Friday, January 31, 2014

Month of Poetry #30: The study isn't published

We could speak of it as inspiration or discipline,
map the process of falling in love as if an awareness
of the structure working behind it deepens one's
pleasure and absorption. We could compare ourselves
to plants, seeds heaven sent and homegrown.
But I don't want to talk botanically about it.

There's always a way to be scientific about
emotions. Cow hormones have the young
people all fucked up with lust, bovine eyelashes
fluttering with whatever burger they had last night.
I do what I do not because of steroids, but I do
because somehow I like the pain, the heady fumes.

Madness to compare the frightfully delicious
deliriums of how rapture repeats itself, first time
as a kind of mania, later an unknown
compelling force where nothing rips your skin
apart like a formal airport farewell. My lovely
hand on yours, guillotine departure gates.

Academia hasn't graphed the cliche level of
saying we laughed til we died, of feeling something
changed, of first I love you. The study isn't
published yet on the slow ride to comfort
where we laugh at farts and you let me pee
with the door open so I could watch Grey's Anatomy.

We could assert commonalities, piss off new
couples with references to The Honeymoon Period.
We were all undergraduates once, but terms of
analysis shift and raise eyebrows at old essays.
Once frantic arms, relaxed with everyday
reassurance that we are here, we have all the time.

Includes suggestions from:

@josie_is: frightfully delicious
@ernmalleyscat: but I do because somehow I like the pain (TISM, Mystery of the artist explained)
@sleepingdingo: farewell my lovely
@spikelynch: inspiration or discipline (year 11 extension english assignment)
@attentive: repeats itself, first time as (attr. Marx)
@matchtrick: an unknown compelling force (official cause of death given by Soviet investigators into the Dyatlov Pass incident)
@urbabe: but I don't want to talk botanically
@JayJayCee1: and we laughed til we died
@timsterne: cow hormones have the young people all fucked up (Donald Ray Pollock, Knockemstiff)
@MissButtons_: heaven sent and homegrown
@GretaPunch: you let me pee with the door open so I could watch Grey's Anatomy
@ReadingSheilas: an awareness of the structure working behind it deepens one's pleasure and absorption (Julian Novitz on The Luminaries)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Month of poetry #29: From bed to anywhere

It often felt a long way from bed to anywhere.
Closer each day to leaving blinds shut,
letting sheets weigh everything down like
they're never gonna give. You, up and about
on a mission: killing baby cockroaches in
the bathroom, scrubbing at corner grime
until you gained thin ropes of muscles between
your thumb and forefinger. There was no item
you could not fetch. My octopus partner, blurred
hands tidying in circles around the static bed.

When I first got stuck everyone took drama for a bludge,
advised snapping out the happy, preached that
to recover one has to be mindful.
Of the structural features: I had all the work sheets,
can rattle off CBT like a third year psych class.
That Aaron Beck, apparently he's a kind of saviour
for times of intellectual distress, though he's led
to a lot of useless photocopying.

Late afternoon in a parade of what I used to do,
a palimpsest of forgotten enthusiasms,
shredded layers of posters advertising joys
that quietly erased themselves.
When it came to a choice between phone box
or shower I glazed with endless scrolling,
dampening the lack of movement.
There'll be no sudden Pixar moment,
I'm just a squirrel trying to get a nut-case
mindset in my grasp and kick it off
like a doona on a hot night.

Includes suggestions from:

@sleepingdingo: killing baby cockroaches in the bathroom
@chantarelle: closer each day (Home and Away Theme Song)
@pinknantucket: I'm just a squirrel trying to get a nut (Boyd Crowder)
@matchtrick: fetch my octopus
@spikelynch: everyone took drama for a bludge (year 11 on the first day)
@JayJayCee1: gained thin ropes of muscles (Lisa Gardner, Say Goodbye)
@ernmalleyscat: never gonna give you up
@attentive: one has to be mindful of the structural features (opinion piece, The Australian)
@ReadingSheilas: he's a kind of saviour for times of great intellectual distress (Bourdieu on Wittgenstein)
@timsterne: a palimpsest of forgotten enthusiasms (Boyd Oxlade, Death in Brunswick)
@MissButtons_: phone box or shower

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Month of Poetry #28: First days

Asphalt and tan bark, small hot hands.
Big hats and shorts at ankle length:
no way a kneecapping could work
scabs onto those invisible knees.
Neither one of us knows which track
to follow to the classroom. This line,
left blank intentionally with room for
small feet to shuffle into rows and
wait for the ball. This metal equipment
a new contraption. To capture a dandelion
in one piece is the work of lunchtime
lotus-sitters picking at the hot grass.
In a rush of blue and yellow you are tiny,
teeth bared for new brave meat.
I wave and there's no crying,
in baseball there's no crying,
in cornball there's my wet face drying
slowly in five years of sunlight.

Includes suggestions from:

@chantarelle: there's no crying in baseball
@jellyjellyfish: there's no crying in cornball
@ernmalleyscat: this line left blank intentionally
@JayJayCee1: neither one of us knows (The Marvellous Toy)
@timsterne: a new contraption to capture a dandelion in one piece (Boards of Canada, 'Dandelion')
@GretaPunch: a kneecapping could work

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Month of Poetry #27: Melted

Hot nights, dreams of streets
I can cross, fighting.
A demon: off my bucket list
and onto the immediate to-do.
It's not that hot, but the mannequins
disguised as pancake makeup
are melting into life. They shudder
across town, stumble into each other
like they're having sex.
To the kids in America they send
punches, neck snaps, and a feeling
of benevolent distance not unlike
the second baby effect.
One man, pupils swollen and jagged
he reached for his pocket, and found
there only reality of handgun.
Half-slop monsters adore the bullets
each trigger finger that cries
Fuck the Jellys! and fires hard
will find the blob rolls on.
The universe is expanding in
a tide of molten plastic, here
and there a hand, a foot, a shoulder,
a remarkable likeness of Steve McQueen.

