Sunday, May 27, 2012

Poems in the wild #11

Poem #11 (nine of diamonds) was released in the lit crit section at Carlton Books (we think that's what it's called, anyway. You know, the 2nd hand bookshop on Swanston Street? That one.)

There was a rather attractive bearded man loitering in the literature section with a Virginia Woolf in hand, but he didn't pick up the poem. Those bearded men, who knows what they'll do next.

Upside down over morning coffee
my lips are quiet, ear to table.
You rise - cannot stop to fill a
moment but race to rape the
landscape of new and next.
No time to search a new town for
ciabatta and lemons
Only paper ink and glue and another
man's practice of praise and blame.
You absorbed and absolved
every phrase moves you. Your mouth
eats tears. But the birds outside
do not know of your conquests.
The wind inscribes the lake with
patterns that are not words.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to sell baby clothes on eBay and not get too nostalgic

I keep seeing the baby on the Jolly Jumper box out of the corner of my eye. It's not just that his facial expression is somewhat reminiscent of a blow-up doll.

Alright, that's all it is.

Given that I'm not having any more babies, I've been selling all Luka's all baby stuff on eBay. Word to the wise, that shit is the shit. Admittedly, I did keep pretty much everything, and I have been selling kids clothes on eBay for a while before now (thanks, Savers). But not having to outlay for all the stock has been pretty good, I've made over $800 profit just from Luka's stash.

I have my own little rules for selling old baby clothes on eBay.

First, take a scalpel and sever the memories of your baby from the more valuable items. Specifically, if you have any Seed, Fred Bare, Ralph Lauren, Bebe, PureBaby, Grobag, Eeni Meeni Mini Moe, oh I could go on. Suffice to say, if you have a reasonable label, imagine your tiny googly tiny perfect tiny baby never looked cute in it, and instead imagine the quite nice quiet dinner in a restaurant without your strapping filthy "I WON'T and you can't MAKE me" 4 year old it could buy you.

Rule number two: Wash the item of clothing and de-stain it as much as possible, and dry it flat. Lay it out on a white sheet in natural light, and take a pretty photo. Fold down one sleeve in a devil-may-care manner, if you're feeling wild.

Rule number three: Keep your descriptions short and formatted. I have a template for my listings that basically runs like this:

Brand: [insert]
Description: [Keep it brief and try not to be too embarrassed about the exclamation marks. Eg. "This lovely boys romper features a dragon motif and is striped in blue and red. Fastens at shoulders and crotch with studs. So cute for winter! Winter is coming!"]
Material: [insert, eg: cotton/acrylic/polyester/steel mesh]
Condition: [If there's nothing really wrong with it, I go with "Excellent secondhand condition, no faults." Amend as necessary, eg "Very good secondhand condition, overall light pilling, one hole (neatly repaired) due to dire wolf incident"]
Size: [I always say "This item is tagged a size [insert]. If you require any further measurements, please ask." That way if the tag says 00 but it's based on Hodor-sized babies, you're covered.]

Rule number four: Have a returns policy. Mine basically says if I missed something then it's my fault and we can bargain. If it doesn't fit as your baby isn't Tyrion it's your fault and you should have asked because who knew things are tagged different sizes in different lands. If someone kicks a major hissy I usually just refund them, as the reputation of my house is more valuable than $5.50.

Rule number five: If you can, list about 20 items at a time, have them all end at close-together bidding-friendly times (eg. weekends late morning or after kiddy bed time or just after a battle), and mix good brand listings with ordinary stuff so that people, as I do myself, will think "Well, I'm bidding on this one quality item, I may as well fill up a Postpak to the full 500g to get my money's worth."

Rule number six: Post stuff fast. No one likes a Bastard Slow.

That baby is still looking at me, from the cardboard box of the Jolly Jumper.

I do remember Luka bouncing about in it. Incidentally, it kept us both happy in the same room for long periods, I played loud Beatles music while singing along and listing stuff on eBay, and he jumped about in the doorway in a puddle of his own drool, gurling the lyrics along with me in his own curious language. Possibly Dothraki.

But it's just a thing. It's a thing I don't need, and a thing that can make me money that I do need.

When I need more stuff to sell, or better quality brands to blend in with the Target/K-Mart stuff left in the current tub of Luka-clothes, we get on the bus together, as we've done since before he was born, and we go to Savers. Instead of being a swimmer in a belly, or a baby in a pram playing with a plastic Savers coathanger, these days he keeps himself happy in the toy section blaring up and down with a toy truck while I flick through the brands on the racks.

And when I've gathered together a stroller-handle-load of stuff to sell, I tell him to pick which toy he wants to take home that day, as they're cheap as proverbials.

He always picks the biggest toy car possible, one that he can't hold on his own lap even all the way back to the bus stop.

And we pay the $5 for it, get on the bus, and go back home.

In the mornings and evenings when he's asleep or away, I list the Savers stuff and our own old stuff on eBay.

