If Poetry Could Hold Water : The Landlockeds of Europe

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bjondon
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If Poetry Could Hold Water : The Landlockeds of Europe

Post by bjondon » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:39 pm

If Switzerland was a giant white sink;
floating high above her, a luxury bar of Luxembourg;
the light shining from her plughole, Liechtenstein
and the pipe heading eastward, Austria; and if that pipe
opened to a vast sump, facing a triple-stacked outflow

Then, the exit up top would lead to immediate Czech-mate;
the one in the middle, a long slow walk to Slovakia -
enough to make anyone feel Hungary - and so

Down, down to sub-basement Serbia and there,
crouched at the bottom, we meet our plumber
who begins every sentence with : This will cost over…
gesturing with Kosovan lugubriosity
at the astonishing mass of Macedonia.

Our passage is blocked, our mere map 2D-locked, but we fly,
we plumb up, we lingually loop the loop, back top of an Italian boot
and there within view but without sea, San Marino, charging
an extortionate fee and laughingly indicating plumb on a boot's knee,

The watering can! The Vatican!! - a pope and/or pipe: a boolean choice
for angels pirouetting on their knees, leading us, inexorably, to Andorra high
in the Pyrenees where pipes, if not frozen have been requisitioned
yes…yes…skis…

If pipes were possibilities, then perhaps, even blocked,
and finding ourselves sitting here once again, mulling it all over
beneath the UK rain and, Moldova, full again with pipedreams
dreaming of that mythical place above the UK rain,
where we all are beautiful people (Belarus!) and we all are hatching
newly impossible schemes…perhaps then, if we could wash our hands
in Lake Geneva…



Original
Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked in Eurasia
If Switzerland was a giant white sink;
floating high above her, a luxury bar of Luxembourg;
the light shining from her plughole, Liechtenstein
and the pipe heading eastward, Austria, which opens out
to a vast sump, facing a triple-stacked outflow,

Then, the cavern up top would lead to immediate Czech mate,
and the one in the middle, a long slow walk to Slovakia -
quite enough to make anyone feel Hungary -

So down, down to sub-basement Serbia, and there,
crouched at the bottom, we meet our plumber
who begins every sentence with : This will cost over…
gesturing with Kosovan lugubriosity
at the astonishing mass of Macedonia.

But getting into a micro-state won't help us find,
stashed somewhere in Italy's pedestal leg,
the watering can of Vatican, nor,
within view but without sea, San Marino.

And don't even think of asking France and/or Spain,
where Andorran plumbers do it with snow.
What we need is a self-hire industrial U-Crane
with a tiny cabin, well stocked with mulled wine -

Yes! Moldovan plumbers do it with alcohol,
their volatile spirits rising like bellicose balloons
to declare themselves Belarus.
Russia may be beautiful, though coastlier than most,

But nothing is as beautiful as a bargain - Azerbaijan
we love, arm in arm with our mania, Armenia,
telling his favourite tale of Six Plumbers Called Stan.
Does it really take that many Stans? Ask Turkmenistan

And his 'Unstuck-Cuz' Kazakhstan - they'll tell you,
if the dreaded ooze beckons, you need Uzbekistan,
maybe even 'Cheeky Tar Specialist' Tajikistan,

And if your boiler's on the blink, call Corgi-trained
Kyrgyzstan, who won't come out without his
dopey apprentice 'Half-man-Half-gone' Afghanistan.

So, from pipes to porcelain, in search of the suite,
we circle China. She's awash with seas
but keeps a tin bath in Tibet, booted and nippled
with Bhutan and Nepal. Beneath her, the perfect pedestal,

But alas Laos and a lack of sinks sends us rising
on a cloud of kaolin until, due east of Switzerland,
locked languages flow from bowl to bowl

And united in our uncommon goal, Mongolia
signs the satisfaction slip - our system is complete.
Last edited by bjondon on Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:23 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by Poet » Tue Dec 31, 2019 4:52 pm

Funny piece, this reminds me of some nonsensical poetry I've read before from Spike Milligan.

