The Mythogenetic Grove

The Escritoire

[poetry]: Golden Apples of Desire, Golden Apples of Revenge

by on Apr.08, 2018, under Poetry

(c) Nin Harris, 1999/2014/2018. All Rights Reserved.

(Pamphlet A632: Museum of Printing History
Description: Ritual Song B4325, used in the Woosteris Mystery Plays)

 

I

Invocation

Listen! I have made you a story
aglow with whorled patterns,
viridian inlaid with leaf-of-gold
upon a diamond-shaped frame,
cobalt borders interweaving deepest teal,
snaking knots of oracle’s purple.

Spider-sister working on the loom;
Arachne, in feminine hubris
dares challenge the Grand Complect.
One woman, nexus of many threads and patterns,
atones for the flouting of Neith’s design
she weaves ‘til warp and weft
transports her into the over-soul.

frigid atalanta’s curling toes poised for flight; her breeze-trembled nose
and tensed limbs like a marked stag in a Sviegian hunt
or a wild boar slain in the name of desire.


II

The Captive Empress

Hyacinths and frangipani bloom outside these prison walls,
fragrant with the balmy sea-kissed air of a Lith Gurland night.
I huddle on a marriage bed, my legs crumpled against my abdomen;
my mind remembers tortured cries of livestock sold in auction
to grace banquet tables of my Dvenri brothers groomed
and tortured as hostages-in-arms, and janissaries.
Tonight I weave in whispers a tale for the Fratricidal Emperor
(though we utter not this name in his presence that hurts
the eyes with the sharpness of a thousand envenomed daggers
)
He has done his worst but the living is still sweet.
I fear more the void of no thought where all stories die.
I must make it good, must make him ache to hear
how Sinbad found the roc’s egg in far away Mirozkh
how old lamps for new spirits a palace away,
how the Noble Chef put an end to doomed Lusini for
the fourth time since its creation in a sugar-laden
slaughterhouse of hook-clawed butter-daughters silvered
by the light of a bloodthirsty moon; I must ensorcell him
with tales of enraptured krakens and
the ovallei priests of a spectral Ocean cradling
the three-masters and conquest-notes
of Reldarian pirates and red-robed spider monks;
I must lay upon him with the artifice of lovers the cantos of
Renduk Milder, that imperial poet-panderer of illicit desires,
that charlatan of the masses. Let me spin this tale then.
Let me pray that the morning sun that shines
through the ornate iron bars will not be my last.
I am running out of stories now that the Caliph of Mirozkh
has made his bride from the sea speak —
she has given him a son and treasures from beneath the waves.
“The princess he has surrendered at long last”,
I say with a twist of my lips, knowing he will like that,
knowing that I bide my time till the day when my word-weavings
will capture his final breath.
My store of tales scant themselves, shriveled mid-sentence
in my craw as the thousandth night approaches
Should I tell him of the golden apples of desire?
I have kept this tale for last
I will watch as his eyes cloud over with love,
with this witchery that I have brought into the world
— a smitten butcher with blood-stained hands from a dozen deceased wives
And ten dozen slaughtered siblings kneeling at the altar of my stories
while beneath my bed I cultivate
a family of asps fit for a frenzied end.

daughter athlete freedom-fighter huntress
you would run free up and down
mountain ranges
you would be an argonaut
temptress who is never tempted
the downfall of hunters
and lustful Barlishyan lycanthropes.

“We must bring her low!”
— the Woman Who Weaves
caresses the orchard’s pickings
and waits for an enterprising suitor
to call upon her name.

 

III

The Smitten Adventuress

“I will have none other, father
than the one fashioned by my hands!”
Kept hidden in an old recipe book
is the formula for a man & so
the youngest and best-loved daughter
has put on an apron of pristine white
building a man out of caraway seeds,
the thickest celestial cream
to inspire a mystic’s visions,
eggs crafted to be a Barlishya’s doom,
essence-of-violet and honey from the holy bees
and the sweetest candied blood oranges
fit for the Empress of Desire.

Sixteen months to mould you
sixteen months to nurture
I’ll whisper you the secrets of velvet-wrapped desire,
anoint you with the syrup of wild berries
plucked from the hidden groves of the Svieg.

