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Saturday, 17 October 2009



File:Clouds 080807b.jpeg

One dreams up metaphors -- bright light,
Deep shade, shifting animal information
Patterns coalescing, changing, thoughts too swift
To "read", if intelligible at all
Then only as curious complication
Felt and lived: kaleidoscopic window
Mosaic of colored glass and agates,
Years remembered, days, moments, gathering clouds...

File:Clouds 080807a.jpeg

Cumulonimbus, Japan: photos by Yamato, 2008


Anonymous said...

Apart from the fantastic pictures, I am liking the words too, you; muchly. Kaleidoscopic has always been a favourite word of mine.
One thing though Thomas I must mention, because I always mean to and then I forget to do so.You always use 'Caps' at the beginning of each line. IMHO it makes the read smoother not doing so, but that is just me and you know me! *sigh* I had to say...sorry!

Anonymous said...

A colourful picture of life. A window onto the magical world of our minds where some symbols and metaphors are more attractive when not interpreted or when multiple readings are possible and you can choose any colour you like.

TC said...


The "colored glass and agates" in my kaleidoscope image comes from the time when we lived by a beach where agates washed up and we repaired broken windows by attaching rows of agates to the cracks in the panes with rubber cement.

As a child I was given a cheap cardboard tube not unlike this one into which it was possible to look and see brilliantly tesserated hyperbolic geometrical patterns creating crystalline universes. Pure magic, a million years before computer graphics.

And I love the word (another of the great Regency period aesthetic inventions) for its Greek ingredients, beautiful (kalos) + form, shape, idea, pattern (eidos) + look at, examine, study, scope out (scopeo).

About capitalizing the first words of lines: very interesting issue which few people stop to consider these days.

I think this is partly a matter simply of visual habit. Once upon a time it was customary to expect capitalized first lines in poetry, now it isn't.

This is partly I think because poetry is now more conversational and so tends to flow along as would conversation, without artificial pauses to remind us it is written in lines.

Over the course of fifty years of considering this problem I have learned that for me it sometimes actually feels more "natural" to emphasize the identity of each line by capitalizing the first letter. Of course it does slow things down. But I'm a bit slow and stodgy in any case so I don't mind seeming so.

Still circumstances alter cases and over those years there have probably been as many poems I've written in the conversational, run-on, lower-case style.

(I hate to make this embarrassing private admission here in the naked public space of the blogosphere, but unbeknownst to anyone, I've more often than not been obsessively counting syllables all these years, and when you have that habit your lines have a way of saying to you: since you went to the trouble of creating me, the least you can do is give me back my hat please,)

TC said...


I'm more and more hoping (and thinking) that multiple interpretations are possible. Such seems the case anyway almost everywhere one looks these days. Then again my vision is more than a bit blurry.

But yes, it does seem the colours we see in our personal worlds are always changing as we are. It's that strange kaleidoscope effect. Some days vision feels like just a gray occluded window, as though we were speeding through life holding our hands over our eyes without knowing it. But then there arrive those blessed redeeming moments when for no reason at all everything slows down and, even in the dark, goes in bright flowing motion and it is as your song says: any colour.

It turns out (in case you didn't already know) there's also this squishy "visualizer jelly" version, with exploding virtual-world bioluminescent photo-plankton (??): Any Colour (Kaleidoscope Effect)

(When it comes to technological simulations of the Luminous Flow of the Real, though, one can't help feeling that The Universe Itself Still Does a Much Better Job of It.)

leigh said...

I really enjoyed this. You have the ability to really say something whilst also allowing interpretation.I struggle with the former,yet with limited success jump in the latter. Again,such enjoyable reading Tom!

blaggard said...

dear tom Clark, just a note to let you know several of the poems from "Air"[Harper & Row long ago] were aired out to wonderful effect in a small seminar on 12th street in manhattan saturday afternoon. best MB

TC said...

Many thanks Leigh, it's never easy to feel an equable agreement has been reached between those two deceptive little terms "open" and "ending".

M'sieur Blaggard,

I am happy to hear it.

It is about time one were aired out!

Anonymous said...

I smiled, really smiled after reading your reply to my comment. so thanks for that, you. I am understanding what you say regarding the 'Caps' and can see such from your point of view now, but of course it does not mean to say I will start using the buggers!
I too as a child and took such to bed with me, putting under my pillow, in the hope the colours would infiltrate my dreams.

TC said...


You know, I think perhaps they may have done.

About capping first letters, confessing to my reactionary habit in that regard has made me come out in spots all over.

You know how it is, one makes that first swooping mis-step with a flourishing cap, and it is all down a slippery slope thereafter.

