Thursday, March 31, 2011

Broken pencil poetry. The tunnel of dreams

"Your condemned Impressionism,
Blending over my Cubism,
Let us bathe in Realism"
Lavi, "The tunnel of dreams", 2006
Look, I've just quoted myself again. I should feel like one of the classics now, sipping ambrosia and being offered nectar and ambrosia by critics from a silver platter. Yes? No, not really. The classics would spit in my face.

So would the critics.

But let us put our binoculars on and squint very hard at the whole picture. I'm trying to make an impression to a small group of people and the classics are too classical for me.

This is my first poem posted here in its entirety. It is also old (and broken), as you will see from the date.

At the time, I had a long distance erm... lover so to say, but the love wasn't too smooth. Nothing was particularly smooth, as it felt like I was on a wild goose chase. They were quite full of lies, my so-called pen-friend.

Yes, wild goose chase doesn't even begin to describe it...

The tunnel of dreams
26 August 2006

The landscape pours by,
As water from a cliff,
Only the cliff is the brim of the window opposite me.
Me and this other stranger next to my seat,
We are the only ones in this ghost train
As the world leaps by, melting.

The shivers of night conduct us further,
Me and this unknown soul without face, without clothes and without a body,
Just my furtive imagination,
Creating a demon from a sweet green concoction.

My side is cold, an image slides against it,
An old photograph,
Yellow and bent at the edges, half of it torn
By some tormented lover
Parting with his own.
I'll one day shrivel in pain
And it'll rain mud over my eyes,
What are you doing here, ghost of fumes,
Closing in on my heart?

Yes, i remember now, as through nausea,
The cold hands on my neck,
A dead's caresses, fingers of lead.
If my breath had not frozen then,
It was only for the warm cover of madness
Wrapped over my eyes.

If i draw my nails over your skull,
Do you suppose you'll bleed?
Would you feel it worse? Or just send your spectre
To embrace me more?

Cheshire Cat, Cheshire Cat, why do you gaze me so?
Cheshire Cat, O, Cheshire Cat, why do your yellow eyes sting so?
Tremendously your king, Cheshire Cat, then i forbid you
To bear into my soul
With your kittenish eyes.

Portrait of the woman lost
Is hanging from your whiskers,
Above it eyes of sulphur,
Your condemned Impressionism,
Blending over my Cubism,
Let us bathe in Realism
Until we might have cleansed our souls
Of shame.

Oh, pitiful stranger, who clings upon me so,
A tree branch hand into my chest
And one over my eyes,
Yes, i can still see you stealing from my bag of walnuts,
You sly...
Protective bastard.

Your shawl dropped over a shoulder,
Naked of flesh, yet with no bone,
Just an empty shoulder, stark and sharp, skinny shoulder.
And your miraculous pair of empty blue eyes,
As only i've seen
Mirrored in my jaw.

Come down from Heaven, Malicious Beast,
Come to me into my Train of Wonder,
The only one that comes from Nowhere
And leads back into Void.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Desiree!

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust
This is one of the quotes that we find at the beginning of the virtual journey through a breathtaking garden. Our careful guide, Desiree, takes us on meandering stone paths, under tall shady trees and past lovely flowers and ferns. Here and there, a water fountain, a surprising copper butterfly. It is as if she has whispered gently to nature to help her turn her garden into such a serene place.

But what intrigues the visitor aren't the photos themselves, but also the welcoming words, the stories that make you feel like you are there, wondering at the sights before you. She imparts some of her wisdom, sprinkled with quotes that leave one thinking, long after reading her posts.

I invite you to visit her blog, Driftwood Ramblings, and let yourself be led by our guide through journeys of the mind.

Button made by Carol at Facing 50 With Humour.

Happy birthday, Desiree! 

May you grace us with your beautiful words and photos for many more years to come!

I wish to dedicate a small song to you, which reminds me of the serenity of your thoughts.

