Silent Hour sits with a notebook on its lap or in front of a computer. Its pen is fine-tipped and black, its current notebook is also black and almost finished, and the computer is rather old.

Silent Hour is mostly night.

There is a window in Silent Hour’s room. A blue neon light appears from time to time across the street. It comes from a recording studio, whose owner seems to also prefer the night. Silent Hour misses the light when it’s not on.

Silent Hour is a bookmonger and a wordcubine. It reads, writes, watches.

It is thread wrapped around a spinning wheel.

It howls with the wolves with whom it wants to be.

Silent Hour is me.


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Fish is in the Eye of the Beholder

duck

 

Down by the river,

before an audience – and ducks,

I stretched my arms and said:

Let there be fish for dinner.’

It didn’t work at all

and some who saw me thought

Here comes another god

no better than the old.’

I count on those awestruck

by my performance bold

and ready to be sold

for any gilded mirror.

They’ll turn around and scold

Stop calling her a fraud.

She’s only a beginner.’

 

 

***

With friend M.P. Powers, who writes the amazing blog Sketches from Berlin, we talked about what we consider our silly poems. So this is one of mine.

© Basilike Pappa, 2018

(Image: Pinterest)

Splinters (down the throat of the sculptor)

Is there anything you’re not great at?

Once someone told you you’ve got a hand

for drawing; you thought they meant conclusions.

Once someone told you you had a voice for singing;

you misheard, thought they said stinging.

Once someone told you…

there was always someone telling you something

and when there wasn’t, you’d make up the words.

The words became your chisel,

your penknife sharp;

you dedicated yourself to the art

of carving me into your preconceptions.

Carve me into vine leaves, mountain slopes, figs

wide open bleeding

and teach me to sing a song to rhyme your victory dance around me

(once someone told you you were good at dancing).

Carve, rough-cast and cast aside

those parts of me you don’t care for

and go on

chopping and singing, stinging and piquing.

Carve and cut and salt and smoke me

put me on a platter, eat me

(yes, you are also great at cooking).

 

But I,

damaged, disfigured, distraught

will make you choke on my splinters

and, that day, with eyes open wide

you’ll die alone

on a mountain slope

under vine leaves

and the figs won’t cry for you

and the words will fly away from your chisel.

 

***

© Basilike Pappa, 2018

The Winsome and the New Mal du Siècle

Winsome is the commonly used name for any plants of the genus Philautus defraudealis. Winsomes used to be found in the wild and, according to various folk cultures, they shouldn’t be cultivated in house gardens because they would bring acedia, dukkha, angst, sehnsucht and other calamities to the people who tended them. In return, the plant would win some human life force on which to nourish itself.

Even though our ancestors warned us about the pathology born by winsomes, the plants are now seen more and more often in urban areas, where the populations are dissociated from their old rural traditions. Their impressive scaled stems and choler black flowers have made winsomes the ‘it’ plants for 2018, and ideal for the gardens of tortured artists and poètes maudits.

 

***

©Basilike Pappa, 2018

.

Lines for an abdicator’s dinner party

lastsupper

 

My guests

bring appetites

grown great

 

They dare defy the law

better die sleek

than feast

 

Forget plain fruit;

their eyes

will speak outraged

 

O guests,

voracious gods,

be kind

 

Know that I dare serve

the stricken flesh

of priests

 

grown fat

on money

from the State

 

Thrust deep the knives

or otherwise

be blind

 

***

 

LINES FOR AN ABDICATOR’S DINNER PARTY is a found poem, made from Ruth Lechlitner’s Lines for an Abortionist’s Office (c. 1936)

I think Ruth wouldn’t mind.

© Basilike Pappa, 2018

 

(Image: Pinterest)

 

 

Two Poets Cross at the Tuff Bean Cafe: Ryan Dowling & Basilike Pappa

 

Two Poets Image - Pinterest

 

“Let’s try this again,” said he.

“What’s there to gain?” said she.

 

“I could buy you a coffee,” said he.

“And lead to catastrophe?” said she.

 

“Look,” said he. “I’m sorry about the other day.”

“Good,” said she. “Then I’ll take a cafe au lait.”

 

“I like a woman who knows what she wants,” said he.

“I like a man who knows when he’s wrong,” said she.

 

“Shall we sit and talk it out?” said he.

“You read my thoughts out loud,” said she.

 

“I still feel your hand across my cheek,” said he.

