Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Thursday, 17 June 2010

Improvisation


.
File:Sebkhra.png





Almost a half century ago, hitchhiking in the ancient zone of red wind and dust between Oujda, in Morocco, and Tlemcen, along the northwestern Algerian frontier, I heard distant high-pitched cries emanating from just over a small rise. Reaching that rise, I looked down and saw before me a group of young children playing football with what appeared to be a ball made of taped-up rags.

The games are in any event nothing but stories, and the stories have no life other than the lives we bring in telling them. Little wonder then we want the stories never to come to an end. The life we have brought to them becomes with time their spring and their source of continued motion, and in this way the stories go on though we don't. The red strip of wild poppies snapping like stretched sails in the wind.




File:Mak.jpg



La Sebkhra à Timimoun, et les premiers cordons lunaires du grand erg occidental: photo by Taquelmoust, 2005
Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas): photo by Lajssikonik, 2006

16 comments:

Robb said...

I am writing this on a board over my desk at work: "The red strip of wild poppies snapping like stretched sails in the wind."

TC said...

A red board over your desk at work, Robb, is the place where this story has just begun its life after a half century gestation period, with the last two days of labour the hardest.

(Convincing medicare and an insurance company you should be allowed to keep a foot, even a deformed one, turns out to be harder than one might have thought... but that is, like they say, another story.)

And it is honoured to be there, after its dodgy struggle to be born.

TC said...

(Oh, bother. Three comments have just evaporated, but boats have now been sent off to rescue the survivors.)

1.

Robb has left a new comment on your post "Improvisation":

I am writing this on a board over my desk at work: "The red strip of wild poppies snapping like stretched sails in the wind."

Posted by Robb to TOM CLARK at 17 June 2010 09:03

TC said...

Robb has left a new comment on your post "Improvisation":

I am writing this on a board over my desk at work: "The red strip of wild poppies snapping like stretched sails in the wind."



Posted by Robb to TOM CLARK at 17 June 2010 09:03

TC said...

I still don't know what made that board Red, Robb, it didn't look like him before.

(Maybe it was the fact that those three comments mysteriously disappeared about ten minutes ago and then, one minute ago, just as mysteriously reappeared.)

TC said...

Comments keep mysteriously appearing and disappearing this morning. What's the difference between a hallucination and a gremlin?

Apologies to any interested gremlins.

Curtis Roberts said...

After waiting for something to arrive and checking and re-checking Beyond The Pale, I was really overwhelmed by the beauty, flow and vision of Improvisation, which really does, as they sometimes say, raise “sports journalism” to the level of great literature. I really love “their spring and their source of continued motion”. I don’t know how you do it.

Amazing that you hitchhiked where you did. During our one Moroccan excursion, which we loved, in Marrakech and the surrounding area, we began things by venturing out to the wrong places at the wrong times of day and terrifying ourselves continually. (This followed initially seeing a man in our hotel lobby who looked like Sydney Greenstreet in a too-small chair, a fez and upturned yellow shoes.) We learned our way around, though.

What IS the difference between a hallucination and a gremlin?

TC said...

Poem from the Ancient East

A red board at work
snapped like a matchstick
beneath the karate chop
of the clear minded master.

Curtis Roberts said...

I am very sorry, by the way, to read about your encounters with Medicare and the insurance company. I have never dealt with Medicare personally (although I certainly know many people who have), but insurance companies drove me way past the point of rationality years ago in most aspects of their policies and all aspects of their practice. I hope you're having a better day today. Because of Improvisation, I am.

TC said...

Curtis,

Might that little not-quite-poem, which was cross-posted with your comment, answer your earlier question?

(It was writ, I believe, by a gremlin.)

It all sounds perhaps wildly perilous now, but in the period touched upon in this piece I was able to hitchhike all over that region, obviously an exhausting endeavour and at times a rather precarious one, but in fact (or anyway in retrospect) the experiences were almost all wonderful and highly memorable (though at the time there was too much presence to even consider the fact one might wish to remember it all later.)

I hitched once from northern France all the way to Berkane, a small village in the desert not far from the Algerian border, where a local fellow named Hassan, with whom I'd been traveling, insisted I stay several nights with his family. It was there I learned of dignity amid poverty, and of the overwhelming generosity of Arab people toward guests (though this was never seen by them as a courtesy but rather a obligation, which indeed, in their belief system, it is).

And from there it was one adventure after another, in the right places and the wrong, morning noon and night, the North African travels one of the greatest of the several gifts which in those years a footloose way of life bestowed on me.

(I wish I could say something along the same lines about Medicare and insurance and pharmaceutical companies and in fact the entire current octopoid conglomeration of the health care division of organized crime in America, but alas I can't.)

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Thanks for this, with its "red and "high-pitched cries" and all. . . .

6.18

grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, red-tailed hawk calling in right
foreground, no sound of wave in channel

horizon of something that is
more than this, that is

picture, how often gets lost
reading it, what shadow

white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon,
wingspan of tern circling above channel

Lucy in the Sky said...

Stories are a non-stop voyage towards the freedom of our souls through the power of our imagination. May they never stop sailing.

Besotes

Lally said...

Tom.
Your adventurous spirit remains intact (and immortal, or at least as long as the written word whether on paper or in the ether lasts) and just as admirable as always.
Lally

aditya said...

.. and the stories have no life other than the lives we bring in telling them.

The red strip of wild poppies snapping like stretched sails in the wind.

Some life you put in this story of yours. I could hitchhike away from the monotony of this same old room.

I believe you are doing fine now and doing good as far as the 'another story' of yours is concerned.

TC said...

Steve, Mike, Lucy, Aditya,

true friends.

horizon of something that is
more than this

gave one pause.

human being said...

.


games
stories
dories
held just by a thread

loosen them
and watch how they slide
on the surface of consciousness


.