Thursday, October 20, 2016

As it is

"...As strange as it is, someday I'll rot away and leave behind these bones that my mother made..."

(Prophetic words from the irrepressible Phat Bollard

"...Coz one of these days you're gonna wake up dead!"

However in the sagely words of Snoopy the dog:

"...but on all the other days, we will not." 


Thursday, October 06, 2016

Place Title: Here (with care)

So last week while I was out of the office my roaming vagabond one man theatre, vexatious litigant mate rocked up with another inside out shopping bag full of offerings... (I never know what he's going to bring, sometimes a flattened dead cane toad and some water damaged books, sometimes discarded electronic devices, leaves, some wire maybe some seeds?)
Well this time some very interesting books, He's well read, my mate and he usually knows what I like, through his hands I have received the better part of my education in classic literature! Including, Grapes of wrath, How to make Gravy, Concordance to the Bible, books on community organising and the odd poetry book. This time he brought to me a copy of :  

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

 (Translated by Edward FitzGerald)

The book had been given to someone as a gift in 1977, It is old, a little bit moldy and the pages are the thick rough kind, which had turned yellow and become fairly brittle. I have no idea when it was published, as I had learned in library studies, sometimes publishers left out all the important details like that...
I dived into the book reading the forward and then onto the oddly shapen four lined poems. 
I'm not big on reading poetry. I love and respect it and think in terms of poetic reason but I don't always like reading other peoples ramblings... I read several pages and found it awkward. Apparently a Rubaiyat will have the first two lines rhyming followed by a line which doesn't rhyme and ending with a line whose last word rhymes with the first two... Whatever! So I read a bunch of them and got used to the style but still felt a bit lost in the message of some of the poems, It felt a bit schitzoid, like there were two different messages or the poems held a shadow... then, Thick as a brick, it dawned on me. How can these be the poems of Omar Khayyam? He was Persian and wrote in Farsi (or the Persian Language) I am reading these poems in English!
So I did a google search basically asking "How the F-ck can a poem be translated into another language and still Rhyme?" As the spheres often collide in my world I was thrilled but not too shocked that the very first hit I got for my question turned directly to the very translation I am holding in my hand! RUB'AIY'AT OF OMAR KHAYY'AM. Wow.

After discovering that there's a lot of the 'Translator' embedded in any translation and to convey all that makes a poem great in a single translation quite a bit of liberty must be take with the original text... I realized what I'm reading can't strictly be called the writing of Omar Khayyam.

I remember finding a copy of 'The Arabian Nights' in the street shortly after having read a reference to it in a book written by a guy I know. I felt sure that finding the book was some kind of message... When I told my friend about the amazing find, he laughed and asked if it was the Richard Burton translation. "I don't flipping know! Who cares it's the same story right?"
"NO!" (Fool) "It's not the same story! They are not the same stories!"

What did I know, I thought having that title I had the same product, but I did not. Apparently there are numerous tales bound together into books called 'The Arabian Nights', they are not all the same, not the same stories, not the same quality of translation, not in or of the same Order. Oh well at least my find availed me of an education in the fine art of divining quality from crud. Of course having found a dud copy with that title, lying auspiciously in a gutter, I can't help equating it's mediocrity to the quality of my very self.. 

Which brings me to one of my favorite poems credited to Khayyam under pen of Fitzgerald
 "The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."
Khayyam must be in there somewhere, maybe a nihilistic fatalist drunk but this poem I get.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Concrete and clay

Farewell the forest

Our forests lay rotting in piles, at the base of your new towers 
built with glee in dust and haste
While our wildlife run and cower
We look upon your lustful waste
and curse your concrete bowers!

No shelter, No mercy given

I beat my fists on your chain mesh fence,
your steel trap graders and concrete trash!
Breathtaking; The the structures you erect
Awesome; Your power!
Dead heart, blind eyes, deaf ear... 

Breath taken; The oxygen you stole!
Crushed; the leaves over which you roll!
Stopped; the cycles of carbon and water

Life taking; The magnitude of your destruction!
Life ending; The future you deliver!
The cycle of life interrupted

No creature could escape it’s fate; as you began to excavate
Shrubs and trees lay smashed and broken
You mock them all with a floral token!

Every bird is gone. They have been silenced!
Yet free you stand, with your Government licence!
Contented with your plunder.

Forgotten are those too slow,
Broken; The roots. Smashed; The branches. Scattered: The leaves
Missing; Those who ran, and the ones that crawl or slither or swim. Lost; The ones who flew

Extinguished; All who thought man’s boast, a lie
And with it all gone I sit here alone, in the dust, 
broken earth, red clay exposed to wind and sun, I groan.

