107 places

people in 107 countries have come to this blog : albania / algeria / argentina / armenia / aruba / australia / austria / bahrain / bangladesh / barbados / belarus / belgium / belize / bosnia and herzegovina / brazil / brunei / bulgaria / cambodia / canada / chile / china / colombia / croatia / cyprus / czech republic / denmark / ecuador / egypt / el salvador / england / fiji / finland / france / georgia / germany / ghana / greece / guatemala / honduras / hong kong / hungary / iceland / india / indonesia / iran / iraq / ireland / isle of man / israel / italy / japan / jordan / kazakhstan / kenya / korea / kuwait / latvia / lebanon / liberia / lithuania / luxembourg / macao / macedonia / malaysia / mauritius / mexico / moldova / mongolia / morocco / myanmar / nepal / netherlands / new zealand / nicaragua / nigeria / norway / pakistan / panama / peru / philippines / poland / portugal / puerto rico / qatar / romania / russia / saudi arabia / senegal / serbia / singapore / slovakia / slovenia / south africa / spain / sri lanka / sweden / switzerland / taiwan / thailand / trinidad and tobago / tunisia / turkey / ukraine / united arab emirates / united states of america / venezuela / vietnam

31 March 2011

winter is coming

Winter is coming in the southern hemisphere. So far, we've only burned our rubbish and a log or two on chillier nights, but firewood will be delivered today, four cubic metres of pine, to start. Ah, the pleasure of a fire, instead of the 'anonymous heat' of a radiator, as Jeanette Winterson calls it. (She and D. H. Lawrence share the 'suspicion that there is something immoral about central heating.') 
I remember playing in the snow for hours and hours, each foot wrapped in a long plastic bread bag, dry and warm and happy. 
Photo: Snow on a corrugated rooftop, near Nikko, Japan
Text: Excerpts from 'Art Objects' by Jeanette Winterson, p.162

30 March 2011

oil on water

I took this image in a place where wild boars might roam, people maneuver battery-operated toy planes, Thai food is served, cattle graze by sea and mangrove, and on the other side of hills, the barbed-wire border with Mainland China.
Photo: Oil on water, Wu Kai Sha, Hong Kong

29 March 2011

its own history

I have always loved construction sites. The smell of dirt, men's exposed muscles, chunky machinery, the unmaking, making, remaking.
Today, poem and essay with Wislawa Szymborska and many artists who work with destruction, construction, reconstruction. I found words from Milan Kundera: 'Art isn't there to be some great mirror registering all of History's ups and downs, variations, endless repetitions. Art is not a village band marching dutifully along at History's heels. It is there to create its own history.'
Photo: Tubing near a construction site, Shandong, China
Text: From a book in progress by my artist-sister, Susanne Slavick

28 March 2011

hope

John Berger says, 'Every hope leaves the self
or seizes it, to take it with it in its vertical ascent.'
Photo: Towel drying, Wellington, New Zealand
Text: From the essay 'Manhattan' (1975)

27 March 2011

suburbed cube

Each suburbed cube
holds its life a little differently.
I translate that as an invitation:
Come, see who I am.
Photo: Driveway, North Island, New Zealand
Text: Excerpt from an abandoned poem

26 March 2011

ba

In Chinese, sentences are necklaces, he says. You can always add another bead. English ones are more like tree trunks, with a central form.
I know two poets who write under a pen-name beginning with 'ba', a Chinese sentence structure that stresses the action done, the condition made. They read aloud side by side, switching sides, sometimes echoing each other, or interchanging words. Sometimes one poet stands behind the other. A title can be a long necklace, the poem forty minutes long.
Photo: Two trees, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Text: After poetry readings by Roo Borson and Kim Maltman, who comprise Baziju,
and discussion of Chinese sentences by Luo Hui, the Director of the Confucius Institute
in Wellington, which presented the events

25 March 2011

the fruit, the flower, one man, one woman

Today, I am floating. Yesterday, a concert of erhu, gujin, pipa, poem, friends. Friendship is common in Chinese poetry, writing together, for another, maybe missing each other, inspiring, inspired.
I want to remember these words a friend introduced, originally in Chinese, about music, 'Some would call this music death, some life; some the fruit, some the flower.' It reminds me of James Thurber, 'And All That Remained Was One Man, One Woman, And One Flower.'
Photo: 'Feathered' by Rebecca Rose, made with aluminium and stainless steel, 
at 'Sculpture in the Country', Gladstone, New Zealand
Text: From 'The Yellow Emperor's Music Lesson' from The Zhuangzi (4th Century BCE)
and from The Last Flower by James Thurber (1894-1961) 

24 March 2011

Love to you all

A little boy wants to know the mechanics of what went wrong in Fukushima, so his father draws him ‘beautiful diagrams of atomic shells and fission’, to which the boy replies, ‘What a mess!’
The boy is the son of a dear poet-friend who, a few hours ago, wrote me an email. A few days ago, she and her family left Japan in fear of nuclear fallout.
The flight out was full. ‘Across the aisle, a Japanese woman stared past me out my window. She stared until the plane taxied and she could see only air. Then she looked away, and covered her face with one of the plane’s blankets.’
The last four words of my friend's poignant email: 'Love to you all.'
Photo: Croquet balls, Gladstone, New Zealand
Text: Email excerpts from a poet. I have printed out all of her emails, am saving them.

