Monday, December 18, 2006

Forkhead (2006)

(After David Lynch's Lost Highway)

There there. You’re tired. Stressed. Have collected no victories. All your curfews. Even the sax hasn’t let you out. Of the house. But I’m there right now. Call me.


This must be super-rare, but the first time I saw Lost Highway I was stoned. Foreseeing a headfilm, I’d shared a preparatory J outside the Astor Theatre. Finding my seat, I found myself quietly toasted.


Forks in the road, in the head. Highway by night; snaking lights. Lost in forks.


An ancient book on the art of feigning death. Unquenchable book.


From early in the piece I had Fred Madison figured as a fellow forkhead. A real channelsurfer. My suspicions were confirmed (bigtime) when he forked into parallel identities, Fred Madison becoming Pete Dayton becoming Fred Madison becoming, etc.


More questions than answers: He wears black or black wears him? Who’s tailgating who? How would he hide his body around himself, resurface out of the corners of her? Whaddayou mean, “What?!”


The phone’s ringing. (Again). Odd,


Hello… pick up?


LH was on a double bill with Dead Man. Lynch’s film came first, with its rapid eye movement. The good confusion. By the time it was over I had little energy left for Jim Jarmusch’s film… in my sleepwatching was left to ponder whether LH could equally have been titled Dead Man.


Sleep is not entertainment. Broadly speaking. Ink runs in drawers. The woman who isn't a doppelganger. (Where is she?)


Plant cameras in the dark, rich soil. Houseplants that require no natural light. (Pupils dilate). Footage blooms in the night.


We’ve met before, haven’t we? This is one of those movie quotes I always quote 'in character'.


Impossible to say the story's over. Just as it’s impossible to say, “The story’s over there.” Still, despite everyone’s best intentions, the story may be put to rest with a cliché. A time-marker. The post-film cigarette, with its rush of switching back to some kind of


“David! Shit! I think you left the gate open!”

As published in Sein und Werden, Spring 2009 (online edition).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

rock & roll (2006)

“Look out honey ‘cos I’m using technology”

– Iggy Pop, from The Stooges’ Search & Destroy

In there,
____-the unpretty of my head, there’s
-_the rock and roll,
prehistoric cave!!! furs, sweat & bone-piles!!!
__Iggy imping like a grin made flesh,
_______deadpan screams,

“We’re driving sex machines
_-we have many gears to go
we’ve had many years

____In Uniform !!!

___-You got nothin'
on today
___-let’s get nothin'

______-on today !!!”

Iggy imping like a grin made flesh
___cuts some lust,


____she’s not so hot
______-on record /
___spectacular live

______________she so young
____________& empty

want her bad
& want her bad
__-want double meaning
____want triple meaning

She's happening to me

___(watch me die)

She's closer than a drug.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Melbourne (an ode) (2006)

Melbourne so cruel in your coolness Melbourne
so cool in your cruelty / ok that’s a tad
harsh but that makes two of us my dear oh
dear you can’t wear that oh boy you can wear
thaaat boy you must be feeling festive / Melbourne
stars strung over your streets your fruitsellers
some of the best in a tight situation a girl
in tartan skirt short
but not slutty walks ahead clearly excited
highfives the VB streetsign above the bottleshop oh
Melbourne is that you? / sometimes heroic enough
to flash a bit of underbelly a little flabby but don’t
open any more gyms don’t close any more
public housing Melbourne
your mystics are lazy & need somewhere to live
when the street kicks them out in favour of paying customers
who wouldn’t know why or which gutter poses to adopt
for looking at the stars

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

35th Montsalvat Festival of Poetry & Song

The 2006 Montsalvat Festival of Poetry & Song took place on Sunday the 10th of December. Montsalvat is a picturesque artists' colony situated in Eltham, 26 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. For more info on Montsalvat, check out the Wikipedia entry.

My wife Monica, our good friend Lisa Dempster and my good self made the long trek out to Eltham on a day when the temperature reached 42 degrees celsius! Lisa did a reading just after 1pm, as part of the University of Melbourne's section of the program, which was organised and MCed by Kevin Brophy. Lisa bucked the trend by reading a short story rather than poetry, and later in the day was treated to mock derision from several poets for her efforts! ("Don't talk to her, she writes prose!", etc.) Her reading was captivating, and I was also impressed by several of the poets in the group, including Ed Moreno and Francesca Haig.

