Tuesday, April 23, 2013

3rd Birthday Communal ‘Jazz’ Poem: Scratch

When looking back
choose your mirror well

This memory, I know, is less like a recording
and more like Chinese whispers
but still I replay it

Who scratched, who scratched,
who scratched this surface?
lined rep-rep

Is it you, Lily, hiding again
behind white linen corners of the laundry line?
Your oboe voice criss-crossing time
then snapping back on the wind

Her voice stumbles into silence
glasses the sea's surface to mirror
the bright burning Sumatran tiger sky
stretching, snapping, scratching and
reeling out the spool of memory

Yes! It is you, Tiger Lily, it is you!
Come, reach for me, speak to me in tongues of memories
unlatch the thunder from this silence
unwind me, remind me when it was

catch the
it's time to
(latch the window)
catch the 
      grab it! the tail     oh boy

Miss Lily's a teaser
Miss Lily's a cat
don't try to appease her
she'll disappear fast —

boy in the dark, when Lily come back
from powdering her nose and
brushing whiskers,
take his chance. Lily purr smoke in his face
inside the last dance

follow the glance, the shoulder
the line of breath held in and out
we've only scratched the surface
of what this dance could unwind

there's the trombone girl
kicking through a drift of notes,
Death dancing with the boy
in black while way out the back
they're dealing in words - Miss Lily
doubles down.

Breathe, Lily, the air is rising
the meter fresh out of ivory notes
- tickled -
and so easily plucked.
Tonight we go hunting.

Oh boy. Inside the last dance
dealing, doubling, doubting
and hunting for what?
Always more, Lily. Always more
smooth moves, music, conundrums,

Who can catch this cat?
Whispers in the mirror,
whiskers in the window,
a smoking piano, a shuddering key?

(piano) tip toe (forte) oh! Bow
across whiskery strings.
Trombone conundrum
metronome roams
memory ticks back the days.

Little stalker, true lily, night
bloomer, what will you bring me?
Lily among the thorns, lovely
looking-glass nectary, roaming
the corners, Liliales, O Lilium,
I'll catch, catch, catch you yet.

Late night bloomer. Hunter stalker.
Sinuosity's slick slink sliding. His mirrored length
a memory's pause.                             Zapateado
flick of flamenco, heels' percussion.       Gracias!
Miss Lily a cat?  No way.

Trombone slides towards silence.
Passing chords diminish
forte to piano.
Twitch of a departing tail: one final
brush across the drums.

1. Harvey Molloy  2. Helen Rickerby 3. P.S. Cottier 4. Michelle Elvy 5. Andrew M. Bell 6. Keith Westwater 7. Mary McCallum 8. T. Clear 9. Rethabile Masilo 10. Renee Liang 11. Catherine Bateson 12. Alicia Ponder 13. Claire Beynon 14. Janis Freegard 15. Saradha Koirala 16. Eileen Moeller 17. Helen Mckinlay 18. Tim Jones

Tuesday Poets who sat this one out: Zireaux, Sarah Jane Barnett, Booksellers NZ (Emma M), Helen Lowe, Kathleen Jones, Cathryn Fitchett, Jennifer Compton, Leah McMenamin, Elizabeth Welsh, Robert Sullivan, Belinda Hollyer.

Tuesday Poem is three years old and over the three weeks starting April 2, 18 of our 30 poets, day at a time, from NZ to Australia to the US and France, contributed a single stanza to our communal 'jazz' birthday poem. And the whole extraordinary poem is here now, posted Tuesday April 23 2013.

Why jazz? We wanted something that unfolded like jazz does - an emphasis on repetition and rhythm, and the winding and unwinding of lines and phrases and words. With each poet writing a separate stanza, we needed something to pull the long poem together, and the language and rhythms do just that. It's hard to believe this poem isn't from a single brain.

Delicious things happen in the poem - the sinuous and playful winding and rewinding of the whispering and whiskers of Lily who may or may not be a woman or a cat or a plant... oh memory/metronome who could forget that teasing/tail, the scratch/catches and oh boy, the oboe ... and more, so much more. Such delights! Such fun! Just read the comments to see how much we, and our readers, enjoyed it. We're going to miss the daily excitement.

'Our best collaboration yet', says Janis, and she's right. There were so few technical problems - the stanzas appearing silently, magically, day after day - and each Tuesday Poet who took part, threw in such energy and talent the blog was bursting with it. Still is. Thank you too to the Tuesday Poets who couldn't contribute this time but watched on supportively. We feel privileged to be part of this amazing global poetry community. Finally, thank you to our regular blog visitors and supporters, and to those who simply land here and take the time to read.

