Songs for Classic Guitar and a Voice #1

Posted on Thursday, October 28, 2010, under , , ,


A young Matisse made a stop
On the tiny island of Belle Ile
To gaze at a single colour
A thick intense colour
That wore intense colours on top
And within each even more

You see
He’s never seen a colour be-fore
He’s never seen a colour be-fore
Oh but it’s never too late…

He gazed and gazed all day long
While John Russell’s beautiful wife
Made biscuits and coffee strong
Said Russell’s wife would you like
Some biscuits & coffee strong
Some biscuits & coffee strong

You see
He’s never seen a beauty be-fore
He’s never seen a beauty be-fore
Oh but it’s never too late…

On the tenth day Matisse left
The tiny island of Belle Ile
For by now he felt a bit unwell
Like a gust of air he left
Was it by now all too belle
To be bearable at all

You see
He couldn’t stand it any more more
He couldn’t stand it any more more…

Suggested chords: E – G / E – A – G / D – A 

Matisse’s greatest contribution to art—his celebration of colour as an expressive force independent of a descriptive function—developed not from his formal training but from his personal life. The artist came from a drab city in the north, characterized by grey skies. His only exposure to colour and light came in the rich textiles produced in his region. A turning point in Matisse’s art came during his stays on Belle-Ile-en-Mer in Brittany during the summers of 1895–1897. Particularly important to Matisse was an Australian painter, John Peter Russell, who ran an art colony on the island that owed a great deal to the theories of van Gogh, his late friend and former classmate. Matisse credited Russell with introducing him to the Impressionists’ theories of light and colour, especially to the contributions of Monet. 

from The New Criterion, January 1999. 
Review of The Unknown Matisse A Life of Henri Matisse: The Early Years, 1869-1909 by Hilary Spurling


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so, should britain go on jumble sale?

Posted on Monday, October 18, 2010, under

this week's pick from guardian. click on link as usual and muse. nice ideas on how to overcome our present economic woes. in the uk, that is. love the angel of the north for kim jon il's garden.

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A Fight That Never Was

Posted on Monday, October 18, 2010, under


The thing I’ve set out to learn
a thing I’ll never altogether learn
is the thing re, and of, your suppleness –
which otherwise reverberates through
its twenty-eight thesaurus hatchlings:
compliance, pliability, elasticity, plasticity…

The other week we’re on a pushbike,
me pedalling, you at the rear
(a cushion for your exquisite Zen bum)
along the star-befuddled streets
when I finally stop at the quiet corner
of Kiyamachi and the one below Sanjo.
I turn and find you not on your seat,
all hundred and six pounds
(hereby printed with your permission)
of your flesh and bones gone.
I panic, but minutes later you reappear –
your usual gait, a disarming giggle.
The timing and the reasoning
of your disappearing act, I’m yet to learn.

A bit later when your suppleness
draws an invisible border line
between me and one arrogant prick
ordering us to move the bike as if
he owned the sordid pavement.
Normally I’d cry foul, pick up
a fight perhaps. And for a moment
the neon-lit concrete starts to melt
and the air gets thick like the air
inside a heavyweight ring,
and I see them unseen eyes
a-flicker behind curtain ropes
and tinted cars, calling for blood.

But it is your subtle referee touch
cancelling a bout before it even began.
Cream girl in the ring
shows an unhurried motion
of Noh-like unhurriedness,
as your hand leads its partner’s
out of the ropes and into the night
away from the world’s unseen eyes.

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I Was a Conscript Once

Posted on Monday, October 18, 2010, under , ,


In my small white tiled chamber
I tend to have a go at Italian arias
always overambitiously
flirting with falsetto.
My fanatic, therefore laughable,
rendition of Che gelida manina
evokes Sarajevo’s opera house
one winter evening in ’89.
A snowy weekday, a sorry turnout.
You know it's sorry when the cast 
outnumbers the audience
of music teachers in corduroy,
elderly aficionados in furs,
(long pearls tickling their navels)
a young man in a paint-stained coat,
an oil-haired geezer chatting up
cloakroom girls, and most shockingly,
two JNA conscripts in dress uniform
you and me that is.

In the virtually empty house
we sprawled over the burgundy seats
and watched the show so mesmerising
the arias had us cease chewing our gums
or whatever it was we were chewing
till we choked on our saliva.
Our gaunt tenor wasn’t quite a Pavarotti
yet probably bolder than most,
singing his heart out
to vacant rows, unwarmed galleries.
They were saving on heating
so when Rodolfo held Mimi’s hand
it was gelid for real, unlike
the unreal snow in the background.
If only, for special effect,
they could’ve split the roof open
(like they do at Wimbledon these days)
to let the echt Bosnian snowdrops
infest that Quartier latin garret.