Other highlights throughout the day included bill-topper Geoff Page, Dean Frenkle's harmonic overtone singing (which held me totally entranced), and the charismatic Dublin poet Iggy McGovern, who won the audience over with entertaining poetry interspersed with colourful anecdotes. Admittedly I didn't get to witness all of the poets I wanted to, as there were clashes in the program, and to be honest listening to poetry for 8 hours straight is a tall order! Thankfully there were art exhibitions, a book stall, vegetarian delicacies, good company, and the beautiful surrounds of Montsalvat to break things up! Plus quite a few of the poets listed in the program didn't make it out to the festival, no doubt owing to the oppressive weather conditions. Thankfully a cool change came through around 4pm.

At around 8pm I read three poems
as part of the "And beyond..." reading, which was devoted to the memory of Melbourne poet Patrick Alexander. I read Inscriptions, which I dedicated to Monica; cashed; and How to be hungry got its first public airing. Thanks to Nick Powell for agreeing to MC the session at the last minute!

All up, it was a brilliant day and night. You can count me in for next year!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Under the Influence

I'm doing a reading on Tuesday the 5th of December, but not of my own work...

For the Victorian Writers' Centre's annual 'Under the Influence' event, where writers read work by other writers who have influenced them, I'm hoping to do justice to Federico Garcia Lorca's New York: Office and Attack. They say to never work with children or animals, and I think ghosts should probably be added to the list. They are just as unpredictable, if not more so. Who knows, all hell may (finally) break loose. It's that kind of poem... like Yeats' Second Coming, it raises demons at the same time as launching a damning critique of 'civilisation' as we know it. (Do we know it?)

At last year's event (at Carlton's Courthouse Theatre) I read two poems by the late, great Australian poet John Forbes (Drugs and Angel), to an audience which contained several other poets who had known John personally... which was a very humbling experience.

This year's event will be quite different, since it's doubling as the VWC Christmas Party! Full details below (as posted on the VWC website -

Under the Influence - the VWC's last event for 2006!
with Tony Wilson & Klare Lanson

Stella Glorie returns to host this celebration of our literary influences and the year past. This event will feature four writers, including novelist and broadcaster Tony Wilson, and poet/performer Klare Lanson. Each will read and talk about the writers that have influenced them - and you too can join in the festivities and bring your own three-minute reading. Come along and share the words of the writers that have inspired and influenced you, and celebrate the Centre's last event for the year.

When: Tuesday 5 December, 7pm
Where: Victorian Writers' Centre, 1st Floor Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne
Cost: $7, VWC Members $5
Bookings: 9654 9068

Above: Federico Garcia Lorca

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Self-portrait (with wires, city & no clothes) (2006)

I am open
and open
and open
(we never close, so
why should the city sleep?)

City be slow with me,
city slow down; I love you but
I must get treed, rivered,
rocked, beached
and often

Back home on my body

hair grows like wild grass;
back home in my eye
a snapshot,
quick and approximate,
of the whole perfect whole

You asked to see a photo, but
I asked for paper
to write on

I am colourised wires, ant colony,
wide area network,
landmass seen from an airplane window

I am sub-atomic ghost

I am those
and those
and those

I look very familiar)

I am the words
we squeezed out of nature
which with use
became unusable
(I'm looking for
the new words
to give back)

I want to plant lamps

I'm walking around
no armour, no cloak
(I look pretty strange)

I am yes
and yes
and yes

and here
and here

(I’m so glad
you could make it)

As published in Verandah 22, September 2007.

A reading of this poem can be downloaded from here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

3CR Interview

On Wednesday the 11th of October I was interviewed by Juan Martorana on the breakfast show of Melbourne radio station 3CR. As well as talking about my work, and poetry in general, I read a couple of my poems: Inscriptions, which will be published in Issue #4 of Unusual Work, and cashed, which is set to appear online in the cool shade of the hutt.

The full interview can be downloaded in Mp3 format from here.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Generation of '0 (2006)

No newer thing / (saleable) / plug-ins / whither the whiter white / Hey there were languages before ours / unbottled water / undry roots / Our ‘thing’ some shopfront of erasures / opshopping / petty ID theft / embroidery / touch-txting / Can I hear you say / gosh! beige / malwear / closed circuit / civic cattlewatch / lowlying marketing geeks / annexed ‘intellectual’ look / Look ‘mate’ you’re freaking the customers / out side exit / greenlit convenient / Sooooooo / describe yourself (in one word or less) / illustrate your point / get storied / faking consensus / at eye-level / re-reiterate / retention of regulars / (don’t) mock meat / spray-on sweat / sure sure / untrained eyes have been wrong before (!) / Go on, admit it: / despite the patch / you're open to attack / (you do) the math / yoink! / before the aftermath / (scheduled outage) / Soundproofed / irrelevance beckons / stone-age PCs go slo mo / so… cuddle self-assessments / upgrade to (a) wireless / sort recyclables / take out tinny awards / go-get / decoratively munted / spun out / woah! / can do

draft wording for revolution : from balcony at Blue Train (2006)

“... valuables unattended” : the CBD a 3D graph : brightcoloured banners of Southbank fatten in wind

love you when random : “who in their right mind would even paint the river that colour?”