She will climb over the Southern Crescent Range
She will swim the River Svieg as it snakes in and out of cities and the Forest,
She will befriend a family of frogs, court robber-kings and Mirozhi hermits
She will get: a golden tambour, a cartwheel, iron stakes ,
a golden dress, a golden spinning wheel,
and strings of jewels to win back a candied heart.
“Will you not listen? It is I who loved you well!
The jewel-winged arlishya that guards this halls
has turned your heart from mine!”
He drowns in drugged slumber
while servants whisper and crouch
beneath a twice-carved archway,
“I will sing to you of golden apples. Will you not listen?
You once loved this tale so well.”

Golden apples to bring a glow to her cheeks
Golden apples to fan long hidden embers to a conflagration
Golden apples that will be scapegoated as she picks them one by one
Golden apples will he throw to trap the tempest in mid-stride
Golden apples spiked with desire with secrets to beguile a beguiler anew

I surrender to you in delirium, induced by a debt unpaid.

 

IV

Woodswitch, Loomsmother

My primordial roar holds back a melting glacier
by calling forth an avalanche.

Autumnal moon, you watch me drift
amongst bristling trees, branches like antlers
upon my brow, my berry-stained feet and lips.
I dance within Sviegian hidden grottoes overgrown with moss
as another city sinks into the tentacled embrace of Lake Llendrys,
— an avatar of dreaming, a whisper in the night;
listen to my night-wail as I pull the wool over your eyes,
protecting, still protecting my little corner of paradise.
Still crouching in labyrinths, still whirling in moonlit bacchanals.

Come and catch me if you can
Come and love me if you dare;

An ungainly Atalanta running around
ghosts of arboreal stadiums to escape
the beguilement of golden apples
that live within my throat
and snake within my craw,
that lodge within my heart
and pushes these words onto
epics and tales to snare you,
to win me free, to win us free.


(Loomsmother’s curse hits a quivering mark –)

Watch me grow claws, Beloved.
Listen to me roar in wrath.
We will be as two lions in a
temple where once two lovers clasped.


This poem started life as “Golden Apples” in 1999, and I wrote it after I finished my final law exam. In those days I was feverishly rereading Italo Calvino’s Italian Folktales, Lucius Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, and I was reading A.S. Byatt’s Possession for the very first time. This story came out like a fever-dream. It was on my website for many years and I received a lot of positive feedback about it. I took it down around 2006 (honestly I don’t remember exactly when) because I had intentions of making a poetry collection. Around 2014 when I was planning on making a chapbook of all of my Sesen short stories, I retooled and remixed this poem for it. I’ve worked on it off-and-on since then, and am pleased to offer it here on my website. (It’s a bit difficult to submit this to poetry markets since it’s a poetry reprint).

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[poetry]: The Soul’s Kiss

by on Mar.10, 2018, under Poetry

(c) Nin Harris 1997

How does one discern the imprint of a soul?
it is lighter than a fingerprint upon your skin
which only magic dust can show
The kiss of the sun
leaves its imprint in darker hues
its glory against your form
leaves a lengthening shadow as you walk
but a soul’s kiss?
it leaves no mark upon your hue,
the make-up of your being,
but how it mutates your soul!

Less obvious than the sun’s glory,
the glow of the soul is an invisible thing
but one which can char and tar and scar
a soul beyond recognition much fiercer
than any ball of gas could aspire.

A soul’s kiss
is a dream in the night
half remembered in images which do not coalesce
it is a blanket of softest down
dulling your senses when you walk and talk
with untouched beings
who never have known
who never could know.

*
What then is its secret?
this soul without form
intangible conception
in a compact of dreams.
what is this soft glow
that is so much stronger than the sun ?

*
A mountain of gold for the genius
who invents a soul-scanning machine
let us cut across the futile questings
of dreams, poems and songs,
soul questing maps of obscure formulas.

Is Science the answer?
could all your achievements
against time and space and all laws of nature
discover the origin of this soul upon mine?

*

What is the imprint of a soul?
child of nightmares; a scream in the dark,
or a Zephyr coming to carry one
off the dragon’s rock of isolation
like Psyche so long ago.
the fall of sunlight within a clump of weeds
once mundane, now a glorious
profusion of life.
The beguiling mystery of tunes half-remembered
it is a door tantalisingly left open
in the marble halls of daydreams
it is the sweep of red and cobalt blue
upon a thick white canvas.
this pattern of my days
this purpose-shaping chisel
is a hand through a darkened doorway
beckoning me upwards toward the light
it is a rock that carries me on
a downward spiral