A few notes: The song is composed by Hans Zimmer and sung by Lisa Gerrard. The language is invented and words are used for their inner musicality and implied meaning.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"The cat sat on the mat"

I received a hard blow today and I must say it hurt.

Of course it's not the only one, of course it's not the worst. But it is one that shakes my little world in a very intimate way. It makes me doubt myself, hate myself, you name it.

And it's silly at the same time, of course. I'm not deluding myself, I'm an idiot for paying too much attention to this and letting it overwhelm me. But hey, I live in a very small world. Small things look bigger in a small world.

But let me take it from the beginning... Two beginnings, in fact.

  1. In school, we always had to learn poems by heart and recite them for grades. A terrible waste of time and a useless torture for small children. It was then when I dreaded seeing poems in my textbooks (or anywhere else, for that matter).
    We were also taught that we were in no way capable to ever produce such marvelous writing as the famous authors we learned about in school. We were thus made to write descriptive passages using "second-hand" metaphors and imagery. We had to read books, copy the metaphors and then use them in school essays. Another thing I loathed.
    We are always told that poetry is something beautiful, with proper rhyme and rhythm. If possible, a lot of intricate words. Essence is sometimes overlooked while swooning over form. Our national poet, Mihai Eminescu, who I only came to respect and appreciate after finishing school, said "It is easy to write verse/When you have nothing to say/Blabbering but empty words/Whose ends will sound good." (approximate translation by yours truly; the actual quatrain sounds a lot better in Romanian).
  2. I started writing poetry because of one of my former suitors from abroad. It was a long, long time ago. I noticed right away that I would either speak my mind and heart or write something with proper rhyme and rhythm. I didn't want to sacrifice meaning for form, so I added my own musicality to words and let them flow how they will. And they seemed to flow quite well. My readers (also writers themselves) were quite impressed with my pieces. And so, I wrote and wrote and wrote.
I joined an online poetry community, thinking that I would finally be able to publish my poems and get more feedback. Unfortunately, I also realised I would love to publish them in a real book. So, I didn't want to disclose too many of them.

    Long story short, they held a contest there and I hopped to the occasion of testing my skills. I participated with one of my best poems and kept reading the other entries, making sure I knew how the competition was doing.

      The contest though stretched for quite a long time and I almost forgot about it. Today, however, I got the news. Can you guess? Of course, I didn't win. A more eloquent writer was chosen. I got a "pat on the back" comment that mine was outstanding, but well, even if you stuff a hole with tissues, it's still a hole.

        So, this is what is gnawing at my mind... What makes good poetry? Rhyme, rhythm, pretty words? Or can those be sacrificed for brutal feeling and passion?

          Friday, March 25, 2011

          Where birds fear to fly

          You know the Chinese temples high up in the heart of the misty mountains. Or maybe you've read and seen artwork from The Lord of the Rings, where Rivendell is a big valley in the mountains.

          Imagine, sitting up there, feeling the crisp air, looking down at the stone cliffs covered here and there with clouds of white mist. As your gaze tumbles down the steep slopes, you see more and more scattered trees, green and stubborn, growing out of solid rock.

          I often dream (in my daylight dreams) that I am up there, looking at all the majesty of nature. I can't even begin to describe the beauty of the scenery. You have to dream yourself there to understand. And those who have actually been there... lucky duckies!

          I am quite mad, you see, so I also dream that I fit in there like a water drop in the sea. I am a visionary scholar coming to study and meditate at the temple, a fearless warrior on a quest or coming to find solace and stillness after the roar of battle, a young maiden seeking inspiration for writing. And sometimes, all of these at once.

          I instinctively seek quiet places, darkness or dull skies. I like to feel the reassurance of a solid, unmovable wall behind me and that gives me courage to look down into the abyss in front of me. Stillness is more than a word; it is a state of mind. Nature has infinite patience and those beautiful stone cliffs stand and watch the world, unchanged, measuring time in years, centuries.

