Harvesting the Hierarchy

Some Are More Equal than Others

by Troy Cabida

 

Through a fear of neglect

to ourselves we turn in reflection

and inside we see a tunnel, dark and deep,

and for light we toil through deeper

but we mustn’t complain:

the CEOS work six days a week.

So hard we work our joints numb,

that eventually our thoughts dwindle from the ground

and our brains slowly follow, practically ignoring

the big bosses’ gently exempting us

from luxuries that equate to our hardened spines and

aching muscles, wilted wheat given in exchange for missing greens

within increased/increasing slavery hours

they keep the milk and apples;

our epiphanies and rebellions are silent and premature

forget society’s age old silencing

so-called manners

and rebel revolt be sarcastic sardonic

use your voice you have a voice use your soul you have a soul

throw away the love songs

and smash the guitars

at their mouths uttering extraneous utterly superfluous nonsense

 

we deserve all of the fruits

 

—————–

Troy Cabida is a Filipino writer from London. His recent work has appeared on Thought Collection Publishing, WORK and Pinched. He is a columnist for Miracle, Time to Gander and has edited for Siblíní Journal and Thought Notebook. Troy’s blog can be reached via this link.

Poet Interview #15 -Troy Cabida

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?

I started writing poetry when I was fifteen years old and was going through what might be the first time I’ve ever felt heartbroken. My entire life was going through such a transitional phase that I needed to find something to help vent in a way that’s harmless and progressive for the healing process. I ended up writing a lot of sad and emotional poetry that I’m glad I didn’t send out to magazines. And as I grew older and saw and learnt more about the world my poetry became more positive, more balanced and something that’s become a huge part of my identity.

Music has actually become more of an inspiration to me than poetry when I started. I wanted to find stories that I could relate to and learn from styles that attracted me, and I found them through pop and underground Filipino music from musicians like June Marieezy, Karylle, Curtismith and Bamboo. Only a couple of years later I found poets that I could connect with.

My favourite poems come from Anthony Anaxagorou, Juan Miguel Severo and Marilyn Monroe. There’s a wonderful poet out there named Robert Eric Shoemaker whose debut collection I had the honour of editing and his style is very, very fluid and colourful. I’m a huge fan of poets that write in a more conversational style and can manipulate wordplay.

How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?

I wish I had a writing schedule to follow because a lot of articles online say that it’s really important for writers and it, at least in my opinion, gives you a better chance of getting more work done, but writing a poem is quite a random process for me.

Either I think of a line or think of an interesting wordplay and then I keep that on my phone for a while or I sit down, open a blank screen and just write whatever it is I’m feeling. When a song or a show hits a nerve in me that I never knew I had, I end up writing something about that or when I want to preserve a personal memory, I work around it and it ends up a poem that I get to keep forever.

Poetry used to be difficult for me to understand and I thought you need to have a degree to sink into it properly but while growing up I realised that it’s just as rough and dirty and rewarding as any other craft out there. You can get really brutal and honest with it and usually that’s where the best ones come out. Now there’s so much diversity in poetry today as well that makes me want to become a part of it even more.

I realised that in order to write a stable of varied poems that people will also connect with I need to live life and to always be in the moment because essentially you’re capturing life through words, something that I thank the craft for every single day.

Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?

I have Twitter and a profile page on Facebook just to keep my personal stuff and my writing separate. Being on social media also helps me find journals and websites that have current calls for submissions and some looking for writers and editors so I think social media’s really helpful in that way.

Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?

I’m currently going through a lot of writer groups or classes available around my area because I’d really like to have some feedback from fellow writers. I used to be in a writer’s group when I was back in sixth form but it was short-lived and since then I’ve always wanted to be a part of a community like that.

I’m currently reading Mia Alvar’s In The Country, a collection of short stories about Filipino Overseas Workers all around the world and how being abroad has changed their lives and relationships with people both with them and back in their motherland.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?

It’s always an enriching experience to volunteer editing for a magazine or something like that because you get to look at a poem from a different angle and you end up learning more about your own and how you can improve by reading many different kinds of poems.

When submitting work, always find the literary magazine that is a match for your poem; don’t do it the other way around. Follow lots of journals and websites on their social media platforms and subscribe to their mailing list to always be updated with what’s going on with them and if there’s anything that you might be interested in.

And lastly, write about what you feel needs to come out from your system and write what YOU want to write and not what you feel the world wants out there. Remember to not be afraid of getting honest and brutal when you find bits of yourself between the lines; usually your best work lies in poems that you weren’t comfortable writing.

