Essay from Ike Boat

Article Title: The ‘CV’ Effects

Young black man wearing a patterned light and dark green shirt, belt and pants standing up speaking into a microphone.
Author Ike Boateng, performing spoken word in his hometown in Ghana

The Genesis of what commenced in a suburban community of China has been described and called by some as Wuang Wild FireWWF spreading across the length and breadth of the globe. Thus, like invisible terrorist causing unbearable soul damages and demise of the entire human race from Asia to America, Europe to Africa, beside across the oceans to Australia as well by the airwaves of flights to countries of the continents. Indeed, the news of its occurrence and how lives were affected in Wuang, China dated December of 2019. In fact, its severe deadly approach to multitudes in China made the ‘Word Health Organization – WHO’ came out with a name Corona VirusCV as simplified initials. However, ‘Corona’ as a literal parlance means ‘Crown’. Well, in terms of how it relate to this virus still unknown and vaccine undiscovered. Once again, WHO also came out with it short pronunciation name CoViD-19 which is explained: Co = Corona, Vi = Virus, D = December, 19 = 2019. To some world medical Doctors the ‘D’ stands for Disease though. As far as this article is concerned then CV simply means Corona Virus as I used to title a Spoken-Word poem recording dubbed: ‘Oh CV!’ which can be listened to via the following web-link: www.soundcloud.com/ikeboatofficial/ohcv   – Of course, not the CV many known as Curriculum Vitae attached to some employment application letters.

Around the world over, in everything there is good and bad, right and wrong, or even positive and negative. Therefore, The CV Effects brings to bear both the Negative and Positive sides of this global CoViD-19 pandemic as it pictured in African perspective. Although, many lives have been lost in Europe, America and other continents than Africa, there is still need to bring readers to the CV positive and negative effects. Lo, to the curious minds, Positive in this context is not when someone is tested and he or she carries such fatal virus in the blood stream coupled with its symptoms of the body system. Aside, not negative when a person has contracted the virus. But contrary, in view of right conditions or states it has brought human-kind and made many, especially on the continent of Africa.

The Positive Ten – TPT (+10)

1. It has taught both young and old the critical need as well urgency to wash hands thoroughly with soap under running pipe-borne water or usage of ‘Veronica Bucket’. Hitherto, some proceed to eat meals without regular hand wash even after visiting nature’s call, be it public or private toilet.

2. To the religious minds, in the Christendom – It has established the possibility for the faith-oriented ones to learn to pray on their own and for themselves even to intercede for others respectively. Thus, no dependency on Pastors or Priests to pray for them in times of critical spiritual conditions as there are no social functions or gatherings such as Church service, crusades etc.

3. It has also changed peoples habitual drunkenness as some often go to secret spots, bars or even pubs at even dawn times to engage in alcoholism i.e.(Excessive in-take of alcohol). That means positively there is nose-dive of people being piss-pots in order not to affect their health status.

4. Generally, those in Africa particularly the sub-region often refrain from covering their nostril even though pollution of different forms in the atmosphere hinders respiratory process. Thus, regular usage of ‘Nose Mask’ or ‘Face Mask’ has prevented many from inhaling other poisonous substances in the atmosphere through the nose or mouth.

5. There has been decrease of over-population problems in some countries of Africa, America, Europe, Asia etc. It obvious over-population bring about other economic hardships to the human society, thus some sort of positive death effect any way.

6. To those seeking ‘greener pastures’ in some European or American countries there will be many job or work opportunities for them to travel in enhancing their human resource-based when  the whole pandemic pass away and people have freedom of movement.

7. Nowadays, there is reasonable usage of handkerchiefs and tissues to cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, as in times past some folks thought it was just some sort of involuntary action in life.

8. People have learnt the act of physical or social-distancing and isolation when it comes to buying and selling at public places as some form queues during customer service i.e.(Food Joints, Banking Halls and other places) which are often crowdie and congested, aside demands proper-spacing at public areas.

9. Being frugal on funeral and burial services in Ghana particularly has advantageously changed as those dead are buried quickly like the ‘Islamic way’, not kept in mortuary or morgue. Also, without mounting canopies and organizing of wake-keeping, playing music during funeral-related activities.

10. Similarly, those who spend huge-sums of money on wedding, engagement and birthday parties has changed dramatically as only twenty-five (25) people are accepted during social gatherings with regard to government directive.

The Negative Ten – TNT (-10)

              1. Obviously, the bad or negative impact of Lock-Downs on some sub-Saharan countries such as Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ivory Coast has been a bitter pill to swallow, especially those working from hand-t0-mouth on daily basis. Both, the partial and total Lock-Downs have made many remained hungry at various homes since they couldn’t reach-out to work so no means to make money for their livelihood.

             2. The death of individuals, some known relatives abroad and those popular show-biz celebrity and other professionals such as Musicians, Actors, Doctors etc. have left sad indelible marks on the minds of many as grave-yards are equaled to ancient castle-gate or door-way of  no return to life.

               3. No regular cordial forms of hand-shake salutation so some have sense of emotionalism and unseen feud of hatred being a negative sign rather than CV symptoms itself.

               4. Badly, no classroom form of education to study as schools and other corporate institutions, supermarkets, malls have generally close-down for so many months in Ghana, and other parts of the world. But, those with no knowledge about computer-related online learning or studies that means when there is possibility of examination it will be to their ‘negative’ disadvantage since they can’t fathom certain topics in the curriculum. Aside, would need professional teacher’s assistance.

               5. Some company employers have also laid-off workers, staff members and abrogated or cancelled contracts of personnel as consumers are not patronizing products and services rendered to the masses. More so, the international Airline industries as well Maritime agencies of ports and harbours are not in regular operations affecting the entire global economy.

               6. Family members and friends who have made monetary promises to send financial support to relatives in Africa are facing hard times due to uncertain Lock-Down restrictions and conditions.

