(the third of 3 Brett Whiteleys)
... he became his admirers. - W. H. Auden, 'In Memory of W. B. Yeats'
You’ve succumbed. Tall Poppy,
they crave to say you’ve over-stepped.
Don’t go too far. Stay too far. Settle
your petals against the sand; today’s
a hot one on ego beach. Where we
can see, between the flags!
Swim on a rope.
_________How’d you expect us
to eat all this? What,
weren’t you thinking?
What weren’t you thinking?
in the kitchen, sniffling;
we want to feel your pain
but not forever. Brett,
it seemed someone was missing,
was not listening.
blown away as studio dust
or shot up as lunch.
painted our waiting,
expectations in exquisite detail.
We’ve been tailgating you,
true, your faulty tail lights.
This was a painting of ambition,
Icarus flightpath. Ambition is there
on the canvas, waving, screaming,
drowning in world. It writ large.
Alchemy at brettwhiteley.org
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
all about you I guess, snapped pencil freakcase who know all & better you awkward as source code you hyperverbal / you question mark in parentheses / yet another tangled wizard’s sigil
[Sure, let’s all erect vindictive monuments. (Maybe this is yours.) Depicts: your retreat into desert. Lived off sand. Thought it through your fingers. Read visions off the moons of your fingernails. Pursued by built-in bestiary. Juiced all gately cacti in sight but still a raging thirst. Only so much the eye can plan and prepare for.]
but in fact i love you yet again you the poem lived / thinking in tongues
[An error has occurred. Start with what you have. Could it be yours?]
you once troubling precocious, nascent psychic talents intimidating highschool teachers (we go way back) / always your scarf stitched with cryptograms, formulae
[I don’t have the patience.]
careers in prophecy? ditch day-job to contest/corrupt all assumptions
[Software is not for you: it does things you’ve asked for. You realise your mail keep bouncing?]
time to resign yourself to fallout, the recluse's winter? but you persist repairing dead philosophers / philosophy as repair, beyond repair & yet life in the beast still dehydrated gills / dabbling in junk gather skulls unzipping peripheries
[Squeezed prophetics out of manga-dreams. You the hero / a thousand traces. Such an immortal. Statue of light.]
you’re not the only delusionist flexing to grandmaster the Web / yours just another unseen site / face the fact I am half your traffic
[That’s right, ring the psychic hotline. Don’t like the forecast? So… ring another hotline.]
Thursday, December 06, 2007
"... the idea of portraiture and the idea of the recreation of the word. I took individual words and thought about them until I got their weight and volume complete and put them next to another word, and at this same time I found out very soon that there is no such thing as putting them together without sense. It is impossible to put them together without sense." - Gertrude Stein, 1946.
Pictured: Picasso's portrait of Stein.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
bloodshots (red cables cross my eyes) –
______obvious I’ve used
_________________lip-cracks / foodless sta-
______________________sis / cold-core bones
_____________________-afternoon: slight OD,
________________-fell asleep online
__________you arrive home /
___________my straight act:
_______________________paraphernalia locked away /
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Have history with you
makes it hard to be
with you when I am. It’s
so beautiful outside, but
outside of what? Hey
now the sun is mighty
loud. Birds call me out,
heavy on the roofs.
& amber barrier mesh.
Just another castle
Slick & unimpressive. As
if some new wild epoch
could bud in the suburbs.
which hut? /
train passes overhead /
options fly / day party:
sun as DJ / the clouds
the wider painting /
confidence, sleep with
confidence / world
comes more as an
abstract / how to
put these / two
birds talk on a wire /
together / hut them?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
on the track to the city
a snake says, ‘trust me’,
and what could be
simpler? it’s just an
/ way the ads burst
volumed at our outer
skin to nudge the inner
what big hoofs more
than a little tampering
with our brittle
surrounded by cranes
fishing for significance
they hold our dossiers
as if ‘connect’ means my
brand is your brand but
i can’t get no, no no no
Note: "i can’t get no, no no no" - The Rolling Stones, 'Satisfaction'.
As published in Snorkel #9, April 2009.
If you'd like to hear me reading Self-portrait (with wires, city & no clothes), click here to download the .wav file. The file is optimised for playback via QuickTime. Other players (e.g. Windows Media Player) may require a codec to play the file. For some reason I think the audio has been ever-so-slightly sped up, so that my voice sounds higher than normal (as if I'd just inhaled a balloon full of helium!)