Blue Train kitchen clatters like tournament knights : reject the see-saw table we’re shown to : pull more napkins than needed : #4 pizza

sips of sidetalk : score some cred? : try swimming the Yarra : “are you for real?” : gales of laughter

“how many secret lives are played?” : graduates of the self-help section : get an edge : no handholds : bust a critique : “can’t kick can’t run can’t tackle” : why we got mired in fandom

conversation slips to politics : bluff through buzzword city : tad earnest : “could you ever love a patriot?” : wave stats like flags while we jiggle teabags

mark this urgent : sale must end! : stocktake : “could you feed our world while we’re away?” : planet’s lungs morph into soya beans : amazon dot gone : hybrid seeds won’t reproduce

we brainstorm : waves form waveforms : hang a sec : quick : need to write this down : can beat them on paper : we can be heroes : a few words of our own : a few bricks up our sleeves

cut to Planet America : juicer running backs built like tanks : big fish with big guns : and we, blind photographers

kidding ourselves : sorry speak up I can't quite : “another drink?” : “sorry guys, we're going to need this table...”

fallback : resolve split in the sore spot : so rooted, futures dim conventional : how we slide : soak all night in unmarked bars

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Self Portrait After Three Bottles of Wine (2006)

(the second of 3 Brett Whiteleys)

____-Gulf between nothing doing & doing
nothing (about 3 bottles wide).
___________________No quicker learner(!);
this pissed hound of instinct. One of those nights
spent pushing back the urge to score.
You may never be Brett Whiteley,
but he’s with you on the toilet wall,
unframed, torn, trying
to roll himself into something
to be swung at heads.
______________Hello, it’s your glazed self,
calling collect: “Quit moping, losing & go get in
the graph, get in the graph! Suit up... wear specs,
even!” It’s said Melbourne’s more subterranean
than Sydney. And so the coach carps on:
“Learn the ropes; learn to shimmy,
to swim the crawlspace…
But all you've
learnt are these road closure styles,
these rainy days.
_________--How the body lingers
through days & won’t listen to sleep,
like a 5 y.o., his parents parked in front
of late TV, & how, from a secluded step
on the stairs, he bears witness as
familyroom walls, overridden,
operate as light-traps.

_________________[Remember the first
time you stayed up to watch Star Wars?
Daddy, what’s a tractor beam? Otherwise
everything made perfect sense: Force,
darkside, straws of power
flapped at the night. “Luke,
you’ve switched off your targeting computer!”
Finding the vein, slimeball cowboy whooping
it home, the hottest car in the galaxy &
his wookie tough who didn’t like
the early stench of youth –
that overkeen stench.
________________Still makes sense
30 years & 3 bottles later. Vader was always
your favourite figurine, the red retractable
light-sabre in his arm, like an overwound
lipstick. You liked to remove this,
leave a tunnel leading through his hand –
the kind of black passage
where a father's kindness might nest.]

A bottle smashed upon the kitchen, its
neck still intact: a kindred spirit; a poet!
You know that something goes here,
something goes. And maybe all the worlds
are real, just that this one got badly stung
by beauty (a wasp trying to tough its way
out of your t-shirt).
__________Even this pissed, you can
dial, spit “I'm keen,
can I get involved?”
at the receiver. Affirmative. You pass out safe
in the knowledge.

Self portrait after three bottles of wine at

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jesu, joy of man's desiring (2006)

Out in the milk, the gala…

deep in the infield, strut
painted girls in rubber, one
swings swaddled florist flowers like a
_- sword.

Where is this now ?
You’d think it was the 50s

SweetJesus come save us / challenge
We’re blooding & dumb, lack
_-leadership, the towels we once clung to.
Need your thirsty reform, holy
_urgency, occasional group aerobatics /
___-fishschool o’magic /
___-help w/ bread division.

_____-& while we’ve got you on the line,
__________How long since you quit
_________________the Mary Chain ?
As one of the founder-members,
one would assume coke differences
____________&/or musical habit.

