Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waterfront (2008)

subdued table

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

Meeting (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

ways out (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

The days write themselves (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.
broadcast dry static.

- The Vines, WA, 24/12/08

These bastions of quiet achievement (2008)

What can be said here?
Passing a school
& two churches,
a dozen placards
of success.
this plot of land was sold
by Candice Wellman. She
looks happy, but
what choice does she have?
Systemic smile.
Space at a premium -
fill it while you can!
All we're asking for is
sedated children,
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

Logical Positivism (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?

A Landmark (2008)

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

Dan O'Connell, Saturday 13/12/08

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

recurring poem #4

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
__midges cluster
____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;
white cars
__in this fierce light
__hurt the most.
__drives with one loose dark hand
__drives a white hot car.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vale Dorothy Porter

Dorothy Porter 1954-2008

Poet, verse novelist, lyricist, trailblazer, music lover, mentor.

unfinished liquid (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

underslept, an urban centre (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.