The Bamboo Harp

November 26, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Posted in poetry, writing | 14 Comments
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tiny miracles like unexpected flowers blooming,
beyond description but within a tradition of what?
jack hammers and jack boots jekyll
and hide your errant cliche under some
gesture, a badge, flipped and flapped
given you by some bald professor of
appropriate jargon and cattle trucks, son,
take your pick he said bending over
picking up an old butt
half trod into the pavement
and thinking trailers for sale or rent


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  1. I am going to fiddle with that title. I kind of like, The Undercover Cop Blues. Hmm,
    The Bamboo Harp might be a good title for the next book, instead? But The Undercover Cop Blues kind of limits the range of the poem, maybe. Oh well, don’t be such a pedant, it’s just a blog.
    It’s just that if you call it that then it can’t be the reflection which is the old bum saying to become a cop (as an image of policing the status quo) is to sell out and in his poverty he has found a form of freedom. Really the poem is asserting the choice has to made. That in the end you are forced into moral or epic questions.
    Oh, I give up.
    Yayay, when you give up and trust your instincts as a fairly decent human then, tiny flowers bloom,
    10, 9, 8,

  2. You will explode if you think that hard about stuff! It’s all about instinct – you know it. I don’t have a badge to flash and that’s just fine by me because with badges come rules and expectation. It’s weird because the comment seems to me to be the poem again in just a different way. An extension – which if intentional is very clever (ha! yeah, yeah, course it’s intentional), left hand over right . (hide Hyde – wish I’d thought of that – brilliant)
    I will explode. I worry that maybe people read the poem, have an impression and then my comment wipes away their own impression and only leaves mine, hmm,

  3. I don’t think the comment takes way the impression I had about the poem. As Narnie said the comment plays a role in the poem. It actually sounds like another voice to me. And I agree, it’s a very clever extension.
    Thanks, Cocoyea. I’m gonna go back to writing poems that don’t need explanation for a while I think. Continuing the exploration of possibilities.

  4. To stereotype or not to stereotype?
    Hmm, probably not, if I can help it, Ana. Do you think that I did?

  5. The number of dimensions you introduce with your words remind me of a conductor blazing through a passionate Beethoven movement, himself clueless of the number of directions he pointed towards. Indeed, poetry is a form of music and your poetry is a quintessential example of that.

    It’s been a long time coming, but I feel I might become more frequent again online; I just got a new computer today which is very conducive for photography work! 🙂
    Cool, they say Macs are better for graphical work, Sumedh. I look forward to the results. How is the peacock family?

  6. I really liked it!
    Cool, I’m glad you did, Catherine.

  7. Woohoo very well done!!!

  8. Jack boots, cattle trucks, maybe this is a partial flashback into my Judaic heritage. I like this poem more and more and I don’t think I’ve completely understood it yet. There is a sense in which writing the poem is a process of discovering the thought rather than elucidating an already conscious idea. So each poem is a search, a dynamic.

  9. An uneasy thought that.

    That surrendering his basic dignity like that causes tiny flowers to bloom.


    Now I’m pondering on dignity itself and it’s shackles..
    Hmm, that is an interesting thought, Crushed. I see what you mean, maybe it’s a little Taoist, in that sense of submission, but you’re right, it feels more like loss of dignity.

  10. rooms to let 50 cent
    no phone no pool no pets
    i ain’t got no cigarettes…

    a perfect plays on words round and round we go –whee!

  11. No, no …

    that’s what the poem asked me …
    (i read it soon after a post on conformity and some images did fit right in , like “hide your errant cliche under some gesture, a badge, flipped and flapped
    given you by some bald professor of
    appropriate jargon”)

  12. I’m liking your process. The insight you gave is almost as good as the poem.

    My work falls on its face very often, but I too wrangle with similar thoughts cropping up like dandelions all over a sprung back yard…

    In the end, the work speaks to the reader or it is silent. And this tells me to find my own half trodden butt from the discards of the world, this one is clearly belonging to one yet again.

  13. Great writing as usual. Here’s my pre-thanksgiving blues solo called Missing

    I’m just a lost and lonely poet looking for a friend

    A kindred soul in a world of hollow, often broken mannequins

    Shattered storefronts of worthless dreams, empty houses of desire

    Burned out buildings and burned up hopes; only ashes of the fire

    The vacant skies where butterflies and mourning doves once flew

    Stare down cold and threatening; gun metal grey and blue

    Blackened fingers claw the air in grotesque silhouettes

    Rooted firmly in despair; scorched by sorrow and regrets

    Shreds of joy like withered grasses slowly smoke and smolder

    The missing motion of careless masses makes the day seem colder

    Nobody had to drop the bomb or dial a deep red telephone

    They looted every ounce of faith and left me here to die alone

    So I kick the garbage down the streets the day before Thanksgiving

    Hands in pockets filled with loathing for the laughter of the living

  14. Thanks everybody, that’s a cool poem F.G. captured that thought in your voice perfectly. You are a master craftsman in an honourable tradition. Every year at Thanksgiving I have made a tradition of posting W S Burroughs ‘Thanksgiving Prayer.’ This year embedding or putting in the vodpod has been disabled. I wonder why. Anyway here is a link where you can watch it. I warn you, it’s Bill at his darkest and funniest.

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