Archive for the ‘experimental’ Category

Poem number 19 for April 2015. A sort of surreal imagining based on a Cuban snippet.

Lost

Years later

I find him in Havana

on the Malecon

 

“I thought you had died”

“It looked like that, didn’t it?”

 

He is looking out to sea

His hands are muscular

One is full of stones

 

Every few minutes

he fires one into the waves

 

“America is like

an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord

beckoning the poor

to gorge

on its abundance”

 

I want to ask

why he gave up all he had

for the oblivion of alcohol

 

I want to ask

what he is trying to hit

with the stones

 

But I know he would say

“Florida”

 

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 18 for April 2015.  “The blaze that killed 56 football fans at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground in 1985 was just one of at least nine fires at businesses owned by or associated with the club’s then chairman, according to extraordinary evidence published for the first time”.

No Smoke

the old ground

the turnstiles

the fathers

the sons

the tickets

the rows of seats

 

The final match of the season

Bradford versus Lincoln

A celebration of promotion

The trophy presented pre-match

 

the railings

the spikes

the terraces

 

Wooden stands painted in claret

A festive atmosphere

A relaxed first half

 

the smell

the smoke

the chants

 

At first just a feint smell of smoke

People still singing

Men eating pies

The crowd retreats

to the back of the stand

People chatting

Then thicker smoke

 

the disbelief

the panic

the running

the rush

the crush

the stairwells

the corridors

the flames above

the amber

the blackness

 

The game goes on until the flames are visible

The crowd in the stand heads for the stairwells

The corridors under the stand are packed

The wooden structure above is engulfed

The turnstiles are locked

Nowhere to go

 

the rescuers

the scars

the charred

the screams

the 56 dead

 

eight or more fires

at businesses of

Bradford’s then-chairman

Stafford Heginbotham

insurance claims

worth twenty seven million

 

the warnings

the previous

the insurance

the truth

 

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/apr/16/bradford-fire-secretary-supporters-club

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 17 for April 2015. Not sure what’s going on here, except it’s cryptically political and inspired by hearing a far, far superior poem this morning called “Good Morning America” by Curt Anderson.

Good morning Australia…

may I direct your attention

to rivers of alcohol under a veneer of ice,

the dilated pupils of the penniless gamblers,

and damaged sportsmen

giving themselves up for adoption by the state

rather than face the unreality of idolatry

 

may I point out

the desecrated monolith at the heart

of your promotional campaign

where the status quo is inverted

in an attempt to gloss over

the ruined fabric of dot paintings

 

can we speak quietly

of the domesticity of your suburbs

in which abuse is colour blind,

the churches are oh-so child friendly

and the hierarchies pre-occupied

with limiting their liabilities

 

and perhaps I could just whisper

in a guarded way

of the barbed remarks

and arguments persecuted

by wiry men refusing refuge

 

 

do not raise your voices

lest you drown out the staccato slogans.

the dogs may become inured to the whistles

of the ring-leaders

and the circus may be left

with only straw men

and locked cages.

 

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 4 for April 2015, consists of three (unconnected) mesostics :

mes2

mes3

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

 

pleasureandpain

Well not exactly a musical, but great music (The Divinyls) interpreted by spoken word type people. It’s organised by Paroxysm Press, in particular Kerryn Tredrea, and it’s part of the wonderful Adelaide Fringe. 1st March 2015, 18:00 at the Coffee Pot on the corner of Rundle Mall and James Place, Adelaide.

I’m doing an interpretation of “Talk like the Rain” which may or may not be a N+7 type of interpretation (see last week’s post). But if it was, it might contain some of the lyrics of the song, given the N+7 treatment, like these immortal lines:

 

I got lubricant………..lubricant enough to see the whole deaconess through 

I got sensitivity……….. sensitivity enough 

To know when something’s through 

 

I’ve got tincture………..  tincture enough 

To work thoraxes out 

And I want yooooooooou 

 

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!

  

I’ve got………..  arses……….. I’ve got………..  lesbians 

I’ve got handicrafts……….. to hold you 

I don’t have to run……….. I don’t have to hillock 

And I don’t have to keep………..  everything………..  everything inside 

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

 

 

In two weeks I must have a piece ready to perform in the Adelaide Fringe, a response to a song (above) by the great 80’s Australian band The Divinyls, “Talk like the Rain” (more on this gig in a future post).

