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.
March 21, 2016
She wraps herself in air, mere
scent and breeze and rumour,
and perches on the nearest branch
to hear the evening’s chat.
Invisible, except when the youngest child,
not quite doomed to prose,
holds a kaleidoscope to open window,
bored with the inexplicable gush
that parents call a conversation —
a strange animal dressed in beige
that sometimes flares to angry orange.
And amongst the leaves of glassy,
clipped punctuation, caught in a cylinder
of found poetry, the girl sees a pellucid
curve, bending towards the house,
and knows it to be outside the scope
of parental chat or cunning toy.
A shimmering crescent perched
between the eucalyptus leaves,
the eager figure bends towards the hum,
a stingless bee, muted hint of dragonfly.
Shaking her toy and her mousy hair,
the girl turns away, back to the easy
world of solids, and lumpy certainty.
Outside, a quiet sigh augments the wind,
and gossamer wings unfurl to flight.
You can’t have too many fairy poems, in my opinion. Well you probably can, but I quite like this; and it’s nice not to always be writing angry poems about politics or climate change or mass extinctions.
Are fairies an endangered species? Discuss in two thousand words or fewer.
June 15, 2014
Last Thursday the second launch of The Stars Like Sand occurred in Canberra. Novelist Kaaron Warren, pictured here, did the honours, and spoke of her love of poetry, despite not writing it herself. She compared it to those without the skill watching someone crochet or knit, and distributed woollen bookmarks. Another ten poets read, and they read beautifully.
This is a photograph of Philip Salom, who launched the book in Melbourne. He spoke of play and ‘pataphysics, that is,”the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments.”(Jarry)*
Alternative pedigrees. Different ways of being. Garments we put on. The sinuous muscles of poetry. Lines of knitting. Each launcher took a different direction to describing a book that tries on different worlds.
I am in a state of mild grief now as the book that was once a near endless possibility, is now a thing; a physical object that has its own place in the world. It is what it is (subject to interpretation) and it is no longer mine. What once existed into multifarious complexity is now rendered actual. That’s always a bit of a bummer, even if it’s also a delight. It’s a bit like the difference between hearing a joke told for the first time, and hearing the same joke again. Something is lost, isn’t it. Something that leaps in the mind and the body at exactly the same moment.
But what a misery guts I am being; mulling over mental gruel rather than Pantagruelling! I should be revelling in the joy and enjoying myself! It is, I think, in many ways, a wonderful book. But it seems that some of us are more attuned to loss than achievement…even if we like funny poems.
I certainly enjoyed meeting my co-editor Tim Jones for the second time, as opposed through working through the aerial guts of Skype, with its weekly digital farts. Here is a photograph of Tim listening. He is much better at that than I am. He is listening to the wonderful Joe Dolce read his poem at the Melbourne launch. Tim has a new post about the Canberra launch too, at his blog.
We have forwarded the list of poets’ addresses to the publisher, so all contributors should receive their copy soon. Thank you to all the poets who contributed, and also to our two wonderful launchers.
Now I am going to revel in The World Cup for a month. In another universe, Australia will be winning.
*Spellcheck kept trying to render ‘pataphysics as pasta physics, by the way. Love those alimentary lineaments.
April 15, 2014
Alice looks back
Since furniture regained its proper size
and animals ceased to speak;
since teapots evicted rodents
and the Queen became so very nice
I find myself looking back
more and more and more.
Everything now is normaler and normaler,
and normalcy has its limitations.
I play patience, play it out,
wishing that the cards would rise
and assume that manic thinness,
that monarchy would lose itself
in ordering the loss of heads
for no known reason at all.
But we have assumed the robes,
the tight beige robes of logic.
Mathematics begets statistics,
measuring the mundane.
One day we’ll hear again
of these parallel places,
rabbit holes or worm-holes,
and falls into other worlds.
For now, I corset myself in common-sense,
and stuff memory into quotidian hats.
This poem was first published in Eureka Street, and then in my book The Cancellation of Clouds.
Alice in Wonderland is a perfect book; one that can be dipped into again and again. It makes us all flamingos; turning pink as we sup on its immortal shrimp. And if that’s not the worst metaphor you read today, I will eat my quotidian hat.
This feather was dropped by a rare New Zealand flamingo, known for its total lack of defence, unique accent, and inability to fly. Click it to discover more poetry:
Apparently, poetry is the WordPress theme/prompt/challenge for the week. I wrote this before knowing that, but given poetry is my life-long challenge, I’ll sneak in a link anyway.
June 4, 2012
The terrace next door
Seven kids and a parrot in a small terrace house.
Where squawking ended and shouting began
I could not say. But one sudden day, they spread wings,
left cage and house empty, my ears ringing on quiet.
Until six stoned students, without a single book,
set up camp. Smiling hammocks in the backyard sun,
contents content. Guitars, flute, piano-accordian,
folding time like an unwritten essay, due last week.
The six sixties clones left, sweet smoke signals blown.
Five rugby boys scrummed in, all frantic barbecues,
discarded runners, toxic socks smelt over fence,
and a screen bigger than the house, to pack in the front line.
Was it the four intense Vietnamese, who came next to next door?
Inexplicably neat, the terrace became clipped hedge suburban.
Or the three goths clothed in darkness who never met my eyes,
papers piling archaeologically on pavement, abandoned?
Better those times than the perfect couple’s renovating din,
as they improve the street out of sight, pave it with expectations.
Each hammer blow smashes the ex-rental like a musty egg,
as they grow golden equity, crack troops of one mortgaged dream.
‘The terrace next door’ won third prize in the NSW Writers’ Centre’s ‘Inner City Life’ contest, December 2007. Published on their web-site, January 2008, and read at award night in Sydney. Also published in Eureka Street, Vol 18, No 3, February 2008, and in my first poetry collection, The Glass Violin. Based on terrace houses I remember in Melbourne.
Now I live in a city without any terraces, of course. My house, built in the 1950s, is quite old for Canberra. Tragic, isn’t it?
I can’t guarantee more fine architectural/economic analysis, but I can guarantee more poesie. Click this feather and go to New Zealand, where I assume that there are more terraces than in Canberra, if not as many as in Melbourne or Sydney:
I must try and be more opinionated, as my blog as shrunk back to one poetic entry a week, on Tuesdays. I promise to try and work up a frenzy about some major issue, or think of a whimsical and touching observation on life (sorry, Life,) perhaps illustrated with a picture of a cat smelling flowers. If I do that, could someone arrange for a contract on my life? Thanks, discerning reader.
Take out the cat too.