lunch overheated / flavourless
running the risk of being asked to leave -
___shouldn't be eating this food here
___though no sign tells us not to
the bona fide clientele stab their disapproval
___without so much as eye contact
this place swallowed by sun & ice cream kids
___boats knocking against the quay
___playground throbbing with fluro noise
a drink could make things worse
in the car park cars melting /
___wavelets shimmer on windshields
- Hilarys Boat Harbour, Perth, WA
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
You start to get a feel for what might be expected
at this level. Those around the table who
intimidate you do so only out of habit. Items
raised become a troupe of coins spun on the
tabletop; the key point for debate is the need to
move on to the next. Coughing, shrugs and
cultured laughter make for a routine
performance. In this congregation you no
longer consider yourself well-nurtured; your
assertions falter, drowned by those in smoother
humour. You are once again amazed by how
much you don't know, by your allergic response
to operational matters. You know you wouldn't
want to be left one-on-one with any of those
seated here; conversation is for others.
Continually looking to the clock for lenience,
you plan to sneak away during lunch & not
return to the room for the resumption. Your
hand trembles as you reach for a biscuit.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Don't we fear we have already left it too late? Can't bear to watch. It's not so much that the horses are whipped, but that they are used up. Running out of context. Like a good labyrinth-maker, give them ways out. As in, you can't just 'get off' the plane. Perhaps a hallucinogen capable of de-storying. No landing lights. People look well in the dark. Again primitive and unknown. Something underheard. Consider the rights of trees. That the diagram we make of the world is rooted in their architecture. The latest iteration. Despite appearances, we haven't been in this part of the complex before.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
A roadsign warns against golf buggies.
Listen: is that a shot off the fairway
or a big bloke preparing to spit?
Perhaps both. Grey roos
bound out of sandtraps.
No one is making this up. Really
the days write themselves.
There'll be people over at 5
for champagne & nibbles.
Then the Monday after the 60th bash
we'll fit in 9 holes.
Stocked up so much alcohol
the house begins to sink. And
the parrots don't want us here either.
Not as if they need our help
to be classy. Who owns this plot
of blue & cirrus sky? Flies
routinely circle the heat
of the road. 4x4s rocket past
as we retreat into slim roadside shade.
Grasshoppers broadcast dry static.
- The Vines, WA, 24/12/08
What can be said here?
Passing a school
& two churches,
a dozen placards
this plot of land was sold
by Candice Wellman. She
looks happy, but
what choice does she have?
Space at a premium -
fill it while you can!
All we're asking for is
by which we mean our own
or those seated nearby
(having paid top dollar
for these seats). "Sorry this is
such a one-sided
in fact I'm interested
in what you have thought.
I mean on a personal level.
What you think
when you're not thinking,
how you swim as you drown."
- Scarborough, WA, 23/12/08
Friday, December 19, 2008
Blind faith’s the only kind? I don’t believe that. Here intuition is the tailwind, though something injures our hearing, electrically high-pitched. The windows were closed; there was the smell of a closed room. What were we waiting for? What weren’t we waiting for? Daylight was promising. Nightlight too, but in a different way. Of course our interests are too close for us to see. What if every morning we could improvise? Unblock the air? Well, now we can. I’ll begin: “taking the usual precautions, they managed to cut her free from the car.” Soon enough we'll have a book. When will you be available?
Only at the end of our visit
as we left in the brown dawn
did we see the nuclear facility over the town,
a landmark even through fog.
We knew very little at that time;
while visiting the cancer and Alzheimer’s patients,
though glad that conversation never stalled uncomfortably,
we had no inkling of the problem.
My parents had been raised there, but said nothing.
That silence still gets handed on; warnings fail
on what can only be described as a musical level.
Once, at school, we were shown a film of the devastation,
which I understood. It haunted my mouth for years.
Even now, if I see panicked crowds running, I go down,
until some bystander revives me
with language sane in the extreme.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
On Saturday, after standing in the rain for an hour or so outside the State Library to protest the Australian government's plans to introduce mandatory internet filtering, I headed on down to the Dan O'Connell for the weekly open mic.
As a tribute to Dorothy Porter, I read the Overture from her Carmen sequence (which I posted below). This was originally featured in Driving Too Fast, her book from 1989. Then I read Drive-thru, which I originally wrote for Dorothy's creative writing class at Melbourne Uni in 1998 (Elizabeth Campbell was one of my classmates). I also read Down slow, which I'd been working on during my mentorship with Dorothy in 2007, and which she seemed to take a shine to.
The open mic was as diverse as ever. Several other poets read Dorothy Porter poems. Featured poet Anthea Bartholomeuz was impressive. I'll probably be back again some time in the new year.
Below: Reading Dorothy's poem (photo by Michael Reynolds).
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Dorothy Porter: 'Overture' from Carmen
Three days of heatwave,
A hot lid of dinning cicadas.