Next week, some other baby might be dancing in a doorway to Twist 'n' Shout.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

NYE V-Line

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m about to embark on a four-hour train trip home from Every Country Town You’ve Ever Visited.  It’s been a few years since my buttocks have graced the Scotch-Guarded seats of a V-line dog-box. I’m pleased to find that the seats are still Scotch-Guarded (it saves me Scotch-Guarding my arse), and that blue, disposable head-bibs still adorn each seat-back, eager to absorb the scalp sweat and dandruff-paste molasses of the masses. 

I’m saddened to find that the carriages do still smell like a joyous marriage of elderly banana and elderly citizen.  

My mother has spent the morning singing coulda-shoulda-wouldas about the finer points of her Christmas potato salad.

“I should have bought the spuds from Safeway. The ones at Coles always look all right, don’t they? And then they’re just a bit floury. Do you think if I’d cooked them the day before they would have held together better? Next time I think I’ll cut them into halves instead of quarters, before I cook them. Do they cook much slower if they’re twice as big, do you think?”

I don't appear to be expected to answer any of these questions. By the time my train arrives at the platform, the glaze across my eyes is rivalled only by that of Sunday’s Christmas ham. “Sounds like a plan. Make sure you keep me updated on the potatoes, Mum.”

I heft my bag up towards the overhead luggage rack, misjudge the distance and perform a special manouvre known as “Trying Not To Drop Your Twenty Kilo Suitcase Onto Your Head While Simultaneously Making A Noise Like Brian Blessed In Heat”. Having achieved the requisite skinned knuckles and pinched nerve in my lower back, I tenderly lay my suitcase on the floor instead. I then tenderly kick it in the handle, and tenderly shove it as hard as I can into the far wall.

I settle my vulnerable bottom onto the impregnable seat and wait until the aged foam moulds perfectly to my weight. Once I can feel the tip of an errant spring hovering dangerously close to my anal sphincter, I know I am in position for the trip. I pull out my book. I have nothing to do and no children to look after for a whole four hours. Apart from the threat of having my rectum perforated by an industrial strength Slinky, it’s the perfect situation.

The sliding door of the compartment opens and a woman with a toddler bustles in, multiple plastic bags swinging from each of her elbows. I glance up from my book, and immediately recognise her from primary school. Fuck. It's Courtney Creeley.  Teacher-biter; prep-kicker; hurler of fists; swears of a calibre only matched by Deadwood twenty years later. There’s no polite way to say it, Courtney Creeley had been a complete and utter child-cyclone.

An atheist prayer: Please don’t remember me please don’t remember me please don’t remember me just because I’ve had the same hairstyle since primary school I can’t look that similar –

“Went to Abbey Street Primary, didn’t you?”


I look up. “Sorry?”

“Abbey Street. I was a year below you. Courtney Creeley.”

“Oh right, yeah, I went to Abbey Street.”

“Small world.” The town we are in has 700 people. I nod. Courtney hefts the toddler onto her lap, and drags a water-filled baby bottle from one of her many plastic bags. “You be good and quiet, right, sweet girl?” she says to the already silent toddler. The little girl nods, accepts the bottle, and continues to fiddle with a weathered plastic frog. I look back to my book. “You goin all up to Melbourne?” says Courtney.

I look up again. “Yeah, I live there now.”

“You workin?”

“Yeah, I work in a library.” I hesitate. The words in my book are reaching up to me like snakes from a basket, coiling hypnotically around my eyeballs and dragging my gaze back down to the page. I just want to read my book. “You live in Melbourne now too?” I say politely.

“Sort of,” says Courtney. “I been all over the place the last couple of years. Got pregnant with this one two years ago, I was fucked up. Drink, drugs, you name it. Fucked.”

I look longingly down at my book, and then meet Courtney’s eyes again. She nods. “Mum took me in hand, laid down the fucken law. Said I had to give all that shit up quicksmart if she wanted me to look after the baby. So I stopped, all cold turkey apart from smoking, and that was just normal cigs. I was a big girl, thirty kilos I put on.”

I glance out the window. There’s hours of this journey to go. Courtney Creeley. I wonder if I can fake getting off the train at an earlier station, and then I remember my oversized, novelty suitcase.

“Got them to put me under for the C-section,” says Courtney. “No way I wanted to be awake through that crap. Treat you like a bloody meat puzzle, doctors. Anyway, Mum took Elora for a year, then I took her back and went up to Jason’s in Melbourne. Jason’s the father. Said he’d have me back if I came without Elora, but I thought he’d come good soon as he seen her. Turns out he was just as much of a fuckwit as when he got me pregnant, bashed my face up so bad that night I couldn’t hardly see.”

“Jesus,” I say. My mind flicks back over my own past relationships, where the highest level of violence has been low-decibel arguments and moderate amounts of sulking.

