Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered …
-The Odyssey, Homer
I noticed how you tossed it down
the very specific way the pages
floated and slapped
with just a slight disgust
from the back of the throat
like youd just given up explaining something to a tradesman
your eyebrows slightly furrowed
as you moved your eyes to the next task
I used to look at your notes as a kid
Take an awe in the power they seemed to hold
Rheems and rheems of hammers
that looked like paper to a child
hammers and concrete trucks and joists and beams
contained all your thoughts and force
contained in your messy
that contained the arms and legs
of all those men
that built all those hospitals
that saved all those lives
you look silently to the next task
and tell me i can have these pages
with a barely perceptible nod
a slight crinkle of the eyes
as the move off to the horizon
that you reluctantly give to the table rather than me
this other paper
that brought you to tears
minutes before is now in my hands
covered in other wrigglings
that you dont understand
that you dont want taking your eyes off the horizon
that you say will kill you
“It ll kill me if you dont sign it”
you say, pregnant with so much meaning
your eyes squinting with pain now
like youre looking at the place youll drown yourself
before the cancer has its way
your eyes go from squint to crinkle
and the tears start to fall like the echoes of hammers
and i move to your knee
place my hand on it
wafting slowly over the deck of the boat
you turn to the horizon
not able to look me in the eyes
and as if the sea itself filled them
and the horizon blurs
“I cant take this shit anymore.”
you say, voice creaking like an old boat
as your tongue sticks to the top of your mouth
to stop the air in your lungs
releasing a sob
or a life
you get up awkwardly now
and you stumble because you cant quite see
away from me
I keep throwing up
Is it that I miss you that much?
Is it that letting you go
Leaves me physically love sick?
Or is it just the whole box of cigarettes I smoked
You kissed me in that way you do
With a big grin on your face
Your hands together in front of you
I want you back here now
That I let you leave
Rom: …Then love-devouring death do what he dare;
It is enough I may but call her mine.
Friar: These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
– W.S. R & J 2,vii
i flipped on Baz’ version of R&J
and half paid attention
treating it more like background radio
not having a radio here
these words leapt out
for some fairly obvious reasons
and reminded me of every old love
(and one or two)
fire and powder
as they kiss
The second line of final couplet
strikes me as forced
(but i’m probably just resistant)
2012 …. Emma was the great, tortured, love of my young life.
I spent four days with Nicci, in a well of grief and abandonment, she reached out like an ever chuckling angel at just the right moment and, in just the right way. She hocked her camera too keep the wine flowing, and I bought her an emerald before the week was out. There was someone else, there always is for me. It’s my metier, my modus operandi, and my curse.
He never learned her, quite. Year after year
That territory, without seasons, shifted
under his eye. An hour he could be lost
in the walled anger of her quarried hurt
on turning, see cool water laughing where
the day before there were stones in her voice.
He charted. She made wilderness again.
Roads disappeared. The map was never true.
Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting of sea –
and suddenly she would change the shape of shores
faultlessly calm. All, all was each day new;
the shadows of her love shortened or grew
like trees seen from an unexpected hill,
new country at each jaunty helpless journey.
So he accepted that geography, constantly strange.
Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to find
his way among the landscapes of her mind.
– Dennis Scott
Paul Crowe quoted this in his wedding speech to my cousin:
To love someone deeply
gives you strength,
to be loved deeply
gives you courage.
Renae Jones posted on facebook
I LOVE A SUN BURNT COUNTRY..
WITH CHOPS N SNAGS N CHIPS,
KANGAROOS AND HOLDEN CARS,
I LOVE THIS PLACE TO BITS,
CAMPIN ON THE RIVER
OR SWIMMIN BY THE SEA,
AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE
THIS WIDE BROWN LAND FOR ME,
SO CMON MATES
GRAB A BEER
A RUM OR BOURBON
AND RAISE, YA GLASSES HIGH,
AND GET SOMEONE WHO DOGS US,
AND PUNCH THEM IN THE EYE,
COZ IM A FLAMIN OZZIE,
ILL TAKE IT IN ME STRIDE,
DONT LIKE IT HERE THEN BUGGER OFF
COZ I HAVE AUSTRALIAN PRIDE
11am Queensland time (my time), from somewhere near Adelaide
“If it weren’t so bloody Australian to celebrate something of our bread-stealing convict past by robbing this poem, i’s get angry about you ruining it.” (sic)
After which i posted the original poem, two scathing retorts followed by the second verse of the National Anthem. Then I wished her a Happy Chinese New Year.
I should have said this
If it weren’t so bloody Australian to celebrate something of our bread-stealing convict past by robbing this poem, I’d get angry about you ruining it. Perhaps I’m being too kind.
Yes. Yes I am.
You do make me angry because this kind of ignorant shit isn’t as innocent as it is awkward-funny.
The original poem is a gorgeous thing about being a hardworking open hearted grazier in the Outback. But you wouldn’t know a single thing about that because you’ve never lived through a drought or dug a single fence post, have you? Have you mate? Mate?
