Our Biosemiotic Clay is African. A Poem by Ian Irvine Hobson

Graphic Semiotic Egyptian

I - Nubian Alchemy

Kemet, al kemet - the black and fertile earth
       the black and fertile origins of humanity.

Primordial mother, sister, lover, daughter

Eventually, by laws of genetic entanglement,
       (go check the mitochondrial record)
we (re)trace the contours of her absence
       to the mountains that fed the Blue Nile
       (the ice caps were glacial back then).

Orchestrated histories veil her presence
       at the base of the mountain
       at the base of your spine
       at the heart of the geometric benevolence
               that designed the oldest pyramids.

Young African woman with palettes, brushes,
       measuring tools and golden mallet. 
After each inundation she calculated
       a new patchwork of fields
to feed the hungry populace. 

The rich luminescence of her wisdom skin -
       as many statues attest - 
is primarily African:
       black sunrise of the written word
       black sunrise of numerous civilisations

Acknowledge her thus - for
       she took you swimming in the Nile.
Did Michaelangelo imagine the Nubian 
       Pharaohs white - like Jesus?

Back then, words were hieroglyphic images
       - phonetics yet to be invented - and
       she wrote in the glory of paint. 
They begged her
       Colour us a liveable future.

II - (Quantum) Woman Dressed in Stars

She takes you flying among the stars
       (and every vowel restored)
You sense
       habitual memory contract to a
tiny pin-point of sub-atomic energy/light
       it flares against the universal nothingness.

The hieroglyphs swirl - so many narratives,
       so many possible lives - until
fragile scintillae appear, then cluster, as though 
       glued to invisible structures.
You watch them float like clumps of possibility
       (like clumps of future memories).

Your life is fluid again -
       all good things are possible
       and all dangerous things -
her skin, like the coffins of your former selves,
       is a gallery of marvelous images.

(Seshet) = the hidden numeric order
       Our need for numbers and images and words
       to strengthen living structures

Her slim ankles, her calves, her hips, her breasts

The lovers exchange gifts: 
       charms, formulae, hieroglyphs, stories
       (photons, electrons - elementary particle-waves)
A biosemiotic exchange to animate 
       otherwise passive clay.

Do you sense it 
       the first ragged gasp of a new becoming?

Ian Irvine Photo
Ian Irvine (Hobson) is an Australian-based poet/lyricist, fiction writer and non-fiction writer. His work has featured in publications as diverse as Humanitas (USA), The Antigonish Review (Canada), Tears in the Fence (UK), Linq (Australia) and Takahe (NZ), among many others. His work has also appeared in two Australian national poetry anthologies: Best Australian Poems 2005 (Black Ink Books) and Agenda: ‘Australian Edition’, 2005. He is the author of three books and co-editor of a number of literary journals – Scintillae 2012, The Animist ezine (7 editions, 1998-2001) and Painted Words (10 editions 2005-2014). He coordinates the Professional Writing and Editing program at Bendigo Kangan Institute (Bendigo & Melbourne, Australia) and has taught in the same program at Victoria University, St. Albans, Melbourne. He has also taught history and social theory at La Trobe University (Bendigo, Australia) and holds a PhD for his work on creative, normative and dysfunctional forms of morbid ennui. Web site: http://www.authorsden.com/ianirvine
The above poem is an Excerpt from a collection of poems Awake in the Chamber of Darkness.The Egyptian Sequence. Publisher: Mercurius Press, Australia, 2015. ‘Awake in the Chamber of Darkness’ is copyright Ian Irvine (Hobson), 2015, all rights reserved.
Acknowledgements: ‘Hypatia and the Ruined Serapeum’ was published in Poetry Life and Times (UK/Spain) in Aug. 2015.
Image: Seshat writing. This image is in the public domain.

Chamber of Darkness

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Abstraction. Subject-Poem, by Ananya S Guh

abstraction is entity
where we separate
build on words
write philosophy
abstraction takes livid
breath, out of reality
subtracts, adds then puts
to pen and paper
living wall
in minutiae
and quote Immanuel Kant.

Ananya S Guha has been born and brought up in Shillong, India and works in India’s National Open University, the Indira Gandhi National Open University. His poems in English have been published world wide. He also writes for newspapers and magazines/ web zines on matters ranging from society and politics to education. He holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding. He edits the poetry column of The Thumb Print Magazine, and has published seven collections of poetry.