At night only a flock of bats lifts
__and flies across a hot scrap of moon.
Colours flow hot and slow like lava;
__the sea is never cold
__shining like the bluish basking belly
____of a snake.
Even mauve smoky twilight scratches along the skin
__behind the eyes
__like a hot thorn.
A black and white butterfly
__floats past a bright orange weed
____that flutters hungrily
______like a fly-trap.
Around an oozing broken pipe
____ogling the milky water
______that gives off a green stink.
The road is empty
__but for the bright disturbing green feathers
____of a rainbow lorikeet
______smeared across the hot bitumen.
But. Look now.
There's a white light
______glancing off the water;
a spatter of rain
hisses on the road
and wafts up
__in a dew of dust and petrol;
flecks of parrot piss float
__from a luxuriant blossoming gum;
__in this fierce light
__hurt the most.
__drives with one loose dark hand
__drives a white hot car.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
some swim beyond
reproach the water
robe the dot
orgs wear any
mud hurled sins
of omission hint
your interest more
talented bestiaries the
further back you
dig obscure lexical
artefacts hop out
of freshly printed
books to applause
our eyes snacking
on arcs aerodynamic
or otherwise such
a dull integrity
of suppressed intent
seldom smiling with
our whole body
As published in Counterexample Poetics, June 2009.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
The governing feeling is
morning, stirred vagaries,
though you are too tired to be
traffic. This part of the
world a kind of
insomnia: a car advertises
‘public speaking for
all’. Try not to overthink
the nondescript, but on this
terrain it could prove hard to
be ruthless. A fool thinks
ruthlessness trumps the best
thing you’ve understood,
and a fool is often dead.
Take this one, filling in a
health questionnaire while
driving, perhaps content,
bouncing on the brake.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
for Chet & for Simon
wine hangover not
a poet today what
mode are we in over
the road the bar where
a dead friend used to dj
‘back in the day’____where’d
the day go____?
bright artcovered laneways
get out here regularly
sit, eat on the street to
still your beating mind where
signs say enquire within____& yeah, maybe
you should _________begin
Below: corner of Gertrude & Smith streets; photo by acb.
"at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason..."
- John Keats (Letter to George & Tom Keats)
"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
- John Keats, 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
(first ‘releases’ from a sequence of seven-line poems)
‘There is no enemy.’
Remember how I howled, kicking the wind.
In at least two minds.
Magpie leaves a scratch
(As we know, paranoia’s just a heightened state
of awareness) on the forehead
If one composes on the computer
waiting fragments of sky.
Partly cloudy, tending towards the loose.
Change direction just enough
so that you will not hit other people.
How one knows to keep away, into a symbol.
So, this is how to happen…
We can always get more.
Looking for something selfish,
read the field.
‘People prefer things over people.’
‘Glad I’m not dualistic
like you guys.’
A word often repeated
Our heads lie before us.
I go hooded.
Where I come from, dessert
Want to get the goodbye
out of the way, right away.
spiritualise the cave’s belly.
Then hunger is a food.
Another has arrived,
is a droid.
Felt him moving through the flat.
Blood dries in the ear.
Look, it’s late (territory)
I take it all back.
The tearful replicant.
Where particles of the moment click in,
description is slow.
A film, a photograph
were slow to revise it.
How to 'remember with'?
Monday, November 24, 2008
I'm now a contributor to the dumbfoundry blog, which provides updates (via links and quotes) on poetry news, poetry magazines & journals, poetry blogs, etc. I've always found it's a great place to visit if you want to keep up to date with strange happenings in the poetry world.
I'm hoping to throw some items on experimental poetics and 'technologies of poetry' into the mix...
Thanks to Ivy Alvarez and the rest of the dumbfoundry team for having me aboard!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I posted a while back about potentialities for collaboration, and my fixation on the concept of the remix. As a longtime DJ and aficionado of electronic music, I'd like you to humour me on an idea which I'll call the 'remix exchange'. Basically, you take one of my poems and 'remix' it, and I'll do the same to one of yours. Sound like fun?
A remix in this context could entail anything from a gentle tweak/edit, to a fullblown overhaul, where the results bear little or no resemblance to the 'original mix'. Which elements of the original you use, and which new elements you introduce would be entirely up to you. Make it your own. Make it different. Make it danceable... or not.
Remixers can have free reign to choose from any of the poems available on this blog (including the 'found poems', which of course weren't written by me, but are words taken out of their original context and labeled poems). Be warned: you'll come across some scary monsters the further back through the blog archives you go. And I wouldn't necessarily expect the same free reign in return - naturally, you could nominate the poem(s) you're willing to have remixed. As a starting point, maybe you have something that's been gathering dust on your cutting room floor, or some abandoned poem that's left you at a loss? And by the way, of course the right to publish the remix would reside with you (I wouldn't want your name to be associated with something you didn't like).
And, what the hell, let's open this up to artists other than poets too: prose writers, musicians, visual artists, spoken word performers who shudder at the word 'poetry'... Whatever your chosen artistic platform(s), I'd love for us to have a crack at reworking each other's experiments, incorporating the source material as we see fit.