          Come with me. Look at the mountains, the green valley, stay a while. Breathe.

          Saturday, March 19, 2011

          Bitesize fiction. The flower in the window

          The light outside was growing dim and it was dark in the room. She lit a small lamp and set it on the windowsill. Next to it, there was a small pot with a tiny lily of the valley in it. Its suave perfume wafted gently in the air.

          Everything was still in the room, in the house. The floorboards screeching, the wind bellowing outside seemed too familiar, yet so far away. The fire was crackling in the hearth, warming up the air and making the room seem almost less empty.

          She drew the curtain to the side and looked outside into the distance. The sharp winter wind was blowing the snow left and right into a storm. The naked tree branches were bending, refusing to break under the onslaught. The road was empty, as far as she could see. No man or animal would venture outside on such an evening. Maybe only the wolves, driven by hunger, were leaving their dens to roam the woods for prey.

          Soon, it was too dark to see anything and she let the curtain drop over the window with a sigh.

          The fire crackled and the wind continued its wail. On the windowsill, there was a small lily of the valley in a pot. The flower was withering. Many evenings had passed since he had given her the flower, since the winter had come back biting, since he'd left. The lamp flickered feebly in the window, waiting.

          Thursday, March 17, 2011

          Bitesize fiction. Only the eyeless know

          The sound of water dripping seemed awfully eerie in the silence. Added dampness to an already wet stone ground. Pik-pik-pik. Endlessly.

          I couldn't move for a long while, listening to the sound, hypnotised. Where was the sun? I didn't dare open my eyes, because I knew what was expecting me. Darkness. I opened them either way, wide, peering into the endless black. I stared intently, not blinking, until my eyes hurt.

          The ground was hard, yet smooth to the touch, like polished marble. And wet, so wet. The drop sounded like it was falling on top of my head. Where was the drippy faucet? I should turn it off. Had someone been doing the dishes and carelessly left it to drip?

          I tried to stand up, but slipped and fell to the cold ground. My knee was hurt and I found myself hissing and grumbling at runny faucets. I eventually managed to sit up and look up towards where the sun, moon or stars should have been. Nothing.

          I was getting hungry and my knee was pulsing with pain. Where was I? Where was the humanity, the sun? "Hello, sun!" I yelled. A howling voice answered "Hello, sun!" again and again, coming from every corner.

          Then silence. Only the dripping could be heard. Pik-pik-pik.

          Tuesday, March 15, 2011

          Digging out tattered old memories

          She fell in her chair and dozed off on the desk in approximately half a minute, which, she would later have to admit, was a record. Everything was working just fine, she was just about to fight off a relatively dangerous nightmare, when a firm hand grabbed her ear and tried to extend it out of the known universe, pulling her out of the dream in the process.
          Lavi, an unfinished story

          I have been rummaging through my old poems and stories (or at least the ones I bothered to transcribe on the computer) from long, long ago. There are some as old as 5-6 years ago and most of them are undated and untitled. Even more of them are unfinished.

          It is like an old box full of old junk kept in the attic. I'm just dusting it off, clearing all the spiderwebs covering it and peering inside suspiciously. I expect to cringe at a lot of them. I wasn't exactly proud of a lot of those stories and never published them on the internet (or shown them to anyone for that matter).

          I used to want to be a sci-fi writer... I read science fiction with the avidity and hunger of a child gobbling sweets. I always had a book stashed on my nightstand and would read from it at any given moment. It was the best excuse for not doing homework. It got so bad, that, at a time when most parents would beg their children to read, mine would try to make me stop.

          But I digress... Now, the biggest reason why I always thought that I wasn't yet ready to write sci-fi (remember, I was 12-14 years old) was that it required a solid knowledge of science. Therefore, I did my best to fit all the "science for kids" knowledge in my brain. I was also keen to learn Physics and was quite good at it too.