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Rehabilitation A Poem by David Chorlton

100_3527 - Copy (2)
The mockingbirds in the bougainvillea
raised their brood among the thorns
where they wriggled and slipped,
one after the other, as chicks do
to find a cooler place,
down through the tangles and the shade,
and caught on a vine before reaching
the ground. Each rescue
led to another, while the temperatures
stayed late summer high
long into the evening
and next day was the same, with another degree
added to the record, and birds
on every continent
feeling the change without knowing
why skylarks are fewer
each year and deforestation
leaves lyrebirds to sing
the chainsaw’s song. It happens
while the stock exchanges measure
loss as currency; it happens
day and night, while surveyors
look through a theodolite to see
the new division they prepare for; and while
a rehabilitator raises the young
of mockingbirds who sing and chase flies
into the dusk.

David Chorlton came to Phoenix from Europe in 1978 with his wife Roberta, an Arizona native. He quickly became comfortable with the climate while adjusting to the New World took longer. Writing and reading poetry have helped in that respect, as has exposure to the American small presses. Arizona’s landscape and wildlife became increasingly important to him both as a source of pleasure and a measure of how precarious the natural world is.

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Going heavens – a dystopian prayer. A Poem by Prabhu Iyer


I thank you today for this gift of food. This, was another child of yours. Abel Abel Abel. An intelligent bird. A member in its dumb chain of life, family: what is family to that insentient mass? Do they mourn when one of them is gone? Does it affect them, does it bother them, does it pain them, 
As it does to us? Yes, we, the great golden yardstick against which to measure out the universe.  Dumb, may be, but dumb life with a heart. Who knows about the soul. Isn’t soul that little pin-prick somewhere deep in the heart? Do I have one? Do I care, do I mourn, do I see the pain that I cause to these fellow children of yours:
But if not this, what else – a leaf that cowers in fear at being plucked, a root, a bulb that in ways we cannot sense with but an instrument, cries out in pain at being uprooted, skinned and roasted live. Or a fruit, that mothership, host to a million seedling lives, every one of them that could grow out to outlive my life by orders. A stalk, a branch, name it.
Yes, this is food. This is a chain. I eat and am eaten. Terrible, this creation, that has sprung from wellsprings of love. Or is not this world the product of a loving God, but that of the evil non-God? But where your omnipotence that is screaming through the scripture hoarse?
No, I am a sinner. I have sinned, to be born in this wretched world. A dead child was washed ashore, the other day. Until then, I said, to hell with those barbarians crossing rivers and mountains to reach my land. But what of death? I boil and burn a billion little lives in my glass of tea every morning, many times over. Oh plasmodium, that I have to kill to live, oh this life that hangs to me like a necessity!
Good Lord, have you made me in your image? What is, whose reflection in spacetime appears like this visage, flesh on ribage, beating heart, pumping lung, viscera and nerve and vein, bone and nail, wallowing in pleasure and pain? That is an inverse problem that baffles our genius. It is ill-posed for certain, with no means of regularization for sure.
I must live I must live I must live. Kill, that organism is small, dumb, unintelligent, insentient, it’s pain is of another kind, we can’t eat air, and we are atop this chain, cobra’s head, that houses all the venom. This is evolution, we are evolving space suits to head to the stars and spread the Gospel to those unknown realms still sunk steeped in barbarism.
Yes, He is great, he can be heard in the voices of lunatics that sometimes get recorded and transmitted across the generations. And I follow the masters, they were vile, very vile, they were chosen, yea they were chosen, so vile is virtuous, I be vile, I be virtuous, I am chosen, yea, I am chosen, I head to God, on the backs of a thousand dead souls.
Amen. Peace to all those I consign and all the masters I quote. Holy Cain!