So, hit me up with a comment or an email if you're up for it...
Saturday, November 15, 2008
These trees are too neat! – we left them
where they were. Next, & forgetting 'the
endless text manipulates by fatigue', we
fall awake: city’s tough & blue. Boys on
the tram singing madeup unruly songs of
girls they broke, replete with names. Let
them be collected, like that will happen.
My jetlag was cranky. Bit you in the
ear, no message left. Now check for our
current location. Two rooms of
techno, we fall awake. News enters
through the mouth. The gods are back,
replete with names. Let them be
collected, endless text. We just
left them where they were. The digital
planet – which is that? Here we must
force ourselves to breathe. Oh, we’re
both writers here, soak this up while
raiding 'the commons'. Which planet is
that? Tough & blue? Now I'm confused. I
am not alone. We’re both writers raiding
the commons. Here, a handbook on
optics. Soak this up. These trees are too
neat! Are our bays radioactive? I’m now
confused. Hold down Ctrl when we get
ahead. Consider the difficulty of that
request. Codes for living in were quickly
devised. Neat trees are in our blood.
We must force ourselves to breathe.
Below: street art in East Village, New York City. Photo by Annamarie Tendler.
Note: from plaque accompanying a statuette of a Buddhist monk at the National Gallery of Victoria – International Collection.
Note: as posted by grillparzerkarma on Bluelight, 27-11-2005.
Below: Ted Berrigan by Alex Katz.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Some more publication news just to hand: my poem pollen will be published in the January edition of Frame Lines, which refers to itself as 'a non-profit organisation showcasing the best creative work - music, photography, illustration and much [more] from around the world'.
I have a lot of respect for what Sarah Nolan and the rest of the Frame Lines team are doing, and I'm sure you will too if you spend some time perusing the magazine.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
The latest edition of Bambikino has just been released online. The 'physical' mag can also be picked up at Handsome Steve's House of Refreshment, and a few other places around Melbourne.
3 of my poems are featured: Charisma, drowse and chapel st. I love how Charisma has been formatted - some of the text wrapping opens up polysemy in quirky ways. There's also a cool piece by Monique Miller and images by Sudeep Lingamneni.
Thanks go to Cameron Miller for his excellent work on the mag, and to Chris Clarke for the original heads-up.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
How we will do our usual thing,
Key it into the system of a day.
Children love patterns of any kind
But find it difficult to swim in pairs.
Ruthless, caffeine-blind, we shove
through galleries and museums.
The haunting moment of the song approaches:
The apples swell as they drink sweet water.
"We must renounce these traditions," you say,
"Lest our eyes grow dry with thirst."
I do not hold exits; I give you what I hold.
A poem: clothing pieced from detritus
Of this, most fragile of the perfect worlds.
Held together with a thread of breath.
Note: 'The apples swell as they drink the sweet water' : Pablo Neruda, from Sonnet V in Cien Sonetos de Amor (100 Love Sonnets).
Monday, November 03, 2008
"I also want to say that there are no rules. At least not at first there aren't. If you start with rules, you've really got a tough road. What I think is that you start with materials. You start with matter, not with rules. The rules appear, the limitations appear, and those are your limitations and the limitations of the material."
- Clark Coolidge, from Arrangement
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
E.E.Cummings : Pity this busy monster, manunkind
(read by Ed F, video and music produced by Lila Sakura)
pity this busy monster, manunkind, not. Progress is a comfortable disease: your victim (death and life safely beyond) plays with the bigness of his littleness --- electrons deify one razorblade into a mountainrange; lenses extend unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish returns on its unself. ___________________________-A world of made is not a world of born --- pity poor flesh and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this fine specimen of hypermagical ultraomnipotence. We doctors know a hopeless case if --- listen: there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I'll be performing some poems on radio this Friday (31st of October), sometime between 12:30 and 1:30pm AEST. I'll be making my second appearance on Barry Ponchard's weekly show on 3WBC, which features upbeat jazz and live readings by local writers.
I have a couple of poems in mind, but I'm open to requests!
If you're in Melbourne, set your dial to 94.1FM. Otherwise you can stream the station live at http://www.3wbc.org.au.
For those who miss it, I'll endeavour to record the segment and make it available here, just like last time.
another day down
pixel candy holding up your blood
clutter the morning
afternoon ceded to
pixel candy hunt
(she has thighs pre-glows defenceless)
music does not enter
(occasionally filling notebooks with sludge)
go out for medication
to maintain radio silence
music does not enter
skin up with unmailed letters
tobacco laced with hair
also to maintain radio silence
everything so well-connected:
(is singing in the wires)
pain shoots up your street into your mouth
holding up your blood
all else fails
look to bright futures:
cherish armoured children /
inhabit unwatched film /
sit low on the totem
mark this unread
Saturday, October 18, 2008
To be shy & low
is not a way –
do not depend on this
… as a state,
nor hug doorways of the flat
smoking like a trap.
