for more of my found poems see Verbatim
How to play with the Nude Doll properly:
Pose it, bend and move its body without force
Hold it gently and move the limbs in their sockets
carefully in the direction of the slits
To clean it, wipe with water or any household cleaning agent
Braid, brush, wash or even dye its hair
Dress and undress it carefully
Dropping the doll
Submerging the doll in water
Forcing the joints to move in the way they were not intended
Pulling the joints out of their sockets - it loosens spring tension
Handling it roughly
Taking the doll apart
I cannot ship you new body parts
[from the website of the Enchanted Doll/ repairs]
The photos show a pool with a slide
and a sand pit - an idyllic family setting
separated from the gas chambers by just a few yards.
His grandmother told the children to wash the strawberries
because they smelled of ash from the ovens.
“So you ask yourself, they had to die. I'm alive.
Why am I alive?
To carry this guilt, this burden
That must be the only reason I exist
to do what he should have done.”
Goeth was played by Ralph Fiennes.
“I kept thinking this has to stop
at some point they have to stop shooting.
If it doesn't stop I'll go crazy right here in this theatre.”
She left the cinema suffering from shock.
Both she and her brother chose to be sterilised.
"When my brother had it done, he said to me 'I cut the line'."
Seeing his father's childhood home he broke down
kept repeating the word "insanity".
[from an article on the BBC website, 22 May 2012 ‘Nazi Legacy: the troubled descendants’]
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
Big ideological statements
One expects to get one or the other
One is rarely deprived of both.
The means are the simplest
As the audience files in
a small army of white-dressed people
are placidly picnicking.
As the music starts
they strip off their clothes
and paint each other blue.
Yes, it sounds weird
but the Ring is weird.
Sometimes they are slaves
Sometimes they are even inanimate.
The gods all sport matching platinum hair.
They don’t try to fool us
and yet something about them
is perfect anyway.
[from a review of Wagner’s Das Rheingold on the blog Likely Impossibilities, 12/07/2012]
THE BEAUTY SECRETS OF THE EMPRESS CIXI
She kept the habit of having sliced ginseng in her mouth
ate pearl powder, eight-treasure ointment and flower food
Peanuts, soybeans and red dates…
‘We are not preparing for cooking porridge
but for making a delicate imperial pastry
a secret breast-enlarging recipe of Empress Dowager Cixi.’
To have crossed the Alps with me
to sail on sunny seas
to bask in Italian skies
to have visited Vevai and the rocks of Meillerie
and to have repeated to her on the spot
the story of Julia and St. Preux
She's a strange, almost an inscrutable girl
It is all over, and I know my fate
its giant-shadow, clad in air and sunshine
my courage failed me
its enormous but graceful bulk
You are struck with the point of a rock
The truth is, I never saw anything like her
[from William Hazlitt, Liber Amoris or the New Pygmalion, first published 1832]
Malcolm was dreadful
John was quite damaged
Malcolm and Kitty were part of the Fabian set
like Bloomsbury in sexual licence
but with more socialism and less art
[from an email discussing the Muggeridge family]
THE GEOMETRY OF HAPPY CHILDREN
One of the lines began standing out
It was the line that ran along the side of the nose
approximately where the bone ends
and the cartilage begins
I actually grew annoyed with this line’s insistence
and erased it
hoping to quiet its demands
but it only added significance
and so I drew it back in
Paper never forgets though
and that line kept its heat and at times
I could see little else
Looking back and forth from mirror to paper
the line started taking
its place on the surface of my skin
When my eyes weren’t on that line
but focused elsewhere
it would begin a trampy little dance for attention
in bright magentas and blues until my eyes
would dart over to see
and back to flesh it would go. . .
[from an interview with the artist Ian Ingram on the art blog Venetian Red]
Enter and stand
Enter, leap at, roaring
Back slowly off
Roar, shake arm, roll on back
Eat earth, throw rocks
Rush at and past opponent
Avoid, show back
Leap at opponent’s back
(Without looking) avoid
Turn to face opponent
Catch head with rear hand (without looking)
strike head with forearm
Rise, stagger, roll on back
Roar, shake arm, leap on head
Avoid, back off
Leap at roaring
Grasp head with forearm
flick rear arm in arc
strike downward blow
Sag, moan, rise
leap and crush in bear hug
lift in air
Stab in chest
Fall on back
Advance calmly, inspect corpse
[Basic fighting movements: a section of the perang kembang (flower battle) from a puppeteer’s handbook for the study of wayang kulit or Javanese shadow play.
