Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chris Price is ueberkandidelt!

Chris Price is ueberkandidelt!

New Zealand Poems.


Maybe Chris Price...
ist ein bisschen "ueberkandidelt"....


Harriet and the Matches

Harriet hisses and spits --
her snaky locks match
her flame-red lips.
She.s a whiz with the fuzzbox
whipping up a storm
of distortion, burning up
the frets like Hendrix.
Men are often scared to step

too close for fear of the flick
of her tongue, like the flint
of a lighter at the end
of a loose thread hanging
from the sleeve of conversation
they take cover in, to hide
their fraying nerves. Harriet
makes them anxious. When

she does that trick, flicking the
match off the strike, it could fly
in any direction, burn the
hair off the back of your arm
or find a pool of unignited fuel
in you and then the whole thing
could go up. It.s best, around Harriet,
to stay cool, keep your trigger finger

on the extinguisher, hope
for rain.




======================


1905: Einstein, Rilke, Picasso


The year of the immaculate conception:
a young man with a wife
and baby on the way,
who.d barely scraped into the job
of technical officer third class,
examiner of patents in Bern,
redraws the laws of physics. The relativity paper
has almost no references,
and when famous visitors,
travelled from afar to meet him, enquire
as to the whereabouts of his theoretical
physics department Albert Einstein points
to the contents of his desk drawer.

That.s legend -- but we should
know better: each bright
idea has its history,
its scaffolding and aftermath:
the thinker
has a mother and a sister with
a sound skull; a first wife (Mileva)
who.s "a book., their two
sons in whom the uncertain
future is invested, and then a second
(Elsa), more of a book-keeper.

They.re inclined to vanish into
cosmic background radiation
in the light of the big bang
from a world-altering equation.

That, by the way,
was Einstein.s kind
of verse:
a man who liked
to doggerel, but mostly
when chasing a particularly
pretty cat. So much
for thinker.s poetry:
the moon and June
as close as he ever got.

ii

"He was a poet,
and hated the approximate..
At Meudon, Rilke begins
his apprenticeship in accuracy --
six months of answering letters
for Rodin, entranced
by his Master.s voice --
one ear to the gramophone
of the physical world,
acquiring its muscular syntax
in place of airy hymns.
At Chartres he receives
instruction on the physics
of large bodies while an angel
with a sundial averts its gaze.
"As we neared the cathedral" a wind"
swept unexpectedly round the corner
where the angel is and pierced us through
and through, mercilessly sharp
and cutting. "Oh, I said,
there.s a storm coming up."
"Mais vous ne savez pas," said the Master, "il y a
toujours un vent, ce vent-là
autour des grandes Cathédrales." .
The air, he said, was agitated,
tormented by their grandeur, falling
from the heights and wandering
round the building,
an explanation admittedly
not entirely scientific
but based, at least,
on observation.

Another morning the poet wakes
early, to the richness
of an unknown voice
singing in the garden.
Sitting up in bed he can see
nothing, but later, at breakfast
in the kitchen, Mme Rodin
whispers happily,
"Monsieur Rodin rose
very early. He went down
into the garden.
He was there with his dogs
and his swans
and was singing,
singing everywhere out loud".
Rilke would spend his life
eavesdropping
on the happiness of others,
but eventually he had to leave
Meudon or face existence
as a light breeze,
a small dog yapping
round the Master.s
monumental flanks.

iii

That year, in Paris, Picasso took to drinking
with the clowns and acrobats
in the bar at the Cirque Médrano.
For him it was the brief dusk of something --
the shift from blue to rose
a pause for breath before
he set about the hard maths
of revising space and time
in an Avignon bordello.
His Family of Saltimbanques
was taken up
by Frau Hertha Koenig,
so when Rilke, who moved
across Europe like a migratory
bird from one high-ceilinged
apartment or castle of a patron
to another, arrived in her Paris
pied-à-terre, he found he.d moved
in with these six itinerants,
whose space he shared for long enough
that they in turn began to live in him and,
as any ordinary family under the yoke
of gravity might, suggested that he
who could speak should fix them
in print, mixing, if he must, a tint
of himself into the tale
so they need not bow forever
to the force that pulled them down.

iv

Light, says Dinah Hawken, is the word
for light. And so, of course,
is Licht, and lumière.
At the heart of the matter,
the untranslatable --
in this dog-eared
version of the Elegies
that I.ve had since student days
Picasso.s painting shows
the huge capital D
that seems to stand
for existence -- except
that D, as any child will tell you,
does not stand for existence
in English, but only
in the German Dastehn, a word
whose simple building blocks mean
"standing there..
That the irreducible necessity
of the letter D is dictated
by the consonance between the letter.s
shape and the rough disposition
of the figures in
Picasso.s painting
makes for an apparently
intractable problem.

The thing about science,
any physicist will tell you, is whenever you find
the answer to one question,
two more appear.
A question of language
whether like Dinah you want to say
that light is one,
or prefer to say wave-and-particle,
revealing the flaw at the heart
of the metaphor
which insists that light cannot be
two, and yet it is.
A question, too, of the particular
history of your language,
the containers it arrived in,
whose shoulders you.re standing on
to get the view.

Rilke making the nouns and verbs jump
through hoops to get closer to it.
Einstein and Picasso conjuring possible
from impossible with little more
than a shift in perspective.
The poem/theorem gathering all
its resources to spring into being
as if from nowhere --
a palm tree in the desert,
a fig tree pressing sap
straight into fruit.


fruity !! Nutty as a fruitcake!!

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