Poetry, Art & Lint

Maljam's Poetry Blog

Friday, September 09, 2005


My hat sits so still
Silently perched atop high
For looks, for comfort

Sun safe, well worn-in
For protection, and for fun
Like furniture

Functional, friendly
Soiled, salty, stained, severe yet
Loved, caressed, and owned.

maljam/mallard/malster (c) 9 September 2005


Hope and dreaming

Once upon a time
There lived a man full of life
With hope and dreaming

How things might turn out
If he sat back and let things

Just happen as they
Passed on life's journey. Alas
Things just don't happen

Like that in real life
Nor should they. Life is earned not
Something just given.

maljam/maljam/malster © 9 Sept 2005


Tiny tablet

I think one of the reasons I've been using the whole 'haiku' thing recently is because I think I needed some sort of 'form' to work with, otherwise I just ramble on and it comes out too wordy... it's just experimenting with the whole 'kiss' rule - 'keep it simple stoopid!' I know it's not great stuff - but I don't care what someone else might think. I like my own gibberish! Art is just an expression of the self's view on life, a mirror or reality... that's cool... my mirror might get a bit foggy or twisted from time to time, and that's fine.

When I think about
How tired I now become
After an attack

Black dog beaten back
For thus another season
My mind is now right

Black beast does not like
To be fed, petted, nourished
Best to starve him out

By putting it right
With a tiny tablet the
Size of a tic-tac.

maljam/mallard/malster © 9 September 2005


Free As A Bird ii

I wonder what it'd be like
To be totally free as a bird?
Soaring above the horizon
Unobstructed views
Only caring of the three basic neccesities
Not of all the other baggage we humans hoarde within ourselves.

How I'd love to know what it's like to soar through a cloud.
Would it be like walking thru a thick fog?
Soaking wet in every exposed piece of skin
Yet exhillirating.

maljam/mallard/malster © 9 September 2005


Tuesday, September 06, 2005


(Image source)

Love, reign over me.
Let it pour down over me
And wash me away.

Clean away my tears
Flooding through my broken dreams
Drown those missing years.

Power, majesty
Effortlessly purify
From the horrid dark

Mists of refreshment
Streaming like flooding waters
Wash my weariness

And create in me
A new heart, a new passion
That can flow again.

maljam/mallard/malster © 6 Sept 2005

(With apols. to Pete Townsend!)


The Nightmare

v - The Nightmare

'I thought that dying would be
for those left behind to mourn.
The lonliness is but only fragmentary -
not the wholeness of eternal -

The nightmare is being left
alone with no-one; to slowly
watch yourself go crazy -
REALLY crazy -
and not being able to come home to bed
to sleep it off..."

© Maljam January 1989

Labels: ,

Walk Home

Walk Home

My old ally the sun shines sparkling through the upright green whisperers
Blue infinity braces itself against the soft white drifting air
Sighing softly, she sings sweet shining breaths
As the leaves high upon the sky clap slowly in time with the sighs.

The shooshing of worn sandals against the black weathered pathway
Never ceases to turn, yet steadily onwards they climb
The steep riverbank to the crest of our rise, unhurried
By the strains and stress of the normality in daily anxieties.

Small gray lizards hide hurriedly for cover, scurrying
In the soft whispy undergrowth alongside the fenceline
Untroubled by the bigger-picture of worldweariness
They snooze about for leftovers, unfazed yet secretive.

The air breathes in leaves' sighing whispers
And small ducks nose searching the freshly-mown grass
For special gifts of fresh feed, unhurried by the roar
Of unwelcomed intruders that squeal by uncaringly.

My river sparkles golden, kaleidascoped by thousands
Of leaves dancing freely in the sighing air passing.

Maljam © 7 April 2003

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Various Links

[+] Robert Lowell - poet - my all-time fav poet... manic-power!

[+] Gord's Poetry Factory - my musings about poetry & literature & history & film & music & the arts in general& philosophy & religion & whatever's on my mind & sometimes unexpected rants about politics & other pet peeves & of course my poetry acting as commercial breaks

[+] Poetry Blogs - links to various writer's thoughts and notes

[+] Mal's Newest Updated Blog "Team Gherkin"



Waking in the Blue

Waking in the Blue

The night attendant, a B.U. sophomore,
rouses from the mare's-nest of his drowsy head
propped on The Meaning of Meaning.
He catwalks down our corridor.
Azure day
makes my agonized blue window bleaker.
Crows maunder on the petrified fairway.
Absence! My hearts grows tense
as though a harpoon were sparring for the kill.
(This is the house for the "mentally ill.")