The poem was originally published in Verandah 22, and this reading was recorded for the Images & Texts on the Verandah exhibit at Deakin University.
"When I write, words or phrases come to me. I don’t go to them or start with a plan. I start with scraps and pieces and something comes. I never know. I never sit down intentionally to say something. It comes to me. But as I work more on a poem a meaning is established and then I must continue until I feel it's done or undone. To an almost alarming extent -- alarming for me -- sound creates meaning. Sound is the core. If a line doesn't sound right, and I do always have single lines or single words in mind, if a line doesn't have some sort of rhythm to it, if my ear tells me it's wrong, I have to get rid of it, or change it, and a new meaning may come then."
- Susan Howe (pictured), from The Difficulties (1989).
Sunday, November 18, 2007
(after Stan Brakhage's desistfilm)
the night (is it night?) is
_sitting round dumbing stuff
________-we have cool haircuts
_______-if this is the 50s,
_____both sexes thrown in dark room
__________-music loud enough that we can’t
____music through a glass, a fly
______-reading your shoe
__________________tugging our own hairs
_-sit round dumbing stuff
____________stacking a house of books,
__his shortlived match sculptures
_later run out
screaming deaf into treescraped
__ horizons, bracken
__________________-slow our fire
_at some point back in the room
caught ourselves paused
__-dancing it was kindergarten
______________plus an ashtray
____________________our flesh blur
__________________________refused that kiss________
As published in Sein und Werden 'cinematique', Spring 2009 (print edition).
Note: A poor quality copy of Stan Brakhage's early work desistfilm can be viewed here. There is sound, but you'll need to turn up the volume. I recommend tracking down a copy of the Criterion DVD By Brakhage: An Anthology in order to approach his films through a medium closer to the one they were intended for (i.e. a cinema).
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Today you toddle off
elaborately inane, to where your profile
fills out like a bin-liner caught by the
– John Forbes, ‘Colonial Aubade’
ha survive in a corporate office
without actually working (just
live there, haunt the espresso
see brother, la revolution begins on every page, in
in gel caps /
in the deepest blues
only to find that
nothing beards us like a lack
of ritual responsibilities
a life of not being able to
pop a balloon with a stick of celery
(not the place itself but your slim scared imaginings of)
like spring racing ‘carnival’,
fashions in the field yet
another vocabulary for
status to shake around in...
deep in the bowels of
some corporate tent or other
you realise luxury is irresistible,
has its own set of ‘classique’ emotions
& one day, with a dab of brio and your lucky haircut,
you could have your very own war
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
make all these minor adjustments what does it matter no one
turns up except other
DSMIV entrants other tangled wizards
their pet tangents
_____________-brands of solipsism software variety the
_______________price of life
_______________________-me making my
beginning to believe technology's a blind alley though we too are
technologies writing ourselves blind / written out /
the trees still living seem hunched in doubt
_________________________________turn up the light or
________________________________________is that as
____________________________high as it goes?
Monday, November 05, 2007
monday nights catching up with the
boys operating system updates new
Radiohead all these burnt offerings
leap druglike from hand to hand behind
raised boot of the car not mine i’m not
'the driver' i have no poison file me
under monk the
___tv jokes bounce off me like sponges
though dead soldiers pile
til the bussie busies us
with his pisa-phallus of
look at us the weary
a table fire built from
mobiles, keys, sunnies
damn pokie pub twittering
machines money travels
thrilling nowhere adventures
___________ of a 10c piece
because suspicious of everything
while counting down your stardom
rain on your parade since mine's
already soaked i really dropped the
room make mental note to email you
__________another long apology
as 4 blooded men we agree
PCs are distraction files
& files of nectar for the
dumb-bum bumble bee got
tissues? only 1 sting til the
____drowse of the next life
we make our exit as something
heroic but this too collapses
__eaten under the idiot lights
watch out if not for nuggets
of bottle glass we could
walk barefoot as bronze
kids in a holiday eden
engrossed in our triple
at this intersection of
stressors taxi honks
when cut off & therein
how language, as
Sunday, October 14, 2007
a watched rain never falls. alone in our many rooms craving left-aloneness.
stem overgrown with thought. seated in lotus position.
we map disappearances. small birds wrapped daily. cannot drink the river.
rowing three hours each way between us. to arrive at degrees of fidelity. granting the eye permission to lick.
think we’re coping better with crop failures. though there are times we want to murder the fruit. unpeel what is peeled. how we never know how to hold what's dying.
in spite of our ghosts, go scuttling in party shoes. go scuttling, eyes wrapped in sheets. ditching dharma, ditching precepts.
our housedust. a lint magnet. stem the breath with fluff. dustmites fed on skinflakes.
if the rain would pile upon itself. if the harvest. bring breath to what is said.
lotus position. the spine a stem.
to err. still planting the heart. craving left-aloneness. listening for dry echo.
i say tremble then. break with the room. strew dust. be spilt.
you say stay faithful. wear blue on blue days.
