Tuesday, April 29, 2008

april 29 {the poem project}

I come home early, feel the pale house close
around me as the pressure of my blood
knocks at my temples, feel it clench me in
its cramping grasp, the fierceness of its quiet
sanctioning the small and listless hope
that I might find it mercifully empty.

Dazed, I turn the taps to fill the empty
tub, and draw the bathroom door to close
behind me. I lie unmoving, feel all hope
leaching from between my legs as blood
tinges the water, staining it the quiet
shade of a winter evening drifting in

On sunset. Again, no shoot of life sprouts in
this crumbling womb that wrings itself to empty
out the painfully-planted seeds. The quiet
doctors, tomorrow, will check their notes and close
the file, wait for the hormones in my blood
to augur further chances, more false hope.

My husband holds to patience, I to hope,
and yet our clockworks are unwinding. In
the stillness of the house, we hear our blood
pumped by hearts that gall themselves, grow empty:
once, this silence, shared, could draw us close
that now forebodes us with a desperate quiet.

I hear him at the door, but I lay quiet,
as if, by saying nothing, I may hope
that somehow his unknowingness may close
a door in all the darkness we’ve let in:
the nursery that’s seven years too empty;
the old, unyielding stains of menstrual blood.

Perhaps I wish the petitioning of my blood
for motherhood might falter and fall quiet,
perhaps I wish that we might choose to empty
our lives of disappointment, and of hope,
but wishes founder—we go on living in
the shadow of the cliffs now looming close:

the blood that’s thick with traitorous clots of hope;
the quiet knack we’ve lost, of giving in;
the empty room whose door we cannot close.
Kona Macphee

This is the most unrelenting, keening sestina I know. Sestinas can be awfully labored, but this one moves on like an unstoppable machine, steamrolling along. It’s about, of course, In-Vitro Fertilization, and the narrator’s painful inability to conceive. What an excruciating experience, but which the poet makes into a truly great poem. I love trying my hand at sestinas, and I’ve written two half-decent ones, one about leaving America and one about (what else?) failed love.

Monday, April 28, 2008

april 28 {the poem project}

for Nicola
“I’m beginning to realize . . . how terrifyingly immature and vulnerable—even unstable [she really is]. There’s a fatal flaw running through her . . .”
Erik; Susan Kay, Phantom

Nothing about my upbringing, nothing to do with society,
Nothing else in my world brings out this heat in me.

It’s just the dark in my veins.

Doesn’t matter if we’re together—doesn’t matter if we’re apart,
Soon the need drags me down and his love starts to shake me.
Just have to think about him. And that’s when it starts,
That’s when I sink in his arms and ask him to take me.

It’s something in the night,
Something burns ‘til none of me remains.
It’s some dream run out of light,
Something like the dark in my veins.

No-one else stands in my mind’s eye, no-one else I want to see.
Nobody, nobody, no-one else at all can do this to me.

It’s just the dark in my veins.

He breathes with my lungs, it’s my eyes he sees through,
He sings with my throat, God, it’s my blood he bleeds.
Nothing left, no, nothing left for me to do,
But dance him down this road, follow where he leads.

It’s the centre of a flame,
Something precious lost for what is gained,
It’s the echo of his name.
Or maybe it’s just the dark in my veins.

He sees the cruel something in me I don’t want to show,
An element of violence I don’t want to know I know . . .

Or is it just the dark in my veins?
Elaine Rowan

Today is my birthday, so I give you a poem based on Phantom of the Opera. Elaine Rowan wrote a slew of Erik/Christine poetry that is beautiful and heartfelt, as well as some other more general poems. I suppose some of it can be rather slavish to rhyme, but there’s something about this poem . . .

april 27 {the poem project}


In Memory of David Kubal
Your kind of night, David, your kind of night.
The dog would eye you as you closed your book;
Such a long chapter, such a time it took
The great leaps! The high cries! The leash like a line drive!
The two of you would rove the perfumed street,
Pillar to post, and terribly alive.

Your kind of night, nothing more, nothing less;
A single lighted window, the shade drawn,
Your shadow enormous on the silver lawn,
The busy mockingbird, his rapturous fit,
The cricket keeping time, the loneliness
Of the man in the moon - and the man under it.

The word elsewhere was always on your lips,
A password to some secret, inner place
Where Wisdome smiled in Beautie’s looking-glass
And Pleasure was at home to dearest Honour.
(The dog-eared pages mourn your fingertips,
And vehicle whispers, Yet once more, to tenor.)

Now you are elsewhere, elsewhere comes to this,
The thoughtless body, like a windblown rose,
Is gathered up and ushered toward repose.
To have to know this is our true condition,
The Horn of Nothing, the classical abyss,
The only cry a cry of recognition.

The priest wore purple; now the night does, too.
A dog barks, and another, and another.
There are a hundred words for the word brother.
We use them when we love, when we are sick,
And in our dreams when we are somehow you.
What are we if not wholly Catholic?
Henri Coulette

Some of the most beautiful poetry, sadly, seems to come as a defense or a summation of a friend who has died. Perhaps the best epitaph. This is another where the rhyme scheme creeps up on you, and as usual, the language is vivid and economical. I used the first line of the last stanza in the cento. Isn’t that a beautiful line?

april 26 {the poem project}

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference at least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
W.H. Auden

Similar in tone, I suppose, to Christy Brown’s poem “Distance,” although I guess to be fair, Auden was first. I love a lot of Auden’s work, including the poem that Four Weddings and a Funeral made famous, “Funeral Blues”: “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone . . .” Like “Psyche with the Candle,” I feel it expresses some universal truths about love—in this case, unrequited love—quite well.

Friday, April 25, 2008

april 25 {the poem project}

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
Philip Larkin

This poem was extremely resonant with me from the first, since it’s the same way I feel about death. I like a lot of Larkin’s work and gave him a cameo of sorts in "A Hull of a Time" and used the 4th line of the 4th stanza in my cento. I also referred to the poem itself in my poem "Burying Hamlet." It takes you several times of re-reading the poem to notice its subtle but perfectly melodious rhyme scheme, and that last line seems to me an echo of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." What a piece of work.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

april 24 {the poem project}

Love which is the most difficult mystery
Asking from every young one answers
And most from those most eager and most beautiful—
Love is a bird in a fist:
To hold it hides it, to look at it lets it go.
It will twist loose if you lift so much as a finger.
It will stay if you cover it—stay but unknown and invisible.
Either you keep it forever with your fist closed
Or let it fling
Singing in fervor of sun and in song vanish.
There is no answer other to this mystery.
Archibald MacLeish

I think I said two years ago that this was my favorite poem. Though Archibald MacLeish is still one of my favorites. I have loved the myth of Cupid and Psyche since I was ten years old—as a Beauty and the Beast junkie and a Phantom of the Opera phan, I guess I am just stuck on this story. The poem very gently invokes the theme of the myth, where Psyche thinks she has married an invisible monster but, upon seeing him asleep in bed by candlelight, realizes she is married to the God of Love. I find this meditation on love to be very true in my experience.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

april 23 {the poem project}


Make us, O Lord, a people fit for poetry,
And grant us clear voices to praise all noble achievement.
Make our guardians wiser than their fathers before them
Who sought the name below the easy jingle
And starved the poets without a name.
Give us fresh eyes to see Thy earth anew,
To see the animal and the grass and the water
As the first man saw them in the dawn.
Grant us, O Lord, Thy benediction
When we are restless and groping in the shadows,
And lead us to the shining mountains.
Make us worthy of the golden chorus
That the sons of God have always yearned to sing.
Make us, O Lord, a people fit for poetry.
Idris Davies

Idris Davies is another Welsh poet I discovered in, er, Wales. He isn’t much read nowadays, but his long poem The Angry Summer is an amazing achievement. He refers, of course, to the Welsh in this poem, but I think it’s a fair psalm for anyone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

april 22 {the poem project}

So, we’ll go no more a-roving,
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears the sheath
And the soul wears out the breast
And the heart must pause to breathe
And love itself have rest.