               7. There have been sky-rocketing prices of products at market-places, especially sanitizer becoming mostly sought after CV preventive and protective product on the continent of Africa and beyond. Unimaginably, it has also affected some other food stuffs and products previously on little demand.

               8. The increase of pre-paid electricity unit buying, as school boys and girls supposed to be at school during classroom hours are at home watching television and using other electrical appliances to the disadvantage of parents suffering to pay other utility bills. To some parents, noise-making at home has been on higher-heights as children playing and hitting objects aimlessly keep disturbing them.

               9. Unknowingly, some government officials and those at front-line of work to ensure cure or possible healing process of the CV disease are rather making money to engage in different projects and use during political campaign rallies season. A couple of weeks, whilst at an audio recording studio at Top Hill of Kasoa, information revealed that some people with negative test of the CoViD-19 are falsely quarantined in order to ensure more donors funding support. Unhealthily, monies giving by both local and global organizations are channeled to different projects to the ‘negative’ disadvantage effect of the global Corona VirusCV pandemic.

               10. Last not but least, some of us with other talents in the Arts performing industry are not getting events gig booking coupled with other benefits due to the negative side effect of Corona VirusCV pandemic as there are no special social shows and programs to ensure participation or performances.

From Ike Boateng in Ghana

Poetry from Mark Murphy

Snowfall in June

The civilised man only has will to conquer himself. –

Anon.

Some nights when the snow is silent

only the moon hisses as it arcs

through the night

cheating moonflower and evening star

into confiding in its magic

But magic alone is not enough

to secure the applecart

or endow the adder with agency

Some nights even the Stix freezes over

giving the snow a chance

to shine bright as Charon’s solitude

caught between ice and fire

in long nights of ferrying and panic

*

Now suppliant and lickspittle move in

for the kill in a bid to steal

obolus from the mouths of the dead –

only to find the Nightbird has flown

proffering snow as a metaphor

for exiting hell

Tangents

Hard to swallow yet another yarn

but you continue to thread the needle

with no lack of imagination

like a man accustomed to telling

the piece-mender

how to mend

as if the string-along

was natural as tying your boot laces

*

Not so much ‘losing the thread’

as ‘losing the plot’

as you spout ancient nothings

about soul science

and the lower fourth dimension

Sloughing

To rid itself of parasites and enable

new growth,

the sidestepping cobra slowly sheds its skin

but do not be fooled

by the sight of one predator leaving

itself defenseless as it eradicates another.

You must always be on your guard

and remember –

even without coiling

to assume the strike position

danger strikes

silently spitting venom without warning.

*

Anyone unfortunate enough to be acquainted

with the hooded menace

might wish to keep a mongoose

at hand to offset any material losses,

prevent further trespass

and send him packing (not before time)

into the dustbin of all your past mistakes.

Poetry from Mark Young

 A line from Bruce Sterling
  
 A London based electronic 
 music producer uses
 Ukrainian water pipes &
 huge funnel clouds to 
  
 create movie special 
 effects. She calls this a
 non-populist activity, for
 she sees the resultant out-
  
 puts as works of scientific 
 art. There are images of 
 wreckage & personal 
 belongings, the inner 
  
 workings of cells. Debris 
 in the air, but an FX
 hurricane manages to keep 
 the place looking spotless.
  
 
  
 A line from Léopold Sédar Senghor
  
 A user-centric evaluation 
 framework means older 
 people have more problems 
 learning new systems, even
  
 when there is improved 
 access to a variety of 
 language structures. We 
 noted an anomaly: re-
  
 dundancy on both the 
 systems & user side means
 that nominal data is never 
 uniform in the interval
  
 between successive work-
 outs. When you're indoct-
 rinated, not even a lullaby
 will smooth the readings.
 
 A line from Stormy Daniels
  
 I usually stay away from 
 writing self-centered self-
 help articles, let the feed 
 dogs pull the triangles into 
  
 position. That center triangle 
 is very critical. But, different 
 houses, a different set of rules
 for the game of Go. A year 
  
 of headlines about Russian 
 interference; & I feel like I'm 
 running through a minefield
 looking for red lines to remove.
 
 A line from Cyndi Lauper
  
 In the Darwinian world of
 the digital switchover, broad-
 casters were evacuated due 
 to a major embolism, possibly
  
 the biggest thing to happen 
 since the introduction of color. 
 Don't blame the government—
 the High Court judgement was 
  
 flawed. Amnesty International 
 has been sounding the alarm 
 for more than a year that the TV
 channels had strong incentives 
  
 to grow their audiences through
 human trafficking. Now they sit
 there, heels on fire, cutting every
 cost without fear of any penalty.
   

Kiran Bhat reviews Behrooz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountains

Review of No Friend But the Mountains, by Behrooz Boochani

Behrouz Boochani's book, a man's face visible in the shadows of a dimly lit area.
Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountains

The seamlessness of borders, and the seamlessness of bodies; these are one in the same in the opening words of No friend But the Mountains. For, as we begin this book, after what appears to be many months of pointless fleeing, on foot, by truck, we are on a boat, in Boochani’s mind, along with several other people fleeing persecution in their countries, lost in the swish-swash of the sea.

The sea swells as it bends, it burns as it also churns. Such is the great power of equity; to render all in the horizon as infinite, to make it all feel like endlessness, to take many bodies, from many corners of the world, and to make them on this boat One Thing. In this case the word we give to these people, who were previously Kurdish, or Sri-Lankan, or Burmese, is ‘refugee.’ A person who is state-less. A person who happens to be in between countries.

In Boochani’s case, this is not the transnational-ness of a privileged First Worlder or even of an intellectual exile. Just for wanting to flee ethnic persecution, Boochani is immediately sent to Manus Island, Australia’s answer to Alcatraz. It is a grueling and harsh prison ruled by the most militant of guards. We see fathers of an old age lose their children, the dignity beaten out of people who were once the proudest, and the most flamboyant of characters, stripped to the peels of what they once were.

