Publishing a Book of Poems
2006 January 14 Saturday.
The picture above shows the front cover of the collection of poems I have just published via lulu.com, a book called ARC OF LIGHT. It's various poems that I have written over the last thirty years or so, from 1975 through 2005.
The book can be purchased online from lulu.com/hughcook and the full text of the poems can be viewed at znevirus.com/poems. Here is a sample:
Mozart the Fish
She's standing at the counter, fairly serious,
Lips pursed, filling in a form -
A minion of the quotidian,
A functionary of the realms of order,
The output of the input of the timeclock.
She is pregnant.
In a world without clocks
Something which is not yet someone
Five centimeters -
Mozart the Fish, evolution's astronaut,
Infinite in the confines of Mother Earth,
Alive within the oceans of her pulse.
Later, it will be simplified:
Name, rank and serial number.
It will be dumbed down, constrained
To pay taxes, build cruise missiles, kill cockroaches
And bow down to God.
It will be colonized by the minor technicalities
Of speech, fashion sense, resumes and toilet training.
But that comes later.
For the moment, it is suzerain,
An empire of metabolizing iron,
Replicating Parthenons, building
Constellations of significance.
Five centimeters of infinity,
Building from the debris of the stars
Its seven days.
One of the softer poems in the book. Some of them are considerably harsher, particularly those dealing with war.
I uploaded this book from a house in Devonport, New Zealand, which is currently in the undisputed possession of the Most Expensive Cat in the World.
The Most Expensive Cat in the World was originally a stray obtained for free from the SPCA, the Society for the Protection of Animals. But gradually more and more money was invested in this cat, to the point where I have no doubt that it truly merits the title I have given it, the Most Expensive Cat in the World.
This cat was flown from New Zealand to Australia and put into quarantine. For months. Then it was flown from Australia to Switzerland. And again went into quarantine. Again for months. Then it returned to New Zealand, with yet another jet liner odyssey begin added to its price tag. Then it went into quarantine yet again. And all that adds up.
Recently, the Most Expensive Cat in the World became quite agitated, thinking that the humans who share its life were planning yet another move, and that it was doomed to go into the hold of yet another jet airliner, and to be incarcerated yet once again in one of those places where they don't allow cats to have access to either lawyers or the news media. It started climbing into suitcases that were in the process of being packed, as if the attempt to deny the use of those suitcases.
But the humans had no plans for any more cat-exporting. The cat-exporting phase of their lives is over, and they were just heading off to Canada to ski.
So I'm alone today in an otherwise unoccupied house with the Most Expensive Cat in the World, which I will be feeding tonight and tomorrow morning.
This cat, it needs not just food but water, also. And you can't just pour the water into anything, no.
There was a time when this cat insisted on having its water in a glass. Fill the glass for me and put it down in front of me, and then I'll drink from it, and not otherwise.
But now it drinks from the scallop shell.
The scallop shell lives upstairs, by the shower, and you don't bring it to the cat, no. You fill it up and the cat saunters up the stairs, when it's good and ready, to sample.
I've been working today, wrapping up the ARC OF LIGHT book and uploading it, in a cool downstairs office with the back garden just beyond the venetian blinds, which are drawn to exclude the glare.
It's summer here in New Zealand, and hot. The season of flies. We don't have all that many flies compared to, say, Australia, but we have enough for them to be bothersome.
I have never thought of Auckland as being a city of ants, but the younger of my two brothers, who is an exterminator by profession, was at dinner at my parents' place last night, and the thing that is keeping him really busy right now is the ants.
Apparently some people have ants so bad that the ants, on a daily basis, fill up the shower pan with the bodies of their dead, the said bodies having been turfed out of some huge an infestation nested in the ceiling.
And there are other people, apparently, who have ants so bad that, every time they sit down to eat dinner, there are ants falling down from the light fixtures and dropping on top of their meals. This, I'm told, gives you a BIG incentive to go call the exterminator.
A couple of years back we had ants in our house in Japan. They were based in the garden but came invading. So I went to one of the local home centers and spent a long time puzzling over the Japanese labels of some of the truly enormous range of intensely toxic products which you can buy to kill just about anything you fancy, including yourself if you're not careful.
After long hestiation, I finally selected a product, which did the job. Goodbye ants.
They're going to end up in possession of the whole planet, one day, when we are gone and finished, but that day is not yet.
Right now in Japan it will be winter, and I am wondering how my wife and daughter fared in the recent heavy snow, the heaviest snow for sixty years. I received a letter yesterday, but it was dated December 28th.
Something wrong with the incoming mail system here. Letters airmailed to England or Japan get there pretty quickly, but incoming mail seems to take forever.
Well, soon enough I'll be in Japan myself, and I'll be able to see the snow, if there's any left by the time I get there. Probably not. On the rare occasions when snow falls in the Tokyo-Yokohama area, it's generally entirely gone in a few days.
The ARC OF LIGHT project is the last major task I wanted to complete before heading to Japan. That done, I can comfortably concentrate on my family duties once I get there.
With the ARC OF LIGHT collection finished, I've now finalized four books in less than twelve months: the BAMBOO HORSES novel, the CANCER PATIENT medical memoir, the very long suicide bomber novel TO FIND AND WAKE THE DREAMER and, just now, this book of poems.
That done, that's my ambition satisfied, for the time being, though, through the coming year, I do intend to post various poems and stories and micro fictions and so forth on the creative writing section of my zenvirus.com site.