*
scientist and philosophers!
I defy you to try
and discover the geometry of this force.
I defy you to render this dark magic onto prosaic ink on paper
— or blinking letters on a screen.
If x= the effect on my existence
and y= the purpose of my days,
how many more letters of the alphabet
would it take to command a solution
to this uneasy formula
can those mysterious digits
find the spark of words not remembered
and features blurred by the light of dreams?
(August 1997)

Notes: I sat on the steps outside a lecture theatre one morning after listening to Maria Callas arias on my commute. I was a third year law student who was spending more time reading the Classics (Greek and Roman poets and philosophers) and listening to classical music and the opera than she was reading the thousands of cases and legal notes assigned to her. (But I still read quite a lot. I was a dutiful law student who sometimes stayed in the law library until 8-10pm). Suffice it to say, being inundated with facts, probabilities and reasonable doubts, my poet’s soul rebelled and wanted something…more. Many poems of this ilk were the result.

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(Hopefully) Sparkly Goals for 2018

by on Jan.01, 2018, under Academic Writing, SFF, The Escritoire, Thoughts on Writing

Hello! It’s New Year’s Day so I thought I’d post in the escritoire instead of @ Growing Fins (my unofficial public author blog) about my writing (and reading) goals for the year. Good way to keep me honest!

 

I have a motto every year and this year is no different. My mottos for the past 2-3 years have been in tandem with my growing into my life as a professional SF author with all of the various challenges and travails that come with it. The same applies to academia.

This year, however — I wanted it to be a little different. When you’re being busy, whoosh, a decade can pass you by and you go, “Whoops, what happened to my life?”

So this year, because of my heart scare (still waiting to find out if I am okay and if it is just gas/anxiety/whatever) and because I’ve really NOT been listening to my heart, this year’s motto (as announced on twitter sometime in Nov/Dec 2017) is, Sparkle, and Listen to Your Heart.

The “Sparkle” bit comes because I tend to default to wanting to hide in the shadows because I don’t want people to think I am conceited or bragging or whatever. I still want to be lowkey, but I also want to glitter and sparkle enough. I want to bedazzle my life, and my year. Suffice it to say, I’m terrified my life is in a rut and — my living situation isn’t going to change because I’m staying put in my condominium, and in my job. So I will have to bedazzle my life in other ways. Lowkey make it exciting, sparkling, magical and adventurous. Can it be done? I hope so!

Onwards to my goals!

  1. Last year’s 12 for 12 in 2017 short story writing challenge (born @ the Codex Writers Group) served me very well indeed. I wound up with 14 short story drafts and I find the act of just committing to writing one short story a month helped to ground me. So I’m doing 12 for 12 in 2018 again. Onwards!
  2. I’d like to keep querying agents for Watermyth while working on Rosemirror. I’d like to be agented by year’s end and working towards a book deal (and hopefully acquiring one). I hope I shan’t be too disappointed by year’s end!
  3. In 2017 I had three fiction publications and four fiction acceptances. I’d like to aim for 6-8 fiction publications in 2018.
  4. I’d like to have at least a couple of reprints out this year.
  5. I’d like to write thirty new poems this year.
  6. Finish my Malaysian Genre monograph and have it accepted by an academic publishing house.
  7. Submit 6-7 academic articles this year with an average of one every two months. I have enough fairly advanced drafts that this is do-able.
  8. Write 3 book reviews and have them published. I don’t do hatchet job “I don’t like this” type of book reviews so I’ll only choose books I consider of merit and I’d like to do them real justice.
  9. I’ve committed to two blog posts for a certain site so that’s on my list, but I’d also like to write more blog posts for other people/sites as part of SFF community service. I want to give back a bit more to this community that has been so good to me.
  10. Work on two twine/IF/hypertext stories. I’m getting rusty and it is time to brush up my skills. My modest success with Bungalow Sari One on twitter has invigorated and excited me and I’d like to get back to work on it.
  11. Reading: I’d like to hit 100 books again this year 🙂

And that’s all!

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2017: A Review of the Year in Publication

by on Dec.06, 2017, under (post)colonial Gothic academia, Author News and Updates, The Escritoire

Updated 8 January 2018:

Hello, I like to do yearly review posts rather than merely eligibility posts because I strongly believe that things like accolades and awards are outside of my control. Besides, I’ve been raised to be a very proper lady and though I always failed and disappointed elders while growing up — there’s still a lot of those imperatives hiding inside me, telling me not to push myself forward too much. But it’s become an industry norm so I decided to capitulate and make this a bit clearer for everyone. I would be very happy indeed if nominated, yes. So thank you if you’re nominating — I don’t know you, and I don’t know if you will but if you do, <3 <3 <3

I don’t really think it would happen so I’d be quite contented with more readers. I say this every year, and it’s true every year.

