificed for hunger

is devoured without conscience

a lean memory

of a frisking innocent.



© Mike Hopkins 2014

Last year I tried a few google translate poems. For instance, I fed a line of the Australian National Anthem back and forth through dozens of google translate languages, to see how the line was transformed by multiple translations.

This year, I’ve come across google poetics, a site dedicated to constructing poems from google’s autocomplete suggestions. Have a look at some of them here.

So what you do is start typing in the google search bar, and see what suggestions the autocomplete function gives you. Sometimes they can be interesting. I’ve grouped six of them together for this exercise.

google predict

 © Mike Hopkins 2014

Tramstop 6 - South Rd

Back in October, Adelaide based poet and ABC radio presenter, Mike Ladd, ran a workshop to elicit poetry and related ideas for a public art project, at Tram Stop 6, South Road, Adelaide (shown above). This particular tram stop is where the flyover has been built to take the tram over South Road. It is between Glandore and Black Forest tram stops within the City of Marion council area.

Mike and Cathy Brooks previously did a street signs project for Bowen Street:

This time around, they have a billboard sized space under the flyover with a series of panels which will be filled with the contributions of poets and the associated artwork of Cathy Brooks.  Mike took us on a walk to the tram stop where we milled around for thirty minutes with pen and paper desperately trying to think of things to write about. It’s a very grey, concrete space, with lots of traffic noise and functional street furniture. There are railings, staircases, lifts, benches, warning signs (no waiting, no parking etc), bins, cycle lock ups etc. Seemingly not the most inspirational place. But then again, this is the sort of place where some mental distractions might be welcomed by the bored commuter.

The brief was to come up with SHORT pieces: haiku, senryu etc. or any form of less than about 20 words.

I submitted about 10 ideas to Mike and Cathy, and was pleased to hear that they like four of them, which will be part of the installation. It will be interesting to see what sort of artwork Cathy comes up with. I gave her very rudimentary ideas of what was going on in my mind, but she may well take a totally different approach to them.

I won’t pre-empt the installation, which will take place sometime in early 2014. So here are some of my ideas they did NOT accept, but which might still raise a smile. Apologies for the lack of artistic skill in illustrating them.

Peeling passengers

from windswept platforms -

the last tram.

The tram arriving

at stop 6

is ahead of its time

Next stop:

Black Forest

have your cake

and beat it

After the last tram

A rush of chill air

Ghost of a red rattler


The tram departs

she grabs her phone

deletes his number

tram 3

tram 2