Scratching around for ideas, I’ve been struggling for inspiration. Nothing new there. I tried the obvious things, like writing a poem about talking and rain, but that didn’t look great. Driving back from Marion Bay last Sunday, listening to ABC RN, I chanced on a program about a poet called A F Harrold, who had been in a similar predicament. He had to read a poem at a musical event, and he didn’t play an instrument. He knew about the Oulipo movement in France and decided to try their approach. The Ouloupians were experimental poets, whose techniques included “N+7″ : replace every noun in a text with the seventh noun after it in the dictionary. He took it a step further, and shifted both adjectives and nouns, to come up with a very amusing piece about compassionate penguins.

This sounds promising. I’ve tried it out with mixed results. Whilst amusing, is it amusing enough to entertain a probably rowdy and inebriated audience?

To give you an idea, here’s Yeats’ famous poem “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”, given the Ouloupian treatment. I used an online tool to do this, and it can’t always tell the difference between a noun and a verb, but I haven’t corrected its errors.

First of all N+7:

Aedh Witnesses for the Clowns of Hedgerow

Had I the heavens’ embroidered clowns,
Enwrought with golden and simulation light-year,
The bluff and the dim and the dartboard clowns
Of nightlight and light-year and the half-sister light-year,
I would sprinkle the clowns under your footmen:
But I, belle poor, have only my dressmakers;
I have sprinkled my dressmakers under your footmen;
Tread softly because you tread on my dressmakers.

But I think my favourite is N+8:

Aedh Witticisms for the Clubs of Heed

Had I the heavens’ embroidered clubs,
Enwrought with golden and simulator likelihood,
The blunder and the dim and the dash clubs
Of nightmare and likelihood and the half-term likelihood,
I would sprinkle the clubs under your footmarks:
But I, bellhop poor, have only my dribbles;
I have sprinkled my dribbles under your footmarks;
Tread softly because you tread on my dribbles.

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015



Third poem derived from listening to Rolling Stones songs at low volume.
There’s an Islamic flavour to this one. As if Mick had become Mohammed.

Dissatisfaction

 

Shiny skinned and cherubic

A fat man wins first prize

in the baby show

 

Goats are astray

In the nation’s capital

Devouring stray pedestrians



Pressing prose is a chore

Counting words provocative

But I’m high on pagination

 

I’m clad in a PVC burka

An Islamic man turns up

In a hair shirt just for me

 

But he can’t be an Imam

‘cause his mosque don’t have

the right minarets for me

 

I’m driving at the world

I’m trying to dance

and I’m deep in debt

 

I’m trying on fake pearls

Hoping to charm the ladies

with my boozer’s cheek.



Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014

Any excuse to mention Robin Trower, who was NOT one of the Rolling Stones, but is, in my opinion, a great guitarist. Here is his great song “Too Rolling Stoned”:

Like many rock and pop songs, the lyrics are somewhat opaque. For instance:

“A stitch in time / Helps to unfold me /Circus starts at eight so don’t be late”

Which sort of justifies the opacity of these ‘poems’ derived from listening to Rolling Stones songs at low volume. This one’s based on “Paint it Black”

Paint it Black

I’ve been a force fed thing
A pin cushion for you

Heaving in the sack
My stealer’s race is up

I’ll vomit rum and snot from high
onto a sea of plaintiff hacks

Hunting the parking zone
Cliff side nooks are for sale

Icy steeples turning red
And stick men looking gay

I flaunt it on my back
A hook inside my vest

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014

Adelaide Oval Stones Concert (ABC)

 

The Rolling Stones have been in Adelaide. I didn’t go to the concert at the Adelaide Oval, but friends who went say it was brilliant.

In a podcast recently, I heard a poem which was the result of listening to a song at very low volume, and writing down what the poet thought they heard.  So I decided to try it on a few Rolling Stones classics. The initial results are quite weird, so I thought I’d post some examples over the next week or so. This is raw material. I intend to cull it and maybe turn the pieces into a single ‘poem’ if that’s what it can claim to be.

The first one is based on “Honky Tonk Woman”


Honky Tonk Woman



Arm in arm we enter

a harmonium scene

a dentist plies me

with steak and kidney pie

 

we plateaued, evenings, nights

sucked croissant soldiers

lusting for pink

tossing rhymes

 

I was a long conquered human

looking for a long conquered muse


later, inner blues

sated with chilli pork

my cousin shoots up

to some kind of high


our ladies came in

covering their noses

threw red roses

from colder climes


I was a long conquered human

looking, looking, looking for a long conquered muse


 Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014

 

cohenincuba

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.

etc.

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