March 28, 2007

Just a Few Questions from the Panel

Why do you want to be a poet?
What sort of work do poets do?
What, in your view, is the difference

between the work of a poet
and the work of a civil engineer?
What would you say

if you were asked to write concrete poetry?
What would you say
if you were asked to build a concrete boat?

Why do some poems rhyme?
What makes a slum?
What is a Found Poem

and where might you find one?
What is conservative dentistry? What should be done
in the case of an elderly person who steals a bar of soap?

What are the qualities of a sound net-ball defence?
Why do you want to be a poet?
Is there a future in fish farming?

—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:11 PM

March 27, 2007

The News and The Weather

Too much has already been said

about the spring. More than enough
ink has been squandered on the fall.

It would be impossible to entirely cast out
the volumes that dwell on light.
That winter is marching steadily

down from the hills is as much
yesterdayís news as ripples of sand
on the beach being like something
or something else. The wet-linen

colour of almost every cloud
in literature is, frankly, boring.
It is time to address other things:
empty boxes of rain that are sometimes
trees, the neglected battalions of grass Ö

—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 11:38 AM

March 26, 2007

The Duckís Back and How it Got Like That

You have taken to returning
to the old notebooks,
where the other life is,
Ďthe properly narrated oneí,
where you consider the duckís back
and how it got like that,
the morphology of clouds,
how stars explode, the habits
of gravity and time. These days
you wake up in the dark

and ask yourself what you know:
the names of the Telemark saboteurs;
how the best way of writing about it
is never writing about it; that the light
at the end of the tunnel is no chink
in the gloved and greaved murk
of Erebus, neither is it the apocryphal
oncoming locomotive. It is only
some bastard with a torch.
He is not looking for you.

—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 11:53 AM

March 25, 2007

A Postcard to Martin
for Martin Stannard

 
Iím writing regarding my head. Do you think anything can be done about it? You can tell me. I can take it. Birdsong occurs frequently in my poetry (here it is again). I mean, I know itís preferable to stars, but not how preferable. And what about horses? Because I know horses stand for common sense. Where do you stand on the whole Ďbuilding a bridge between you and the readerí issue? When should I bring in the horses?
 
—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)
 
Posted by dwaber at 01:01 PM

March 24, 2007

Sonnet About a Handgun with Diamonds

I am writing this sonnet about
a handgun with diamonds. The light
fires off the facets and dazzles.
But this is a handgun alright.

We are swinging through somewhere quite louche
in a taxi that smells of incense.
The mirror is hung with red tassels.
The driver is black and farouche.

If none of this makes any sense,
remember this sonnetís about
a handgun encrusted with jewels

and, as such, the usual rules
should be left at the door. Got that? Right.
A handgun is what this is about.

—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 01:15 PM

March 23, 2007

ĎPoems of Universal Wisdom & Beautyí

I forgive everyone. Iím like
that. I donít gossip too much.
Iím a kind of hero. The moon
is like a big empty plate up there,
donít you think? No? Okay.
Iím a very democratic writer.

Most days Iím at work on my magnum opus:
ĎPoems of Universal Wisdom & Beautyí.
Iím understandably excited. Music drifts
through from the other room
like smoke while I type away
merrily. When lunch arrives I eat it.

Iím trying to free myself
from the idea that intelligence can only be
conveyed by thought, especially
the complex, allusive sort. Readability
is my new thing. Readability
equals intelligence.

—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:27 PM

March 22, 2007

Advice from Parnassus

Literature is a fine career for a young person.
Itís so straightforward. You just write
down your deepest feelings. In fact
they donít even have to be deep, any feelings
will do. The media canít get enough.
Everyone knows this.
If you want to you can describe mountains
or sex scenes, what people say, the way
they stare into each otherís eyes
as if desperately trying to decode secret messages.

Thereís so much scope. You slide your coin
in the slot, take a swing at the horizon
and see what comes up. Itís a breeze.
Donít waste your time on cybernetics,
the greasy corporate pole. That sort of thing
is strictly for numps and loobies. Drop by
any time, and remember, when you enter a room
carry yourself magnificently, especially your head,
which you should think of as a vase of lilacs,
preferably painted by Chardin.

—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:31 PM

March 21, 2007

Poetry is Your Friend

Itís undeniably true, life
weathers you. Thereís no doubt
about that. Gardens crammed
with slightly creepy little elves,
a van parked on a deserted lane,
the sky almost purple when you look out.

Thatís when you turn to poetry.
You may not know it of course,
but thatís what youíll be doing.
Youíre doing it right now, superficially
despite yourself, riding this wave
of energy out of nowhere. It feels good,

doesnít it? Like a high-sugar drink
or that special moment, you know
the one. Itís here to help
even if it sometimes forgets,
gets all wrapped up
in counting syllables and such.

It wants you like a tyrant or the sun.

—C. J. Allen
____
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:43 PM