Though the heart was made for loving,
And the day returns as soon.
Still, we’ll go no more a-roving,
By the light of the moon.
Lord Byron

I have loved this poem since 10th grade when I found it in a book about Venice. Joan Baez once set it to music.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coming soon to a fan fiction archive near you.

april 21 {the poem project}



much ado
about the alphabet

a snow-pudding of fists

the wedding cake
of two tired cultures

a withered

paintings by the family
in birch-bark frames

wings rotting
under water

eating thistle-pie

the shine of a match
in an empty pipe

the Mother Superior
considers lingerie

carbolic acid
in love

a book-worm
in tights

a pot of mould
at the foot of the rainbow
Witter Bynner

Witter Bynner was ostracized to a certain extent for springing on his compatriots the hoax of the Spectra school of poetry in the early years of the twentieth century. He and a friend posed as perfectly serious poets who created the Spectra poems, designed to lampoon poets like Ezra Pound. Critics took the Spectra poems as real works of art. As you can see in these sharp, epigram-like summations of the various poets Bynner knew, his wit was unrelenting, but very funny.

Friday, April 18, 2008

april 20 {the poem project}


Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
Dorothy Parker

I have a vein of very dark humor, and this appeals perfectly to that.

april 19 {the poem project}


My father at the dictionary-stand
Touches the page to fully understand
The lamplit answer, tilting in his hand

His slowly scanning magnifying lens,
A blurry, glistening circle he suspends
Above the word “Carnation.” Then he bends

So near his eyes are magnified and blurred,
One finger on the miniature word,
As if he touched a single key and heard

A distant, plucked, infinitesimal string,
“The obligation due to every thing
That’s smaller than the universe.” I bring

My sewing needles close enough that I
Can watch my father through the needle’s eye,
As through a lens ground for a butterfly

Who peers down flower-hallways toward a room
Shadowed and fathomed as this study’s gloom
Where, as a scholar bends above a tomb

To read what’s buried there, be bends to pore
Over the Latin blossom. I am four,
I spill my pins and needles on the floor

Trying to stitch “Beloved” X by X.
My dangerous, bright needle’s point connects
Myself illiterate to this perfect text

I cannot read. My father puzzles why
It is my habit to identify
Carnations as “Christ’s flowers,” knowing I

Can give no explanation but “Because.”
Word-roots blossom in speechless messages
The way the thread behind my sampler does

Where following each X I awkward move
My needle through the word whose root is love.
He reads, “A pink variety of Clove,

Carnatio, the Latin, meaning flesh.”
As if the bud’s essential oils brush
Christ’s fragrance through the room, the iron-fresh

Odor carnations have floats up to me,
A drifted, secret, bitter ecstasy,
The stems squeak in my scissors, Child, it’s me,

He turns the page to “Clove” and reads aloud:
“The clove, a spice, dried from a flower-bud.”
Then twice, as if he hasn’t understood,

He reads, “From French, for clou, meaning a nail.”
He gazes, motionless. “Meaning a nail.”
The incarnation blossoms, flesh and nail,

I twist my threads like stems into a knot
And smooth “Beloved,” but my needle caught
Within the threads, Thy blood so dearly bought,

The needle strikes my finger to the bone.
I lift my hand, it is myself I’ve sewn,
The flesh laid bare, the threads of blood my own,

I lift my hand in startled agony
And call upon his name, “Daddy Daddy”—
My father’s hand touches the injury

As lightly as he touched the page before,
Where incarnation bloomed from roots that bore
The flowers I called Christ’s when I was four.
Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Despite my large collection of poetry about romantic/sexual love, there are several poems about familial love that I think are outstanding. This is perhaps the foremost of these, a truly accomplished set of triplets that replicates without you ever being aware of the rhyme. It’s a beautiful exploration of a father/daughter relationship, but also manages to include an imagistic meditation on etymology!

april 18 {the poem project}


Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownéd be thy grave!
William Shakespeare

When Loreena McKennitt set this to music for her album The Visit, she noted that Cymbeline was one of the last plays Shakespeare wrote, so its autumnal theme matches not only the subject matter, the end of the reign of the Celts in Roman-occupied Britain, but also the afternoon of Shakespeare’s life. It’s haunting and sad.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

april 16 {the poem project}


The wind’s gone crazy
shaking down leaves
to pattern the path
by the Science Library
whose slick revolving door
wafts some of them in,
which severed hands
scamper across the floor
past Security
towards the serious shelves
and there unhindered
classify themselves
platanus hybrida.

Something white, a seagull caught in a gust,
a sheet of paper skimmed the street,
unrolling like a proclamation
as it blew against my feet:
Guide to Assembly: Dynasty Bed.
Yes, that’s what it said.

I hope this fugitive paper means
the couple did bolt their bed together
and plant their dynasty,
and not that, lacking instructions,
they lost their way and had to
make love on the old settee.
David Gill

David Gill has been published in both issues of Borderlines that I have been published in, and I’d really like to meet him because I think his poems are great. Part 2 reminds me of a haibun I wrote about the wind in Cardiff. Part 3 is so warm and sweet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

april 15 {the poem project}


(Air: The Dawning of the Day)
On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay—
O I loved too much and by such and such is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that’s known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay—
When the angel woos the clay he’d lose his wings at the dawn of day.
Patrick Kavanagh

I first heard the song version of this poem by Joan Osborne, and from the first it struck me as haunting, and the lyrics waaaay above most lyrical standards. Figures it was a poem! I’ve stood on Grafton Street now. While the whole thing feels indecipherable and ethereal, perhaps the narrator is a bit full of himself to say he is the angel and she is the clay! Still, what magical internal rhyme!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Before reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, my sum total knowledge about Douglas Adams was: he wrote a few Doctor Who stories[1], something about 42, a guy in a bathrobe lying in front of a bull-dozer, dolphins singing “so long and thanks for all the fish,” and something about a restaurant. (I did watch the 2005 Hollywood movie, and while I remember it being very good, I don’t remember much about it.) I hadn’t realized the actual novel is only about two hundred pages (the version I got from the library takes on 100 more pages talking about the casting and making of the movie, from which I learned that forget about ever getting anything done in Hollywood). But they were a delightful two hundred pages, and as soon as I can I’ll read the rest in the series.

