In the cytoplasm of affection

I wrote this poem in response to a prompt by a fellow instagrammer, to write about an animal or wildlife. I chose the wild in the microbial.

I drew this after eons, in a spell of inspiration

Blepharisma, Vorticella, Cyanobacteria / blue-green algae, Stentor and Volvox feature in the poem today, inspired that I am by the antics of these organisms in the work of another instagrammer. In her microbial world, microbes dance to strange rhythms, cannibalize, reproduce, scavenge, lay eggs, moult, become anxious, sometimes just sidle up to each other or simply float. Find the photos on Instagram.

The diagrammatic version of Blepharisma is my squiggly art. The other species mentioned in the poem are Vorticella with the spring coil and are attached to a substrate. The Stentors are motile and have cilia for locomotion. The blue-green algae or cyanobacteria resemble fettuccine in spinach flavour and the Volvox are a constellation of sorts.

Cilia are used in locomotion but ‘Ciliating’ is my singular stupendous contribution to the dictionary 😃 and will someday be used in Scrabble.

We thought of us today as single cells
'Ciliating' across the universe of colour
under the coverslip of time; a microcosm
of pedalling plants or fettuccine of cells.

The hues of darkness are pink and bright,
in beach slippers tracing paths on glass,
and those springing Vorticella are flowers
we created in our fictions of science ...

But all possess a veneer bound
cytoplasm of affection, crawling like
Annelids across the void in a world
bursting in avatars of the invisible

or their transparent real selves
glowing like gemstones in the sky,
or simply opaque as we are, each
to the other under the play of light,

polarized views secreted within some
dark muddied pond, harbouring
the cells of love, shedding cuticles
of sorrow, laying the germ of tomorrow

or funneling delight in little green globes
that make food ... are food. We must be
blessed to be cytoplasm like them or cursed,
I don't know which, but it's all profound.

Note:
Blepharisma is found in fresh and salt water, is a unicellular ciliated protist and is pink due to the presence of the photosensitive pigment, blepharismin. These pink creatures are photophobic, seek out darkened areas and lose their colour or die in strong light.

Vorticella is a ciliated protozoan with a stalk that is made up of a contractile organelle which serves as a molecular spring, so it can contract. This organelle or spasmoneme is said to have a higher specific power than the engine of the average car.

Volvox is a green algae that forms spherical colonies of up to 50,000 cells and live in freshwater habitats.

Cyanobacteria are Gram-negative bacteria that obtain energy via photosynthesis, also called blue-green algae but aren’t eukaryotes like algae.

Stentors are among the biggest known extant unicellular organisms and also ciliated.

Annelids belong to phylum Annelida that includes earthworms, leeches and the microscopic polychaete worms, oligochaetes.

Cytoplasm is the jelly like substance within the cell membrane,.excluding the nucleus. All together, they make the protoplasm of a cell.

Video:

The video link arrived in newsletter earlier that helps appreciate the many ways to see a microbe, and how a single creature can appear different depending on the microscopy method used to capture it through a manipulating of light.

There’s no one way a microbe looks, only different clever methods to see it~https://youtu.be/VBmzwM76V0o

Pale beneath a zesty rind

Breakfast stories …

Food satisfies and yet, there’s a kind of hunger that permeates the spirit that is insatiable. When I first watched Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton, sing ‘Satisfied’, with Angelica Schuyler, I felt he was making a statement on the path to Boddichitta or the awakened mind. A dissatisfied mind is known to be constantly groping for meaning or creating a path, in a state arising, ironically out of dissatisfaction, according to Buddhist thought.

A verse of the song 'Satisfied' is as follows:

You strike me as a woman who has never been satisfied

I'm sure I don't know what you mean, you forget yourself

You're like me, I'm never satisfied

Is that right?

I've never been satisfied

Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Hamilton spends the rest of the play driven by his dissatisfaction. I remembered this at morning tea and I felt this should compel me to write something profound and philosophical but couldn’t quite get past breakfast. So here’s a poem on lemons and avocados. I think, the tart flavour of a lemon helps awaken the palate and the creamy texture of an avocado, smoothens the day.