Comeback / farewell tour ?
___One more for the $$$ ?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

drowse (2006)

Dirt & dust cling
abandoned adhesive
(a sticker once spoke here)

Ancient gig posters,
sundrained colours ripped
like scabbed layers of skin

Schoolkids escape to the city,
get into all kinds of circuitry

The sushi bar radio sings,
“Let’s unrest
our babyloooooooove”
(or something)

Everyone coughing up
these little pips of
that crunch underfoot

While you, the stay-at-home,
sleep through the heat…

bubbles of spittle
pop on your teeth

As published in Bambikino 9, November 2008.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Art, Life and The Other Thing (2006)

(the first of 3 Brett Whiteleys)

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light – Dylan Thomas

They don’t know you. Any of you.
Your death, perhaps, but they never
know your brush. Hardly blame them.
(Re-check the time. Art is late.)
your balcony still stands, like a debt:
sunlit, public. I would drink coffee there, & write,
& later let something summer tunnel me: liquid
lime or lemon, glass jug reefed with ice.
I might smoke, though I quit
years ago.
______Sydney Harbour lies back
getting sucked off by a tall,
professional sun. Glitter harbour,
waves winking like flecks of mica in asphalt;
& consider other flaky metaphors where the
'natural' vies with the manufactured (swarmed
metaphors clip wings, tailspin). Everything is
poised at a silent point in conversation. That word:
poise... propeller it in your fingers like a biro.
The other thing would be sweet. It's
days ablaze like these that the whole ritual of
dessert makes sense, & you think, "Who needs it?",
drown it in double cream. Art & life are fine:
you're happy to camp out in the rubble,
only senile gods for company,
and sure, the sky makes a fine tent,
but... you know. You know it.
__________________Nails lined up,
tapped with the care of a close shave,
driven!, in!, flush!
________Clawed out warped, is art.

Art, Life and The Other Thing at

This poem was commended in judging for the 2007 Overland Judith Wright Prize for New and Emerging Poets.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Inferno (2006)

& when you finally touch down
in hell
____________(no red carpet)
_________the coffee’s gonna need to be strong.
Hungover-horny & (shit!) your sunglasses
_______-left at home in a jacket pocket.
Of all the things to be without...
Sterling Morrison, Joey Ramone & Ray Charles
smarter men than you (on this score)
____-look godlike standing round in shades

The future’s so bright, etc.
It's funny, Lucifer’s looking a lot
like Danny Tenaglia these days.
Guess he’s always hoarded the killer tunes.
______________________-Had them all
back at the tree, in snaketime. Brokered ever since.
So here’s the rub:
there’s drugs everywhere
but no painkillers
or sleepers.
_____-Figure pretty quick that you won’t
be sleeping ‘til… who knows…
____-But by then your bender will’ve
gathered such momentum that
ve forgotten everything
important – even what they say
about the wicked. Anyway, it’s true. And
_____________-they're out of ice.

A version of this poem was published in mad swirl, October 2009.

Notes: Sterling Morrison played guitar in The Velvet Underground.

Danny Tenaglia is a New York-based DJ known for his marathon stints behind the decks (20 hour sets are not unusual for him). Check out this
YouTube clip if you'd like to see what he looks like.

Below: In the Inferno by Mehmet Urgut (from deviantart)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

let it all (2006)

can this? will it? no?

stop asking. feel good. top up your body.

too long! you look great! yahaha!

Monday, September 04, 2006

I will not carry (2006)

I will not carry
bad blood
because it corrodes,
spreads, leaves us exposed
with too many entrances
and exits.

I will not carry
awkward, bulky items
like red carpets
(for off-chance dignitaries)
or restless dogs
or heavy corpses.

In fact
I have decided
to carry nothing at all.

I'll find water on my way,
and the words left to say

(I have no pocket
for a script).

As published in The Cartier Street Review, February 2009.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nightpiece #2 (2006)

8pm café closure
aluminium chairs dragged like
teeth on concrete
& stacked

Tram asks do I have tuff nuts
though ‘tuff’... isn't

If you want to be tough
don’t hang in the lightreach
of $2 & souvenir shops
(one is called ‘Australia the Gift’ –
if I wasn’t tough oh-so already
this in itself might see me over the line)

These boys are tough as, they think,
chem dispensers flicking raw deals
(budget lighting) –
but are they mountainbike couriers /
ambulance drivers?
have they ever really had to weave
through anger
at speed?
(Um... yeah, probably.)

Anyone can get supply-chained:
just ask Ouroboros,
giving directions from
the recycling bin, &
the brown old clocktower’s face
has been dealt the same hand –

Boys, show me your pokerface!
whose deal has fallen through?