Why intent on shutting down
while the bulk of us still shake it?
& what, this is where you do your
talking – here, in the poem?
But your kindred are out soaring –
boy, you should slip into town!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
My poem Down slow (song of samsara) has been nominated by Jill Chan, editor of Poetry Sz, for inclusion in the forthcoming anthology Best of the Web 2009, published by DZANC Books.
This poem was one of three poems published in Poetry Sz during 2007/08 to be submitted to the editors for possible inclusion in the anthology.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Waiting for a response
waiting for a grip on what’s dripping by
& to easily receive
but you are all
silent as lice.
and aiming for
of your lungs.
Thank you for listening.
How to travel within
rethink my clothes
to head into town
but town is gone,
is just photos
& then who am I
heading into town –
some ornamental ghost?
In my ignorance I
will measure my cloud-head against you.
Sorry to have to meet like this.
Who amongst you
know how to receive same?
Check your source code,
Only this is what I want
to learn; shoot books
in my arm.
Though before we spin despair
in dead syntax
additional purchases may be necessary.
A mind always
celestial is no mind at all –
I found pills and ate them.
I am looking at everything as material
but through material
to reach something
I thought of you, and knew.
The internet is watching.
I have evolved,
Flutter & clap your fear
like the national anthem.
It was good to hear from you;
time to let you go.
Below: Lego interpretation of Escher's Relativity by Andrew Lipson.
Federico Garcia Lorca: New York (Office and Denunciation)
To Fernando Vela
Under the multiplications,
a drop of duck's blood;
under the divisions,
a drop of sailor's blood;
under the additions, a river of tender blood.
A river that sings and flows
past bedrooms in the boroughs -
and it's money, cement, or wind
in New York's counterfeit dawn.
I know the mountains exist.
And wisdom's eyeglasses,
too. But I didn't come to see the sky.
I'm here to see the clouded blood,
the blood that sweeps machines over waterfalls
and the soul toward the cobra's tongue.
Every day in New York, they slaughter
four million ducks,
five million hogs,
two thousand pigeons to accommodate the tastes of the dying,
one million cows,
one million lambs,
and two million roosters
that smash the sky to pieces.
It's better to sob while honing a blade
or kill dogs on the delirious hunts
than to resist at dawn
the endless milk trains,
the endless blood trains
and the trains of roses, manacled
by the dealers in perfume.
The ducks and the pigeons,
and the hogs and the lambs
lay their drops of blood
under the multiplications,
and the terrified bellowing of the cows wrung dry
fills the valley with sorrow
where the Hudson gets drunk on oil.
I denounce everyone
who ignores the other half,
the half that can't be redeemed,
who lift their mountains of cement
where the hearts beat
inside forgotten little animals
and where all of us will fall
in the last feast of pneumatic drills.
I spit in all your faces.
The other half hears me,
devouring, pissing, flying in their purity,
like the supers' children in lobbies
who carry fragile twigs
to the emptied spaces where
the insect antennae are rusting.
This is not hell, but the street.
Not death, but the fruit stand.
There is a world of tamed rivers and distances just beyond our grasp
in the cat's paw smashed by a car,
and I hear the earthworm's song
in the hearts of many girls.
Rust, fermentation, earth tremor.
You yourself are the earth as you drift in office numbers.
What shall I do now? Set the landscapes in order?
Order the loves that soon become photographs,
that soon become pieces of wood and mouthfuls of blood?
No, no: I denounce it all.
I denounce the conspiracy
of these deserted offices
that radiate no agony,
that erase the forest's plans,
and I offer myself as food for the cows wrung dry
when their bellowing fills the valley
where the Hudson gets drunk on oil.
- Federico Garcia Lorca, 1930, from Poet in New York, translated by Greg Simon & Steven F White.
Below: Federico Garcia Lorca, Self-portrait in New York
Sunday, October 12, 2008
A closer look – cycling 'brings us closer to the landscape'. Streak of a roadkilled rainbow lorrikeet. How to get hushed.
Sunken face. All craved out. What variety of blues.
We don't do truth here. Look busy; act well-briefed. This fails like all double disguises.
Continue. Despite. Recoil.
A poem irreducible to paraphrase. A retreat, a shelter. Extracting voice from voice.
A love of chemical. Bugs me. What is meant by 'once' in 'just this once'.
Wake late. In bed you soft like a towel; I play apologist. ‘Define vanilla,’ you said.
You binned old photos - friends smiling back at me, bathing in foodscraps. You were blocked, needed to purge unneeded objects. Clearing your throat.
A fatal itch. What we seek we already have. Voice that insists, “You’ll be closer when you’ve covered all these.”
Hard to get anything done here. Let’s get lost at home. Smear memory across tiles.
Ok, so I signed up for NaNoWriMo. This means I will be writing a novel of at least 50,000 words during November. God help me...
