Feeding Time

2014-02-24 Goldfish

I call it a “pond”, but —
is it really a cage made of water?
These sixteen fish
have their own lives there,
goldfish-gold and red against the murky deep
weed-green. Rain
merely dimples their world-view,
while for me it trounces
a mental dry, reliving dust’s tang
for my lost sense of smell
and re-opening thoughts shut up
in neglected nerves. Fish-flakes
I shatter on the surface
form a pattern or map of geographical confetti
that drifts several small shape-shifting continents
over seas. Fish stick
unlipped heads through each novel landmass, poking blunt holes
in dream as they feed
so-called “freedom” up to the front fins. Beginning intently
from a pink water-lily, some noiseless spider
skywalks the very first strand of tonight’s self-taught,
wholly engrossing
web.

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《蛙文》/ Frogscript 14 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok

Japanese Frog for Frogscript_Thumbnail_2 FEB 2018

Please scroll down for the English translation!

《蛙文:兔仔》

郭少鳳著

今日嘅心情真係好興奮,終於可以去期待已久嘅大久野島,又叫兔仔島。顧名思義,兔仔島,當然住咗好多兔仔,今日嘅目的就係要同佢哋打招呼!

香港呢個地方並冇野兔,唯一見到嘅都係寵物兔。細細個住土瓜灣時,我好鐘意去一間舊式寵物店,去睇金魚、倉鼠、葵鼠、兔仔……記得喺檔口有兩個鐵籠,一邊放咗好多倉鼠,另一邊就有好多白兔:嗰度啲兔仔全部都係白色,攪到我曾經以為兔仔一定係白色。我最鐘意睇倉鼠,佢哋腳仔雖然短短,但行動自如,成日捐嚟捐去,好得意、好好睇。嗰時我麻麻地鐘意睇白兔,雖然佢哋隻隻都白雪雪,好可愛,好似好天真無邪咁,但細心一望,白兔嘅眼睛全部都係血紅色,唔識點形容,但感覺邪邪地,令到我驚驚地。後來長大後,見過灰色、米黃色嘅兔仔,認識到兔仔嘅眼晴可以係黑色,先開始有所改觀。

去兔仔島,要先到一個叫忠海嘅地方,搭渡輪過去。賣船飛嘅地方有兔糧賣,細細包,即刻一人買一包,仲留意到用英文寫住:回程時,憑兔糧嘅紙袋,可以到收銀處換一份小禮物。

啱啱撞正復活節假期,又係星期日,有好多日本遊客:有情侶,亦有攜老扶幼嘅一家大細,向著同一目標出發 – 去拜訪兔仔。船程大約 15 分鐘,快過排隊買飛同埋等上船嘅時間。

一上岸,碼頭附近已經聚集咗好多遊客,但我嘅眼光當然唔係放係佢哋身上,好快已經見到一隻兔仔,米黃色,肥嘟嘟,好優哉遊哉咁伏喺大樹下。我小心翼翼、慢慢安安靜靜咁走去佢身邊,佢冇咩反應,愛理不理咁。於是採取利誘攻勢,攞包兔糧出嚟。連包裝都未打開,旁邊突然出現一隻灰色兔仔,向我要兔糧。兩隻兔仔一齊喺面前出現,呢個情景實在太可愛了,吸引咗一個拎住紅蘿蔔條嘅日本小男孩,走過來同佢哋打招呼。

眼前真係有好多好可愛嘅兔仔,不過細心啲睇,唔對路 wor,佢哋個樣都唔似野兔,而係寵物兔嘅樣,只係身上多了一點點灰塵。記得喺英國見到嘅野兔,體形比較修長,冇咁圓潤,啲毛毛睇起上嚟比較粗硬,但身手十分敏捷。於是找找原因,原來大久野島曾經有一段黑暗嘅歷史 – 係一個生產毒氣嘅秘密基地,一直都冇人定居。

大久野島嘅兔仔嘅來源有兩個講法:有人話啲兔仔係用來做實驗嘅工具,當戰事結束後,所有工作人員都要撒退時,佢哋將兔仔放生;另一個講法就話啲兔仔本來係工作人員嘅寵物,撒退時就冇帶走佢哋。無論如何,兔仔已經變成兔仔島嘅居民同明星!