What use is my sense of humour?
I grin at Stanley, now sunk in his sixties,
once a Harvard all-American fullback,
(if such were possible!)
still hoarding the build of a boy in his twenties,
as he soaks, a ramrod
with a muscle of a seal
in his long tub,
vaguely urinous from the Victorian plumbing.
A kingly granite profile in a crimson gold-cap,
worn all day, all night,
he thinks only of his figure,
of slimming on sherbert and ginger ale--
more cut off from words than a seal.
This is the way day breaks in Bowditch Hall at McLean's;
the hooded night lights bring out "Bobbie,"
Porcellian '29,
a replica of Louis XVI
without the wig--
redolent and roly-poly as a sperm whale,
as he swashbuckles about in his birthday suit
and horses at chairs.

These victorious figures of bravado ossified young.

In between the limits of day,
hours and hours go by under the crew haircuts
and slightly too little nonsensical bachelor twinkle
of the Roman Catholic attendants.
(There are no Mayflower
screwballs in the Catholic Church.)

After a hearty New England breakfast,
I weigh two hundred pounds
this morning. Cock of the walk,
I strut in my turtle-necked French sailor's jersey
before the metal shaving mirrors,
and see the shaky future grow familiar
in the pinched, indigenous faces
of these thoroughbred mental cases,
twice my age and half my weight.
We are all old-timers,
each of us holds a locked razor.

Robert Lowell © 1959 'Life Studies'


Skunk Hour

Skunk Hour
(for Elizabeth Bishop)

Nautilus Island's hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son's a bishop. Her farmer is first selectman in our village;
she's in her dotage.

Thirsting for
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria's century
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.

The season's ill--
we've lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.

And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall;
his fishnet's filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler's bench and awl;
there is no money in his work,
he'd rather marry.

One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill's skull;
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town....
My mind's not right.

A car radio bleats,
"Love, O careless Love...." I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat...
I myself am hell;
nobody's here--

only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their solves up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes' red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.

I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air--
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail.
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.

Robert Lowell
© 1959 'Life Studies'


The Slough of Despond

The Slough of Despond

At sunset only swamp
Afforded pursey tufts of grass.. these gave,
I sank. Each humus-sallowed pool
Rattled its cynic's lamp
And croaked: "We lay Apollo in his grave;
Narcissus is our fool."

My God, it was a slow
And brutal push! At last I struck the tree
Whose dead and purple arms, entwined
With sterile thorns, said: "Go!
Pluck me up by the roots and shoulder me;
The watchman's eyes are blind.'

My arms swung like an axe.
And with my tingling sword I lopped the knot:
The labyrinthine East was mine
But for the asking. Lax
And limp, the creepers caught me by the foot,
And then I toed their line;

I walk upon the flood:
My way is wayward; there is no way out:
Now how the weary waters swell, -
The tree is down in blood!
All the bats of Babel flap about
The rising sun of hell.

Robert Lowell © 1946 'Lord Weary's Castle'


Memories of West Street and Lepke

Memories of West Street and Lepke

Only teaching on Tuesdays, book-worming
in pajamas fresh from the washer each morning,
I hog a whole house on Boston's
"hardly passionate Marlborough Street,"
where even the man
scavenging filth in the back alley trash cans,
has two children, a beach wagon, a helpmate,
and is "a young Republican."
I have a nine months' daughter,
young enough to be my granddaughter.
Like the sun she rises in her flame-flamingo infants' wear.

These are the tranquilized Fifties,
and I am forty. Ought I to regret my seedtime?
I was a fire-breathing Catholic C.O.,
and made my manic statement,
telling off the state and president, and then
sat waiting sentence in the bull pen
beside a negro boy with curlicues
of marijuana in his hair.

Given a year,
I walked on the roof of the West Street Jail, a short
enclosure like my school soccer court,
and saw the Hudson River once a day
through sooty clothesline entanglements
and bleaching khaki tenements.
Strolling, I yammered metaphysics with Abramowitz,
a jaundice-yellow ("it's really tan")
and fly-weight pacifist,
so vegetarian,
he wore rope shoes and preferred fallen fruit.
He tried to convert Bioff and Brown,
the Hollywood pimps, to his diet.
Hairy, muscular, suburban,
wearing chocolate double-breasted suits,
they blew their tops and beat him black and blue.

I was so out of things, I'd never heard
of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
"Are you a C.O.?" I asked a fellow jailbird.
"No," he answered, "I'm a J.W."
He taught me the "hospital tuck,"
and pointed out the T-shirted back
of Murder Incorporated's Czar Lepke,
there piling towels on a rack,
or dawdling off to his little segregated cell full
of things forbidden to the common man:
a portable radio, a dresser, two toy American
flags tied together with a ribbon of Easter palm.
Flabby, bald, lobotomized,
he drifted in a sheepish calm,
where no agonizing reappraisal
jarred his concentration on the electric chair
hanging like an oasis in his air
of lost connections....