7Eleven is open yet again
(I fold)

Carfree (2006)

For Bridget

We named her (she was a she)
but her name’s not important now;
none of the forms ask for it

and now that we’re close to selling,
the ad placed

her body
keeping fresh under tarp


it wasn’t a car that was needed after all,
but the momentum
(which, maybe, she embodied)

Figure we won’t miss
dumbing bodiless behind the wheel
driving ego’s other city

we'll show our support
for free public transport
by walking everywhere

Today for instance
we could walk upriver,
pick a random spot, unpack
easels, handmade wooden birds,
paint the afternoon

Below: Bridget

Monday, August 28, 2006

Partings (2006)


My grandma leaves a cavernous voicemail message, hesitant,
gnawing at silence
like she’s hauled before an expectant room
(we ready ourselves for messages) /

(how we ready ourselves for leaving)
Her antique receiver
clatters, cuts


Amped, jumpy
hopscotching a crowd
Eyes on timetable

Smote /

left to sulk out in the

It’s cold, let’s
Erect a pyramid (or a graph)
Let’s behavioural addictions

Would you mind taking a photo of us?


Felafel Kitchen oranges like a Dutch
home game

Garden salad songs

Once ate here every day
for 3 wks

“When the war broke out, the first
problem was food”
(Our wild oats)

This war's a strange one,
________Sci-Fi /
___blister packs unpierced
but empty inside

In the park

flushed toddler cries herself happy
for a life of random


Yeah it’s yonks
we’re all trimmed, & eating well, new careers

Gotta go / I'm afraid

Sorry, but
saying goodbye is when

I get sociable

Domestic (2006)


Backs up

What backup(?)
No joy
Brought up on Tetris
We have watered domestics
Just no verifiable drama, just ratcheting tension
Serrated like a row of calm-day flags
On a public building like ours
Hi-tensile webs, these rooms are full
Though always white
No colour for the walls
Something for a weekend (we could grow gold)
Add another project


Not an easy read -
busy; too much for a hangover

Keeping up with personal email
means opening everything once?

The morning wants me to
make an appointment with Jo...

Handwriting all over the /
Um yeah she’s a counselling psych.
Here’s her card if you like

Where’s my reply?

Apartment block wired with arguments
fusing shorter & shorter

You visit the bathroom
to cry behind the exhaust fan

Alc. is a savage fucker /
Prize dilemma

Grate my knuckles with the cheese


Morning birds’ misheard lyrics
Earth coursing with basslines
Some _______ bliss here
(My) little bleak little futile
Run bath of paracetamol
Settings / Control Panel
Set the controls for
____ththe heart of the sun

"Set the controls for the heart of the sun" = Pink Floyd, from 'A Saucerful of Secrets'

MWF '06

The Writers’ Festival =
a queue for coffee

Welcome to fawning, 2006
Many dying great masturbators in the one
Mingling room, begging to join them (one last dance?)
Feted, decorated (nod nod)
Aren’t we all so widescreen ? /
______Hi-def ?

One of my friends met Tim Flannery
Without realising it at first
(she has a great laugh)

Another we saw her
9:45am unslept at Flinders St,
About to catch a train to bed
Having ‘picked up’ & landed at
Sofitel (wowee zowee)
No doubt we’re talking one of the greats

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Quick plug (2006)

Glitch Bar,

PiO post-gig
drinking red
sells life as
a plagiarist's joke

Intros us to
local jazzman,
oversize specs
("I don't play, just
call the shots")

Has night going
on Brunswick St
the souvlaki bar
next to Bar Open
“just head up the stairs
that’s where we’ll be”

Takes a parting pull
on choc brown rolly,
piffs it into glass circle
of the ashtray without
stubbing, its head
glowing amber like
recumbent prophet

burnt by visions

“None of that slow
Miles Davis stuff”
just unruly
stuff to be smalldosed

Tell him we might
see him there
you never know
“we might”

Portrait of Ledong Qui (2006)

Fuelling the party

is a man from Manchuria
with lampshade hat –
in his worker’s bag
a bottle of 60% baijiu
with Chinese characters
partying on the label;
one shareable shot glass;
a fishbowl jar of aniseed beans
soaked grey like fishbowl pebbles;
and a bag of sunflower seeds
which he says are to be eaten
“like a bird” eats, and remaining true
to his word, leaves seedhusks
strewn to mark his perching –
41 amongst late-twentysomethings,
dignified in specs,
wise old man of the East
(he laughs at this!) –
he in turn fuelled by
poetry, philosophy, psych-jazz –
he in turn
turned by great turnings.

He crashes at ours, contributes $2
the cab, leaves a note marked 9:15am
saying thankyou, and that
the day has greatness to be had.

Note: 'baijiu' = a variety of Chinese white liquor, usually between 40-60% proof, in this case distilled from sorghum.

As published in Mascara #1, April 2007

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cut (2006)

You cut
on the fault.

Your eyes lash.



I leave pens
in hotspots
and you leave

The fish
with deep red gills
are the fresh.