“As do I the marks of your critique,” said she.

 

“But I like your style, your rhythm, your voice in verse,” said he.

“Then I suppose I like your choice of words,” said she.

 

“You know,” said he. “I’d love to rhyme you line for line.”

“That so?” said she. “You couldn’t keep up if you tried.”

***

Read Ryan Dowling’s work at https://appendixpoetry.com

Ryan Dowling and me have never met in person. There has been no harsh critique and definitely no slapping between us. Nevertheless, when we put our imagination together, we came up with two poets who try to fix their strained relationship over a cup of coffee.

The idea of our collaboration was born when I read Ryan’s poem Mixed Strains. Its dialogue form was something new to me. Ryan directed me to May I Feel, Said He by e e cummings, which was the inspiration behind his poem.

I asked Ryan if he’d be interested in writing something like that with me: a poem that would bring us either glory or eternal literary damnation. Laughing in the face of intellectual danger, he jumped right in.

Ryan took no chances, though, when it came to turning our repartee into a poem. He proposed a back story for our characters, gave me his first “he” line and did a great job sharpening and polishing the lines I sent him as “she”. Two Poets Cross at the Tuff Bean Cafe owes a lot to his skill and commitment.

 

(Image: Pinterest)

 

 

 

Melinda’s Long Scarf Syndrome

Melinda stores memories inside chickens – uncaring birds.

Buys groceries.

Eats. Cleans. Makes a cup of tea.

Sitting by her window she knits long scarves. Hobbies are a good thing.

It all feels like calling home and speaking in a foreign accent, or like a strange cat sitting on her armchair.

 

Melinda used to have her rooms full of nightingales. Sometimes she flashed them at people.

Well, she is only human.

 

But counting nightingales before they sing all their songs is a cheater.

 

It comes as a missed train, as rain inside the brain; as unequal exchange, torn page, minimum wage. It comes as derealization, depersonalization, as minding the gap but still getting your foot stuck in it; as varicose vein, chest pain, not so sweet martha lorraine. It comes as blue, to paint blue the heart; as human factor, x-factor, max factor. It comes as grabbing hands, twisted arms, naked light bulbs; as consumable products, consumable contacts; as dropping leaves, dropping hints, dropping names (even her name has gone out of fashion). It comes as untied love knots, as mispronouncing your deepest thoughts. It comes as leaving, it comes as staying; it comes as anything, as everything.

Some call it fate, say it spreads like butter on a staircase.

Others the biggest joke there is.

 

One day Melinda didn’t feed her oven.

She took no nonsense from dishes who claim the road to feelings is perplexed.

She gulped down all tendencies to be nice to herself.

First she had a tall drink.

The world was off somewhere, grinning at caged giraffes, taking pictures of quaint cottages or bloodsucking.

Millions of fibers clinging to each other, loop chains growing longer and longer.

 

Fate was Melinda knitting scarves, pushing the needle with a bruised thumb.

Making a big bad loop, she turned herself into a hanging ornament

while a ladybird was passing outside her window.

***

MELINDA’S LONG SCARF SYNDROME was originally published on Rat’s Ass Review, Winter 2017 Issue, 10/12/2017

http://ratsassreview.net/?page_id=2794#Pappa

©️ Basilike Pappa 2017

Marriage a la Mode

Nobody here makes love like this:

with curtains shut against a screaming sun,

minds undone,

fingers fierce or delicate of instance,

hearts unleashed.

 

Here the sink shines like the surface of virtue

and water boils at a hundred degrees Celcius.

Organic courtesies,

hand-picked apologies,

so much to say on the freshness of a lettuce.

 

Nobody here makes loves like this:

with skin and soul,

thorns and teeth.

Nobody speaks like a piece of fiction

or in a way that encourages addiction.

 

‘Isn’t it time we had kids?

They’ll modify our traits to perfection.

We’ll put their pictures on the mantelpiece

as proof of our legitimate completion.

All lovely people should have a couple of these.’

 

Passion is a moment televised,

then dismissed – another neutered wish.

It’s a liaison of legal nature,

a garden of suburban bliss.

Quelle surprise! Nobody here makes love like this.

 

***

MARRIAGE A LA MODE was first published on Rat’s Ass Review, Winter 2017 Issue, 10/12/2017

http://ratsassreview.net/?page_id=2794#Pappa

©️ Basilike Pappa 2017