Sunday Read: TAKING MESOPOTAMIA, by Jenny Lewis

Two books self put on hold are waiting for pick-up at the downtown Redwood City Library: one is Milkman, the prize-winning novel by Irish writer Anna Burns. The other is nonfiction by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Leadership.

The rain seems to be holding off a bit. She planted some lilies and spread organic fertilizer around her roses.

She really needs to get on with her writing, always difficult when she’d much rather be planting. To help her, she’s reading Jenny Lewis’s memoir in poetry of her father’s time in the British Army: Taking Mesopotamia (Carcanet, 2014)

This is a re-read. Self has known Jenny for five years. She heard Jenny read at the British Museum. She was there when Jenny read from her new collection, Gilgamesh Retold, at the Woodstock Poetry Festival in Oxfordshire, last November.

The collection begins with two quotes, the first from the epic of Gilgamesh, the second from Lord Grey of Falloden.

Here’s what Lord Grey has to say about the taking of Mesopotamia, 1919:

  • I think the best thing would be if, at the end of the war we could say we had taken and gained nothing. Taking Mesopotamia, for instance, means spending millions on irrigation and development with no immediate return . . . keeping up a large army in an unfamiliar country and tangling every kind of administrative question.

Self loves the idea of an occupying army taking and gaining nothing.

Stay tuned.

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Sunday Morning, First Day of Daylight Saving, March 2019

A Poem About Donald Trump: FUGUE, Summer/Fall 2011

Self hangs on to everything. This is important. Why else would she have a copy of the literary journal Fugue in her closet? An issue from 2011?

Nevertheless, she picks up the issue, opens to a random page, and finds Mark Wagenaar’s poem:

That The Unified Field Theory Must Somehow Include Donald Trump’s Hair

(An Excerpt)

Add the video of the dog playing the accordion
to the List of Things That Remind Me of Seville,
right beneath rainwater baths & patios of bitter oranges.
I never found who was playing, though from the jaunty
tuneless songs the musician had a great sense of humour.
You could also add the dog to the List of Things I’d Watch
Instead of “The Apprentice,” which is a list that would reach
La Giralda from here. I’m not sure hair can be that bad,
whether it’s real or some sort of Trump l’oeil, but I’m sure
it falls somewhere in the Unified Field Theory, which includes
the zebrafish’ new eyes, & the ghostly hair of nebulae —
the theory of another way to count it all up, to name the world
around us, blackbird, thorns in deadfall, thirst sudden as flight.

From the Contributors’ Notes: Mark Wagenaar’s book, Voodoo Inverso, won the 2012 Pollak Prize. He lives in Denton, TX

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rainbow of Colors (At Least 4)

Thanks once again to Cee Neuner for the Fun Foto Challenge!

Last October, self was in the historic English town of Winchester, which was hosting a Poetry Festival. The next Winchester Poetry Festival will be October 2020.

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Winchester, England: City Map, October 2018

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Tel Aviv Artist Reuven Rubin

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A friend made this bag for self.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Tuesday: Dorianne Laux in PRAIRIE SCHOONER (Vol. 92, Issue No. 4)

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An Excerpt from Snow

by Dorianne Laux

It wasn’t snowing, and then it was,
like death, like my sister’s texts
that just stopped: I’m in the hospital
then a phone call: We did everything
we could: endocarditis, valve leakage,
her heart on heroin. She wasn’t addicted

and then she was, on and off, for years
her and her daughter, my niece, living
on the streets, every few weeks, a phone call:

Amazing issue.

Kudos, Prairie Schooner.

 

 

Sundays I four

Self loved this tracking of a moment — the musing, melancholy tone.

Rantings Of A Third Kind

Posted in Haiku

“Sundays, yes, those fun days” Gun Roswell

Sundays

Take a walk long outside 

Seaside, a long stride, up
The hill and down to the beach
Scenery to be seen, with

Just one scene, nature and
Man made structures, side by side
Hard to divide, growing together

Over the years, soon there
Is nothing to separate them, under cover
From prying eyes, but alas

I am here now and
I spy, before it all disappears in
To the background of nature

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Poetry Tuesday: Kayo Chingonyi in The New Statesman

Guy’s and St Thomas’ (an excerpt from the poem published in The New Statesman, 23-29 November 2018 issue)

When I’m here in a particular
character of mind
any woman of a certain height —
hair plaited neat
to meet the working day —
becomes my mother
in that year of early mornings
she worked at GDRU
close to this stretch of the river
close to Hay’s Galleria;
the aquarium that is still here
though she is not
to walk with me as we scrutinise
tropical fish
laughing in the uncomplicated
manner that comes
of understanding. And after,
a bankside stroll

Kayo Chingonyi’s latest book, Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus, 2017), won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Sunday: AINE MacAODHA

Self really likes that the cottage is full of poetry books. Every time she comes, she discovers someone new.

She found a book called Landscape of Self (Belfast: Lapwing Publications, 2015) by Aine MacAodha.

Here’s the first half of a poem called

To My Children When I’m Gone

Some mountains are higher than others
Winter can cause frost bite.
Without a bit of darkness
We may not appreciate the light afterwards.
Remember the good in the world
The take your breath smiles
The smile from a stranger in a strange place
The beauty in a daisy chain
The elegance in a buttercup
The wonder of a webbing spider
The warmth of a heart
When another’s fiery arrow hits it
Love and goodness costs nothing
Hatred causes illness
Treat the nature around you with respect
Treat your spirit with kindness others too
Manners are easily carried.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Poetry Thursday: Tony Hoagland

What I thought was an end
turned out to be a middle.

May you ever. And ever.

 

Poetry Wednesday: From Thomas McCarthy’s MERCHANT PRINCE (Anvil Press: London, 2005)

He Considers His Great Luck, 1812

(for Catherine)

The moment that is lost is hardly ever found again,
As this minute, as the century.
Your love when I found it there was a brief day
For the asking, but you and your Sisters
and the Ursulines home from Havre
Might easily have snatched you away again —

Most utterly loved woman, most Callanan-like.

Out of this harbor the unlicensed ships sail.
The wind catches them, the fingers of heaven.
Even the most skilled Master can only protect
But not bring home cinnamon, not profit.

One moment in my life I did sail beyond Roche’s Point
So that you might catch my sail, my merchant eye.

I have traded off your love all my life —
The way a Bishop, the way a good Prince ventures forth.

Thomas McCarthy was born in Co. Waterford and educated at University College, Cork. He has published six collections of poetry, two novels and a memoir.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: Omagh Freezes

by Aine MacAodha, from her collection Landscape of Self (Belfast: Lapwing, 2015)

It was early November
I remember because of
How cold it was
A mini ice age it was said.
15 below zero; small towns
In the north stood still
Phone lines came down
From the weight of frost and snow
Burst pipes in the hundreds
And the drains unable to cope
Backed up.
I slid on the ice; tore ligaments
In my arm when I was helped up.
I feel the aches again as winter
Loiters like a threat.
Bones shudder under skin
A warning of another ice age to come.
It was the talk of the town all winter season
From the post office in market street
To the butchers in campsite
It was something different to talk about I suppose.

Aine MacAodha is from Omagh in County Tyrone.

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