Boochani chooses to tell his tale in chapters, with strips of first person narration interrupted by sparse, poetic reflections. The language of the narration itself is professional, insightful, and well-crafted. I was struck often by the simpleness and yet beauty of sentences, such as on page 78 of my Kindle edition, “I was probably the lightest traveller in the history of all the world’s airports. It was just me, the clothes on my back, a book of poetry, a packet of smokes, and my manhood.” Another one was on page 143: “A killer is a killer; violence oozes out through their blurred, diluted pupils. I’m convinced that the soul of a killer is reflected in their eyes.” Like seashells on the coast, sentences like these are everywhere in the book. Whether this comes from the innate Persian of the original manuscript or the translator’s hidden talents is hard to gleam, but regardless, the coarse rifts of insight studded through the language made this a stunning text to read.

As per the poetic interludes which bifurcate the text, I had more mixed thoughts. In general, I enjoyed the musings on nature, life, and thought, but the amount of ones which felt earned were less than the ones that were repetitive and self-indulgent. With certain stylistic choices, I think it is always best to err on the side of less than more, and to choose the ones with the most poetry and thought behind them. The one which I thought was the most impressive was Boochani’s invocation of the mountains in a pattern of a dream.


“The ruckus of our terrified group / The sound of weeping in the background / The beating of waves / The petrified, silent screaming / The tormented wailing / Waves rocking a cradle containing a corpse / All within a domain of death and darkness / My mother is present / She is there alone / Travelling over the ocean or emerging from within the waves? / Where is she? / I don’t know / I only know she is there / Alongside me / She is afraid / She is smiling, and she is weeping / Shedding tears from years of sorrow / I don’t know / Why is my mother cheerful? / Why is she weeping? / I witnessed a wedding celebration with rituals of dance / I witnessed lamentations that dictated demise / Where could this place be? / Grand mountain peaks covered with snow, full of ice, abounding in cold / I am there / I am an eagle / I am flying over the mountainous terrain / Over mountains covering mountains / There is no ocean in sight / From all ends, the territory is completely dry / The presence of ancient chestnut oaks / The presence of my mother / She is always present.” (p. 29-31)

In the case of this particular transition, Boochani’s fleeting language creates a willful transition between the puncture of the boat and Behroonani waking up after. It inserts some surrealism into an otherwise grounded story, and the transition works in setting up the scene that follows after, Boochani being very much in prison. The others were sometimes too pseudo-poetic. For example,

“I am on the threshold / Entering the labyrinth of death / Perhaps the essence of death involves war / Both living and dying at once / I swim through my own hallucinations / All these images / The constructions of my own mind.” (p. 39)

Boochani has these thoughts right as he is entering the water again while a guard chases him. The scene would have been much more interesting if Boochani took the risk of describing the brunt way he is fished out of the ocean, but instead, the poetic interlude undercuts the drama and makes it feel abstract.

Though, I would have preferred more graphic descriptions of the boat going under that more pseudo-poetic underlines.

Characters are not given names in Boochani’s books, but archetypes. In a book like this one, where people have had their humanity humiliated, but are still very much human through and through, I personally believe this works to great effect. It also made certain characters stronger for me. There was Maysam the Whore, a flamboyant dancer who could have easily been a character out of a Dostoevsky novel. Maysam the Whore is both shamelessly flirtatious, and also the proud source of many a tease. The story of the Father of the Months Old Child is realistic and all the while heart-breaking. Boochani’s abilities to characterize are impressive, and I would love to see what he would do if ever he wrote a novel. Each of these characters who are never given name are given more than that: they are entire identities, as well as entire entities.


All in all, No Friend But the Mountains is one of the best books that I have seen published in the last few years. I don’t know if it is emblematic of the sad fact that memoir is often more powerful than fiction these days, or if it is because Boochani and his translator are just that talented of a team, but the observations on each and every page are enough to fill term papers on, and one could spend equally as many hours reflecting on the narrative’s embedded poetry. The book finally ends on a rebellion set on the prison. Like Odysseus facing the Cyclops or Arjuna facing Karna, the prisoners, the aboriginal Papus, and the Australians face off as well, giving the sense of tension akin to the best of ancient literature. Humans fight for their lives, as well as for what they believe to be right, but most importantly, the dignity of love. After all, what is life without hope? And what happens to that hope, if it ends before it has been given the right to inspire, or to the right to show its light?

Boochani, Behrouz. No Friend but the Mountains (pp. 29-31). House of Anansi Press Inc. Kindle Edition. Available here.

Essay from Norman J. Olson

threshing day

by:  Norman J. Olson

as many who read this will know, I lived on a small, failing dairy farm in west central Wisconsin from 1948, when I was born, until 1959, when my family moved to the slums of St. Paul’s East Side…  in the 1950s, farming was becoming increasingly mechanized…  the farms were getting larger and the more successful farmers were buying larger and larger machines…  as the farms became businesses, and more like industrial concerns, the smaller farmers could not compete and were simply driven out of business…  I remember the last of the horses from the very early 1950s but after the War, horses were very quickly leaving the rural landscape, at least work horses… 

my dad owned an old John Deere tractor…  this was a small tractor, a Model B…  the Model A was much larger and my dad’s cousin Erick who lived just down the road had two Model A’s…  Carlin Lund who lived between our farm and Erick’s farm had a Farmall, which was a much more modern looking and seeming machine…  the Farmall was big and red with the engine enclosed in part by a streamlined gas tank at the top…  and had a regular engine instead of the old two cylinder John Deere so, it hummed like a car instead of having the distinctive John Deere “putt putt” sound…  it also had a battery and electric starter and a foot clutch like a car…  the John Deeres that I was familiar with had a lever to the right of the steering wheel that was the clutch and connected to an open pulley just in front of the axels for the massive drive wheels…  inside the pulley was the clutch mechanism…  on the other side of the engine, just opposite of the pulley, was a flywheel, a big heavy cast iron wheel that spun as the two cylinder engine putt putted along…  to start the engine, one would manually give the flywheel a spin…  you did this by just opening the throttle a bit and grabbing the wheel and spinning it…  for a grown man, this was not hard but as 8 and 9 year old children, my brother and I had to rear back and spin with all our might to turn over the engine and get the thing to start…

