Hilda Carline: Self-Portrait (1923)

Hilda Carline image

After a solo smoke, your instincts feel
a cigarette lighter and match for anyone —
even perhaps yourself.
Before the mathematical anthem of your image in the mirror
you pose yourself smouldering
as primary theme and conundrum.
What is a portrait?
It is a feeling through fire
beyond all skin’s extinguishable borders
It is the fit of a formal physical likeness
with hard-won, ungainly insight,
like the dot of a glint you dab
painstakingly into the white of one fixed eye with your brush.
This candid-exorbitant star
blazing against all female modelled shadow
is fiercer than “colour” —
than “décor” — than “form” —
than “painting” —
and is so much more fierce
than that little blunt shock-noun the trite mouths blurt:

“art” —



Waking the Lion (Tuen Tsz Wai 屯子圍)

Tuen Tsz Wai, Tuen Mun

When banal Winter headaches overpower all chance of sleep,
I walk my retiring but forever curious day-ghost
back along the petrol-fumed blare of 屯門公路 Tuen Mun Road,
consoled by the narrow nature-strip-haven of wild weed-life
which extends tenuously the whole way to the 藍地交匯處 Lam Tei Interchange.
There, echoey stairwells and lifts backhandedly bless
a remnant spot-grove of trees that correct with their flowers’
rock-drilling fragrance the concrete cold science of yellowing blueprints.
From there I go on past descending twin staves
of the light-rail line that promise in vistas such mild infinity
and that come, now and then, back to life — steel-hissing —
as a barrelling hybrid half-tram half-train rockets briskly out
to 元朗 Yuen Long. Then, without fuss, without weak second thinking,
I leave to its own devices the bolted-down track
and turn off to the left at a leisurely angle
where a metre-wide slip of fresh water still rivers
an ample flood-channel’s rock solid dictation
just enough for a miracle fish or two to swim by in
and where even, white egrets stake out meagre prey
through famished bird-hours of patience. And alongside this,
rubble and car-parking lots. Opportunistic new flats
stacked up inside bamboo scaffolding. Uninhabited containers
mid-dreaming vertigo’s maritime upsurge and swell
the full length of rust-scabbed and corrugated panelling.
The screech and snap of power-tools. High-pitched
jet-engine whine researching for the skies
over 青山 Tsing Shan Mountain. Dull unmusical traffic
prowling 五柳路 Ng Lau Road, which means,
ironically meaningless now — for the trees were battered
to wood chip long ago — “five willows”. But then
again for the first time I hear direct out of ringing, thin air
across the felled courtyard of the bare 前陶氏宗祠 Tou clan temple
the commanding stern rap of an expert drum
beating grand, final rhythms from deep — deeper — blood
and it is here, in the playground of the otherwise deserted Tuen Tsz Wai school,
that I see with disbelief, roused from workaday physical torpor,
the electrically steady line of wide-awakened lion dancers
dressed in bright yellow silk pants and embroidered cloth shoes,
astonishing the bruised wasteland, as the tall men among them
weightlift effortlessly their slighter, more agile companions
vertical against gravity’s press and hold them up trophy-wise
over their heads — one second, two seconds, three seconds, more? —
before, synchronized, pouncing them deftly back down
to Earth on nonchalant, grounded soles, pawing and ready
instantly to take the next step, through the late noon atmosphere
we all breathe in and the quasi-Summerish Autumn sun’s heat
that makes each and every one of us sweat from outright planetary joy.

Teaching English

Casually chatting after a lesson
on time, I ask Mr. Quyên
how long he’s been in Australia.
He stares through his glasses
up at the low ceiling
as his wife bashes squid on the kitchen floor
with the flat of a huge knife.
When he’s ready with his answer
he looks straight at me smiling and says:
“Half-past five years.”

《蛙文》/ Frogscript 4 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok

Japanese Frog for Frogscript_Thumbnail_2 FEB 2018

Please scroll down for the English translation!






Continue reading “《蛙文》/ Frogscript 4 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok”

Erik Satie (1866-1925)

Erik Satie_MAR 2018









— Plus je connais les hommes, plus j’admire les chiens.