Anyway, before I get into my rambling holistic review of the year, here’s what I have published in 2017. I have three eligible works of short fiction, and I think the IF may be eligible for *some* things but I’m not sure what so I’ll let you decide if you liked it enough 😀

Fiction

  1. Prosthetic Daughter in Clarkesworld (Issue 125), February 2017.  (SF: time-travel cyberpunk space opera, eligible for Hugos, Nebulas, SF thingies) — placed in Nebula Reading List.
  2. Reversion in Clarkesworld (Issue 131), August 2017. (SF: planetary romance, space opera, eligible for Hugos, Nebulas, SF thingies) — placed in Nebula Reading List, Tangent Recommended Reading List (2 stars)
  3. When The Night Blooms, An Artist Transmutes: A Three-Act Play in The Dark (Issue 31), December 2017 (Gothic/dark fantasy/horror, eligible for Hugos, Nebulas, fantasy and horror thingies) — placed in Charles Payseur’s Recommended Reading List.
  4. Bungalow Sari One (Twitter Interactive Fiction/poll story), on Twitter, December 2017. (Gothic/science fantasy/Horror, ???)

Poetry

  1. Jean-Luc, Future Ghost, in Uncanny Magazine (Issue 14), January 2017. (SF, eligible for Rhyslings)
  2. Tinwoman’s Phantom Heart, in Strange Horizons (Fund Drive Special Issue), August 2017. (SF, eligible for Rhyslings)
  3. Spice Islands, in Uncanny Magazine (Issue 19), December 2017. (not SFF)

Reprints (not eligible!)

  1. Auto-Rejection: An Outro (2016) was reprinted in Lackington‘s Summer Issue, 2017. Edited and improved version with a slightly tweaked ending because I felt I needed to make the irony more overt.
  2. Tower of the Rosewater Goblet  (2016) was reprinted in Shirtsleeve Press’s Event Horizon anthology for people who were eligible for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Note: I’ve also recommended some of my favourite short fiction, novelettes, novellas, and novels by others in 2017 here.

My Personal Review of 2017 in Writing

2017 has been good to me in some ways, not so good to me in other ways. I’ve written 14 new stories thusfar, inclusive of 1 new novella. I finally finalised Watermyth, the first novel of the Cantata of the Fourfold Realms and started querying it. I then started working on Rosemirror, the second novel of the sequence. I’ve had some publications and good reviews.

On the academic front, I jettisoned my Helen Oyeyemi monograph (for now) because a chapter I wrote was published in Telling It Slant, a Helen Oyeyemi collection (Sussex Academic) — and that collection overlaps too much with my PhD research on Oyeyemi. Therefore, a great deal more work needs to be done before I can make a monograph I’d be happy sending out to publishers. Instead, I started work on my Malaysian Genre monograph and have done quite a bit on it thusfar and am fairly confident about sending out a proposal. I have also embarked on exciting new research collaborations, and am working on new articles and research ideas.

Things I like about 2017

I’ve managed to get coveted acceptances at both The Dark and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s been my most prolific year in terms of poetry publication — and I’m not really very prolific where that’s concerned.  All up, I had three poems published in professional poetry venues — two in Uncanny Magazine as one of their solicited poets for Year Three, and one in Strange Horizons for their Fund Drive Special. I also wrote a blog post for Strange Horizons. I also can’t get over the fact that I had TWO Clarkesworld publications this year: which means I’ve had FOUR Clarkesworld publications, and have been in at least one issue yearly since 2015. I like numbers and I like continuity so this pleases me a lot. I’ve been more low-key in promoting my stories this year as this is my post-Campbell year but this year a lot more random readers have reached out to me to tell me they liked my stories. This means a lot to me and I’m really grateful/humbled people are reading and recommending my works.

Apart from that, my short story Auto-Rejection: An Outro was reprinted in Lackington’s Magazine, with an improved ending, and a gorgeous illustration by Pear Nuallak.

