The poet contemplates the inescapable nature of the class system
A Richter moment of tectonic rock came
when I heard the voice of smug middle class
speaking through me. A mythic, conceited Volvo
blonde used me as her blank-eyed dummy,
stuck lovely manicure up me and made me say
‘The guinea pigs don’t like asparagus!’.
My ears could not believe my mouth’s betrayal,
the change marked by that simple recipe.
The seesaw tipped, sudden rodeo bucking,
swung away from student furniture of bricks,
stray cushions and ideas, towards clogging
superannuation of risotto and good red.
Class catches us like butterflies, or half-frozen slugs,
which we pick, so carefully, from our organic greens.
No telling who that poet might be, but I used to have guinea pigs…And how’s that for a catchy title, by the way?
September 2, 2015
Alleys don’t exist here. Canberra has no use
for backways streets, for furtive lanes.
Lies are a different matter, but those
architectural commas, those cobbled
night-cart ways have no place amongst
paradise refined into
quintessence of tedium.
I love my new home’s cockatoos,
their hats of lairy scorn, their satire;
sound-beakers of heavy metal
poured into pure blue air.
But I dip my memory’s lid
to the Brunswick park
with forty tail-flagged dogs,
smaller than some Canberra backyards.
So much oomph, so much poo,
and bocce, like a kiss thrown
against the deeper green,
speaking of a bigger world
of coincidence and trust.
I have changed. I no longer miss Melbourne in the way I did when I wrote that poem, about 10 years ago. When I visit Melbourne now, it does not feel like a return home, but a trip to ‘somewhere else’. Even the maps in my mind of how to find things are fading.
When I first came to Canberra I searched for a centre in vain. Now I am enamoured of the space and sky here; a change just beginning in the poem, I think. If I had stayed in Melbourne, I don’t think I would be writing so much poetry, as I had more Things to Do; more distractions. Of course, I have now become more involved in Canberra’s cultural life, but I think the move from Melbourne drove me into my own head a little more than staying would have.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Poetry can be written in a truly urban environment as much as in Canberra’s semi-whateverness. I get truly sick of the fervent rural trend in much contemporary poetry, what I call the Misty Cow School. And last week I felt a retrospective sense of pride to see how many Melburnians ralled against the Border Force* stopping random people to ‘check their papers’. (If they were carrying The Australian, presumably they’d be acceptable…)
But Canberra is my home now, and I feel glad to get off the plane or bus or train here. Zireaux was kind enough to feature a series of my Canberra poems here, with his commentary.
And for further poetry, get on the Poetry Tram. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.
*Who designed the black uniforms? Or did they just visit a museum of WWII and copy the Nazi uniforms?
July 24, 2014
Sweet god of Twitter
keep me succinct
but not too avid.
Deliver your goat
from all foul trolls’
May the words of
of my speech
to your on-line policies.
O great moderator
So here’s a poem partly about Twitter and Facebook by a person who resolutely refuses to do either. Twitter seems to bring out the inner thug in too many people, and Facebook, with its voluntary marketing of each person by each person as a commodity, is just sad. Although one of the books I have been involved in has its own Facebook page, admittedly. But that is a commodity, albeit a poetic one.
Blogs, of course, are inevitably saintly…
The following feather, dropped by a visiting angel, will take you to New Zealand and you can contemplate the wonders of technology as you fly there. Or not. That is entirely up to you.
This poem is appearing on Thursday, rather than Tuesday. Sorry for that.
By rights I should be in Sydney, recovering from the launch of The Stars Like Sand, but I was too sick to go. Rest is what I need right now.
I hope those who attended enjoyed the launch.
March 17, 2014
The changing soundscape of public space
throttled by library snakes
now emboldened chat stretches —
bites the sluggish ears
of those who want purer air
in my day, we mumble
in my day we sat straight
whispering sweet infractions —
wrapped in official silence
muffled with a quieter wool.
That poem was just commended in the Yass Show Poetry Competition (not the bush poetry division) on Sunday. I’m afraid I piked on attending the event, as I was exhausted. I had performed poetically the night before with a delightfully accented Texan, a poet who removed his skirt rather like the female members of Abba in their glittery prime, and a number of strangely assertive, neigh, militant horses.* So I had a good excuse. It was a wonderful night at the Word Co-op.
You could look at some photos here. I am the least cool person.
*That wordplay is totally Roshelle Fong’s. She performed an hilarious and thoughful piece enacting various questions of animal rights, wearing costume horse-heads. Delightfully accented Texans sometimes perform under the name of Good Ghost Bill, and Ma Ya Ga Ng Re Ne’s soundscape explored the schlongier aspects of gender.
For further poetry, please touch this feather:
By the way, however exhausted I am, the organisers of this festival (called You Are Here) are far more tired. I hope to post a photographic essay illustrating the ageing of some of them. Here, for example, is a photo of one of them that I took last night:
October 23, 2012
For the mornings after, yet to come
The comedic and the tragic, the curve sailing up into smile
or diving into frown; how clearly Greeks marked their rites,
their brief glimpse of the sacred. Human weakness and wiles
jammed behind leather grins, masks held by thongs tied tight
behind the ears. But when bodies can be jigged and changed
like shoes, like coloured hair, when man’s quick shifting
puts chameleons to shame, what of this new deranged
play of holy tricks and mundane lies, souls drifting
in opalescent truths, foxing smells and opaque looks?
I met a rogue, and thought him a little rough, a little hard,
and took him home, and let him take. So much he took
from what I then called me. Pink lotus girl with palest hands
awoke in his stead, and I became that all too famous swan,
draped with skin of goat. I kissed the now transfigured man.
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