          I also didn't have a lot of ideas for a plot. Therefore, I thought I'd start simple, with practicing on different subjects. I would sit for hours and try to imagine every aspect of the story, but not necessarily in the chronological order. I still have a big unfinished story that has no beginning, some middle sections and I'm not sure about the ending.

          Ever since I got into the whole blogging business, I kind of fancy continuing my little literary attempts. I'm not too keen on starting yet another blog, so maybe this would do. How about "bite-size fiction"? Would anyone like to read that? (Pay close attention, I'm still going to post them, regardless of the answer. This is my little "throwing stones in a pond" blog. I don't feel like writing on a schedule or for a certain public.)

          Sunday, March 6, 2011

          The old story about the pen and paper

          Why do I write? Once, I thought it was because I wasn't very good at drawing. To be honest, it's more because I'm incapable of telepathy. There are thoughts and dreams roaming in my mind and I can't share them in a way that won't alter them. I often even forget them. In its own simple way, writing helps me record and transmit my own thoughts, at least in part.

          Why do I write? Because talking doesn't come easy to me. I am barely learning to talk to people about things that are important to me. It helps to quietly formulate a thought before setting it loose in the world. I get nervous because of people's reactions to what I say.

          Why do I write? Because there is a drive that pushes me to put everything into words. It seems more intimate that way, more shocking. An event is an event and a feeling is a feeling, but when put into words, it can acquire nuances that it couldn't otherwise. We have such a wide variety of words at our disposal, each with their own connotations, that we can depict anything. And yet lose a lot of it in the process. That is why I put odd words together to give them new meanings. Words have a certain passion to them. I can mingle them together to form many kinds of vivid imagery, visual, auditive, gustatory, sensory, olfactory and beyond. The reader's imagination will make them come to life in their mind.

          Why do I write? Because I feel this is one of the best ways in which I can contribute to this world. It is one of the few things that I feel I am truly good at. We all want to make a difference somehow, we want others to appreciate us. This is what I do, I write.

          Why do I write? For the very same reason why I read and dream and sometimes listen to music. I want to experience new things and feelings, which are only accessible to us through imagination. It is also why I like fantasy and science-fiction so much. Dreaming is the spice of life. Drugs have nothing on dreams, trust me.

          Why do I write? Because the paper is my best confident. Because I feel.

          We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. [...] the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
          Dead Poets Society

          Deşteaptă-te, române!

          Today, I got an e-mail from mom about great Romanian people and their achievements. And about how they often get pushed aside or have their inventions stolen by other people. And we say it over and over again, that our country is probably the worst in the world. I would say, no, Romania can still produce wonderful people, but it all goes to waste when we are led by stupid and egotistic people.

          It's no secret, because now, after the Communist regime, we can at least voice our opinion without getting arrested. But what we say still falls on deaf ears, I'm afraid.

          The e-mail I got is very long, talking about inventions I haven't even heard of. Some of them would even revolutionise transport, medicine, energy production, but for some reason they have been swept under the rug. Why? Because some full pockets would become really empty if those inventions became the norm.

          The people here know about it. We complain about it constantly, but very little can be done about it. A new revolution? An evolution, maybe? Maybe when enough people with strong common-sense and the desire to help this country rather than themselves would come to power, will we manage to crawl out of the desperation hole we've dug for ourselves.

          A cloud shaped like Romania.

          Our school system is one of the most difficult and tedious I've ever heard about. We are taught many many things. We have to solve complicated problems for homework. Some of us can't cope with all of that. Some of us love it and this controversial educational system has produced and still produces illustrious minds.

          I am very proud of many of my classmates. A lot of them have been to national school competitions (not spelling bees, mind you, the olympiads) in Physics, Chemistry, Literature, English and French and often won prizes. I know, I went with them. We felt like we were the best among the best. We are.

          It's rather ironic... Our decades-old national anthem is still very true today. Wake up, Romanian people!
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