on Erick’s Model As, there were pit-cocks, little valves, that you had to open before attempting to spin the flywheel…  the pit-cocks would relieve the back pressure in the cylinder so that one could turn the flywheel…  otherwise, the compression of the engine was so strong that the flywheel was virtually impossible to turn, even for a grown man…

anyway, my brother and I loved to drive the tractor…  it had three gears, none of which was very fast and to drive it, you would select your gear, then engage the clutch and control the speed with a hand operated throttle which was where the turn signal lever is on a modern car…  you could not change gears without stopping…  Erick’s Model A’s had what my dad called a “road gear” which was an extra fast gear for driving on the road…  my brother and I loved to drive Erick’s big tractors but, I was scared of the road gear…  it seemed too fast… 

we were always told to stay clear of the big back tires of the tractor…  the driving wheels as they were very dangerous and that was probably good advice…  but, we climbed all over the tractor and drove it whenever we got the chance…  and by the time I left the farm at age 11, I was an excellent tractor driver…  could back up a four wheel hay wagon…  quite a tricky maneuver…  and choose the correct speed and correct gears for the job whether it was pulling the manure spreader or cultivating corn…  in those days, herbicides were only just beginning to be introduced and so the tractor was used to cultivate the corn…  there was a mechanism called a “cultivator” that attached to the tractor and had shovels or teeth that dug into the ground…  this was set up so that the teeth went between the rows of corn and driving across the field the teeth would dig up the soil, digging up any weeds that were growing between the rows… when the tractor reached the end of a pass across a field, the driver would reach to the side and push down a mechanical lever that would raise the teeth up out of the ground, so you could turn the tractor and start a pass back in the opposite direction on the next set of rows…  for a grown man, throwing this lever was not too difficult, but for us 8 and 9 year olds, it was impossible from the driver’s seat…  so one of us would drive the tractor and the other would throw the lever… standing perched on the hitch and the axel of the tractor…  we loved cultivating corn and took turns driving the tractor and operating the lever…  

the crops we raised were oats, barley and corn (maize)…  in the very middle of summer, the oats and barley would be ripe and it would be time to harvest…  my dad was kind of contrary and did not like the mechanized farming that was coming in where the harvest was done by a combine…  instead of the old way using a threshing machine…  in our area, the combine was new and only the biggest, richest farmers had them, but by 1959, everyone used a combine and the threshing machines were all parked in back fields, where they can still be seen today, rusting away… 

threshing time was great fun and the most exciting time of the year for me…  Old Man Torgeson up the road had an old wooden threshing machine…  the threshing machine was stationary and was run by a belt from the pulley of a big tractor…   to our young eyes, the threshing machine was huge and made an enormous racket…  we were told to stay far away from the belt that ran from the tractor to the threshing machine and from the labyrinth of belts on the side of the huge machine as those belts were very very dangerous…  in fact, Old Man Torgeson was missing a few fingers on one hand from and accident involving the belts of the threshing machine…  the old guy’s job was to run the threshing machine and I can see him with his striped overalls and a big oil can in his crippled hand…  walking around the huge roaring machine adjusting here and oiling there…

the threshing machine worked on bundles of grain that were tossed onto a conveyor chain that ran into the machine…  the hay wagons would be piled with grain bundles and farmers with pitchforks would throw the bundles from the wagon to the conveyor chute…  inside the machine, vibrating screens separated the grain from the straw…  the grain fell through the screens and the straw was sucked into a huge fan that blew it out of a pipe…  the grain was carried by a conveyor to another pipe with an auger that would  put it into a storage bin…  the storage bin would be emptied into a grain wagon that would haul the grain to the farm granary where an elevator would carry the grain up through an upper window where the gain would fall onto a metal trough that would direct it into the proper grain storage bin…

several farmers would work together on a threshing crew going from farm to farm until all the grain was threshed…  in our case, I remember the crew being my dad, his cousin Erick, Carl Lund and the Torgesons…  you could tell when it was time to thresh the grain because the grain was dry and golden brown… about a week before threshing day, the individual farmer would go over his own field with a machine called a grain binder…  the grain binder was an old horse drawn machine with the wooden tongue cut short and with a metal hitch so it could be hitched to the back of the tractor…  this machine was operated by a huge steal driving wheel so as the machine was pulled forward, the gears and chains connected to the driving wheel would operate the moving parts…  the grain was cut by a toothed sickle that moved back and forth…  the grain then fell onto a canvas conveyor belt and was carried into the machine where it was bundled into sheaves and each sheave was automatically tied with a piece of twine and the sheave, which we called a “bundle,” was dropped on the ground…  when the whole field was done, the farmer had to go over the field by hand, picking up the bundles and stacking them in tents of seven bundles per tent to get the grain up off the ground so air could get at it so it could dry…  the little tents of grain bundles were called “shocks” and that job was called “shocking grain…” 

then on the day before threshing day, Old Man Torgeson would bring his threshing machine to the farm and set it up with a belt from the pulley of the big tractor to run the machine…  one of his sons had a Ford tractor, which was low to the ground and had fenders, and looked to us, much more like a car than the other tractors…  this son used the Ford tractor to haul the grain wagon; hauling the grain from the threshing machine to the granary…  another farmer would handle the straw that blew out of a large pipe at the back end of the threshing machine…  he would use a big fork and move the pipe around to arrange the straw into a pile…  in those days, every farm had a straw pile behind the barn…  the straw was used for bedding for the cows and always there would be various lumps in the area from where old straw piles had been…  old straw piles were a great place to plant musk melons…  and huge bull thistles loved to grow in old straw piles…

