Herds

Based on ‘Words’ by Tadeusz Różewicz

(translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston)

Published by archipelago books (New York, 2007)

Herds

Herds are rounded up

treated as fodder

for innocent smiles

reduced to mere patties

sold by a clown

.

macerated with machined steel

compressed into packets

wrapped

conveniently for

shipping

.

distant forests

have been cleared

reduced to pasture

for consumers

who know not this work

.

soon

disposed of

through the human gut

‘though residual traces lie in wait

still living

.

converted blood

converted bone

converted to something

else we use up

converted from living

creatures to

foodstuff

~

n.b. NaPoWriMo 2021 Button with white background Day 5 take a poem and convert its shape and sound into something of your own, using the first letter of each line from the original to start your own poem. I have taken the shape of a poem and used it as a template for my own, but using my own first letters. Not the original prompt, but as with all prompts, a starting point, not a proscriptive set of rules, (for me…). Also the original poem is not out online for you to cross reference, as far as I can find, sorry.

NaPoWriMo

~

CLP (05/04/2021)

Sixteen Ships

New Railway Pier / Princes Pier, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Photo: Christopher Perry 25th December, 2016)

Sixteen Ships

~

What dreams they carried off

those sons and brothers, fathers, uncles

twenty thousand hearts squeezed to fists

as summer unwound beneath the Southern Cross

they sought Heaven’s Light to guide them north

through Suez to Gallipoli

where even eucalyptus oil could not medicate

shattered souls, nor eradicate the pain.

~

n.b. April is marked on the Australian calendar by ANZAC Day, (25th April), a day set aside to remember the sacrifices made in World War One by Australian, Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal and New Zealand people.

New Railway Pier saw the first departures of volunteer soldiers in the Australian Imperial Force who travelled to Europe in October, 1914 to fight in that war.

This liminal setting then witnessed the hospital ships returning from Southampton, of which the last departure from England was delayed by the 1919 Spanish ‘Flu pandemic.

After those terrible events the pier became the arrival point for many emigrants from war-torn Europe, who saw more hopeful prospects on southern shores.

Now known as Princes Pier, this is indisputably an in-between place.

~

n.n.b. NaPoWriMo 2021 Button with white background Day 4 is all about liminal spaces; edgelands.

NaPoWriMo

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CLP 04/04/2021

Do Not Alight Here…

…the sign on the platform read

provoking that bloody-minded reaction

he saw as proof of living a life

still worth it, worth everything

worth going to bed

with a stranger once more

here might be the place

that could throw things up

burn the throat, whet the tongue

revive, refresh, rekindle

the screech of parakeets

colonising plane trees in the park

after-dark sounds on full reverb

in daylight on streets

of colour, black to white all blood

everyone from anywhere

who’ll do something, anything

no more bi this

no more buy that

stop and search me, why don’t you

I’m game as road-kill

as smart as street crime

as sharp as a wife

given half-a-clue to step out

and start out anew

~

n.b. NaPoWriMo 2021 Button with white background Day 3 here is how the cards fell when I cut the deck: whet, game. (For TC).


NaPoWriMo

~

CLP 03/04/2021

Flâneur

Less of a fork, more like a maze

Cul de sac, u-turn, or roundabout route

Chris-crossing cities, wandering wild

A rambling nose for amuse-bouches and side dishes

A taste for sharp turns, an eye for live mains

Which road is not travelled when most have been tried?

Still working the start menu, rebooting worn shoes

Still with a pulse and nothing to lose.

~

n.b. NaPoWriMo 2021 Button with white background Day 2 prompt: A road not travelled…

CLP 02/04/2021

NaPoWriMo

Parabola

Our thoughts held tight

heads aligned

are shaped by Time

round as round, square as square

so bounded by this gravity

we sense all this is quite real

can we feel anything

change without divine intervention?

our settled ways become unsettled

minds so fixed they become unhinged

~

n.b. Just asking. How difficult is this, seeing outside our heads malarkey?

I turn to a painting seen yesterday to tackle today’s prompt.

‘Our heads are round so that we can change our minds’ is the title of an artwork by Francis Picabia.

I find his creativity stimulating. His willingness to take on new ideas inspirational, if at times nigh impossible to practise myself.

~

CLP 01/04/2021

Star Dancer And Her School Of Dance (Francis Picabia) 1913

One, two, three, four!

And step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

We step, then stretch, then jump, then turn

Spilt-sole jazz shoes in unison

First pat, then slide, then glide, then twist

And step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

We lunge, then lean, then leap, then shift

Our heads held high, our movement brisk

Our thoughts, actions, bodies are hers

And step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

Our faces set to concentrate

Sinuous limbs, feel lithe, alive

So long solo, now we this troupe

And step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

In public park, ‘ neath cherry trees

Pink blossoms sprinkle tarmac court

Doors and windows of school still closed

And step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

Birds watch, then call, alarmed by us

At practice at dawn in cool spring air

We are again set free to learn

To step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

To step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

To step! And stretch! And jump! And turn!

And rest! Three, four. And take a breath.

~

n.b. Prompted by Na/GloPoWriMo 2021 to find inspiration in a painting held in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of in New York City, I chose:

Star Dancer And Her School of Dance (1913) by Francis Picabia

Christopher Perry

31st March, 2021