I had known about but had forgotten the delightful irony of Arthur Dent’s house being bull dozed for a bypass before the Earth is about to be blown up to make way for an intergalactic bypass. I had forgotten about the words DON’T PANIC. I had forgotten that Babelfish, the wonderful translation program that gives you hilarious rubbish, had come from this book; when Ford Prefect stuffs the Babel fish in Arthur’s ear, for some reason I envision one of Dr. Seuss’ yellow cartoon fish. It’s Adams’ solution to not having a TARDIS to translate. I had forgotten that the answer to everything is 42, but the question is more mysterious. I had forgotten that mice financed the creation of Earth, the only supercomputer superior to Deep Thought. You have to ask yourself: HOW did he come up with this stuff?!

The thing about Douglas Adams is he is delightfully random, but in a sophisticated way, because it’s a random that’s backed up by considerable knowledge of physics, linguistics, and philosophy; as the Doctor says, “The things one must know.” The word bulldozer wandered through his mind for a moment in search of something to connect with. The bulldozer outside the kitchen window was quite a big one. He stared at it. “Yellow,” he thought, and stomped off back to his bedroom to get dressed. I love the idea of spontaneous falling custard, galloping petit fours, a bowl of petunias and a helpless sperm whale. Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now. And obviously, the “ballpointoid” universe with its “ballpointoid” life-style is roaringly funny to me, a pen purveyor. (Why don’t the fountain pens have their own universe? What about the mismatched socks?)

Strangely enough, I was reminded of Alistair Lock’s audio plays Take-Over Bid and Planet Without a Home (technically, it should be the other way around but I heard the plays before I read the book). Especially because I heard the Computer (Eddie) with a chipper, bland American accent as the Computer in Lock’s plays has. There are some other similarities between the two, which is good, since I think both are hilarious.

There isn’t much more to say; the plot isn’t linear, and it’s hard to say much without having read the continuation of the series. Just read it yourself!

[1] I started watching “City of Death” but the tape ran out; I’ve never seen “Pirate Planet” and won’t until I can get the entirety of Key to Time so I can watch it in sequence; “Shada” was never finished but I’ve watched it as much as I was able.

april 14 {the poem project}


Some people go their whole lives
without ever writing a single poem.
Extraordinary people who don’t hesitate
to cut somebody’s heart or skull open.
They go to baseball games with the greatest of ease
and play a few rounds of golf as if it were nothing.
These same people stroll into a church
as if that were a natural part of life.
Investing money is second nature to them.
They contribute to political campaigns
that have absolutely no poetry in them
and promise none for the future.
They sit around the dinner tale at night
and pretend as though nothing is missing.
Their children get caught shoplifting at the mall
and no one admits that it is poetry they are missing.
The family dog howls all night,
lonely and starving for more poetry in his life.
Why is it so difficult for them to see
that, without poetry, their lives are effluvial.
Sure, they have their banquets, their celebrations,
croquet, fox hunts, their seashores and sunsets,
their cocktails on the balcony, dog races,
and all that kissing and hugging, and don’t
forget the good deeds, the charity work,
nursing the baby squirrels all through the night,
filling the bird feeders all winter,
helping the stranger change her tire.
Still, there’s that disagreeable exhalation
from decaying matter, subtle but ever present.
They walk around erect like champions.
They are smooth-spoken, urbane and witty.
When alone, rare occasion, they stare
into the mirror for hours, bewildered.
There was something they meant to say, but didn’t:
“And if we put the statue of the rhinoceros
next to the tweezers, and walk around the room three times,
learn to yodel, shave our heads, call
our ancestors back from the dead—”
poetrywise it’s still a bust, bankrupt.
You haven’t scribbled a syllable of it.
You’re a nowhere man misfiring
the very essence of your life, flustering
nothing from nothing and back again.
The hereafter may not last all that long.
Radiant childhood sweetheart,
secret code of everlasting joy and sorrow,
fanciful pen strokes beneath the islands:
all day, all night meditation, knot of hope,
kernel of desire, pure ordinariness of life,
seeking, through poetry, a benediction
or a bed to lie down on, to connect, reveal,
explore, to imbue meaning on the day’s extravagant labor.
And yet it’s cruel to expect too much.
It’s a rare species of bird
that refuses to be categorized.
Its song is barely audible.
It is like a firefly in a dream—
here, then there, then here again,
low-flying amber-wing darting upward
and then out of sight.
And the dream has a pain in its heart
the wonders of which are manifold,
or so the story told.
James Tate

As a habitual, compulsive writer (of poetry since age 11, of stories since age 8) I can’t imagine living without it. It’s attractive to imagine the ills of the world, from the lonely dog to the misbehaving kids, come down to lack of poetry. I used the 42nd line in a cento I wrote, which is a poem composed entirely of lines from other poems (all right, it’s stealing, but it made one damn fine poem).

Friday, April 11, 2008

I coulda played a Cuddlesome

I remembered reading in Doctor Who Magazine about a new release of comics, made just for American audiences. The concept art, of which they showed a little, reminded me of some of the art from Pocahontas, oddly enough. Then last week I was in a comic shop and what should I find but this new release, titled (rather dully) Doctor Who #1. It’s a slim volume, written by Gary Russell (who will never find himself out of work), with drawings by Nick Roche.

It’s a Tenth Doctor and Martha story and simplistic enough, but it has charm. I don’t know how I feel about the drawing style. While the guy’s clearly got talent, the drawings of the Doctor and Martha don’t particularly look like the Doctor and Martha. That probably isn’t a fair criticism to make, since even the comics in DWM haven’t particularly looked like the actors. I think the artist must have a nose fetish, as every character’s nose is rather too prominent. On the other hand, there are some cute touches—the bar where the Doctor takes Martha to get the universe’s best chocolate milk shakes looks rather Mos Eisley Cantina. And there’s a shot of the Doctor’s 500 Year Diary, last seen in Doctor Who the Movie. According to this (if it’s canon) the Doctor and Martha have been to the 1950s (didn’t it make him miss Rose?), Costa del Centauri VI, and pre-Cortez Tenochilán (wasn’t he in danger of running into himself?). There’s also the return of an old villain, but I won’t say who.

Yes, overall, this comic (which must be the first in a long series, if it goes to plan) is rather impressively drawn. Curiously enough, the first page is devoted to a quick catch-up on Gallifrey: "But there was a war, a terrible, devastating war, which they were party to . . . and in one second, Gallifrey, the Time Lords, a many planets, systems, and galaxies were consumed." There’s even "Sound of Drums"-based art, including a young Time Lady. It was a little on the expensive side at $3.99, but I must admit I keep flipping through the pages because it’s excellent education for a comic book artist-in-training (me).

Also at the comic book shop I got the March issue of DWM, about a week earlier than I normally get it. In it was the yearly freebie Big Finish CD, and since this is the first one of these I had acquired, I was very eager to listen to it. It’s my first Peter Davison audio, and while the last eight tracks or so were devoted to teasers for Big Finish’s newest releases, the fact that they’ve actually lost subscribers since the New Who makes me want to buy a subscription more than ever. If only I were rich. I’ve absolutely loved the audios I’ve bought so far, and each one is very instructive on writing for radio/audio, which if I were lucky enough to choose my career, would be the thing I’d want to do for the rest of my life (or the next twenty years anyway).

