30 May 2017

Tuesday Poem: Messiaen Among The Dinosaurs

Messiaen Among The Dinosaurs

1. Old man with a notebook

They find Messiaen entranced in the magic hour
between dawn and the day’s heat
wandering the woodlands, skirting marshes,
annotating the contrasting calls

of pipit and nightjar. For many hours
he has been walking the forest fringes, lost
in the ecstasy of birdsong, until scientists,
deferential, insistent, come to fetch him home.

“Tell me again,” he says, Loriod
holding his hand. “Your Institute’s machine
will carry us backwards in time
to the epoch of dinosaurs, yes?

And you wish me to join you,
travel back, transcribe their calls?”

2. Such exotic birds

In the fern-enchanted glade, the composer
transcribes the calls of these gigantic birds,
their plumage flaring glamorously
along high necks and feathered rumps.

His guards are restless, watches
synchronised to the end of their brief window,
when time will snap back 120 million years
to the basement of the Institute,

fluorescents crackling overhead, experimenters
blinking like owls in the light of their return.
But Messiaen sits timeless, notebook on his lap,
oblivious to danger, the forest alive

with death’s roar, life’s fluting cry,
the staves and quavers of the dinosaurs.

3. At Clichy-la-Garenne

Death, three-clawed, yellow-eyed,
stalks the garden at Clichy-la-Garenne.
In the pale spring sunshine, notebook
fallen at his feet, sleeps Messiaen.

Loriod is at the piano, practising
Réveil des dinosaures for her next recital.
The notes attenuate among the cries
of great and lesser birds.

The authorities closed down the experiment
when the consequences became known.
Messiaen kept only memories, scores, scales,
the eggs he grew to fierce companions,

and the hymns of praise that throughout time
have soared from feathered throats.

Credit note: "Messiaen Among The Dinosaurs" was published in takahē 89. I'm reading that issue right now and there is lots of good stuff in there!

Tim says: After my poem about Dmitri Shostakovich's visit to America, which actually happened, I take the bird-obsessed Olivier Messiaen on a more science-fictional journey this time round. Why do I do these things to my favourite composers??

The real-life Messiaen, Yvonne and Jeanne Loriod, and Messiaen's remarkable music are all well worth exploring!

10 May 2017

My First Three Books Now Available As Ebooks: Extreme Weather Events

As I posted a month or so ago, Headwork has made my first three books available as ebooks through Lulu.com. Time to look at them individually:

Extreme Weather Events

Tim Jones – Extreme Weather Events Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Extreme Weather Events was my first short story collection. It was published in 2001 by HeadworX, as part of their now-discontinued Pocket Fiction Series. There are twelve stories in Extreme Weather Events:

Maria and the Tree
Wintering Over
The New Land
The Kiwi Contingent
My Friend the Volcano
The Pole
The Lizard
Tour Party, Late Afternoon
Black Box
The Man Who Loved Maps
The Temple in the Matrix

To introduce a few, “Wintering Over” is set in Antarctica, where an isolated scientific party has an unusual visitor from the past: Titus Oates, that very gallant colleague of Captain Scott who went for a walk, and proved to be quite some time indeed. “The Pole”, also set in Antarctica, rewrites the struggle to be first to the South Pole. “Black Box” sees strange developments on the Wellington skyline, while “My Friend the Volcano” blows her top in Taranaki.

"Flensing" and "The Lizard" are pretty much the only two horror stories I’ve ever written. "Flensing" is set in South Georgia, which gives it a slight edge, I think. And "The Temple in the Matrix" pokes a few toes into the interstitial pond in a William-Gibson-meets-HP-Lovecraft-uptown kind of way.

The book got some good reviews and I still come across satisfyingly dog-eared copies in public libraries. Now you can buy it from Lulu.com.