ictus

ictus

Sunday, 30 May 2021

5 Writers Who Also Made ( or Make) Music

At long last I am conforming to that classic format for the informative blog-post, the listicle of numbered items on a shared theme, even as I toil under the stinging indictment that "no-one reads blogs anymore" (I can't remember on which American sitcom I heard the quip "2006 is on the line, it wants its blog back"). Ploughing on:

1. Frederico Garcia Lorca (who as an adolescent had dreamed of a career as a musician and composer rather than a poet), played piano on this rather crackly 1932 recording of traditional flamenco songs performed by the Spanish-Argentinian singer and dancer, La Argentinita (Encarnación López Júlvez)                                          
  
2. Out of the extraordinarily varied career outlined in her seven volumes of autobiography, in the 1950s Maya Angelou was working as a dancer and chanteuse in New York nightclubs. She was chosen to perform one of her own songs in Stan Katzman's 1957 movie Calypso Heatwave, which hoped to ride the wave of a new fad for calypso music, briefly seen at the time as a youth trend ready to supplant rock 'n' roll

3. In early editions of Ursula K Le Guin's 1985 book Always Coming Home, a kind of "future archive" of texts and images relating to an imaginary people called the Kesh, a cassette was included containing the album she made with electronic composer Todd Barton Music and Poetry of the Kesh, a rich amalgam of field recordings, sounds generated on invented instruments (such as a 7 foot horn called the hambouta) and Guin's intoning of poems in the language of the Kesh.

4. Don Paterson - a stunningly accomplished guitarist as well as poet and aphorist - formed the "folk-jazz crossover" group Lammas with saxophonist Tim Garland in 1990, about the time when his poetry career was also taking off. This video captures a more recent revisiting of the first piece they composed together, demonstrating his intriguing style of playing jazz voicings on a classical guitar. What I didn't know until just reading it on his website was that Paterson also took some lessons with the seminal improvisatory guitarist Derek Bailey in the mid-80 and was part of the London "free-improv" scene before Lammas. 



5. The Kolkata-born novelist and essayist Amit Chaudari is also a singer in the North Indian classical tradition, a skill he learned from his mother Biyoja Chaudhari, also a highly acclaimed singer and performer. He has recorded two albums fusing Indian and western stylings, despite one being called This is Not Fusion (2004) - the other is Found Music (2010). Most recently he published a book exploring Indian music entitled Finding the Raga (2021).





Saturday, 27 March 2021

Poetry's Remote Community

   If poetry is built on paradox, perhaps one reason poetry seems to have thrived under lockdown is the paradoxical nature of so much in our current lives. Hived off in our disparate households we are nevertheless engaged in a range of virtual interactions we have all had to stumblingly embrace (Zoom meetings, remote interviews and for we 'nincompated pedagogues' the muffled,  stuttering pleasures of online teaching). Equally, our sequestered, inward-facing condition seems to have fostered a renewed sense of community in us, a concern for the less fortunate which has often been lacking from our discourse under a government intent on stripping back any of 
the commitment to public funding and social care many of us had thought the bedrock of a responsible, thriving society. 

    If at times it has seemed that the whole project of lockdown has been a self-sacrificing effort to preserve the most vulnerable members of our society at the cost of economic benefit, those of us fortunate enough to continue working will feel this a price worth paying, even as cabinet members all too quick to pay lip-service to such noble rhetoric are never far from revealing their true, Thatcherite colours. This was amply demonstrated in the latest disclosure that millions of pounds of tax-payers' money has been siphoned off via the furlough scheme to wealthy non-residents (such as tax exile Jim Ratcliff and members of the Saudi royal family) rather than focused on the smaller businesses it was earmarked for. This seems all the more insulting in the context of the government's proposed pay rise of 1% offered to nurses and other frontline healthcare workers who have continuously put their lives on the line by playing a key role in confronting the crisis in our hospitals under unimaginably difficult conditions.

   Poetry is built on the further paradox that it is invariably conceived and written in solitude but ultimately must function as an act of communication if it's to fulfil its fundamental motive (even if it is a case of "communicat(ing) before it is understood".)  Although the thoughts of writers seem divided about whether lockdown has been beneficial for their creative process or not (eg. this Guardian article), many of us have experienced a fillip purely in the additional writing-time and solitude being at home has afforded us, as well as increased access to the ancillary activities that feed into our writing (eg. reading, nature walks, online research). But at the same time the communicative side of poetry, at least as it is manifested in live readings and face-to-face poetry groups and workshops, has suffered quite as much as the other performing arts and with it the sense that poetry also comes out of a living, breathing, talking community of other poets, "silly like us" (as Auden wrote of Yeats) but also bonded by that strange obsession with making lasting shapes out of the flyaway words that surround and confound us.