For eating, not


No sugar-


The film, you,
the un-

Monday, August 14, 2006

sad somehow the girl (2006)

sad somehow the girl
who jogs my block
smile bent out like a coathanger
& wild patches of acne
body rope-taut
life has thinned her early

it’s like i recognise
the way she’s running
away from home
same time every night
recognise scales & mirror
in her eyes, hopeful of change

if there were a way
to cry with her

As published in Clockwise Cat, July 2009.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Overload Poetry Festival

Poetry in Public

On Saturday the 5th of August, I read my poem
A Taste of Cindy (see below) at the Atrium, Federation Square, Melbourne, as part of the Overload Poetry Festival.

Thanks so much to everyone who made it down, and to everyone who sent their best wishes! All the encouragement made a big difference.

The short report: great event, great turnout, some very talented poets, plenty of wows, laughs and surprises! I'm sure those who witnessed it will agree that it was plenty of fun.

Featured poets for the event were Grant Caldwell, Lee Kofman & Justin Beal (WA), all of whom captivated the crowd. I was one of eight Victorian Writers' Centre poets who took part, along with poets from Prahran Mission. As expected, the audience was treated to a diversity of voices and styles.

The Overload Poetry Festival has much more in store, so check the program here if you haven't already:

The Doris Leadbetter Poetry Cup.

It turns out that I'll actually be appearing in another festival event: The Doris Leadbetter Poetry Cup.

When: Saturday 19 August, 7pm
Where: New Ballroom, Trades Hall, corner of Lygon & Victoria streets
Cost: $7 on the door
What: Approximately 40 poets will each have 1 minute to "prove themselves" to the judges and audience, battling it out for the $2,000 cash prize.
Why: Er... why not?
Expect: short, snappy, high-shutter-speed poetry, and much performative nuttiness.
Full info here:

I'll also be taking part in live readings down the track, including one to launch the next issue of local experimental writing/art magazine Unusual Work (date TBC), and one for the Victorian Writers' Centre's Christmas Party on 5 December. More details on those later...


Below: Reading A Taste of Cindy at Fed Square (photo by Monica Barratt).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Saturday, Brunswick St (2006)

For my partner in crime!

the two of us flow,

cruising, inspired,
the dayglo & drab of the street,

our dialogue torn
from pages of hipster fiction —

humming café
lights us up,

we tell the kitchen
to keep us guessing,

& heads turn for our meals as they arrive,
drifting to the table like carnival floats.

Our knives and forks groove
to P-Funk & Aretha,

then cocktails
for our encore:

one Tequila Mockingbird,
one Test Tube Baby!

We hit the street again hallucinating,
the scene sugarcoated like lovable anime;

we sway through smoke & laughter
spreading from streetside tables,

point at the dead poets for sale
in $1 boxes.

We could sift
through rarities forever,

lose the afternoon
in clouds of patchouli...

today we're in love
with our shop-window reflections,

every t-shirt slogan
tells a perfect private joke,

and even the death-bitten guy

who asks us for change is shining;

he smiles every step
to the bottleshop.

As published in The Paradise Anthology (February 2008)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Misogynist's Song (2006)

You are mine. You are mine like:

1. The glower of a spotlight


a finger pointed down.

2. My keys in my hand


the purpose of hands.

3. An open palm can


{ confidential information }

4. Our buildings are titans


every little(-)loved thing in the world

(and) 5. blood is the body’s river.

The true(!). The true thing is:

no one gives a damn about your ‘music’

"That's just what I use the word to mean."

The one who could hurt me most (la la la)

(la la la) will never be you

(but what am I?)

I am telling the truth.

(lusts / I am not mine).

I’m bound to lose.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Nightpiece (2006)

I know I’ve spoken of this before,
(I’m waiting between work & a movie / tight on coffee)
but the city night
is crying
(with light)
satellites spark the sky
trams queue Swanston
trees skeletal violet, underlit
“something else”
sushi train from $2.50
pollens by Christian Dior
7 Eleven’s vortex white
black icecream

As published in Clockwise Cat, July 2009.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Here I sit (2006)

my fingers sentient

with words

taking large gulps of
caffeine in my throat.

A fool’s alchemy:

the extraction of tears
from oceans

all tears having been shed

all oceans dead

and alchemy a lie
for liars

(mystics, poets,

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

It's over (2006)

I say nothing

(smoking gun)

or at least nothing from
the list (of things
never to be said again),

all our trusty
workarounds (e.g.):

“Leave me
alone to smoke

my cigarette!”

It’s ok,
we don’t have to be sexy
(any more).

Friends, correct?

Page 198 of 198:
I was (I am!) chasing down Smith St –

(had) a hand in this,

I thought,

so do I (in this),

this payment,

Badge of Honour,

well-thumbed anthology of
ways (to get fixed).