Lemons stained in sun
Each sun that wafts in with dawn 
stains the lemons yellow,
and leaves them pale beneath
their zesty rind for life.

Sever the citrus in sorrow
and it drips sour,
in a spark that sets you alive.

Slice morning into emerald slivers.
What green of meadows
to contemplate breakfast !

I'm famished for poems
and I string words on bread
to satiate a soul hunger.
Slices of morning

Stained to a blur in a cut-away marsh and a note on Patrick Kavanagh

I began work on this article and poem a few days earlier, never quite finishing it, but the weather is the tint of silver and grey, the roads have been licked by showers, the same as on that day when I heard, once, twice, thrice more, Pádraig Ó Tuama, a poet from Ireland speak about Patrick Kavanagh, a poet from Ireland and it inspired me to pot my poem into place, like a herb at a windowsill gazing at rain. There was magic in this Irish voice [1] lulling me into a rainy day stupor in words that were meant for April, for marshes, and I would have liked to say for love, but how do you describe a poem that is love.

Patrick Kavanagh, was the self taught son of a shoe maker with an incoherent life view and philosophy [2] , some say, the greatest Irish poet since William Butler Yeats, but this isn’t what brought me to read about him, it was simply Tuama reading his poem, ‘The one’.

There were thunderstorms predicted that day. I’m not afraid of showers or a stronger breeze. In fact I had the car fuelled to capacity in case there was a miraculous flood and it needed fuel to coast away to safety … inane thoughts course like random particles in days of inexplicable lightening … incongruous as the fifteen varieties of eggs in the section for hens, which is next to fifteen varieties of milk in the section for cows and five varieties of egg whites in the section for eggs that didn’t quite yolk in a sunrise …

Tuama echoes my thoughts entirely when he says, in introducing Kavanagh’s poem, “But more often, these days, I’m turning to poetry when it makes me smile as I read it because the words are delicious, because it’s describing something of great delight, of great simplicity, and of great lightness of being”.

Cattails or Bulrushes

It is sometimes the beauty of voice and words too, that fuels a walk through aisles of produce in a store, like a musical secret between the one that speaks to you while you listen, for he speaks of poets, of childhood, of meanings and you listen, not once, but twice, then thrice, as you caress an avocado, slip tomatoes in a basket, ponder awhile at smiling citruses and blackberries. Then, for a while, I stay still to contemplate the labels that divide the plant kingdom into classes, much after Linnaeus, in terms of those raised by fertilizer, pesticides and ones that are organic through sheer will perhaps, or is it the fallaciousness of words that drags us into an abyss of untruths, darkened corners of commercial illusions, and how does all this matter, I ask, as I think about layers of food, that the lack of a label made much less edible somehow. Was food purer back then or was it an illusion too … Tuama spills a beautiful voice to say that one always returns to the hollows we carry inside, which is why we revisit poets of the past.

On a Marshland
The One by Patrick Kavanagh [3]

Green, blue, yellow and red –
God is down in the swamps and marshes
Sensational as April and almost incred-
ible the flowering of our catharsis.
A humble scene in a backward place
Where no one important ever looked
The raving flowers looked up in the face
Of the One and the Endless, the Mind that has baulked
The profoundest of mortals. A primrose, a violet,
A violent wild iris – but mostly anonymous performers
Yet an important occasion as the Muse at her toilet
Prepared to inform the local farmers
That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God
Was breathing His love by a cut-away bog.

I tried modelling a poem in continuation of this one by Kavanagh. ‘The One’ which is a loose sonnet of sorts, with a couplet at the end, is a lyrical encapsulation of Kavanagh’s own view, as he observes in his ‘Self Portrait’,
“…the things that really matter are casual, insignificant little things ….” and he asserts that “in the final simplicity we don’t care whether we appear foolish or not. … We are satisfied with being ourselves, however small.”