I was also quite excited when Clarkesworld got a review in Kirkus Reviews in February because Prosthetic Daughter was up so by proxy I indirectly finally got into Kirkus Reviews. Hey, I’ll take it, man. Other indirect things: Lightspeed’s People of Colour Destroy Science Fiction (2016), edited by Nalo Hopkinson, Kristin Ong Muslim, Berit Ellingsen et al. won the British Fantasy Awards. OMG! As some of you already know, Morning Cravings is in that anthology, which means a Sesen story is in an award-winning anthology. Fourteen year old me is still doing cartwheels inside my head! Another Sesen story, Tower of the Rosewater Goblet (2016) made it into the Locus Recommended Reading List so that was another awesome validation for me in 2017, even if I didn’t wind up being nominated for the awards.

Apart from that, I didn’t get published much in 2017 in comparison with 2016 which was quite epic (and exhausting!)

But all the stories I had published, have now placed on recommendation lists! Three for three is not a bad thing at all! I am really grateful that both Reversion and Prosthetic Daughter have now been placed on the Nebula Reading List.  When the Night Blooms, An Artist Transmutes: A Three-Act-Play is also now in Charles Payseur’s excellent year-end recommendation list, while Reversion made its way into the two-star category for Tangent Online’s annual recommended reading list! I’m not really super-optimistic that they’ll go further than this — I’m just happy to be on a list where more people will read them 🙂

Thank you, from the bottom of my faulty heart. I appreciate everyone who read, recommended, accepted, and published my works.


Stats for people who like these things, according to the submission Grinder for 2017:

66 fiction submissions (give or take a couple I may have forgotten to log)
4 fiction acceptances. (1 acceptance from Clarkesworld + 2  from The Dark + 1 from Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

I tend not to log my poetry submissions. There may have been 5-6. I got 2 poetry acceptances in 2017.

 

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Tell It To Me, Baby: A Reprinted Process Post

by on Oct.22, 2017, under The Escritoire, Thoughts on Writing

Note: This is a post from the old Growing Fins blog, back in June 18 2009. It’s still relevant to my process so I thought I would share!

 

The problem with the generic, technical “Show, don’t tell” based advice dished out by writing workshops and writing books is this: it assumes all writing and storytelling must conform to one fictive model and one alone. Some of my best-loved storytellers are those who Tell, Tell, and Tell me some more. And I say yes, please Tell me more. And I say yes, dish me that info-feed, baby, if you’re dishing it the right way. Lay it on me.

It is within the resonance of their strong, individual voices that the “Show” element slowly resolves, without actually “Show”ing too much, just the faintest outline of a scene, letting the listener or individual flesh it out with their own minds. To me, this is the difference between technical aptitude as a writer and being a writer who allows a reader to dream. It’s the spaces in the mind. The Brontes understood this well, so did Tolkien. And so did other writers from non-canonical traditions. I think of the sparseness and the simplicity of Japanese verse, of the Malay pantun. I think of the storytellers of the old epics who gave us dizzying detail, but also a strong, resonant voice.

If I have to err on the technical nitty-gritty of my stories, I would. If my grammar falls by the wayside, if my pacing is not the best in the world. If, in starting my narrative in media res I have somehow disoriented my reader; if, I use run-on sentences in ways that dislocate them. If, I annoy you with a hanging participle. IF. I unforgivably dump an info feed halfway in my story. IF. I annoyingly, do not reveal what the story is about in my opening paragraphs because I am listening to the voice in my head that says Setting IS Character.

If, I do not write character-driven fiction that is obviously character driven because I am just that postmodern or capricious enough to want to hide my narrators in strange places. If I lay on too much philosophy that hurts your head. If. I commit unspeakable textual, grammatical errors but in doing so, still retain my voice. Would that make me a bad storyteller? Perhaps. But if I find my voice, who is to say? Even if it is buried, unheard. It is still a voice. Is a voice lost in a forest of slush still a voice or just unread text? Who is to say?

This is the battle I am fighting right now. And, I suspect, this is the battle I have been fighting all along.

Being the narratology geek that I am, I have my favorite storytellers. I also have, within that list, my favorite implied narrators, first or third person. I must admit to have inherited a narratological quirk or two from my days of writing my M.A. thesis on Angela Carter, but that is meant for another writerly wank. One of these days.

Angela Carter, Michael Ende, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Boccaccio, Dante, various unnamed and anonymous writers of ancient epics and fairytales, Wole Soyinka, Guy Gavriel Kay, Anais Nin, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez and I’m sure I’m forgetting half a dozen more. These are my mentors. These are my muses. And it’s been established that most of this would be casualties of the slush pile today. Which is not to say I have reached their level of narrative yet.