The slow progress of aimless cloud
Satie hears in his fingertips
as chords, levitating along bar lines
with shy discipline — melodies
crooked as a dog’s hind legs.
He borrows the rain pianos make
for his own nervous weather:
soft sound waves towards rare feelings
newsreels try to neglect in us
and to a doggedness that undoes
all show of self-esteem. Tender,
quizzical, his repertoire
of entirely minor force kennels art
unnoticed. Slantness
and sweetness join hands in that voice
blue as the mild forget-me-nots we so often
forget we forget we forget
till revived within Satie’s poise.


Two New Poems by Yu Jian, January 2018

Yu Jian photo AUG 2014

Chinese poet 于坚 Yu Jian

  • 《雄狮》

哪里是城市  人类  哪里是图书馆
它知道哪儿要奔跑  哪儿要悠游
它知道孤独  欢乐  失败与荣耀
它知道哪儿是草地  河流  沼泽 长颈鹿
它知道  君临一切   运筹帷幄
匍匐在荒野上  苍茫万物中的
一小个点  一粒沙子  一片树叶
一个穿着迷彩服的士兵  一个土著人
烧制的幽暗陶罐  空着  在时间中



  • “Lion”

It has the whole of Africa inside its head.
It knows where it can — and can’t — go.
Where the cities are. The people. And the libraries.
It knows where it must run for its life. And where less haste is best.
It knows solitude. Pleasure. Defeat and glory.

It knows where the plains are. Rivers. Swamps. Giraffes.
It knows how to be King of the World. How to think up strategies.
Slinking through wilderness. In the vast realm of creatures.

A speck. A grain of sand. A single leaf.
Soldier dressed in camouflage gear. Tribesman.
A dark clay pot fired in the flames. Empty. Waiting
in time for food.

Wednesday 24 January 2018


  • 《建造房屋》

昆明人在湖边选好基础  避开沼泽
靠着青山  挖开地面  填下石头
将大树改成木材   建造房子  安身立命
神指示他们方向   大地告诉他们图纸
这边要高  那边要矮  这边是水源
风暴在南面  落日在西边  孔雀要织布
女人好铺床  孩子们要玩   他们唱着歌锯开木料
顺着它的纹理  他们搭建柱子  垒实墙壁
打开窗户  门朝北方  台阶高于荒原
他们不停地动手  露出古铜色的骨头
他们搅拌泥浆  挑着桶走过搭板
跟着百兽劳动  就像兴奋的蜜蜂
就像年轻的大象   就像老练的豹子
他们在好日子上梁  飞扬的斗拱模仿着鸟类
永远不再飞走  这也是万物所梦想的
那些柏树  那些桉树  那些马鹿  那些老虎


  • “Building Houses”

Kunming locals have chosen sites by the lake. Avoiding swamps.
Backed onto lush green hills. The ground is dug up. And the holes are filled with rocks.
Tall trees are cut down for timber. They’re building houses. And settling down.
A God points out the way. And Earth tells them the blueprints.
Higher here. Lower there. And that’s where the water-source is.
Storms are South. The sun sets in the West. Peacocks must work at weaving their brocade.
Women make beds. Children play. Men sing as they saw.
Following the grain. They put up posts. And sturdy walls.
Make openings for windows. Doors face North. Steps climb above the wasteland.
They keep constantly busy. Lay bare bronze-coloured bones.
Mix mud-mortar. Carry buckets over planks.
Working away with the wild beasts. Like excited honey bees.
Young elephants. Experienced leopards.
When the weather’s fine men walk the rooves. The sweeping blocks and beams imitate birds,
staying, never flying. This is the dream of all things.
Cypresses. Eucalypts. Red deer. Tigers.
This is exactly what they dream of, too.

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Translated by Simon Patton



To be like her: to enjoy
the fair rest of the fairest,
that repose, where doubt
overturned by beauty
completely loses its voice, as if —
like a stone — it never had a voice;
no hemidemisemiquaver of negative noise;
no tremor even from remote self-shadow;
just perfectly pleasurable pause.