I look forward
to the day
when the sounds
of people’s democracy
are once again
science and sounds
over the underground
people voiced radio
© Ángel L. Martínez 28 feb 13
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective
Air, air-gun, air-raid, air-lock, air-brick, air-pipe, air-pump, air-pressure, air-tight,
air type, air kisses, hot air, air moment,
airplane, aircraft, air-traffic, air-balloon, airship, airworthy, airport,
airbed, walking on air, airborne, air view,
air on a g string
HARRY TAKES TO THE SKY
[“Hello readers!” greeted Harry, whose voice rose up from between the lines of the page. “Before you start indulging in my next exciting adventure, I’d like you to play a game of mine. Try to spot how many different uses there are of the word, ‘air’, hidden within the story. Happy hunting!”]
Little twelve year old Harry Craddock drove his bright orange beach buggy, to the tune of The New Edition’s ‘Get a Little Sand Between Your Toes’, along the golden stretches of sand, merrily bumping up and down on the dunes, as the gentle sea breeze brushed against his blonde hair.
“Okey dokey!” he excitedly cried out, as a number of young women, donning different coloured swimming costumes, waved at him from a distance. “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!” he yelled, whilst reflecting back upon several victories.
A tennis champion. A cool American cop, who, along with his sidekick, had captured a dangerous villain, after crashing through boxes and knocking down dustbins. Winner of a large balloon race. The first pilot to fly The Concorde, travelling twice the speed of sound, whilst observing the curvature of the earth, before losing control and colliding with the planet’s surface.
Suddenly, as the thought of crashing the plane became embedded in his mind, the buggy abruptly lost control. Harry was thrown out of the vehicle, landing on his back on the soft sand, the grains pouring into the seahorse-embroidered legs of the pink flared jeans. the sleeves of the yellow t-shirt, and the sides of his electric blue platform shoes. But damaging the prize buggy wasn’t Harry’s main concern, for as he slowly opened his eyes, two strawberry scented roller balled glossed lips descended towards his face, the sticky smell making him gasp for breath, the owner being none other than a young girl, roughly Harry’s age, with hair tied into two bunches, donning a checked ruffled sleeved dress, white ankle socks and T-bar shoes.
“Hello Harry!” she soppily said, as her lips touched his left cheek, the pink coloured gooey substance smearing the skin.
“Urh! Urh!” exclaimed Harry, as he suddenly woke up, discovering that the stickiness on his face was the remains of a fruit flavoured Ice Pop, some of which had stained his favourite football team printed jacket and pillow case. That very ice lolly, which he had smuggled up to bed the night before, only for it to melt after falling asleep. “That Veronica Dribbleswaite!” Harry thought as he laid in bed, still in shock. “Not only does she follow me around, embarrassing me in front of my friends, but haunting me in my dreams!” But this moment of discomfort was soon short-lived when Harry looked up to the football player themed calendar, which read Wednesday 23rd June 1976, on the printed wallpaper, the pattern matching his bedclothes. Harry’s grey eyes widened like saucers. Not only was it another summer’s day heat wave, but a promise of £5 from his Grandma Flo, who had had a win at bingo the previous night.
He jumped out of bed, changed out of his pyjamas into a pair of black school trousers, a white shirt, and striped tie, before shaking his hair until it fell tidily into place. And like every morning, after leaving his bedroom, Harry slid down the stair banister, shouting, “Okey dokey!” excitedly, before jumping off at the bottom of the stairs, landing on both feet and colliding with the coat stand, creating a loud ‘crash’ in the process, usually drowning out the seasonal Top 10 chart pop song. That very tune, this time, being Abba’s ‘Fernando’, which was tinily blasting out, the volume increasing as Harry entered the living room, from a transistor radio belonging to his sister Maureen, who was wearing a Laura Ashley dress and head of shoulder length brown wavy curly hair.
“Your money is on the Welsh dresser,” said Mum, taking Harry’s P.E. kit off the clotheshorse, which was situated by the opened window.
“I’ll be able to buy a super stunt kite,” said Harry, feeling that he was floating above the floor as he walked over to pick up the note, the blue printed colours clashing with the beige and oatmeal painted flowered plates, neatly positioned on the three tiered oak shelving.
