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

 

 

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.

bb-wir2

 

 

Blurb blurble bloop… Help! One-Sentence Biography Competition

I’m trying to get my first poetry book completed and self-published on Blurb. One of the elements I’m still missing is a short blurb/biography about me in relation to poetry – I don’t want to write this myself, and if I asked anyone in my family or non-blogging circle of friends, I’d get something along the lines of:

“‘x‘ is my ‘insert relation type here‘ – she writes poetry, but I’ve got no idea what she’s on about.

So I’m looking for some help from you—the esteemed Blogging community (how’m I doing on the sycophantic flattery front?) for something short, and not necessarily serious, and thus am holding a one-sentence biography competition: 

Post your entries in the comments section of this post.

I will include the kindest best ones on the front flap and may include any snide irreverent blooper blurbs on the back, all attributed of course.

Payment?!

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Don’t be silly! We all know poetry books don’t sell!

The winner will, however, receive a mystery prize. 😉

Divine Dementia

So many days
we are beyond bereft

at some ancient
god’s puzzled mumbles
beneath the night lamp,

his tremulous finger-fumbles
with jigsaw fragments
of our lives,

his fearful look of surprise
at the countless missing pieces
of his Master Plan,

unaware of the devil dog
chewing at his feet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/nyregion/gunman-kills-20-children-at-school-in-connecticut-28-dead-in-all.html?hp&_r=0

http://jmgoyder.com/2012/12/15/children/

http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/an-unblossomed-bloom/

http://thelaughinghousewife.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/no-humour-today/

http://susandanielspoetry.com/2012/12/14/body-bags/

The Man in the Street

How often
is he there
in front of you?

Just another bloke
like you

except, perhaps,
a lack of personal hygiene

or its pathological opposite,

his way of regarding you
far too directly
without blinking

for the longest time.

When he asks for a cigarette
do you oblige

in spite of yourself?

Because in this stark room
you cannot reconcile
the rhetoric

on the face of it –

just another human being
in the silence,

no manifest difference
to teach the rookies,

no monster in plain sight
to slay with a bedside light,

just this banality
of evil

sitting in the corner
of your nightmares.

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