Thursday, October 9, 2008

THE MERRI CREEK : POEMS & PIECES, #6, September/October, 2008



the tibetan monk makes the world out of sand
(it takes him seven slow days)
the tibetan monk sculpts the world out of butter
(to balance our unbalanced ways)

the tibetan monk sings the world in harmonics
(to synchronise the spheres)
the tibetan monk half closes his eyes
(to allay the world's worst fears)

the tibetan monk knows the world is ending
(it's always been like this)
the tibetan monk knows the world is ending
(& that it won't be missed)

the tibetan monk makes the world out of sand
(he sweeps it away with his hand



everything's so fragile but it's a beautiful!
night everything's so beautiful but fragile
I am ( / ) sitting on the spot marked x & the
eyes look up whilst the soul stares down
at those dumb happy ones all a-drowning
quite happily in their 'happiness' ( / ) with e
e cummings & torch in hand I stay awhile
beneath the gums & stand like the dutiful
daughter (I was) to forgive them all their
incomprehensible state/s of bliss ( / ) I think
I recall being 'happy' myself? ( / ) in bathers
in shallows with dad calling out he'd rather
I smiled for the photo: I didn't & I blinked
(I was only 3) but I think I was happy there



"looking into the eye of my addiction"

looking into the eye of my addiction
he, shaking a doll's house above his head
the blue sheets' white clouds of masturbation
debt to the blind-taste of licking an egg
I climbed up a tree with a flightless hen
the wingspan of his bed's tightening sky
the sitting is done mainly for the hen
I saw the doorway and let out a cry
he will spear a fish far too heavy to lift
under water and drowned hooked to his prey
sacrifice, sometimes given as a gift
famous for his fishing skills the osprey
only ever anger or lust he speaks
a bird of prey grasping at what he seeks


"the breeze lifts the fabric of solitude"

the breeze lifts the fabric of solitude
spinal staircase to a balcony brow
bats blacken the flawless sky's magnitude
at the mouth saying give me your breath now
Ficus Macrophylla folding us in
pressing, revealing one breast to your lips
mozzies as close as you and you on skin
saying my head on your chest your soul trips
I pass my heart through my mouth to escape
the ideas more important to survive
breaking concrete with roots is no mistake
I'm existing to see you I'm alive
rivers go to the sea with ambition
the sea knows nothing of competition




There is a bay inside her, where the
long-shadowed palms darken the waves.

A place where ships are whimsy
and a night heron creaks on the white sand.

She spends all time there, reading
the isobars of absence to a hiding crab.

Under a broad-leaf canopy, sheltering
from the sun's burning kiss --

the only kiss that seeks her true brow.




I've been ill because the railway station was so bleak; black and grey tones weighing into twilight. A splash of red fabric through the tunnels. Nirvana! I follow the woman in red out into the street. She flags down a rickshaw and glides through the city, past the city walls and park, circles the Bell Tower, heads out for the Big Goose pagoda. She buys a ticket for the tiny Tang Dynasty painting gallery. I follow her. It is dark inside; the light comes from the warm reds and ochres of the partially restored paintings of singers and musicians. In the gallery's dark tunnels, I saw her fold into the painting of entertainers; I saw her luminous skin, her gown of red silk. Her lowered eyelids raced into my bloodstream; a nausea of silk, powder and inviting flesh. I calmed, and remembered her eyes. In my hotel foyer, I saw her again, accompanying an official from the capital. In the sauna, she was there again, in the company of another beauty who was small and fair, and whose lips were pressed between her thighs. A large, massively built man, the Party official, sipped tea and barked out orders as he watched them. He remained wrapped in a towel; his eyes never left them.

I went to the massage room. The masseuse rubbed almond oil into my limbs, then climbed on top of me. When she was satisfied, she turned me over and rubbed her sex over my back. I finished with my hands being plunged into liquid-paraffin wax, then massaged and oiled. I walked to the foyer, and saw a tall woman, with black hair down to her waist, walk to the entrance with a dozen red roses. My head exploded, I was adrift in this floating world. I looked out on the grey city in winter, its purple and ashen sky, its doorways without doors, its kettles on ancient stoves. from the outlying villages the cold night of hunger fed into my delirium. Hunger, hard labour, and a wind from hell.



Two Poems from The Keepers


J had overdosed. He's only a friend but they called anyone who knew him
so I went. The front door was open, people were pissed under the [overhang
brashly lighting the column of blood, low drumbeats in a back room.

I was too well-dressed for this. I pushed through to the main bedroom
where they'd dragged him out from under everyone's bare feet.
He might have been a bomb, someone said: once people saw

that he'd OD'd they ran as far from the room as possible
then carried on as if he'd already blown. He was gaunt and bare-chested
like Christ taken down from the cross in those classical paintings.

We held him up in a death position Carravagio would have loved
though lit better. We shook him as he drooled and foamed and finally
vomited down his ribs. It was repulsive. It turned me cold.

I stood feeling out of it, clean where everybody else seemed rubbed
in some more urgent substance. I thought how if I had words for it,
words that used up lines of breath not coke, words kept me safe...

The ambulance saved me. My words told me to drive home. I did what
they said. But then they said I was a health-and-safety novelist. Unable or
unwilling, devastated. Something without words had OD'd in me.