   It could be said, however, that poetry has adapted to lockdown circumstances perhaps more easily than music or theatre, many of its live events migrating online with comparative ease. Attending a virtual reading from home can, of course, have its advantages over travelling to and from a venue, especially during winter and especially (as in my case) when you have two small children to put to bed with no literally no chance of a baby-sitter thanks to lockdown restrictions.

   The launch reading for Tears in the Fence 73 which took place last week seemed at first an ambitious undertaking, as the editor David Caddy had invited every single poet with poems included in the issue to read at the event, a generously inclusive gesture which seems in keeping with the ethos of the magazine. In the end an extensive range of poets contributed to the reading, which lasted for well over two hours. As well as the eclectic range of styles and themes on display in the magazine's selection, what was also wonderful was the international diversity of the readers, something again which Zoom facilitates much more practically than a physical reading. The sense that writers from around the world were coming together in a shared purpose was palpable and did restore that feeling of poetic community we often - immured in our little microclimates - mislay. That the Tears in the Fence poets fostered by David are a supportive and highly receptive listenership was also apparent, with generous comments in the Chat panel the norm and an active sense of encouragement in how the writers interacted with one another.

   I almost didn't make it to the reading for the very reasons cited above: my partner was also engaged on an online evening class so it was my turn to put the little ones to bed. I had literally just rocked my crying son to sleep and rested him on the sofa. I logged into the reading which seemed to take a few moments because of connection problems, but as soon as David's face came onto the screen he said "Is Oliver there?" I hardly felt prepared but fortunately had the edition of the magazine to hand and didn't have time to be nervous so just launched into the reading of my poem ('Elegiac Improvisation on the Death of John Hartley Williams'). This first foray into online reading, to an audience of listeners across the UK, Europe and beyond, felt like extending my voice and my words into a broader echo chamber of resonances, taking their place within a creative conversation that is ongoing.

  Copies of Tears in the Fence 73 are still available from the website.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Lee Harwood Memorial


   Sent to me by a friend who discovered it in Brunswick Square, Hove. It's mentioned, in fact, on Lee Harwood's Wikipedia entry.
    In turn it sent me back to LH's poems, often marvellously indirect and floating, like ambient music you can dip in and out of, treating it now as background sound and now as something to home in on the detail of.* "What Harwood’s work manages to achieve is a form of representation which both communicates through language and acknowledges its limitations simultaneously...The incomplete nature of the text allows the reader’s own associative imagination to come into play, to complete the meaning of the text." (from The Poetry Archive, where you can hear Harwood read some of his poems.)






*I was thinking of what has become my most-listened to album of recent months, Robert Ashley's Private Parts, although it would certainly be stretching the definition of "ambient music" to call it such - it really stands outside any genre of music or spoken-word recording and I fear I will have to devote a post to it to do it any justice - in the meantime, take a listen

 

Saturday, 12 December 2020

The Loch Ness Monster’s Song by Hen Ogledd


  A song from one of my favourite albums of the year ("an ambitious, progressive, intelligent and experimental take on pop music"*) based on a richly sonorous sound-poem by Edwin Morgan. This was one of the first Morgan poems I ever came across and on rereading I'm sensing a Joycean multi-layering of possible and/or invented language-elements in Morgan's monster-ese, a polyglot speech-act reminding us through a bastardised, fictive symbol of Scottish nationhood of the cultural promiscuity and slipperiness of any state-imposed national language. How Morgan and Ian Hamilton Finlay operated as vivid components of the international Concrete Poetry scene during the late 60s and 70s while much of British poetry weltered in a parochial post-Movement conservatism is another story (and one that leaves out the underground streams of the "British Poetry Revival" emerging at the same time).

