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