Monday, October 08, 2007
On Thursday the 4th of October I was one of three featured poets who took part in the Image & Text reading at Deakin University. I was honoured to share the bill with Angela Costi and Judith Rodriguez... plus there was an open mic section which included Peter Davis.
Thanks to all who came along and took part. The readings were fantastic. Thanks also to Karen Le Rossignol for organising the event.
I selected poems which (mainly) fitted in with the image / text theme. This was my set list:
Art, Life and The Other Thing
Saturday, Brunswick St
Self-portrait (with wires, city & no clothes)
I will not carry
Sunday, September 16, 2007
As part of eXposure season at Deakin University, there will be an audiovisual display featuring poems and artwork from Verandah 22, including readings of poetry by Tom Cho, Rhys Tate, Virginia Spicer and yours truly. A rendition of my Self Portait (with wires, city & no clothes) was recorded especially for the display.
The Verandah 22 display will run from Monday 17 September to Friday 5 October in the Phoenix foyer, Building P, Deakin Burwood. Entry is free.
Update 11/12/07: The audio file of my reading can be downloaded from here.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
night air aroused
drawling with spring
pollen delivering words
as raw silk
through the unseen
caverns of my nose
in the middle of the street,
also high on pollen,
deadkids play lazy karate
halogen lamp oversees
glossy 'for sale' sign,
spraying its light,
tilts of red from garden roses
on a nature strip,
legless ergonomic chair implies
a silent office of Zen
A previous version of this poem was published in Frame Lines issue 7, February 2009.
Below: Scanning electron microscope image of pollen grains from a variety of plants. (This is a public domain image sourced from here.)
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
reception clearer now
(no white noise haunting)
for just on 2 months
mounds of sugar fiction
(a sleek, amber-winged insect)
crawls over the drumskin
of my cheek,
code into me
the latest flight dream,
we were frenchkissing clouds
with our teeth
escape the bed
to check the newsfeeds
another internet death today
none of us can hide the blame:
it's there in every click,
'love' in the headline
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I take off my shoes
so the grass can imprint
abstract designs on my ankles
can't see any other meditators
in Alexandra Gardens
a precious day
pooling on gemgrass;
cars on City Rd
sounding like the ocean
& stop thinking
for some seconds
then I remember
to take off my sunglasses
& it becomes a lot brighter
behind closed eyes
I notice this,
then revisit the breath
an easy breeze
stroking my face
I revisit the breath,
revisit the breath
until half an hour later
from my trance-shell,
look over at my shadow,
my head made of grass
8pm that night
I meet Monica on the bridge
we gaze through the sci-fi city,
make new pledges,
a 4x4 crushing
a skater's stray deck
jolts us back to the wheel
As published in The Cartier Street Review, February 2009.
Thanks to everyone who made it to Eggs & Roses last Thursday. I enjoyed meeting you all, and reading my poems in an intimate setting. It's always a pleasure to read to an appreciative and friendly crowd!
Thanks to Alexis Harley and the La Trobe English department for having me. And kudos to Catherine Padmore, who also read from her fascinating novel-in-progress.
This was my set list:
A Taste of Cindy
I will not carry
Saturday, Brunswick St
Self portrait (with wires, city & no clothes)
Sunday, August 19, 2007
I can now confirm that I'll be doing a reading at the launch of Verandah 22 at the Melbourne Writers' Festival. I'll be reading my poem Self portrait (with wires, city & no clothes), which is featured in the journal.
Apparently I'm also going to be presented with some kind of literary award.