Stained to a blur in a cut-away marsh ~ davina e. solomon 

That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God
by a cut-away marsh, was breathing His love
and silver, and grey tints skies above,
floating in place under a lightning rod ...

and I am misted by the softest spray.
The tint of rain is a creamy green
hid in avocados, deep within,
as wanton herbs glisten a sweet array

of marsh grass, undulating fur on a pet
in a thunderstorms sweet caress.
Startled birds raise like a dress,
metal cars, stray shoppers ... mudflats all wet.

Cilantro macerated a fragrant apology
to a bloodied tomato, an onion grated to tears
to further press an avocado, reveal its fears
in lime to a wound. Here's a salty astrology

of a heaven strung in voices, in hope
streaking marshlands in the wet of rain
billowing hair, breezily dry, partly pain
reining love like a braided rope.

As I queue, it's clear these specks of colour
plan a future meal. I hear a cashier speak
both of us tinted in poems, a brazen leak
on a pastoral painting, stained to blur.

Process:

The stanzas follow the rhyming sequence of quatrains , each stanza a different sequence from the previous one. The stanzas alternate between engagement with store produce in the real and the imagining of the weather, outside. The entire article itself is an attempt at visual storytelling using prose poetry and free verse. I wove in the recipe of guacamole after Kavanaghs fist line of colour in ‘The One’.

A simple way to Guacamole:

A simple way to Guacamole
A couple of ripe ready avocadoes, a tomato, half an onion and a green lime. Grate the onion and tomato, chop some green chilli and coriander, mash lightly the avocados with a fork, squeeze a lime ... add salt ... serve with sourdough bread or simply, without.

References:
[1]Patrick Kavanagh A Poem About the Beauty of Home ~https://onbeing.org/programs/a-poem-about-the-beauty-of-home/
[2]Patrick Kavanagh 1904-1967 ~https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/patrick-kavanagh
[3]The One by Patrick Kavanagh ~https://www.saltproject.org/progressive-christian-blog/2020/3/30/the-one-by-patrick-kavanagh

A State of Grace

What does one do on a morning that begins with Leonard Cohen ? There’s something about his poetry that is unnerving yet so curiously child like. In the film [1] ‘A trip to Montreal with Leonard Cohen in 1965’, directed by Donald Brittain and Don Owen, which is a glimpse into a singular poetic mind, there’s a snippet of an interview in which the interviewer needles Cohen, suggests if he could indeed be a good poet if he did not care about anything. He pushes him to speak of his concerns, if he was bothered by anything, if he cared about anything at all. Cohen very sagely responded that his real concern when he wakes up in the morning is to discover if he is in a state of grace. This state, he explains, is not of having to resolve something as much as it is to approach it with a spirit of balance, ski the slope of chaos, so to speak. This, I felt was a wonderful thought, not the resolution of an issue or the assuming of balance, as much as the question that one begins a day with, ‘Am I in a state of Grace?’

It’s been a wonderful day through an Arboretum; there were friends, tulips and laughter. There was a pileated woodpecker that appeared undisturbed in his singular symphony for an excited audience. There was sunshine and finally a poem after dusk.

Green looks beautiful against blue
On a Saturday, dawn awakens from 
a slumbering in shadows. Saturn rules
the calendar, yes,  but Sol reclaimed
the sky, in  the skein of a conversation,
the shades of an arboretum
Time follows no contrived dictum
A state of grace... I awakened 
in a state of grace. Grace, grace,
he said at early morn, this poet
of fanciful imaginings, skiing the contours
of the days chaos, a slope of road,
a slip of bark and a pileated woodpecker
broke the silence, tunneling
through the skin of dawn.
Through the Tulips
Antiquity held by classic columns,
It's spirits watch through palladian windows,
the sundial never lies about the time of day,
It's grace, only grace that walks you
through the tulips and the green of April,
to the colours of laughter and smiling eyes.
Soul constructions... and must we never forget
the road to those verdant places.
The Verdant and Water

Notes:

[1] A trip to Montreal with Leonard Cohen in 1965 is a glimpse into a singular poetic mind ~https://aeon.co/videos/a-trip-to-montreal-with-leonard-cohen-in-1965-is-a-glimpse-into-a-singular-poetic-mind

A Room with a View

A room with a view

Does the bird know to build a nest in blossoms? I found this on my walk days earlier and it struck me as Virginia Woolf’s, ‘A room of one’s own’, but this isn’t a study; it is actually a boudoir turned bedroom, refurbished to turn into a nursery. Those birds will get creative in there. As an aside, who is to confirm that it takes wealth to scout the best view? I wondered about the title of this poem and wrote one initially, in line with it being ‘A room of one’s own’ and then changed it subsequently into ‘A room with a view’ as I spent unearthly hours before dawn reading Woolf’s classic essay.

