Posts Tagged ‘David Donnell’

Leon Retief. Minder bekende digters van Canuckistan, deel 2

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

david donnell

Minder bekende digters van Canuckistan, deel 2

David Donnell


Donnell se meestal speelse en lighartige gedigte het dikwels, maar nie altyd nie, meer om die lyf as wat mens met die eerste lees besef. Ek vermoed egter dat sy gedigte dikwels te gebonde is aan ‘n sekere tyd, persoon of gebeurtenis. Dis te betwyfel of sy gedigte oor Obama (waarvan ek niks gaan plaas nie) nog enigsins in sê maar 2025 gelees gaan word en of van sy ander gedigte dan nog enige relevansie gaan hê. Nie dat gedigte nou noodwendig relevant moet wees nie maar darem. Ek kry ook die indruk dat hy so bietjie te veel verwys na die twintigste eeu – niks op sig self daarmee verkeerd nie maar al onderstaande gedigte is uit sy bundel Watermelon Kindness wat in 2010 gepubliseer is en dis darem al tien jaar na die eeuwending.

Sy gedigte is deur kritici beskryf as “walking/talking poems” en na my mening is dit ‘n goeie beskrywing. Dikwels so half tong in die kies en (Maria, hierdie is spesiaal vir jou J) hy beskou filosofie as ‘n vorm van komedie – ‘n dialoog tussen homself en die leser oor hedendaagse lewe in die groot stad – niks oor die prêries nie.



             They hate us – those starchy fiction readers –

because we write poems about ideas

& perspectives.

I tell Mrs. Shalowski this as I meet her

coming home from the supermarket.

“You should write poems about

young girls,” she tells me. “I know,” she says,


lifting her dark head with its thick curly hair proudly,

“people like that sort of thing.”


“ I liked your poem about Einstein,” she says,

“because it told me how stupid he really was in his life,


But ideas and perspectives,” she says, “hah, I don’t know.”


And I notice – standing there in the bright sunshine –

that she’s carrying a large pot of geraniums.

“Pink,” I say, gesturing at the large pot. “Pink,” she says.


“The young girls,” I say, “O the young girls aren’t giving me

very much

pink.” “Well,” she says, “write about it. Tell them that life

without sex

stinks.” And off she goes with her large pot of pink

geraniums – a total enemy of literature,

but a great defender of the truth.






I don’t have a 6-year old called Harriet

daughter with curly red hair

& a gap between her front teeth. So

who the fuck

do you think

I’m supposed to leave all my money to? The 4-bedroomed


house in Willowdale

lots of nice willow trees on some of the streets

the Mercedes-Benz.

banana yellow, 4-door sedan model,

the big summer cottage, I think the one Gravenhurst

with the warp-around outside porch

screened for summer evenings. Don’t you understand

that – now that I’ve had my say –


I don’t really have anything. Just my health

& a few personal possessions – a filing system etc. –


& 11 published books that haven’t sold very well.





The young girl with orange hair & a large steel lip ring.

The 65-year old professor in a grey tweed suit who talks to himself.

Good-looking 41-year-old poets who return to Treasure Island.

The large curly-haired blonde woman with two shopping bags on the subway.

Bill Clinton because she probably wasn’t a good lay anyway.

Howard Stern because he obviously does too much coke.

Anybody who critics Rainer Fassbinder without seeing Mother Kurster,

All university professors who dislike Thos. Pynchon’s Moon & Doom.

A young Chinese guy with a brush cut giggling to himself over a copy of Esquire

or Wired magazine.

People who delay the elevator on humid 86-degree days.

Casually dressed men carrying unusually large attaché cases.

Women with short hair who have bizarre recovered memories.

The gorgeous young Japanese assistant chef at Segovia restaurant.

Michel Foucalt for writing a really marvellous book about the history of insanity.

Neil Young for writing I want to see you dance again.

I think Michel Foucalt would love some of

these people. Or would he? Foucalt was an academic.

People who go crazy about banana splits

Ezra Pound, well, you know, he sort of looks crazy.

Lee Bailey on roller skates w/gym shorts crossing the kitchen at China Blues.

Garth Drabinsky for being just a little heavy-handed.

All married women who go to Freudian analysts.

TS Eliot for not hiring Dylan Thomas to read The Waste Land for him.

All married men who go to Jungian analysts.


Galileo for proving what we knew all along – we are less important than the sun.





Cucumbers are cool

It’s that pale green shade of


I guess that makes them cool

not the dark green rind. Pale lemon

gelati is cool

with or without biscotti

perhaps. Boys & girls. Boy I sure wish


I was cool about you. Men

don’t make passes

at girls who wear glasses. O sure they do.



I do, & so it’s my own fault that I’m broken-hearted.





The great philosophers are all wrong

Tu Fu

a wonderful Chinese poet

from long before Schopenhauer or Ludwig Wittgenstein –

said everything

when he simply said,

Look at the moon.


O the moon. I am like a young bull calf out in the fields

of the moon. Or

a bottle of wine

& the moon.

That sounds good. Eggplant is a wonderful vegetable.

The Greeks

call it “the testicles of Christ.” That’s a good phrase.


the New Testament

is certainly a ballsy book. I would like to consider

some of these abstract questions

in greater detail

but what I want most is eggplant with Parmesan

& tomato sauce. Or

Marinate some bite-sized chunks


& have them with chicken & fetticcine.





Paul & Joseph Montgolfier were always trying to get high,

not amyl nitrate,

the whole giant steps routine,



Paul & Joseph wanted to get high up in the air

& get a good look at what was going on over “there” in the New World,

or for that matter, across the channel. Was George III really mad,


or was he just playing around with medications

for his so-called variegate porphyria?

So they built an aerial balloon, large & original.


They used taffeta & 1800 buttons,

obviously the air is going to escape at a certain point

but not before altitude.


On July 16, 1783

they took to the air with a sheep, a duck & a rooster

& achieved 324 feet in 15 seconds. It was a record.


People searching for profound starting points take note.

Their original idea was laundry

drying over a fire.