My decision was partly inspired by the previous post on this blog. I expect the novel will dovetail into prose poetry at inopportune moments. So who knows, maybe I'll post some extracts on here? Don't hold me to that, by the way...
If you'd like to monitor my progress or buddy up for the ride, here's my NaNoWriMo profile.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Before I headed off overseas in June, I was one of nine foodies who wrote reviews for The Melbourne Veg Food Guide, which is now available from aduki independent press.
Whether you're vegetarian, vegan, an omnivore partial to veg food, or just looking for places to take vegetarian/vegan friends or relatives, this is an invaluable resource. It covers restaurants, cafes, fast food and more. So do yourself a favour and order a copy!
To the best of my knowledge it's the first of its kind in Melbourne, and I was proud to be involved in the project. Thanks to Lisa Dempster and Emily Clark for all your devotion to the cause.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
lining up outside Sugar Lounge under
conspicuous surveillance parasols rope
barriers please leave all attitudes at home
as if getting past brick of a bouncer wasn’t
enough gender selection no hoodies immediate
access for the ‘club babe’ persona you
refuse to cultivate remaining true to
your otherness /
_____________a studied ugliness no
sportswear of any description no
entry for all-male groups down the
rabbithole a privilege no guarantees
non-members turned away (with the
exception of cool clubwear) we’re on
the guest list can you pick the plus-one
self-proclaimed doorbitch smiles us in
(average spend on alcohol £32.70)
(more for males) first we’d better
define conspicuous consumption
designer shoes ok /
_______________lucky we know Jim
the promoter & Zane the DJ’s a 16yo
prodigy of course he’s not allowed to buy
himself a drink /
_____________these clubs like comic strips
thought balloons packed in tight many
frames to a page club drugs & drug clubs
Britain’s night-time economy (NTE) the
flawless cocktail at £35,000 a pop consists of
a large measure of Louis XII Cognac half a
bottle of Cristal champagne brown sugar
angostura bitters flakes of edible 24-carat gold leaf
& at the bottom of the crystal glass
an 11-carat white diamond ring
Note: This poem owes a debt to Phil Hadfield's article 'From Threat to Promise: Nightclub 'Security', Governance and Consumer Elites' in the British Journal of Criminology, and his presentation at the Club Health conference, Ibiza 2008.
I love you plot how you
gratify our need for
change when afraid
to act too schooled
across pavement this
bad wind splits
our bones we
don’t enjoy ourselves
gamblers & drunkards
our teachers were we
trade old jealousies
internally debate cause
of our sorrowed lot oh
class of ’94 we
have not made it we
have failed at difference
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The West controlled the U-Bahn. Underground train lines passed under the wall at certain points. Passenger trains from the West would pass through 'ghost stations' in the East, never stopping at these.
The communications tower spiking out of Alexanderplatz still casts the old omniscient spell at night, red eyelets flashing over the grey grid below. Socialist system a torn web still dangling from housing blocks, the eastern Ratthaus. In the former GDR, kids were herded into group potty sessions to sow the seeds of collectivism.
Chunks of city scattered amongst derelict blocks, may never be de-fragged. Temples falling into disuse. Underground clubs in abandoned vaults and warehouses; strobes spray lightning on sweat, shaved heads, concrete.
One dark dividing wall to split the brain of a city. Graffiti coats the surviving segments.
The opening of the wall was a bureaucratic slip – a rogue document inserted to sabotage the machinery. Paper jam. At the press conference, without pausing to consider the words or their meaning, the official read out the memo.
Published in Shadowtrain #23, October 2009.
Some Buddhist am I
compulsively, & smoke
& I could write
the saddest poems of all
but you may never hear them
they are so quiet.
Let me be the poet asking,
‘how should each creature remember
to be happy?’
or ‘how will the fibres
of my book
flag a way out of suffering?’
Though writing lines like
‘what love there is to give
I have not given’ –
that is no way
or is it?
How to begin
… there must be
before the sun goes.
It's been over 4 months since I posted anything here, which is the longest gap I've left between posts since early 2005.
Monica and I have been travelling around Europe for the last 3 months, but now we're back home in Melbourne.
I did write a few things while travelling, so I'll gradually post those up, along with news of upcoming events, etc.
It's good to be back...
Friday, May 16, 2008
"This state of confusion is never made comprehensible by being given a plot,
in the same way a complicated plot is only further complicated by being simplified..."
- Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, 'Empathy'
Below: Lunar mapping images from the US Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Research Program, sourced from Generator.x.