the other farmers would take their hay wagons and drive around the field from grain shock to grain shock… a farmer on the ground with a three tined pitchfork would spear the grain bundles and toss them up to the guy on the hay wagon who would stack them into a load…  a third farmer, often a kid, would drive the tractor…  piling the load so the bundles would not fall off the wagon as the pile got higher was pretty tricky and both of the wagon jobs were heavy and hard work requiring the strength of a grown man… or a big strong kid…  my brother would sometimes throw the bundles up on the wagon to my dad while I drove the tractor but more often two of the men would handle those jobs and we would just drive the tractor…  our favorite thing to do was to ride in the grain wagon…  which was always full of crickets and beetles…  also, threshing time was always the time that the little black raspberries we called “black caps” were ripe and they grew all over in the fence rows… we would steal away whenever we could to pick a handful of black caps to eat…  a little burst of sweet juicy flavor in the heat and dust of threshing…

on threshing day, the farm wife or in Erick’s case, his mother, would get all of her female friends and relatives together and they would cook and make mountains of food…  pies and cakes, potatoes and fried chicken or roast beef…  cookies, sandwiches for lunch, Kool-Aid and soda for the kids, coffee and beer for the men…  grandma was there and in the heat of summer, with the wood stove going full blast, I always remember the women as looking warm and red in the face…  but the food was amazing…  early in the morning, all the farmers would do their own chores and then have breakfast and head for the farm where the threshing machine had been set up the day before…  they would start loading and threshing and around ten a.m. would take a break for lunch…  the women and kids would bring lunch to the men in the fields and around the threshing machine…  lunch was sandwiches made not with ordinary homemade bread but with fancy Wonderbread from the store…  homemade cookies and Kool-Aid or coffee to drink…  for the men, doing that hard hot heavy dusty work, it was really nice to sit down with a sandwich, a cookie and a cup of coffee…  talk a bit…  I remember laughing and joking…  as the farmers were a jolly enough bunch…  a few risqué comments in Norwegian…  and after maybe half an hour, it was back to work…  then what we called “dinner” was served at noon…  that would be a big meal of meat and potatoes with vegetable casseroles and pie and cake for desert…  and plenty of coffee about half diluted with heavy cream…

after dinner, the men would sit around for a while talking and smoking and drinking beer…  then it was back to work until about three p.m. when their would be another lunch, more sandwiches, cookies and coffee and then back to work until about 6 when everybody would leave to go home and do their evening chores…  after which they would have a meal that we called “Supper…”  funny but with all that food those men were not fat…  in fact, they were all trim and pretty fit from the hours of hard exercise…  and faces and arms were brown from the sun…  my brother and I liked to spend the summer without a shirt so, after the first week or so of sunburn, by threshing time, our pale Norwegian skin was very brown and we could be out in the sun all day without being burned…

I was always sad to see threshing end…  it usually lasted only two or three days, a day and a half of actual threshing and then another half day each for setting up and taking down the machine…  I remember the Torgesons heading down the barnyard driveway…  one son driving the tractor with the hay wagon, followed by the son with the Ford tractor and the grain wagon, followed by the old man driving the big tractor pulling the old threshing machine… 

all of this was done away with by the introduction in the 1950s to that area of Wisconsin, of the combine…  the combine then was much like the machine in use today only not as big as the modern version…  but, it was a machine that drove across the field that was operated by one man and did the whole operation at once, cutting and threshing the grain and leaving a trail of straw on the field…  well, there is always something lost with progress…  so what the farmers gained in efficiency was paid for dearly in the loss of the one really social and fun time I remember from the farm…  threshing time…  so few of us anymore really know the pleasure of hard work…  of using our strength and piling a wagon high with bundles that will hold together for the drive to the threshing machine…  of the taste of a blackberry or a creamy cup of coffee when it feels good just to sit for a minute and rest aching arms and backs…  of a hard day spent over a hot cookstove turning raw materials into an amazing amount of wonderful food…  I had the good fortune to see just the tail end of farming before it became a truly mechanical and industrial enterprise carried out by a giant robot operated by a hired hand listening to the radio in an air-conditioned cabin…  twenty feet up from the field of stubble…

the last horse and the tractor

the old John Deere tractor

was bought just after the war…  I can

barely remember the last of the horses,

huge and stomping around,

led by harness reins…

these were not race horses or

riding horses, delicate as the frost, but

workhorses with hooves the size of

dinner plates…  and shaggy coats…

I can see my dad

with the horse hoof held between

his legs, nails in his mouth,

nailing horseshoes

to the hooves of

a big slow black workhorse…

the last horse was named Black Beauty and I remember his death

the horse was ill and was standing,

leaning against the chicken coop…

I could hear the cracking

and groaning of the wood…

it was blue black night and

the enormous old horse

was

screaming in a harrowing whinny,

almost like a person…  the

adults were afraid he was

going to knock the

chicken coop over…  I remember

my dad at the old wooden

phone that hung on the kitchen wall, cranking

up the phone, holding

the ear piece…

calling

cousin Erik

to come with his rifle

and I remember the

crack of the shot…  then

the last of the horses

was gone…  gone like childhood

or like yesterday morning, gone

like the sound

of an old John Deere tractor

sputtering

over the hills of my memory, gone

like a rifle shot

in the blue black night…

Poetry from Hongri Yuan, translated from Mandarin to English by Manu Mangattu

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO PLATINUM CITY

Middle aged Chinese man dressed in  slacks, brown shoes, a white coat and a scarf and striped shirt standing  in a city plaza, concrete with trees in planters.
Author Hongri Yuan

      An Editor’s Notation, following conversation with the translator…

This brief reader’s introduction to Chinese poet-philosopher Hongri Yuan’s Platinum City poem which is his vision (while meditating in 1991 and written in 1998).  It is his view of a civilization from the ancient past, its connection with prior human life and the projection that with more awareness humans could become a more universal future civilization and people. From his consideration of ancient times wherein humans were giant-like and more idealized and gods idealized beings, he suggests that this view offers us a glimpse of what mankind may become with elimination of boundaries of nation, race and religion, for instance.  