“If you ask me,” said Dad, who was sat at the pine table. “If your grandma managed to save all the money she’d spent at bingo, she’ll have twice as much as she’d won.”
Maureen straightened one of her frilly white sleeves and straightened the matching collar, which was attached to a brown baggy body, the colour blending in with that of the carpet, armchair and settee, and wallpaper. She lit up a cigarette.
“Do we have to have this smoking at breakfast time,” snapped Dad, who was tucking into his bowl of muesli.
“Sorry!” said Maureen stroppily, stubbing the half finished cigarette out in the ashtray, which was placed on top of the gas fire.
“It’s the same every morning,” shouted Dad, his voice drowning out The Brotherhood of Man’s ‘Save All Your Kisses for Me’. “Polluting the atmosphere with your smoke.”
“If you didn’t work at that cigarette factory, Our Reeny,” said Mum, spraying a can of fragrance around the room, “you wouldn’t be able to afford to smoke.”
“Not the right behaviour for a choir girl,” mocked Harry as he gulped down the last spoonful of his Sugar Puffs.
“And if you’re eating ice cream on the way home from school,” warned Mum, whilst buttering a slice of wholemeal toast, “watch out for the seagulls. You know what’s been happening from the television news bulletins.”
“Looks like the scavengers have been at it again,” said Dad, lowering his paper. “An elderly couple had their fish and chips snatched, and a small child had an ice lolly whipped out of his hand.”
But Harry had already left the room, slamming the door behind him, before Dad could say, “Watch the tomato plants in the backyard, and try not to frighten the chickens.” Infact, his exit was so quick, it was like he had done a magical disappearing act.
The bus sped by numerous terraced houses, which must have been a passing blur to the passengers on board, before grinding to a halt at an empty bus stop, the skidding of the wheels against the curb side spraying dust up into the air [‘O.k.” said Harry, “I’ll let you have this one.”].
The doors slid open, making a sucking noise. Harry, and his two friends, John and Earnest, found themselves stumbling down the steps onto the pavement, bumping into each other and falling over in the process.
“If you want to flick your bogies about at each other,” sneered an overweight bus conductress, whose uniform was obviously too tight for her, “do it in your own homes and not on my bus!”
“Bah!” exclaimed Harry, maintaining his balance. “You’re full of wind.”
As the bus sped into the distance, the three lads shook their fists, before rushing into a nearby corner shop, where they were hit by a wall of an odour of fresh ‘hot of the press’ comics and the local evening newspapers, not to mention the towering teetering jars of sweets, mouth watering magical colours of different flavours, shapes and textures.
“Yes!” demanded a middle-aged woman, donning an overall, who peered through her glasses at the three boys with suspicion.
“I’ll have a super stunt kite,” said Harry, placing the money onto the counter.
“Sorry lad,” said the shop assistant. “We’ve sold right out of kites. Haven’t had any in for ages.”
“Don’t you read the local papers lad?” said a stocky man, who had just brought up a box of crisps from the basement. “The workers at the factory that make them are on strike. They have been trying to clear disputes with the union for days now.”
“Ice cream!” shouted John, who had spotted a freezer near the entrance. All three boys dived into the container, only their dangling legs could be seen.
“Help!” they shouted, as John’s plump body had squeezed them between the ice-cold walls.
“Out!” ordered the shop assistant, ushering the lads through the door, onto the street, the aftermath of their entrapment still evident in John’s frosted curly hair, and Earnest’s steamed up spectacles. “And don’t set foot in my shop again.”
“Look what I have got!” said John chirpily, pulling out three ice lollies from his school trouser pockets, as they attempted to brave the hot scorching weather, the lollies beginning to melt, dripping their sticky liquids down the fronts of their shirts. But this was the least of their worries, for suddenly, a mobber of hungry seagulls flew down from the sky, snatching the lollies in the process, leaving Harry, John and Earnest holding the sticks.
“Right!” snapped Harry. “I’ve just about had enough of this.”
“What are you going to do?” asked John.
“You’ll see! Come on!”