Monday, May 12, 2008
(after the 1968 George A Romero film)
Boarding up all windows and doors, using whatever we can find. Breaking up furniture. Lock ourselves inside the house. An excuse to break taboos. The sick little girl turns into a zombie, consumes her dead father’s flesh, then stabs her mother repeatedly with a cement trowel, killing her. The moral to the story: don’t make fun of the dead, especially in a cemetery. They have us outnumbered. Tom & Judy burn to death when a gasoline spillage causes their car to catch fire. Zombies feast on their barbecued flesh. Recall a fast food advertisement, the glowing family trying to out-excite each other across the table. If you’re waiting for the real enemy to show up, damn it, you’ll be waiting all night. If we lock ourselves in the cellar there’ll be no way out. What, you think it’s sexual? The deep, glossy black of blood in black & white films. Reflective liquid. You won’t find a better man than a black man. Trust you to mistake him for a zombie… Disaster in the middle of nowhere; a haunting lack of sirens. There’s always a token naked zombie whenever we see them marauding as a group. Not even thinly veiled. The radio & TV emergency announcements are so, so camp: “Thousands of office and factory workers are being urged to stay at their places of employment, not to make any attempt to get to their homes. ” Shoot on sight. A situation where ‘anything’ can be justified, or where justification is moot. We see a slap across the face on screen; it matters that it’s simulated? She’s hysterical & therefore of no use to us. You have to laugh: it’s a horror flick. The zombies massing to devour the woman, leaning in, stretching their hands through holes in the wall. We know a ghoulish hand when we see one – but how? The zombies are hideously slow, but strong enough to overturn a car. Thankfully they can be fended off with fire. Walking political allegories. The men have an argument about the best options for staying alive until help arrives. You call these survival instincts? An abject failure of the system.
A previous version of this poem was published in Otoliths 14, August 2009.
Night of the Living Dead on IMDb.
Friday, May 09, 2008
poor sad masculinity. spend the whole day jerking off. would opt out if you could. what awaits discovery here? no black gold. what's a man without it? downing a slab of mid-strength. what’re a few uncried tears? while diving in ink. don’t bother looking down there. it's nothing, always nothing. who’s alpha? is this what you have left to offer? even your pen refuses to write. the bastard. what you will resort to. you shop around. in hell's name. for endgames. is speed chess the game for you? they queue for your time. ‘not for sale’ sticker attracts attention. you’d love to crack. somewhere bright & crowded. with family units. michael douglas in falling down. a good career move. tear their smiles off. c’mon you’re far too meek. take it out on an ornament. assault by proxy. hurl down a galaxy of glass.
As published in Otoliths 14, August 2009.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Otoliths 9 is now fully operational.
Two of my poems are there, plus stuff from Adam Fieled, David-Baptiste Chirot, Michael Farrell, Douglas Barber, Sheila E. Murphy, Jeff Harrison, Raymond Farr, Eileen Tabios, Geof Huth & many others.
Go see for yourself... enjoy!
Monday, April 28, 2008
"Only fragments are accurate."
- from My Life by Lyn Hejinian.
Friday, April 25, 2008
A recording of my readings on local radio station 3WBC is now available for download (as two mp3 files) from here.
To download the files, click on the orange 'DOWNLOAD FILE' buttons at the bottom of the page (you may have to scroll down to see them).
In the first part I read Drive-thru and Vipassana; in the second part I read stem and Self-portrait (with wires, city & no clothes).
Thanks again to host Barry Ponchard for having me on his show, and to Monica for doing such a great job with the recording!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I'll be reading some poems on radio this Friday (25th of April), sometime between 12:30 and 1:30pm AEST. I'll be appearing on Barry Ponchard's weekly show on 3WBC, which features upbeat jazz and live readings by local writers.
If you're in Melbourne, set your dial to 94.1FM. Otherwise you can stream the station live at http://www.3wbc.org.au.
For those who miss it, I'll endeavour to get a recording and make it available here.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
no one takes his leaflets –
why? because it’s raining?
is a lot of information
tense as glass this morning
as he sits to meditate
subtle sensations of vipassana:
his hand will not destroy
even the smallest creatures
that his hand lacks teeth
naked he stands,
a book in each hand
smiling, shaping to accept
he enters the rain
I've been 'coming out of the woodwork' recently, and heading out to a few gigs.
A few weeks back I went along to hear Elizabeth Campbell, Petra White and Claire Gaskin (and others) reading at Fed Square for International Women's Day. That was a treat - they're all excellent poets.
And a couple of weeks ago I went down to the Dan O'Connell on a Saturday afternoon for the first time in... like... years, to celebrate the birthday of Carmen Main, who was also one of the featured poets. By her own admission her poetry has come along in leaps and bounds in recent times, and she's definitely one to watch for the future. I really enjoyed her set, which mainly consisted of love poems that were lyrical but direct (very contemporary). I got in on the open mic, reading apology and I will not carry.
And just two nights ago I was at the Boroondara Soirée, which happens every two months in the Hawthorn Town Hall's art gallery space. Matt Hetherington is the regular MC, and guests on this particular night were musician Ned Collette and the one and only Emilie Zoey Baker, one of Melbourne's very best performance poets. I enjoyed their respective sets, and the open mic threw up a few surprises too. I read Vipassana.
So yeah... I'm planning to head to some more gigs over the coming weeks, so who knows, we may cross paths. Next stop the Spinning Room...
This blog recently clocked up 5000 visitors.
