November 28, 2016
Out for review
Out for the count
Out of time
Out for lunch
Out and about
Out for a duck
Out of luck
Out of the closet
Out on the town
Out of the corner of my eye
Out of the box
Out of the mouths of babes
Out of fashion
Out caught behind
Out of it
Out and out
Over and out
A bit of fun this week; and why not, as we head into glorious summer and Christmas?
I was chuffed (a technical term for a state somewhere between freakily ecstatic and mildly pleased) to hear that I have been shortlisted for the Red Room New Shoots Poetry Prize, in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, and Rochford Street Review. You can access the full shortlists here (plural as there was a site specific contest for the Botanic Gardens, too). Lovely to recognise some other people on the list! And to see some names that are totally unfamiliar, as well.
Now I’m off to work on some sunburn.
November 22, 2016
I love you poetry because all I need is an old envelope — Telstra or power bill or guff — and a pen
And you wait there hidden between the grains of paper like a wee tiger, pouncing, or a huge poodle, primping
I can write you for everyone, or just for me
And through you I have met clever people, and some even good (and also pricks, but let’s not dwell in embroidery)
Poetry you keep my mind in the top fifteen percent of my generation
And you make me embed my thought in Real Words™ like a bloodbug in a mattress, burrowing
I weep for you when some use your name to produce pungent advertisements for self — ah! the faces I have slapped, the duels I have fought in your name (if only on paper)
You allow me to take a word — say egregious — and handball it back to myself with slicker hands than Hawthorn
And you stretch back and forward as far as music
And you adapt like Galapagos, but quick
Tourniquet and snake, you bite and comfort, and I love you like a convenient maiden aunt loves her old cat, who miraculously survived the pitbull
And you are the very pitbull, and the pitbull’s teeth.
And in vaguely related news, I was just highly commended in the Poetry category of the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, organised by the New England Writers Centre. Very nice. The winner of the poetry prize (which I won last year) was Ian Hood, with a poem called ‘Drowning Satan’, which I look forward to reading. Paul Prenter was commended. All the poems (and stories, etc) will be published soon at the New England Writers Centre website, and I’ll link to that when I can. My poem ‘On average’ was about domestic violence.
The judge was John Foulcher, a fellow Canberran. (Judging was, of course, anonymous.)
P.S. ‘Hawthorn’ in the above, is an Australian Rules football team, who have dominated things over the last five years or so. (Until this year, in fact.) Another helpful guide to Australian culture for
benighted foreigners my lovely overseas readers.
P.P.S. Pitbulls are awesome dogs, and are only vicious if abused.
November 16, 2016
Faith took a holiday
He hitched down the Hume, or up;
he didn’t tell me. Faith has no fear
of murder, or everyday sleazes
and their boring imprecations.
It’s the ones left behind
who tend to fret. What if,
we say, and perhaps…
as if perhaps isn’t Faith
flipped like a decisive coin,
standing on his head.
As if as if isn’t
closer to for sure
than some might like it to be.
Faith rang me from Melbourne,
(so it was down the Hume)
and said he wanted to look around
a bit longer; catch the trams.
He too remembers
the excellent days of conductors,
with their magical brown bags.
Even Faith feels regret
at the passing of old days;
the spinning of so much
towards the expansive sun
of interconnected drivel.
There is a grace
in not knowing too much,
he said, though Faith would say that,
I suppose. That’s his job.
A kind of conductor
unseen in any tram,
on any route, whatsoever.
Faith will return soon;
I can hear the jingling
just at the edge of thought
and the tune is one
I almost remember.
The brown bag of my
restless, overloaded brain
awaits his presence,
and will sling itself, eager,
over his patient arm.
Like a lot of the world, I’m suffering the post-US election blues, and almost didn’t post this week. The clever amongst you will have noticed that it is Wednesday, not Tuesday, and the weekly schedule has been disrupted. But poetry is fairly unstoppable!
For my overseas readers, the Hume is the major highway linking Melbourne and Sydney. Canberra is just a wee drive from it.
I have no idea why Faith is male in the poem. Perhaps it was some association with Christ? And my phone has just died, which has me longing for the ‘interconnected drivel’ which I decry in the poem, even if I’m avoiding news sites at the moment.
November 8, 2016
There are five poets in my garden
— and they think that they are bulbs.
But the first one smells carcinogenic,
and he is clothed in ancient brown,
as if he stole the mud-flecked jumper
from the very body of a bog-man.
The second is talking about
the fervid dangers of Pokémon,
and how in her day, they looked
for birds, and birds were quite enough.
She has a collection of empty eggs,
pilfered in her day, which lie
in an ancient purloined nest —
a weird eunuch’s severed balls,
placed in a stolen cup of misery.
Number three is being thoughtful.
He never utters a sentence without
a French theorist’s name —
like a pigeon (of stolen eggs) he says
Bourdieu, Bourdieu, and oui, he bores me.
Number four is addicted to rhyme.
He knows he is somewhat out of time,
but like a tune you know too well,
he is married to the villanelle.
And the fifth? She plants sarcasm
in a weedy succulent garden,
where such thin green tongues
poke like wee prickly dragons.
She’s fully awesome, and awfully sweet.
I’ve been thinking too much this week about how any field of endeavour contains exactly the same percentage of unpleasant people as all the others. Whether it be poetry or painting, rugby or beekeeping, there will be the same proportion of selfish people and the likeable. Perhaps politics is a genuine exception, and contains more of the unlikeable, but generally speaking, anywhere there are people there will be all the character types, regardless of whether it is a profession where a certain amount of empathy might be expected.
Indeed, the type of poet who bangs on about his sensitivity to nature (in the sense of a convenient green strip outside his window, sans history) often seems to lean towards the arsehole side of the equation. If equations really have sides. Or arseholes.
October 31, 2016
The home for ancient memes
Where they can haz cheeseburgers all day
Where jokes of nuking each other from space crack
Where everyone fusses over a grumpy cat
Where the cry of Ermahgerd echoes
Where an overly manly man flexes, endlessly
Where sad hipsters say many things
Where planking takes place every evening
Where the X all the Ys, and Y all the Xs
Where ice buckets become challenging
Where smugshrugs shrug smugly
Where seals have awkward moments
Where they debate the colour of a dress
Where they still Netflix and chill
Where…I’d definitely continue, but
Ain’t nobody got time for that