Friday, January 05, 2018

Living Dead

Why am I still watching Zombie movies?

We’re always surrounded by difficult ideas
vivid and pulsing, the insides of things,
barely concealed by the outsides of things.
It’s nice to know there’s some kind of order:
Follow the rules. Lock the front door.
Keep things tidy. Keep yourself nice.
Have a plan, stay close to home.
That’s what separates us from the monsters.
It’s not what your hair looks like,
it’s the effort you put in each morning,
it’s the time you spent on your hands and knees
scrubbing the blood out of the carpet.

It’s not about surviving, it’s about love.
I mean sure, sometimes it seems better
on the other side, the elegance of pure appetite,
the momentum of a single relentless idea.
Sometimes you gaze out the car window,
the engine running, outside the seven-eleven,
and wonder what it’s all for, the instinct for living,
startled by your own pinkness, the flush of mortality,
the sweetness on the palate of the tongue,
the prickling of the skin – heat, cold.
You wonder what it’s like to be dead.
You wonder what it’s like to be alive.

Kristin asked the question.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018


In the middle of night’s
expanding hours,
light sweeps around the room.
I am woken by the sky machine,
dreaming my dream, searching
the river’s dark unconscious
for the shadows of hidden men.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Fairy tale

A wound, drawn by hand,
spilling the memory the body forgot,
insides and outsides, all of a one.
She considers her own image,
the book is a mirror.
The crooked scar hums with possibility.
The poem tastes salty, sweet.
Manifest destiny.
Fluctuations in heart rate and breathing,
visceral sensation and so on.
There is a crossing over, a voyage,
and a world beneath the world,
not a retreat but a way of negotiating pain,
negotiating with the Agent of Pain,
who tells her she’s done nothing
to earn her own suffering
and puts her to work
witnessing the suffering of others,
day in, day out, until her jaw aches
from the horror she doesn’t have the language
to expel.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year, Alphington

The river runs out of time,
which is the source. 
A memory 
held in the body
not the mind,
the slow ease of pain
always below the surface.
The river is fast
and slow, new
and old.
Light, light,
the dappling of time.
The body is multiple
with surfaces, leaning in
to listen.
Where there is time
there is always music.

Monday, September 25, 2017

13 Ways of Looking at a Possum


for Andrew MacDonald

There’s a possum in my roof.
More importantly:
I’m scared of it. Helpoem?

(with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

Among twenty suburban houses
The only thing truly awake
Is the possum.  

I am in three minds
And all of them
Are afraid of the possum.

The possum whirled on the telegraph wire
It was a small part, but he made it his own.
His agent said it would lead to bigger things.

A man and a woman  
Are one thing.  
A man and a woman and a possum
Are quite another.
But a man and a man
Or a woman and a woman
Who want to get married
Should be equal in the eyes of the law.

I do not know which to prefer,  
Inflections or innuendos.
The possum’s guttural growl,  
Or just after.  
Well obviously, it’s better
After the possum shuts up.
Except then you lie awake, tense,
Waiting for it to start again.
Bloody possum.

The shadow of the possum
Is the shadow of casual hatred.
The possum despises you,
And everything you stand for.
Your human privilege.
The inheritance of shame
Is a burden and a gift. Atone.

O thin man of Elwood,  
Why do you imagine the possum?
The possum is the void.
It lives in your thoughts
and in her thoughts,
but it does not dwell in its own thoughts.

The possum involves itself  
In what you know
Even in the middle of the afternoon
In the midst of rational human activity,
The possum intrudes –
Its animal intuition,
Stuttering, scratching.
Scraping at the threshold
Of consciousness.

When the possum
Marked the edge  
Of one of many circles,
I was like WTF?
That’s really weird.
I’m not sure why the possum would do that.  

At the sight of possums
Flying in a green light,
It became clear
They were probably up to something.
He drives up the Nepean Highway.
He sees something on the road
And swerves.
But it’s not a possum.
Just the shadow of a possum.
He’s thinking of getting a Prius.

The river is moving
To the outer suburbs.
It’s heard about this place
Near the end of the Hurstbridge Line
That’s like Northcote in the country.
The possums are kind of being arseholes about it.
The river tries to ignore them
But deep down it thinks
Maybe it can’t hack it in the suburbs after all.

It was evening all afternoon.  
Who knows what the weather was doing
Or going to do.
The possum ran out of its hole
And said, there are many truths.
You dream a little
And feel the rising of the dark.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Why Did I Say Yes?

In everyday life, ask more questions.
There’s a rule to live by.

Questions about the form and technique of living:
how do you read a poem or get the scum out of a coffee cup?
You try hard.

Read the cutlery drawer as it was written: left to right,
past to future, imagination to critical thought.
The forks think themselves into a confused pattern,
knives live so simply, like monks or soldiers.
The spoons reflect the absurd world.

The thing is, you want to be surprised by life
amid the dailiness of routine.
Wash the dishes, dry the dishes, eat the dishes,
talk about the dishes.

You are noisy
in your sleep
and when you wake up
you are awake.

Yes is the word that speaks your name,
that speaks the body of your name,
your body’s name. It speaks the woman
left behind in the twentieth century,
deciding on the place of cutlery in the history
of the kitchen drawer.
Knives, assemble!
She closes the drawer on our open-mouthed other selves.

You said yes because you always said yes
locked outside your spoonself.
No is in the release
of the tip of the tongue
currently stuck to the roof of your mouth.
Did you say yes?
Or did they hear what they wanted to hear
in the din
the scraping of the plates,
the clamouring of cups,
the high pitched screaming
of the forks.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Avery's dream

there was a tree at school
and it only had four leaves left on it
and that meant only four people were friends
and everyone was a robot
and if they touched you
you would be a robot too
and I made Declan be my friend
I said why do you have to be mean to everybody
I said why can’t you just be nice
and he was nice

and he was my friend again.

(after telling me this, he went back to his breakfast. Then he looked up and said: I've got a big day today. The birds are teaching me how to fly. The bears are teaching me how to fight. And the bulls are teaching me how to release my anger.)