Harry, John and Earnest carried, over their heads, a massive white canvas, which had an owl face painted in different shades of brown and large eyes coloured in orange, up the steep grassy hill. Now! Anyone, who would be flying in a helicopter, would have been mistaken for thinking that the object was a white backed giant insect creature slowly crawling along the ground, but, to the humble passerby, this would appear to be none other than a gigantic kite. That very kite, which the boys had constructed with a white sheet, bamboo canes, and assorted coloured paints, courtesy of Grandma Flo’s bingo winnings. Each individual step became harder than the previous one as the three boys, trying to avoid slipping on the dried out tufts of grass, struggled with the increasingly heavy kite, the escalating strong breeze pushing against them. Arguments sometimes occurred between them, usually about whose fault it was, when the item toppled over, each boy losing his balance in the process. The highest point in the north eastern industrial seaside town of Darlsbrough was finally concurred as Harry, John and Earnest dropped the kite and collapsed on the soft warm grass, the breeze refreshing their bodies from the long tiresome haul.
As Harry, John and Earnest ran at full speed, each grabbing onto a cane, the kite was slowly pulled upwards into the sky.
“Okey dokey!” Harry excitedly shouted as his, John’s and Earnest’s feet left the ground.
“Whoah!” the three boys warily cried out as the ground moved further away from the soles of their shoes, making each one feel unsteady and sick with dizziness in the process. The whole hill now resembled the size of a small mound. The unease with what the lads previously felt earlier had now turned to excitement. As they were slowly carried over the town, Harry could see the family home, corner shop, secondary school, promenade, docks, and the fishing huts and jetty, where Grandpa Bert fished, all once larger than Harry, now the complete opposite, reduced to nothing more than a miniature scaled model.
“Right! Let’s do business!” said Harry, ready for the attack. Lowering the kite, Harry, John and Earnest flew down towards the town centre, just in time to scare off a seagull, who was just about to snatch a sandwich from a shopper, back up into the sky. For it was not just the kite that stunned the scavenging bird, but the painting of the owl. That very owl, which had learnt was a predator to the herring gull.
They flew upwards and down towards the seafront, frightening three seagulls, who had attempted to tuck their beaks into some tourists’ fish and chip teas, before ascending upwards towards the local park, this time preventing a young couple from being deprived of their ice creams. Suddenly, after scaring away several more seagulls, Harry and company lost control of the kite, which appeared to take on a mind of its own.
“Whoah!” they cried, as they descended towards a busy road, flying under a railway bridge and back up into the sky. The three boys froze in terror as they were swept downwards between factory chimneystacks, their feet just about skimming the roofs, before being lifted up above the town.
After a number of near misses involving collision with terraced house windows, the British Rail commuter train, and the tops of trees, not to mention half the population of Darlsbrough, the breeze grew stronger carrying the boys out towards the sea.
“Help!” they shouted, as the kite was being pulled away from the mainland, only to be saved, in the nick of time, by a gale blowing them inland.
Harry, John and Earnest were thrust towards the top of a cliff, falling to the ground as the canes snapped, resulting not only in the kite crashing onto the rocks below, but a few sprained wrists and broken ankles. But, as the boys grimaced in pain, the sound of an ambulance descended down towards them.
After the three boys were lifted up into the helicopter, John and Earnest were relieved to be in safe hands, but Harry wasn’t sure when he heard those familiar soppy sounding words,
“Oh no!” he exclaimed, turning round to find Veronica Dribbleswaite donning a volunteer nurses outfit.
[“Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about my latest adventure,” said Harry. “So! How many references to the word, ‘air’, did you find? Answers coming soon.”]
Airy-fairy - ( foolishly idealistic and vague OED)
On gossamer wings, I levitate above poetry magazines
that deny me my mode of elevation. And from above
I see that 'truth and beauty' still lie there between the lines
but mortal editors take words as guides to follow
in pouring meaning before it sets in concrete furrows.
A baby takes its first, desperate gulp.
A parent inhales… and waits with deep love and care.
A youth intakes it - with excited anticipation.
A lover blows kisses and whispers sweet affection.
A bereaved one exhales, with sad and heavy sighs.
And as I take my frail, final breath
I slump and close my eyes.
Eventually we all expire.
Without air there is nothing.
No more to declare.
Air : A sonnet on it!
Birds fly through it
Swoop and glide without a care.
Love is in it - when couples connect
And feel there’s no one to compare.
But big balloons and politicians are full of it
Of no substance - just hot _ _ _!
Diplomats try to clear it
With careful savoir -faire.