It’s over and I’m
mixing up tenses (still);

I chose (I’ve chosen)
the colour blue to
remember you

(storing liquid maps) .

You told me (too),
“Never turn your back
on the ocean”,

but (what if)
the ocean is you...?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Thankyou (2006)

(This is the 100th post to be added to A Collection of Thoughs, so I thought it was time to "take on my own voice" as a way of saying thankyou...)

Thankyou to everyone who has ever: ignored me, criticised me, argued with me, encouraged me (you gave me courage), loved me, made me laugh, made me not laugh, held me, rejected me, indulged me, assassinated me, told me to give up (not enough of you have done this!), made me doubt my own coherence, made me doubt my own appearance (in the world), made me realise that "what you have is yours to find, not to hold", made me realise that quoting yourself is an act of unassailable self-indulgence, shown me something I could not see for myself, shown me that words are probably the most powerful thing within reach, shown me that words are not probably the most powerful thing within reach, shown me that words are the most powerful thing within reach, attempted to explain how things work in the 'real world', blinded me with politics and sighted me with science, danced with me, sung with me, screamed with me, marched with me, cooked with me, fucked themselves up with me, understood me, overstood me, stood on the same step with me, let me be Wordy(!), let me be nerdy(!!!), proved to me that money is less than nothing, resurrected my faith in the simplicity of flux, allowed me to walk in beauty (not like she, but still like the night), allowed me to be quiet, fostered the opening / unlocking / unhinging / singeing of my mind, listened to me speak, (and) spoken to me listen. Thankyou. I could write a list of names, but it would never be complete. Thankfully (most thankfully of all), there is always someone else.

Love (all ways), Stu

"She walks in beauty like the night" = Lord Byron

Saturday, July 01, 2006

How to be hungry (2006)

Take your phone and throw it in the river.

Unplug from everything.

Return each thing you love to its birthplace.

Enter someone else's pain, then steal it.

Zen: this road is you, this weather is you.

Look food in the eye before you eat it.

Respect fear as an accomplished adversary.

Walk city streets for days and nights.

Speak to the strangest of the strangers.

Listen closely for the announcement they make.

____-They say, "Lies have taken office."

____-They say, "Decorate the streets with truth."

Friday, June 30, 2006

Birds (2006)

When she
stopped speaking for a year

only birds
unlocked her throat.

I remember kissing her hair,
whispering, “Sister,

the words you lack
are only birds.”

And at last,
breathing a cloud

of dust into the morning,
she broke her silence:

“Only birds who nested
in the trees of Eden.

When Adam was a poet
he couldn’t sleep –

all of sleep and night were driven
coiling through the rocks!

Dwelling in the young clay
of his body, mind silent,

he had begun
living out the bargain,

tending garden
with eye & tongue

(repeating the birds'
melodic names).”

Then her speaking
died again.

Tears came
like ancient trees falling,

and her birds were climbing,
naming the sky.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Taste of Cindy (2006)

Crack of dawn
Cindy's movin' on
Talkin' Cindy to everyone
'Til she's had her fun

– The Jesus & Mary Chain, ‘Taste of Cindy’

Cindy I loved you as much as I love gambling my life away
I bet your favourite flowers are still gardenias
And lilies of the valley and $50 notes and $20 notes

Cindy I built temples on your tongue
My ribs knew your ribs
You fucked me on a dead mattress

Your legs pale in summer
And we made a cloud of stupidity that first night
Serenading you with a sixpack as we cruised St Kilda beach
We got scribbled
We painted the rocks with water

Cindy I remember you
Cindy lifting off
Wacked on valium toes exposed
Single doona on a double bed
Getting stoned watching TV
And drinking Absolut Citron that I’d lifted from the bottleshop
While you stalled the shop guy with your ‘speed humps’
As I called them
Only to cop a mouthful of your door for my trouble

Cindy I got in line for you
We were lovers with the scents of others
There must’ve been so many names I missed
Of suckers young and old swimming silent from your mouth

Cindy you declared you loved porn ‘as much as the next guy’
We’d laugh at the lamest lines and recite them Shakespearean
While going at it in the laundromat
And I used to dream you short-haired with silk tie
Dressing gown completely open
Uncrossing and crossing everything

Cindy you were let go from every job within minutes
I can still see the slow ghost of you
Scanning items in the express checkout
Then screaming down the defenceless old dear
Who was sure she’d been overcharged for cotton buds

That was one of those times you led me back again rattling your tin
Back to your flat with fridge in the bedroom and no running water
Except hard rain through the broken windows

Cindy you were all money
If you were the Empress of China you’d still shop at Target
You once won five grand on a scratchie
Then lived on strawberries for a month
You drew red texta hearts on naked mannequins
Who you’d rescued from shopsoiled obscurity
And this was your greatest act of charity

Cindy I’m sorry we couldn’t see it through
For growing older while time froze you in its eye
But I’m staying in this lane even if it’s slower
I saw you death-defy too many times
Intent on dying Cindy-style

Whether spreading the love in underpaid pics
Or riding a Hills Hoist through the thick of a thunderstorm
You were always the naked one
Cindy you were the laughing one

Below: reading A Taste of Cindy at Federation Square, Melbourne (photo by Monica Barratt).