Hard times those were.
Who would have thought then
much harder were to follow
able to split up the city.
The city as gracious
as any city could wish for.
The mountain-walled city
keeps echoing 
in my small white tiled chamber.

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guess where the ball's ending up

Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2010, under

This is how the future greats begin their careers - at the bottom. All you need is a ball, a patch of artificial grass, and the 'opponent' to boost your ego. Son Luke (7) with Massa (4?).

The Premier League Wisdom Pearls

And the referee was right on top of it.
He has a natural left foot doesn’t he.
Cole is keeping it almost arrogantly.
He gets under the ball to look elevated.
You’d be expecting Lucas to do some snapping today.
A lovely delivery in the box.
He was able to snuff it out against a mercurial Spaniard.
Also the time is running out too.
Nice try but it takes two to make a pass.

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After Sharaku

Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2010, under


I bought this postcard
on the oak-flanked boulevard
at one lonely stand,
a frosty blanket  
across a car bonnet.

A man in Panama hat
in his mid-late thirties
is looking at a white frame.
Within a frame a woman
combing her carroty hair
in front of a theatrical mirror.
The mirror framed
by naked lightbulbs.
Some are burnt out.

In the bottom left
of the glinting mirror
sits a photograph.
I bought a loupe to see
of what or of whom.
It’s a mug-shot, signed,
three x-ed in lip-rouge,
perhaps a famous actor
who once shared the stage
before moving on
to brighter mirrors.

My postcard sits
in the bottom left
of the wall-poster
of Ōtani Oniji
the kabuki actor.
This tribute to Sharaku,
a replica ad infinitum,
is a plywood jigsaw puzzle
acquired from my ex-wife.
She’d been trying
to flog it for ages
after breaking with
this guy from Kent.
Not an actor.

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pylons pylons everywhere

Posted on Monday, October 04, 2010, under

click on the pic to read the poem.

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samurai orchid child 武蘭子

Posted on Sunday, October 03, 2010, under

A proper self-introduction pending, I am posting this: my name written in Chinese script. Well, one possible orthographic interpretation. Suggestion came a few days ago from a Japanese friend.It literally translates as 'samurai orchid child' - cool isn't it. The name in this case would have 3 beats: bu-ran-ko. By the way, my name in standard Japanese means 'a swing' (ブランコ) as in a swing in the playground. Weird.

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And God Created Cactus on a Scorching Sunday

Posted on Sunday, October 03, 2010, under

CACTUS /ˈkæk.təs/ n [C] (plural cacti or cactuses
1. The generic name of many succulent plants remarkable for their thick fleshy stems, generally without leaves, and armed with curious clusters of spines; they have usually few branches or none, and are often of grotesque shape, with flowers of great beauty and sweetness. The Linnæan genus Cactus is now subdivided into about 20 genera, as Cereus, Echinocactus, Opuntia, etc., constituting the family Cactaceæ, all of which however are popularly cactuses.

   1767 J. Abercrombie Ev. Man own Gard. (1803) Index, Cactus, or Melon and Torch-thistle.    1807 G. Gregory Dict. Arts & Sc. I. 283/3 Cactus, melon thistle‥in the natural method ranking under the 13th order Succulentæ.    1814 Lunan Hortus Jamaic. I. 413 The slender parasitical currant cactus or Indian fig.    1836 Macgillivray Humboldt's Trav. iv. 63 Cactuses rose here and there, from a scanty soil.    1843 Prescott Mexico (1850) I. 13 The device of the eagle and the cactus‥the arms of the modern Mexican republic.

2. attrib., as in cactus tribe, cactus family, etc.; cactus thorn, etc.; cactus dahlia, a Mexican dahlia, so called from its cactus-like flame-coloured flower; cactus wren U.S., a North American wren of the genus Campylorhynchus, frequenting cactus plants.

   1865 Tylor Early Hist. Man. vi. 119 To make rag-dolls, and stick cactus-thorns into them.    1869 Amer. Naturalist III. 183 The Rock Wren‥and Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) chirrup loudly.    1870 H. Macmillan Bible Teach. vii. 135 In the cactus tribe, the whole plant consists of jointed leaves.    1881 Daily News 14 Sept. 2/6 The latest importation from Mexico‥the cactus dahlia, ‘Juarezii’.    1881 Amer. Naturalist XV. 211 The cactus wren, so called from its habit of nesting in the cactus whenever available.    1882 Garden 19 Aug. 156/2 What a brilliant flower is that of the Cactus Dahlia.

source: OED, 2nd ed., 1989

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