碼頭聚集太多人,於是決定環島行一個圈,順便睇睇兔仔係咪真係有傳說中講到咁多。沿路,有野餐同露營嘅地方,人潮不斷、但「兔潮」也不斷,雙方勢均力敵。直到進入樹林,雖然兔仔冇之前咁多,但都真係唔少;相反,遊人嘅數量真係得返好少,間唔中先見到三、兩個。樹林裏面嘅兔仔明顯怕醜好多,佢哋冇咁主動咁問你攞嘢食,但一餵佢哋,佢哋就食過不停。仲有係,佢哋冇咁鐘意比你摸,唔似碼頭嗰啲任摸唔嬲。我估樹林裏面嘅兔仔,慢慢回復野兔嘅本性啩⋯⋯

環島行咗兩、三個鐘頭左右,慢慢行到碼頭,搭船返去忠海,憑兔糧小紙袋換過小禮物,心裏不禁要讚一讚日本人:小禮物嘅目的就係要我哋帶走自己嘅垃圾,減少兔仔島嘅負擔。離開時心裏面產生咗一個問題:唔知冬天,冇咁多遊客時,啲兔仔夠唔夠嘢食?嘻嘻,其實我心知冇可能唔夠嘅,不過我都暗地決定,下次一定要揀冬天、比較靜嘅日子嚟探兔仔!

Ōkunoshima Rabbits

Continue reading “《蛙文》/ Frogscript 14 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok”

Pellegrinis Bar (In Memory of Sisto Malaspina)

Pelligrinis Espresso Bar_11 NOV 2018

Photograph by http://www.zomato.com

Conversations I had 30 years ago croon back at me from the walls.

All Bourke Street preens in its mirrors from the Paperback to the Hill of Content.

A strip of bank notes from a hundred different countries makes light of our cash economy.

Red vinyl stools consider improbable moves across the chequerboard lino.

This I know for a fact: that even severe cases of loneliness are soothed at the democratic bar

and that fumes of the coffee bean illustrate over and over the motions of virtual poetry,

while ― back in the miniscule kitchen ―

sheaves of spaghetti are turned instantly to gold.

A Poet’s Fame

Winfield Townley Scott TWO_10 NOV 2018

I guess many poets hanker after fame in the way Glen Campbell thought of it ― And I’m gonna be where the lights are shinin’ on me. But is that kind of famousness truly worthy of poetry?

You may never have heard of Winfield Townley Scott. The internet tells me that he is best known for the lines A million butterflies rose up from South America, / All together, and flew in a gold storm toward Spain. I came across him in the best possible way, by chance, and without anybody’s recommendation, in what used to be called “opportunity shops”, places that sold mainly second-hand trash, with the very occasional item of treasure tucked away on a dusty shelf. There he was ― represented, at least, by the poems written under his name ― down the back of a tattered paperback called 15 Modern American Poets, on p.224:

“How Shall I Ever Come to Any Good?”

How shall I ever come to any good
And get my works in schoolbooks if I use
A rough word here and there, but how shall I
Let you know me if I bequeath you only
The several photographs, the family letters?

There is no image of a tired mind
Tired of its own vanity for fame.
I turn in the comfort of the midnight rain
And as much for pleasure as necessity
Piss in the river beyond O’Ryan’s bar.

How deft this is! In the space of a few lines, we move from the declaration that “there is no image of a tired mind / Tired of its vanity for fame” to a memorably poetic moment, one that has certainly stuck in my mind for more than thirty years. As a labour, and a labour of love, the discipline of poetry writing is endlessly exacting. They say that the chance of being born a human being is like being chosen out of the all the grains of sand on all the beaches of this incomparable planet. The chance of writing a genuine poem is probably more or less the same, although my feeling is that it is even less likely …

The discipline can certainly take its toll. Thomas Berry, in The Great Work, writes splendidly about it, and its counterpart:

This mutual attraction and mutual limitation of gravitation is, perhaps, the first expression and the primordial model of artistic discipline. It gave to the universe its initial sense of being at home with itself and yet caught up in a profound discontent with any final expression of itself. We might consider, then, that the wild and the disciplined are the two constituent forces of the universe, the expansive force and the containing force bound into a single universe and expressed in every being in the universe. (“The Wild and the Sacred”)

And so, exhausted by the discipline of poetry and the nagging desire for a celebrity that eludes him, Scott “turns” out of this narrow human realm and steps back under the Big Sky into the world of nature, and natural urges. Here he finds comfort and pleasure; he also, in this moment of release, re-discovers his own wildness, a dimension that can never be adequately housed within the prison-house of fame. As Berry suggests, wildness is expansive: suddenly, this small, anxious poem opens onto a vast universe. To this day, I have always associated “O’Ryan’s bar” with the constellation of Orion and its bar or belt of three parallel dazzling stars shining from some remote part of the galaxy. Poetry is now no longer a preoccupation with success. It becomes, instead, a matter of rediscovering the cosmos.