Yuan believes that concepts of good vs. evil and beauty vs. ugliness will dissipate and humans can achieve a more universal civilization and homeland in the universe.  Further, Yuan notes that prior times don’t disappear but remain locked within Space, and discovery of more such civilizations can only provide humans with keys to our advancement in the future.

Platinum City 
 
 By Chinese Poet Hongri Yuan
 Translated by Manu Mangattu
 Assistant Professor, Department of English
 St George College Aruvithura, India
 manumangattu@gmail.com
 www.mutemelodist.com
  
  
 Ah! Of iridescent gems of time
 The heavenly road you paved light!
 In a kingdom of stars,
 I found my home.
 In the golden cities,
 I opened the gates of the city to the sun,
 To behold the godly giants.
 At the royal palace of the jewel
 I read of prehistoric wonderful poems
 The enormous, gorgeous ancient books.
 Carved with the golden words 
 The wondrous strange mystery tales,
 Made my eyes drunken.
 I walked into the full new universes,
 And saw the holy kingdoms:
 Even before the earth was born
 The erstwhile home of human history.
  
 Across Time and Space in crystalline glitter
 Stands this moment a platinum city –
 The spaceships drifting leisurely,
 Like the birds, resplendent in variegated hues.
  
 In the crystal garden I saw
 A crowd of youthful giants,
 Their eyes were bright and glittering
 In the aura of the body sparkle..
  
 Across Time and Space in crystalline glitter
 Stands this moment a platinum city 
 The spaceships drifting leisurely,
 Like large birds, resplendent in variegated hues.
  
 They sang happy songs
 They danced a wonderful dance
 Lanky boys and girls in pairs
 As if to celebrate the splendid carnival.
  
 I saw a circular edifice
 High above the city.
 Giving out white-bright lightnings.
 Raised ground to fly into the quiet space.
  
 A frame of platinum edifice
 Creating a beautiful pattern.
 The whole city is a circle
 Arranged into a fine structure.​
  
 Into a bright hall I went.
 A strange instrument there I saw.
 A huge screen hanging on the wall,
 Displaying a golden space​.
  
 Like bits of colourful crystal gemstones!
 Resplendent with variegated colours of the city!
 Those strange and beautiful high-rise buildings
 A sight better than the myth of the world.
  
 I saw lines of strange letters.
 On one side of the screen flashed swiftly
 Numerous young and strong giants
 An effort to concentrate on the changing images.
  
 Their look is quiet and peaceful.
 The learned flame flashes in their eyes.
 In a flash of clothes
 The next is a whole.
  
 Their stature, unusually tall.
 Each one is well-nigh seven meters high.
 Both men and women look dignified
 Almost no age difference apparent.
  
 Their skin is white as snow
 With a faint flashy shine
 Bright eyes are as naive as an infant’s
 Also kindled with a strange flame.
  
 They manipulate the magic of the instrument.
 The pictures of the changing space.
 Their language is artless and plane.
 As the bell is generally pleasant.
  
 As I survey the length and breadth of the bright hall
 I feel a powerful energy
 Body and mind suffused with bliss and delight.
 As if I too am a giant.​
  
 I seem to understand their language.
 They are exploring the mysteries of the universe.
 The cities on a lot of planets
 Peopled with their countless partners.
  
 Their mind they use to manipulate the instrument
 Also can to transfer data be used
 Even thousands of miles apart
 Also to talk free to the heart.
  
 Many lines of text on the screen
 Is but a message from afar.
 The whole universe is their home.
 They build cities in space.
  
 They use the spaceships 
 To transport you to far-distant other spaces.
 Into a lightning, a moment, and you
 Vanish into thin air, without a trace.
  
 I feel a new civilization.
 They have magical eyes.
 They seem to be able to see the future
 And can enter diverse time-spaces.
  
 Men and women are holy and loving
 Superior to our world's so-called love
 They don't seem to understand ageing
 Neither do they know about war.
  
 Time seems not to exist
 Science is jut a wonderful art
 Their happiness comes from the creation of
 A universe full of divine love.
  
 I saw a young giant
 Opening the door of a platinum 
 A round, magnificent hall
 Packed with rows of giant s of men and women.​
  
 I saw a crystal stage.
 Gyrating at the center of the hall.
 Where a dignified and beautiful girl
 Was playing a huge musical instrument.
  
 A bunch of golden rays,
 Shifting with all kinds of brilliant graphics
 A mysterious and beautiful music
 Like the Dragon leisurely crowing.
  
 Thence I saw an enormous giant
 Jump out of the remarkable dance onto the stage.
 His hands held a huge ball
 Which flashed with many colourful drawing .
  
 I saw a group of young girls
 Wearing a kind of white dresses
 They seemed to fly lightly
 Like the giant cranes.
  
 The huge circular hall was resplendent
 With clear, transparent decoration.
 Like a bizarre gem of a full set,
 Scintillating brilliantly in the light.
  
 I saw a young singer
 About the golden flame
 The sound was strange and striking
 Like singing , like chanting too.
  
 Their music is at once mysterious and blissful
 That shift randomly like the lightning
 As if many planets of the universe
 Shining bright and light​ in space.
  
 The crystal city, aloft in space
 Looks resplendent, magnificent
 Countless wonderful golden flowers
 Bloom and blush in that flawless space.
  
 I saw an image of a transparent smiling face,
 As if it were a colourful garden
 The sky shed the golden light 
 And turned it into a city of gold​.
  
 I strode out of the circular hall
 Came to a wide street with a smooth
 Pavement covered with precious stones
 And in line with the platinum edifice.
  
 There are no terrestrial trees here,
 But they are in full bloom with a lot of exotic flowers.
 Sparkling with rich incense,
 Shaping a garden at the center of the street.
  
 Some strange flowers were there.
 The branches as transparent crystal
 Flashing all kinds of brilliant colours;
 And bunches of round golden fruit​.
  
 I saw a huge statue.
 It was like a spaceship.
 Clustered around by shining stars,
 High above the centre of the street.
  