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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by NotQuiteSure » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:15 pm

.
Hi Jules,

I'm on the fence with this one. Lots to like, as per, but I don't find the 'plumbing narrative' strong enough to carry me through to the end.
Actually I'm not sure it carries me across the start line - why has a plumber been called in the first place? You haven't given me, as a reader,
a reason to buy into the conceit.

It's a monumental 'if' you start with :) then you promptly lose me in the 'cavern' and I spent too much time wondering about the Aral Sea
and Georgia.

If you could avoid mention of the 'non-landlocked' France, Spain, China etc. entirely, I think it might help.

a long slow walk to Slovakia - isn't there a laborious housekeeping joke here? Rather than the predictable 'slow'? Similarly the 'Czech
mate' joke just looks poor. That said, surely sans sea, San Marino'?

Regards, Not


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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by bjondon » Wed Jan 01, 2020 3:06 pm

Thanks Poet and Not,

Poet - Spike Milligan is a good connection. His rhymes are childish and silly, but they do stick in the mind, and seem to have a life of their own, which is exactly what I want here.

Not - This is a word atlas for the map blind - I figured I could recruit a few big name countries that everyone knows are not landlocked as navigation aids . . . Russia and China are designated within the poem as 'coastlier' and 'awash with seas' but maybe I could switch France and Spain to 'the french and/or spanish pyrenees. Hard to locate The Vatican and San Marino without mentioning Italy.

'cavern' - maybe the wrong word. I've already established the 'triple-stacked outflow' so could start that stanza - 'Then, the top one leads to . . .'

Landlocked nations on the flat plane of a map do look like underground cave/drainage systems to me. (The European one ending at Macedonia - the blockage requiring first one and then a whole parade of plumbers). Spatially linking in all the isolated ones is the tricky bit . . . perhaps I need a fourth dimension with an imaginary plumbing system rising vertically out of the map, curving around and transecting the world in all the right places . . . not!

The Aral/Caspian cluster does perhaps deserve to be spatially indicated a bit better. If there's an obious pun I am grabbing it like a lifebelt. Hence my cartoonized 'Stans'. Like the Milligan rhymes I don't mind 'silly' or ' obvious' as long as it does the job.

Jules

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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by NotQuiteSure » Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:26 pm

.
Hi Jules.

This is a word atlas for the map blind
No idea what that means, but intrigued.
If 'map blind' is the product of some sort of psychological 'reluctance', then where's the inducement
for one so afflicted to even begin to read this? :)

Landlocked nations on the flat plane of a map do look like underground cave/drainage systems to me.
Fair enough, but do they look that way to others?
I don't think underground cave/drainage systems are synonymous. Hence my problem with
'cavern' - maybe the wrong word
which I can't equate with plumbing. Would something like 'cistern' work?

Hard to locate The Vatican and San Marino without mentioning Italy.
Perhaps you need a finer grained approach?
But getting into a micro-state will not help
us to locate the Vatican, old boggy beneficiary,
of the Lateran (not Latrine) Treaty, but you can
see that plucky plug right in the O of Rome. Okay?
Good. Now, follow a plumb line, north
(it takes longer as the crow drives)
and you may find some peace of mind on the way
(sans José) to the sealessly serene San Marino,
just apposite the Apennines on the sparkling rim
of Rimini. And as for Andorra, you do you, me
and yourself a favour, give them a miss.
They were officially belligerent til 1958,
which has to make you wonder about the state
of their facilities.



