Sunday, September 30, 2012


                           DAYLIGHT SAVING
                                               - for Pam

                                   I do the dutiful thing and turn my clocks
                                   forward - or back - but then I conjure
                                   an extra twelve minutes, nudge them in
                                   to fatten the middle of the hour
                                   giving myself a little extra
                                   Time to play with.

                                   I am rebel. Thief.

                                   A friend and I agree that Time
                                   and second hands should be tied
                                   behind the backs of doors, banished
                                   bound with flat faces pressed
                                   to the corner. We flip Time around
                                   our wrists, make it lie down. 

                                   I tell her I once knew a clock 
                                   with eyes instead of hands. 
                                   It kept watch from a clean white mantlepiece 
                                   in a honey-coloured room.

                                   We listen for chimes outside
                                   the window and when the wind blows
                                   in the right direction, hear Time trip
                                   down the cathedral steps and take
                                   to the streets.

                                   I am tempted to wave as it passes.

                                   CB 2002

Friday, September 28, 2012


". . . One of the joys of work is where it takes us - you know, how it helps us develop. That's why it's so important that you do work that you absolutely love. It's the only way you really grow. It's who you are meant to be. The mysterious wonder of life is that you just never know where anything is going. . . " Alice Walker

And here I'm reminded of Rebecca Loudon - her uncompromising clarity and vision, her inbuilt capacity to penetrate, again and again, life's dark-bright forest. When I read her poems, I am challenged and consoled at one and the same time. 

". . . I don’t necessarily push dark imagery in my poems as much as I embrace darkness when it arrives in my life, and find a way for that darkness to exist inside language. These images rarely feel taboo, verboten. They are simply part of the soup; the weird, exhilarating, treacherous beauty of my inner and outer worlds. I observe these worlds from a place of wonder and deep play. I am, however, a fearless reviser, and when I scale back, its because my word choices lack music or sense or feel static. My scalpel is sharp. . . " - from an interview with Rebecca on Critical Mass

It is surely when we are doing the work we love most - the work we are here to do, whatever it is and however we understand it - that our work becomes our deepest play.  

Facing the Questions 
my front garden reflected in a favorite graphite drawing by John Mitchell (NZ)

 (    (  ( (XO) )  )   )

Thursday, September 27, 2012

T.S. ELIOT & Incubating Eggs

I woke several hours before dawn this morning - love the quiet that accompanies that time of day. Nothing jars. The still-sleeping world assumes a soft, benevolent shape, displays its post-dream textures in rounded, rested edges. Waking early feels like an occasion for gratitude, more prompt than disturbance - something's here, ready and waiting; a conversation to be pondered; a phrase to jot down or idea to sketch into the notebook beside my bed.

In our online post-breakfast (for me)/post-lunch (for them) conversation today, two friends and I found ourselves discussing the nature and importance of pace, space and incubation periods. I was reminded of a post I'd scanned on Brainpickings a couple of hours earlier that began with this quote

“We do not know until the shell breaks what kind of egg we have been sitting on.”

and continued with an inspiring paragraph from T. S. Eliot's essay on Idea Incubation, and the Mystical Quality of Creativity (as cited in Rosamund E.M. Harding's 1942 volume An Anatomy of Inspiration. Don't we all want a copy?).

T. S. Eliot was born on 26 September 1888 - 124 years ago yesterday. Read Maria Popova's acknowledgment of him on her wondrous, lively and endlessly stimulating blog Brainpickings. If you haven't already discovered her, you have a treat in store. . . 

This morning she also posted a rare recording of Eliot reading THE LOVE SONG of J. ALFRED PRUFROCK

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TUESDAY POEM - To Poetry by Melissa Green

               TO POETRY     

               I have not forgotten you. You were taken away. Suddenly, 
               terribly, Eros kissed me on the mouth, inhaled my songs, 

               and from his throat roared out a fusillade of notes, 
               black crows that hurtled up to pierce the thunderheads.
               Violent hoof beats printed my heart as when one falls in love, 
               passion filling me with thorns of light. Wildfires that blazed

               for no one. My hands awoke. I could not stop their fury, 
               their flurry, their hurried need, a hurt and hunger so fierce,

               my hair turned white as the weave of the pages I drew to me, 
               pristine except where I left my mark: pen, brush, paint.

               I hardly sleep now, and when mornings come, reach up
               and break off a piece of the sun to feed on, its taste a burning
               on my tongue of crimson, violet, viridian, ultramarine. 
               Pages fill with hieroglyphs, spill with ciphers and runes. 

               Ask for me and you will find me changed, utterly new. 
               My hands, now taloned, are sleek white birds in flight.

