Tuesday, December 03, 2019

It's always nesting season for ants

In the silver oak, the black kites have begun nesting for the second straight year, but in the trees around this place, the fire ants are always nesting, regardless of season. They find trees with large leaves - even plants - and glue them into nests, even until the leaves dry and the trees shed.

I imagine these nests rattling the mild breeze that sometimes seizes the trees in this season.

The fire ants have colonised everything. They're in t he guava tree, all long the walls, on every creeper and vine. We've tried vinegar and oil,soap, all the things internet forums say work on fire ants. I think it was in Harini Nagendra's and Seema Mundoli's book, Cities and Canopies, that they talk about how an infestation of fire ants is a symptom of a micro-ecology out of whack. I don't know why that makes sense, but it does in an intuitive way.

Think of the government institute close by that plays music all day long and well into the evening, supposedly to help their employees with stress relief. Think of the LED lights, some of which strobe most distressingly when they're nearly done, that makes the night brighter than it's supposed to be for all creatures but urban humans.

That's not even taking into account the kinds of plants people keep - all green leaves, no flowers or fruits - and the lawns that need litres of water to maintain (and a ton of pesticide, for the termites).

I hate the ants. I don't know how to get rid of them without also destroying all the other insect and animal life the lives around our house, though. Cutting down the trees that host the nests? Large-scale pesticide application? Please!

If anyone knows how to keep the fire ant population down, please let me know!

Monday, December 02, 2019

The fictional self

None of these thoughts are original but I've been thinking them for a few days and since I don't want this blog to be only a graveyard of remembrances to people who've died, here's what's been on my mind:

Interviews with artists, writers, musicians - the whole category of people about whom you want to know more because you experienced a work you liked or lots of other people liked. And because curiosity is a collective, besetting sin.

How exhausting it must be to reveal something of oneself each time. How much easier to curate a handful of things - not untrue - to share, and share so many times that it becomes an ingredient in a recipe, a thing detachable, a fiction edited with a critical eye and separated from oneself so that the rest can remain one's own, unknowable.

Each creative person's way of giving nothing away to the people they meet, because they give far too much away of themselves in their work. Look for them there.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Sean Bonney, Tom Raworth

This morning I woke up to discover via Aaron Boothby that Sean Bonney had died. I knew his work only from the blog I've linked to, but have spent the morning reading screenshots others have put up on twitter, of texts from different works and things that are available to rad online.

Hopping from one poem to another, one poet to another, I was reminded of a post I'd made here some years ago. I thought the words were, Write six words, take away five and searched for that phrase, naturally turning up nothing. 

I googled it, with a vague feeling that it was Ian Hamilton Finlay. Nothing. 

Finally, I began to scroll through all the posts here tagged poetry. Of course I found it again, and of course I'd remembered it all wrong. It's Write six lines, drop five

And it's Tom Raworth, not Finlay. So much for memory.

Another lesson: save images on to your own computer, because web pages mutate and you get Dutch, literally, instead of the text/image you linked to years ago.

It's chasing that post down that also led me to find out that Raworth had died in 2017 and I never knew. So this morning, news of the death of two poets. 

Write six lines, drop five. What are you left with?

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Eleven: Absences

Last year's silence on this day is a gap through which a decade could be allowed to slip.

One year, in boarding school, we were on our way back from a week-long school trip. When we returned, the day after we were supposed to, all we wanted was to bathe and sleep.

Waiting for me in my room was a very fancy cake box with brownies, and a note from my father.

Maybe in the excitement of travel and the heedlessness of the teen years, I'd forgotten that he was to make a day visit. We demolished the brownies and did all the other things that were urgent on our list.

I didn't think then or later, that while we slept uncomfortably in a broken down bus, when someone started their period, when I brushed my teeth at a handpump in a field stinking of green but nasty things so the taste got in the mouth, that he would come, and wait, and write a note before leaving. 

All that indicated that he'd even been there was a bit of writing and a frilly paper doily half-transparent with butter. Those hours, these eleven years.