Thanks for reading...!
As always I'll try to keep up my end of the bargain, but I'm struggling to find the time to post/write poems at the moment, what with work and teaching commitments. I might manage a couple more posts today, though.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The winners of the inaugural Overland Magazine Judith Wright Poetry Prize for new and emerging poets were announced last night at Readings Carlton. Congrats to the winner, Georgina Bailey, and the runners-up, Roberta Lowing and Julie Chevalier.
My poem 'Art, Life and The Other Thing' (first of the Three Brett Whiteleys) was amongst those commended by the judge, John Leonard (outgoing Overland poetry editor, not to be confused with the other John Leonard, renowned anthologist and founder of John Leonard Press). Congrats also to the other commended poets.
Full details of the prize, winning and commended poems are now online at the Overland website.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This should be easy to enter, like a building. Not that all buildings are easy to enter, but the idea that they could (or should?) be. "The complexity of philosophy is not in its subject matter, but in our knotted understanding." Ha.
Philosophy unties the knots in our thinking, not unlike a holiday which doesn’t include a single digital component. Our thinking became less mushy once we exited the city. For a moment our bodies felt lighter than notions. A tingling of safety. But ads gave chase, behaving as do subatomic particles, which the physicist can only know by inference. They surfaced even in the most private of spaces: the pimples of the tongue, the shield of the retina. There was no longer a question of where – therefore escape had no meaning. There were arguments already and we needed other channels of conversation to erupt.
No amount of reading will ever be ‘enough’. This does not require a diagram.
It wasn’t the effect I wanted; this made me especially happy. Inelegant code. Widely-circulated propaganda: shots of webs supposedly threaded by spiders in various states of intoxication. Two flat whites. Dark promise of an uncharted mineshaft. Or open-source; an open-cut mine.
Overheard: "... your money where your myth is." The study of contemporary mythology. Where science ends, where we begin... to feel... unspoken? We can only hope.
Too many artists (moths) at this 'soirée'. Their code is elegant. Pretty in black, sloganesque. To be one of them, one of theirs. Shaping to be unexpectable.
We take smoke-roads out of town, until we rise from morning meditation. A doubt: were we meditating this time, or waiting? To think is to stray. Slipped and cut. The mind is overcharged, wades in all the gone and unwritten. But to return to the point… return after return is the practice. Returning to the one point is the practice.
Notes: "The complexity of philosophy is not in its subject matter, but in our knotted understanding" and "Philosophy unties the knots in our thinking": Ludwig Wittgenstein, as quoted in Anthony Kenny, Wittgenstein, Allen Lane, 1973.
An earlier version of this piece was published in otoliths 12.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"I can remember one occasion when I lived out in the countryside in a rented cottage and there was a big old piece of paper in a cupboard. It was a large-scale surveyor's map of the fields nearby. I needed a big piece of paper to write on and I wrote this very long piece which I then, over some time, chopped down, chopped down, chopped down until it was very short."
- Kelvin Corcoran (in conversation with Peterjon Skelt), Prospect into Breath
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Sapless days. We should be wasting time,
talked-about. Shamed into games
of silences as we grow older,
our mouths shaping zeroes. But come,
this is an age of prose! So, a
grandiloquent party at the summer palace.
We accept its maze: corridors at random,
sunrooms of caprice. Morning
decanted through, heat hard
at the windows. Come wrap
the throat of a vase with the blue boa.
Viola music. In the fernery you say
what a pity it is that beauty lifts
so early. Blood beats
on our underchin and palms.
1. moving targets
what goes here
where everything emphasised
sun barely fitting through
(how to de-advertise?)
______if buying surprise
how to not be irritated?
is it we’re more ourselves
in writing? _________(these super-questions…)
we keep interrupted
sometimes we let the world/room fall away,
the ‘better’ word is patient & waits
we jump state
_____________________we’re old nouns
but softcopies also
_____-our heads slip in the wet
(this the sleep between the shell of the seed)
we cross a ravine by way of a fallen pine trunk,
still panicked by multiple senses of ‘lie’
___________a chance to re-read
______we know only a few basic words
____________of this other language
_____________________________we are making.
3. filmic glow
we bend the light, pack it down
that constant act,
technology’s very joke
when the day melts,
__________________-tired of ideas,
___________-spills easy complaint
we love & hate poets as they love & hate
________________-(truth arrives late
these works we forever talk of writing, but never
‘truly major motion picture’,
__________-how we feel after that
_______________________film nursing / injuring
________________this has been... needing
Friday, February 29, 2008
"[John Ashbery] seems to fear too much coherence as being a form of dishonesty or falseness ... [because] an orderly syntax sometimes forces the poet to lie, to say easy things that he had not intended." - Stephen Stepanchev describing John Ashbery in Modern American Poetry Since 1945 (sourced from Samizdat Blog).