As mentioned in an earlier post, this free event is happening from 2pm on Saturday the 1st of September, in the Bagging Room at the Malthouse.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
9:38am sinuses go to war
navel gazes back at me, floats
“who did this to you?”
these burns, slits, scratches
(eager to share)
enjoy the waiting,
11:16am have erased everything
sold my guitar
dust rushes the room
still know all the words for food
12:00pm ‘life gets you
in the knees’
while the sun multitasks
5:20pm sky is boy’s & girl’s
(pink clouds stretched)
still know all the words for food
& know you from photos
(in some your face survives)
5:46pm was once a great lover
bleed from scratching
smell of breath mints
8:12pm maximum dark
eyes suck on monitor-glow
no recent updates
a joint to curl me:
night passes quickly this way
reminds me: haven’t eaten
10:18pm haven’t eaten
(all these demands)
taste my teeth:
head tilts toward kitchen
2:13am the flawless setup
no need to rise
2:14am frosty monochrome
intercepting your walk
(that onscreen brittleness)
& full volume
charging the speakers
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
On Thursday the 23rd of August I'll be doing an extended reading as part of the 'Eggs & Roses' spoken word and literature series at La Trobe University's Bundoora campus.
I'll be reading my stuff (both old and new), discussing the origins of my work, and generally talking shit about the intersection of poetry, technology and madness (or something along those lines). Questions and audience interaction will be encouraged!
Eggs & Roses is running every Thursday during second semester, from 4:30pm in room 431 of the Humanities 2 building at La Trobe Bundoora Campus. A campus map is available from here.
Hope to see you there!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Verandah 22 will be launched on Saturday the 1st of September in the Bagging Room at the Malthouse, from 2pm. The launch is part of the 2007 Melbourne Writers' Festival. It's a free event.
I've been to the last two launches, which were both well attended, with refreshments aplenty (that means free booze for you boozehounds). I imagine there will be some readings involved... I'll try to provide more info closer to the date.
Friday, June 29, 2007
time I reach the party
all the drugs
have already been played
(a recurring theme)
my selfish friends!
I just wanted a little toy-toy for me!!!
to let the drugs
do the talking
get the monkey off,
okay, I’ll drop the code
if you’ll quit coding with me
all you can offer
& these wedges of lime
sure, there’s booze & pot
like you said
but I arrive &
whispering “life’s too short
for this dreck”
(am I that undanceable?)
leaves me no choice but
to steal your lines
drink you dry
crashland on your couch:
when you kick me awake
I'll be itching,
to make that call
drive across town for pills
Thursday, June 28, 2007
sorry for the slow reply
I’ve been sick again,
haunting town without a face
(this face no longer valid)
hungry words flock
to define me:
'cut-price', 'reheated', 'uneven'…
so uneven I’ve been cutting
around the gardens rather than through,
scared fresh breath of pines
will make me retch
I’m watched by a list of eyes,
tailed by some voodoo priest
giving off his dark light
can’t do new people
can’t chase a thing
taste a thing
I mostly hide tight
up in this one-window bedsit
experimenting with the light
no call for music,
I gaze jealous down
at the playhard kids
screwing with their own wiring,
scalping tickets to fastland
they’re ready to ambush me
lick the medicine out
although wait for it, the icing:
my phone is dead
(I killed it)
but enough of me,
how are you?
please accept this
small peace offering:
a freshly picked posey
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
On Saturday the 3rd of June I joined my wife and friends to 'Stand up for the Burrup'. What's the Burrup, you ask?
"Western Australia's Burrup Peninsula is the world's largest outdoor rock engraving site, containing rock art of world importance possibly dating back to 30,000 years ago, including possibly the first ever representation of the human face in history. Woodside Petroleum and the Western Australian Government are planning to turn part of this site into a natural gas production facility against the wishes of some of the site's Aboriginal custodians and the scientific community." (from http://www.standupfortheburrup.com)
Stand ups have been held around Australia and internationally to protest Woodside and the WA government's plans. Representing Melbourne, we stood up in Federation Square, opposite Flinders St Station and Young & Jackson's (see picture below). Representatives from the ABC and Australian Associated Press were present to cover the protest, and a statement of support from former prime minster Malcolm Fraser was read out.
Visit standupfortheburrup.com to find out how you can support this cause and get involved.
Monday, June 18, 2007
I've just received word that one of my poems, Self-portait (with wires, city & no clothes), will be published in Verandah 22, which will be launched at the 2007 Melbourne Writers Festival.
Stay tuned for further details of the launch party!
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I got meme-tagged by sam of the ten thousand things... a nice little meme which originated from They Shoot Poets - Don't They?