I’m just saying.

I’m tired of rules, period. I just want to write recklessly like I mean it. I want to write like it’s that fling with the guy you really shouldn’t be out with but here you are, at 5am, talking at breakneck speed and doing unwise things instead of keeping within the prescribed margins. Which, I never could stop myself from writing or drawing outside of the margins in school, either. Could you?

And now I go back to fighting with MY narrative.

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[poetry]: The Mermaid

by on Apr.05, 2017, under Poetry

(c) Nin Harris, 2006 —

Do not let me build dreams
if you will not walk into them.
Do not let me fall into the dark
if you will not be my hurricane lamp.
Do not cast nets if you
would not pull a mermaid out
Let her swim back into the deep.

But if you catch and befriend,
If you watch as she dances; know this.

When she flexes needle-pricked soles that bleed,
When her hips mimic her sister’s undulation
and her hands clap like a sea-mammal in captivity,
It is not because a sea-witch has pulled out her tongue.

It is because she cannot bring herself
to say the words or to move her body
in ways her aquatic self knows best.

So if you catch her, be kind.

Do not still the music, do not stop the dance.
Let her worry the words that squirm,
Like eels at the base of her fear.

Let her pull them out.

(3-10 March 2006)

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[poetry]: Plato’s Dream

by on Apr.05, 2017, under Poetry

(c) Nin Harris, 1998 —

(inspired by Aristophanes’ Dialogue in Plato’s Symposium)

let me grow here, alone, unfelt, unseen,
let me step into these shadows
out of your demanding light
let me grow, hidden and wild
in shadowy groves,
in dew-soaked nooks
where the soil is lush and damp.
a wildflower knows only
the kiss of sunlight
mates only with the morning dew
let me soak here unnoticed

in aeons of vegetative
ecstasy

never the kitten
nor a house-bred tabby
preening amongst the potted plants
i will jump off rocks
for no phaon
leucus wait not for me
desire for the pounding surf
is all i need

let me ascend, arise
as one with tiptoed feet
eyes the fresh-washed moon
rising over
aeolian waters

a solitary lioness stalks the long grass

a shadowy diver poised above the precipice

let me be the fire
as it burns on the coals of dreams
and i will strum on lyre
beat at drums,whirl with hennaed feet
around a circle of desire
while my hidden voices roar

alone,
complete
infinite
within this cycle of oneness
i will renounce
plato’s dream —

and lay to rest my phantoms

(15 June 1998- last line amended 29th November 2002)

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[poetry]: lateral revolutions

by on Apr.05, 2017, under Poetry, Runaway Words

(c) Nin Harris, 2005 —

I

I awake from textual simulacra
of green-laced birdsong
and binary flora and woods.
Fresh-washed of hexadecimal
visions; I strive
to contain a
carbon – ridden form
within actuality of
the Moment.

(15 February 2005)

II

Forgetting reason and
needful places within the soul
— I seek self-directed
retribution nestled
within interstices of sound.
They are different from sensation
but still the same – unbidden yet
mathematical in crystalline symmetry.
I seek solace in,
semi-tonal modalities
nestled between
time and space.

Raise one, lower another –
till I know not
what comes before and after.
(3 March 2005)

III

Distinct; the trill of sparrows
in a post-diluvian dawn
conveys semiotic imprints
to perplex my soul
from embedded slumber
I find myself again
where the thread unravels

Lost; a monosyllabic
resolution to a quest
of findings.

Found; a backstory
containing no meaning beyond
glittering sharp edges of
glistening words.
(9 March 2005)

IV

Woodsmoke furling around
aural angles and curvature.
I remember this.

I have sung paeans to this
collocation of sensate modalities
like joyce within a textual stream,
I seek the undoing of cohesion.
I have danced barefoot
between these waiting trees
of sharp-angled alphabets before.

I have revisited these morphemes, phonemes –
sundry units of sound; arranging
then rearranging like some
obsessed housewife keeping
semitones in order –
wordchild dancing within
syntax and context;
presupposing there is no
universe outside of sounds;
chaotic and uniform.

Where will you find me?
– Somewhere between anvil, stirrup and hammer.

