JOHN HORVATH Jr
Sitting on the screen all dressed in gray
thinking himself unseen when I noticed him.
Damned things think themselves invulnerable
because they go through fire--
or is that the salamander?
I stepped up to eye-level and we stared
(He blinking his morse-code, saying,
catch me, you fool!).
I raised my hand so he moved to the right.
I feinted attack and he ran into the left.
There, I said loud enough that the wife asked
"Huh?" Caught a chameleon, I said nonchalant.
Then the kids come running squealing
their OH-LET-ME-SEEs and I said "Sure".
With their hot little breaths heating
the hairs on my thumb so I swung away hand.
Where had he gone to?
Isn't it a crime
to bring children from play
only to see the palm of a hand?
I'm serious, I swear, he was there just then
you gotta believe, when I pulled back my hand
that lizard done run off so fast we can't see
Oh He's quick as a fart, as slick as the sea;
He's smarter than crabgrass; you'll never believe,
down from the window and up into that tree
that lizard done run off so fast we can't see.
NOW YOU SEE IT…
If a picture paints a thousand words then a moving picture demands a tremendous amount of information.
If you aim to transmit this information, in a t.v. broadcast for example, you can quickly hit the limits
of what is known as bandwidth because the picture information, already huge, has to be continuously updated.
All kinds of dodges are employed to squeeze all the updating information required through the
One such was the idea that if the only moving things were, say, the players in a cricket match,
the only information you needed to update was their movements. Most of the picture, the pitch,
remained the same.
As is often the case, this idea was borrowed from nature. Most frogs and many lizards have to make
do with tiny brains so how on earth can they ever move fast enough to catch their rapidly moving prey?
The answer is that a frog or lizard will typically and literally only see something if it moves. This
cuts down the picture analysing requirements enormously. Add to this the fact that the little beast
weighs practically nothing so that it has almost zero inertia and you have an animal that lives and
drives comfortably and skillfully in the fast lane. Far and away faster than any bulky, lumbering
All this is delightfully explored by John in his poem about catching, or trying to catch a chameleon.
The language John uses is feather-light. Here is an inconsequential story with virtually no
content and the approach reflects this from the start. He is not even sure whether we are talking
about a lizard or a salamander. All the chameleons I have ever seen have no eyelids, just a fleshy
eye covering with a pin-hole to see through and with the un-nerving ability to point these in
opposite directions. John’s is evidently a different species with eyelids that blink (arresting
metaphor, this) like morse code. By clever feinting he manages to catch it. “There!” he exclaims.
“What?” says his wife. “Caught a chameleon!”
If lizards are good at detecting the slightest movement, kids can hear a pin drop a mile away and
come running in. No easy to impress kids, but here’s his chance. Unfortunately the lizard has other
plans and by the time the poet opens his hand to show his catch, quick as pressurized flatulence,
it has gone. Was it ever there?
Unfortunately, seeing is believing. The kids don’t see the lizard so it was all made up. Wasn’t
it? And the poem fizzes to a finish in a burst of indignant expostulation.
Quite apart from the fact that this is a work by a skilled practitioner and so is a delight to read,
this poem just goes to show that poetry can elevate a mere, airy soufflé of almost nothing into a
work of art.
Thank you, John.
Laurie John, 10 February 2015
published in Calliope
poetryrepairs #209 15,02:017
you know she said i didn't think those colours would go together
turquoise and goldenrod on the toes of my moccasins
the hide smoked in punky alder_colour of raw sienna
the bottoms more burnt where my foot has met the earth
didn't say anything just dipped chin and kept wrapping
hide 'round my leg pulling tight___her red, yellow,
white, black toes__still__next mine
on the floor__door closed
smelt her willow smoke__the jackpine
in the stove__and that summer day
this hide got smoked
___later we both danced
poetryrepairs #209 15,02:017
Her father used to call her
Which is Serbian for
Because she used to chase after the Monarchs
Flapping her chubby little girl arms
In an effort to fly just like them.
Now her thin hands flutter like
Over her project
While there is still
Light of day.