The aggressor puts a fist in it
Peacetime to impair.
The planes drop bombs through it -
Death and devastation to declare.
Then hints of ghosts appear in it
Though the sight of them is rare.
Actually, aerobic activity
Increases inhalation and
My professional qualification
Is in municipal administration,
Something that is very rare,
A badge that I am proud to wear
And once I took my finals....twice....
Councils clamoured for my advice
To change their towns without appearing
Involved in social engineering.
I served the community
While making sure that it served me.
I displayed tremendous flair,
A problem solver, full of air;
Trouble making, trouble shooting,
Knowing when to put the boot in,
Developing Council strategy
And influencing policy
By night, in meetings, where I’d play,
While plotting in the pubs by day.
Expenses claimed, a lot of beer;
A varied, interesting career
With no particular work to do,
I just took an overview.
And so, as all my colleagues toiled
I made sure that the wheels were oiled
And though, specifics, I can’t mention,
Now I have a lovely pension.
Like air in a flower til the sun rises
As the clouds fall on earth with a sweet joy to bear
Fragrances of rose oil and air with all of our love
As the light paves our roots mixing our rhythms in the making of a poem
Raising our heart along the Housatonic River
The sky of that dark living blues of Jayne Cortez
Turns to sweet jazz melody as it heals us in that moment of time
O singing tree like the ancient flow of Cleopatra walking the river of soul
And in the center songs of blues for J.C.
© Carlos Raúl Dufflar 12/13/11
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective
Hot air is blowing
into my hair.
Brushing it softly
with a brush
in my right hand
Left hand is holding
around a head.
Changing hot button
to the warm fan.
drying my hair.
Earth, air, fire and water,
Elements we had of old.
Each dependent on each other,
Changing states through heat and cold.
Alchemists would mix them up
In their attempts to conjure gold.
Now the periodic table
Complicates our simple world.
The air in summer makes me sneeze
From pollen floating on the breeze.
In winter I am sneezing still
As air borne germs give me a chill.
So as you see I do not care
For what is carried on the air,
Made worse by men who are such fools
For burning up their fossil fuels,
And whilst pollution can’t be seen
We know its colour isn’t green.
We’re poisoning our atmosphere
To cause a warming everywhere
With changing weather, melting ice
And deeper seas; it isn’t nice
To think that what is in the air
Is killing off the polar bear.
The climate has gone out of sync
But I’m not kicking up a stink
Because extremes, from floods to freezing,
Possibly, will stop me sneezing.
1. There has been an act of what amounts to collective forgetting about air. Air has become a sort of vacuum -a strange paradox. There is, it seems, no air between us and the distant hills turning them blue; it is the hills themselves that are blue, or so we have fallen into the habit of thinking.
2. And yet air is the most intimate part of the natural world. It interpenetrates us in an absolutely invasive manner. This air that circles the globe is also a component of my body, as essential and as internalised as my bones, my spleen, my heart. Air, in other words, is the only one of my body's organs that is both common and ubiquitous. People on the other side of the planet are internalising my organ, as I theirs. Air is blood, and we are all vampires. When we talk of air, in other words, we are talking about a part of my body, which perhaps excuses the often autobiographical interest we have in it.
3. Our thoughts about air see it as a medium, as the neutral and invisible solvent by which everything else is carried: sound waves travel in air (as if sound waves could be separated out from air! Say rather that sound waves are air); pollution is 'air-borne', as if air is the pure white packhorse and 'pollution' is the dirty sack of coals across its saddleback. This sort of thinking doesn't help us. Pollution, in fact, is simply one of the manifestations of air. Thinkers who have long since chased away the superstitious old habit of thinking in terms of 'appearance and reality', of 'phenomenal and noumenal', of 'truth and representation' still assume this structure of thought with respect to the air they breathe. Chasing out such thinking from 'air' will open the windows. It is this with which we are concerned. So, for example, if we talk of 'clouds existing in the air', it implies that they might exist outside the air. But clouds are air, another one of its many protean forms.