“Give us at least 10 quotations pertaining to poetry - from 10 different writers &/or poets which best coincide with your philosophy vis a vis ars poetica. They can be posthumous or otherwise. The order is not important - unless it is to you.”
Sam rather charitably added the following disclaimer: "If the number ten is too daunting, go for less." Although I've managed to pull ten together from everything I've (n)ever read. And yes, for me the order is important.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear.
- ‘London’, William Blake
The people need poetry that will be their own secret
to keep them awake forever.
- #355 (‘Now I’m in the spider-web of light’), Osip Mandelstam
Reality is not simply there, it must be searched for and won.
- Paul Celan
The human body is the best picture of the human soul.
- Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein
each word is a room built around us
- ‘Pitching Woo’, Karen Weiser
The great city has a hundred million rooms so any combination is possible
- ‘Day at a Time’, Michael Dransfield
Money is everywhere, but so is poetry. What we lack are the poets.
- Federico Fellini
i had always had mixed feelings
about being considered a poet “if robert lowell is a
poet i dont want to be a poet__if robert frost was a
poet i dont want to be a poet__if socrates was a poet
ill consider it”
- David Antin
If you can do it then why do it?
- Gertrude Stein
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
- Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki
And I'm going to tag exoiced (aka Brow of Calm), Yarni, Nathan, EZB and Reyes Cardenas.
Friday, May 25, 2007
every day here
at the image farm
crop & resize
I’m shrinking into, becoming
synonymous with my work
am this low-cost ‘virtusurgery’
am ‘his’ & ‘her’ sightlines
every day here
looking for some other face
out in the pseudo-rain,
not another me for chrissakes
will someone come visit,
have their cowled, smoky needs
deluge my inbox?
photograph is a spell,
pumping the brakes
glue to meld the storm together)
I am a fat, balding forgery
with a swipe-card
your speed-reading eyes
stalled by things I don’t have names for:
birds, trees... nature stuff
so we invent names from our lexicon:
banking bird, valium tree
our poems detail
glitches of perception,
are loose & easy,
An earlier version of this poem was published in otoliths 12.
Friday, May 11, 2007
shouldn't be misunderstood
as another search for an exit
It is a way back
to where you are
First letting the eyes stop,
calming the antennae
Then all punctuation dropped,
an unhurried torch
shone throughout the body
The mind does not need to shop
Silent as smoke
except for the radio
from the apartment below,
bleeps counting in the newshour;
swooshes of traffic, birdsong solos,
hum of the nearby city
Of course the body hands out flyers
for a protest march
and sometimes a slow bee visits,
buzzing at every itch,
every knot of fear,
every burn of venom in the blood
The ongoing task of sitting
may be learning such restlessness
(the heart has many commas)
while mind writes smaller and smaller
Though my first teacher taught
that mind and heart are the same bell,
fused in a single word:
Note: The literal translation of vipassanā (Pali) is ‘insight’. The word is used to refer to ‘insight meditation’, and a specific form of Buddhist meditation practice which is taught in various strands of modern Theravada Buddhism. See the Wikipedia entry on vipassanā for more information. I practice vipassanā meditation each morning, following the method taught by S. N. Goenka.
Below: An image from Ansuman Biswas' project Self/Portrait (sourced from thelab.org)
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
day two of rehab
the raw bed
air soured by puke
steel-cold / sleepless,
fingers heavy with days
running city steam-alleys
to cut a repair deal
ever try a sprint lying down?
& the stories I hid in the city
have scattered, escaped into films
(my brainchild their goldmine)
outside of visiting hrs
a squad of ghosts
makes another sweep
Monday, April 23, 2007
The first edition of online poetry journal Mascara has now hit the virtual shelves. It features poetry by Christopher Kelen, Jan Owen, Nathan Curnow, Ouyang Yu, Keri Glastonbury, Charles D'Anastasi, Ross Donlon and many more... including two poems (Drive-thru and Portrait of Ledong Qui) by yours truly, along with a shameless 'look at me standing in front of all these books' photo.
I was also the 'feature poet' in the April/May issue of POAM, 'museletter' of the Melbourne Poets Union. They chose to publish Inscriptions as an example of my work. A previous version of this poem had appeared in Unusual Work.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Be careful when you sing a song of broken love, a song of Samsara.
Just when you think you are relieving yourself of Samsara,
you might begin romancing it.
