A Cold Veneer

A Cold Veneer

Mid-Winter, where I live, is wet and cold.
The place is bedraggled. A season spent
of warmth. A blanket of tarnished gold
leaves. Fallen reminders. Disappointment.
An inclement pallet in shades of grey.
Overcast sky, wet-washed to the streetscape.
Sodden concrete canvases. Damp display
of seasonal swing. Long months of cold, that shape
the calendar with frosted panes of glass.
Clouds, condensation, vaporous and sheer.
A diaphanous depression; won’t pass
without the shudder of a cold veneer.
. Mid-Winter enjambement; more or less
. a shift of emphasis, a change of stress.

© Tim Grace, 18 July 2014


To the reader: My home town is Canberra; Australia’s capital city. It was designed by Chicago’s renowned architect: Walter Burley-Griffin. He and his wife, Marion Mahony, incorporated into Canberra’s layout their social, political and environmental philosophies. One hundred years later, this small city nestles into the seasonal landscape reflecting its democratic origins; relying on thoughtful design for inspiration through social unease, political tension and Mid-Winter drudgery.

To the poet: …and that’s the thing about poetry. It’s a built environment. Full of ideas. Full of plans that require on-site adjustment. Poetry is a social experiment. An engineered interpretation of life’s possibilities; real and imagined. Poetry describes and discovers the shape and form of itself and its subjects. In the cold, poetry shivers; it feels the bite of winter winds, the grip of frosty nights and the slap of frozen rain.


A Cold Veneer

A Cold Veneer

Unspoken Thoughts

Unspoken Thoughts

There’ll be ample time to talk of wonders;
but for now, you have the gift of eyes and ears.
Silence speaks as loud as lightning thunders.
Save those unspoken thoughts for coming years.
As for now, take note: watch the world unfold,
watch the patterns change and the colours dance;
watch the hand shake, the foot step, the toe hold.
Recognise yourself in a friendly glance.
As for now, listen: hear the change of tone;
hear the rhythm, the pitch, the count of three;
hear the heart beat, the ear drum, the jaw bone.
Make yourself ready for the change of key.
. Two eyes, two ears, but just one mouth for each.
. There’s much to be said for the gift of …

© Tim Grace, 22 June 2014


To the reader: It’s not that babies can’t vocalise; it’s more the point, they can’t speak. And all for good reason. The receptive senses of hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling need time to grasp the rituals of living. In this sensory world, babies communicate reactively; using spontaneous gestures that display their simple understandings of the comfort continuum. Our physical glossary precedes our emotional vocabulary.

To the poet: Our first language belongs to the body. And I suppose through body-language we can express the sentiments of any poetic theme or form. Words are just subsequent translations of abstracted notions the brain has previously rehearsed; remnants of an internal theatre. Before speech performs its reductive act, let the first scene be one of mental gymnastics … creatively dance within …hold that thought.


Unspoken Thoughts Unspoken Thoughts
The Manufactory

The Manufactory

The manufactory, factorium;
the industrial site of production.
Home of the functional consortium;
built environments under construction.
Masters of repetition: like-for-like;
duplicated sameness, line after line.
Fabricated forms; strike upon strike;
Engine-uity powered by design.
Natural systems, copied, reassembled;
untangled, delineated, processed,
deconstructed, contorted, stretched and pulled;
to give new form: and so shaped; and so pressed.
. This, a short-lived strategy – one assumes:
. built-in obsolescence – itself consumes.

© Tim Grace, 8 June 2014


To the reader: In the 1550s, a ‘factory’ describe an estate manager’s office. This descriptive noun borrowed from Middle French (factorie) with much earlier Late Latin roots to ‘factorium’. The common ‘factor’ refers to a doer or a maker. Having had its use describing humble farm mills and presses, the factory had its sights on bigger industrial enterprises of the 19th Century. A production house that included machinery manufactured goods in buildings known for a short period as manufactories; later shortened to ‘factory’ – so the circle is closed.

To the poet: Etymology sculpts a poet’s productive mind-set. The notion of a wordsmith forging meaning out of molten-sense is close to my reality. As I wrought-meaning into shape I often delve into the pedigree of words to release their poetic potential. The familiar sight and sound of words is suggestive. It’s often the case that coincidental relationships create the crux: at the heart of poetry forgery lies.