Some spoilers

Anyway, on to Cuddlesome, written by Nigel Fairs. I was a bit unenthusiastic about the premise: cuddly toys from the 1980s that attack people (like Furbies or Gremlins?). For some reason it made me think of my friend Katie, who I’ll have to pass this CD on to. I was surprised with the story, which is both simple enough to fit in 45 minutes or so, but complex enough to keep one’s interest. I was really impressed with the audio engineering. There’s a point at which two types of animated toys fight each other to the death, along with South Park-like singing, which seems absurd and is absurd, but is beautifully, wonderfully achieved through sound.

Peter Davison was very good, even if he does sound older (the first thing my mom said was, "It doesn’t sound like him!"). It helps that he’s been written very, very well. I laughed so many times I lost track. In order not to alienate some fans who may not have heard or seen any of the adventures of Five, Big Finish decided to dispense with his companions (who, on the audios, have been Peri, Nyssa, Erimem, Turlough, and once, Tegan) and bring in a one-off woman, Angela Wisher. As played by Roberta Taylor, she’s excellent too—she’d make a good companion. Older, though not quite Evelyn’s age, she appears in the first scene with her much younger boyfriend John (who’s in his skivvies apparently). She’s also a plumber, which yields some great moments. (They had a woman plumber on Ten Years Younger, so I believe it’s possible!)

Oh, the worlds of sound: the opener introduces you to a news report that Angela and John are watching on TV, but it also goes live to the actual reporter, Miranda Evenden, and can achieve that just by means of changing the flanger and echo effects on whatever program they’re using to mix. That’s snazzy, in my opinion. It also keeps the listener from getting bored. We’re also introduced quite early to Mr. Turvey, who’s a wonderful character in my opinion. He’s a children’s show host mixed with John Milton. I kid you not. To say much more would give the plot away, but I believe him, and I feel sympathy for him. The Cuddlesomes themselves, which are said to resemble pink vampire hamsters, are both revolting and cute. I thought they were more cute than revolting, however. Then again, I’ve never been attacked by one. Hats off to Kate Brown, who plays both Miranda Evenden and the Cuddlesomes. Also to Matthew Noble, who plays John and the "New" Cuddlesomes (I agree with Mr. Turvey—they’re repulsive—but satirical.) David Troughton, who I watched without realizing it in "The Curse of Peladon," makes a scary villain as The Tinghus, but again, I’d be revealing too much if I said more. With just a cast of eight, an intriguing story is brought to life.

What I always forget about sound is how, to me, when people are killed or tortured on audio (and amazingly, I’ve heard enough of these scenes in my short career of listening to audio/radio!), it’s more difficult to bear than seeing it on TV (that is if you’ve got a good performance). When the Cuddlesomes are being destroyed, it’s terrible stuff to listen to, even if they are infecting teenagers and causing them to go into hospital. Amazingly, it’s also fairly visual, as when the Doctor and Angela come in on the scene of Cuddlesome devastation—they flip a switch and I can see the singed fur and green goo in my mind. Now that’s effective audio. My one criticism is that the climax came too quickly; that was a bit sloppily done.

Then the advertising began, and I didn’t really mind, because it was the dulcet tones of Paul McGann. Swoon.

Maybe if they won’t hire me to write for Big Finish, I can play a Cuddlesome on Revenge of the Cuddlesomes?

april 13 {the poem project}

The God Who Loves You
It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you’d be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week--
Three fine houses sold to deserving families--
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.
A life thirty points above the life you’re living
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.
You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments
So she can save her empathy for the children.
And would you want this god to compare your wife
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation
You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight
Than the conversation you’re used to.
And think how this loving god would feel
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife
Would have pleased her more than you ever will
Even on your best days, when you really try.
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives
You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,
Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.
Carl Dennis

I wonder if the Doctor feels like this? "I make a very bad god," he once said. I’d like to believe this poem is true, that such a God exists.

april 12 {the poem project}

Plough me under with new wonder,
Grow me with listening ears,
Top and tassel me asunder,
Freshen me with tears.

Pledge me with silk upon my lips
From scented windrift hair
And set upon my fingertips
Your fingers kernel-bare.

Place all your ribs against my own
In furrows of delight
And there shall be a new harvest grown
Under the moon at night.
Witter Bynner

Witter Bynner is one of my favorite poets, woefully underrated. I first learned of him because a collection of poetry written in his honor came through the Center for Southwest Research in Zimmerman Library in New Mexico where I worked. I did a report on him first year in University and learned of his rich and varied poetry as well as his impressive works of criticism, translation, and drama. He was a pacifist, a lover of Asia and Mexico, a gentle man who was briefly engaged to Edna St. Vincent Millay, and prone to playing sly literary hoaxes (but we’ll get to that). He was openly gay and accused by society doyenne Mabel Dodge Lujan of single-handedly bringing homosexuality to New Mexico (he got her back by lampooning her in Cake). Unfortunately he never gained the recognition he sought. His poetry has resonance and musicality.

april 11 {the poem project}

Girls: a screwdriver;
a favorite book; and a least
one pair of superhero underpants.
Also a teacup.

Boys: dirt
and more dirt in a pot;
catching lessons; a mouth
full of peppermint;
a kept promise.

Mothers: a lap;
three reasons why;

Astronauts: love
for zippered things; a slide rule;
teeth; a home address.

Irishmen: God in the ocean
and a Burbury scarf;
peat bogs crowded with gold.

Catholics: a little Latin;
a diving board; Athena
and knees; darkness.

Writers: a box
of something illegal; a windowsill;
Insomnia; fire in the back
of the throat.
Mary Fontana

I like list poems and write many of them myself. Some people think of them as lazy poems. On my first year on Scribendi, the Arts and Literary Magazine, we picked this poem for our issue. I still like it just as much now as I did then.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

april 10 {the poem project}


Maggie’s taking care of a man
who’s dying; he’s attended to everything,
said goodbye to his parents,

paid off his credit card.
She says Why don’t you just
run it up to the limit?

but he wants everything
squared away, no balance owed,
though he misses the pets

he’s already found a home for
--he can’t be around dogs or cats,
too much risk. He says,

I can’t have anything.
She says, A bowl of goldfish?
He says he doesn’t want to start

with anything and then describes
the kind he’d maybe like,
how their tails would fan

to a gold flaring. They talk
about hot jewel tones,
gold lacquer, say maybe

they’ll go pick some out
though he can’t go much of anywhere and then
abruptly he says I can’t love

anything I can’t finish.
He says it like he’s had enough
of the whole scintillant world,

though what he means is
he’ll never be satisfied and therefore
has established this discipline,

a kind of severe rehearsal.
That’s where they leave it,
him looking out the window,

her knitting as she does because
she needs to do something.
Later he leaves a message:

Yes to the bowl of goldfish.
Meaning: let me go, if I have to,
in brilliance. In a story I read,

a Zen master who’d perfected
his detachment from the things of the world
remembered, at the moment of dying,

a deer he used to feed in the park,
and wondered who might care for it,
and at that instant was reborn

in the stunned flesh of a fawn.
So, Maggie’s friend?
Is he going out

Into the last loved object
Of his attention?
Fanning the veined translucence

Of an opulent tail,
Undulant in some uncapturable curve
Is he bronze chrysanthemums,

Copper leaf, hurried darting,
Doubloons, icon-colored fins
Troubling the water?
Mark Doty

This poem makes me cry. It’s heartbreaking in its straightforward approach to the subject, yet I feel not a word is wasted, even in the conversational style. I like how the three-line stanzas move it inexorably on to the end. I feel compelled to read it over and over.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

april 9 {the poem project}


The moon did not become the sun.
It just fell on the desert,
in great sheets, reams
of silver handmade by you.
The night is your cottage industry now,
the day is your brisk emporium.
The world is full of paper.