As found in 'On Thrones of Gold' edited by James Brandon, published 1993, University of Hawaii Press]
Wait until the moon is out
then go outside
eat a multi-grained bread
and play your guitar to a bush.
If the bush doesn't shake
eat another piece of bread.
[from Captain Beefheart’s ‘Ten Commandments of Guitar Playing’]
CARE AND FEEDING OF YOUR REINDEER
They are inquisitive
It was a lot of trial and error
I started with two, had eight…
it snowballed from there
It is tough at times
There are days you just don't love your job
There is good and bad, but a lot more good
She'd walk onto the stage all by herself
then walk back to me
or hang out with the cellists
She loved the violinists
They died on the same day
Just old. Can't stop that
They went and laid back-to-back
and passed away on the same day
But they lived a good life, that's for sure
[from ‘Reindeer in Hamburg’ on WNY.FM]
WHAT SHALL REMAIN
Our civilization will be known for our diaper landfills
and our nuclear waste sites
Other fragments of our culture might survive as well:
bits of Tupperware
mountains of lithium batteries
or maybe the traces of our highway system.
The foundation of a skyscraper might make
for a breakthrough excavation
but the islands of plastic bottles
floating in the oceans may prove puzzling.
Perhaps we will bury a cache of digital archives somewhere
to be deciphered one day
like the hieroglyphics on an Egyptian sarcophagus.
[taken from a blog post review of Neil MacGregor’s ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects
THE TRUTH ABOUT CHINESE REALITY SHOWS
Such shows have become a popular trend in China
mainly arguments about the ownership of family property
suspicion about extramarital relationships or
the disputes between in-laws.
It is only occasionally that you'll see a surprising episode
such as the one featuring a midget, his wife (of average height)
and an affair with his secretary.
Still, I found myself admiring the producers
and wondering how they persuaded everyone involved
to come to the studio.
That is until the news leaked out little by little
that some of the guests might be
paid actors and actresses.
Some producers even said these are not news programs
they don't have to be completely real.
[from an article in the Global Times]
VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS
When a man is riding through this desert by night
he hears spirit voices talking to him
as if they were his companions,
sometimes even calling him by name.
Often these voices lure him away from the path
and he never finds it again
Many travellers have got lost
and died because of this.
Round the necks of all their beasts
they fasten little bells
so that by listening to the sound
they may prevent them from straying off the path.
[from The Travels of Marco Polo]
Every time I go back to America
it tugs at my heart
not just the hills
and tree-lined streets
the values, optimism, equality
When I was six my family moved to America
hopeful, heedful and hungry
we chased the American dream
I moved back to Asia
for a better dream
What is success?
Owning a flat owning several flats
lunch at the Four Seasons
pillars of the Asian dream
the decay of America
endless lines at the airport
the general torpor
Our people work hard
don’t complain incessantly
don’t take everything for granted
democracy and meritocracy
people need to believe in something
my heart full of hope
[from an opinion piece by Kelly Yang in the South China Morning Post, 10 August 2012 ]
THE ELECTRONIC CONFESSION
My prayer each night is for you to realize
how much I love you
When I go to bed I think of nothing
but how much this passion for you
has consumed me
My heart is in this eCard
I forwarded just for you
Click here to see your ecard
[from a spam mail received on 09/07/2012 to my inbox]
Smiley or happy face
a version without colon is common in Russia
Laughing, big grin, laugh with spectacles
Frown sad Angry
Horror, disgust, sadness, great dismay
Skeptical, annoyed, undecided, uneasy, hesitant
Straight face disgusted, grim, no expression, indecision strict
Partied all night, drunk, confused
Crying, tears of happiness
[from the Wikipedia entry ‘list of emoticons’]
HOW TO CREATE A REINDEER COSTUME
Find a picture of a Christmas reindeer
You don't want a picture of a real reindeer
which isn't really Christmassy at all
Create the reindeer costume
using the picture as a guide
Slip on a pair of brown sweats
Don gloves and shoes
It doesn't matter if they're brown or black
Put the antlers on your head.