Including suggestions from:

@JayJayCee1: the universe is expanding
@ernmalleyscat: He reached for his pocket, and found there, only reality (Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
@eglantinescake: second baby effect
@pinknantucket: I can cross fighting a demon off my bucket list (Sleepy Hollow)
@matchtrick: mannequins disguised as pancake (The Boy)
@timsterne: They're having sex to 'The Kids in America' (Luke Haines, Discomania)
@facelikethunder: it's not that hot
@jellyjellyfish: fuck the Jellys! (unintentional contribution)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Month of poetry #26: Pit stop

The town I reach when still I've got kilometres to go.
Behind me, discontent with nappy: my grumpy elf.
Gaze in action for a public inconvenience, in petrol terms
I drove four cars into the ocean road, back to main street.
The toddler mauls his lollipop, blue smears across his face
and mischief in his eyes. Sticky smurf, emitting blue fumes.
I focus, narrow the lens: local pub. Looks like a large amount
of not something, but much better than the scent in the car.
How would you like your hobbit-child smelling like the
back end of Hobbiton? We pass under the faded VB banner.
Leather robots with soul omissions look us up, down.
Dot-point our misplacements in a list. Comprehensions find
mother and toddler, where more often enters a crumpled
bag of skin and a diet of kangaroo's testicles.
Was all too much for them: woman and baby in here,
asking for the toilet, hefting bags of life in from outside.
Eyes-down barman points quickly down a hall, we sidle
out of sight before I see dust fall in chunks from their mouths.

Includes suggestions from:

@realnixwilliams: not something, but much
@urbabe: elf gaze in action
@JayJayCee1: robots with soul (TED talk)
@sleepingdingo: I've got kilometres to go
@timsterne: a diet of kangaroo's testicles was all too much (Kenneth Cook, Wake in Fright)
@ernamalleyscat: drove four cars into the ocean (Ozzy Osbourne in AC/DC Maximum Rock n Roll)
@chantarelle: blue smears across his face and mischief in his eyes
@spikelynch: list comprehensions
@GretaPunch: how would you like your hobbit?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Month of Poetry #25: Australia Day

There's been less of her beauty,
and her terror makes us disown.

Each speaker with granite eyes;
regarding his stone likeness
with blood still coursing our flesh.
One short, one fat, one lean, repeat
each in a cycle of removal and denial,
where the song ends:
all of them equally mean.

It falls into where I can't
think about for many minutes,
along with suicide, bruised babies
and freak accidents of unluck.

Those born a few thousand
plus a hundred and thirty-two clicks
away also have memories
level with the scent of the vinyl
bench seats in Dad's Kingswood.
In summer my children run toward waves,
no fear of her jewelled sea.

Breaking news, broken histories
give me angry stinging onion eyes.
Give us a hand to celebrate
and raise the middle finger high.

Includes suggestions from:

@ReadingSheilas: her beauty and her terror (My Country, Dorothea MacKellar)
@urbabe: one short, one fat, one lean (Fantastic Mr Fox)
@home_sewn: stinging onion eyes
@ernmalleyscat: a hundred and thirty-two clicks (cricket commetary)
@JayJayCee1: regarding his stone likeness (Frank R Stockton, The Griffin and the Minor Canyon)
@xutraa: the vinyl bench seats in Dad's Kingswood
@timsterne: give us a hand to celebrate

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Month of Poetry #24: Party Poem

Whole morning spent sluicing icing,
trying to form constants of colour
and surface, dividing M&Ms.
There were many oranges, too many
blues. Brain cells spent divining brown
icing from a rainbow of four inks when
I could have just used cocoa.

It doesn't matter what are the best
storage containers, all I've got is
a plate that cling wrap won't cling to.
Parkside: already heavy legs and eyelids
like the seafloor wants me for kelp.

In a whirl the tablecloth is abandoned.
Chips are shaken into ugly china bowls
wind lifts the red dust from BBQ shapes
I wish we had bought heavier snacks.
The whole world arrives as an army.

Keeping track of Ninja Turtles and who
detests who: This guy? THIS IS NOT
MY KINDA GUY! I really don't care,
try to keep all cards, unmadden
the birthday boy, proffer juice. Here in a box
is squeezed one thousand Californias.

Gonna kill you soon, temperate breeze
if you don't let my Redheads light.
We've waited five years for this candle
it's only half an hour till we can go home.

Sticky kisses, shouts to the Subaru:
See you tomorrow, have fun at your dad's
At home, I line up the presents on
your bedroom floor for your return.
The joy inside them coiled like springs.