Educated in India and England, Prabhu Iyer writes contemporary rhythm poetry. He counts the classical Romantics and Mystics among his influences. Among modern poets Neruda and Tagore are his favourites for their haunting and inspirational lyrical verse. Prabhu has also explored the meaning of modern art movements such as surrealism and cubism and their role in anchoring the society through his art-poetry. Currently he is based out of Chennai, India, where he has a day job as an academic scientist.
In 2012 Prabhu collected over 50 of his poems and self-published them on Amazon Kindle: Ten Years of Moons and Mists More recently, his 2014 entry made it to the long list from among over 5000 entrants to the annual international poetry contest conducted by the UK-based publishing house, Erbacce Press. His major current projects include a further volume of poetry, his first fictional novella and a planned series of translations of lyrics from Indian film music.
Editor’s Note:
for further information see Interview with Prabhu Iyer at this site
Poetry Life & Times


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How Can I Help You? A Poem by Ron Olsen

Desktop icons moving about on their own
Electrons rearranging themselves
How the hell did that get down there?
Email alert!
Penis enlargement!
Where did my file go?
Enlarge your penis!
But my file…
Take a pill!
Why is the Internet so loggy?
Are you big enough to keep her happy?
What’s your girth really worth?
Why do we pay more and get less?
For pills
And the web
Exceeding your allowable data for the month
Must have been Siri’s fault
Big penis!
Couldn’t be
She’s my one true friend
For at least the next four hours
Or I consult with a physician
To make it all go away

Ron Olsen is a Peabody and Emmy award winning journalist based in Southern California. He is recently retired from the Tribune Company, where he was stationed at the Los Angeles Times, working with the newspaper’s writers and editors to adapt newspaper stories for KTLA-TV. He is the author of more than one-thousand essays and an occasional poem. His essays have been published by several local papers in the Los Angeles area. He began writing poetry just recently. He says he loves the craft of saying more with fewer words, with each word playing a significant role in the piece. “I am sometimes struck by my poetry”
he says.”I’ll look at what I’ve written and wonder where it came from-some wellspring that’s beyond my understanding. What a strange and wonderful process.”

A more complete bio can be found here –
or at his blog at
http://workingreporter.com/wordpress or his Facebook page at

Poetry Life & Times


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Aquillrelle. Press Release. Robin Ouzman Hislop. Collected Poems. All the Babble of the Souk.

All the Babble of the Souk
All the babble of the Souk
all the life of the planet &
so little part of it, that I breathe


Also available at Amazon.com All the Babble of the Souk Robin Ouzman Hislop

All the Babble of the Souk
By Robin Ouzman Hislop
Aquillrelle, 2015
Norman Ball, writer, author of Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments
Before I get to the book itself, I’d like to offer up a confession. Robin and I have, over the years, engaged in some fascinating discussions on such far-flung topics as Big Bang contrarianism, the mystery of consciousness, theories of memes, multiverses, Popper falsifiability and vitalism, just to name a few; in short, the usual water cooler chatter. Or maybe not. Robin’s a whole lot smarter than me. Nonetheless it’s a lot of fun trying to keep up. If you’ll forgive a mixed metaphor, we’re odd ducks of a feather.
For one thing, Hislop is not averse to the occasional Latinate or ism getting tossed into a stanza. Of course poetical exploration of High Concept puts one at odds with the prevailing penchant for concrete image and tactile adhesives. There are many in poetry today who insist that, if you can’t say something nice about a spatula, a garden hose or a lamppost, you have no business trafficking in periphrasis. Everything must be grounded in the real, they say—as if such a thing as the real really existed. If I may say, oh prevailing sentiment in poetry, get real.
So, perhaps All the Babble of the Souk is not for everyone. But then, what of any value ever is? Poetry marches under a Big Spatula and we all can’t be flipping fried eggs and hash. Besides, in the hands of a deftly abstract mind, abstraction is not exactly a kick in the head. Nor will it break the yokes and spoil your breakfast. What is a speculative poetic excursion, after all, but high imagination and eccentricity commiserating via language? Let the arbiters of bric a brac catalog the quotidian like good flea marketeers. Such people are born to rummage about in the attic and log their heirlooms on eBay. Hislop doesn’t trammel their kiosks. He has Big Thoughts to mull.
Fresh off a personally intense eye-mind exploration , I found myself greatly predisposed to ‘Maps’, a four-piece series of poetic aphorisms that offers some dazzling insights into how we demarcate our space, time and existence, and especially how these elements are conveyed, if not even defined, by our senses:

      Time links the auditory, the visual cortices on the retina which maps a fission between the unseen form of sound, the unheard sound of seeing

