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Daily Poem: January 15, 2006 dft1 (from a prompt) revised

by seanfarragher 

Posted: 15 January 2006
Word Count: 411
Summary: First Draft from a Prompt at Zoetrope written today: Write a poem in any form or style incorporating: rabbit, gun, cradle, couscous, paragon, cheese steak (for my UK friends cheese steak of course is Philadelphia food, but Camden is a city immediately across from Philadelphia. Step on the bridge in Camden, New Jersey and you are immediately in Philadelphia. Camden had horrific schools. I taught there in the 1970s, and from what I hear it is no better today.
Related Works: "The End of the World is Near" • “The Garden of Earthly Delights -- 2005” • 

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Daily Poem: January 15, 2006 dft1
by Sean Farragher

The cradle sways. The world is old
Race under rough hands.
Find the limits of comets spread
to tell long stories in sine and cosine
long parables of differential equations
random numbers without design

There is no logic left. We find no
solution sets beyond X tends to
infinity when Y crosses zero.

Don’t study this arbitrary equation.
I have not plotted it fully, as life
cannot substitute one variable
for another without knowing
how the next dimension cried
when Terra was unborn.

What will remain when rabbits eat
the couscous not inhabited by
Homo sapiens or any other person
raised on the amino chains of stars
long dying in dark matter invisible
as the pain of the old left to die
in the middle of a tempest with

Jazz in ferment raised up to hold
graves above the earth, consumed
by the shaking hands and horns
of respect and joy off rebirth
in the safety of death, so they
imagine on that walk as stars
dried on the rug with semen
stains lifted by flesh and the
thighs of lovers rasping for
breath in a world without air.

After the festivals and rock shows
we spring with gun to empty cradles
to forestall the prophecy. We cross
eyes, hands and break bread with
death: the child was soft in ground.

HIV walks it soft mile to devastation

Does that signal relief for some
watching the sidewalk empty?
Do we clap at the waves and lie --
told to cover up our blindness
by cheese steak left to mold
on a Camden Street --
the meat wrapped in parchment
from storm in the desert of 3000 BC.

There Sumerians wrote in cuneiform
about Baal and his court of lies.
How we have changed – more people
far more than the mind allows
larger numbers than stars broken
down into the periodic table of whim.

Will we join dead stars in swart space
Watch the living lift that paragon of
substantial insecurity, that age of man
and woman brought to a halt by Bush
riding the rail out of town stripped
of power so we can dream that
the revival planned by his patrons
will be as oblivion and not honor?

How can we justify breath without
air in a world where nature always
lives longer than carefully groomed
fingernails cut into dead arms
to prove that they are no longer real?


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Comments by other Members

DJC at 19:39 on 15 January 2006  Report this post
Another roller-coaster ride, Sean! When I read your work I feel quite out of breath and disorientated. It's easier in a way than some of your others, perhaps because of the line length. Your mind really travels when you write, doesn't it? I need to take a leaf out of your book, as I'm a complete control freak when I write. (Must be something to do with my childhood. It all began when...)

Your work is really growing on me. Cheers!

Cornelia at 08:40 on 16 January 2006  Report this post
Disorientated is right. I always think, oh, no, not another of those death and destruction poems all mixed up with obscure allusions and political comment from a far-right religious standpoint, and, to make things more difficult, American, but I think I'm getting used to it too, in a way.

It's not you, Sean, it's me - I'm just not used to taking life so seriously, perhaps weaned on British satire rather than heavy stuff. However, I prefer it when you write about American rather than British things because it seems more authentic. I was a bit worried at first, because Camden is a district in North London, populated originally by Irish immigrants but now an enclave of middle-class Bohemians.

I like the verse with the cheese steak left to rot and the connection with some ancient desert, when an event of no doubt apocalyptic import happened - the ark, perhaps? .



I didn't spot the couscous, unless it's 'African pasta'. It's a bit like describing doughnuts as 'American beignets'