You can read it in all it’s glorious beauty at the end of this post, first I need to educate you on the National Anthem.
Let’s get this straight you stupid fuckwit. There’s nothing fucking Australian about racism. We’re so bloody lovely to strangers here. That’s why everyone visits, and shitloads of them stay, and bloody hero’s brave the fucking seas to get here on shitty boats from Indo. I’m a sailor, and I say anyone that tries that is fucking welcome at my joint. We’re lovely to strangers here. This lovely: We even let pricks like you get around. This is why:- not because you fucking represent us when you tie a flag around your shoulders and belt some brown folk in Cronulla; We let you get around because you make the rest of us lovely folk look good. And, for sport, blokes like me enjoy putting you in your place when you dog our Turkish mates.
You’re sport. Not Art. Certainly not a Poem.
One of my pet hates is racism. (That’s an understatement.) I’d call you a crypto-fascist but, you wouldn’t understand the words, the academic or historical reference or, the dry English joke. So. Let me make this a little simpler for you, mate…. YOU, mate, can “Bugger off … cos I’ve got Australian Pride”.
People who profess Australian Pride like that are the people that don’t have any personal pride, and with good reason. Shit poetry and worse insults get thrown around like dogshit, but one of the things I bloodly love is that it’s always done by people that don’t even know the Australian Anthem. Nor can sing it. Nor know where it came from. I consider not one a citizen of my Australia.
My grandfathers and great grandfathers all fought for this country, in the wars and after in the workplace, to make sure that even pricks like you got a fair go. They went to the other side of the earth to make sure some Jews got a fair go. They got jobs for Italians and Greeks and Turks. Because everyone deserves a fair go. This, mate, is Australian. And this, mate, is how their generation got about putting that into good poetry. It’s better than your ALLCAPS RACISM. Alot better. The second verse is the important one. This is from my Australian Anthem:
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
Do you know this by heart? Thought not. And you call yourself bloody Australian do you! That’s the bit of the National Anthem that isn’t in your head, or in your heart. I’m refering here to the ‘boundless plains to share’ and the ‘with courage let us ALL combine’.
Though it’s nice that you can find a piece of slang to express yourself (i refer here to the ‘Bugger off’ that could be removed from the poem with the last line, to make it perfectly fine), though it’s nice you can find some slang there’s better stuff around. Read Henry Lawson. Haven’t done that, have you? Mate? On your bike to the library then. Pick up the second volume of his Prose Works. You’ll have laughed and cried in the first 30 pages, mate. It’ll make you a better person, and finally, a better Australian.
So here it is, what we’ve all been waiting for, from a stockman’s wife called Dorothy–
The thing you stole and ruined, not just with your dogshit poem–to call it bullshit would lend it a dignity it doesn’t deserve– this beautiful thing you ruined with you ungenerous untested heart.
The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!
The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.
Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.
Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze …
An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand
though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.
– Dorothea MacKellar
My Auntie delivered that at my cousin’s wedding in Ireland.
It was well received. By the people that were left behind while we came here, my kith and kin, to this place that we didn’t like so much when we first arrived some two hundred and something years ago. They didn’t tell us to bugger off because we didn’t like it then.
Now, let me get this final-clear for you.
It’s MY country you bogan fuckwit, and you should count your bloody blessings before you talk shit to every brown fella that you think doesn’t like this place well enough to stay. I say, it being my country, that anyone can come here. Guess what? I’ve got more mates than you and they agree with me. The new arrivals are more bloody Australian than you. Mate. They learn the anthem. Mate.
And in finishing, a poem for you:
Two likes for your post.
THAT is what gives me Australian Pride.
I’ll think of you, your professed Australian Pride (and your French firstname) when I sing the second verse to my national anthem, at the RSL, this Australia Day.
I’m too tired, or tense, or tested or… to write or translate any poetry tonight. So i’m expressing myself by way of collecting. Here are three images that resonate and express my mood by Harland Miller, Rothko and Lautrec.
I found some huge originals of these hanging in a Hotel Lobby in Beirut earlier in the year. I thought they were wonderful, sad and very beautiful. This one seems appropriate to me right now, with so many strange silences lingering in the air of my life.
I wish I had a print.
by Mark Rothko
I first fell for this guy when I skimmed through Simon Schama’s History of Art (which was terrible when compared to his History of England) … the only episode that seemed honest and self reflective was the one on the old New York Jewish Impressionist. I’ve collected pictures of him ever since. This one captures my mood tonight. Warm and nostalgic, a little tense.
I love how mutable this image is. The sparkle in her smiling eyes, bright against the overhuge overheavy dress– And how there are two smiles, one with a hidden evil, or an allusion to death. This image speaks to me.
Click through and facebook ‘like’ to vote for this image, and support Sydney Photographer and Cinematographer Daniel Havaš, win a new camera in the 2011 Ray-Ban Photography Awards. He’s awesome and so is his art, so just bloody do as I say. He needs the camera.