This notion of time having a real job to do immediately put me in mind of John Archibald Wheeler: “Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.” Hislop may be onto something even more subtle: Does time keep chaos at bay, allowing time for our disparate senses to marry their qualia into a coherent universe? Perhaps those with Synesthesia are more evolved creators of worlds, their gaps between sound and vision less discontinuous.
‘Maps’ delivered me to a speculation I wouldn’t have reached otherwise. And I find that’s a critical function of Hislop’s poetry. It gathers, then points away. More important than the resolved landing place is how it offers a hospitable ‘symposium’, couching philosophical fields of inquiry within poetic metaphor from which the reader’s own speculative arcs can then rise and take tangential flight; speculations feeding speculations. What does resolution ever resolve anyway? Conclusions are overrated. The concrete of the concretists doesn’t exist in a world:

      Imposed as
      an impression
      seeking an ineffable concrete
      in an abstraction
      which defies location.—from ‘Red Butterflies’

Tumbling down rabbit holes beats rabbit stew any old day, especially when the universe may have us fixed for the next tasty, sentient bunny-in-line. In this sense I would call Hislop’s poetry inviting, intelligent, and refreshingly non-binding.
In ‘From Here to Silence, three’, he sets up a free will versus determinism tug-of-war stalked by Nietzschean recurrence and Leonard Susskind’s holographic 2D picture-show. You got a problem with that, Rod McKuen?

      Say we are not sui generis
      (the cause of yourself)
      we are homeostatic holographs
      dimensions in spectral parallel membranes
      our near eternal process to err
      along such a line we pass time in, time out
      but could we not cheat the butterfly effect?

The stanza ends on the plaintive hope, reminiscent of Kafka that our cycle of error could end if freewill achieved grace but for an instant. Let us hope that moment arrives as I’m so tired of breaking my shoelace the day before Thanksgiving forever.
Am I losing the yucksters in all the heavy universe lifting? Not so fast. Hislop can be funny too. ‘At a Slant’ has a droll quality that still draws a snicker if for no other reason than that we’re stuck, all together (‘but it’s the same for all of us!’):

      The con of life
      the weirdness of its melodramatic sham
      how good we are at yesterday, tomorrow
      always better than before
      being had – in the process by it.

The juxtaposed tenses of being had cement the interminable predicament we share. No exit. But at least we perfect our yesterdays until such time as we resume them anew, becoming rank amateurs all over again. But amateurs with a difference, with a modicum of acquired wisdom and an almost imperceptibly elevated rank. Okay, so it’s bleak, black humor. But there are shafts of light. One day, though maybe yet a half-eternity away, some butterfly will escape the dark matter of our descending shoe. (Butterflies pervade Hislop’s poetry.) We’ll be released to the next pristine universe armed with a butterfly-brain’s worth of hard-earned prescience. So yes, each successive Big Bang is not an unadulterated singularity. Some kernel of hard-earned wisdom gets borne through. Each new universe is a tooth on a slowly revolving gear that turns towards…perfection? In short, something barely better.
Since Hislop asks, that’s what—I think, I hope—may be ‘next’:

      Pack, the near infinite
      (in—the moment before you munch)
      take a bit of the biscuit
      before the Big Crunch
      it’s an eternal packet
      & having all, what’s next?—from ‘Lucky Hat Day’

All the Babble of the Souk will have you pondering your predicament in a whole new imaginative light. Reflect well my friend, as mindless impulsivity, and materialist inanity, is precisely what dangles this eternity over the interminable abyss. Therein may lie our paper-thin chance for freedom: by insect increment, one pardoned butterfly per eon at a time.

—Norman Ball
Editor’s note: for more of this Poet/Writer’s scintillating script please do not fail to overlook the hyper-text link eye-mind exploration included in the above review.
Norman Ball FBP
NORMAN BALL (BA Political Science/Econ, Washington & Lee University; MBA, George Washington University) is a well-travelled Scots-American businessman, author and poet whose essays have appeared in Counterpunch, The Western Muslim and elsewhere. His new book “Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments” is available here. Two essay collections, “How Can We Make Your Power More Comfortable?” and “The Frantic Force” are spoken of here and here. His recent collection of poetry “Serpentrope” is published from White Violet Press. He can be reached at returntoone@hotmail.com.

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