When all is said and done, there are no famous poets; there are only famous poems. But to touch a reader in a heartfelt, headfelt manner is an event of absolute pricelessness. I hardly think of Winfield Townley Scott from one year to the next, but every so often, for no good reason, this poem of his fills my mind and we are joyfully reunited. This is anonymous fame ― which is no fame at all to the usual way of thinking ― but there’s a momentous beauty in it. Who knows how anyone’s words might be taken by a stranger, in an intimate, unknown moment that keeps poetry utterly enigmatically precious to us all.

Flowers

Wisteria Flowers

We assume they will,
but one day they may never come back . . .

*

Spring, springs ― they wither and dry
out of our control, then: miracle. Nothing
in our social engines emulates this growth magic
on Earth.

*

Ask yourself till you’re blue in the face ―
sky-blue in the face, even:
Who, who will they put in charge
of the science of robot-blossoms?

*

Is this how we wish to be remembered:
the first women and men
to dismiss utterly the scented luxury of a solid carpet
of flowers . . . ?

Rhyme AND Reason

2018-09-20 Carrs Road Clouds 3

There’s a lot of white quartz in Chinaman Creek, and occasionally in that quartz you find small marvellous crystals.

It happens like this. You see an intense, bright light shining off in the distance. It may be a piece of glass, or the slick of morning dew on an ordinary rock, but you never know for sure. The trick to crystal-catching is that once you begin to walk towards the source of that glow the light disappears, and all you have left is your memory of the location to guide you. If something interrupts you as you walk ― if you shift your gaze elsewhere, or if you are suddenly interrupted by some stray thought in your head ― you end up losing the “thread” and you wind up finding nothing but gravel. But if you can hold on to your concentration to the very end, perhaps once out of every ten times, you catch a crystal, generally tiny and imperfectly formed, but of unique power and beauty.

Writing poetry is a bit like this.

The Chinese poet Yu Jian describes the process memorably in a set of notes he wrote back in the 1980s. “Obscurely, you get a kind of premonition that there is something out there, and so you unfold your language in its direction. In this process of approaching there is poetry. The premonition of an objective lasts a split-second, but the unfolding and the approaching must be, as far as it is possible, calm, objective, and even somewhat analytical with regard to the terrain.”

In these notes, it strikes a convincing balance between intuition (rhyme) and intellect (reason). It is intuition that detects that initial flash of inspiration, but it is calm rationality that “unfolds” that mini big bang in the most adequate and energetic of forms.

Yu even believes that it is possible to work on one’s mysterious intuitive capacities. One can enhance this ability by means of exertions, he insists, and he also implies that an openness to all the influences an individual is subject to in the world can also improve both the quality and the frequency of such momentary inspirations.

But before we get carried off into mysticism and the irrational, he also adds, to even up the balance, that “the sublime aspects of language come to the fore when language is used objectively”!

It’s certainly no recipe! Poetry can’t be cooked. But it does provide us with a way of reconciling that glaring opposition at the heart of poem-catching between reasoning and rhyming.

Asteroid 243 Ida

Asteroid Ida & Dactyl Image

Ida — oddly — without morning — in that always
“outer” space, never travels alone.
Summed up in an Earth probe’s steely gaze,
she is shape and story of a billion-year-old (?) circuit.
No lightless offspring of some ancient star-furnace,
she is figment of a fragment of a broken parent body
brute force once ripped apart
and the craters that scar her scar-faced surface
are links in the chain of a fractured historical self.
Beneath a blanket of pulverized rock
she is primitive in her make-up — olivine,
pyroxene, iron, feldspar —
and her megaregolithic depths
are possibly mined with scraps of diamond
ignorant of sparkle. Besides the faint attraction
of a weak gravitational field,
she has her own tiny moon called Dactyl
whose one spell is to cast
over Ida’s battered “i”
its magic, imperfect, jaggedly spherical dot.