Autumn

🍃🍂🍁

Autumn steals in like a quiet

cat, looking for a warm place

to settle. On the mountains

in the copses and through the forests, the trees rustle

amongst themselves, and blush

at her touch. Do the beetles know

of this? I do not know, they talk

to their gods in tongues.

©️2019 K Price

Anna

The sea knows
loss, its ancient suspirations inhale
terra firma grit by grit

The sea knows
abyssal hobgoblins well up
from their deep-rutted trenches
even on sunshiny days
they manifest their stinking grotesquery
on sabulous shores

The sea knows
violence
never sleeps
is always sighing

Like you the sea knows
some things
are worse
than dying.

© 2018 Karen Price

 

 

Vale Cynthia Jobin

Sunflowers

On my return to blogging in April, I was deeply saddened to discover that one of my favourite poets of all time had died in December 2016.

Cynthia Jobin was a blogging friend and a masterful poet, whose art was superior in form, structure and rhythm. But what I love most in her work is the way she infused it with mischief. Her intellect and humour shines through her poetry.

Sadly, Cynthia’s WordPress site is no longer up. I hope her unpublished work will not be lost.

I will miss you, Little Old Lady. You were a beautiful light in the darkness.

https://uspandey.com/2016/12/25/goodbye-cynthia-jobin/

Cherry on the top

My work meeting finished at 4pm. I still had minutes to type but was also due to meet a friend for dinner and the theatre at 6:30pm on the other side of The Bridge.

Anybody who lives in Sydney knows that trying to get across the Sydney Harbour Bridge by car into the city from 5pm onwards gobbles time. So I made the journey at 4 and typed the minutes here. A lovely way to end the work day.

Shanghai

Tonight

I’m in a city of 14.50 million

(give or take a few, including me)

souls. I know no-one

here. I’m a nano-human, a speck

in the smog. I make myself big

riding the subways with no-one

with light-coloured hair. No-one notices

the gweilo; the ghost-person, I think,

until I step into the deluge at Shanghai

Library, and a dark-haired

girl steps in time beside me,  her umbrella

banishing the rain, her words, my ghostliness

“Where are you going?

Can I take you there?”

image

 

 

 

The Unanswerable Question

Cynthia Jobin, over at  littleoldladywho.net, is one of the finest poets I’ve read. Her poems are exquisitely crafted, evocative, and at times wonderfully mischievous.

A recent poem of Cynthia’s – The Palpable Obscure – is a spine-tingling evocation of the ongoing mystification endured by those of us who have experienced the death of a loved one.  In it, she writes:

Once a day, at least, I stop to wonder
where you are.

Is this puzzlement not at the very heart of the Human Condition?

If my father were alive today, the 27th November 2015, he would be 83. I started this blog mainly as a response to the lingering grief I felt about his dying. And this poem, which I first posted on the 27th November 2010, is about the day he died.

Like Cynthia, I still wonder…

Eternal Mysteries ( a repost)

With the ring back on your finger
you sighed and slipped away
but forever it’s a mystery
where you went that day

Did you see them watching you
and whispering in your ear?
When you took your final journey,
did you know that they were there?

Did you sense that we were not?
No-one can ever know,
yet child-like we still ask ourselves –
that day, where did you go?

————————–

The Reproach of Matilda

She’s there every morning, glaring down at me, when I open my eyes.

“If you’re going nowhere, neither is that extra chin”, she seems to say. “I have limits, you know. If we’re to ever get any closer, you should be out there, not hitting the snooze button repeatedly!”

She’s right, of course, my ideal dress size. I breached her boundaries a long time ago and won’t be fitting back in any time soon, unless I get out there and move. Every single day.

“And cut out the champagne while you’re at it, lardarse.”

By my calculations, transforming Matilda’s reproach into rapprochement is about 720 km away.

Ho hum.

The Matilda Dress

The Matilda Dress

 

 

Hiiumaa

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When the sun turns
away to southern lands
we find ourselves awake
on a strange, familiar shore
where t
hose who’ve gone
before sleep beneath moss
in forest
graves, and wild apples
jump the fences

Across the Baltic Sea
history comes full circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets from the Crime Scene – Unsavoury Delights

This year, I avoided the poetry bashing workshops at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and attended a couple of interesting panel talks, one of which—Secrets from the Crime Scene—I reviewed, and I thought I’d share it here.

Crime, it seems, pays handsomely for crime writers, not necessarily in hard cash but in endless material on the peculiar machinations of the criminal psyche. And mid-morning on this glare-bright winter’s day at the 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf is packed to the raw, high rafters with an eclectic audience, from school-goers to retirees, dying to know more about what the panel facilitator, Tom Wright, refers to as “life as they imagine it might actually be led away from their fairly safe existences”.

