Woodrat Podcast 44: Reversible books

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

watch on YouTubewatch on Vimeo

The Woodrat Podcast returns from summer vacation with its first ever video episode (but don’t worry, this will remain mostly an audio show). I wanted to do a bit of a show-and-tell with some poetry books published as reversible, upside-down or tête-bêche books, including, most recently, Triplicity by Kristen McHenry and Paper Covers Rock by Chella Courington, forthcoming from Indigo Ink Press.

Additional links:

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Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence).


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 87 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


Kung mayroon mang santo, patron,
o diyosa ng bawa’t kalbaryo,

O mga Panginoon, patnubayan ninyo
kaming mga namamalagi sa pisngi

ng lupa: kapirasong guhit ng buwan,
kay layong anino ng haplos.

* * *


What saints, patrons
and goddesses might there be for each calvary?

O watch over
us who merely live on the cheek

of this earth: that sliver-stroke of moon,
its distant illusion of a caress.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Terra Incognita

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

watch on Vimeowatch on YouTube

My first videopoem to use footage from another, equally fun hobby, homebrewing. The poem by D. H. Lawrence is now in the public domain, and I found it rather quickly because my copy of his complete poems is quite throughly annotated with marginalia by its previous owner — my poetry sensei, Jack McManis. Jack had put a big check-mark beside the title and underlined all the best parts, helping me see past its — to my mind — overly didactic framing.

Here’s the text.

Terra Incognita
by D. H. Lawrence

There are vast realms of consciousness still undreamed of
vast ranges of experience, like the humming of unseen harps,
we know nothing of, within us.
Oh when man has escaped from the barbed-wire entanglement
of his own ideas and his own mechanical devices
there is a marvellous rich world of contact and sheer fluid beauty
and fearless face-to-face awareness of now-naked life
and me, and you, and other men and women
and grapes, and ghouls, and ghosts and green moonlight
and ruddy-orange limbs stirring the limbo
of the unknown air, and eyes so soft
softer than the space between the stars,
and all things, and nothing, and being and not-being
alternately palpitant,
when at last we escape the barbed-wire enclosure
of Know Thyself, knowing we can never know,
we can but touch, and wonder, and ponder, and make our effort
and dangle in a last fastidious fine delight
as the fuchsia does, dangling her reckless drop
of purple after so much putting forth
and slow mounting marvel of a little tree.

Landscape, Roofs Edged with Evening Rain

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 86 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


And here’s the rain again, my love: silvering
the mouths of gargoyles perched at the edge of the roof—

Such watery abundance pouring down, and no other recourse
but sieve and sieve it through. Who could stay aloof

through such constant battering? See how the rushing crowds
clutch their collars close, looking for the nearest roof

under which to shelter. Eventually it lightens; the curtains
shimmer a reprieve. A waterdrop slides down your cheek.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 85 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


Dark silhouettes of pine, valleys fanned out
as open-sided buses crest the ridge at dawn.

Frost-trails of breath lingering on the coldest
morning of the month so far. Tin shanties hold

their chilled sides close along the hills.
In one, a naked lightbulb: its tungsten

yellow glow above a kitchen sink,
where a grandmother is heating coffee

and putting the eggs in it to boil.
You glimpse her in the window as the bus

rolls by— lit end of her cigar
poised in her mouth, eyes scanning

the day for what warmth it will bring.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 30 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


Unchurched—I love this word!
It makes me feel like a vacant lot,
a sanctuary for knotweed & loosestrife.


We unchurched are like salamanders:
slippery, amphibious, choosing to dwell
where you only go for baptism.


I called an owl & she answered.
It was Greek to me, but she flew right in
& clacked her bill threateningly.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 84 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


The flower dangles by its stem; the stair-
case peels its progress, plank by plank,

diminishing into that well of light
we call a landing: what shore suspends

midway between the gradual earth,
the gradual sky? Night turns to day,

and day to night, reversing strip that
lightens at the edges. Lovers meet

and then soon part: whispers in the hedge,
while in the air, haloed and beaten,

disc that floats like labor’s emblem, its
coat-of-arms. Burnished and driven, I lip

the rain that poems the smallest flame,
that dangles the flower from its stem.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 83 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


You want to know how many hours remain
on the fringed lilac faces of these clocks—

Oh take heart, unstrap your sandals, walk by
the shore, leaving the animal that’s lowered

its head to nuzzle wet sculpted sand. And then
come back to lay beneath the windowsill—

You’ll hear the honeybee still sharpening
its rhetoric, the far-off notes made

by bodies nested in burr and fiddlehead fern.
The latch of the gate falls close at evening’s

approach. Its brassy little sound bursts
like a small blue blossom puncturing the dark.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

How to meditate

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 38 of 39 in the series Manual


1. Watch a flower bud swell and open over the course of a week. The moment it’s fully open, clip it for an ikebana arrangement. It should feel as if you were severing your own limb.