When the song sticks,
your broken love is replaced by a new love...
and you're it-
Samsara. ______________________(from Stonepeace)
beneath the drugs
this is what I am
this is my face:
skin torn up
pair of choking eyes
have to get sick
____ to slow down
standing in the quickfire
the lanes of dust
grabbing at particles
trying to eat clouds
the roads between us
the fish of light
have to get sick to slow down,
freeze the eyelake over
see the fish of light
a library of ice
let's learn to swim down here
while we're dark
our bodies much older
than we, than we think
have to get sick
to glimpse you
not some death girl
(you were laying new roads
with the knife)
skin torn up
pair of choking eyes
this is what you are (too)
beneath the drugs
A previous version of this poem was published in Poetry Sz issue 25, March 2008.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
hutt 2.5 (the 'special 2nd bonus birthday issue') is now online, featuring poems by Andy Jackson, Donna Kuhn, B. R. Dionysius, David Prater, Billy Jones, Jill Jones, Joanne Burns, Nathan Ladd, Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, and yours truly (cashed).
hutt is an inspired online poetry journal published by papertiger media.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Over Easter my wife Monica and I headed to ConFest (short for Conference Festival). We camped amongst friends old and new, got back to nature, attended workshops, did meditation and yoga, witnessed live drumming and firetwirling, took part in a sacred ceremony, went swimming in the river, got lost wandering around in the dark, participated in the 'spontaneous choir'... and the rest! This was my third ConFest, and while I don't think the festival itself has changed a great deal since I last attended a few years ago, I think I have changed significantly in that time - which made it a very different experience this time around.
I put on a workshop entitled 'You call that poetry?!' which consisted of readings and a freeform discussion addressing questions such as 'What is poetry?' and 'Where is poetry today?'. We were treated to some amazing performances; a number of poets brought their poems along to read out, while others recited their words from memory. I kicked things off by reading Opening Meditation and went on to talk about the relationship between poetry and meditation, a topic which I hope to cover in more detail in a future blog post.
Thanks to everyone who attended the workshop, and everyone who made ConFest such an inspiring, spontaneous and rejuvenating experience! I think the poem How to be hungry (which I had planned to read in closing the workshop) sums up some of the truth-seeking, life-changing spirit of ConFest: 'unplug everything'! I hereby dedicate it to those who aren't afraid to resist their programming, rethink, reshape, and reclaim the Earth for the Earth's sake.
Below: ConFest settlements (photo by Monica Barratt)
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Two of my poems (Drive-thru and Portrait of Ledong Qui) are scheduled to be published in the new online poetry journal Mascara.
The first edition of Mascara should appear online in April - watch this space for details.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
it was just one of those things where a bunch of people think the same thing at the same time probably while working at shitty jobs or playing the starved artist somehow scraping by
like us we were sitting in vacant lots mid-city with drum-fires the smoke curling south & bumming cigs off passersby taking turns to snatch at sleep on shipwrecked couches flaky cats screeching round our feet
& just when we were on a roll passing the sickly port thinking “nowhere will ever be safer than here” four windows appear in the sky & open up the weather turning inside out clouds flipping over
and the chemical weather shopped til it dropped sucking every two-bit bargain in sight the sky stretched like a swollen eye & we tried outstaring it praying for a blink gazing at derelict heavens mesmerised like children mainlining their first Christmas
“the sky holds what kind of right?” I remember asking whoever was listening what right to smoke us out of the hole we were in oh no question we were holed but fuck me & crank the Starship Humanity the sky or whoever was cloaked in it really went to town dinner suit opera tickets & all
combusting the unworthy & all the usual biblical stuff flies dropping like um flies emergency service choppers somersaulting like plastic bags a plague of dead monkeys pissing in my hair
this wasn’t our favourite God surfing in with magic drum on his keychain that inspires flowers to change colour this was a being from one of those other humourless galaxies where no really means no
& there I was muttering what do you want, being, you want to pretty up the landscape huh & I’m coaching myself through it thinking just stay with it & man the controls brave captain
while making cute googoo gaga noises & an old adage from TV backs through my mind “go in the direction of your fear” they used to say that at the end of every show
this the final episode & if my dreams ever walk again you will arrive around dusk our hidden studio by the river with our remaining stash of light together taking one last look
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
this is Modern Art: / motivational / poster of the pyramids captioned ‘Achievement’ / the sky absent, savagely cropped / (how to measure achievement when the sky is absent?)
