Unliking the hippos

October 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Posted in poetry, writing | 19 Comments
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The trees were aggregations of uncertain light, shade and air transpired from leaves to drift across the plains, congregations, and composed has three meanings. Beneath this tree I am composed.

I do not like the hippos, she says, peeling a mandarin. They are as though the earth spites itself. If you were wise as this fruit you would reshape the world and remove these unnecessary prepositions and conjunctions.

The natives, those not in exile in other words, are unbuilding the church. The walls are neatly stacked timber, the space once framed by windows has escaped into the sky. Occasionally they look over at us and laugh.

I am tired. If wishes were kisses she says taking my hand and indian cowboys rode tigers at night. In the evening the plane will appear on the horizon and then it will be said that all airs once composed have now transpired.


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  1. Ohhhhhhhhhh, perfect.

  2. A simple response to your words Paul – you breathe life into the world with each of them. Such magic you are capable of creating. I feel fortunate indeed to bear witness to your shared words….

  3. Morning Paul. This piece has a very moving solemnity in it, for me, but I think the unbuilding might just let some much needed light in.

  4. I just can’t get past the opening line with the trees and their aggregations of uncertain light. Pure gold.

  5. ‘the space once framed by windows has escaped into the sky’ – surreal! Note – poets don’t need editors.

  6. i agree with brad on the solemnity of it, but that last line has a real note of finality to it as well. feels a little like dechirico to me, a landscape where very little happens in terms of actual movement.

  7. I love the way you use the themes of coming together aggregations, composing and drifting apart, transpiring, playing with them throughout in the dreamy way you are famous for.

  8. Just beautiful!
    “…escaped into the sky” , “if wishes were kisses”


  9. composed for sure with musical timing
    and a plane on the horizon
    can i say it is like a fugue in blues style?
    delicate touches and far reaching images
    and some indescribable something that is
    enveloped into a most unique atmosphere

  10. Thanks everybody. It’s an interesting thing about comments, this piece is among the least read and commented of the last few months but it is one of my favourites, one of those pieces written for humans and scholars alike. It’s a pity no-one has taken up the National Library’s suggestion yet. Maybe one day,

  11. “If you were wise as this fruit you would reshape the world and remove these unnecessary prepositions and conjunctions.’ Beautiful and brilliant.

  12. I’m a bit confused Paul…and therefore feel a little silly 😦 The third paragraph I think is absolutely fantastic – it could work all on it’s own.

  13. May I read it so the church is all these unnecessary prepositions and conjunctions that distract us from noticing the beauty of the language god (or the sky)?

    And what are the airs going to transpire?(curious here)

  14. I love this piece in its entirety, but for some reason, my eyes keep traveling back to “Beneath this tree I am composed”. Haven’t quite figured out yet, what chord this struck with me, but I know I won’t forget it. Thanks for this gift. 🙂

  15. Paul, my dear friend! Once again, it has been a long while, and I am completely to blame. I have said this before and I shall say it again, but with a hope of actually implementing it, that I am now really trying to get active again online.
    And reading this is a great impetus, because you are a fantastic writer – one of the best I know – and I have dearly missed your writing.

    The natives, those not in exile in other words, are unbuilding the church.


    You are an amazing person. And if I wasn’t half as broken hearted as I am, I would have probably written a more sensible comment…

  16. Haha, there is a certain thing what keeps me going and it is all of you. Outrageous compliments, I am embarrassed by the unbundance of my wealth, thankyou all. Sumedh! Without you I lose my moral compass.

  17. I adore this poem, with its evocative, colorful images — you bring words together in such delightfully unexpected ways, and vivid images burst like fireworks in my mind.

  18. what have you against a whisper?

  19. I am not sure why I like this, maybe I don’t need to know, my guts are telling me to like it. Maybe it is the “unexpected” (as Thomma Lyn mentions above?) way the words are brought together?

    I don’t really read poetry, I love song lyrics, in particular those of David Berman. David Berman’s poetry – Actual Air – is the last poetry I read. Try it, it quirks and moves in surprising ways.
    Your flicker photo stream under the link is supercoool, thanks.

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