The Manufactory

The Manufactory
Picture Source:
(http://youtu.be/XTU0Z-FkhtU)

Ornamentalism

Ornamentalism

Ornamentalism: an assortment
of collectables, domesticated
bric-a-brac, imports from the orient;
samplings of stuff, made sophisticated:
the leather-bound folio, paper-backed
penguins, specimens in formaldehyde.
The trinket, the hand-crafted artefact;
exotic and familiar, side-by-side.
Foreign objects, ambassadors abroad,
international treaties exercised.
A continental-shelf, cross-bow and sword:
“en garde!” – the world has been homogenised!
. We explore the unfamiliar; enough
. to give it status; substance over stuff.

© Tim Grace, 24 May 2014


To the reader: I’d been sitting beneath a decorative array of ‘exotic’ ornaments that in a moment of attention had me intrigued. The eclectic display was purely ornamental with no hint of suggested expense or value. “Ornamentalism” I thought. As it happens, the term ‘ornamentalism’ was coined by David Cannadine who expanded on the concept to describe ‘How the British Saw their Empire (~1850 to ~1950).

To the poet: Through the appropriation of exotic customs (including artefacts) the modern Imperialists integrated non-British cultures into a homogenised new-world order. The strict interpretation of a sonnet is similarly transformed by the introduction of slightly foreign influences; and so the form adapts and retains its significance. In this way, a structure keeps its relevance and meaning. Through ‘ornamentalism’ we loosen the grip of conservative hierarchies; and so, become familiar with alternative possibilities.


Ornamentalism

Ornamentalism
Acknowledgement:
Title: Ornamentalism:
How the British Saw their Empire
Author: David Cannadine
Publisher: Allen Lane (2001)

Precipice of Now

Precipice of Now

Today’s business awaits my attention.
A loose assemblage of things still to do.
An assortment that hangs in suspension;
At the precipice of ‘now’ … fallen due.
Unfinished jobs have no place on the shelf.
And so, to that list; that drop-box of chores:
bullet-pointed messages; notes to self;
reminders that only a fool ignores.
And so, to that list of missed appointments:
that stalled project; that interrupted task;
to all that, that is yet to commence.
To that pending pile: “be patient” I ask!
. All in good time, each matter’s attended.
. It’s at that point, the file is suspended.

© Tim Grace, 9 May 2014


To the reader: Two weeks after retiring, I started my next job. The plan was to down-size expectation and workload; get things back to a manageable perspective. To some extent that was the reality but the fundamentals of paper warfare move from job-to-job and desk-to-desk. Projects are the enemy of state. They form the territory upon which office activities spiral out of control in the name productivity. Projects – front-line battles that draw upon scarce resources and redirect energies towards hot-spots of disputed service.

To the poet: As a single-minded sonneteer, I manage my own poetry project – an anthology of sorts. As far as I know “One More Sonnet” has no project-plan; nothing to coordinate its resources and deliver its services. With hindsight, I could back-engineer a plausible plan that makes what I’ve done look organised; but in fact, the whole project grows like topsy. From one idea to the next I lunge and lurch … help wanted; must be good with pen and caper!


Precipice of Now

Precipice of Now

List of Wisdoms

List of Wisdoms

Firstly, I read the desiderata:
“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste.”
Gave myself approval (imprimatur)
to make my list of lists. To cut and paste
my chart of wisdoms; distilled of strife,
refined, reduced to an essence of truth:
– Experience is the practice of life.
– One must have the grace to surrender youth.
So on, the list progressed … dot after dot:
– To enjoy time’s passage, go with the flow.
– To know who you are, don’t be who you’re not.
– The more you think you know, the less you know.
. Wisdom is suggestive, best known by gist.
. Wisdom is illusive, shy to enlist.

© Tim Grace, 21 April 2014


To the reader: The reduction of wisdom, to a list of truisms, is an attractive contemplation that leads to a refined sample of ‘best of’ behaviours. The first few, often confirm acts of social responsibility; sealing the contract between oneself and others. These ‘responsibilities’ are soon followed by the ‘accountabilities’ that establish (as good) generous reciprocity. And so it seems, the wise respond to needs, they take account of wants; and most of all, they share the benefits – in the interest of common wealth.

To the poet: Around this period of writing, I was also retiring from thirty-years of career building. Not surprisingly, events were associated with a strong-tinge of reflection on change over time; and lessons learnt. The economical nature of phrasing a line of poetry is similar to the construction of a truism… the verb and its subject make obvious associations with a familiar object – in the interest of common sense.


List of Wisdoms

List of Wisdoms
Picture Source:
http://s1.dmcdn.net/BCwjG/1280×720-5Zh.jpg