I watched it all happen bit by bit, branch after branch piled up into sticks.. and I wondered, what next?
I sang and I screamed F-CK! You Bastards!

Rubbing the leaves of the turkey bush across my skin I took off my shoes and danced to the earth.
I loosened my shirt and I walked with bare feet.
I slept on the ground among the thick leaf litter, Sugar gliders and bandicoots came close for a look, ants tasted my flesh and moved on. At dawn Honey eaters boldly proclaimed their home, tiny bees continued to gather the bounty of nectar from broad ranging shrubs their legs hanging heavy with pollen balls of gold. A Stringybark forest, bases burned black in early cool fires, cycads scattered bright green new growth. A landscape in balance enveloped me, warm safe known and belonging at peace for one night.
I farewell in the forest am at home with the trees.

Stringybark blessings timeless ceremonies!
Blessed are the living. Beloved these things!

Cursed the concrete dawn and to hell with mammon towers!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pushing it

Sometime over the weekend, while I was not at work, my bicycle was stolen from the Church office in Parap. It was quite a nice bike, even though it was just a Kmart special, one of those single speed Fixies. I found it in the cyclone clean up pile one day, pushed it home, gave it a bit of a clean-up, a new inner tube and replaced the front brake calipers with a set I got for a bargain $5 at a local bike shop. All up the bike cost me $15 exactly! 
I'd come to rely on it over the past week and had become quite comfortable scooting swiftly around town on my new little rocket. No racks or baskets for carrying things, no gears to get distracted by just the absolute basics of peddles, chain, bar and saddle (Oh yeh and brakes). I delighted in the unencumbered agility of such a basic machine, this lairy little rocket with it’s green rims and purple tyres. However at the weekend I decided to leave it chained up at work so I could take old faithful home. Big mistake! When I got to work on Monday it was gone!
So now I’m in that peculiar space where I’m feeling a bit angry because I was stupid to leave it there and angry at being robbed... but not so much. I’m not so bothered by the loss as I would expect to be. I guess I’m a bit confused about how I actually feel about it at all. Actually, if I think about it, I'm not really bothered at all. Just for an exercise in dribble here are the thoughts that come to mind when I think about the bike. 

  • I really liked that bike 
  • I shouldn’t have left it there 
  • I wanted to sell that bike 
  • I could have given it to someone who needs a bike 
  • I wonder who stole it and why 
  • I wonder if they actually needed a bike (I really hope so. If they need a bike and look after it they can have it with my blessing) 
  • I bet it was some user who doesn’t give a shit about other people and just took it because they felt like it and think they can just take stuff from other people any time they like! 
  • I should be angry about this 
  • I’m not angry 
  • I hope thieves don’t s start hanging around trying to steal things from my workplace 
  • I wish the people I give bikes to would look after them and appreciate them 
  • It’s only some old bit of trash someone chucked out on their junk pile 
  • Why do people throw away useful and beautiful things 
  • I’m glad I had the experience of riding that bike 
  • I like my old bike 

This week Bill Mollison the father of Permaculture died, I never met him but have seen him, read some of his writing, yada yada yada... I like his style, he was a cheeky, cranky old Wisefool. 

I recently heard that an old lady I knew died, her name was Mary, she’d reached a very respectable old. 
Yesterday Aunty Alice… (we called her that but she was actually the mother of my Father’s Brother’s wife. Not sure what Anglo /Celt name is for that relationship…. We just called her Alice, the Aunty bit was an unspoken, unofficial title, or maybe that's the official formal way to address such relations, I don't know)… died. I liked Alice, I will miss her. 

Bikes are fun to ride, possibly even fun to steal…. I like fixing them and getting them to do what they were made to do... In the end they just transient mechanical devices for our transport and amusement. 
I love the living things, the people, plants creatures and places, my heart is with those who live and who have lived.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's just a tree


Rubbish Scrub makes way for exciting new development on Darwin International Airport Land

A poem by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray,

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair

Upon whose blossom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems were made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.

­Joyce Kilmer

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hitting the street with tunes.

I've been riding and thinking a lot lately.

Here's my playlist for the past few days.

Unintended vagrancy from David.j.F on 8tracks Radio.

 (oops... looks like 8Trax is forbidden to play in Australia)

 Click here to hear....

Here's the list:

1. What I Am by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians 
2. Under The Bridge Live Acoustic by Red Hot Chili Peppers 
3. The Book Of Love by Magnetic Fields 
4. Mad World by Gary Jules 

5. Whiskey Cambodia by Cambodian Space Project 
6. Walk On The Wild Side & Tom's Diner (Ben Liebrand Remix) by Lou Reed & Suzanne Vega 
7. Locust by Mike Noga And Paisley Live
8. Drops Of Jupiter by Train