Pin a little "tail" made of yarn
to the back of the sweatpants
Wear the red nose, if desired
HERDING REINDEER WITHOUT LEGS
Once he lost his way in the winter tundra
His legs were frozen
and in the Yamalo-Nenetskij regional hospital
doctors amputated them till his knees
Prokopij returned to the tundra
He lives in a tent with his parents
wife and two sons
Here in the tundra
his homeland gives him power
to follow the rhythm of nomads
to be strong in his mind
Prokopij migrates on a reindeer sledge
He helps to collect wood and water
He is making sledges
by himself for other people
He cannot throw the lasso
or catch reindeer anymore
His sons do this now
[ from Arctic Anthropology]
APOLLO 11 – THE MISSION
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained
There were four flight directors
working in 48 hour shifts
the average age of the team
Three tracking stations
Goldstone, Madrid and Honeysuckle Creek
transmit voices and commands – a dish 200 feet across
Computers the size of frigidaires
covered in flashing lights
with the memory of your average wristwatch
This is just like a simulation
We’ve got dust now…
One small step
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED
We didn’t really have any embarrassments
or anything to conceal from public scrutiny
or anything to worry about
Everything was great
The pictures were seen in 49 countries
this was peaceful
Today we really landed on the moon
We were just a bit of the team
It was the goddammest thing you’d ever seen
in your entire life
We aimed for the Sea of Tranquillity
and found magnificent desolation
We gulped fine wine
we didn’t have time to enjoy it
I suppose you could say I never really recovered
because I’m still living those missions
We came in peace for all mankind
[Sources: First two lines: the King James Bible, rest of poem transcription by the author from a BBC radio 4 documentary, ‘Walking on the Moon’, first broadcast 11 July 2009.]
APOLLO 11 – THE JOURNEY OUT
It just feels like we're going around upside down
Focus is on infinity
Jesus Christ, look at that horizon!
Isn't that something?
God damn, that's pretty; it's unreal.
Get a picture of that.
Ooh, sure, I will. I've lost a Hasselblad ....
Has anybody seen a Hasselblad floating by?
It couldn't have gone very far –
big son of a gun like that.
Trees and a forest down there
it looks like trees and a forest or something
Looks like snow and trees.
Fantastic. I have no conception of where
we're pointed or which way we're going
or a crapping thing, but it's a beautiful
low pressure cell out here.
Yes, I didn't know when the hell we were airborne
I just took his word for it. It was sure shaking,
rattling, and rolling, son of a bitch!
Boy, look at that ... crater
Hope none of those meteors come by right now
Well, where's the freaking earth going to be now?
I 'm confused.
God, look at that moon l
Fantastic. Look back there behind us
sure looks like a gigantic crater
Look at the mountains going around it
My gosh, they're monsters
Yes, there's a moose down here you
Just wouldn't believe.
Yes, there's a big mother over here, too.
Come on now, Buzz,
don't refer to them as big mothers
Give them some scientific name.
It sure looks like a lot of them have slumped down.
A slumping big mother.
Hmm - here comes the moon.
I wonder where we are.
We're going to stop here pretty soon, right?
Boy, there must be nothing more desolate
than to be inside some of these small craters
these conical ones
People that live in there probably never get out.
Boy, look at that big mother coming up there.
Looks like we're heading for –
... over the horizon.
Oh, that is weird –
that crazy moon out there again, huh?
Doesn't it look like some of these crater walls
had scallops inside like a design in a fan –
Like seashells - very pretty, very symmetrical.
Where the hell is the horizon with the world coming
over it? I guess it's behind us, huh?
Houston, Columbia. Do you read?
Sure seems like we're going the wrong way.
Coming down already.
And, one thing I'd appreciate if you could - see
if you could - find the -
Hear that, too, huh?
Sounds like wind whipping around the trees.
40 feet, down at 30 . . . down at 15 . . .
400 feet down at 9 . . . forward . . .
350 feet down at 4 . . .
300 feet down 3 1/2 . . .
47 forward . . . 1 1/2 down . . . 13 forward . . .
11 forward? coming down nicely . . .
200 feet, 4 1/2 down . . .
5 1/2 down . . . 5 percent . . .
75 feet . . . 6 forward . . .
lights on . . . down 2 1/2 . . .
40 feet? down 2 ½ kicking up some dust . . .
30 feet, 2 1/2 down . . . faint shadow . . .
4 forward . . . 4 forward . . .
drifting to right a little . . . O.K. . . .
Houston - Tranquility Base here.
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED.
Look at that, would you? Look at that.
Isn't that beautiful?
A thing of beauty is a Joy forever.
[Source: from the NASA Onboard Voice Transcription]
Here lies a little bird
Here lies sweet Isabell
Here she lies, a pretty bud
Here she was wont to go, and here, and here
Here where the fields lie lonely and untended
[from Index of first lines, Come Hither, edited by Walter de la Mare]
Several of these poems first appeared in the delightful VERBATIM.