Courtney shrugs. “Worthless piece of shit. Elora and I ended up at the women’s refuge on a mattress that night for a bit, but they were all about rules and shit.Wanted me to go to the police. So we nicked out the back window one night and hitched a bit of the way til I got onto Mum, and she gave me train fare the rest of the way home. I was pretty fucked up, got back on the booze after Jase did that. Mum said she’d take Elora off my hands if I wanted, raise her with my little sister and stuff.”

“What did you say to your mum?” I think of my own reliable fortnightly paycheck, and how I get pissed off if it’s a few hours later than usual. My book has slid a little to the left and rests half on the seat next to me.

“I’m not the best mum, I didn’t never want to be a mum. I’ve fucked stuff up and got in with the wrong people. But she’ll always get fed, an’ she’ll never get hit. I’d kill anyone who touched her.” The little girl leans against her mother and plunges a chubby hand down into Courtney’s cleavage. Courtney pulls it out firmly. “Hands out, Elly. You want boobs, you gotta ask nicely.” She looks up at me again as the train grinds to a stop. “We’re off here.  Me sister’s got a hearing, we’ve brought up her fare home again.” She hefts the little girl onto her hip and heaves to her feet, plastic bags banging into the door of the carriage. “Course, I love her now,” she says, and plants a rough kiss on her daughter’s blond head, which the girl scrubs away with a grin. “Said to me mum, I said: ‘She’s either gunna make me or she’s gunna break me.’ I reckon she made me.  Have fun in your bookshop.”

“Library,” I say, but Courtney’s already swung the door of the compartment shut. I pick up my book and stare at the top of the page.

The door of the carriage squeaks open again, and I glance up. A well-dressed man enters, carrying a prostethic leg over one shoulder. The leg has a boot on it.

Poems in the wild #10

Poem #10 (eight of diamonds) was released in JB Hifi on Bourke Street, in the alternative section, because I am like totally alternative, okay? If there's something on offer, I'll always take the alternative. How I roll.

By my feet
the runaway of a skink
Too light even
for toed sandmarks
Real in swish and blood
but not enough
on light earth
to leave his
memory feet

Friday, May 11, 2012

Poems in the wild #9

Poem #9 (ace of clubs) was released in the little programs box outside the Carlton Courthouse Theatre in Drummond Street, Carlton. I was forced to sit over the road in Markov Place and have a glass of wine while I watched to see if anyone picked it up, but there were no takers by the time I had to leave to pick up Luka from daycare.

When you say 'immaculate' 
I think of fingernails
The precious painted claws, 
I want to drink the colour back
into your face and push your habit 
of decay bang off the rails.
Only in the tales of men 
do hunters kill the wolf
When did you file your canine 
points to bluntness,
sifting dust among the figurines
so tamed and bloodless,
caged beneath your roof?

I've decided now that I'm back at work full time I'll release the poems on Saturdays - otherwise they're ALL going to be released in Carlton, and we don't want to show favouritism, do we?

Monday, May 7, 2012

We both bought t-shirts

(A poem cut together from texts. I'd forgotten I'd written this.)

It would be darker in the morning.
I pick my battles, perhaps
even if it’s clearly more of a stifled yawn
a relay race for people who have lost interest.

I haven’t had a shower and I’m in yesterday’s makeup
Exhausted, asleep, but missing you still
thinking of you up there all alone
small is important too.

Then the usual domestic shite
I dreamed I was at Big W with you
I have mellowed over the years
we both bought t-shirts.

Get your subconscious to role-play it
I would be happy just to see if
I loved bolting into town
any time/place/dress code.

It’s excellent indoor weather
the sky is appropriately grey and
all buses pass my place at some point
you might want to buy an umbrella.

Leaned down and caught the scent of you on a cushion.
I open my eyes, and yours are shut
every time I look at my watch I am closer to
seeing the longing in my heart.

We could have a little while together
even better, it will keep happening
so much work into that mix
I will also finally feed you an oyster.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Poems in the wild #8

Poem #8 (2 of clubs) was released by my spiwited assistant @timsterne on a "mystery train" at Southern Cross station. It was a mystery train because it was supposed to keep going through the loop, but then they ordered everyone off, and it pulled out of the station on its way to who-knows-where in the wilds of Melbourne. Probably Flinders St. It is still on the loose, as far as I know.

One takes another by the hand
to prayer. Pages, fingers.
All take each one by the feet
to dance. Hoppers, splinters.
Another takes another
by the hips to fuck. Hands, heat.
All take another by the veins
to breathe. Blood, beat.
All known by one. Scrapes,  a kiss.
Another known by all.
Blisters, bliss.

Poem #9 will be released later today...

As an aside, I'm going back to full-time work next week, so I'll no longer have Fridays off. Poems will be hastily written and transcribed onto playing cards somewhere between me dropping Luka off at daycare, emptying the returns boxes, spending library funds at Readings, turning the records over, and picking up Luka again. (I make library work sound so professional. No wonder people always ask "Do you need a degree to do that job?" The answer to which, by the way, is yes you bloody do, and you also need excellent taste in music, books and novelty knee-socks. And strong arms.)