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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

In the blue city, suddenly


The blue city, dotted with green
(Jodhpur, India): photo by Soylentgreen23, 10 August 2004

In the blue city, suddenly
it was plain
in the city of boxes
the blue boxes dotted with green
the tree of life
tried to push its way up through
the blue maze
the concrete sea of blue
reflected, the
forcibly constrained
forest of green
dreamed absent
sky, broken
into units between
could have been anyone
or anything, but
nothing grew
the tree of life
with its strong green arms
which would have held
could not push up through
the blue pavement
to reach you
the night was cold
and full of stars
deep blue, that
very great
in the garden the very many
blurred faces
everyone pretending
to be who they are
again (in the city, suddenly
it was plain

Floor mosaic of the Tree of Life as a pomegranate
: author unknown, fourth century BC, in the Great Basilica at Heraclea Lyncestis, Bitola, Macedonia; image by Raso, 15 October 2009

Tropical rainforest, Fatu Hiva Island, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia: photo by Makemake, 2005


ACravan said...

Well, if you’re going to be up in the middle of the quiet night, it’s nice to have a good book or a good poem to read. As I mentioned, I’ve been coming back to the Dine and I feel now as though I’ve been led forward to this tree of a poem. Even though I think it’s generally a useful strategy not to get too uptight looking for things because they have a way of finding you, I was up looking for something cheerful (not easy to find; I’ve been trolling though pro and con articles on pepper spray and police work) and found this. The progress from the blue boxes to the tree of the mind to the mind of the tree seems so gradual and natural, but is startling at the same time. A couple of years ago, a nice woman I had just met (she was going out with a friend of mine), who was a quintessential New York City literary political liberal, told me how surprised she was to meet me because my friend mentioned that I was something of a political conservative, but still I smiled and laughed a lot. When so many things drive you into speechless silence, it’s wonderful to have poetry and images you can converse with.

everyone pretending
to be who they are
again (in the city, suddenly
it was plain

I think this is one of the best things you’ve presented here.

TC said...

Thanks for being awake and alert, Curtis. That makes two of us (well, at least with the awake part).

The recent use of pepper spray against nonviolent demonstrators by UC Davis campus cops in fact violated state guidelines for police conduct, which are determined by legislators. The use of pepper spray as a crowd control measure was determined by the lawmakers to be a no-no.

But I think we are entering, or have entered, a period of history in which tactics adopted on the spot by local law enforcement will be determined by no guidelines other than the mood and temperament of those who have the means to administer force. Which puts it down to the glandular makeup of the individual with a badge. Homo sapiens. Under stress, a beast to be avoided at cost to one's rights, health, or for that matter anything else that may be hanging out.

And a lot of ragged edges are hanging out in a lot of places currently. And it's difficult to imagine what's going to smooth or cool any of that down.

Really glad you like the poem. It is a product of experience.

Nin Andrews said...

The poem is so heartbreaking--and beautiful.

TC said...

Many thanks, Nin. That means a lot.

(I wrote this poem last night, so it's still fresh for me, and I didn't know what to think. Which is where a few discerning friends always come in handy, and indeed I feel lucky to have them.)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Before I take my afternoon nap (one of the pleasures of living in the lazy, good-for-nothing country that has been under attack from so many quarters recently for doing so many unproductive things leading to a bankrupt life), let me say how much I enjoyed this poem and hope it will make me dream of a pomegranate tree.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Yes, Tom, as Nin says, heartbreaking, and this was the exact moment for me ...

the tree of life
with its strong green arms
which would have held
could not push up through
the blue pavement
to reach you

Capturing that moment of revelation, certainly for this reader ... and I'm sure others.

Bringing it home to us all, caught in between.


TC said...

This heavy-lidded babe bids you sweet dreams, Vassilis.

(But will not let go of that juicy pomegranate for dear life.)

I'd take lazy, good-for-nothing bankruptcy over busy, nosy-parker, holier-than thou bankruptcy (the newfangled yet also old fashioned Yankee variety), any day of the week.