  I'm also drawn to the historically (and politically) resonant name of this "prog-folk" group: Hen Ogledd is Welsh for the Old North, the region of northern England and southern lowland Scotland inhabited by Celtic Britons who spoke an ancient dialect called Cumbric. It became a kind of mythic realm from which Welsh bards such as Taliesin and Aneirin traced their lineage. Like Morgan's poem, and in a year when the supposed "levelling up" agenda between Northern regions and the South-east morphed into a kind of managed impoverishment as the government imposed month after month of high-tier restriction on already stretched cities like Manchester and Liverpool, Hen Ogledd seem to speak of an undermining of southern, metropolitan hegemonies, a reaching for the "tentacular roots" of alternative cultural traditions.






The Quietus 100 Albums of the Year 2020 - always a great place to discover new and overlooked music 

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Guest Poet: Robert Taylor

RETSINA

If there was, running in its sweet bitter scent,
A thread of breeze playing the glint of sea’s glass,
Glare off walls needling tears, tongue’s tingle of wine,
That tress of air, light, memory, warmth, that taste;
If there was that and the linger of resin,
Fast against spoil like a loving drunk, 

I would reinhabit this and be that drunk
And recompound it with the heart-stop scent
Blown from the pine grove and its glue-gilt resin.
All afternoon, with every emptied glass,
Memory-tussled oblivion scud where we taste
Less hurt in the yellow clarity of the wine.

The gliding fish, the dolphins and the wine
We downed and downed until the sea seemed drunk.
The offal-coloured olives sheening wet began to taste
As acrid as the stony ground-weed scent
Where a throttled-sounding cockerel swallowed glass
In smashed throatfulls where light congealed to resin.

Its gurgle of blood mimed the sun that set as resin. 
A judder of bouzoukis coaxed more wine
Your eyes shot their decision, their green glass;
Your eyes of sea too clear for one so drunk
Shone with what couldn’t be thrown off the scent
Leaving the bewildering, unmanageable taste

As though fate transmitted in the mouth, a taste.
Somewhere a fly engulfed itself in resin.
Soon you receded to a ghost of scent. 
Speech foundered in the dregs of wine. 
And every night thereafter I was drunk. 
Pathetic; staring blankly in a glass. 

Now is an aperture the day seeps through, its glass
Bears no trace of that island’s sleepy taste.
The only constant is the being drunk. 
These days secreting no protective resin
Thought drifts back out on seas as dark as wine
When night falls and I topple to its scent.

Sweet bitter wine that soured in the glass.
Memory a scented resin bleeding out. 
How everything just tastes of being drunk.

                                                        Robert Taylor 2020 ("a sestina written with the further constraint that the title had to rhyme with sestina")

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

A Small, Good Thing

   Hearing the news of Derek Mahon's passing a few weeks ago, I drew out his Collected Poems from an obscure bookshelf in the summer house to see if I was justified in my grandiloquent estimate that he'd been perhaps the greatest living poet of our disunited isles. Opening it I came upon the short poem 'Everything is Going to be All Right', for long a favourite of mine; and then remembered that during lockdown it had become something of a meme, much-posted and forwarded as a talisman for hope and perseverance, its title and last line a reassurance that this precarious state of affairs would not last forever (albeit our current cliff-edge teeter over the prospect of a second lockdown seems to render the measured optimism of even a few months ago premature.) 

    No wonder, Mahon's astonishing little poem reminds us, people turn to poetry in times of crisis, as to the "small, good thing(s)" of Raymond Carver's story, where eating rolls of newly-baked bread can at least restore a grief-stricken couple to the immediate present; at least (as we say) keep them going. Poetry can encapsulate many-sided, hard-to-grasp, difficult-to-swallow truths in a kind of bullet-point form that goes straight to our innards through the music of its implicit concision, the flyaway chaff of words we hear all around us somehow transmuted into a lasting formula, an incantatory charm against despondency or surrender.

  Mahon's poem has this quality of being at once off-the-cuff, scrawled on the back of an envelope ("the lines flow from the hand unbidden") but also locked into its form, its loosely-rhyming pentameters and syntax unfolding with an inevitability that is in itself reassuring towards the final line's "brief stay against confusion", an example of what Frost called "sentence-sound" in the way it patches a commonly-spoken sentence onto an accentual-syllabic line that balances its trochaic first half with the assertive double-thud of the final spondee (perhaps this is why Mahon prefers the two word "all right" over the more frequently used "alright"). 