Tiled rooves in Orange miraging around you, the nerving
home above the park, the mad and ordinary moments
washed by the common soap. From this battered linoleum

ordinary you founded intensity and God. The poems
rhymed into the past with grace and violence, your pure impure
directions, your long wires, your inner Spinning Jenny.

Inside the pyjamas, the drugs, the chance, a teleology
was rolling through the 50s television screen, its vertical hold
there and nowhere as you sat around chomping apples,

the ones you didn't drop, alone in the rising gravity
you heard equally in Jussi Bjorling or in the mad-for-God
supplicants you saw wandering your imagination, or eating

from refectory plates on Sunday evenings, or smudging
through letters to the godofnoaddress by the poor unfamilied
schizophrenics. The after-life for itinerants.

The fruit-pickers have come to pick and the garden's
full of secateurs, like sanity, so sharp you shrink back into poetry,
or should those clarities be reversed?

God's the trick. Not the skin, the blight, the dapple and myrrh,
the impure pure and cortex-firing ecstasies we might call God
but the dogma of God. Like Beaver, the under-terror. All.

The black hole. The rifling of chalices, Eucharists, the closed
text pretending it was open. Your own, thankfully, the open
text hoping it was closed. You let God in. You let us in.




I'd rather have been a plant, you bet,
and spent my life guarding a piece of shit.

I'd like to devour my fellow man
less for the pleasure of eating than
of vomiting him back up again.

All the philosophers combined
dissolve in the tears of just one saint.

Approach each day as a Rubicon
not to cross but to jump in and drown.

My thoughts are only of God
since but for him I might
have to think about man instead
and could I sink lower than that?

Preposterous thought:
an impotent rat.

Epicurus, the sage I need most,
wrote three hundred books. Thank God they're all lost!

Not even a killer, I make no sense:
the Rasholnikov of innocence.

Never to sleep, the insomniac's curse:
heroic agonies flat on my arse!

Will-to-die that I eat, sleep and breathe,
you've stolen it from me, stolen my death.

No sleep as tight
after decades without
as the sleep of the man
they'll shoot at dawn.

Who more than I has embraced his fate?
At birth I was offered the world on a plate
and screamed at them, Sorry, too late, too late!


after Pierre Reverdy

a little light
you see a rushlight
descend to light up your stomach
a woman is a rocket's arc
down there a shadow is a reader
her bare feet couldn't be prettier

cardiac short-circuit
flames leap from the bonnet
what magnet keeps me stuck on
this wrong turn my eyes and my love have taken

a nothing a fire we light that dies
enough of the breeze
enough of heaven
all in the end's a phantasm even
your mouth and yet
where your hand falls I race with heat
you open the door and I don't go through

I see your face and can't believe it's you
pale one the vigil we kept
that night we lay on a suitcase and wept
to the sound of men laughing
have-naked urchins stravaguing
the water was transparent
a red copper wire bled radiance
the sun and your heart are one substance



JORDIE ALBISTON lives in Melbourne, where she was born in 1961. Has published 5 poetry collections. Australian composer Andree Greenwell has adapted two of her books (Botany Bay Document, retitled Dreaming Transportation, and The Hanging of Jean Lee) for music-theatre; both enjoyed recent seasons at the Sydney Opera House. Nervous Arcs won the Mary Gilmore Award for a first book of Australian poetry in 1995. Her 4th book, The Fall, was shortlisted for Premier's Prizes in Victoria, NSW & Queensland. Her most recent collection is Vertigo : A Cantata (John Leonard Press, 2007).
CLAIRE GASKIN's book of poems, A Bud (John Leonard Press, 2006) was shortlisted for the John Bray Award for Poetry in 2008. She is Victorian editor for the literary journal, Blue Dog. Contact;
MICHELLE LEBER has a history as a spoken word poet at many venues around Melbourne. Won the Poetry Slam at the St Kilda Writers Festival in 2006. One of her poems is traveling on Melbourne trains as part of the Moving Galleries Autumn series, 2008.
JENNIFER MACKENZIE studied at the University of Melbourne in the early 70s, where she began writing & publishing. Long standing interest in Asia, traveling to India, Indonesia, Cambodia and China. A fascination with Old Asia led to her Borobudur project, to be published by Transit Lounge (Melbourne) in 2009. Contact;
PHILIP SALOM's most recent book, The Well Mouth, a collection of voices from the underworld, was named as a Sydney Morning Herald Book of the Year. It is now in its 3rd printing. His collections & novels have won many awards, including two Commonwealth Poetry Prizes. In 2006/07, during an Australian Council fellowship, he completed The Keepers, due to be published by Giramondo (Sydney) in 2009.
DAVID WHEATLEY recently visited Australia c/o the 2008 Vincent Buckley Prize. He has published several books & chapbooks, including Thirst, Misery Hill, & Mocker (all with Gallery Press, Ireland). He edited James Clarence Mangan's Poems (Gallery Press,'03). Included in New Irish Poets (Bloodaxe Books,UK, '05). Currently teaching at the University of Hull's Philip Larkin Centre.



David Lumsden said...

Hi Kris, Enjoyed this 'number' & yes the Wheatley was of interest ... I've posted some thoughts here.

Andrew Burke said...

Grand issue. I must look in more frequently ... Hi, Kris and all Melbourne poets