Includes suggestions from:

@ReadingSheilas: what are the best storage containers? (Ms Harris' Book of Green Household Management)
@sulphura: there were many oranges
@matchtrick: California's gonna kill you soon (Iron and Wine, The Desert Babbler)
@spikelynch: form constants
@timsterne: This guy, this is not my kinda guy! (Buddy Rich, The Bus Tapes)
@ernmalleyscat: the seafloor wants me
@gingerandhoney: in a whirl

Friday, January 24, 2014

Month of Poetry #23: Powerful element

Fevered with the scent, all of the naked boys
and girls plaited together, twined like cake
and jam in the most delicious Swiss roll
I will eat. A butterfly sandwich of eyelash
kisses, pheromone cream filling and the
powerful element which propels her towards
him towards him towards her. Not one will
mind the gap of age or sex, they are all undone:
unwashing their mouths with their legs. In full
sun how crispy her pubic hair looked,
how browned his darling arse. Three boys
in a pyramid, ecstatic, the big fella leaning on
it counterweight. Three girls braiding their
thighs like thick warm hair. Summer hugs
them all with pastry and bakes them blind.
If this is some dream recipe of youth,
turn up the thermostat I don't wanna grow up.

Includes suggestions from:

@matchtrick: all of the naked boys (Iron & Wine - Caught in the Briars)
@jellyjellyfish: mind the gap
@MissButtons_: I will eat a butterfly sandwich (Beatrix Potter)
@JayJayCee1: the powerful element which propels her (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne)
@chantarelle: I don't wanna grow up
@ernmalleyscat: big fella leaning on it (tennis commentary)
@timsterne: how crispy her pubic hair looked (John Sandford, Wicked Prey)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Month of poetry #22: Late for work

For her arrival home,  he Marvin Gayed up:
his own nephew's mixtape, finally useful.
For dinner they would be visiting the flesh,
eating pigs' trotters and scoring each marvel
at its big puce depths of tendoned meat.
Her face, young and old and none of the above
Freckle dusting and overalls like
a grownup Punky Brewster. Denim in a
crumpled heap in the corner, his hands
played over limbs like a hollow bamboo
orbiting an unknown object until she
arced like someone shot her.
Right in front of me, the smiling dead.
Suddenly birds and grey morning light:
a distance between what was and what is.
Clocks showed a time he could not tell.
My wife, I'm going to be late for work.
Her electric fingers pushed back the minute hand.

Including suggestions from:

@matchtrick: what is clocks?
@JayJayCee1: like a hollow bamboo (song, Bodhi Khalid)
@home_sewn: electric fingers
@spikelynch: orbiting an unknown object (from Wikipedia description of the eclipsing binary star ε Aurigae)
@ReadingSheilas: someone shot her, right in front of me (Orphan Black)
@timsterne: He Marvin Gayed his own nephew (Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos)
@lalscotton: visiting the flesh eating pigs
@ernmalleyscat: marvel at its big puce depths (Vogon Poetry Generator on BBC site)
@attentive: tell my wife I'm going to be late (Peter Ludwigsen, A Hijacking)
@GretaPunch: none of the above
@slimejam: Punky Brewster

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Month of poetry #21: Upside down

Something popped the
train smack off the rails
maybe an oral fixation
maybe dental fixative.
Domesticated and aged
in the wrong sort of oak.

Not gradual, nothing like
my finger went astray in
a quickly typed password.
Someone changed the
whole keyboard to Greek
and it all Greek was to us.

Put a key in his life, turned it
upside down. Strange mouth
to my sister: you lost a man,
now songs are boring.
To my brother: yo homes,
smell ya later! Then tears.

Paced in anaemic tiger tread
from lounge to bathroom
caged and bloodless.
Gumming one thumb
kept warm by the ancient
jungle memories of summer.

Includes suggestions from:

@chantarelle: maybe an oral fixation (Chris Pine)
@JayJayCee1: My finger went astray (The Giant, O'Brien, Hilary Mantel)
@timsterne: Yo Homes, smell ya later (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Month of poetry #20: The first time

The first time isn't about wanting
one or the other. My worry is
heartbeats and brains. Never I'll hear
a whisper in my head saying I hope you're
not a girl, not a boy, not a pair.
I just hope you're there.

The first time isn't like seeing life.
Throbbing in bulges of shadow
if I could I wouldn't touch you.
With a plastic one-handled scanner
they see through me to you. It's like
we're living in a episode of the Jetsons.

The first time isn't like punching.
A butterfly walking along the line
of your undies, or your tights rolling
down a bit on their own. I keep
checking my elastic until I realise
it's you from the inside.

The first time isn't real until suddenly
in the boredom of spinal numbness
a flurry of hands and forceps
is now my life, is like a tired tree
rocketing leaves and you roar
out of me like a waterfall person.

Includes suggestions from:

@josie_is: like punching a butterfly
@JayJayCee1: I'll hear a whisper in my head saying I hope you're not a girl
@poolspy: waterfall person
@ernmalleyscat: now my life is like a tired tree (John Laws, The Tree)
@timsterne: I wouldn't touch you with a plastic one (John Lennon, Help!)
@chantarelle: it's like we're living in an episode of The Jetsons

Monday, January 20, 2014

Month of Poetry #19: Rolling gallstones

To slack and fetid crew, he flailed with
back-door hands and breath full of bin-juice
My boys! My excrellent boys! To fuck with this
not enough pirating! We are rolling
gallstones boys, gathering glory and gore!
Nodding upwards with his broad chin
he brought down ripped sails
dodged hard bits of bird shit
that pinged like a fossilised wedding.
They trudged, jaws askew and raw gums
receding, hardly hearing
We're not in Norwegian waters now,
sunning our arses for snakes, 
well we're not here to fuck! Spiders can make 
webs in your pants and catch those
puny flies that veer at your crusty dags.
He demanded worship of his floral bumhole
so they did as told and sat around the rose.
As criticism does part hairy balls
like rippling farts, so does the stink of attention
from a crowd of seated arses warm the cockles.