   Somehow the line no longer sounds like a commonplace platitude, said to placate anxiety or jitters in others or in oneself; its rhythmic context lifts it to the level of lyric epiphany although this is heavily qualified by what's gone before. "There will be dying, there will be dying" announces the dreadful, repetitious imminence of death (like the daily Covid toll on the 6 o'clock news), only to be countered by a sensory immersion in the moment which can only ever be transitory and provisional: it's all we can hold onto, after all, just as the 12-line lifespan of the poem also fleetingly runs its course. 

   But there's another reason why we keep returning to poems like Mahon's, why they "stay news" well beyond, say, the government's current spin-feed of "number theatre", bungled schemes and contradictory scientific advice. The more memorable and resonant a poem is, the more it becomes unfinishable to the reader, constantly open-ended and porous to re-discovery and reinterpretation. To paraphrase Roland Barthes, the richness of poetry is not that a hundred readers can find the same meaning in a certain text, but that a certain text can yield a hundred meanings to the same reader, perhaps at different points throughout her or his life. 

  An example of this arose when my own memory of 'Everything is Going to Be All Right' abutted against how I was inclined to read it now. I had the impression that the scenario of the poem was a man/the poet lying in bed with his wife or partner and their small children, huddling together the morning after a stormy falling-out or estrangement. I took it to be a poem of reconciliation and togetherness after a difficult period, a "rocky patch" maybe, the last line a semi-joyful sigh of relief that things were back on track and the family had been restored to unity, at least until they have to go downstairs for breakfast.

  But on reinspection I can see there's really nothing to support this reading, no mention of partner or children or even family. The narrator could just as easily be alone in bed, "glad to contemplate" the simple fact of waking into his own space: perhaps he has even come through a painful separation (a theme of several mid-period Mahon poems) and is now "in spite of everything" embracing his own solitude and the opportunity to start writing again ("the lines flow...") 

  Surely it would be reductive to regard my previous reading as wrong, though, or this more recent interpretation as somehow right? The terms seem misapplied in the context of reading and re-reading poems. I can see now that my original envisioning was as much to do with my own turbulent home-life at the time I first came across the poem as it was to do with anything Mahon had moulded into his beautiful 12 lines, just as my recent revisioning says something of the calmer, somewhat more settled place I find myself in these days, as well as of the sequestered spaces we've all been waking into this year. 

  It makes me wonder again at the extent to which we create our own versions of important poems as we progress through life, elaborating different meanings in a complex dialogue with the formal properties and significations of the original text, meeting the poet halfway as they come forward from the page to meet us. This creative collusion can also happen on a broader level when a notable poem is reinterpreted to suit a national mood or set of circumstances and a whole new array of readers can rediscover a piece of writing stitched together some forty years ago as though it were a new poem made for this moment of tremulous uncertainty and - "in spite of everything"- tentative hope.

  

  

   

   

Friday, 14 August 2020

Ten Years of Ictus and Call for Submissions

 In a post from earlier this year I mentioned that its been ten years this summer since I began this blog; sporadically enough at times and with a couple of hiatuses along the way but I've just about kept it going through what seems an unbelievable time-span, a decade of dramatic ebbs and flows during which my life has transformed itself in almost every way. Writing has been the one constant in a sense and this irregular blog has trickled along with it like a meandering tributary, never my main focus when I've found time to write but more like something running in the background, a testing-ground for thoughts and opinions, a fairly unpremeditated repository for poems, reviews, interviews, bits of music and miscellaneous other jottings.

  It amounts to a rather incoherent record of a decade it would be hard for me to summarise in any other way. Who knows how many readers came along for the circumlocutory journey, if any at all. I'm only pleased to have got this far. It seems a good enough point, however, to change things up a bit, alter the format and open the blog up to other voices a lot more, as I have often talked about doing in the past. I've included several contributions from guest authors in the past (both poems and reviews) and enjoyed the experience of sharing what I regarded as engaging work.

  I'm inspired by the likes of The High Window, The Interpreter's House, Eyewear and Gists and Piths to move Ictus away from being a common-or-garden writer's blog and more in the direction of an online literary review, with less of myself and more of other people's writings. So if you'd like to submit some poems, a review, an essay or piece of creative non-fiction, or even a short story, please send them to: ictuspublishing@gmail.com. 