More details on how we made the poem here.

Finally, NZ lost a fine poet this week when Sarah Broom passed away after a long illness aged 40. We were privileged to host one of Sarah's poems on the TP hub over summer, 'All my life.' And her work has appeared on other TP poet sites. Helen Lowe's TP post this week remembers Sarah, and so does Michelle Elvy's. We offer our condolences to her family and friends.

Now, do please read the Tuesday Poems popping up in our sidebar throughout Tuesday - where it says 'Tuesday Poem' at a poet link, click and read. Such riches as we head into our fourth year. Mary & Claire.


Ronaldo Bertoni said...

I really like it!


(from Brazil)

Anonymous said...

A Fan's Cut


This is my blog on how Great Films Could Have Been Made Differently.

if you have time then please take a look.

I'm also looking to collaborate with a screenwriter.

Comments are welcome

and -"when looking back
choose your mirror well"

feels like Zen poem

Sorry for disturbing,thanks.

Janis said...

Off to a great start, Harvey!

AJ Ponder said...

Only two posts - and off to such a great start guys :)love it.

Tim Jones said...

Great to see your entries, Harvey and Helen - though as the person charged with with writing the final stanza of this jazz poem, which I guess requires me to recapitulate the development of the poem in six lines or less, I am trying not to let trepidation enter my soul...

(Or maybe that's what I'd need to do for a "symphonic" poem, and a jazz poem doesn't need that at all? Must ... broaden ... musical ... education ...)

Rethabile said...

Exactly what Janis says

Mary McCallum said...

Intriguing ... I feel like I'm listening to these two friends converse - in a kind of alternative mirror world where you'd say this sort of thing. I felt ridiculously excited this morning wondering where Helen had gone with her stanza after Harvey's perfect start - and I love it. Am looking forward to tomorrow's with Penelope C. Three weeks of this! Bliss.

Penelope said...

This really is fun; it's like a cocktail you might try once. Bit of pineapple, shot of vodka, spit of absinthe...and on she goes.

By the last post it may be a very rich cocktail indeed.

Claire Beynon said...

Ah, the pleasures of collaboration. We can play poetry like jazz. . . distinct voices, many layers. Patterns and rhythms rising. Love it. And then there's the shared, as yet unknown destination. Exciting stuff.

Michelle Elvy said...

Hmmm, slightly intimidating, coming after these first few great stanzas -- love the sounds of Penelope's lines after the opening two stanzas. Wow, so cool...

Helen McKinlay said...

This is fun looking at the page every day and not knowing what to expect. The mystery deepens. Go Tuesday Poets!

T. said...

I admit to also feeling slightly intimidated this morning as I faced my hour of posting.

And somehow, a bit of rhymey-ness seemed to fit the bill.

How fun this is!

Mariam said...

This was really fun!
I realy enjoyed it

susan t. landry said...

bravo, brava! fun and surprising, each stanza like a chinese fortune cookie treat.

taehreh said...

wow really like it! a lot! fantastic collaboration :)

Michelle Elvy said...

Watching this unfurl over the last couple of weeks has been just great. Each day a new turn, a new note, a new and unexpected place we find ourselves. I'm amazed at how well it works -- each poet riffing off the previous one(s) and keeping the rhythms flowing, and yet creating something unique each time, too. Wow, what fun, and what a pleasure to be a part of! So happy to be a member of this talented and creative group. Big smile from Northland!

Janis said...

I think this is our best combined effort yet! Great finish, Tim.

Mary McCallum said...

I am with you Janis - a fantastic poem that takes the reader in surprising and often musical places. I am surprised how consistent it feels as if from one brain - and yes, a great great finish that made me go 'ahhh'. Bravo everyone and happy birthday to us

AJ Ponder said...

Cheers everyone, and especially the organisers for this monumental effort - very cool, just like jazz ought to be ;)

Cattyrox said...

This was heaps of fun - thanks to those who did the hard organisational bits and Tim for finishing the poem so beautifully. Lovely, everyone!

Cattyrox said...

This was heaps of fun - thanks to those who did the hard organisational bits and Tim for finishing the poem so beautifully. Lovely, everyone!

Cattyrox said...

This was heaps of fun - thanks to those who did the hard organisational bits and Tim for finishing the poem so beautifully. Lovely, everyone!

Helen Lowe said...

Love the jazz poem: well done all--every year the birthday poem gets better! :)

Ben Hur said...

I've been away for several days and not anywhere near a computer and I've just read the finished work. Bravo everyone and kudos for Tim for a very satisfying ending. Tough spot to be assigned but you handled it masterfully, Tim.