               Melissa Green

Melissa Green is an exceptional poet whose work is well known to many of us. She is an Alumni member of our Tuesday Poem community. Melissa's luminous, authoritative poems speak for themselves; any attempt on my behalf to elaborate on what is already here would distract and detract. This morning, I flew her a line 'summarizing' her fiercely inspired poem and invited her to send one back. 

C - "To Poetry is a powerful expression of the sheer force and unstoppability of the creative process - yours, mine and ours ('ours' being that of the Collective)."  

M - "Yes, that's it--to be possessed by Eros is to be inhabited by a god, and the sheer force and power of that cannot be controlled--our fury, flurried, hurried needful hands are feeling the overwhelming energy, compulsion and pressure of being filled with it. . ." 

This week's poem on the TP is Revolver by Samuel Wagan Watson, chosen by Australian poet Catherine Bateson

"From my balcony I can read a strong poem that the moon has
                                                   pasted on the river. Everything is quiet. . . "

For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill.

Monday, September 24, 2012


(what it feels like is LIFT-OFF. A long outward breath.  Aaaah.  RELEASE. And YES.) 
Charcoal & Pastel on Paper - CB

Friday, September 21, 2012


                           LITTLE GIDDING V
                           We shall not cease from exploration
                           And the end of all our exploring
                           Will be to arrive where we started
                           And know the place for the first time.
                           Through the unknown, remembered gate
                           When the last of earth left to discover
                           Is that which was the beginning;
                           At the source of the longest river
                           The voice of the hidden waterfall
                           And the children in the apple-tree
                           Not known, because not looked for
                           But heard, half heard, in the stillness
                           Between the two waves of the sea.
                           Quick now, here, now, always--
                           A condition of complete simplicity
                           (Costing not less than everything)
                           And all shall be well and
                           All manner of things shall be well
                           When the tongues of flame are in-folded
                           Into the crowned knot of fire
                           And the fire and the rose are one.

                                          T. S. Eliot

 Mandala for World Peace 
48 paper boats carrying a prayer for global unification

Rosa Mira Book's PR Person(ality)* gathers up his kids and his Licorice Allsort banners 
and takes to the streets of Dunedin. (Artwork by RMB principal Penelope Todd.)


*Ratty is no ordinary rodent. A creature of noble aspirations, his adventurous and unconventional family are pretty impressive, too. . . If you haven't already met them, you can do so herehere & here

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Nothing in the world by IZUMI SHIKIBU

                                                       in the world
                                                       is usual today.
                                                       This is
                                                       the first morning.

                                                       Come quickly-as soon as
                                                       these blossoms open,
                                                       they fall.
                                                       This world exists
                                                       as a sheen of dew on flowers! 

                                            Izumi Shikibu - Japan 974

This week's editor on the TP hub is Orchid Tierney 
with Напряжение повышается - Tension Rises
by Russian poet Dmitry Golynko*

Please click on the quill.

* interesting interview with Dmitry Golynko in the online journal C A L Q U E

Saturday, September 08, 2012


I needed to revisit this tender, grounding passage by Susan Stinson today. May it speak to you, too -  

". . . May your hands weather with grace. May your fingers smell good. May chill on your arms keep you alive to your skin as much as warmth might do. May you grieve when you need to and know your own lacks, with matter-of-fact awareness, like you know the landscape of leaving where you sleep to begin the day. Leave the sleep. Begin the day. Offer things. Work. Build. Step toward others. Take a lean and a fall as a chance to spin on the floor on your back. Gather your courage. Make beautiful meals. Know your gifts and delight in them with specific, attentive vigor. Shovel. Pedal. Cruise. Oh, my darlings and others, listen as if you mean it, as if it matters, as if that act, in itself, were consuming and a kind of completion. When the moment opens, answer. The toilet might be running again in the other room. Get up, shake the handle and keep going. If the water goes quiet, there will still be ticking. We are our ordinary lives, and they have such depths and textures. We brush against the nap in relationship, or we're pressed to the plush, or something is jabbing, the plastic stem of an old tag, a broken zipper, but we dress in the fabrics of the lives near ours, however we bring them near. Such clothes. Such colors. . . "

Thank you, Susan. (Visit Susan's website here and her blog here.)


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

(Two) Tuesday Poems - Ashore on Anchor Island & Night Run from Dusky by ALAN RODDICK

     In most parts the woods are so over run with supple-Jacks
     that it is impossible to force one’s way amongst them. . . 
                                                        Wm Wales, Journal, 1773

You step

(unhook your boot from)

each loop or trailing
tangle of cable:
real bush wiring!
                            No inspector
would pass it – but listen
to that hi-fi music 
of wind voices
water notes
No birdsong?

