Tuesday Poem – And then we speak by Cliff Fell

And then we speak
of Buenos Aires
and the publisher there
who makes his books

with a slowly-fading-to-invisible ink
though not as a comment
(as many might think)
on the emptiness of the e-book at sleep

with its singular unlit e-reader page
that looms like a dark age
seen through a cavern

but simply so Blind Boy Jorge Luis Borges
can read a few stories
in heaven

(c) Cliff Fell

Cliff Fell
Cliff Fell

‘And then we speak’, comments Cliff, is one of those poems that arrived fully-formed one morning when I turned on the computer, as you do, and went trawling through Facebook posts. I was taken by Ashleigh Young’s response to

this blog post:

(Helen’s note: Do check out the blog post link above given by Cliff. It’s quite fascinating!)

– or  maybe it was some other post, but definitely about the same story – and her query as to why a publisher would put stuff out in ink that will soon fade to nothing.  I thought it obvious. To me, Buenos Aires means only one thing, and that is Jorge Luis Borges, who went blind in later life. Obviously the stories were being published for his eyes, and so the poem pretty much popped into being. I didn’t post it up as a Facebook comment or reply, because, well, I didn’t . . . so here it is. Oh, in fact, Buenos Aires means two things to me – Tango’s in there, too. And I really must get a gaucho hat.’

Cliff Fell is the author of two collections of poems, The Adulterer’s Bible (Victoria University Press, 2003), which was awarded the Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Book of Poetry, and Beauty of the Badlands (Victoria University Press, 2008).  His work has appeared in the online anthology Best New Zealand Poems and he can be heard regularly talking about poetry on Radio New Zealand National’s Nights programme. He lives near Motueka and teaches in the writing programme at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Thank you Cliff for permission to post this unpublished poem 🙂

If you have enjoyed this poem, and/or are intrigued by it I recommend you click on the links included above and when you’ve finished do return to Tuesday Poem’s hub page where Elizabeth Welsh, a freelance academic editor and poet from New Zealand, is this week’s editor.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem – And then we speak by Cliff Fell”

  1. A poem that ‘pretty much popped into being’. I like that. And the poem. And I think Cliff would suit a gaucho hat. (You should get one, Cliff.) Thanks Helen.

  2. Amazing concept for a poem and love the comment on the modern e-readers – mostly because it is becoming more and more obvious I should get one – even as I feel less and less inclined to read from yet another screen.
    “…that looms like a dark age
    seen through a cavern…”
    yeah, one of those 🙂

    Still, couldn’t help but think, a disappearing book is cute but it’s a one time trick – maybe a story with patches of invisible ink instead. So people in the know can read it. A secret story if you will…

  3. Yes it’s an unusual topic isn’t it…the mixture of things…I agree about the book…like the idea of a secret story…and/or one that came up with different words would be cool…like after the original disappeared…I suppose an ebook can do that. Hmm

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