5/6 Sisters of the Pleiades

What began as a verse rendition of a ‘fabricated’ drama around Taurus, the zodiac sign and constellation, became one about me and the dilemmas  and constraints plaguing me currently. But then, diversions of this sort are endemic among those who dabble in verse.

(A decent knowledge of Greek Mythology and the constellations is recommended. Otherwise, the poem will be rather bland.)


Sisters of the Pleiades

Aprilius’ last days fade as Maius marches;
Zephyrus’ gusts sustain as summer marches.
Helios invades Taurus’ dwelling,
So Aldebaran no longer glows.
Orion’s swift pursuit unfailing
And Canis Major gladly follows.
Seven sweet sisters of the Pleiades,
May you never see gloomy Hades!
Continue the flight,
Despite the long night.
May Aldebaran’s smothered light
Serve as your feeble but precious guide!

For Helios at length will leave for Gemini;
Conceding light to the brightening bull’s eye.
Radiantly you too will shine,
Luminous, fearless and bright blue.
Looking up to Perseus divine;
Asking, “Can we be heroic as you?”
Seven sweet sisters of the Pleiades,
May you , like your sisters, the Hyades,
As they bore Achilles’ might,
Engage in the fateful fight!
And at last may you rise from this plight
And triumphantly cry, “We were right!”


4/6 Beyond the Fence

Dedicated to all peoples divided by arbitrary political boundaries.


Beyond the Fence

O hear! these words I have to say:
A tale of fellowship and rooted feet,
Of pride upon the timeless clay,
Of lives nurtured and hearths provided full.

A people brave in heart and head —
So feared: but whose uprightness more revered.
Deceit and cunning left for dead.
Instead sincerity and bluntness cheered.

O hear these words I have to say:
A tale of woe, of strewn uprooted feet,
Of timeless clay that’s swept away,
Of lives ruptured and hearths destroyed in full.

Despair, most tragic — a harsh fate.
The union of ages past now severed.
Callous concrete closes the gate
As free and fair people become fettered.

O hear! I beg of you, for once:
“For peace!” they cried, and cruelly built the fence
“To halt the ‘rebels’ fast and stop the guns.”
At what great pains? At whose bitter expense?

O hear! at last, one small request:
A plea to Justice fair — her scales dispense —
To grant sentence, to save her best;
Who deep in peril stand beyond the fence.


 

3/6 The Time Beneath the Pine

So, I am kind of cheating in that this poem was composed a while back. But since there were no written terms banning such delinquency,* I have chosen, if unethically, to exploit the loophole but only for now. I will end with 7/6.


The Time Beneath the Pine

A lonely singularity
Of infinite density;
Devoid of space —
A saving grace?
A heart of stone,
Never did mourn.
Such then was bliss.
How I will miss!

For one April evening,
It had been, I recall,  raining:
Smiling through rain,
You quickly ran
Looking for shade
(Blessed be fate!)
Towards the pleasant pine.
There we spent minutes nine.

And in those deciduous seconds,
Sprung a universe so fecund
That I became
One with a name.
Passions uncorked;
Feelings unlocked.
Such then is bliss.
Sweet as a kiss.

Kept low in feverish torment;
But impelled by roseate ferment,
I tread the miles.
Spurred by your smiles,
Learnt to amuse
Life’s myriad hues.
For which I thank the time
We had beneath the pine.


* I am supposed to compose 6 poems in 30 days.

1/6 Grammar

I come up with six ‘poems’ in thirty days while a friend (go there for poems) does thirty.

It’s wonderful what can pass off as poetry these days. Add some random line breaks to a paragraph — make it lively if you can but you don’t have to — and that’s it. Why stick to rhyme or meter? These are devices of oppression, power structures that pervade every sphere of life as we know it. Why be constrained by them? Before you go off in disgust, my tongue is firmly planted in cheek.

Grammar

O what terrible contagion must infect these
Plebeians that has extinguished their ability to
Conjugate — if they ever could, that is! — words in the
Proper fashion, and not to mention, with the
Correct punctuation.
Supplies a plural verb and makes him
Cheat though the subject is truly one. Only,
She has many friends.
Yet the damage is done and the
Marriage is gone. What cruelty!
Prejudice the hyphen with all manner of
Hype. En and Em dashes, silent victims, are
trampled and cast aside. Their places usurped, their
Birthrights denied. All without recompense and
Apology. What injustice!
“Its literally a disaster, no pun intended.”
To use the possessive for the
Contraction. All the while implying
Stellar, literally, destruction. Where, by the way,
is the pun? Or the (non)intention?
Three assaults covered in a
Sentence. That could be one.
Also, the simple past instead of the
Perfect. What ills have they against
Tense? That they misreport events, the
sequence overturned.
Grammar is a fickle
Mistress. Her rules, flanked by
Exceptions innumerable, stare pitilessly at your helpless
Words. But know, respect, and then, occasionally,
Flout them. For what beauty lies to be created!
What delights of the heart to be experienced
And what fulfilment of the mind to be had!

Aaarrrggghhh — PC Acronyms

Fittingly, even the title has an acronym (technically an abbreviation although all acronyms are technically abbreviations). From Modi’s initiatives to texty relatives to Reddit’s narratives, acronyms are everywhere. But none of these spheres manage to come close to the PC (Personal Computer) industry. BTW, Macs (Macintoshes) are also PCs.

A prosumer (professional–consumer) is building an HEDT (High End Desktop) computer with the latest Intel Broadwell E (E for Enthusiast) Core i7-6950X (X for Extreme) CPU (Central Processing Unit) which has 10 overclockable multi-threaded cores (for a total of 20 threads), is base clocked at 3.0 GHz (Gigahertz) with 25MB (Megabytes) of L3 (Level Three) Cache, has a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 140 W (Watts), supports up to 40 PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) lanes, and plugs into an FCLGA 2011-3 (Flip-Chip Land Grid Array).

