poem of the day: Shanty-Town Beauty by Freedom Nyamubaya

Shanty-Town Beauty

Freedom Nyamubaya

She stood at the doorstep
She must have been five years
or less
Her beseeching eyes gazed
from left to right

The kwashiokored tummy bulged
Out of the torn dress
With marks that looked like the map of Africa
I realised it was not tattoo
But an accumulation of dust
Run though by sweat

Pretty more than famous Cleopatra
All things being equal
The girl would pass for Miss Africa
As it is
Just another woman nature produced
But forgot to breast-feed.

Zimbabwe 55 02042011

Zimbabwe (Photo credit: Dave Mulder)


I was half expecting that the high tide of Bloomsday 2012 would, for me, be a turning point in my apparent addiction to James Joyce’s Ulysses. Most of July passed without a thought of 16 June 2013 or daily perusals of the book. But now an inspiration from Ms. Bloom has surfaced in the ill-formed shape of a volume Dublin-printed and assembled and kickstarted and ready for readers on Bloomsday 2013. Maybe this would be its cover, if it ever comes to be.

"The Works of Master Poldy" (20??)

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Tim Kane Books

Everyone goes on and on about original ideas, yet the the notion of an original idea in art has only been with us for about one-hundred years. This concept was propagated by the Modernists who sought to abandon the superstitions and folklore of the past. These Modernists valued the strange and surreal over traditional storytelling. Novelists like James Joyce and William Faulkner wanted their stories to be difficult and complex. They thought that if the story were intricate, then it would supersede oral tradition. (Ironically, Joyce’s seminal work, Ulysses, modeled itself off of the Odysseus myth.) Even today, we look for originality as a sign that something is “good”.

Skipping to before the twentieth century, we see that folklore and tradition reign. People retold stories over and over again, in a game of telephone that lasted centuries. The myth of Odysseus wasn’t even written down for ages. People simply memorized…

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poem of the day: Do You Know How to Lead a Life? by Ulrike Draesner [and a little Monday mood music, courtesy of Neil Young, Johnny Depp, and “Dead Man” by Jim Jarmusch]

Do You Know How to Lead a Life?

Ulrike Draesner

do you know how to lead a life?
does it have a nose-ring then, some ox
who lets you tweak its tail and trots
along with flies short hair and soft
its swimming eye? there, silver-salver
served and grey a lemon ring so
poignantly peeled it touches you because
you sense in it the tree and something like
a sun-field, an oral y – the tug as palate cells
contract. by the nose then or some book
in leather: ox? or maybe lemon marinade
they put in the lot where you think, where
pictures mix languages: lall. now take the fall it’s
painted all painted on as one (the two
is you) you take a tram (or change). there
just look how suddenly or
even crackingly you
play it

(a little Monday mood music, courtesy of Neil Young, Johnny Depp, and “Dead Man” by Jim Jarmusch [I chose the poem after the song, today]):

poem of the day: What Robots Murmur Through Broken Sleep by Jon Stone

What Robots Murmur Through Broken Sleep 

after Naoki Urasawa

Jon Stone

I. North No.2

A tornado has touched down in Bohemia, your birthplace.

Before coming here, I very much enjoyed the movie The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
No, sir, I really was moved. I overheard you in your bedroom last night.
It’s the melody you were humming in your sleep, sir. Listen:

Your dream is not a nightmare. Your mother did not abandon her sickly child.
Your eyesight has been deactivated. You only compose on an old piano.
You were humming. You sounded so troubled.

It’s coming this way. It’s the piece you’ve been working on.

II. Gesicht

The police car vanished almost instantly.

You know the dream I’ve been telling you about: a little flower peddler
in Persia gives his tulips names. My recognition system nearly goes haywire
with electromagnetic waves. The humans would call this a hunch.

Ah, but I have no use for flowers. Flowers must wither and die.
Because I, too, have hatred inside me. Now your thermal
and magnetic rays won’t work on me. It’s faint but

we’ve got plenty of back-up with that police car behind us.

III. Epsilon

It’s been raining for three days straight.

Do you realise that I nearly turned this dawn into ashes? Do you recall
an extraordinary meteorological event? A strange electromagnetic field,
say in the earth’s crust, for example? Who was it directed at?

You lost most of your body in the war. When you died,
something above us transmitted grief. A mysterious movement,
a kind of weapon, waiting at three thousand metres.

Your wavelength       scattered all over the ocean.

IV. Brau 1589

You appear to the murderer in his dungeon.

Surely you’re not here to repair me? I might just be imagining
this shaft, the meaning of my little barricade. They put it up so fast,
I had to laugh. They should pull out the formula for my heart.

Then again, it could mean many things: a single defect,
powerful as the brain; an anti-proton bomb, highly developed;
a peek at the outside world. That’s why you’d never wake up.

Even if I were free, where could I go with this ruined body?

Cover for Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Cover for Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)