Beauty (2005)

A haiku septet for Monica, on her 26th Birthday

Understand: beauty
is more than an appearance;
it is a freedom.

It is the process
of the smiling surrender—
gently letting go.

To fly is to love
like the stem loves the flower,
flies her face (a flag).

Our souls are seamless
like branch blending into leaf
or leaf into space.

You are beautiful
in your flowering, whether
awake or asleep.

Kiss me with your sleep,
and when you wake, embrace me,
hold me with your songs.

When day is opened,
like coloured birds from a tree,
our music takes flight.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What the street saxophonist said to the unsung reveller (2006)

Here under the bridge
I’m a maker
of trailing sad notes

while the hot night we have tonight
is a taker
and temptress;

and you and I both know her,
how the wind will blow her
sporeslike across the night…

Here’s your chance to cut loose
like a monk disrobed,
go undetected,
hide yourself in numbers.

So wish it,
have somewhere to be,
launch a new career for the evening,
go naked to the waist
(do I mean up or down?)

Though you and I both know
how you’ll end in the gutter,
swimming through the stars; until
you're coughing up the dead thoughts
like a backlog of voicemail.

You’ll be sunken paralytic
swearing your lungs out,
my sad notes
spattering you like tired bullets,

and you will claw at the world
as if it did all of this to you.

Melbourne weather (2006)

again dressed down by you
sky grey enough to be black
I should have figured
you were in one of your moods

if you were a true work of art
you wouldn’t date
major leaguers
for how could they appreciate
your taste in irony?

only the likes of us could love you
in spite of ourselves
living in rooms below you

yes make us look stupid
we're so accurate with our hates
though not masochists really

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Today more than ever (2006)

------------------------------------------------------------tale of the tribe

-------------------------cave art of the Paleolithic

for poets to come forward as voices
--participants in the larger

-------------------------------------to invite more of the world to enter -------(the poem)

-------------------------------------------------illicit tongue

------------------poets taking many
-----------------------------simultaneous positions
---------to approach, enquire into

---------------------------"it is language that thinks"
-----------------------------language as instrument of vision

------------------poet as endangered species

---------the wider human fate

-----------------today more than ever -------(is the reason)

----------------------the only time allowed to us ----------------------(on earth)

------------------------------------------sense of dangers & repressions still persisting
-----------------------------------an even darker
------------------------------------------------------fatal voice

-----------------our book is bounded
---------our book is open

------------------------------------------------------------------------(a strange fear of freedom)

Happiness (2006)

I went & listened

to a talk
by Khentrul Rinpoche

(a Tibetan Buddhist master)

He apologised for his English
cracked jokes
laughed until everyone was laughing

He said that when we speak or act
our intention
is the most important thing to consider

He assured us that happiness
is not something to be bought,
found or attained -
it is something to be given...

... and whether they be
family, strangers,
lovers, or hungry ghosts,
we should always try
to make others happy

Then, sensing our disappointment
at all of this,
he cracked a few more jokes, laughed
til the hungry ghosts were laughing.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Inscriptions (2006)

Why don’t you cover me with words?

Write ‘BEGIN’ on my forehead
as a message to the mirror, to my kindred
and my punishers –
I am ready.

I can imagine ‘A-G-O-N-Y’
across the knuckles of my left hand,
‘E-C-S-T-A’ across the knuckles of my right
(ecstasy is always truncated). The ‘S’
delayed on to my left buttock
and the ‘Y’ given to my right,
so that at a time of my choosing, you,
while clasping my right hand behind me,
will see me abandoned
and complete.

Write ‘SOUL’ somewhere on my body,
‘BODY’ somewhere on my soul

‘COMPASS’ along my cock,
making preparations for compassion,
because desire remains
to be navigated

(our body of water).

What will you scrawl across my eyes?
Ciphers? Coordinates? Keys?
Will I ever be able to read them?

What should the inscriptions say
inside my ear –

what sin
that you could not say there?

Previous versions of this poem were published in Unusual Work #4, November 2006 (in 'abridged' form), and in POAM #309, April 2007.

You can hear a performance of this poem at the beginning of this radio interview (which is available for download as an mp3).