No bird sings.                        

Vanishing Waterfalls - Snug Cove, Western Fiordland

      For Ruth and Lance Shaw

In the Resolution’s wake, we leave
Breaksea astern, by failing light
on a plummeting glass, the everyday
‘prodigious swell’ from the south-west,
and four hours to make First Arm, Snug Cove.

By now, Cook was hove to for the night
‘3-4 Leagues’ off his ‘Doubtfull Harbour’,
as was their practice, ‘that we might neither
meet with or pass any land in the dark’.
Coasting, we set our course to do both,

as his prudence, and our diesel, permit.
Ruth has the watch. I watch her read
auto-pilot, compass, radar, scan
for lights on the port bow, and note
our Gardner engine’s dependable rhythm.

I follow the radar’s quiet conversation
with what we know but is invisible:
Coal River, and the entrance to Dagg Sound,
while one red and one masthead light become
a blip safely six kilometres to port.

And now two distant flashes every fifteen
interminable seconds, to let us know
what and where it is: it is of course
the light on South West Point; there’s nothing else.
Lance takes the helm, and with a touch

tightens the radar’s range, to bring us
between the rugged Hares Ears and the Point
that Capitan Malaspina named Febrero
when he first charted Cook’s ‘Puerto Dudoso’.
The screen compels us, and I watch as

remorselessly the rocks crowd in
to port, to starboard – then all at once
disappear astern. Lance turns the wheel
to make Fiordland spin through ninety degrees
as Patea Passage and the Sound

open, and mountains close around us.
In Snug Cove, our Doubtful destination, twenty
fathoms of anchor-chain roar out: then, silence.
Tomorrow’s gale but a flicker of lightning,
the Breaksea Girl tugs at her anchor.


Listening to Jim Mora interviewing poet Sam Hunt on NZ's National Radio, Alan Roddick - washing dishes at the time, his hands immersed in sudsy water - found himself reflecting on how long he and his wife, Pat, had known Sam.  He sent me this bio note a little later that day - "I had poems accepted by Landfall while still at school, and some years later edited the YC (Concert) programme’s monthly ‘Poetry’ programme for four years. I was the first to broadcast Sam Hunt reading his own poems, at a time when NZBC considered Sam’s voice unacceptable for radio, and wanted to use an actor instead. And I still cherish the memory of serving on the Literary Fund Advisory Committee when it read in typescript, and voted to fund, The Bone People. I suspect I have been a very lucky man, not least to be still writing new poems. . . "

Alan is a retired public health dentist living in Dunedin. His poems and reviews have appeared in NZ periodicals over the past 50 years, and his collection The Eye Corrects was published by Blackwell & Janet Paul in 1967. As Charles Brasch’s literary executor, Alan edited Brasch’s posthumous collection Home Ground (1974) and his Collected Poems ten years later. His critical study Allen Curnow was published in 1980 by Oxford University Press. He is a trustee of the Caselberg Trust at Broad Bay, on the Otago Peninsula. 

I first met Alan in October 2007 when we both had the good fortune of participating in a waterborne residency organized by the Caselberg Trust. Nine of us - artists, writers, a composer and filmmaker - spent six days and nights on board a conservation yacht, The Breaksea Girl. Ruth and Lance Shaw - the then-owners of the boat - know the craggy coastline and dark waterways of Western Fiordland as intimately as we know our back gardens. This is ancient, largely uninhabited terrain - James Cook's coastline. The names given to the islands, coves and rivers are themselves poetry - Dusky and Doubtful Sounds. Snug Cove. Camelot River. Thrum Cap. Deep Cove. Many Islands. Astronomer's Point. Cascade Cove. Resolution and Secretary Islands. Wet Jacket and Crooked Arm. Foot Arm and Toe Cove. 

Filmmaker Mark Orton (whose sense of humour and choice of music I think you'll appreciate) put together these vids. of what was an altogether remarkable place, time and experience ---  


(Experience the storm in Alan's poem at the start of this clip - meet him at 2 mins 43 secs ; ) )


This week's editor on the TP hub is curator Mary McCallum with When The Sister Walks by Sarah Jane Barnett.   Sarah's first collection - A Man Runs Into A Woman - was launched last month. 

When The Sister Walks is from her death row series. "The series is a fascinating one - the poems are simple and nail sharp and continue to scrape and dig and prod long after you've read them. So back you go, and there they are -- inevitable, disturbing, moving every time." Mary McCallum

Please click on the quill!