2. Radio waves are passing through you at every moment. If you’re very still, you might be able to tune them in. (Concentrate on FM. AM stations are too shouty.)

3. Find a natural setting and meditate on a fresh pile of excrement, preferably your own. Watch as it slowly sinks and disappears into the ground, the work of stealthy beetles operating from below, for whom it is everything they ever wanted.

4. Climb a tree as meditatively as possible. Note: this is not a good time to practice non-attachment.

5. If you are a man, try to maintain an erection while keeping your mind completely blank. When you find yourself unable to do so, prostrate yourself 108 times before the nearest woman. She might sleep with you just for that! But probably not, you dysfunctional loser.

6. If you are a pregnant woman past the first trimester, listen to your baby’s heartbeat through a fetoscope for up to a four hours at a time. Stop if you feel your own heart starting to beat 160 times a minute. This could cause it to explode.

7. Counting meditation is popular with beginners, but what really comes after 1? Put that in your censer and smoke it.

8. In Tibet, some monks can elevate their body temperature to survive freezing mountaintops with little clothing. You can do them one better. Concentrate on elevating your electromagnetic field so that you could, if necessary, survive in interplanetary space with no other shield against the solar wind.

9. Cultivate an intimate relationship with your least favorite word. Make it the first thing to pass your lips upon waking and the last echo in your mind before sleep. Say it until you grow hoarse and your tongue turns numb. Then forget the word.

10. Take all your clothes off and meditate on a street corner. If you are in New Delhi, this may attract followers, and will almost certainly bring enough donations to keep you alive. If you are in New York City, it may or may not get you arrested. There’s no particular point to this exercise; it’s just amusing for the rest of us.

International Rock-Flipping Day 2011: the trove

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

International Rock-Flipping Day logo by CepahlopodcastYou’ve read about my IRFD adventures. Time to check out what the other rock-flippers found. There’s some stuff at the Flickr group pool, and three photos on yfrog, but the main action is at the blogs…

A-roving I will go (New South Wales, Australia)
Peanut worms, a sea cucumber, and a blenny.

Outside My Window (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Evidence of very stealthy rodents.

Rebecca in the Woods (northern Wisconsin)
Blue-spotted salamander and a shrew! But sadly, under logs. Boo!

Fertanish Chatter (Washington, DC area)
Termites actually look pretty cool close up. As do millipededes.

Bug Safari (southern California, I think)
Bitchin’ macro photo of the fossil-like white exoskeletons of sow bugs. Also, a black widow and a darkling bug.

Growing with Science Blog (eastern U.S.)
Very tiny snails, a beetle larva carrying a case, mites, spiders, springtails and Indian house cricket nymphs.

Wild About Ants (eastern U.S.)
Getting stung and bitten for science.

Powell River Books Blog (British Columbia)
A crushing experience.

Meandering Washington (Washington state)
Robert Browning, a wee spider, and warrior women jumping through fire, all in one blog post. Yep.

Cicero Sings (British Columbia)
Memory fails, but the ants, invasive slugs and a harvestman do not.

mainly mongoose (South Africa)
Fears and neuroses, rainbow skinks and flat lizards, and a giant plated lizard — some spectacular photos of creatures that obligingly emerge on their own from underneath rocks.

Chicken Spaghetti (Connecticut)
A frog and a possible banana slug.

Wanderin’ Weeta (British Columbia)
A whole lot of nothing, but then paydirt: spiders, flies, sowbug, snail and… rabbit pellets?!

Rock, Paper, Lizard (British Columbia)
The first piece of Rock-Flipping Day fiction, as far as I know.

_Cabin Girl (Northern Minnesota)
An African antelope with a beard and horns? No, but close.

Thanks to Susannah Anderson for collecting and distributing these IRFD 2011 links. Let’s do it again next year, shall we?