 There isn't a particular style or genre or approach I'm more inclined to publish, although there are certainly qualities I value in both poetry or prose: a care for and awareness of form and crafted language; an ungeneric freshness of perception that's liable to give the reader a jolt of surprise and recognition; an engagement with ideas and concepts not as abstract add-ons but as dynamic forces energising the text. Overall the sense that this creative act was a psychological or even physiological necessity on the part of the writer: it wasn't just a classroom exercise, it urgently had to get out there into the world and communicate something to me as a reader, if only its own presence.

 If this sounds prescriptive, it isn't meant to be and I welcome contributions from both experienced, published writers and complete beginners. I'm also very open to works from potentially marginalised or less often represented voices, especially BAME, LBGTQ and disabled poets and authors. I know that many people have turned to poetry during lockdown as a source of consolation or a repository of thoughts and ideas which have been beneficial to reflect upon in this anxious crisis; the simple fact of having more time or working from home has allowed a great creative outpouring to occur in many households, home-offices and garden sheds. I would welcome lockdown poems or poem-sequences: its become the key issue of our time and we are still processing its impact.

 
  

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Inbetween Days


 The striped caterpillar my daughter found in the garden and kept in a jam-jar has now entered the pupa stage and formed a cocoon among the ragwort leaves. Despite her impatience, I have told her it may take two weeks before a beautiful, black-and-red cinnabar moth emerges. "So what's inside there now? A caterpillar or a butterfly?" she asks, "Do we still need to feed it?" As so often, I'm stuck for an answer and resort to word-games: "Well, you see now it's turned into a caterfly; no, a butterpillar." 

  Of course, science tells us it's neither one creature nor the other at the moment, a liminal, metamorphic between-state where the cells of the larva are gradually reconfiguring and repurposing themselves into the new form of the moth. This incredible feat of nature, taking place within a small dark casing hidden among leaves in a jam-jar on a shelf, is hard enough for this adult to comprehend as a commonplace occurrence, let alone a three year old. But then again her ability to accept the world at face value, full of discoveries and marvels which often don't seem strange or implausible because she has so little to compare them with, almost certainly exceeds mine, continually jolted out of acceptance of a world that seems more bizarre by the day, I suppose in comparison to a more settled, more "normal" existence that got established in my consciousness some time in the past 51 years (although when and what those old norms were I also find increasingly difficult to formulate or remember).

   I may well be labouring this metaphor now, but we also seem to be living through a transitional state this summer, struggling to emerge from the cocoon of lockdown while still surrounded by a climate of apprehension, caution and frequent setback which at times makes us want to climb back inside again. Neither in lockdown nor quite out of it yet, you could say, and the prevailing air of uncertainty hasn't lifted, hardly helped by the government's tendency towards sudden U-turns and about-faces. Are our children all going back to school in September and are we teachers all going back to start preparing in a few weeks? How come it was safe to go shopping without a mask at the height of the epidemic in April, but now, when so many other restrictions have been eased, it isn't?

  Thinking onward, wouldn't it perhaps be better if we could look at life as one long transitional, metamorphic state, accepting that the more stable periods we fondly remember with the euphemising lenses of nostalgia were probably just as flawed and difficult to get through as the present and that the long-anticipated future of secure, calm days doing exactly what we want to do will almost certainly never arrive. You only have to watch nature going through its almost daily shifts and changes, its continuous process of making, unmaking and remaking, to understand this on a pre-verbal level. It's high summer now but yellow leaves are already beginning to drift down from the acacia tree at the bottom of the garden, just as in early spring I noted autumnal colours on beeches and poplars coming into leaf. 

  And poetry reconfigures itself out of a parallel process, finding a liminal shape for its own metaphormosis*, coming alive in the moment of its saying before resting back into a pattern of mute stasis as the wings of the book fall closed. It shows us how we can live in "uncertainties, mysteries and doubts without any irritable reaching after facts and reasons"; how we can continue to value the quiet, inward-looking, home-bound days of lockdown even as we struggle back out into the world again.