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Collaboration is a topic which has been, well, bugging me a lot lately: I keep waking with the thought, ‘we poets need to collaborate more, dammit!’ Not just with other poets, but with creators from other fields, from far and wide. There’s no doubt that recent technological advances have opened many doors for artistic collaboration, but I still feel the potential is largely untapped. I’ve been involved in collaborative blogs in the past, but I have three other pet projects in this vein:
1. Harnessing the potential of wikis for online collaboration between poets, as well as other writers/creators.
2. Thieving an approach/technique from electronic music, namely remixing (where any number of other writers are given license to remix an original piece, with the results being published side by side... or not). I've tried this out once with a friend, and thought it worked well. The crux of this one is feeling comfortable about someone else 'messing' with your work, and maybe transforming it into something very different from what you'd originally intended.
3: Videopoetry, in the tradition of the mind-flexing music clips you see on Rage at 2am, being a collaboration between poet(s), scriptwriter(s), filmmaker(s), musician(s), kitchen sink(s), and maybe someone with one of those ‘managerial’ brains to make the whole thing come together.
Also, for a long time I've been wanting to collaborate with a visual artist / painter / photogapher, writing poems based on their work, and/or having them producing artwork based on my poems... which isn't to say that other poets couldn't also be involved. There's plenty of potential to play games with this kind of arrangement, where maybe you collaborate on a work bit by bit, reacting to different stages of drafting/creation, with the ability to lead the collaboration in a new direction, or follow the lead of your collaborative partner on a particular idea or effect...
Anyone interested to take part in one or more of these ideas? If so, post a comment, or email me (my email's available in my Blogger profile).
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
lemon, water, sun, saliva
day spins into hubcap
drowsed / stun-gun sun
so coloured up, the crave district
"... you fkn loser ..."
overdress & fuzz with desire
rear denim of 2 thin boys-in-love
street smokes, spits
what a postcard
someone's nonna sucks from KFC cup
fume of Marlboro
Natasha is a party
cross against lights phone clammed to ear
our waiter = pretentious wanker
the pointing tongue
coffee versus boredom
An earlier version of this poem was published in bambikino 9, November 2008.
It takes minutes to leave the city. But to leave the city, mentally…
There are always nervous questions prior to departure. You must peel these off.
See this industrial district? It has fled nature.
Likewise I sometimes believe writing is an avoidance; you opt for a conversation with yourself. Living very far apart.
The houses have satellite dishes as standard; ears to the wind. Powerline towers, like posts of an enormous fence. These are and are not life-conductors.
Fields in which to expand, cease? As if cities were centres of forgetting. Gazing out the window, I swim the wild grass.
Published in Shadowtrain #23, October 2009.
Below: 'Powersource' by Patrice Lynne Young
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Received word from Mark Young the other day that 2 of my poems (post-rock and ny dream) will show up in issue 9 of Otoliths, which happens to be one of my favourite e-zines.
Issue 8 recently went live. Definitely check it if you're into experimental &/or visual poetry.
tabs on what others are
doing perhaps leaving
you sipping the wake of
their excellence so
time to rethink the tint
of your calling card &
all manoeuvres as
action stalling tactics
you were always a
next time boy your
room off-limits to
the living its abject
stuffiness sock stenches
those unwanted wanted
things your hibernation
hoard & feigning
upheavals to buy more
time to yourself the
retreat into trivia to
dull & dilute this
As published in Thirteen Myna Birds, September 2009.
madness collects behind your ears
you might do some writing
you think you could be Hitchcock on Hitchcock
after all we have no qualms speaking for them
(the revered dead)
the arced arrows suggest they could swap places
as post-death it becomes a question of editing
epitomising naturalness of artifice
but this hurts you
fights the grain
of your practice of living
i.e. thicker absorption
i.e. there really is an apple after all
& also driving on wrong side of road
where possible, where impossible
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Received some great news last week: one of my poems, Down slow (song of samsara), will be featured in the March edition (#25) of Jill Chan's e-zine Poetry Sz: demystifying mental illness.
I strongly recommend checking out the previous issues. There's high-quality work all the way back through the archives, and the theme of the e-zine gives it a tight focus, while allowing for as many different voices and poetic approaches as there are manifestations of mental illness.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
"If we continue in our mindful observation there will no longer be a duality between observer and observed."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
We have always been as weightless as this.
Our modest collection of questions.
Holes full of nets; nets full of holes.
No waiting: all things are present.
Eye observes itself.
As published in The Cartier Street Review, February 2009.
... first of a series of poems by (very significant) others, selected for properties of recurrence / return.
Robert Creeley: The Skeleton
The element in which they live,
the shell going outward until
it never can end, formless,
seen on a clear night as stars,
the term of life given them
to come back to, down to,
and then to be in
themselves only, only skin.
Robert Creeley (1926-2005)
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
i like what is happening________________-(a wet painting)
this body______________-_-_________breathing others
oversleeping________________a haze and smile to things
faces gift_____________-______seductions glow restless
and i cried today_________--_-_______________easily
i go where words are________-_______--(no shortage felt)