Thursday, November 6, 2008

THE MERRI CREEK : POEMS & PIECES, #7, October/November, 2008


Two Poems


we are all pushed along by books, dragged by boxes
counted by other peoples numbers, silenced by a roller
coaster, driven by the vision of the other and how bout

the mask that only seems to cover half the face these days.
most i's are in capitals yet this eye turns lines and graphs
into curves of water that drip fluidly into the place where

your most cherished dreams live. It's love in shades of blue.
It's life that equates meaning. It's an x with kisses and a y can't
we all just stop for a minute. It's clusters of memory that knead

us into recognition of self and plead with you to come to your
senses and cherish the colour of the sky. there is a loss of visible
markers, the blurs always make new scuffs into the streaming

voice of your body. dripping with sensibility are the hands shaken,
recording the unknown possibility. arrows are coordinates
for how we measure our life. they form stairways that lead into

a supermarket where we buy our daily needs. remote control
us. scratch raw figures. create formulas that socially collide,
make form blush with embarrassment, stretching for numbers.



You walk through layers of dust
then climb into a bed made of
clean sheets that don't even
smell like you.

Glasses of unknown redness
clink lightly in the background,
our minds are entwined
with fragments of amber
filled nostalgia while our
bodies simply go along
for the ride.

We grow vines of Grenache
on arid land (with our bar talk,
small sighs and transparent

You don't want a lover yet
somehow this drink of rusty wine
is cleansing and keeps the
dread and doubt filtered
through the eyes of
thoughtfully painted
glass windows.



Two Poems

-William Henry Johnson (1957-1926) a.k.a. 'Zip'

From P.T. Barnum to the X-Files
it is clear we love to be humbugged.
So a young black man with a tiny skull
spent life exhibited in a gorilla costume
earning an extra dollar on days he did not speak.

Today how many grandparents
look back with half-averted eye
to a still clear image of him in his cage,
the indelible mark of a summer outing,
firm emblem of fears that cannot be classified?



There's something sparse
about the way he lived, at least
seen through the lens of what remains:
the little metal coffee cup,
plain bed, religious texts.

Outside another doomed project
grew around him like a garden,
the playground mosaics accreted
month by month, marine deposits.

Out towards the calm sea the imagined
vista of a cathedral's towers one day
high above the sprawling city,
the terrain so flat, yet life
one steep long homeward climb.



Two Poems


Now Atlantis. Beneath the flood sleeps the collective exhalation of those
submerged early, those who entwined ride this breathless city.

Trapped between pews at the sodden tops of naves, the peeling hands
brushing algaed glass. Bumping roughly together in halls, in common rooms,
or puffed up and alone in long-drowned attics, wrapped in unravelled clothing.

If you take any words with you make them the opposite of these:
Edge out into the shoals. Leave no last note. Point away from the lake.



Each afternoon and the day's expected
rain lets itself gently down. From under

the ivy's hiss and drip, the pigeons are
cautiously calling to each other.

The north wind. You choose. No, you.
Soft walls, the torn broken covers

of our world. You choose. Bluefruit,
new schools, the roof of gloom.

The pigeons stop just after the rain does.
I hear them mutter, flick the water off

their wings, and then silence until dawn.
Torn corners, the north wind. You choose.




Kris, I read Petra White's article, Placing Poetry, in the Victorian Writer, June 2008 [it brought back memories of Petra's recent readings at Ruffy store and the 'particular placeness' in her poems] and your blog, Placing Petra White, with great interest. How good it is to find a conversation exploring the compelling --and vexed --issue of 'place'. As you imply, Petra is to be congratulated for tackling such an elusive topic in such a small piece.

As a refugee from the Wimmera plains, addicted ever since to wide open spaces with spare topography, I have been particularly interested in the concepts or genres of Place / Sense of Place / Landscape / Ecopoetry / Nature Writing and in recent years I have spent a lot of time reading and trying to write myself into both real and imaginary places. I really like your term 'topographical' writing. It invites a range of metaphors and carries so far no hint of cliche.

Is part of the problem, in tackling the issue of 'place', the term itself? My recent ventures into the field of Ecopoetry [see August blog, Mary Oliver's Sunflowers on
/The Edge_Collective/edge_pages/edge_blog11.html] have me questioning the whole process of labeling. Of course many poems labeled as eco or nature poetry have been wonderful explorations of ecology/nature, but then so have many others. As Susan Fealy's comments suggest [see Placing Petra White, "comments"], don't all poems assume the existence of a place created by the poet?

There may well be a gender aspect to consider here too in relation to outwardness/interiority, but there certainly are male poets who tend towards interiority on occasions. For example, in Songs My Mother Taught Me by John Koethe, are the lines :

"The place endures, unmindful and unseen / Until its very absence comes to seem a shape / That seems to stand for something // Why can't the unseen world - the real world - / Be like the aspects of a place that one remembers? / (....) why can't we believe in some imaginary realm / beyond belief, in which all time seems equal / and without the space between the way things are / and how they merely seem? In which the minor, / incidental shapes that meant the world to me - are real too? / Suppose that time were nothing but erasure / And that years were just whatever one had lost."

Each section of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets is named for a particular place; also, at the beginning of Chris Wallace-Crabbe's wonderful, unsettling poem, The Rescue Will Not Take Place, are these lines :

"What do we live for? / We sort of know but / Can't quite put a name to the something which is / slipping away beneath us more - or maybe / Less - all the time, like a dream which won't / Disclose what it's deeply about but / Permeates a ripe summer day with / Its pauses and precedents..."

Finally, where would I be without the Web? Without blogs? Like many others, I visit more virtual places than any other these days, as a tourist, traveler, dreamer and even poet. My sense of space would be diminished without my virtual journeying. I should add too that I often find the idea of resorting to 'language' unhelpful : what does it really mean when you say that you like 'the language' of some writing? Surely it means the writing evokes something - a particular place or an idea or something else? Actually, I could go on talking about this all day. Maybe is the best place for this... And I haven't even started to discuss the women : my current favourites are Joy Harjo and Paula Gunn Allen - and of course there's Mary Oliver...



KLARE LANSON works with poetry, sound and live art performance, fusing her words with electronic music, moving imagery, mobile film and voice effecting technology. Has released an album, Every Third Breath, completed an artist's residency at FRUC in France, and performed in London, Berlin, New York, New Zealand. Co-editor for Going Down Swinging (Melbourne). Contact,
DAVID LUMSDEN lives once again in Melbourne after a prolonged stay in Warsaw, Poland. His poems have appeared literary magazines including P. N. Review (UK) and Fulcrum (USA). His blog of poetry commentary can be found at
IAN McBRYDE is a Canadian born, Melbourne poet, widely published and anthologised nationally and overseas. He has published 8 collections of poetry and released 2 CDs of spoken-word. He has performed his work at many venues and festivals across Australia, as well as in England, Canada & the USA. His next collection, The Adoption Order, will be published by Five Islands Press (Melbourne), in 2009.
SARI WAWN is a member of The Edge Art Collective, based at Terip Terip in Victoria. The group's projects include a book, Palimpsests of Gooram Gooram Gong, and quiet but persistent music [the title is from Jonathon Bate's The Song of the Earth], --a celebration of all unsung places where the voices of the natural world hold sway over their human occupants.

Published November 6th, 2008

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