A Precarious Tilt

Smoke & Mirrors
by Rehan Qayoom

 

            So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

            So long lives this, and this gives life to thee,

 

                                William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare’s Sonnets. (Thomas Thorpe, 1609).

 

Sans toi, les émotions d’aujourd’hui ne seraient que la peau morte des émotions d’auterfois.

 

Hipolito.

 

Can we only love

Something created in our own imagination?

Are we all in fact unloving and unlovable?

Then one is alone, and if one is alone

Then lover and beloved are equally unreal

And the dreamer is no more real than his dreams.

 

T. S. Eliot.  The Cocktail Party.  (1949).

 

I

 

Tonight the moon reminds me so much of you

It is as lonely as the night is making me

Penetrating the mind with its black fantasia

Learning me how Mir was moonstruck for Mah

So there are no words but the memory surviving yet as in a chrysalis:

You dancing widdershins naked in the snow, prancing

Jigging on a wibbly wobbly bridge

Swinging and unafraid to risk a fall

 

They laugh at me that sometime did me seek,

But once at a party I overheard 2 fictionary beaux mondes

“Ought you to wear a skirt with legs like that?”

I laughed like there’s no tomorrow

And in short, I was afraid.

 

Woman creates so that she may destroy

Beauty’s arch-rival: time – Subdued into a diorama of death

The drowned belle de la Seine humming

(Unknown who saw or met her, saw her weep)

To have but not to keep

 

The mouth in the mouth

Under the mouth

Is the round tuffet that becomes us

Because it doesn’t have to, because

It can because it is

The unreal and the real

 

So these are the roots that grasp at the fly in aspic

Clutch at the crystalline moon in a spray of sea-mist

 

II

 

So you were your own Church

Your religion was Love.

Its sacrificial murder –

That killing in heaven –

Was flow of passion here on earth

Where your kiss, your real lips,

And your words

Were the blessing.

 

Ted Hughes.  ‘Religion’.  Collected Poems. Edited by Paul Keegan. (Faber & Faber, 2003).

 

… Tu se’ ombra vedi.

… Puoi, la quantitate

Comprenderde l’amor chi temi scalda,

Quando dismento nostra vanitate

Trattando l’ombre come cosa salda

 

[… “For shade thou art and look’st upon a shade”

“… Now thou’lt know

How large and warm my love about thee clings

When I forget our nothingness, and go

Treating these shadows like material things.”]

 

                                Dante Alighieri. Divina Commedia: Purgatorio.  Translated by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Dante – The Divine Comedy ii: Purgatory. (Penguin                         Classics, 1955).

 

Love answers all the ogress’ grave questions

Offering even as counter-question (a salve), itself in a frisson

Saying “Silence and I speak the same language, share one quiddity

I, knowing my incapability

Interlock fingers on Imagination Road

But if holiness is a mystery

Corruption is a mystery

Sin is a mystery

You and I are history”
Love does not question

Love does not reason

It survives

The headaches, the worries, the vague, the vogue

It is all there is or ever was or will be

It is everything I know

It is what remains of us

It is God

Behind a caboose

It is death, haunted by hostile shadows

(And death is not the enemy

Time is the enemy)

Lives, the Life-in-Death, an antevasin

When the tongues of flame are in-folded

The fire and the rose are in symbiosis as one

 

Sometimes love is unable to share

Is delicate and vulnerable

Cannot show wishes, tell desires, touch

Nor share a joy to the senses

Far greater than makeshift individual pleasure to the spirit

Though living with oneself does not make one less human

 

So you are a gazelle of light all by itself

Your own muse

Your most beautiful poem

Yesterday’s dream

Was love

Too much love

In every sacred place

Of your ‘Jour-Nuit

 

I am not going anywhere

Because I am already there.

 

            Love is you

            You and me

 

Love is what we cannot be

‘I am you,

you are me.

I am a tree.

We …’

Love you love me

Love is lonely

Love me and give me

Life – Its poison – Love me or kill me

 

Only love

Can justify the art in verse

The just and the unjust

The intended and the intent

Jackknife at the diabolical form

Of the devil’s opus in Pandemonium

I know what it is

Did nobody tell you?

This is what it’s all about, what were you expecting?

It is the only way to go, you know

Echoic: the music playing

The screen flickering

And our first meeting.
Awaits (from profundity) with baited breath

Its turbulent exertion welcome

To the garden

In the garden

Under the rose-garden

As the Earth’s axis tilts towards the sun, tilts away

 

—————–

 

Rehan Qayoom is a poet of English and Urdu, editor, translator and archivist, educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work internationally. He has published 2 books of poetry and several works of prose. www.rehanqayoom.weebly.com

Poet Interview #14 – Rehan Qayoom

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?