Where will I find me?
– Somewhere beyond lateral revolutions
against the palate.
(14 March 2005)

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[poetry]: The Clockwork Tide

by on Apr.01, 2017, under Poetry

(c) Nin Harris 1999 —

Nessun maggior dolore. Che ricordarsi del tempo felice Nella miseria

– Dante Aliegheri, from The Inferno

the sea strikes –>
patterns left on the shore
are like the marks of experience
upon self.

touched by the sea,
carved, changed, wrapped, sucked in,
thrown back onto the sand
are sandcastles crafted from
expectorated verbiage.

(legitimise this breakdown of cohesion –>
the trails my fingerpads make on
the pane separating us
my hungry breath that
frosts the glass
)

waters swirling –> cresting
in her afternoon tempests
the coastline is loveliest in the morning
despite the ravages of the night
all the debris has been wiped away by the night-tide
yet to be washed –> in noon-tide
what will the currents bring today?

{remove these remnants of
‘humanity’
verbiage debris trivialities
salt water will pierce and pickle us clean
all the ground
bones of aquatic ancestors, in the air that you breathe
redolent luxuriate exfoliate these
grimy senses
}

*

can one write about absence as
accurately as one writes about presence?
can it accurately delineate
every fibre? acuity – is sometimes only felt
when that which has been possessed
is taken away from us.
what is added –> subtracts
what subtracts –>donates
the immediate sensation
of loss – brings home to me
what has been swept in –>
felt, recorded, filed away always in there –>
and what has swept out –>
nudging –> piercing
a soul poised within a soul.

*

harm not a fly
if you are who you say you are
does the hidden foot smell?
humanity’s best foot forward
brings forth –> debris
purity is a dream
fettered –> but unconquered
optimism in the wake of this machinery
and the lemmings rush into the sea –>
trivialities –> shackled divinity
the light is dimmed –>
stamped out –> but it burns
expectorated verbiage
flotsam – ad nauseum
ad nauseum
AD NAUSEUM

*

true voices –> do not speak in tongues
click against the roof of your mouth
curl around the sounds of vowels and
the clip of consonants –>
pleasure not quite added up yet
to the unseen whole

will racial memory herald the death
of Art?

If perfect memory
sprawls into ribbon-like halls of
records with meticulous notations
within our souls, would Art exist?

human beings are ultimate litter:
but litter too can be beautiful
when it combines, when it is absorbed.


If you must toss me out
make me bio-degradable, dear.

primeval ultimate purity
music is the language that
seats at the base of your
soul.

cerebral larynx
making music without sound
deeper falls the harpoon
in search of narwhals beneath the ice.

*

what is poetry? a chain of words.
a coil.

speak not to fools –> but listen to
them for they divulge more truth
than they think they do.
than you think they do.
volcanoes spewing out the
building blocks of the coastline
rocks are hewn down, chipped away
slowly –> coarse sand or smooth powder
which one came first?
we walk upon the crushed
bones of ancestors.

there is no greater magic
than this inter-connectivity –>
dining off the tears
of some matriarch
buried in the depths

a womb encircling
the clockwork tide
the rubberband that coils around us all-
the serpent gorging on its tail –>
longevity is the
sunlight reflected off the sea
inter-connectivity.
i nurture the loki
coiling at the
base of my being
too aware of
soul tendrils
dredging for ore at the
core of my thoughts.
my careless fingers
must sift unseen
and scavenge.

(5 December 1999)

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[poetry]: The Emissary

by on Apr.01, 2017, under Poetry

(c) Nin Harris

trickster-like
an emissary nudged into
free-associative
pictures of the mind
ante.sleep
raven-wings bound
at nape; discoursing art and myth
pigments and colors suffuse
soft-eyed animus with
gesticulating hands
that would later smooth sheets
on a dreaming street sloping
downwards to the sea.

she gapes at paintings and sculptures
feet tapping on shiny wooden floors,
cold winds blowing into elaborate
art show of the mind.
an elegant scrawl labels
every piece with latin, oglala
yoruba, gaelic and keraton whilst
bisons, standing stones, maenads
whirl in expressionistic squiggles
and splashes of pigments:
orange, red and demure peach for
what is first seen at birth,
blue and silver of refracted light on
undersides of scholarly fish, then
black, indigo and adamantine
threatening to encase.
tasting salt on the tongue
the observer hovers
at the entrance of a fictive tableau
she could choose not to weave;
words she could choose to savour without
expressing them into waking sounds.
pre-existing only when the dreamer
is sightless and drifting,
pushing a little into the veil between
grandmother Whale breaches before
tunneling back into the blue.
( 8 March 2006)

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