 I saw the column of a dazzling fountain
 In a huge circle in the square;
 The elegantly modelled statues
 Portraying the holy giants​.
  
 The soaring magnificent edifices
 Ran round the circle square.
 There were some garden villas
 There was a platinum steeple.
  
 I saw a wide river
 Girdling this huge city
 The bottom flashed with transparent gold dust,
 Amidst which were scattered brilliant gems.
  
 The planning of tall trees on shore
 And a long crystal corridor
 A big multi-coloured bird
 Three five one group floated on the surface of the water.
  
 I saw a vast forest
 The swaying tree, a tree of gold
 The trees with towering spires
 And as some platinum Pavilion​.
  
 I saw some giants along the walk,
 Some male and female bodybuilders.
 At the water's brink or in the forest
 Like birds carefree and relaxed.
  
 The wonderful space was as bright as crystal
 Embraced this platinum city;
 A giant, white and bright ball
 Flashing boundless light into the air​.
  
 It resembled the huge suns
 And like the man-made planets
 The whole city was shining too,
 Weaving a rare breed of magic​.
  
 A strange speeding train circled
 About the city back and forth;
 There seemed to be a kind of track in the sky
 Like a shiny silver curve​.
  
 They seated body white buildings 
 As if it was a dreamlike maze
 This huge city was unusually quiet,
 Could not even hear the sound of the wind​.
  
 I bade goodbye to the platinum city.
 Near a golden space
 Stands another city here
 A huge city of gold​.
  
 The building here is also huge.
 But it's another beautiful shape.
 The whole city is glittering
 Golden edifice as beautiful as sculpture.
  
 Here there live some other giants.
 As if from another nation
 They have boundless wisdom.
 Like a golden, holy civilization.
 3.3. 1998
  
  
Bio: Hongri Yuan, born in China in 1962, is a poet and philosopher interested particularly in creation. Representative works include Platinum City, The City of Gold, Golden Paradise, Gold Sun and Golden Giant. His poetry has been published in the UK, USA, India, New Zealand, Canada and
Nigeria. The theme of his work is the exploration about human prehistoric civilization and future civilization.
  

 
 《白金城市》
 远红日
  
 时间的五彩宝石啊
 你铺成了光芒的天路
 在一座星辰的王国
 我找到了自己的家园
 我打开一座座太阳的城门
 在一座座黄金的城市
 见到了一个个神圣的巨人
 在那宝石镶嵌的皇宫
 阅读了史前奇妙的诗篇
 一部部古奥华丽的巨书
 镌雕着黄金的词语
 一篇篇玄奇美妙的故事
 迷醉了我的双眼
 我走进了一个个崭新的宇宙
 看到了一座座圣洁的王国
 在地球还没有诞生之前
 曾经是人类的史前的家园
  