23 March 2011

Taipei and great perfection

A few months ago, a friend showed me some of his Taipei. Later, I wrote a poem which begins, 'We walk past maybe three hundred advertisements, eighty cars and one hundred scooters, everything alive. A few doors after the coffee roaster comes the temple, on the second floor.' There, we met a man who blesses us with rice and says, 'before we are generous, we must be calm. And ask ourselves if we are able, willing. He says be kind and joyful with another. Maybe we can reach great perfection.'
Photo: A city view, Taipei
Text: Excerpts of the poem, Temple in the City

22 March 2011

I live near pastures

I live near pastures, cattle, dairy, sheep, deer. See all the resources to keep the farms going. Sometimes, sprinkler systems 24 hours a day. I live near pastures, and eat very little meat, most days none.
Photo: Near a butcher shop, Masterton, New Zealand

21 March 2011

circle of friends

A friend and I once found a roll of this orange mesh and wanted to make a bright carpet for the hallway. Cool on the foot. Joy for the eye. Then one day, we came across this circle near a stream...
Photo: 'Circle of Friends' an installation by Aaron Frater, at the exhibition
'Sculpture in the Country', Gladstone, New Zealand

20 March 2011

the moon is always full

Last night, the moon was full.
As tonight, and every.
And yet.
Photo: Fruit in plastic, Los Angeles

19 March 2011

the body the smallest part

My body is living in a no-nuke country, New Zealand,
but the body is the smallest part of us.
Photo: Sheep made of plaster, laundry, lawn, in Xinjiang 

18 March 2011

last

I am thinking about the 180 people who remain working in the Fukushima nuclear plant, trying to make it safe for all of us.
Photo: One word of a protest banner
for a man, recently deceased, who believed in public calligraphy
The entire text: 'The last free man in Hong Kong'

17 March 2011

where does the sky begin?

words are earth
where does the sky begin?

it begins at the window
where does the window begin?

window is visible air
where does the eye begin?

it begins here, a rising mountain
and where does the shoulder begin?

Photo: A piece of glass, a piece of window, Wellington, New Zealand
Text: The beginning of an email poem-dialogue with poet-storyteller Yuen Che-hung

16 March 2011

From Japan: 'I want everyone to be safe'

Six hours ago, an email from a friend in Japan. She and her family will leave the country on a 10:40am flight, Wednesday. She says many people in Tokyo are leaving, if they can.
With her son's small hand on her shoulder, she has wept, saying to him, to us, 
'I don't want to be the only safe ones. 
I want everyone to be safe.'
Photo: Mongkok, Hong Kong, 31 December 2007
Text: Excerpts from a friend's email, from Tokyo

15 March 2011

each loved world

Each loved world
needs one
promise.
Photo: A large puddle and reflection, Hong Kong
Text: The last poem in the 'To Nature' series
from my book 'Delicate Access'

14 March 2011

I am thinking of Japan

'Still alive,' a friend from Japan writes. 'Thank you for your worries,' another says. 'The number of missing people is increasing as more unmissing people are able to make reports,' writes a friend from Chiba. 'We are all safe (in Setagaya-ku), our dog and cat are too. Is N---Land shaking???' From 2-chome in Tokyo, a child says, 'It was like being on a rollercoaster!' A younger sibling, 'Monkeys are shaking my bed.' One parent, 'Of course I'm alright! I was always going to be alright,' and the other, a poet friend, says that so far, the hardest thing has been explaining the concept of radiation to her son. She emailed seven hours ago, with headlines: Heightened State of Alert at Atom Plant... and Tokyo Electric Power said it has lost its ability to control pressure in some of the reactors of a second nuclear power plant at its quake-hit Fukushima plant... She says one embassy warns its nationals to stay indoors. Another for its citizens to evacuate. Tokyo Disney is shut for a week, and hearing from each of us matters. She had written a poem about Chernobyl and is now thinking of bringing it out again. /
I posted the above about 8 hours ago. A friend in Japan has just written that two more nuclear reactors are starting to dissolve, that some people are running away from Tokyo, that young people are particularly frightened, that some of his relatives in Tohoku seem to have died. 'The situation is becoming serious. I am still alive. 2011-3-14.'
I am thinking of Japan, of everyone.
Photo: Vines, Fan Lau, Hong Kong
Text: I have heard from my friends from/in Japan, c, y, a, s, o and a.
I would like to hear from m and s.

13 March 2011

taking this big ferry

skyscraper shore
engine drum

your quiet seat
engine drum

rain pats the ocean
engine drum

city big ship lights
engine drum

I want to find you in the cold wind channel
but all the waves are going the other way

I never see who is driving me home

Photo: Jordan Ferry, Hong Kong
Text: 'Taking this Big Ferry' is from my book, 'Delicate Access'
I used to take two ferries to get to my home. Slow, wide, wooden seats, open to ocean wind. The photograph records the first ride, on an old vehicular ferry, which used to run from Jordan District to Central District. The poem is set on the second one, from Central District to my carless island, fifty-minutes away, the engine soothing, the captain always unseen.

