Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Photographs I Never Took

All of these pictures were taken with my Canon between 1st - 5th Sept 2015 in 

I didn't take a photograph of the statue of Robert Burns.
His sightless eyes were looking out over Dunedin,
the most Scottish town in the southern hemisphere,
and there was a seagull, not a pigeon, standing on his head.
I would have called it 'Robbie Burns and Friend.'

And I didn't take a picture of the bus shelter
painted all over with jungle foliage and a tiger
peeping out over the simulated signature of Henri Rousseau.
The title would have been 'This Bus Shelter is a Forgery.'

Neither did I photograph another painted wall,
one round a cemetery full of ornate and sombre tombs,
with a large and skilfully executed advertisement -
Renta Sanitarios Mobiles (Hire Mobile Toilets) .
It would have been called 'Is there no Respect for the Dead? '

I didn't take the photo of a Fijian policeman.
A pity, for he had such a practical uniform,
very smart and cool,
in a tasteful shade of policeman-blue,
based on the traditional sulu
with a striking zigzag hem.
The title would have been 'A Policeman in a Skirt? ! '

I couldn't take a photograph of sunset over Popocatépetl
- although the sun was setting in a red and golden haze,
and the most romantically named mountain is just
what you imagine a perfect volcano should be,
even to the wisp of steam at the peak
– because the sun was actually setting over Ixtaccíhuatl
and 'Sunset over Ixtaccíhuatl' doesn't have quite the right ring
The shape of the mountain is not very picturesque either.
Yes, I would have called that one 'Sunset over Popocatépetl'
– if I could have taken it.

My camera wouldn't focus on the crescent moon
hanging over the Egyptian skyline,
horns pointing up, so close to the Equator,
and the evening star (Venus or some more ancient goddess)
just above and almost between the points.
If that one had worked it would have been called 'Islamic Moon.'

I couldn't possibly have taken a photograph
that would do any justice to the young piano student
in a Hungarian castle
hammering out Liszt as if the hounds of hell were after her,
but if I could, I would have had to call it 'Apassionata.'

And I didn't even have time to get my camera out
to take a picture of the wild humming bird
darting green and unconcerned
among dilapidated tenements in the heart of Mexico City.
But that living jewel shines bright in my memory,
even without a photo.
I don't know what I would have called that one,
and I'm sure it doesn't matter. 

Paul Hansford 

for Carmen

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Charles Bukowski

“...there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.

people so tired
either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.

it hasn't told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place

unspoken to

watering a plant.” 

― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bas-relief with heroes

Nichita Stãnescu (1933 - 1983)

The young soldiers have taken their seats in the window,
exactly as found, shot in their foreheads -
to be seen, they were seated in the shop window,
true to their ultimate gestures,
profiles, arms, knees, their ultimate gestures,
as when they were shot, unawares, in their foreheads
or between their shoulder blades with that flame
finer than a child's finger pointing to the moon.

Behind them the barracks was empty,
smelling of leggings, crushed butts, a closed window.
The iron handles continue to rattle
on the small wooden suitcases filling the barracks,
as the moon's iron handles continue to rattle
now, before being opened to search for old letters,
old photos of time.

The young soldiers remain, polished with wax,
their faces and arms, so that they shine,
polished with wax so that thay shine, polished with wax
and seated exactly as they were at the moment
life broke and death swallowed the moment.
They stay so, fixed and shining forever,
and we regard them as we would the moon
rising in the middle of the square.

For us, who are now the same age as they,
though they have stayed long years in the window,
for us who have caught them and are passing them by,
and have beating hearts, and memory,
fresh memory, exceedingly fresh,
the young soldiers have taken their seats in the window
and mimic themselves, each to the other,
as though they were living.

From the book "Bas-Relief with Heroes"
english translation by Thomas Carlson and Vasile Poenaru.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

To Paint The Portrait Of A Bird

First paint a cage
With an open door
Then paint
Something pretty
Something simple
Something beautiful
Something useful
For the bird
Then place the canvas against a tree
In a garden
In a wood
Or in a forest
Hide yourself behind the tree
Without speaking
Without moving...
Sometimes the bird will arrive soon
But it could also easily take many years
For it to decide
Wait if necessary for years
The rapidity or slowness of the arrival of the bird
Has no connection with the success of the painting
When the bird arrives
If it arrives
Observe the most profound silence
Wait until the bird enters the cage
And when it has entered
Gently close the door with the brush
Erase one by one all of the bars
While being careful not to touch any of the feathers of the bird
Then make a portrait of the tree
Choosing the most beautiful of its branches
For the bird
Paint also the green foliage and the freshness of the wind
The dust of the sun
And the noise of the creatures of the grass in the heat of summer
And then wait for the bird to decide to sing
If the bird does not sing
It's a bad sign
A sign that the painting is no good
But if it does sing it's a good sign
A sign that you can sign.
Then you gently pull out
One of the feathers of the bird
And you sign your name in a corner of the painting.

To Paint The Portrait Of A Bird_ By Jacques Prévert 

Trans. Eugene Levich

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Song At Sunset - Walt Whitman

SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic--hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat--you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.

Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.

Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space--sphere of unnumber'd spirits; 10
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even the tiniest
Illustrious the attribute of speech--the senses--the body;
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the
new moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.

Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age, 20
In the superb vistas of Death.

Wonderful to depart;
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed--to look on my rose-color'd flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large;
To be this incredible God I am;
To have gone forth among other Gods--these men and women I love. 30

Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself!
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on
and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up--with strong trunks--with branches
and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the tree--some living

O amazement of things! even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents--now reaching
me and America! 40
I take your strong chords--I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass
them forward.

I too carol the sun, usher'd, or at noon, or, as now, setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and of all the
growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.

As I sail'd down the Mississippi,
As I wander'd over the prairies,
As I have lived--As I have look'd through my windows, my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning--As I beheld the light breaking in the
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach
of the Western Sea;
As I roam'd the streets of inland Chicago--whatever streets I have
roam'd; 50
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with contentment and

I sing the Equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things;
I say Nature continues--Glory continues;
I praise with electric voice;
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe;
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the

O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated
adoration. 60 

Song At Sunset - Poem by Walt Whitman
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