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friends of the cold picnic


stuffing ‘s      
                           coming                         o u


After little big one

low rain

weather depression

fifth to root for chorus

third to root for verse

if you liked it you should have put a ring on it

you should have en-sphered it


the grey is the hardware for the wire heart.

avant-garde Hindu position:

man stands as tree

woman sits off as woodpecker

feather             father

withdrawal of the first completer

and the mechanism of the bloodline

which made the pattern

who made the wall and the white nest’s eye

(written in response to Philip Maltman’s oil painting ‘Little Big One’ exhibited at The Sutton Gallery, Edinburgh)

Bach’s ‘Chaconne’ Partita No. 2 in D minor

Stephen Rodefer


You know I love your voice.

I mean it’s a pleasure

to see you but I think

it’s your best attribute.

How hearing only sound

you are eager to listen,

when sensing only form

you were eager to love. 

from The Bell Clerk’s Tears Keep Flowing (The Figures, 1978)

Jean Ritchie, born in Viper, Kentucky 1922

In a painting if there is a person in it you scan it in a much more detailed way […] There’s a little huddle in the middle. There’s no question that for a human being looking at the painting that huddle becomes the main event. Next is the rabbit. There is no objective animal that can look at that. Presumably if you were a member of the tree race, the thing you would notice is that log down there and think, that’s awful, like a dismembered arm.

The equivalent of that is hearing a voice on a record. You cannot help but pick it out and to the extent you get into the record what that voice is doing and to the extent that you can recognise it as a fellow human and what it’s asking of you.

—Robert Wyatt (of Soft Machine) speaking about Samuel Palmer’s brown ink and sepia drawing Early Morning (1825). 

and farther, three piles
of white sand a red
wheel and a rhombus.
A toytown which gainsays
the spectacle of empty houses
with every passing season

Bee and peony


As part of his project for the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale,
Kent, Alec Finaly collected renditions of Basho’s famous haiku on the
bee and the peony:

                                         botan shibe fukaku

                                         wakeizuru hachi no

                                              nagori kana

These poem-renditions were written on labels and hung in the Brogdale
cherry gardens to coincide with Hanami, the annual blossom festival.

The versions are intriguing in their variety. Some are playful,
linking the scene to local allusions. Others draw out and meditate on
particular moods. This one is by Luke Allan:

                                               it’s all over


                                             but what light

For me, the most compelling translations do not refer explicitly to
the details described in the original. Basho’s haiku relays the drama,
perhaps small in scale but having no less gravity, of the bee
reluctantly leaving the deep pistils of the peony from which it has

This version enacts this drama with a different cast. Here, tragedy is
signaled in ‘it’s all over’. At the scene of the lapsed event, the
petals of the flowers are scattered on the ground. But there is also
an undertone of relief. It’s a truism that beginnings cannot be
sustained forever. On the other side of anticipation, we are released
from the burden of the blossom as overbearing symbol. The sun
stretches easily through the branches.

The anthology of renditions on Basho’s haiku is part of Alec Finaly’s The Bee Bole, a series of projects considering the various ways -artistic, scientific, political, economic- in which cultures have engaged with the bee.

'capital sun' by friends of the cold picnic, 2009.


The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong. The care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness, all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.

- Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

He volunteers that I seem like someone for whom words have a big ontological importance- like things don’t quite exist till I’ve said them. ‘Or,’ I say, ‘maybe it’s more about loss- things exist without words, but without words I’ve no safeguard against losing them the next minute.’

- Eve Sedgwick, A Dialogue on Love

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