12 March 2011

silver tip and timelessness

I met this dead buffalo head on a table top, the body skyward, its eye about level with mine.
At the time, I was curious about how the silvery horn starts: like the part of hair, very crusty hair. 
Now, I am curious about how my friend will bring the buffalo into the world again. He also has the full outside body of a spotted foe. 
All of this came to mind yesterday with the sound of a deer in faraway hills. The whistle somehow timeless.
Photo: Dead buffalo head, in an artist's studio, Pittsburgh

11 March 2011

peonies and excess

Yesterday, peonies. I think of a dear friend who adores the voluminous flower, and of Jane Kenyon, who writes, 'These are not Protestant work-ethic flowers. They loll about in gorgeousness; they live for art, they believe in excess... They seem like the diva in her dressing gown after the opera - still glistening, but spent.'
Photo: Peonies in a painter's home, Masterton, New Zealand
Text: Excerpt from 'The Moment of Peonies' in the book,
'A Hundred White Daffodils' by Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

10 March 2011

a vertical sea

'Make a reason for this to mean happiness' I once wrote in a poem that features scaffolding nets. To me, whatever the time of day, in whatever colo(u)r, the nets bring me that.
I remember walking through the loud and crowded streets of Hong Kong with a poet-friend from Okinawa. I said, look up! A gorgeous surface of green, windblown. A vertical sea.
Photo: Friends' building wrapped in Christmas-like scaffolding, Hong Kong
Text: The poem 'Make a Reason' is from my book, 'Delicate Access'

09 March 2011

I call today men's day

Yesterday was for women, today can be for men.
And every day for all. Equally. Peacefully. Yes.
Let us all Think-Feel, Hand-Touch, Stand-Support
another. Whatever the ethnicity, age, gender...
I really don't think it's hard to do. Do you?
Photo: Construction company sign, Wellington, New Zealand

08 March 2011

one woman, one hundred years

Today is the 100th year for International Women's Day to be observed. In places like Russia and China, it's a very big day, with events and promises all around the country. Women hold up half the sky, the Chinese say. Not many people know that rural women in China have one of the highest, if not the highest, suicide rate in the world. Poverty, sexism, spouse abuse, and men's (over)drinking of strong rice alcohol are all factors. I know of one village that has put an end to this violence -- of men against women, of woman against self. One thing that helped was putting very drunk men into a locked room where they could sober up peacefully. It worked. The last I've heard, there have been no suicides, or attempts. A lot less alcoholism. And more respect, appreciation, harmony.
Photo: A girl and a kind of toy at a museum, Pittsburgh 
Text: The story discussed is from the book CHINA VOICES, which I co-edited

07 March 2011

orchid streetcorner


In Hong Kong, Bangkok and other places around Asia, these flowers are sold on the street in little bunches. Some people put them in their hair. Drivers might hang them from rear view mirrors. I call them by their Cantonese name 'bat lan', not 'white orchid'. Sometimes, I buy a bunch and hide a bloom on each of my colleagues' keyboards. When the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died, we put one on everyone's chair - the whole room abloom.
Photo: For sale from a sidewalk, Bangkok

06 March 2011

mother, mothering


We have two cows, always together. Both mother the other, biologically or socially. Sometimes they groom each other,  eyes all dreamy. This is Binny, who bellows every so often for grass or hay, for self, and mother, one or two years older.
Photo: Binny, a steer, Carterton, New Zealand

05 March 2011

folded water, folded paper


To my eye, this will always be a bulging square of water, folded and tied to a fence. I found it one day on a walk during my lunch hour. Nearby is a hawker who sells fishing supplies.
Photo: Folded paper inside a folded plastic bag, near my office, Northpoint, Hong Kong

04 March 2011

skin and earth

Xinjiang. The sun never burns here, he says. Days so bright, so long, we never find the night moon. We walk hot noon slopes, hear our breath, hear our breath. Then we hear a river, find pink flowers and willow. Oasis as fresh as its word.

Photo: A friend's toes on cracked earth, Xinjiang, June 2010
Text: From a prose poem (in progress) called 'How Bright We Are'

02 March 2011

One week after the earthquake


Yesterday, at 12:51, silence. 
Today, I am sitting between two Maori women, who are facebooking friends in Christchurch, asking what they might need. Hand sanitiser, they are told. Also gas canisters, guitar strings, coffee beans. A woman living in a cordoned-off zone says that people in the city are changing, staring into 'middle distance' and not spontaneously greeting each other anymore. A student in a hospital holds the hands of the people who rescued her. She says, 'I trust you' and smiles. She laughs her first laughs in a week. 
Photo: Covered vineyards, Martinborough, New Zealand

01 March 2011

I call today February 29

A dear friend of mine was born on February 29, and I give this image to her.
Photo: At a bazaar in Kashgar