Includes suggestions from:

@dogpossum: not enough pirating
@urbabe: well we're not here to fuck spiders
@ernmalleyscat: and sat around the rose, as criticism does (Gina Rinehart, Criticism)
@JayJayCee1: Not in Norwegian (Dina's Son, Herbjorg Wassmo)
@sleepingdingo: gathering glory and gore
@timsterne: nodding upwards with his broad chin (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Month of poetry #18: Best spot near the box

Lord of his Jason recliner, best spot near the box.
He shuddered at residents who shuffled all day
up the passage, around the chow hall, past the baths:
their circular wanderlust secretly disgusted him.

Loved the TV, announced regularly that
"Do what you love" is a secret. Handshake
of the privileged men on the news thrilled him,
brought back days of war and rethinking France.

Alice wandered past in unbridled logohorrea:
"Bicycle, unicycle, unitard, hockey puck, rattle snake,
monkey monkey underpants" then in shock of herself
a brief stop: "Oh dear! What nonsense I am talking!"

No one looked up in surprise, her rabid blather
didn't raise heads (but then here, what does).
Truancy, mean glaring days made long with
empty visitor parking lots: absent notes not required.

He loved the TV: do what you love. Peered through
raised slippers at the World News. In between
camera flashes of the press, he slipped into the
room of journalists and shook hands with the president.


Includes suggestions from:

@ernmalleyscat: wunderlust secretly disgusted him
@marklawrence: Do What You Love is a secret handshake of the privileged
@matchtrick: bicycle, unicycle, unitard, hockey puck, rattle snake, monkey monkey underpants (Gilmore Girls)
@eglantinescake: Oh dear! What nonsense I am talking. (Alice in Wonderland)
@MissButtons_ rethinking France
@timsterne: what does truancy mean?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Month of poetry #17: May as well be sisters

Both of us slight, quiet and brown, ears
like wingnuts. Whispered sometimes, glancing
at my father, we may as well be sisters.
Stood naked together in the mirror,
aligning similarities of knee and clavicle,
assessing theories of common history.

I called her sister when it seemed
her mam might not make it to Christmas.

My father, his ear welded to the news
shook his head at spouted world targets
in megadeaths that the war promised Japan.
All through the fighting he was part man,
part robot, shellacked one with the radio.
He seemed to understand what it all meant.

My sister and I whispered only one
small death, her tinier mam in that tiny bed.

Most days were marginal, we rolled out
of bed itchy: cursed be the pesty cat that
sprung our mattress with critters and dander.
My mam chased the queen outside and
beat the fleas as if blankets are available
only at the price of leather. She had them boiled alive.

For some gods, stocking wishes only come true
at Christmas. My sister wished for her mam.

It's hard to breath in hospitals, but we stayed.
After sitting close by death, the need for life
refreshes. Automatically every thirty
minutes I saw my sister check her pulse,
pressed my own thumb firm to wrist:
the flesh giving a little, like a ripe cheese.

Includes suggestions from:

@matchtrick: refreshes automatically every thirty minutes
@spikelynch: cursed be the pesty cat (marginal note by irate medieval scribe)
@home_sewn: I called her sister
@ernmalleyscat: boiled alive for some god's stocking (Human League, Being boiled)
@realnixwilliams: like ripe cheese
@timsterne: World Targets in Megadeaths (printed on a binder in Dr Strangelove)
@attentive: blankets are available

Friday, January 17, 2014

Month of poetry #16: Hidden folk

We built a soft forest, moss at every freefall
to attract them. Fairies run away from pain
and prick their ears at noises: very clever.
With maracas we shuddered them forth
like May Gibbs' sketches. The fliptop
petals branch up as that hat goes.
Terribly, with your personality it may seem
you cannot see them. Blinded by lights
in Greenborough Plaza, confused by the newly
renamed Brazilian Butterfly (formerly
Moon in Taurus Waxing).
Their plump bottoms and cheeks, loving
fat hands picking always the nearest babies
first from boronia stalks: never the most beautiful.
The closest baby is the best baby, and each
soft-fuzzed parent knows that in this way no
bush baby will ever regret anyone's fall.
Stunned from the fluorescence, you do not
see them. There's something, though:
if not little people, then a line where they
dig their graves with the bladebones of
antelope. Worn to slivers by a pelt of hail,
something that smelled to you like a
building site: dug up by the tiny hands of rain.

Includes suggestions from:

@spikelynch: fairies run away from pain (Jo Walton, Among Others)
@ernmalleyscat: very clever with maracas (Brian Eno, Baby's on fire)
@ReadingSheilas: Moon in Taurus, Waxing (The Luminaries)
@xutraa: That hat goes terribly with your personality (woman on the tram)
@timsterne: dig their graves with the bladebones of antelope (Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Month of poetry #15: Words on a hot night

No end of sweat to the bedtime tale you're telling me.
It's a shambles of plot, a small summery explosion
of superheroes and half-remembered phrases
you heard a screen say. Imagine if we were
super samurai mighty power ranger
horses in the sun! No, in the sun! In the SUN!

Your room built in layers of heat, vinegar of
your head and pillow, honeycomb of
light drifts through toilet-roll constructions.
The remains of Fruit Ninja scattered for nighttime
battleship: this melon blows my tomato
out of the water. My insteps twinge in advance.