across the open plan / cool paint-tones emit calm / it’s “too nice a day” / sun nothing but hindrance / wimp blinds / glare-stained monitors / staff listless / doing time behind / panes of heat / call logged re: the aircon / drip workflow / has sprung a lake
Bruce, who loves Friday drinks / is not alone / after-work trains become sparsely passengered / & this is (isn’t this?) / who ‘you’ are today / a drowner / “Gabe ‘n’ me are hitting the Deep End after work…” / your looks / your talent / you could be / “… anyone else?”
cubicles, ‘pods’ / officespace bouncing / with sweet soda FM / looped playlist / X-Factor? No, I don't / I am an island / correction: a shoal / mousy Support Analyst / acned / phonecall evader / in shooting out the apartment / this morning, toast in hand / neglected to carry enough / defeat music / to see out the day
aforementioned Bruce is seasoned / old hand, old hands / wandering / knows where to sit, stand / for best access / the bar, ripe officegirls / sloshed against a washroom wall / No sorry I’m feeling / a little married / tonight
dead links on the intranet / What’s the name, the girl from Accounts / the off-tap? / I’ll copy you in / something wicked this way / brushed by tiesilk / Are you hitting on / we’ll put it to the bored / bang on about / the ethics, if you like / “These aren’t the right minutes!” / I smell a / Steering Committee / duty-free cologne / & bulk-price handwash
two weeks pass / Bruce gets taken out / to lunch at the brasserie / I forget, what’s the name of that swank-shack on Bourke? / clears his desk upon return / then escorted by security / heaving boxes labeled ‘Fragile’ / out the revolving doors / a chance slap of wind / scattering flock / of white papers / to blot the gutter rain
A slightly different version of this poem was published in [untitled], September 2009.
Below: office 'motivational' poster that inspired this poem.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
“rest awhile work
– Michael Farrell, from my skeleton
The poet (Michael Farrell?) is overheard
on his mobile
on the train
on the way to work:
“re: carrying bones / keeping score
(to be down with what the gulls want)
I can only tell you what I don't know;
I don’t want what someone else
has worked for & thought about, & spare me
those whirlwind biddings done by jinnees.
Though I will
filch some hot young language
if you have any.”
He closes the call with a ciao,
snaps the clam-phone shut but
keeps talking anyway,
slips into best voiceover voice:
“Forgive these anonymous, these
fresh white collars
heavybreath suit thick with
Old Spice, gripping
a leather handle
& the morning girl
dressed as a fashion
store with her still-wet hair.”
Having bought our attention, the poet
blows us off to the office with a parable:
“A man crawls out of an argument
with his wife (the most stolen car in the city),
begins masturbating over a fire,
teaching art &
the remnants of what beauty did
in its prime.
He pulls a fair crowd, but sure enough
once talk turns to grace & forgiveness
they lose interest & disperse.
Despondent, he hits the bottle like a demon,
quits the bank job, never works again.”
a failed hello in the supermarket aisle half-smiling we reach for the same packet as if we share some pages
pity you’re not scoping for a thin read
& here I was thinking powerdressing was some 80s throwback but there you float designer swan black plumage all clopping heels & purpose
& anyway hypothetically how long before I’d spill about the ‘best employer anyone ever had’ & the drug I take when I’m the only one in the office
yeah ok office schmoffice it’s a meth-lab sometimes you just have to eat what they give you
& yeah my flared jeans are 6 years past their use-by my shoes too chunky but no way am I ditching this gimmick t-shirt that says ‘tac-tics’ instead of you guessed it
second thoughts sorry bout the meth-lab thing that was just to freak your mother
chemical blue of the pool one hot sacred day the sun a dreaming demon clothes strewn through the house on cool tiles and carpet I want to submerge with you electrified water flecked with fidgeting light our flesh blurred slow beneath as if ghosts from the waist down our arms arcing the weight of the water beadlike bubbles fizzing on the surface your head floats to me regal like a mallard leaving a v-shape in its wake your dark-wet hair clings faithful to your neck your hand crabbing over my back you kiss like liquid our mouths pour cool streams our lips skate salt tongues slip quick and vivid we brushtouch like passing fish our flesh become sealskin we slide body off body and without warning you decide I’m a fire to contain splash and drown me digging waves with the triangle of your hands unrelenting wall upon wall until I howl for an end spray back with interest the fool that I am trying to house you bury you in waves of my making enraged like some stung vengeful seagod until we’re done clowning return to ourselves recall our nakedness how the water carries allows us to magnetise so quick to forget the burning stones at pool’s edge the buzzing pollen garden since these are but toy reflections in your eyes and we need inhabit only the inner circle that we trace with our toes as we spin the sky round on the tall axle we make with the centred sun & make our full disappearance fucking in circles together at noon
Note: This poem was written in response to this thread on Bluelight.