seanfarragher at 12:31 on 16 January 2006  Report this post
After all, most American names were British first, including mine. A fellow at Trinity in Dublin said, my last name was English and burped to become Irish. It is actually Farrar, an ancient Irish name, but then I get upset with Americans who make distinctions based on race (not politically nationality) between any person born in Great Britian before the 20th century. We are all huns, norse, gauls, romans, serbs (armenia), and celts of some variety.
Americans, however, are a distant cousin to civilized folk, so we fit in somewhere else. LOL. Thanks, for your comments. Someday, I will have to visit the other Camden, Essex, Cambridge, Oxford, Beaufort, oh, I have. I am not sure Beaufort is one. I recently discovered that my great great great grandfather Lt. Col. Anthony Marshall was born Standground Hampshire, England in 1792 according to the census of 1851 where he resided with his family including my great great grandfather Chapman A. Marshall, then 13, at Plymouth Street and Buckland Terrace 8 Devonshire. Said Chapman as a fourth son immigrated to American in 1859 and became an early State Senator from the state of Iowa. He was a founding parent of the city of Cresco, Iowa and also a Preacher with a stenturian voice like mine and a gift of the Irish gab, for one of the ironies of this said Chapman Marshal, as a son of the military, was born in Dublin in 1838. From this note you can see my American sense of humor and gift for being a bit of a snob. I am only kidding, for my politics, neither left nor right, owe great thanks to the love of language of my great great grandfather Chapman Marshall and my love of Shakespeare, Blake, Keats and Joyce. <grin>

Cornelia at 13:02 on 16 January 2006  Report this post
Yes, well our current Prime Minister once claimed he was a socialist, but I never believed him right from the start.

I am sure if we all went back far enough we are sons of Adam or daughters of Eve, so some say, but what I was talking about was more in line with cultural conditioning than ancestry - the culture in which we are raised is that one with which we are embued, and I can no more become Chinese through writing a book about Chinese politics, history, religions, etc than a Chinese becomes a westerner by having cosmetic eye-surgery. I note that quite a few become Americanised by living in the US.

I note none of the writers you mention as influences are American, and none have a stentorian voice, ie they vary the tone a bit quite a bit, although Blake is slightly different - he is really the outsider mainstream English culture. The Old Testament is the strongest seam I find in your poetry, and as an agnostic,(like most English people, but unlike Americans) ) I find it simplistic - the point of view, that is, bit the expression of it. However, I am always pleased to find the odd verse I can begin to understand, even if only partially.


seanfarragher at 13:58 on 16 January 2006  Report this post
What you say is well taken.

My experiences in UK and Ireland as a student are my only exposure, and I do not presume to be English beyond some of my genes (I am also German Jewish).

I am an agnostic Unitarian-Universalism (only because I wanted my children raised in an environment free of bigotry (if that is possible) -- Children learn best by example so I participated as did my ex-wife.

The Bible as literature, of course, is a part of our lives.

Trained in mathematics, biochemistry, and geochemistry (undergraduate) I lived in the world of mathematics and physics as well as American culture, which included the Bible --

Theodore Gaster, one of my mentors at Columbia (I was also fascinated by history, mythology and religion as well as "pure" science) explored the ancient near east and the cities of Sumer, Babylonia and Egypt. Mysticism and Sun Worship, and the relative sparse population of the world at that time make for fascinating analogies to a world that will approach 10 billion persons by 2050 most of whom will be Chinese, Moslem and non-European.

The world and its art have begun redistribution. The irony: western technology has contributed to that phenomenon. American has begun to commit suicide in the long term, and the policies of my country are difficult if not impossible to defend.

Terrorism is a horrible consequence of communication and a narrow education. I am as sad for the British who died in the Underground as I am for those (both British and Americans in Iraq and as a consequence of 9/11 those who died from the madness of terror used as a political and cultural weapon.

What I cannot tolerate is how we as American are planning the redevelopment of a city (New Orleans) in such a way that profit for banks, insurance companies and real-estate consortiums take precedence over people. (We can control that planning when we cannot control the war powers of the American President, storms, tsunamis and earthquakes.) .....

The aftermath of Katrina, the failure of the west to deal with HIV in Africa (and the world), the recent attack on Pakistan, killing 11 to try to kill one, which they did not do at last report. These are sins in Dante's lexicon of the word destined for the lowest circle of Hell.

This is the foundation of my poetry, not in explicit political terms, but as allusion and imagery mixed with the lyricism of my personal voice as a poet.

Simplistic is a word I would rarely use about mythology and folk lore including the Bible as literature (King James version of the Old and New Testament).

It is as another American turned British, TS Eliot developed in both the Wasteland and Four Quartets. I see no Americans in Shakespeare, Keats, Blake and Joyce. Well, Joyce was originally Irish, and Samuel Beckett, Irish, before writing in French

I enjoy this communication, but I understand as we step beyond the poem this is not the proper forum.

I would welcome writewords email, if you wish to continue.

Thanks, and I do listen, and appreciate your contribution. I would be a fool not to listen to intelligent persons with an honest opinion even if we differ.



PS -- I changed "African Pasta" to couscous. Good catch. Thanks

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