4. To be more specific on this question: by talking of 'the five senses' we tend to hypostise the sensed material; so 'a sense of smell' implies that there is a material substance out there called 'smell' that our sense apprehends. This is not quite the case. 'Scent' is not some pure, ideal quantity that is carried 'on the air'; it is one of the many forms of air. Similarly, sound waves can no more be separated from the air than ocean-waves can from the ocean. What would a 'pure' ocean-wave look like, the isolated 'content' separated from the 'form' of the sea? Perhaps we are tempted to think of the answer to that question in terms of 'information', but that doesn't get us any further, because information is always already embodied in one or other material form. There's no such thing as 'pure' information. Our sense of taste is closely bound up with our sense of smell; and the nerve-endings that mediate our sense of touch are fine-tuned for operation in air. This is to say: air shapes four of our senses. Only sight is exceptional, and it is so in interesting ways. So: the lunar astronaut only hears, only smells and tastes, only feels by virtue of the envelope of air inside his spacesuit, but he can see the stars without air. How can this be?
5. Theses on air as organ. Air is not a ubiquitous sense-organ, but it is almost so. It is the one of our bodily organs that enables almost all the others. And we can make a number of polemical assertions, or theses, about this organ we call 'atmosphere'.
I. It is simultaneously common and intimately individual; it is the organ that surrounds the heart, and by moving the diaphragm of muscle in our solar plexus down we can expand this organ and feel it pressing against our heart.
II. 'My' air, in my lungs now, is the most personal, private and intimate of my organs; this organ 'air' penetrates deeper into my body than anything else, deeper than sexual penetration, more thorough and vital than food. And yet I share precisely this air with everybody else on the planet. We are all air-siblings; we all interpenetrate everybody else in exactly this intimate supra-sexual manner; we are all connected along this private, supple limb. This is the deeper meaning behind the truism that 'air is both public and private'.
III. Air is internal and external and one and the same time. This truth goes deeper than we think, precisely because 'air' is the organ of our body that erases the distinction between internal and external. The hermetic myth of 'private inside' and 'public outside' is contradicted by air.
IV. Similarly, there is no 'outside' of air, and no 'inside': so, we think of (say) molecules of smoke being carried 'inside' air, and we think of air 'ending' at a point however many scores of kilometres above the Earth. But this is not right. Smoke is not carried in air, but is air. Likewise the air does not end abruptly at some point above the earth and 'vacuum' begin. There is, indeed, no such thing as 'vacuum', if we take the term to mean 'space empty of all matter'. Between the Earth and the moon it is true that the atmosphere is very greatly attenuated (the density of interplanetary air is approximately 100 molecules per cc; the density of interstellar air may be ten times less).
V. It is possible to seal oneself away, hermetically, from this private/communal limb (in an airtight room, inside breathing apparatus), just as it is possible to apply a tight tourniquet to an arm or a leg-that is to say, not wholly, and rarely to good effect except in the direst of emergencies.
6. This is the most crucial point. The atmosphere, as Edgar Allen Poe predicted in 1835, indeed reaches to the moon, although in an extremely attenuated form for most of the distance: 'it is also calculated that at an altitude not exceeding the hundredth part of the earth's diameter-that is, not exceeding eighty miles-the rarefaction would be so excessive that animal life could in no manner be sustained … But in point of fact, an ascension being made to any given altitude, the ponderable quantity of air surmounted in any farther ascension, is by no means in proportion to the addition height ascended, but in a ratio constantly decreasing. It is therefore evident that, ascend as high as we may, we cannot literally speaking, arrive at a limit beyond which no atmosphere is to be found. It must exist, I argued. … It appeared to me evidently a rare atmosphere extending from the sun outwards, beyond the orbit of Venus at least, and I believed indefinitely farther, pervading the entire regions of our planetary system, condensed into what we call atmosphere at the planets themselves' [Poe, Hans Pfaall].
Set this alongside Marshall Savage in 1992: 'every school boy knows that space is a vacuum … [but] this is true only up to a point … [rather] the matter in interstellar space constitutes a rather tenuous gas with a density on the order of one nuclear particle per cubic centimeter. The matter in 300,000 cubic kilometres of interstellar space would barely fill a thimble. Passing through this thin gas at high speed does, however, create aerodynamic resistance. At close to the speed of light, the pressure of interstellar gas on the front of the space ship will amount to 37 milligrams per square centimeter. This is a gas pressure equal to that of the Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of 90 kilometers. To fly through the interstellar medium, therefore, starships should be streamlined. Even ships travelling at relatively low fractions of the speed of light will benefit from smooth aerodynamic design'.