  
*The title of a poem from my first volume which summed up a central theory of mine about transforming the world through metaphor, revivifying reality through the tropes and leaps of poetic form

Monday, 11 May 2020

Poetry in the New Phase

 After seven weeks now of this strange interiorised life, I continue to be poised between thinking these home-bound spring days could well be the optimum conditions for the fruitful work-life balance a writer needs and at other moments feeling adrift in a world that often seems to be rapidly crumbling into disarray as the daily tolls of coronavirus victims continue to swell across the world and the global economy sinks into catastrophic depression. At least here, in a UK whose government could hardly have handled the crisis worse, we seem to be coming to the edge of something. Although we will have to wait to see where next this already negligent and veering ship of state will take us, we know that certain forms of easing are now in place without at the same time lockdown being lifted: positive for many people whose livelihoods have been compromised yet worrying if we are contemplating sending children back to school and allowing the inroads we have made to be eroded again.
   Books and literature seem to have been a renewed source of solace and engagement for many, or in some cases a way to pass the time or evade reality that doesn't involve the internet or TV. After an initial surge, however, apparently book-sales in general are down and it is small presses that are feeling the pinch of a shrinking market and the ongoing closure of bookshops - surely some of these will re-open now with the justification that they provide an essential service to our communities? Other independent book-sellers, of course, have been doing a sterling job of remaining open to online buyers throughout the lockdown and in some cases even extending their service to personal delivery. In already straitened circumstances, you have to admire their tenacity and determination to keep that vital stream of books and words pulsing into the life-blood of our culture.
  By definition, of course, many of these small presses are poetry publishers and its incumbent upon everyone who cares about what was up until now (and hopefully will continue to be) a thriving and vibrant UK poetry scene to support them and try to buy books directly from them rather than via Amazon (and, if you weren't aware, Abebooks, sometimes perceived as a more ethical alternative to Amazon, is also owned by Bezos's vast corporate leviathan). Some interesting independent presses I wasn't previously too familiar with have caught my eye recently as I've had more time to survey what's out there than I usually do: Longbarrow from Sheffield, for example, who describe the work they publish as exploring "the intersections between landscape, history and memory" and who have several sampler-anthologies available to read as PDFs on their website; The High Window, an online journal of international poetry, reviews and translations edited by David Cooke, well worth a browse; and Contraband Books, who describe themselves as "a Modernist press" but don't otherwise give much away on their site, other than to promote their piquant range of titles. I've also been dipping into the recent Tears in the Fence 71, which has a high count of strong and distinctive poems by the likes of Gavin Selerie, Sian Thomas and the late Reuben Woolley, lamented in his editorial piece (among other fascinating mentions) by David Caddy.
  I say more time, but as this new phase of lockdown comes into being, I have the sense that it may be slipping away from me. With both myself and my partner working remotely and our small children also at home - those delightful and irrefutable little people from Porlock, less "enemies of promise" and more the termites of any sort of long-term ambition or domestic order - the huge swathes of additional writing time that seemed to open out before me at the beginning of lockdown seem to evaporate day by day and the novel I wrote such an exhilarating first chapter of in late March has hardly swelled its word-count since then. The summery balminess of Bank Holiday Friday and Saturday turned grey and blustery on Sunday and as I stare out at the gale-swept garden, listening to the surge of the buffeted trees, I'm wondering if this is the sound of reality gradually setting in.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Poem: Indefinite Hiatus

INDEFINITE HIATUS

No-one had the faintest notion 
                                                       what to do next, 
there were as many alternatives
as there were knockdown 
                                          bargains in the sale;
not that it mattered much,
                                               after all, in days 
this vaguely taped-together: 
                                                           the clouds
over the building-site 
                                       were not quite there,
dusted fingerprints on a windowpane;
a pigeon’s footsteps 
                                     through solidifying cement
have left scripts that will no doubt 
                                                             outlast us,
mistaken by future historians 
                                                    as our holy writ…

It all goes back 
                           to that endless afternoon
in Nolan’s, staving off the crash 
                                                            with another last round
on your card, the epiphanies of youth
                transpiring to sweet FA, the jukebox 
                                                                           crooning
that golden oldie: 
                                Halfway through life’s fiasco,
having strayed  
                          from company policy,

I found myself 
                          in a dingy bar…The piecing together
of a new enigma, 
                                      but with Yesterday’s Answers
Printed Below, never today’s 

eg. I can’t get across to my five-year-old 
                what cassette-tape is, unspooled, 
festooned from a maple 
                                              in glittering lianas,
imagined pop-songs 
                                   broadcast 
                                                  to the breeze: 
there they are now, 
                                    just within earshot, 
like summer’s hushed surrender 
                                          across town,
the city muttering
                               in its threadbare sleep: 

or is that the drunken snoring
                                           of a homeless teenager
                passed out in the empty library?
                                                                         (First published on Intercapillary Space, 2013)