The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

The New Hieroglyphics
By Les Murray

In the World language, sometimes called
Airport Road, a thinks balloon with a gondola
under it is a symbol for speculation.

Thumbs down to ear and tongue:
World can be written and read, even painted
but not spoken. People use their own words.

Latin letters are in it for names, for e.g.
OK and H2SO4, for musical notes,
but mostly it's diagrams: skirt-figure, trousered figure

have escaped their toilet doors. I (that is, saya,
ego, watashi wa)
am two eyes without pupils;
those aren't seen when you look out through them.

You has both pupils, we has one, and one blank.
Good is thumbs up, thumb and finger zipping lips
is confidential. Evil is three-cornered snake eyes.

The effort is always to make the symbols obvious:
the bolt of electricity, winged stethoscope of course
for flying doctor. Pram under fire? Soviet film industry.

Pictographs also shouldn't be too culture-bound:
a heart circled and crossed out surely isn't.
For red, betel spit lost out to ace of diamonds.

Black is the ace of spades. The king of spades
reads Union boss, the two is feeble effort.
If is the shorthand Libra sign, the scales.

Spare literal pictures render most nouns and verbs
and computers can draw them faster than Pharough's scribes.
A bordello prospectus is as explicit as the action,

but everywhere there's sunflower talk, i.e.
metaphor, as we've seen. A figure riding a skyhook
bearing food in one hand is the pictograph for grace,

two animals in a book read Nature, two books
inside an animal, instinct. Rice in bowl with chopsticks
denotes food. Figure 1 lying prone equals other.

Most emotions are mini-faces, and the speech
balloon is ubiquitous. A bull inside one is dialect
for placards inside one. Sun and moon together

inside one is poetry. Sun and moon over palette,
over shoes etc. are all art forms--but above
a cracked heart and champagne glass? Riddle that

and you're starting to think in World, whose grammar
is Chinese-terse and fluid. Who needs the square-
equals-diamond book, the dictionary, to know figures

led by strings to their genitals mean fashion?
just as a skirt beneath a circle means demure
or a similar circle shouldering two arrows is macho.

All peoples are at times cat in water with this language
but it does promote international bird on shoulder.
This foretaste now lays its knife and fork parallel.


I had an incredibly mundane, boring morning and afternoon...followed by an incredibly strange evening of burning bridges. Really, I should say rerouting bridges -- burning is a serious matter, and I think I salvaged two relationships that would probably have fallen apart if they'd continued as they had, one with someone from whom I am likely to need a recommendation at some point in the future. It's been exhilarating and very stressful and I am completely wiped out.

I can't really talk about the circumstances that triggered it, but I gave notice at TrekToday. Hopefully I'll keep reviewing Next Gen, but even that is up in the air. It's nothing to do with the site or with the Star Trek I love, which ceased to exist some time during Voyager's third season. But that said, once it was done, I was so aware that I should have made this break already...that I've been frustrated and bored and not remotely a fan of the franchise literally for years. It's better for everyone.

Well, except me financially...there have been lots of months where that was my only paid freelancing. I need a job, and I need to knuckle down on unfinished projects and I really need to figure out what I want to do. But not tonight. Missed the second half of Pushing Daisies picking up my parents from Dulles, now watching the Red Sox win a game the umpires should end under a mercy rule. Thursday the contractors are coming and we start the process of putting the house back together after the flood.

My parents are home from California and the fires, sinus-singed and cranky. My uncle is back in his house tonight; his neighborhood suffered and there are still fires in the forest on the mountain above it, but it sounds like things are worse in his old neighborhood near Santa Clarita and his nearly-new house has been spared. That's very good news.

Molten glass about to become a piece of a cat sculpture at Art of Fire.

The studio is inside this old barn in Laytonsville, Maryland.

Here is the glass being heated...

...and about to be shaped.

This is the studio dog...

...and one of the studio cats. This one serves as a mascot on some of their flyers.

A photo from Art of Fire's web site of iridized tulip vases...

...and another of chalcedony bowls and vases.

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