 时空的水晶啊光芒闪耀
 一座白金的城市矗立眼前
 一只只飞船悠悠飘过
 像一只只巨鸟五光十色
  
 我看到一个个年轻的巨人
 身体闪耀七彩的光环
 他们的眼睛欢喜明亮
 聚会在一座水晶的花园
  
 他们唱着欢快的歌曲
 跳着一种奇妙的舞蹈
 一对对高大的少男少女
 仿佛在庆贺盛大的节日
  
 我看到一座圆形的巨厦
 高高耸立在城市的上空
 发出一道道白亮的闪电
 高高地飞入宁静的太空
  
 一座座通体白金的巨厦
 构成了一个美妙的图案
 整个城市是一个圆形
 排列成一个精致的结构
  
 我走进一座明亮的大厅
 看到一排奇特的仪器
 墙上悬挂巨大的屏幕
 显映出一片金色的太空
  
 一座座五光十色的城市
 像一块块五彩晶莹的宝石
 那些奇丽的高楼巨厦
 胜过了人间幻想的神话
  
 我看到一行行陌生的字母
 在一面屏幕上匆匆闪过
 几位年轻健壮的巨人
 专注地观看变幻的图像
  
 他们的神情宁静安然
 两眼闪映智慧的光芒
 穿着一种闪光的衣装
 通体上下是一个整体
  
 他们的身材异常高大
 个个足有七米多高
 男男女女容貌端庄
 几乎没有年龄的区别
  
 他们的皮肤洁白如雪
 隐隐闪出亮丽的光泽
 明亮的眼睛单纯如婴儿
 又含着一种奇异的火焰
  
 他们操纵神奇的仪器
 变幻太空一幅幅图景
 他们的语言简洁流畅
 像钟磬一般悦耳动听
  
 我端详这座明亮的大厅
 感受到一种强大的能量
 身心充满了幸福欢喜
 自己也仿佛变成了巨人
  
 我似乎听懂了他们的语言
 他们在探索宇宙的奥秘
 那一颗颗星球上的城市
 住着他们无数个伙伴
  
 他们用意念操纵仪器
 也可以用意念传递信息
 即使相距千里万里
 也可以自由地用心交谈
  
 那屏幕上的一行行文字
 即是远方传来的信息
 整个宇宙是他们的家园
 他们在太空建造城市
  
 他们乘坐的太空飞船
 可以到达另外的空间
 一瞬间化成一道闪电 
 在空中变得无影无踪
  
 我感受到一种新的文明
 他们长着神奇的眼睛
 他们似乎能看到未来
 也能进入不同的时空
  
 男男女女都圣洁慈爱
 胜过人间所谓的爱情
 他们仿佛不懂得衰老
 也不知道什么叫战争
  
 时间仿佛并不存在
 科学就是奇妙的艺术
 他们的快乐来自创造
 对宇宙充满神圣的感情
  
 我看到一位年轻的巨人
 打开了一座白金的大门
 一座圆形的华丽的大厅
 坐满了一排排男女巨人
  
 我看到一座水晶的舞台
 旋转在这座大厅的中央
 一位端庄美丽的少女
 演奏着一种巨型的乐器
  
 一束一束金色的光芒
 变幻出各种奇妙的图形
 一种玄妙动人的音乐
 仿佛是龙凤悠然的啼鸣
  
 我看到一位健美的巨人
 在台上跳出奇异的舞蹈
 他手中托起巨大的圆球
 球内闪耀着彩色的画图
  
 我看到一队妙龄的女郎
 穿着一种雪白的裙裳
 他们仿佛在翩翩飞翔
 像是一只只巨大的仙鹤
  
 巨大的圆厅金碧辉煌
 像水晶一般清澈透明
 又像是嵌满奇异的宝石
 闪耀出一种绚丽的光芒
  
 我看到一位年轻的歌手
 全身缭绕着金色的火焰
 那声音奇特而又优美
 像是歌唱又像是吟诵
  
 他们的音乐欢喜玄妙
 像一道道闪电变幻莫测
 仿佛是宇宙的一颗颗星球
 在太空中闪烁亮丽的光芒
  
 又仿佛一座座水晶的城市
 在空中矗立宏伟辉煌
 无数奇妙的金色的花朵
 开满了清澈晶莹的太空
  
 我看到一张张透明的笑脸
 仿佛是一座缤纷的花园
 金色的光芒从天空洒下
 化成了一座座黄金之城
  
 我走出了这座圆形大厅
 来到一条宽阔的街道
 光洁的路面嵌满宝石
 两旁林立白金的巨厦
  
 在这儿没有人间的树木
 却盛开各种奇异的花朵
 浓郁芳香又闪闪发光
 形成了一座座街心花园
  
 这是一些奇特的花木
 枝干透明仿佛水晶
 闪烁各种奇妙的颜色 
 还有一串串金色的圆果
  
 我看到一座巨大的塑像
 仿佛一个太空飞船
 高高地耸立在街头中心     
 周围闪耀一颗颗星球
  
 我看到一柱柱晶莹的喷泉
 在一座巨大的圆形广场
 一座座造型优美的雕像
 刻画出一个个圣洁的巨人
  
 一座座巍峨壮丽的巨厦
 环绕着这座圆形的广场
 巨厦的上面是一些花园
 还有一座座白金的尖塔
  
 我看到一条宽广的河流
 怀抱着这座巨大的城市
 水底闪映出透明的金沙
 还有一颗颗七彩的宝石
  
 岸边排列高大的花木
 和一条条水晶的长廊
 一种色彩亮丽的大鸟
 三五一群在水面飞翔
  
 我看到一座广阔的树林
 摇曳着一树树黄金的树叶
 树林中耸立一座座尖塔
 又仿佛一些白金的楼阁
  
 我看到一些漫步的巨人
 男男女女健美潇洒
 或在水边或在林中
 像鸟儿一般逍遥自在
  
 奇妙的太空亮如水晶  
 怀抱着这座白金城市
 一只一只白亮的巨球
 在空中闪放无际的光明
  
 仿佛是一颗颗巨大的太阳
 又像是一颗颗人造的星球
 整座城市也闪放光芒
 形成一种神奇的景象
  
 一种奇特的飞驰的列车
 在城市上空回环往复
 天空中仿佛有一种轨道
 像一条银白闪亮的曲线
  
 那一座座通体白亮的巨厦
 仿佛是一座座神奇的迷宫
 巨大的城市异常宁静
 甚至听不到风儿的声音  
  
 我告别了这座白金城市
 奔向了一片金色的太空
 在这儿矗立另一座城市
 一座巨大的黄金之城
  
 这儿的建筑同样巨大
 却是另一种美丽的造型
 整座城市金光灿烂
 黄金的巨厦美如雕塑
  
 这儿生活着另一些巨人
 仿佛来自另一个民族
 他们拥有伟大的智慧
 像黄金一般圣洁的文明 

Mixed media from Daniel DeCulla

Metal sculpture in a park that resembles two asteroids - or a bra. On a brick area in front of some trees.

Pic: de Culla

TWO STORMED ASTEROIDS

Robin Hood was making a monumental straw

In a clearly favorable sexual posture

In a place in his legendary Sherwood Forest

In Nottinghamshire, England

In which woodcut is made

Trying to get his prick really erect

Or iron rod where the Roman pylon runs

In the open slit that had the trunk, at his height

Of the famous and old Major Oak

Over eight hundred years old

When, suddenly, in his ejaculation, before putting it

Among the constellation of his sperm

That he related with the sternum

As a soldier of the Roman militia

That fought with a pole or spear

And went to the opposite sternum

Two racing cars or tormented asteroids

Fell in the center of the clear forest

Round star or buttock figure

That, for him, they were only two

Of the seven main stars of the Pleiades or Cabrillas

Or the twinned asses of Castor and Pollux

From the vulgar constellation of Gemini

Or two round kettledrums of dirty trick.

From his ejaculating post

Or important masturbating dignity

Prick chippet itself when it broke

Spiting sperms

Forcibly and rude

Near the mouth or astral slit of the Major Oak

Holding, forcing, constraining

His legendary cock

As the primitive Asturians did

Of Tarragona, Spain

Or that king of Persia from Holy Scripture

That  was Daríus

 Hytaspes or Artaxerxes Longamanus ‘son.

For the excellence of his masturbation

Robin Hood rose to the sky

Splitting with his prick

The celestial vault in twelve equal parts

By means of meridians

Knowing in the ecstasy of his self-esteem

The Physical Geography of the Earth:

The Ocean, the Gulf, the Bay

The Inlet, the Anchorage, the Strait

The Creek,  the Roads. Port and Outer Harbour

The Breakwater, Dock, Lighthouse and Watch

Etcetera etcetera; and from Heaven:

The Clouds: Cirrus, Stratum, Nimbus. Cumulus

The Fog, Rain, Snow

The Snowdrift, Aurora Borealis, Rainbow

Lightning, False Suns, Halos

Shooting Stars, Zodiacal Light, Fatty Fires

And, above all, Mirages

What he said shaking his prick

About Sherwood’s oak green:

-I fell from my Donkey.

Everything has been a mirage.

-Daniel de Culla