Write to me.
Agha Shahid Ali

I found this poem in Staying Alive, the second “contemporary” poetry collection by Bloodaxe Books, and both are phenomenal. They are, admittedly, a bit Anglo-centric, but Bloodaxe is the best publisher of poetry today in England. This poem is simple and beautiful. I was going to give a copy to someone I fancied so he would either be shamed into writing to me or else just get creeped out. I never gave it to him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

april 8 {the poem project}


This is pain’s landscape.
A savage agriculture is practised
Here; every farm has its
Grandfather or grandmother, gnarled hands
On the cheque-book, a long, slow
Pull on the placenta about the neck.
Old lips monopolise the talk
When a friend calls. The children listen
From the kitchen; the children march
With angry patience against the dawn.
They are waiting for someone to die
Whose name is as bitter as the soil
They handle. In clear pools
In the furrows they watch themselves grown old
To the terrible accompaniment of the song
Of the blackbird, that promises them love.
R. S. Thomas

I developed a real fondness for R.S. Thomas in (where else?) Wales. Much of his poetry, especially about Wales, is extremely bitter and full of accusation. Nevertheless, much of it rings true somehow. He was accomplished at all forms of poetry, prolific, and capable of turns of phrase both astonishingly stark (like the first line) and also clairvoyant, beautiful.

april 7 {the poem project}


from COMUS
Sabrina fair,
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of lilies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair;
Listen for dear honor’s sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save.
John Milton

Visiting Ludlow Castle in 2006 was a wonderful experience for me as I got see where Milton’s masque Comus was first performed in 1634. I am passionate about Milton after having read Paradise Lost, Areopagitica, and much of Milton’s other poetry in Cheryl Fresch’s course in 2005. Comus occupies a special place in my heart, but Milton is just remarkable all around. This tiny portion of his poetry is as beautiful as anything Shakespeare wrote and sounds just as lovely on the tongue, too.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

shameless self-promotion

Though Phantom of the Opera fics once outnumbered my Who fics, and I think in terms of wordage my Pirates of the Caribbean fics are longer, but now with almost 30 Who fics, I'm a bit proud--and a bit afraid, really! I love keeping things tidy in lists, so here they are.

First Doctor
Ian and the Beatles (to explain the age-old question, how did Ian know the words to "Ticket to Ride" in "The Chase")
I'm working on something massive, but it's not nearly done

Fifth Doctor
A Hull of a Time
Second Hand

Sixth Doctor
Lollipops and Patterned Socks
Superstition is novel-length and therefore not online

Seventh Doctor
J'ai vu le loup

Eighth Doctor
A New Course in Egyptology
Time Management
Still Life (with Sarah Jane)

Ninth Doctor
Usher Inn
Birthdays ('tis crap, but was the first Who fic I wrote)
Happy Christmas
Shaving is a Tedious Thing
The Consequences of Boredom
So Much for Deserted Beaches (Pirates cross over)
Friday the 13th

Tenth Doctor
the following fluff/angsty Rose/Doct0r vomit
New Shoes
Il Faut Croire a Rien
The Mirror
the following with Martha
Over and Under
The Doctor and the Mesmerist (take THAT, BBC Writersrooom)
The 1969 Diaries

Captain Jack Harkness Trilogy
forthcoming is 1966

Doctor Who the Musical season 2
Doctor Who the Musical season 3

april 5 {the poem project}


A night made out of nights of deserted shores
A night made out of luminousness and funerals
A staircase unfolds beneath my feet but daylight reveals only shadows and disasters as my destiny
Only the colossal marble column of doubt holds the sky above my head
Empty bottles which I smash into glittering smithereens.
Robert Desnos

In 11th grade we did a semester unit on Surrealism. While I still don’t care much for Surrealist artwork, a few of the poems stayed with me, including this fragment. I find this beautiful and haunting and oddly reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera!

Friday, April 4, 2008

april 4 {the poem project}


Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been in an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot is one of my favorite poets. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is also a contender for my favorite poem. He has a wonderful way of phrasing and spinning images. I studied his poetry first in 9th grade and read Burnt Norton for the first time, which is partly his returning to his homeland of England (he was born in St. Louis but eventually became a British citizen). Of course I was originally attracted to his poems from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats in the musical CATS (I can still sing “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” all the way through). This fragment is ethereal and deeply meaningful. I think I used it as an introduction to one of my Doctor Who stories, for obvious reasons.

doctor who quotes -1 day

“Jealous?” the [Ninth] Doctor asked innocently.
“I'll wait here and finish my tea,” Rose said. “Don't want to cramp your style.” The Doctor grinned. “Such as it is,” Rose finished.
(Justin Richards, The Clockwise Man)

“Terribly sorry to have disturbed you,” [Harry] said. Off on werewolf patrol, but tripped over that rug. Don’t want it to get a hold of any more young women. The werewolf, I mean, not the rug.”
--Harry Sullivan (Jacqueline Rayner, Wolfsbane)

Sarah Jane: The new assistants are getting younger every year.
Rose: I’m not an assistant.
(Toby Whithouse, “School Reunion”)

I try never to discuss business with a clear head.
--Jack Harkness (“The Empty Child”)

By the time the Brigadier had made it halfway down the stairs he could see that the battered, blue police box had come together in his hallway. “Wonder which one I’ll get,” he murmured happily. (Justin Richards and Stephen Cole, Shadow in the Glass)

The first thing I learned was not to listen to him [the Doctor].
--Ace (Simon Guerrier, The Settling)

The Doc’s my responsibility.
--Tegan (“Frontios”)

Harriet Jones: They’re aliens!
The Ninth Doctor: Thanks, we know that.
Slitheen: You’re not human.
Harriet Jones: Who’s not human?
The Doctor: Do you mind a bit of hush?
Harriet Jones: What do you mean? He’s got a Northern accent.
Rose Tyler: Lots of planets have a north.
(“World War Three”)

Splendid fellows... all of you.
--The Brigadier, of the Doctor(s) (Terrance Dicks, “The Five Doctors”)

Your silliness is noted.
--K9 (Robert Holmes, “The Armageddon Factor”)

I find that cake is an excellent solution to many of life’s problems.
--Evelyn Smythe (The Marian Conspiracy)

Harriet Jones: But you’ll be killed!
Rose Tyler: Never stopped him [the Doctor].
(“The Christmas Invasion”)

I hate computers and refuse to be bullied by them.
--Zoe (“The Invasion”)

“What have you read in Cosmo, K9?”
“This,” he said simply. It was a two-page advert for a new brand of aftershave for men. Instead of the usual brawny hairy chest and denim shirt that one might reasonably expect in such a spread . . . Romana found herself staring at a photo of a model in rather scruffy tweeds and a singed-looking multi-coloured scarf. (Paul Magrs, “Suitors Inc.”)