Equip that chip with 128GB (Gigabytes) of quad-channel DDR4 SDRAM (Double Data Rate 4th Generation Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory) clocked at 2400MHz (Megahertz).

For graphics, a two-way SLI (Scalable Link Interface) through the HB (High Bandwidth) Bridge using the latest Nvidia Titan X (unofficially called Titan XP with P standing for Pascal, the codename of the current generation, to differentiate it from the previous generation card of the same name) each of which is clocked at 1417 MHz, has 12GB of GDDR5X SGRAM (Graphics Double Data Rate Type 5 [X is a fancy letter although GDDR5X is faster than the simple GDDR5] Synchronous Graphics Random Access Memory), has a memory speed of 10 Gbps (Gigabits per second) for a maximum bandwidth of 480 GBps (Gigabytes per second), supports 8K (K stands for Kilo or a thousand meaning, in this case, a horizontal resolution of 8000 pixels, actually 7680 pixels) Video though its three certified DisplayPort 1.2 ports, and also has an HDMI 2.0b (High Definition Mutimedia Interface Version 2.0b) and one Dual-Link DVI–D (Digital Visual Interface Digital only) port.

System storage is the 800GB Intel 750 Series PCIe NVMe SSD (Non Volatile Memory Express Solid State Drive) with an advertised random 4KB (Kilobyte) 210k (K for Kilo meaning thousand)  IOPS (Input/output operations per second) write and 420k IOPS write as well as sequential  128KB 2100 MBps (Megabytes per second) read and 800 MBps write performance. For other storage is a couple of 1TB (Terabyte) Samsung 850 Pro 6 Gbps SATA 3 (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment 3rd Generation) SSDs. They are the first consumer drives to use 3D–NAND MLC (Three Dimensional–Not AND Multi Level Cells) for storage chips. And damn you HDDs (Hard Disk Drives).

All that will have to be accommodated by a motherboard based on the Intel X99 “Wellsprung” chipset, a PCH (Platform Controller Hub) aimed at the enthusiast market. The ASUS X99 Deluxe II with its 8 DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Modules) slots  each supporting upto 16GB — that’s the only way you get 128GB of system memory — support for multi-GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) configurations, five full length PCIe x16 slots (meaning 16 lanes each) although one of them has just a Gen 2 x4 (4 lane 2nd Generation) connection, and an x1 (one lane) slot, two U.2 (U dot two) slots, one vertical M.2 (M dot two) slot, ten SATA ports four of which support RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) configurations, four are SATAe (SATA Express) ports and the other two are just normal SATA ports, USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, S/PDIF (Sony/Philips ….

Phew, you get the idea! That’s if you are still reading, which I don’t think you are… hmmm!

Book Review — Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann

Too Afraid to Cry CoverThe Book…

Title: Too Afraid to Cry
Author: Ali Cobby Eckermann
Publisher: Navayana
Year: 2015 (Originally pubished by Ilura Press in 2012)
Price: INR 295/-

Too Afraid to Cry is a memoir by Yankunytjatjara poet and writer Ali Cobby Eckermann. The writing is sparse and the language is stark but don’t let the former mislead you or the latter deceive you.

Much can be said — and has been said — about literary critics either being too stubbornly difficult to please or, on the other extreme, being too quick to find, and in many cases supply, merit when there is none. My own opinion is that we are all entitled to our opinions!

Thoughts…

That out of the way, I now profess my absolute adoration for Too Afraid to Cry. Is it profound? No. Is it elegant? No. Not really. Is it joyful? God, No. These are all the wrong questions. And if you are asking them, you’d better get another book. The hard reality is that very few lives, if any, are filled with profundity, elegance and happiness. These are, to modernise Hardy, only occasional episodes in the twelve season series of a painful drama called life. And as we run through the book’s pages, we realise that for Eckermann, an aboriginal in Australia ‘stolen‘ from her mother, happiness was but actually only a few fleeting scenes spread across multiple seasons.

Ali Cobby Eckermann

The prose is jarringly honest. It neither embellishes nor exaggerates. Her own rather unwise decisions, the failings of society and the racism of government policy are there for us to see in their naked form. (“‘Aboriginal families don’t care for their children.’ Where did those words come from? Who put that shit in my head?” Eckermann asks after seeing a happy Aboriginal family camping in a creek.) The poetry that intersperses the prose sections is equally unabashed. “I am white. I am grey. I am black.” She declares at one instance resolutely lashing out against the racial prejudices.

It is a brave and powerful memoir that can be completed in a single sitting. But the experience is more rewarding with breaks taken for reflection — a lot of details are left, I can only assume, for the reader to imagine and perhaps fill in — and for placing yourself in her context. I teared up a few times.


I am appending a poem from the book. I hope copyright would not be an issue.

I Tell You True

I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since I watched my daughter perish
She burned to death inside a car
I lost what I most cherish
I saw the angels hold her
As I screamed with useless hope
I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
It’s the only way I cope!

I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since I found my sister dead
She hung herself to stop the rapes
I found her in the shed
The rapist bastard still lives here
Unpunished in this town
I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since I cut her down.

I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since my mother passed away.
They found her battered down the creek
I miss her more each day
My family blamed me for her death
Their words have made me wild
I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
‘Cos I was just a child.

So, if you see someone like me
Who’s drunk and loud and cursing
Don’t judge too hard, you never know
What sorrows we are nursing.