If the criticism of Woolf’s essay by Alice Walker [1] is anything to go by, one would imagine that it takes privilege and a safe space to be a writer while she juxtaposed it against the exclusions suffered by women of colour. I find, upon closer scrutiny that Woolf and Walker are on the same page when identifying what it actually takes to be the sort of writer, they imagine a woman writer should be, in chapter four [2] of the book where Woolf quotes

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt, that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

Chapter four, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Blossom 
says the wind
and exclamations of winter gather into
a nesting soliloquy.
The sky drapes a curtain
of night
and I can hear
the murmurs of dreams.
Star spangled banners
are the cape
of nationhood but here,
whispers soar on wings
of moonshine
and sleepy buds will blush at an intoxicating dawn.
A room with a view
is no basis for spring
yet on the seventh day
it rained blossoms,
a wondrous thing.

I enjoyed Woolf’s essay and many of the aspects colour timbre in the contemporary even if some of her illustrations are of literary figures from over 400 years. Her flow of thought is as rambunctious as the confluence of rivers and yet, still, soothing like a placid lake. Needless to say, my early morning view was tinted in metaphor and the poem came out the way it did, for if I were to quote Woolf further, in chapter five, she so eloquently suggests the balance of interrelated yet opposing principles even if she genders them.

…it is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly…And fatal is no figure of speech; for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death. It ceases to be fertilized. Brilliant and effective, powerful and masterly, as it may appear for a day or two, it must wither at nightfall; it cannot grow in the minds of others. Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness. There must be freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer. The curtains must be close drawn. The writer, I thought, once his experience is over, must lie back and let his mind celebrate its nuptials in darkness. He must not look or question what is being done. Rather, he must pluck the petals from a rose or watch the swans float calmly down the river.

Chapter five, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

I had so much to learn from this essay, not least, the brilliance of a mind unencumbered by the straitjacket of her times, even as much as she paints it into picture and despises it, she does not shy away from naming it. Her peroration was perhaps even more inspiring in that, it will find a place to nest in any human heart that seeks to capture life in writing, despite the prison house of language, despite the schooling of thought, in spite of the ambitious desire for audience and the inordinate thirst for a purposeful relevance.

“When I rummage in my own mind I find no noble sentiments about being companions and equals and influencing the world to higher ends. I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted. Think of things in themselves”.

Concluding remarks, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Notes:

[1]Alice Walker on Woolf’s Essay ~https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Room_of_One%27s_Own (retrieved on 23/apr/2021)

[2]A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (This essay is based upon two papers read to the Arts Society at Newnharn and the Odtaa at Girton in October 1928. The papers were too long to be read in full, and have since been altered and expanded) ~http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200791h.html (retrieved on 23/apr/2021)

Synchronicity?

Synchronicity you say?

Connective thoughts?

so now what,

do we believe in God then?

Qualifying the three hierarchies of angels?

Mapping the ways of the world in patterns,

excruciatingly spatial,

dissipative structures triggered through an inner resonance

manifesting matter,

manifesting thought,

highly ordered systems thus,

even the poet of thermodynamics himself

attests to the extraordinary complexities of life.

Who am I then, to argue with the master?

.

.

.

The consequence of irreversible natural processes all around us is not merely to increase the entropy of the universe and destroy order but to also create highly ordered complex structures with extraordinary properties and create life itself. Ilya Prigogine, the poet of thermodynamics, saw this as a profound aspect of nature that thermodynamics has revealed.