I’m not dead, then.
--Sarah Jane (Wolfsbane)

Executioner: This needs to go over your head.
Hex: Doesn’t everything?
(The Settling)

The Sixth Doctor: I was him [the Second Doctor], he will be me.
Jamie: Then who will I be?
(“The Two Doctors”)

The Tenth Doctor: You’re a good dog.
K9: Affirmative!
(“School Reunion”)

“So what do you do exactly? You and the Doctor?” asked Janet.
“I get confused, mostly,” Peri told her. “And the Doctor, well, he does the confusing.” (Justin Richards, Grave Matter)

The Seventh Doctor: Time Lords have an infinite capacity for pretension.
Ace: I’ve noticed.
(Ben Aaronvitch, “Remembrance of the Daleks”)

[of the Doctor] He likes to travel with an entourage.
--Sarah Jane (“School Reunion”)

You don’t have a name. Don’t you ever get tired of being called the Doctor? Doctor Who?
--Rose Tyler (“The Empty Child”)

Pacifism only works when everyone feels the same.
--Ian Chesterson (“The Daleks”)

Is that all gibberish or do you really know what you’re talking about?
--The Brigadier (“The Invasion”)

The Doctor: When we were on the river we heard the unearthly babble of inhuman voices, didn't you, Romana?
Professor Chronotis: Oh, undergraduates talking to each other, I expect. I'm trying to have it banned.
(Douglas Adams, “Shada”)

Discussion is for the wise or the helpless and I am neither.
--Leela (David Agnew, “Underworld”)

As long as he does the job, he can wear what face he likes.
--The Brigadier (“The Three Doctors”)

The Ninth Doctor: I’m so glad I met you.
Rose: Me too.
(“The Unquiet Dead”)

He [the Eighth Doctor] was a very good-looking man. Pity he was barmy.
--Samantha Jones (Terrance Dicks, The Eight Doctors)

What did you say, my boy? It's all over?
That's what you said . . . but it isn't at all.
It's far from being all over. . .
(The First Doctor, “The Tenth Planet”)

doctor who quotes -2 days

Help yourself to a piece of eternity.
--Steven Taylor (“The Chase”)

You can’t blame my generation for everything.
--Barbara, to Vicki (Bill Strutton, “The Web Planet”)

It was nice, not dying with you.
--Martha Jones (Chris Chibnall, “42”)

“Och,” said Jamie, bemused, “who let the dogs out?” (Colin Brake, The Colony of Lies)

The Sixth Doctor: How would you like to meet a genius?
Peri: I thought I already had.
(“The Mark of the Rani”) The Fourth Doctor: Shall we use our intelligence?
Leela: Well, if you think that’s a good idea.
(“The Invisible Enemy”)

You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets.
--The Brigadier (“Robot”)

If there’s trouble to be found, the Doctor and Jamie can’t miss it.
--Zoe (Derrick Sherwin, “The Invasion”)

The worse the situation gets, the worse your jokes get!
--Sarah Jane, to the Fourth Doctor (“Masque of the Mandragora”)

Astrid: You look pretty good for nine-hundred-and-three.
The Tenth Doctor: You should see me in the mornings.
Astrid: Okay.
(Russell T Davies, “Voyage of the Damned”)

“ … there were snogging couples using it even then. Had to be careful that their powdered wigs didn't get caught on twigs. Last thing you want, you lean in for a snog and suddenly this impressionable young lady's seeing your hairdo as nature intended. Puts you right off.”
“Don’t tell me you know that from personal experience,” she [Rose] said, glancing at the Doctor’s closely cropped head and battered leather jacket and trying to imagine him in full Restoration get-up, velvet, brocade and periwig.
(Jacqueline Rayner, Winner Takes All)

I never saw someone so in love with himself for so little reason.
--Peri, of the Sixth Doctor (Anthony Steven, “The Twin Dilemma”)

Oh, it’s you—the lunatic.
--Evelyn Smythe, of the Sixth Doctor (Jacqueline Rayner, The Marian Conspiracy)

“Dreams are romantic notions, Kreiner . . . You see an opportunity, you take it.”
“I’m a fantastic opportunity,” Fitz declared. “Take me.”
(To the Slaughter)

I think your Doctor’s worse than mine.
--Jamie, to Peri (Robert Holmes, “The Two Doctors”)

The Doctor: Where’s your sense of adventure?
Ian: It died a slow, horrible death when those bats came out of the rafters.
(Terry Nation, “The Chase”)

"You're . . . a ghost."The Doctor nodded cheerfully, then paused a moment."Wellllll, perhaps not a ghost exactly, that would imply I was dead. Not that I haven't strictly speaking died a couple of times, but it would be misleading to go into that now, as I am definitely not a spirit form, such as a poltergeist, or phantom; and I am certainly not a Gelth, who are easy to mistake for ghosts—although come to think of it, they did like Cardiff at Christmas time, too; so, I wouldn't blame you for thinking that way."He stopped as Jack grabbed him fiercely and pushed him into the wall before silencing him with a kiss. The Doctor hung limply for a moment before slowly responding, then grinning sheepishly as Jack pulled back and pointed a finger at him."You're not a ghost."The Doctor shrugged and adjusted his coat as Jack let go. "That's what I said."Jack grinned now, his head starting to clear, slowly. A good kiss always helped, especially one from a Time Lord—must be the radiation. That was his excuse, anyway.
(Jovalien, A Torchwood Christmas Carol)

She is prettier than you, Master.
--K9, of Romana (“The Ribos Operation”)

[to the Seventh Doctor] Do you know any nice people?
--Ace (“Survival”)

[Of the Ninth Doctor] When he’s stressed, he likes to insult species.
--Rose (“The Doctor Dances”)

People in the past are always impressed by Dairy Milk.
--Evelyn Smythe (Doctor Who and the Pirates)

Just for once, Doctor, could you try uttering a sentence that made some kind of sense?
–The Brigadier (Shadow in the Glass)

“How was it Dante described the hierarchy of angels? Oh yes, ‘myriads more than the entire progressive doubling of the angels.’”
Jamie did not seem to be impressed. “About the same as the number of those VETACS we’re facing then, Doctor.”
“Oh, that’s hardly fair, Jamie.”
(Dreams of Empire)

“Well, I still think it’s weird, having other selves at all,” said Tegan.
“Why?” asked the Doctor. “You’ve both got them.”
“We have?”
“Not very many of course, because you’re both still so young, bless you.”
“No need to be patronizing, Doctor,” said Tegan sharply. “We can’t all be 900 years old, or whatever you are!”
(Terrance Dicks, The Eight Doctors)

“Interference!” said the Doctor, suddenly bursting with renewed energy. “Deliberate interference in human history!”
“Shocking!” said Peri, looking at him meaningfully.