But Never On Sunday (because on that traditional day of rest I'd be too busy catching a few zz's to take anything but yet another sweet nap).

aditya said...


The gods must be having one helluva time. I didnot seriously expect to hear a voice, so utterly filled with heart, from deep within the city. You are a beautiful practitioner of the craft and this is poem is heartbreaking too.

TC said...

Don and Aditya,

The new regime of Moderation in All Things has made a Vassilis sandwich out of your fortifying comments.

Which is swell.

What did I ever do to deserve such generous friends?

Aditya, your role in the inception of this post -- and poem -- is a small secret we both know. Not for the first time I stand indebted to your comic/cosmic poetic/crazy wisdom.

And while doing so, I shall remain sitting down, as befits the occasion.

Don, yes, we're all of us caught up in those cracks these days. From which occasionally something does flower. But exactly when, and exactly where, it will happen -- we're continually in the dark about that.

(Reminded of the Charley Brown cartoon in which Charley finds a delicious-looking weed growing between cracks in the pavement, sticks it in his mouth, and... ick!)

aditya said...

Jodhpur .. sigh.

The sky is a blue
maze broken in places
instead of leaking
you face regardless
of the time of the
day or night
an absence
the city
is so deep
its almost
empty concrete
precautions securing
the tree
of life
and constrained
like a head
or .. a shoulder but only
when the head shakes.

aditya said...

Very modest on your part, as always, Tom. You should come and live in India. Atleast your sleep cycle fits the country.

TC said...

Aditya, if I were in India, I could at least lay eyes on the blue city.

But my sleep cycle would probably work no better in India than it does here.

Two flat tires, a twangy quiver of broken spokes, a flabbergasted derailleur...

Although something tells me that in India I could find some soothing medication, inducing the peace that passeth understanding.

Or at least a small bell to fit on the handlebars, as warning to unsuspecting pedestrians in my wobbly path.

Ed Baker said...

" in my wobbly path"

I am going to 'tuck' that line away ...

seems to me that
when one gets to
the end of the trails
instead of turning
around & going back

continue on make one's
own ..... path

pee est I figured out how to get to your blog
without going through that blogo-roll ..

so now to; re capture your piece (peace?)



the tree of life
tried to push is way up through
the blue maze. . .


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, black shape of black pine branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

potential notation in order
to see, consider this

form of the previous remark,
variant of zero, also

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon

Anonymous said...

Tom, this is a fabulous piece. Reading it aloud, particularly the middle portion, in which "you," becomes so prominent, I found my lips pursed intermittently, again with "grew" and "blue" -- as though I was kissing the great empty faithless, that (as you say) could be anyone or anything, but nevertheless was not -- of this constrained forest of life. Living itself.

I like this a lot.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Where I Used To Live

That’s where I used to live.
Close to Rabbit Island. That’s where
I used to sleep. Under that ironwood
at the end of that beach access—
Hihimanu Street. All the old naupaka
gone now where cubbyholes existed—
dry, windless places—just one or two
where I’d find him crashed, reeking,
needing to hold onto me like a man
in the whole bunch of trouble that he was.

TC said...


You've put me in mind of:

"'Scuse me, while I kiss the sky."

(J. Hendrix)

Whatever gets us through the great emptiness -- next to, above or beneath.

u.v.ray. said...

It's funny because when I first looked at the photograph I didn't notice the trees.

It was the poem that made the trees visible.

I've always been obsessed with the symbology of lone flowers pushing up through the cracks in the pavement in the middle of vast cities.

I've used that symbology a few times in my writing - but even so, I'm not quite sure if I ever truly captured the sheer profundity of it as you have.

TC said...

Thank you Ray, always appreciate a good word from a man who wastes no words.

"It was the poem that made the trees visible."

Yes, that was the poem's job.

When one is unemployed, one's poems, at least, ought to be working, as they can.