In other words, the 'vacuum' of space is actually extremely attenuated air; and it requires only speed to restore it to earthly atmosphere. Speed, in other words, is a form of air resistance; the winds or hurricanes of earth are the same thing.
7. Tool and machine. Airborne flight is an action upon an organic limb; ballistic flight is the attempt to remove human action wholly out of the reach of this limb. We need, here, to draw on the distinction (as old as Marx) between tool and machine. The tool-a hammer, say-is an extension of the worker's body, an elaboration of his labour, subordinate to the worker. The machine stands apart from the worker, and alienates some portion of their labour. Here, the workers becomes subordinate to the machine, rather than the other way about. This wide-ranging analysis also has its application to the topic of flight. Put baldly, the difference is this: aircraft are tools, supported upon a human limb; rockets and other ballistic projectiles, are machines, alienated from humanity.
8. Transparency. Air is often taken as proverbially transparent ('…into thin air…'); yet the reverse is in fact the case. The combination of sunlight and air, such as we see in the sky at daytime, in fact prevents us from seeing the stars. Cloud-air, fog-air, rain-air can stop us seeing anything at all. An interesting consideration flows from this. We think of 'air', abstractly, as clear, transparent, pure. Yet our ability to see is dependent on light, and light-sunlight-is precisely what fogs and hazes air, so that we cannot see the stars through the cataract of 'blue'.
9. Inertial moment. In Polar Inertia (1990) Paul Virilio instances a space-saving Tokyo exercise pool in which 'swimmers remain stationary' as water is pumped over and past them in the manner of a home trainer or a moving walkway used in the wrong direction … whoever exercises here, then, becomes less a moving body than an island, a pole of inertia … space no longer stretches out ahead; the moment of inertia replaces constant movement'. He links this illustrative phenomenon to the modern fascination with flight simulators, wind tunnels, and a general bias whereby our environment is increasingly oriented, actually and virtually, around the moment of inertia. But perhaps this ignores the key fact: the wind, as air, is always an organ of our bodies. For each of us therefore, it is always the air that moves past us, and never us through the air. In the same way if I move my hand from my forehead to the back of my neck it is not that I move past my hand, but that my hand passes behind me-even if I am walking as I make this gesture, such that an observer might see my hand occupying the same position relative to a vertical line (say, on a wall behind me as I passed). I move my limbs around me; I do not move myself 'through' my limbs. This is the actual symbolic truth of the wind tunnel-that we all inhabit such a place, that the air is always centred on each of us, individually, as it is always an organ of our bodies.
10. Air as philosophy. We can think, perhaps, of philosophy as such as a metaphorical air: which is to say, precisely not as the medium through which 'concepts' or 'truth' are carried, but as the possibility of concepts themselves. Schopenhauer said: "I have never professed to propound a philosophy that would leave no questions answered. In this sense philosophy is actually impossible; it would be the science of omniscience. But … there is a limit up to which reflection can penetrate, and so far illuminate the night of our existence, although the horizon always remains dark. This limit is reached by my doctrine of the will-to-live that affirms or denies itself in its own phenomenon. To want to go beyond this is, in my view, like wanting to fly beyond the atmosphere. We must stop here.' [Schopenhauer, vol II, p.591-2]. It can be agreed that the philosopher flies on the air, and cannot fly without the air. But what if the air does not come to an end, only thins to one degree or another?
It’s in the air;
You can cut with a knife
Because of the tension
That clearly exists
Between husband and wife.
What started off
As married bliss
So long ago
Has come to this
And neither of them cares;
It’s there in the air.
Yet both of them know
That they’d never let go.
I woke up this morning
Had my eyes wide shut
I'd write a poem but
I gotta get me 'air cut
Leaving the Nest
Have faith little fledgling
For thy Father gave thee wings
that will lift you as you fall
light as a feather you will fly.
Have faith little fledgling
For thy father gave thee a voice
of the sweetest note that
will sing amidst the treetops.
Have faith little fledgling
For thy father will provide the
means to find food and shelter
when the stark winter comes.
Have faith little fledgling
In thy parents urging you on
with each quivering feather
for they trust thy Father implicitly.