The Tenth Doctor: Why are you taking off your clothes? Radiation affects skin not clothes.
Jack Harkness: Well . .. I look good, though.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

april 3 {the poem project}


Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
Lisel Mueller

I really like how visual this poem manages to be; anyone who’s ever seen Monet’s work is able to understand the brilliance of method Monet explains here and not be surprised about the cataracts. It is a poignant artist’s plea and a beautiful portrait.

doctor who quotes -3 days

When the Doctor claims not to be a cat person in “Fear Her,” it seems he’s conveniently forgetting the selection of feline-themed badges that adorned his colorful apparel in his sixth incarnation. –Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons, The Completely Unofficial Doctor Who Encyclopedia

As I believe I told you long ago, Doctor, you will never amount to anything in the galaxy while you retain your propensity for vulgar facetiousness.
--Borusa (Robert Holmes, “The Deadly Assassin”)

There is no plot! I am being completely honest with you!
--King Peladon (Brian Hayles, “The Curse of Peladon”)

“What are problems for, if not to be solved?”
Trayx smiled. “To confound your enemies,” he said.
(Dreams of Empire)

Since this is Doctor Who, the show that tries not to suck and generally succeeds . . .
--Jacob Clifton

TV really doesn’t get better than this, ever.
--The Guardian Guide, of the 2005 season

The Doctor is like the Sphinx . . . he does not fear Time. Time fears the Doctor.
--Barusa, the Leekley Bible (Doctor Who: Regeneration)

It’s Doctor Who—I believe in everything!
--Julie Gardner

Clive Swift: I know that you all think that this is big world, this Who business. But it isn’t. There are much bigger things than this.
Benjamin Cook: Maybe, but it means a lot to a great many of us.
--DWM #391

It’s truly amazing, our favourite programme, isn’t it? I mean, I expected to be amused by Time Crash, I expected to be entertained; and then just when I thought it was over, Tennant flicked a switch and delivered the most beautiful paean to Doctor Who of long ago and to Davison’s wonderful, funny, young and energetic Doctor. And suddenly I was moved! --Andrew Buckley (DWM #390)

[As the Master is dying and refuses to regenerate]
The Tenth Doctor: It can’t end like this!
The Master: How about that? I win.
(Russell T Davies, “The Last of the Time Lords”)

You’d stand next to him in the studio and feel his presence. . . . He was a gentleman with it—no airs, graces or tantrums. Didn’t throw his weight around and tell the director what to do, whereas Tom Baker got out of his pram sometimes.
--Barry Newbery, of William Hartnell

The evidence is mounting that the Doctor’s lack of education could have caused him some serious ongoing problems. (Are you listening, kids? Stay in school!)
--Doctor Who Magazine #389

Doctor, it’s more fun this way.
--The Meddling Monk (Dennis Spooner, “The Time Meddler”)

Be vigilant, Doctor. Once you denied him the Key to Time, now you have thwarted him again. He will be waiting for the third encounter, and his power does not diminish.... While I exist, he exists also... until we are no longer needed.
--The White Guardian, of the Black Guardian (Barbara Clegg, “Enlightenment”)

You have the mouth of a prattling jackanapes, but your eyes, they tell a different story.
--Sharaz Jek, to the Doctor (Robert Holmes, “The Caves of Androzani”)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

april 2 {the poem project}


from BLUE
from the pub sways
a choir, tied and suited,
on a cloud of aftershave
Nigel Jenkins

Blue is a collection of haiku. Nigel Jenkins was my poetry professor in Swansea, and I honestly think he is a very accomplished wordsmith, equally at home in haiku as in structured forms with rhyme and meter. I think this is a perfect haiku: economy of language, but you can see and smell the image. It’s also very Welsh.

doctor who quotes -4 days

The Tenth Doctor: Master?
The Master: I like it when you use my name.
(“Sound of Drums”)

They used to give away Doctor Who cards in . . . was it PG Tips? No? Typhoo! It was Typhoo! Of course it was. It’s good that you know that, cos I’m having a flashback. Anyway, every time I smell tea, it reminds me of Doctor Who!
--John Simm, Doctor Who Magazine #384

“Now then, you’ve heard of Tolstoy?”
“No, what’s that?”
“He, Jamie, he was a great Russian writer. Anyway, when he was a soldier in the Caucasus—“
“The what?”
“The Caucasus, Jamie. Anyway, he was a young officer there, and one night he abandoned his post so that he could go and play chess with another soldier. He got caught and was arrested.”
“Serves him right.”
(Justin Richards, Dreams of Empire)

“I don’t believe it,” laughs John [Simm], as the take is abandoned. “We’re in the middle of nowhere, and the Benny Hill theme is running in the background!”
“I’m surprised,” adds David [Tennant], “they have ice cream at this time of year.”
“Well, it is Wales.”
--Doctor Who Magazine #385

Matthew Waterson (Adric): Katy Manning went off with a man …
Janet Fielding (Tegan): Well, she would.
--on Tegan’s leaving the show, DVD commentary to “The Visitation”

A selection of definitions from Chris Howarth and Steven Lyons’ The Completely Unofficial Doctor Who Encyclopedia:
FANS, WHIRLING: Let’s be fair, it takes a lot of guts to repeat a science-fiction cliché after it’s been so famously parodied. Post-Galaxy Quest, it’s impossible not to ask why that reset switch was on the other side of the spinning death devices in “The End of the World.”

“FATHER’S DAY”: Right, audience, listen up. This is deeply moving stuff, OK? You will be sad; you will go on an emotional rollercoaster ride; you will cry real tears at the poignant ending—and that’s an order! . . .
Ultimately it’s all rendered much less sad anyway by Pete’s return, albeit as a parallel universe version.

OLYMPIC TORCH: . . . Was there a solitary viewer over the age of seven who wasn’t mortified by the supreme cheesiness of the Doctor lighting up the loved-up Olympic flame with a torch of hope and peace, etc., to the accompaniment of that mawkish voiceover?
“POINTLESSLY NORTHERN”: The People’s verdict on the new series. You know, the one set mostly on a council estate in London.

