Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Hidden Gardens

The Hidden Gardens

Written by Alec Finlay and others
Renga Schema by Paul Conneally

Twenty-Four Hour Hyakuin Renga

Summer feet enter
hover at varying heights
above stone chippings

murmur of children building bird
boxes, we make warm verses

hearing aid feedback
cymbal sounds
go on and on

the cat’s and the dog’s noses twitch
reading each others minds

a lunar eclipse
draws a russet curtain
on summer’s plans

viewing the apple orchard’s
transient constellations

why try so hard when
our words fall into silences
and so will the leaves?

starting to speak at the same time
eyes glance down

it doesn’t matter
yet truly I did think
he would be interested

a bouquet of crocuses
on balance, a bad idea

so a blue tree
there in the top corner
en plein air au Barbizon

Paris in Springtime without

across the table
the children exchange
arguments and kisses

there’s a face you’d leave home for
he says of the waitress

pulling her mink tighter
fur buttons too fat
for their holes

bored by the long break in play
they throw snowballs at the spectators

teeth gritted
then the song that gets everyone
up on the floor

dazzled by the glitter ball
over silent fields

a famished wasp
charges its ring tone
on the last bramble

that waterdrop sparkling web
invisible? anything but

ignoring the blind spot
and pulling out, the passenger’s
right foot twitches

smoke, wrote Brecht, while you drive —
if it goes out, something’s wrong

in late summer
closing the door of her mother’s house
for the last time

a flat palm
smashes open the garlic

an angled lemon
the chopping board

green tea and Qigong on the long haul
prevent jet lag

in the quiet
the monk offers the traveller
a blow-job

after the ceremony
there’s nothing to do but eat

early potatoes
already sprouting
but there’s lead in the soil

salt ‘n’ sauce? both hesitate
unsure of the others’ tastes

forgetting herself
a mother on day release
cuts up her lover’s meat

after breakfast they send out
for more oysters

whether with or without
our noticing
the sun’s almost gone

the night was made by Provost MacTavish
and his good lady

boxes crammed
with bread, vegetables
and cans of mixed fruit salad

floating amongst it all
a big dollop of vanilla

the Lismore ferry —
vehicles, and fattened calves
heading for market

stuff your bloody correctness
you’ll lick arse if you have to

sixteen shirts every week
they don’t iron themselves
you know

flat white drifts
crunched in footprints

dog shit melts
a hole
in fresh snow

his paintings emptied
till they were all sky

two stars
tell us the night is cleared
for darkness

some theorists forget
that thinking is a bodily function

he throws the beach ball higher
so she’s forced
to stretch

the lines of labour
written on her belly

in the loft
the last train to Partick
runs all night

fumbling through his euros
at the Skye Bridge toll

at Sligachan we trace
the first and last of the snow
on Sgurr nan Gillean

Meg asks can she see Sorley’s room
the window that looked to the west

now the weather’s warmer
she shortens her skirts
for Blythswood Square

after the demo paper everywhere —
another man’s job

hosing down the corpses
pale human flesh —
Che, Marat, Christ

I am the lamp
which guides me

even when you can’t see
beyond your nose
follow the smell of smoke

lighting cigarettes in the rain
hunched together

the callgirl’s nickname
for Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
was teapot

reading the leaves
marriage, briefly

an out of tune piper
lamenting the dead
at the gates

marked Private
she can just see bluebells

Spring Bank Holiday
everyone hits the road
signposted Solitude

too many cooks
spoil the pancake race

in the evening
nodding off on the sofa
startled by the phone

father in Australia
talks mostly of cricket

dew freezes the outback
radar is ranging
the moon

commuter’s day —
leave before sunrise return after dark

catch nothing

The Waterfall of the Maiden
icy in June

damp patches on her blouse
a mother’s surprise
supply on demand

we’ve come to expect
food, fuel, gratified desire

the leaves come off
a glut of green
tomato chutney

mulch under wellies
kicked into the porch

the cats hope to impress us
with small overnight deaths
left on the mat

from the oak a candle
falls down and out

we’ve brought a nightlight
for the little one’s
next visit

leave the frogspawn alone
you’ll get all sticky

the tadpole succumbs
to a carp —
so much for evolution

picking the samphire
at low tide

a selkie you say?
already wondering
how she’ll taste

her past lovers lie
heavily on his side of the bed

a torrid night
in the attic the moon
slips through the panes

sweating up The Rest and Be Thankful
wishing for a flat tyre

let down once too often
from now on the failures
will be beheaded

clear-cutting the rainforest
the whole tribe gets whooping-cough

from under their shrouds
feet of men, feet of women
feet of children

at the school nativity
the angel kicks the donkey

tempers rising
Ted slaps
Sylvia back

even in the silly season
poets don’t make the headlines

you miss one week
and the recycling box
takes over the hallway

pungent wood smoke from next door
they say he saves the ash

shrivelled little figs
that never made it
to the table

swirling a late cup of milky tea
what she’d like is sunshine

wedding day breakfast
coffee with whisky
then whisky

eggs over easy
on rye

like sprinkled pepper
these moles on your back
or stars

after weeks of deciding
they named her Cassiopeia

now she sets ablaze
the horizon
of his eightieth year

new clothes for Easter
dancing in the street

all mouth this spring
lots of flounce
but nowt left hanging

allotments flourish
all the way to the summit.

a hyakuin renga in Summer
night of the full blue moon
the hidden gardens (nva), tramway, Glasgow
(noon) 31 July — (noon) 1 August, 2004

nine poets

Larry Butler
Ken Cockburn
David Connearn
Gerrie Fellows
Alec Finlay
Peter Manson
Dick Pettit
Beth Rowson
Colin Will

renga schema

Paul Conneally

with thanks to

Anne-Marie Culhane, Morven Gregor
& Linda MacDonald

Some Thoughts on Twenty-Four Hour Hyakuin Renga

A group of poets gather in time-space.

What’s in a day?

100 verses is 4.5 verses an hour; is one every 15 minutes; is a natural rhythm

From noon to noon things change.

The minutes go so slowly.

The hours go so fast.

How much sleep can you do without. How much do you need?

‘I stayed up until I got a verse in’.

Time away from the platform may do you as much good as time spent trying to, and failing to, sleep.

A hyakuin renga is a key chain; one that is unlocked by the sun setting, the moon rising, the moon setting, the sun rising.

Think slumber party.

Expect to feel grumpy, and ecstatic.

Someone will always go to sleep beside the renga.

Eat together after.

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