The blinds slithers down like tired snakes.
I bop a toy with my sweaty palm: the
bobble-headed-Thor swayed gently.
In the cool air next week he will escort
a pot-bellied alien home from Savers:
We're taking him to his spaceship.

Why do I have to wear shorts tomorrow?
Because it's summer in Australia. Lie down.
Why is Australia so hot?
Right now, because it's summer. Lie down.
A boy said 'fucking stupid racing car'.
That's not very good to say at kinder. No.

Click of the door before he sees me grin.
Still I think it's clever to swear, and
every hot phrase they cook up thrills:
from the first I love you to the well-placed
Fuckers. They're all fuckers. It's not
unwise to stock up on these words in summer.

Tangled sheets and raging air conditioner
dull thumps of sleep-bound feet on the wall.
He's being built out of words, trying on
different sorts of armor and feathers
imagine and what if and fuck off
stockpiling love and fury on a hot night.

Includes suggestions from:

@matchtrick: this melon blows my tomato out of the water (The Mitchell and Webb Look)
@ernmalleyscat: I think it's clever to swear (John Cooper Clarke, I don't want to be nice)
@JayJayCee1: We're taking him to his spaceship (E.T.)
@chantarelle: The bobble-headed-Thor swayed gently in the cool air
@timsterne: Why is Australia so hot right now?
@sulphura: You're telling me! It's a shambles
@ReadingSheilas: a small summery

(PS: fuck it's hot.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Month of poetry #14: At the museum

There's one skeleton I'm haunted by the
freakish size of. Nancy Reagan's head
shoved on top of a dinosaur spine
would be less disturbing. It makes me
feel like prey and I hurry under its ribs.
More than you, more than me
is needed to fill that xylophone space.

Electron microscope images
make me nauseous.The smoothest
surface of a pin or hair shaft thus gets
fluffy and greasy, reminds me of all the
skin flakes I cannot shake off. I have
lived a filthy lie of becoming clean,
after which microbes had existed all along.

Animals frozen in their skins fail
to unnerve: hard eyes and stiff paint
fluff them up into toyland plushies
there is nothing frightening in a tiger
that will stand casually next to a pangolin.
Any minute now they'll start up on
a Monty Python routine, with the parrot.

Towards the end there's a room that
drops me into the paperback covers
of furious childhood reading. Learning
Welsh poems and how to say the
double L, the double D: the sounds
fluttering ice in my mouth like a small fish.
Seeking a new religion in every page.

Something about that room of old stones
still makes me into a sign-seeker
skidding on moss and completing a circle:
pursuing the mountains in their singing
with a pure heart, full of goodness and iron.
Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu,
ac y mae'r arglwyddes yn don.

Includes suggestions from:

@lalscotton: Calon lân yn llawn daioni (pure heart full of goodness)
@xutraa: ice in my mouth like a small fish
@attentive: after which microbes had existed all along
@timsterne: I'm haunted by the freakish size of Nancy Reagan's head (Mission of Burma, Nancy Reagan's Head)
@GretaPunch: more than you, more than me
@ernmalleyscat: thus gets fluffy and greasy

If you've read Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising sequence, the end will make a bit more sense. But suffice to say my best friend and I were besotted with those wonderful books in early high school, and (never to do anything by halves) I looked up all the Welsh pronunciations and attempted to do my own literal translation of the poem that runs through the books. The last Welsh lines translate as "The mountains are singing/and the lady comes" (although apparently there's a grammatical error in the use of "maent" there).

And if you haven't read the series: do yourself a favour. But skip the (DREADFUL) movie.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Month of poetry #13: Captain January

Greens, whites and lethargic television,
procession to tennis from the cricket
as a thermometer of diminishing return
audiences. Tickets run cheaper than shade,
the clouds have their own cheer squad.

Mercury lashes like a madman's drum,
demented lover of broil, thrashing in ecstasy
as if beset by some ghast succubus of
bubbling skin and ashen flesh. An idea
of summer flown too close to the sun.

I imagine another landscape under this gleam,
with lavender and orris wilted faster
than the viscous flattening of Clyde Bruckman's
final repose; larch, pine and willow followed
into shuddering black by a hot town.

Summer in the city, and there's cleavage,
cleavage, cleavage. Lethargy wears tiny shorts
in my kingdom. For a dollar or two
I watch my baby fumble about an icy pole;
marvel at those white legs, fat against the glare.

Includes suggestions from:

@ernmalleyscat: The Cricket as a Thermometer (1897 article by Amos Dolbear)
@chantarelle: my kingdom for a
@JayJayCee1: larch, pine and willow followed
@home_sewn: with lavender and orris
@MissButtons_: Clyde Bruckman's final repose
@spikelynch: madman's drum (title of a wordless 1930s novel by Lynd Ward)
@miguelpotts: Hot town, summer in the city
@timsterne: beset by some ghast succubus (Cormac McCarthy, Child of God)

(the lines in italics are from the Regina Spektor song 'Summer in the City')

Monday, January 13, 2014

Month of Poetry #12: An attitude of existence

There was no dramatic rollercoaster down
to the first night on cardboard in the park.
Instead, homelessness was a deep mouth
pooling with salt at a slow river's end.
It was in his nature: believing what he did
was the only possible thing he could have done.
He lay passive in the gentle stream of shit
that flowed across his face: a fly in the temple
of unlucky ointment, a spy in the house of
excrement. Never raged against drowning.
When his enrolment form slipped the administrative
cracks instead of marching to university
he simply never went back.  When unpaid bills
broke in on love, he fated the passion failed.
The last piece of camel spine: a studio squat,
toilet-less and borrowed from artist on leave
was never meant to last. When the painter
returned, he did not mention the real-estate
shaped hole in his universe. And so he
was sunk down to wherever it was,
grown impossible with acceptance.
Cold, under the stars, but unprotesting
he ran his eyes over The Adventures of Augie March
until the sun sank offshore. Later in the evening
his friends would circle in on a net of texts,
sluice him squinting to his feet.
He would look at each of them in turn, unsurprised.