Competing with the hiss of the venue’s overworked espresso machine, the conversation nevertheless flows easily amongst the Secrets from the Crime Scene panel: Kate McClymont, Fairfax investigative journalist, known most recently for He Who Must Be Obeid, an exposé on Sydney businessman Eddie Obeid’s corrupt dealings; Sarah Hopkins, criminal lawyer and fiction-crime author, her most recent novel being This Picture of You; and Michael Robotham, Australian journalist turned successful international crime writer, his latest book being Life or Death.

Kate, with her permanently quizzical left eyebrow, is an expert on the depths of Sydney’s criminal undercurrents, from the murderous mentality of organised crime and bikie gangs to the sociopathic undertow of white-collar crime. The audience roars when she says, “One of the things I really love about Sydney’s criminals is they are so stupid”. And vain: one of her regular informants, who was jailed for abducting Terry Falconer (subsequently murdered), whined to her that the actor portraying him in TV’s Underbelly: Badness “makes me look like a gay porn star”.

Michael says his books “tap into everyday fears” and that he often has to tone “down the truth to make it palatable, because people will not believe it in a book of fiction”, even though “truth always, always proves to be stranger”. Tom remarks on the frequent prescience in Michael’s novels as is exemplified by the story Michael tells of The Wreckage, a novel that was based on the idea “that $250billion of drug cartel money was laundered through major western banks, because during the Global Financial Crisis, banks were so short of funds, they waived all money-laundering laws simply to stay afloat”. The novel was reviewed by an incredulous Joe Nocera, financial writer for The New York Times, who said that no major Western bank would launder money for a drug cartel; it simply wouldn’t happen. With a larrikin air of perpetual amusement, Michael says that now every time there’s a factual report of such events, he sends Joe a tweet: “Say it ain’t so, Joe, say it ain’t so”.

Sarah, who has the demeanour of a meditating monk, rather than someone professionally mired in the mess of criminality and the constipated bureaucracy of social institutions, is more serious than the other panellists, but no less interesting. Through her creative writing, she questions who in our society gets to define what a crime is and the fact that, until recently, “criminal law wouldn’t reach its arm into the home” because “a crime, traditionally, has been about transgressions in the public realm”.  As Tom notes, her books are now very much focused on the notion that “the place where your body and mental health is most likely to be at risk is in the home”, an unsettling thought.

In response to a question from the audience, Sarah says she’s never been threatened by a reader, but Michael’s tells of his stalker and many “angry emails” from Americans who objected to this line in an early novel: “something didn’t quite look right, like seeing Bill Gates in board-shorts or George W. Bush in the White House”. And then there is the intrepid Kate, who has had her fair share of legal action and life-threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.

Crime writing—it’s a dangerous but thrilling life.

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Tom Wright, Michael Robotham, Kate McClymont, Sarah Hopkins

Back from Behind

I like to do things backwards, don’t ask me why.

When I read a print newspaper (yes, some of us still do), I often start at the back page and work my way forward. Same with magazines. I can’t help it. (Although, I haven’t yet acquired that peculiar habit of reading the end of a book first. Horrors!).

Anyhow, I don’t like the thought of taking a blog break without announcing it upfront, but, somehow, my unintended break got away with me. So I should have told you that I was taking a blog break. But I didn’t. So now you know.

I’m back from behind.

As if you’ve noticed.

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Remembering 3/11

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End of a Dream

C-sharp minor
plays through the eaves
of this house
wind-cold emptiness, the ambient noise
of destruction
where laughter once lived.

Shoji, last opened
to plum-blossom whispers
now lachrymose with silent
half-life

a bird singing
for no-one.

xxx

Act of God

Power of Poetry

3/11 – The Japan Times

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

bb - scale

Red Bishop – Kwazulu – Natal, South Africa

 Microcosmos

Beauty at scale rarely seen
by human eye, but inbetween
lush blades of grass daily spy
a microworld of strange small fry

As this mini-jungle wakes
from dark of night, a lone ant slakes
his thirst from fresh dewdrops bright
reflecting snails in love’s delight

Airfields of apian craft at ready
take flight from rouged poppies, heady
with blue jewels sparkling far and wide
on backs of bees on buzzing ride

A mighty dung beetle battles
sticks arresting rolling chattels
from onward journey, this daily testing
to construct his place of resting

Inkblot-eyes of springtails watch
(in somersault) nymphs slowly hatch
themselves from deep and watery vault
and caterpillars as they moult

A miniverse that’s quite astounding,
with creatures, strange and weird, abounding.

—————————————————————————————————————-bb

For more entries to last week’s WPC, see The Daily Post.

A Blank Page

What is one thing nobody knows about you?

This question is posed for the 27th January by my 3-year sentence-a-day diary, a gift from a dear friend. Since I started the diary 5 months ago, it’s the only page that remains blank.

