Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'Standing Orders' by Jennifer Compton

Standing Orders

They issued me with my identity
drilled me in the finer points of usage
shipped me in then — nothing.

The radio transmitter — silent
in the attic
these fifty years.

Awaiting orders
I vanish into a life very like
my life.

I catch the 92 or 94 from the corner
ready to counter Top-hole morning!
with — Whizz-bang!

But my contact hasn't
made contact

Tonight, listening to the News at eleven o'clock
I hear a noise I can't place.
A valve about to blow?

like a clock about to strike.
But we don't have a striking clock.

I go up to the attic
switch the gizmo on to green alert.

Sent here for no reason
to do

I will be away for a bit up in Sydney and Newcastle and I am struggling to get 
to the end of something before I go, so quickly and lazily I pop up an old poem 
of mine. 
I am starting to consider a Selected. If not now, then when?  
So I am mostly reading old stuff when I go out to poetry readings, just to check 
how it stands up.
Someone did say to me - 'Don't be unkind to young Jennifer'. Which is something 
to keep in mind.
This poem I am in two minds about. I got it from a BBC TV play about two
Russian sleeper spies settled in England. They married, got jobs, waited, and 
waited for orders, their radio sets stowed up in their attics.
Met once a week during the season in the stands at the football match.
'Anything?' - out of the corner of a mouth. 'No, nothing.'
And then they would enjoy the football match.
But one day they got a message when they went up to the attic to check their sets.
I am in two minds about the poem. I don't think it has enough life of its own without
the explication.
And also, who now knows what 'standing orders' are? Or 'gizmo'. Or how radio
valves would need to be replaced. It's all a bit musty I think.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'in the palace of broken men' by David Stavanger

in the palace of broken men

there are few women
mothers call on the weekend

new friends come by in the night
the only language second-hand vinyl

t-shirts swapped, beers opened
brief pats on the back and surnames

meetings are held on the threshold
the kitchen is the best place to talk

sighing is the first act of morning
in the toilet books but no paper

rat baits but no rats
an unnamed smell in the bedroom

bins put out not brought back in
defective fans in the middle of summer

can't locate documents when required
a birth certificate photocopied five times

two television points but no aerial
picture of a couple drowning in a boat

random toys underfoot, many are broken
the constant drone of recollection

opening the back door slowly
to let out the muttering light

 In case you wonder if my life is a constant glittering stream of top-notch literary
events,well, it is LOL. I was the warm-up act for the Melbourne launch (by Angela
Meyer) of David Stavanger's new book 'The Special (UQP) last week, and
 although there were at least five must-see events on that night (Melbourne, I hate
you!) what a rip-snorting, take it as it comes, fly fly little bird sort of night it was.
But David always seems to be at the centre of that sort of thing. I believe the book
has gone into a second printing, so relax if you haven't located a copy yet.