Includes suggestions from:

@JayJayCee1: down to wherever it was (Herbjorg Wassmo, Dina's Son)
@timsterne: a spy in the house of excrement (Helen Garner, The Feel of Steel)
@ernmalleyscat: offshore later in the evening

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Month of poetry #11: A Natural Death

And there's poor Mr Barton
very old and very relaxed
only dead in there perhaps
two weeks but if you asked
he couldn't really say not least because
he's dead.

Winter's chill and isolation will mute
the smell
and really he does give a
tremendous performance of being alive
blending into bed with all the
activity of sleep.

Natural evacuations are nothing to
be embarrassed about
early on a hot flush triggered some
little visitors
whose curious feet played laptop football
near his dark zipper.

The roots start to cradle his
forest coffin
those mutinous dreadlocks worming
like sea anemones
about his toes
gentle vines winding silky soliloquies
in his hairy ears.

First the walls will warp
and shift like a deck of cards
then the roof will follow.
In its own time, the body of Mr Barton will
quietly turn
to skin on the wind, eager with its
promise of invisibility
or flight.

Includes suggestions from:

@JayJayCee1: a hot flush triggered
@sleepingdingo: silky soliloquies
@ernmalleyscat: then the roof will follow in its own time (Vincent van Gough, letter to Theo 21/3/1883)
@matchtrick: invisibility or flight
@spikelynch: laptop football
@jazir1979: those mutinous dreadlocks
@timsterne: a tremendous performance of being alive (Helen Garner, The Spare Room)
@sulphura: and there's poor Mr Barton (Midsomer Murders)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Month of poetry #10: Red

It was an agreement in the end: his claws
sheathed with such force if you saw
you would make fists with your toes.
Her promise silent flowing from her chest
like stolen wine had dulled her mouth.

How it began: a red hoodie and rose
petal jam like a jar of lips. Flittery
by reputation: you're a here and therein
Her teeth: grinding like sand behind my ear.
But she knew her strength: she was no little red.

If fairy tales were up front, you would
first choose your payment method:
blood or children. Wolves don't carry
EFTPOS systems and it's proven
difficult to commodify grandmas.

So into the grey metal world, she tripped
that adamantine, that iron shod plain
like a little prairie. Hello dusk,
she crowed, Hello stars and unafraid.
He trailed her like a sister wolf, she knew.

Near the house she turned and led the dog
inside, took off both their leashes.
His surprised paws kneaded her puppylike,
they knew that after great pain,
a formal feeling comes this way only once.

Only in the tales of men do hunters kill
the wolf. If no one ever lives to tell the tale
then how does the tale get out? In stories
where wolves survive they howl
until the trees remember.

He felt her silent goodbye, her checking:
can you hear me? His muzzle lifted yes.
She remembered how she had touched the
naked wolf and whispered sometimes 
it's good to play with your food.

Includes suggestions (many many suggestions) from:

@matchtrick: flowing from her chest like stolen wine
@pinknantucket: If no one ever lives to tell the tale, then how does the tale get out? (Supernatural)
@ReadingSheilas: After great pain, a formal feeling comes (Emily Dickinson)
@spikelynch: Hello, stars
@chantarelle: can you hear me?
@sleepingdingo: rose petal jam
@home_sewn: sand behind my ear
@ernmalleyscat: that adamantine, that iron shod plain (journal of Charles Sturt, written as weekly letters to wife Charlotte)
@timsterne: fists with your toes (Die Hard)
@eglantinescake: sometimes it's good to play with your food (Keri Smith)
@suznannah: you're a here and thereian (Georgette Heyer)
@attentive: first choose your payment method

Friday, January 10, 2014

Month of poetry #9: Shopping centre

Four hours under fluorescents on the
day before Christmas: I call shopped out.
My vision splits into fractals and that
thing where you're supposed to like
shopping: I've flunked it bad.
Lulled into confusion by piped-in
waterborn music, I drift like a pool spy
with no liquid assignment. Coke-floated.
These massive centres dazzle with overkill
only mass marketing can provide,
on the 26th of December Santa
will disappear up the air vent
replaced by hot cross buns and bunny ears.
Shops juxtaposed by some evil genius
Pets Wonderland next to Schnitz
in case I want a schnauzer with my
weiner schnitzel. It's like shopping centres
jumped the shark and then the shark became the PM.
Jump cut and I'm in a toy section,
assessing fluff. Rows of kitties with wings,
I remember the poem about
the flying cat, or was it Chuck Jones or
Ursula le Guin and why are they still staring?
Wide-eyed plushy bunnies goggle,
and bobble their heads sideways
each as innocent as their countrymen.
The huge tortoises turn out to be a
toilet training seat-and-stool combo
and I've that's it I've backed out.