Critiques and Croissants
We sit in the coffee shop
where he slowly butters his croissant
as he speaks emotionlessly
about how sick he is of poetry
I clasp my red parcel of works
to my chest
holding back disappointment
and the urge to tell him that fourth latte
is not good for him
He bemoans his very successful career
telling me all the tragedies that will befall
each of us in life
sorrow is no respecter of persons, apparently
I hang onto every word
although I sadden more
with each new revelation he has to offer
until he reaches out a hand
fingers shiny with butter
"Let me see them, Little One"
He takes the red parcel from me,
carefully and thoughtfully reading each poem
with the patience he put into buttering his croissant
"Is good," he concludes,
"But never say what can be implied".
Quickly, he slashes out mistakes
with his ever present nubby pencil
He does in seconds what I could not do in three nights
He leaves his mark on my poetry,
More visible than that of the oily fingerprints left behind
With his act of kindness
Even though he is sick of poetry.
He makes his mark on my poetry
As visibly as the oily fingerprints he has left behind
He smiles sadness
But leaves gladness in my heart
With his act of kindness
Even though he is sick of poetry
How To Not Write A Poem
See how many chocolates you can eat
Without biting into a single one
Gag on a sugar high
See how white the faded denim fringe of your cut-off shorts
Looks against your tanned thigh
Turn your arms this way and that,
Compare them against the aforementioned thigh
See which is darker
(it's the thigh, it's always the thigh)
See if you can make water bead up on your forearm
Count the vitamins left in your bottle sitting on your desk
Play with toe ring
Tap a tune on your keyboard
See how it comes out looking like 3489ut9 foesdvx790eiritr9u043903
Deep condition your hair
Polish your nails
Take up crocheting
Happily pick up ringing phone only to find
Irate editor at other end
Looking to pick fight
Yes, you understand the meaning of deadline
No, you don't need to look it up
Yes, you will quit procrastinating
Immediately become brilliant
Write something witty and dazzling
Sparkle on paper
All the while vowing not to go near the candy section
Of the department store again.
New York Cocktail Party
In a sea of little black numbers
And perfectly coiffed bobs
I am the
Wearing red silk
And long, misbehaving curls.
In panic, I say to you,
"I am the only one not in black!"
You smile, lean forward,
Kiss my neck
And wickedly whisper,
There is no better way
To spend a Saturday afternoon,
Than having your back rubbed
By artist's hands.
As I massage and knead
Your already limber muscles,
I notice streaks of raw umber
And cadmium red paint
On my busy fingers,
If you are grateful,
I was not making pottery
poetryrepairs #209 15,02:017
thank you for reading poetryrepairs|
please link to http://www.poetryrepairs.com/v15/017.html
All the fine arts are species of poetry--Samuel Taylor Coleridge
even as it splits it open.
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LAURIE JOHN is an Independent Writing and Editing Professional and Broadcaster from Chelmsford, United Kingdom. His group, "We write in Harmony" appears on LinkedIn. We are grateful for his comments and ask other readers to critique the poems on poetryrepairs.
Born of a union between an artist (ethnicity 2c) and a scientist (ethnicity 5b), carol shillibeer believes in fertile connections. Multiple ways of thinking, of hearing the world speak: adenosine tri-phosphate is a fundamental life metaphor. Her synaesthesia appear or are forthcoming in Ditch, CV2, Counterexample Poetics, and others. You can find her at carolshillibeer.com.
"A note on my poetics: I'm not a lyric poet; I'm not a humanist. A mentor has described me as a postlyric poet; I describe myself as a post-humanist. I'm a synaesthetic and an epileptic and experience what I call the “fractured-i”. (Do you remember “fractured fairy tales”?) The majority of my work does not focus on a coherent, human-centred lyric narrative as a stand-in for identity. As a consequence of neurological evolution and functioning, identity has the tendency to appear as singular: in small blooms of algae in a polluted sea; in the skip-tracing made possible by scientific language and concepts;
because of closed eyes between the frantic and directionless leaps of a torch in the hand of a woman walking a mountainside in the dark. My poetry is often hard. Sometimes it is ugly, sometimes both ugly and beautiful. Also, I'm multi-ethnic. Sometimes my work speaks from these different selves_for example, I use “torch” instead of “flashlight” and then I'll use Americanisms because I'm writing from that moment of remembrance. Sometimes more than one self speaks in a single poem. I know that this is hard to take and is not within the narrative tradition, and I am trying to teach myself both skills. At this point, I'm having limited success with my lessons."
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