If you met the Doctor, you'd want to give him a hug. Possibly a kiss with tongue. But if you read his résumé? Madman. Warrior. Killer of peoples, of worlds, of heroes, and soldiers. A living genocide. Nine is about the choice: whom would you be? Then, what must you do?
--Jacob Clifton, TelevisionWithoutPity.com reviewer, review for “The Doctor Dances”

[of the Doctor] One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.
--Reinette (“The Girl in the Fireplace”)

I’m not under mind control yet but I’m practicing.
--Janet Fielding, on her acting in “The Visitation”

But then things take a strange turn as the Doctor collapses into a rack of clothes screaming about crushing infinity and hopelessness. “Happens to me all the time in Primark,” says Clay.
--The Time Team reviews “The Twin Dilemma”

Martha: [to Jack] You’ve been carrying around his severed hand in a tank?!
Chantho: Chan is this a tradition among your people tho?
(Russell T Davies, “Utopia”)

Jack [Harkness] likes to dance, and also make out with everybody all the time.
--Jacob Clifton, review for “The Empty Child”

I think she’s [Rose] quite in love with him [the Ninth Doctor].
--Billie Piper, DVD commentary

[The Doctor] is hopelessly in love with her.
--Steven Moffat, DVD commentary

. . . Nicholas Courtney [the Brigadier] still hasn’t recovered from walking into a convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida last year to be greeted by, not just one, but four women, all dressed as the Brigadier, moustache and all!
--Doctor Who Special: 20th Anniversary

The Doctor isn't stupid, he uses his wits, isn't needlessly violent, and doesn't take himself too seriously. Then the show reflects the character, by being eccentric, urbane, frightening and witty.
--Nev Fountain (Dead Ringers writer)

If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the Doctor all around.
–Clive (Russell T Davies, “Rose”)

I’ve often wondered what it must have been like for an attractive young woman struggling to be taken seriously in such a patrician environment as the BBC in the early 1960s. How her peers must have underestimated her. And how she probably had to be twice as good as any male colleagues just to get by. When you consider Verity Lambert’s formidable track record . . . fans of quality television, not just Doctor Who, owe her a lot.
--Chris Kilby, letter to DWM #391, after Verity Lambert’s death in November 2007

Reality did not come into our relationship.
--Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), of Tom Baker

A few weeks later, and early one morning I find myself in a Birmingham hotel that’s hosting a Doctor Who convention. Just as I’m getting dressed the fire alarm goes off, and I have to run, in my bare feet, down nine flights of stairs alongside Eric Roberts and Carole Ann Ford, struggling all the way not to shout ‘But Grandfather’s still in there!’ to her. --Gareth Roberts

Joan: Where did you learn to draw?
John Smith: Gallifrey.
Joan: Is that in Ireland?
(Paul Cornell, “Human Nature”)

What I loved about “42”: “Burn With Me!” Oh, David, I would . . .
--Emily Bridewell, letter to Doctor Who Magazine #384

I’m very keen on this “everybody leaves” philosophy that the Doctor has developed to protect himself from getting his hearts broken. –Big Finish writer Nick Briggs

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

april 1 {the poem project}

Here's a month's worth of favorite poems from me, 'cause April's National Poetry Month (in the USA).


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
William Shakespeare

This is probably my favorite poem of all time. I can recite it from memory and often do. It’s a perfect sonnet that sounds beautiful when spoken aloud. Of course, the sentiment is a romantic and attractive one.

doctor quote quotes -4 days

. . . When he was having a drink in a London club one day, a High Court judge raised his glass and said, “My dear Doctor! How nice to have you with us!”
--of Tom Baker in Doctor Who Special: 20th Anniversary

Mine were voted the Sexiest Legs on Television in a viewer’s poll . . .
--Frazer Hines (Jamie)

“JC, our lead animator and the designer of the Old Doctor, then filmed a motion capture shoot with David Tennant in order to capture David’s natural body motion and facial expressions. This process involved sticking small balls to David’s face, which Marianne our production assistant found most pleasing!”
--Dave Houghton, Doctor Who Magazine #385

I got a huge amount of fan mail from children, though I think my favorite letter was from a four year old boy who wrote, “Leela, why don’t you put some clothes on?”
--Louise Jameson (Leela)

In a reminiscent mood are you, Doctor? Poor Miss Grant, you have my deepest sympathies.
--The Master (“Frontier in Space”)

“How can I live my life now? I have no past, not one that I know is true! I do not know who I am!”
The Doctor didn’t answer. But he sat down on the sofa and put an arm around her. When she looked up, she saw that he was crying too.
(Jacqueline Rayner, Wolfsbane)

She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.
--Ogden Nash, “Adventures of Isabel”

I am very difficult to kill.
--Davros (“Resurrection of the Daleks”)

The Master’s abilities put him in the superfiend class. It’s a lot of fun.
--Anthony Ainley (the Master)

[to the American President] Can I offer you some tea? Or is that not American enough?
--Mr Saxon (“Sound of Drums”)

Dr. Raj: Where did you get your degree?
The Fourth Doctor: A place called Gallifrey.
Dr. Raj: I’ve not heard of it.
(“The Hand of Fear”)

Give in to the donut. Don’t hate yourself.
--John Simm

“This particular emergency appears to concern the Doctor.”
“Yes,” said President Flavia thoughtfully. “They usually do!”
(Terrance Dicks, The Eight Doctors)

Barbara: You’re from Earth?
Tourist: No, ma’am, I’m from Alabama.
(Terry Nation, “The Chase”)

“The Doctor says it is possible. He's working on the problem---unconventional but very brilliant.” He's gorgeous, too, she felt like adding, and started to blush.
--Dr Flowers in Stephen Cole’s The Monsters Inside

He [the Doctor] can be happy, even giddy, but can quickly turn dark and brooding if he has picked up some obscure hint of danger or deception. This is how a fugitive stays alive.
--Barusa, in the Leekley Bible (Philip Segal and Gary Russell, Doctor Who: Regeneration)

The Fifth Doctor, onscreen: You overestimate me.
Janet Fielding: Yes, you do.
--DVD commentary of “The Visitation”

Steven Moffat: Jack [Harkness] would go after a Dalek if it had a short enough skirt.
John Barrowman: Or a long enough plunger.
--DVD commentary, “The Empty Child”

UNTRAMMELLED Giant of the West,
With all of Nature’s gifts endowed,
With all of Heaven’s mercies blessed,
Nor of thy power unduly proud—
Peerless in courage, force, and skill,
And godlike in thy strength of will,—

Before thy feet the ways divide:
One path leads up to heights sublime;
Downward the other slopes, where bide
The refuse and the wrecks of Time.
Choose then, nor falter at the start,
O choose the nobler path and part!

Be thou the guardian of the weak,
Of the unfriended, thou the friend;
No guerdon for thy valor seek,
No end beyond the avowêd end.
Wouldst thou thy godlike power preserve,
Be godlike in the will to serve!
--Joseph B. Gilder, “The Parting of the Ways”

You must listen to the dialogue sometimes.
--Peter Moffatt, director, on the DVD commentary to “The Visitation”

I always struggle to keep up with David [Tennant], because he hasn’t got breasts like I have.
--Catherine Tate, on being a companion

How do you keep your energy up on a night shoot?
Drugs. A lot of drugs.
Do you have a drug of choice?
Chocolate biscuits. That’s a very good drug. And cups of tea.
--Bernard Cribbins (Wilf in the 2007 Christmas Special)

I’m indestructible—the whole universe knows that.
--The Master (Pip and Jane Baker, “The Mark of the Rani”)

Victoria shrugged. “What do you believe in?”
“Oh, I believe in me.”
--The Master
(David A. McIntee, The Dark Path)