Regards, Not


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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by bjondon » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:43 pm

Inspired Not - I especially liked 'as the crow drives' -
conjuring a very determined nun in a cinquecento.
I'm using a sort of memory palace system - the brain
soaks up stories but bridles at abstract names and shapes -
so the corny word plays should lead ineluctably to
the hard data and in theory the whole piece become
a form of mnemonic mind map.
Finer grain? Yes, there is most definitely a racy novel
somewhere in here :)

Jules

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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:08 pm

bjondon wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:43 pm
I'm using a sort of memory palace system - the brain soaks up stories but bridles at abstract names and shape
Gotcha. But I think you've too much abstract (If Switzerland was a sink) and too little story here.
Why the need for a plumber in the first place?

Regards, Not

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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by Macavity » Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:22 am

hi Jules,
I like maps and the word playing with country names is an entertainment and kept my interest in the poem. I can visualise the map if not the plumbing. I wondered if the 'plumbing angle' could be related to climate issues to give the poem more purpose?

best

mac

ps just read through the comments - and in theory the whole piece become
a form of mnemonic mind map.
...so the poem is a student's revision aid? :D

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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Landlocked Eurasia

Post by bjondon » Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:28 pm

Thanks Not and mac,
a revision up, hopefully with a better flow
Macavity wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:22 am
. I can visualise the map if not the plumbing.
Yes, Not similarly stumbles . . . I could switch to 'cave systems' but I liked the domestic/natural play, the shift in scale, the oppertunity to characterize a parade of plumbers.


ps just read through the comments - and in theory the whole piece become
a form of mnemonic mind map.
...so the poem is a student's revision aid? :D
Absolutely! My dream come true if this was adopted on the geography syllabus :)

Jules

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Re: Plumbing Without Tears ~ Part 1 : The Landlockeds of Europe

Post by NotQuiteSure » Wed Jan 08, 2020 3:16 pm

.
Hi Jules,
the revision is an improvement - Europe rather than Eurasia is a much more digestible (land) mass - but I'm still not getting the picture, or the story (if there is one).
There are some nice lines (pipes/possibilities, UK rain) but you flip from plumbing to aerobatics and back, seemingly without reason. And so many pipes!

There remains an issue in S1 as to the origin of the 'shining light' - the sentence structure is a bit murky.

I wonder if you need to be more inviting to the reader, as in
Imagine if Switzerland as a giant sink
[then provide some reason for needing plumbers]

I think 'Pipe Dreams - the ... ' would make a better title.

You talk about the oppertunity to characterize a parade of plumbers but not why they'd be needed in the first place. Just because Switzerland may look like a sink, doesn't mean it needs a plumber. :)

Regards, Not


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Re: If Poetry Could Hold Water : The Landlockeds of Europe

Post by bjondon » Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:34 pm

Thanks for coming back Not,
one man's sentence structure … it all seems crystal clear to me.
Having said that I suspect I may return in 6months for my D'oh! moment :)
Jules

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Re: If Poetry Could Hold Water : The Landlockeds of Europe

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:02 pm

.
Hi Jules,
not sure about D'oh! but this is my crystalline version of S1.


If Switzerland was a white giant sink
with Luxembourg, a luxury bar, floating
high above her, while Liechtenstein
was the light seen shining from her plughole,
Then wouldn't you say that eastward pipe
was Austria, opening on a vast sump
facing a triple-stacked outflow?

'we meet our plumber' before 'our passage is blocked'.
Still not finding a narrative. :)


Regards, Not


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Re: If Poetry Could Hold Water : The Landlockeds of Europe

Post by Macavity » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:03 pm

Yes! Moldovan plumbers do it with alcohol,
their volatile spirits rising like bellicose balloons
to declare themselves Belarus.
Sorry to see that bit go and missed the Corgi validation. Also think you need a boiler in there :D

Title could be just landlocks

A thought crossed my mind, but then I read this...
Is Super Mario a plumber?
Mario's occupation is plumbing, though in the original Donkey Kong games he is a carpenter. ... In September 2017, Nintendo confirmed on their official Japanese profile for the character that Mario was no longer considered a plumber, most likely due to his various occupations and hobbies
best

mac

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