Includes suggestions from:

@johnnypurple: and then the shark became the PM
@attentive: waterborn music (Nifft the Lean)
@spikelynch: I call shopped
@ernmalleyscat: as innocent as their countrymen the huge Tortoises (log of Charles Darwin, Beagle)
@poolspy: pool spy
@timsterne: I want a schnauzer with my weiner schnitzel (Top Secret)
@JayJayCee1: the poem about the flying cat
@gingerandhoney: flunked it bad

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Month of poetry #8: Too close to home

We only half-expected to catch fish.
Two early pick-ups left the nature strips
behind: the oleanders and snow apples
and wet roads at dawn led to our river camp.
First things first: wrigglers shoved on hooks,
six-packs nestled in sandy wet pools.
The actual fish was a shock: brilliant, molten
and too alive, dancing through the stunned grass.
We froze and leaped like we'd ourselves
been pulled roughly into another world.
My sister's boyfriend made it still at last, and
undressed it neatly for dinner.
We remembered that story, Carver,
with the body and the river, and how they
kept on fishing. So much water.
By the time we wrestled parachute tents
and whacked in off-kilter pegs, the world
yellowed and desperate cicadas sang along
with our Eagles covers. It had been my
idea to glamp up the food, and I placed
my bare eggplant in charcoal with
misplaced flourish. The verdict was quietly
unanimous, until like the fish he put it blunt:
Dude, seriously, tastes just like sawdust. 
At least the fish passed muster and we
made a very acceptable soup from her bones,
parsley, and a lone carrot.
The sun, a long time caught in the trees,
disentangled and left our day still pink.
I wandered, trailing my fingers through
the midges and dangling a slack beer
to the water's edge. Easy breaths.
In focus: the water parted around
a lump in the river, heavy and wrinkled
dark and I could see hair, a knee.
My toes curled into the sand I pressed
out into the water, dropped the beer
my shouts coming back at me from the rocks
until it flipped. Lazy turn in the water,
the hair slipped away and turned grass
the knee reared and I saw bark
as the log dislodged, rolled. I rested my
palms flat on the water like I stood in glass.

Includes suggestions from:

@spikelynch: desperate cicadas
@xutraa: oleanders and snow apples and wet roads at dawn
@pinknantucket: dude, seriously (Supernatural)
@timsterne: tastes just like sawdust (Ren and Stimpy, Powdered Toast Ad)
@ernmalleyscat: and we made a very acceptable soup from her bones (log of Douglas Mawson, Christmas eve 2012)
@JayJayCee1: eggplant in charcoal

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Month of poetry #7: Ultimate floor

You led him away, one hand in glove
peaceable, the other full of insects.
If tonight you don't say bedtime
over mountain-climbing, who will?
Get the final rose from the top
of summer's flowers, never mind
scratches on the way back down.
Coiled rope in my guts twisted
like an experienced boy scout;
tested against history and the wind.
Uneasiness: it's my signature.
Move one step forward: one step into
a wall of nerves and flesh this was.
My ultimate floor was level with death,
his face you might mistake for a demon
or the golden crane, stayed, that needed to fly.

Including suggestions from:

@ernmalleyscat: this was my ultimate floor (from the log of William Beebe, deep sea explorer)
@spikelynch: hand in glove
@JayJayCee1: the golden crane stayed
@timsterne: who will get the final rose?
@lalscotton: it's my signature move

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Month of poetry #6: Winter

It's late and my wrist aches like I'm the first
to hold a pen in centuries. I had raked words
into piles like the dry leaves and twigs
of summer's reaping, then let them spoil into
dank mushroom-fanciers. Rancid undercurrents
festering ripe and sprouting fairy rings of
rote exposition. I cower inkless during winter,
there is nothing rude to shade me from
the goths of near-July. Pick axes slam into picked apart
taxes of snowy white-goods. These are no
flurries of natural season, a freezer is no roof-line
of ice that fell in apology. Throwing June's money
at the cold is hard as a cannonball to resist
unless you are a cannonball. My advice would be
for people not to climb into appliances as if they
chill and boil happiness. They are no points
of power; will not bring back summer where
we wrote and drank white trash in the sun.

Includes suggestions from:

@timsterne: the dry leaves and twigs of summer's reaping (The Young Desire It, Kenneth MacKenzie)
@_boobook_: it's late and my wrist aches (Lighthouse Girl, Dianne Wolfer)
@sleepingdingo: rancid undercurrents festering
@sushipyjamas: shade me from the goths
@JayJayCee1: unless you are a cannonball (Richard Scarry)
@attentive: fell in apology
@dogpossum: my advice would be for people not to climb into appliances

Monday, January 6, 2014

Month of poetry #5: Commercial service - 3 out of 5 stars

Unseen hands on housekeeping trolley
firm knocks/pause/keys/nose the door open
with buttocks and back into the room.
Four-piece queen suites disrobed of dust
under pain of white-gloved fingers from upstairs.

Midnight room service slides sideways into
strobe-lit back to back Avengers,
four women shouting at primary flashes
screening in red/white/blue/green
"What the fuck, heroes, what the fuck?"

Breakfast starts at four. Head of service
queens it over grain breads and sweet jams
props up on years of coffee and
loves every wrinkle on each croissant
and face. Avenging the title of senior.

Front desk shone chestnut colour
polished into history with years of
nasty/brutish/short wages, generations of fingers
tagging the grain into macrocosm of oils
invisible hands wearing away a tree.

Includes suggestions by:

@ernmalleyscat: four-piece queen suites
@ReadingSheilas: 3 out of 5 stars
@JayJayCee1: shone chestnut colour
@chantarelle: what the fuck, Heroes, what the fuck?

