Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'Charlie Twirl' by Alan Gould

Charlie Twirl
16/8/1945 George Street, Sydney

This is the Street of Hullaballoo
when poor link arms with the well-to-do,
two Diggers drunk beyond all help,
vast crowds a-sway like ocean kelp.

This is the Street of Broad Hooray.
Papers blizzard on its grey,
and folk go wigged in shredded files;
unprompted are their camera smiles.

My darlings, look, we have come through!
declare the crowds on Hullaballoo,
who conjure from their one ahoy
this genie now to seize their joy,

to skip and sway and doff his trilby,
pirouette his sideways smile,
and signal how all futures will be
made the lighter for his style.

This is no more than circumstance,
and this tall fellow’s brilliant dance
has just eight seconds in our view
as Newsreel trawls on Hullaballoo.

Yet catch the sob of pure release
from those for whom he’s centrepiece
so bravo and so fugitive
as he takes flight in ‘forty five,

this Mister Zeitgeist, Charlie Twirl -
whose name will be historical
for all there’s nothing in a name
when dance outdances personal claim

to touch the quick of what’s in view
along the tides of Hullaballoo,
where strangers link an arm and arm
to joy at others saved from harm

on isles of acrid ballyhoo
where wreckage is the homely view
till lifted now from that sheer pall
by this so debonair morale.

Our camera tremors on its scene
to steady light for where we’ve been,
this day of papers churned to snow
and crowds in archipelago,

to lift us with these ballet motions,
this blithest fuse for huge emotions
with commentary so bygone, yet
the footage of this pirouette

tracking the shots on Deep Hooray
where this Mad Hatter flaunts his sway,
lighting what’s meant when Hullaballoo
slips arm through arm with me and you.

I took a trip up to Bendigo for the Writers Festival recently, and while
I was there I bumped into Les Murray, and he pressed this poem upon
me with assurances that it was masterly. I didn't disagree with him.
Below I have added a link to the inspiration for the poem, for those
too young to know of it, for those who live in other countries and who
are steeped in other cultural images.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'CONTEMPLATING A MIGRAINE' by John Mateer


Words, there are for this, but the thing — a distant flaring
under the crust of my skin, deep inside its shifting homeliness.

Pain: the purest life. I could start to pray …

Through the window, as compensation, the rain gently gives me the garden,
its mossy rocks, its green benevolence, the garden that drops away

into the soaring cedar forest suggestive of the opposite of whatever
this pain is.

I would say, a kind of mountain.

                                                                     But maybe I am the mountain,
and the pain, hidden in cloud, is a foreboding shrine, unvisited.

I don't bump into John Mateer very often around the traps, so took the chance
to go to his reading at Collected Works in Melbourne, oh maybe six months ago.
I am very taken with his work. It is kind of cool, maybe even abstemious. It is a
hinting, glancing, stringent (astringent?) exercise of the use and power of language.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'Angels' by Luke Fischer


I wonder sometimes whether angels are waitresses
and we spend our lives at a large table in a dim bistro.
A business man recounts the success of a trade-deal
with China while a mother relates how her son broke
his leg in training for the junior Olympics. A football match
unrolls on a corner screen backed by drunken cheers and sighs.
Roses for your lady, a migrant asks a spruce young man,
pleading with his gaze and wafting the perfumed bouquet.
And he scores! We toast with full glasses that shimmer
like dusk on the wine-dark sea and graze on plates of pretzels
that never run out. Have you heard the story about the donkey?
says a man with a bristly beard. Well, once upon a time
there lived a donkey, a very happy donkey. Every morning he went
to his trough and always found plenty of feed … Meanwhile
a mademoiselle lures the tide of her date's feeling
with her shadowed lunar eyes. At times we overhear
the decanting of a spring, glimpse silhouettes
of supple hands, a disembodied face in a tea-light's flicker
but pay little thought to these apparitions
until the waiter appears at 2 a.m. : a final round
or shall I bring the bill?

Good stuff from Luke Fischer's book 'Paths of Flight' put out by Black Pepper.
I happened to be at the Melbourne launch (jointly with Chains of Snow by Jakob
Ziguras – Pitt Street Poetry). You know how you can just happen to be at a launch.
Had a good time, heard some good work, invested in two books.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'The end of the shed' by Sandra Thibodeaux

The end of the shed

You pull down the shed and ignore the long-grass
that’s trying to tell you the obvious
about leaving things go too long.
This is a love affair in reverse.
This is creation caving in.
You look at a slab of concrete where a shed has been.

You stand in a shower cubicle
without the shower, without the cubicle.
You peer over the drain,
watch the dregs of rain and try
to work out what comes next.
A stream of smoke next-door
gives permission to destroy the rest.

               Wiring, defeated, cut at the roots
                Doors, destined for pigs, strapped to the ute
                Hardware deals discounted by flames
                Tiles you’ll never lay
                A tired Christmas tree
                Tunnels in a French dictionary –
                white ant resistance
                The score of Stabat Mater
                past singing for a wasted son
                Weeping negatives
                in an age where no-one knows
                what to do with them anymore
                but their eyes burn holes through stories
                you’ve heard before

Suddenly, your lover’s gone
and you look at a gaping hole
where a shed once stood,
where a shed once stood in the way
of your Balinese vision:
verandah, termite-treated timber
and a shower with a portal to the moon,
clean as it always was,
waiting for you to clear that ugly ruin.

I haven't met Sandra yet, or heard her read, because she lives in Darwin,
at the Top End, as they say, but I am looking forward to it. One day soon.
Chris Mansell describes her work (on the back of Sandra's new book 'Dirty
 H2O' from Mulla Mulla Press) as – 'Turbulent, hot and irascible.' And that is
just about right, I would say.