I am now in a program to prevent recurrences in future.

bowiehagan said...

I am listening

for a song of reason

for a song of being


aditya said...

Heyy Tom

I have always liked your style and sense. You began this one with an astonishing deficiency of effort.

I have been kept busy, by forces of nature .. lol. So did not drop by.

I, though read some of Keats' poetry, you had posted.

I read something about Keats and other Romantic Poets, doping and then writing texts. Did they believe, the span of their imagination increased once they were doped??

Could you enlighten me please. :)

aditya said...


TC said...


I have always felt your listening contains a kind of pure attention which is itself a quiet song (a lyric way of being) with perhaps no other reason than itself.

So this may be a full circle.

TC said...


Always lovely to hear from you.

Yes, I suppose I do begin this one in my usual limp and sluggish fashion.

My astonishing deficiency of effort, I would like to hope, may one day prove my saving grace; if, that is, it has not already proved my coup de grace well before then.

About those dopey Romantics... welllll... I suppose everybody knows the tales of De Quincey the opium gobbler, after all he didn't exactly make a secret of it ... and of course there's also that old Episcopalian doper Coleridge. In the case of the latter, it seems alas the doper well outlived the poet. But then again, whatever gets one through the nights, decades, millennia, etc. -- who are we to presume to judge the geniuses of superior centuries.

As to Keats, he was a little fellow, and a glass or two of claret seems to have been his limit.

A snippet of his hair was saved and 150 years later chemically analyzed and found to contain traces of various opiates, cocaine, etc.

But all of those were ingredients in the patent medicines which he like everybody in that time took at periods of extremity. When he was dying he used:


Still that drug was taken to quell the pain, not to stretch the imagination. By that time JK had already resigned himself to the fact he could no longer summon the strength, or "primitive information" as he called it, required for the writing of poetry. And indeed he would write no more of it.

But if helps to answer your question, in my opinion, purely speculative mind you, the value of drugtaking to the Romantic imagination, or for that matter to the work of the imagination in general, has probably (and understandably, given the dangers of rating such things, especially while on drugs) been somewhat over-rated.

As to this poem "Mosaic" (in case this is what you had in mind) I can offer evidence of a bit more specific nature: its initial astonishing deficiency of effort is perhaps the result not so much of an expansive stretching as of a lax shrinking of the imagination, induced in part by advancing age and in part, yes, now hear this, by the taking of massive heart-retardant drugs which I must consume by the handful in hopes of warding off strokes. This regime suits me well enough (for staying alive that is), but as a creative formula or thrill menu, I definitely would not recommend it.

Then again, if it's a good old-fashioned explicit drug reference we are seeking, no need to resort to the Romantics as it seems the Modern period is a virtual cornucopia of those. Here for example is Brecht's

The Opium Smoker

(Of course that is BB talking about somebody ELSE taking drugs, something he himself was it seems far too shrewd and calculating ever to do... and from his convenient cold distance he makes the habit seem about as appealing as, oh, drowning.)

TC said...

Click here to encounter the poet Aditya in his fourth eclectic dream:

I saw you once/in the backyard of my house

aditya said...

Heyy Tom

Sorry for the late reply.

Thank you, for this tremendous load of information you shared with me.

What I feel is that, if someone needs to snort cocaine or opium or drink a glass of wine to write a bloody good poem, then the pen in his hand and the paper bearing the brunt of his uber imaginative mind are even more unfortunate than he himself.

But then, who are we mere mortals to judge the geniuses of the past?

By referring to your astonishing deficiency of effort, I meant to actually compliment you. Beginning a text with such ease does not come easy to every one of us. :)

Do take care of the heart. I meant it. :)

TC said...


Thank you for the good thoughts.

I was only teasing you by pretending I didn't understand about the astonishing deficiency of effort.

Always best to seem as though one is not trying too hard even when one is.

And in fact you are right, here I think I was trying no harder than I seemed to.

Andrew Bowie Hagan said...

some indiscriminat starre flashes
even him/ an indiscriminate salute

RIP Edward Dorn pray mouth

Andrew Bowie Hagan said...

and forgive us our trespass.

bowiehagan said...

I wonder sometimes too far in dramas of the thinking world

and I think I am crazy. But I am
still seeing the same end in sight

I don't know if there's not a better way .

Anonymous said...

clothed upon in the glory of the brightness

TC said...


Dramas of the thinking world are a never ceasing source of wonder and pain for some of us. Perhaps there is a better way. But I don't know it.

However if we are to go into this world what raiment could we choose that would equal being clothed in the glory of the brightness, wherever it may find us. I hope.