I've always been interested in how hotels work, and the people seen and unseen who work there. Interviews with workers in these places are often amazing and mind-boggling. I even made the mistake of watching several seasons of Hotel Babylon based on this interest of mine. Admittedly, this was also because Dexter Fletcher (Spike from Press Gang) was in it. But either way, I wouldn't advise it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Month of poetry #4: Breadline

She interviewed like a damp butterfly.
Spoke of the slide toward food stamps
that didn't spread to weeks' edges.
Looked past my shoulder, eyes right,
while words leaked out like tears
she didn't even see me. No additives,
artificial flavours or attempts to spice things up.
The bolshy ones would beat the devil
around the gooseberry bush before they'd arrive
at final poverty of "only rice". They'd pull out the
picture perfect of easy-livin', dog-eared
and worn thin with insistence. Not here.
"In the next room, I was able to hear my
sons' cries for what they were, and what they
were was hungry and too brave to tell me."
Long past the fragile crust of bread and a job to call pride
her eyes looked dark down a long platform.
Sugarloaf tops scammed stale from an Asian bakery
masqueraded as a dinner indulgence;
drowned out the creak of empty cupboards.
Home from school, they brought none of
the rawkish clatter of siblings. They sat
as soon as possible, eyed me as a stranger
but diverted the energy of interest.
It was clear from the angle of repose
how these children were hungry.
The pale young bodies, all awkward angles
and juxtapositions of heredity and circumstance
still trying to grow on scraps of the background.

Includes suggestions from :

@spikelynch: angle of repose
@attentive: spice things
@margolanagan: angles and juxtapositions
@eglantinescake: I was able to hear my son's cries for what they were (The Whole Brain Child)
@JayJayCee1: scraps of the background (Adobe Photoshop textbook)
@matchtrick: easy livin' dog
@ernamalleyscat: long platform, sugarloaf tops
@lalscotton: she didn't even see me
@GretaPunch: crust of bread and a job
@realnixwilliams: beat the devil around the gooseberry bush

That's a lot of suggestions! I might have to set an upper limit to avoid writing an epic cycle every day...for your sake as much as mine...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Month of poetry #3: Hog calling

Arms side by side on the fence
hers brilliant bacon, his fine ham hock.
Every chat a poetry of interruptions
sentence rinds chewed up, repeated
to see who can speak the most vampire.
Lore is Crap on a pig farm where shit
is the layers of history: our home is
girt by C. Turdish strata built up
in shoe treads reads like rings of oak
and seams of farming voices distributed.
Being with pigs is to be in love with a side
on show, moving generations of comfortable
arses up road with a twang on the old left cheek
and a slap on her old hammy.
Crotchpong Cropduster always kept away
in his bachelor Don Juan pen, shampooed
weekly so the porkers could enjoy.
The confidence of thicker and fuller hair,
flanks polished into worldly glow.
He's a prize, a prize, dumping and humping
his way into pig hearts and family wallets with
all the slick glory of a Vaudeville ham, happy
as a pig in

Including suggestions from:

@pinknantucket: most vampire lore is crap (Supernatural)
@spikelynch: distributed being
@ernmalleyscat: our home is girt
@attentive: a twang on the old
@timsterne: her old hammy crotchpong (Cloudstreet)
@lucyrogue: could you enjoy the confidence of thicker and fuller hair?

A couple of...challenging there...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Month of poetry #2 - Twelve

When last strips of daylight
fell bright across her boredom
she rose in clockwork hope;
he creaked weary cogs of assent.

Worried again at one stray pillowfeather
as excitement rustled silks of her
skirts out the door. To dumb planks:
The lake's not on fire - as every night.

Underground with sisters twelve to
shred manic soles; hunters above
looked for what creature works
a creaking copse of trees from below.

Enough - and he rose to axe out
an elderly cape and hide from sight.
To the night, after her red-hot feet
despite velvet concern of the dog's eyebrows.

He waited to shame them, but frail curls
of sound - obviously a major malfunction
of cloak - daggered his eyes to their beds:
twelve sisters danced, minus one.

Older with waiting, she had bleached.
Half-starts shook the air out of him:
I wasn't sure - had to choose - but still I knew -
One of her hands confirmed the years,
two of her hands made him seen.

I was young - so I waited.
She has her dancing, her ten sisters -
Laid dormant in undisturbed frost,
she cracked her lips, touched his cape and saw.
Your wife will never know.

This poem includes phrases suggested last night by:

@ernmalleyscat: the dog's eyebrows
@notunimportant: obviously a major malfunction
@spikelynch: the lake's not on fire
@timsterne: your wife will never find out
@attentive: a creaking copse of trees

I've been reading a lot of fairy tales lately, and this poem is kindof based on both the old tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and Sara Maitland's re-writing of it in The Gossip from the Forest: The Tangled Roots of Our Forests and Fairy-Tales. You know, kindof.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How many

How many lines have we lost
in glasses of milk, bums needing wiping,
the wrong amount of rice bubbles,
concentric circles of no/but/no?
How many plots disappeared
by a dream interrupted:
doors opening tearfully on a nightmare,
or just a plastic superhero going off
without warning?
Couplings of words smear
into tired crumbs on the bench,
tangle up with the holy business of getting
out the door with shoes on right feet.
I could have scored out an improbable
or something magnum opus by now,
seen the initial spine of my language
on a bookshop shelf.
But here in the half-dark
I can trace the curve of your cheek
(still babyish) in less than a minute,
and every night it looks
nothing like failure, or regret.