I write poetry in English and Urdu.  I started writing at the age of 10 and haven’t stopped since – allowing for prolonged bouts of writer’s block – I am primarily a poet but also write prose and book reviews, adaptations of Urdu poetry and I edit and archive things.  My inspiration has always come out of my life, my surroundings and my people.  The list of my favourite poets is colossal so I shall spare you!

How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?

Lana Del Rey said ‘My muse is very fickle.  She only comes to me sometimes, which is annoying.’[1]  I would say that the Muse always come out of the blue in the unlikeliest of places at the least appropriate times.  I find that I can work best from dawn onwards, as the day gets on the motivation decreases.  Though I do get the odd days/nights when I work non-stop to get something accomplished (while the inspiration lasts) that is nearly ready but which I have been putting off for too long but sadly, those times are few and far between! These days my poems usually begin their genesis as words or phrases in the notepad on my smartphone or as they have always done on scraps of paper which are usually lost and which I sometimes have to waste time trying to recover.  I write on anything that is nearest because the longer I leave it the more there is a danger of it being forgotten.  There seems to be a secret law of nature for distractions and diversions set to occur at such times: for the phone to buzz (never otherwise as I don’t communicate by phone) or someone (from Porlock) would be knocking at the door (I’m a recluse and can go easily unvisited for months on end).  I do have some neglected notebooks but they rarely get written in.  A poem would sometimes come to me whole but that is a rare occurrence.  Usually there are around a dozen drafts (more for the longer poems I have been writing lately such as ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ the final draft of which was completed in a laborious 18-hour non-stop jaunt).  My method of writing prose is very different: I read everything there is to read about what I am writing and write down the relevant information and references, then I start writing whilst making notes in the margins as I go along which is all copied onto neat drafts that become untidy very quickly and so on.  There are usually several drafts of these too.  This haphazard method of writing can be very frustrating and I have tried to be more organised and lineal but it just doesn’t cut it for me.

I don’t think my idea of poetry has changed radically over the years except that the internet has given me access to a wider range of poets.

Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?

I am on Facebook and Twitter et al but I have a love-hate relationship with social media that is conflictive: literature offers a one-to-one relationship with people one does not have to meet in real life, the internet gives people a false sense of intimacy with those they do not know.  I have a website and an email, I attend literary events and give readings and meet other writers and audiences but I feel we live in a changing world where the social networks demand more and more of our time and I am weary of and bored by people who need to publicise every minute detail of their lives, what they are wearing or eating or what their pets are doing every minute of the day.  It might work for some but as a writer I find it is too much distraction and too intrusive to one’s privacy to be constantly available every moment of the day.  If I were to do that then when would I find the time to do the writing?

Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?

I used to attend poetry workshops early in my career but I’m pretty much a one-man job which can be troublesome at the best of times.  I was recently invited to join the lovely Poets and Dreamers.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?

Keep trying.

[1]  Lana Del Rey, (22nd October 2013). http://www.nylon.com/articles/lana-del-rey-november-cover

The Palette of Life

A Woman, Her Name, I don’t Know
by Matthew A. Toll

like the mayfly she’s got
silver, translucent wings
and lives by the water.
she thinks about her dead mother
while walking through a toy store
of red and blue and gold;
she has no kids of her own, but
she likes the bright colors
lining the life that is a store aisle.

a bad tooth and
no money to get it fixed,
she lives in the dreams
reflected in her bathroom mirror,
starring in only when the lights are off
with black eyes like her hair or
the blind night sky. she howls,
the street shrinks under her four-inch heels
like snow in late april.

her wings carry her over the swamp
through humid air,
wet, heavy, unforgiving as life,
unforgiving as late august sun.

a drop of rain is her death,
the swamp both a birthplace and graveyard
in a day
longer than time could measure.

a little girl laughed on land, but
she wasn’t listening,
distracted by something strange in the distance.

—————–

Matthew A. Toll currently lives in Brooklyn after a few years hiding out behind a sauté station for twelve hours a day in Burlington, VT. He’s had poems published online in Industry Night, Walking Is Still Honest, The Vehicle, GravelMag, Five2One, and elsewhere, and poems forthcoming in print in Willard&Maple and Big Muddy. Say hello: matthewatoll@gmail.com.