And it’s not because the answer is something I wish not to put on paper so that no-one can ever find out; it’s because I don’t have an answer! What a strange thing to realize. Perhaps I need to get a secret life. 😀

Would you have an answer?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

Often
in the crowd
a ghost flies by
in a smile, in a walk
in the twinkle of an eye.

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A Wild Night in Tokyo

For more entries to this week’s photo challenge, see The Daily Post. (Although, when I last looked, their pingbacks weren’t working.)

Kill Your Darlings Not Your Editor

Given the grammar and punctuation transgressions on this blog, you’ll probably find it hard to believe that I qualified as a book editor over a decade ago. *Sharp intakes of breath around the Blogosphere* Yes, you know who you are. 😀 Breathe easy; I’ve yet to give up my day job.

What I do know is that editing is critical to the writing process and essential for, at the very least, published works and professional documents. And what I did learn in studying for my editing qualification is the need for tact when dealing with authors and their work, no matter how awful either.

At work, I edit my own writing before and after I get someone else to edit it. Even so, when I do the final edit, I’m often bemused to find a number of errors remaining. When it comes to prose, I know my weak areas: omission of functions words, homonym misuse and comma confusion, to name but a few, so I know what to look for. But, poetry? I really have no idea.

So it is with heartfelt gratitude, appreciation and admiration that I thank Linda Cosgriff (a.k.a. The Laughing Housewife) for the gift of her editing expertise on my first poetry collection.

Linda is what the publishing industry (if she were to put herself out there) would consider an exceptional editor: she knows her stuff, and she is unafraid to say what needs to be said on both form and style but does so in an encouraging, tactful and respectful manner. And she sends gifts. 😀

I’ve taken most of her advice…
..OK, I admit I’ve granted clemency to some of my poor darlings.

Any errors remaining in the book are purely mine.

You have done me an immense favour, Linda dear. Thank you for the gift of your friendship, your valued input and the Olympic Games bookmark with the inspiring quote. ♥♥♥

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A Week in Reflection

bb-wirThere was a time, when I was much younger, when I was afraid to fly.

No more.

I’m not sure why the change, but since a few decades ago, no longer do I sit white-knuckled in the belly of those big mechanical birds as they defy gravity. Perhaps it’s something to do with my attitude to death. I’m no nihilist, but I don’t necessarily view death in a negative light. My death, that is. The death of others is quite another matter.

The morning after MH17 was shot down, I flew long-haul. I thought not of plane crashes but of the shocking consequences of war, its terrible futility and the immense trauma and devastation that it invariably causes to human lives; of those people left behind, forever suffering the reality of the obliteration of their loved ones. And how this suffering so often leads to an ongoing cycle of violence.

In my hotel room, on the BBC News channel, night after night, images of the crash site alternated with sickening images of Gaza. How to make sense of the human that strolls casually amongst the mutilated dead, picking through aircraft wreckage and strewn personal belongings as if he were evaluating fruit at the local market. And of the human that bombs sleeping children as if crop-spraying pests. How do we get to this?

A week later, on my way to Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport for my flight home, my hosts, who insisted on accompanying me in the taxi to the airport, chatted with the taxi-driver in Vietnamese. I heard the word “Malaysia” and asked if they were talking about plane crashes. They were. And they expressed their alarm that there had been three in one week. I thanked them for their tact, and we all laughed.

Once boarded, I started reading The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, and thoughts of the taxi conversation were forgotten as the book caused me to reflect on how human memory and the subconscious mind work both for and against us in life: the need for revenge versus the need for peace; how we dehumanize “the other side” to make ourselves feel better about what we do and about humanity as a whole; and how memories play a role in our undoing.

Eventually I slept but was bedeviled by catastrophic dreams – we ditched in the South China Sea, a flotilla of boats waiting to rescue us; we made an emergency landing in a busy city street, the fuel-laden left wing barely missing an advertising bollard; I rescued long-dead loved ones from a burning wreckage in a field of sunflowers..
.. the subconscious mind doing its best to exert control over that over which we have little.

Despite our best efforts, accidents happen; death happens.

But war does not just happen; it is made by humans, the likes of you and me.

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Canine Fictions

My S-I-L Belinda has an eye for the interesting, the beautiful and the absurd and takes the most wonderful photos.

I love this photo of hers and thought it the perfect match to a poem that I wrote for Gabrielle Bryden’s Close Shaves Week. Thanks, B. 🙂

photo - bps - cat

Photo by Belinda Price-Sinclair

Tank
the neighbour’s dog
has a lot
to say in the morning.

I imagine he entertains
the Vox Dogz with tales
of victorious nocturnal stoushes
with the white cat from across the road:
“A face like a chook’s bum
I tell ya rrrrhahahaharuffruff “

But I’ve seen him run
wide-eyed
at the sight of her.

wcs

 (Look, Tilly, no commas! 🙂 )