i.e. where sex is a form of greeting begins with the basics tits
blowjobs etc you stalk the elusive chase-thrill until chore of
the addict quest to out-gross you underperform no wonder
wonder why not bring the drugs in front of the camera the
post-shoot bloods cramps visits to quacks gynos & cashola
cut on desks in shoebox low-rent offices strewn with adult
store novelties stockpiled microwave dinners actress
ephemera industry awards
_________________matter of fact that’s been done
seek & ye shall seek what you want’s a free pass cultivating
mind dirtier than mysterious mid-rock-festival portaloo
discovered by timetravellers allegedly researching lives of
beggars & toms in 17th century london squalor
____________________________oops this was
unplanned uh whatever your day off home alone an
exercise in deletion clear browsing history clear private
data now the afterfade you mindless gutless pointless
As published in Otoliths 14, August 2009.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
schoolkids sit mutinously in the classroom thinking,
why don’t we ever learn about ____? [not audible]
not these kitschy hymns, but, like…
our screentest, advance, potential audience
all vying to jumpstart careers as enfants terribles
(“I hate speech” liquid-papered on the spine of a textbook)
& aspirants, rivals
mimic us whenever we leave the room
what we really have to talk about is where our assumptions lie
& what is supervised (here, you can have my copy of the report)
some idiot writes in to the newspaper
saying ‘we’ should be sending a tougher message on drugs
DO NOT swing on hoop / this area
is for basketball only
while out on the steps scrawny emo kids pocket dead birds,
erase a few shadows from the world
Note: "everything louder than everything else" is, firstly, part of a remark by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple from their Made in Japan live album: "Could we have everything louder than everything else?" It's also the title of a live album by Motorhead.
Monday, January 08, 2007
board the city train from Clifton Hill,
sit down opposite
blackfellas who want to make movies.
This tight crew of Kooris
they’ve got the themes:
“The contradictions, brother.
The blackfella / whitefella.”
Jim (the orator of the crew)
wants to make us wiser:
“From the heart.
It’s not about this
It’s about this”
(points to skin, heart respectively).
We’ve said this before.
We missed our target.
The dead, usually darker
inner wood of a large diameter trunk
is termed the ‘heartwood’.
I get a friendly “Who the fuck are you,
“I’m a writer.
Nah, it’s cool… not a journalist haha”
I think of Andrew Bolt’s blog
bombing its way through scar country.
“You are looking at the next gen.
of aboriginal Australians.”
“So where are you guys headed?”
“Softies… it’s a pool hall…
well, it’s kind of a strip joint”
“The whitest chicks you’ve ever seen!”
Then we’re an advertisement for alcohol,
all laughing like idiots.
‘Accomodation’ is the way we adapt
to one another in a face to face
conversation, the way my voice
soaks a little of yours, the way
we co-morph to accommodate
“History, she never sleeps,” says Jim,
like he's not changing the subject.
I’m trying to visualise
a restless history:
Blood signals the shoreline,
warding like brake lights;
shores awash with it, shallows
an unshaken cocktail.
Can a waste of blood warp
For whatever reason
I’m hearing B B King in full
to my soul...
& Jim spells out his email
(“we should hook up”)
then all 5 or 6 of them spill out
of the train
soon as it hits the city,
yelling a cloud of curses & blessings.
Jim pokes his head
back inside the door just
before it chomps automatically:
“So write me, brother.”
Notes: Koori is a word which Indigenous Australians from parts of south eastern Australia use to describe themselves. It literally means 'the young of a goat'. According to the Wikipedia entry "it is a great privilege to be named so as kid goats are full of energy and almost certainly survive childhood."
Andrew Bolt is an infamous columnist and associate editor of Melbourne tabloid the Herald Sun, for whom he also maintains a blog. He denies the existence of the stolen generations of Australian Aborigines.
Below: Eric Fischl, A visit to / A visit from / The Island