Robert Lowell © 1959 'Life Studies'


For the Union Dead

Relinquunt Ommia Servare Rem Publicam.

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.
Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled to burst the bubbles
drifting from the noses of the crowded, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sign still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage.

Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
a girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief,
propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half of the regiment was dead;
at the dedication,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat.
Its Colonel is a lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound's gentle tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man's lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die-
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic

The stone statutes of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year-
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns…

Shaw's father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son's body was thrown
and lost with his "niggers."

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statutes for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe, the "Rock of Ages"
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
when I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble,
he waits
for the blessed break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.

Robert Lowell © 1964 'For the Union Dead'


The Dolphin

My Dolphin, you only guide me by surprise,
a captive as Racine, the man of craft,
drawn through his maze of iron composition
by the incomparable wandering voice of Phèdre.
When I was troubled in mind, you made for my body
caught in its hangman's-knot of sinking lines,
the glassy bowing and scraping of my will. . . .
I have sat and listened to too many
words of the collaborating muse,
and plotted perhaps too freely with my life,
not avoiding injury to others,
not avoiding injury to myself--
to ask compassion . . . this book, half fiction,
an eelnet made by man for the eel fighting

my eyes have seen what my hand did.

Robert Lowell © 1973 'The Dolphin'



Of course I can write
Bloody haiku poetry -
Anybody can!
(mjk 4.4.05)

The ancient Japanese poetry convention, comprising three lines and 17 syllables in a precise 5-7-5 pattern!
5 syllables
7 syllables
5 syllables
It's that easy!!!
From since I awoke,
I always knew that when this
Time came, I'd be right.

Oh, "She'll be right, mate,
Don't you worry about me,
I'll be fine," we choked.

Those ties that bound us
Are now forever broken:
Where to go from here...?

(maljam/mallard © 13 Aprl 2005)


Seven Levels?

Seven Levels?

There are then seven
Levels of perception I've
Stumbled across... ah,

First is food, shelter,
Clothing - base necessities
To keep us alive.

Second is those things
We think we need to survive -
Material pills.

Third is friendships we
Find, grow, loose along the way,
A grieving journey.

Fourth is love, being
Felt as needed, vital, of
Importance, valued.

Fifth is a concept
Some call 'morality' - what's
Right or wrong, and why.

Sixth is the value
We place on those one closest
To us, our loved ones.

Seventh is mortal -
Birth and death, beginning - end.
These we can't avoid.

Mind you, the seven
Levels ebb-and-flow just like
Wash tides, seeping through

One-another and
Interrelating, weaving
Webbed footpaths of life's

Levels two-to-seven
Don't process orderly -

They all mingle, change,
Borrow, bleach, fluctuate, mesh,
They are such part flesh.

It's just a thought, not
A theology of self.
A life examined.

(Maljam/Mallard 16.4.05)


When It's Time to Go

When it's time to go
I'm sure I'll be ready, then
I can rest in peace.

Quietness floats on
Airlessness qualities
Stillness, my breathing.

When all is said then,
Those people who are left here
May remember us

With kindness, their words
Tinged with tears, hearts still heavy
With loss, and yet - free.

Memories soaked with laughter,
Rich, joyous friendships.

Mirth replaces tears,
Smiles with my rememberance -
Some things so will last.

(Maljam/Mallard 16.4.05)




When I stare for long
Enough out onto the sea,
My horizon curves.

Horizon, a line
Unbroken by sight or thought -
Time never-ending.

Our second hand stops
Still, slows, breathes eternally -
Lasts beyond our time.

(Maljam/Mallard 16.4.05)




A bloody long word!

From some long distant
Forgotten past, men tried to
Change their world - stumbled

Blindly and so tripped
Around their folly, as if
Their church and state cared.

Long gone, dead and now
Forgotten, a term dragged out
Amuses clerics.

(Maljam/Mallard 16.4.05)


The Fence Post

I am but a post.
Have I stood the test of time?
Who cries when I die?

My rusty wire
Supports and ties together
All that I survive.

Aged, withered, wisdom
Weeps out of every frail pore
Before rot begins.

Tho rot is my form,
Attractive sadness etched by
The many long passing years.

My creator, dead.
My passing goes unnoticed,
Yet still I stand here.

Supporting rusting
Lines to keep the living out
And so the lived in.

When my time does come
At last after all these long
Years of waiting here

Alone, unnoticed
Yet completing the one role
I was formed to do,

A discarded pile
Lies left to rot in silence,
It's job done - and well.

© 2005 Maljam/Mallard


A fly and a flea

A fly and a flea in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, 'Let us flee!'
'Let us fly!' said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

My tippet only tulle

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, be passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

Emily Dickinson