Sunday, October 31, 2004

translation quiz

Icelandic poet Árni Ibsen did a wonderfully intriguing thing for the Poetryetc list last week. He translated all our weekly snapshots into Icelandic - without any lineation, to make it less obvious, then we all had to guess which was which.

I'm posting his translation below of just my snapshot poem and then my original underneath. The translation doesn't have the postscript of time and place, by the way:

eins og það sé formið sem skiptir máli hann plokkar flagnandi kalk af veggnum hvað þá með línurnar mínar og teygjur hörundsins stundum henta bílar götunni gætilega hér eru engin rétt horn sem heimta fullkomnun þau brutu greinar hlynsins og birtan æpir inn köttur nágrannans vill ekki þiggja mína huggun tungumál dagsins myndast við að koma spánskt fyrir sjónir hann dreifir mynt eftir stærð til talningar í för minni sum blöð ganga frá hægri til vinstri tefja mig ætíð bugður þínar ég sný út til skýjanna

as if it's form that matters

he picks peeling plaster from the wall

then what of my lines and spans in skin

cars fit the street sometimes gingerly

there are no right angles here asking perfection

they broke the branches of the maple and light cries in

the cat next door won't accept my consolation

today's language shapes up greek

he spreads coins by size to count in my journey

some papers move right to left

your curves will always detain me

I turn out to the clouds

Marrickville, 9.35am, Wed 27 October

Thursday, October 28, 2004


heavy sequinned flies
burn in the sun

the back-handed buzz gnaws
and wakes dark plans

the neon freeze calls
intentions and dreams

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

messy clouds

everyone runs
away in clouds

and scattered
had too much

fine it's not
and yet again

is real
so is rain

Saturday, October 23, 2004

listening ...

While tidying, I'm listening. Just heard there was a new Blue Nile album out so I've dug out A Walk Across the Rooftops and Hats. Paul Buchanan's voice is an absolute marvel and every time I listen to 'Let's Go Out Tonight' I either get goosebumps or feel like crying (a bit of baggage there, I must admit). In fact, nearly all of Hats is simply gorgeous. Some things from the 1980s are worth preserving.

furies / not tidy

Tidying my bookshelves today, picked up this volume of Aeschylus' Oresteia and opened it at this page of Eumenides:

"There are young gods now,
And this is what they do:
Steal power, exceed their powers,
Step in blood,
On thrones of blood,
Blood-smeared from head to toe.

Look: the sacred stone,
Navel of the world,

(trans Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish)
Some colour.
Occasional song. In
between. The spaces.
- from la rive gouache

Neat poem by Mark Young over at pelican dreaming. Like the ending, esp.

Friday, October 22, 2004


{The rest of this poem revised and removed to a better place. This is what remains.]


baby song
black book
back pack


baby love
bad hair, bottle brush


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Epitaph On A Tyrant
W. H. Auden

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

The above was quoted in this address by Julian Burnside to the Music Council of Australia annual conference on 27 September 2004. Worth reading.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


a shawl of rain on street-brown buildings and no spare change

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

word-kitsch whizzo buzz boogie from the hot desk

How about this list? Buzzwords, 1904-2004. I got this from an article in today's Sydney Morning Herald and the list comes from a new book by Susie Dent called Larpers and Shroomers: The Language Report. Interesting list, very much Brit-centric. The one that made me laugh was 1909's tiddly-om-pom-pom, which is from one of those jolly campfire sing songs, if I recall correctly.

1904 hip
1905 whizzo
1906 teddy bear
1907 egghead
1908 realpolitik
1909 tiddly-om-pom-pom
1910 sacred cow
1911 gene
1912 blues
1913 celeb
1914 cheerio
1915 civvy street
1916 U-boat
1917 tailspin
1918 ceasefire
1919 ad-lib
1920 demob
1921 pop
1922 wizard
1923 hem-line
1924 lumpenproletariat
1925 avant garde
1926 kitsch
1927 sudden death
1928 Big Apple
1929 sex
1930 drive-in
1931 Mickey Mouse
1932 bagel
1933 dumb down
1934 pesticide
1935 racism
1936 spliff
1937 dunk
1938 cheeseburger
1939 Blitzkrieg
1940 Molotov cocktail
1941 snafu
1942 buzz
1943 pissed off
1944 DNA
1945 mobile phone
1946 megabucks
1947 Wonderbra
1948 cool
1949 Big Brother
1950 brainwashing
1951 fast food
1952 Generation X
1953 hippy
1954 non-U
1955 boogie
1956 sexy
1957 psychedelic
1958 beatnik
1959 cruise missile
1960 cyborg
1961 awesome
1962 bossa nova
1963 peacenik
1964 byte
1965 miniskirt
1966 acid
1967 love-in
1968 It-girl
1969 microchip
1970 hypermarket
1971 green
1972 Watergate
1973 F-word
1974 punk
1975 detox
1976 Trekkie
1977 naff all
1978 trainers
1979 karaoke
1980 power dressing
1981 toyboy
1982 hip-hop
1983 beatbox
1984 double-click
1985 OK yah
1986 mobile
1987 virtual reality
1988 gangsta
1989 latte
1990 applet
1991 hot-desking
1992 URL
1993 having it large
1994 Botox
1995 kitten heels
1996 ghetto fabulous
1997 dot-commer
1998 text message
1999 google
2000 bling bling
2001 9/11
2002 axis of evil
2003 sex up
2004 chav

The Times couldn't resist it's own class view on chav. And this is how the Herald approached it.

Monday, October 18, 2004

new poetry site

Here's an interesting new site with the straight ahead name of The Page. Recent poems, news snips, etc. It's put together by New Zealand poet, Andrew Johnston. Worth bookmarking but I'm adding it to my list of sites (not blogs) to the right.

bits and bobs

. It is said the maximum temperature will reach 15 degrees today. It's cold outside. Last Wednesday (my birthday - I hate the heat) it was nearly 40 degrees.

. Annette told me that last night she dreamed she was awarded a residency to write a book of poetry. There were other curious aspects to the dream which I won't go on about, but it strikes that she'd do it well. I was jealous, of course. I've never had a dream like that. Or, indeed, a residency during waking time.

. I've been reading Japanese poetry this weekend. Modern free-form rather than traditional. And I was thinking a lot about 'image' while sitting in the backyard looking at the sky, the patterns of jacaranda branches, a small cloud and listening to many different bird calls. OK, I'm not proud or tired (old 60s reference I'm sure everyone's forgotten).

. There's one bird which has been visiting our street that makes a very repetitive two note call at around 4am (grrr). I've found out it's a koel. Now I know what it is, it doesn't annoy me as much, well, not quite as much. And I haven't heard it for a day.

. Had continual problems with internet connections over the weekend. I was trying to update my old website. It was out-of-date but is now a bit of a dog's breakfast due to the fact it was almost impossible to upload all the changes I wished to make and to correct some formatting mistakes I made.

. I feel I'm at a bit of a turning point regarding my work. And in need of some time to gaze at the poetry navel. I'm thinking about a book, and how one makes a book. I'm thinking shorter rather than longer. I'm thinking about loosening up but am not sure if that means longer lines or shorter ones. It depends (as always) on how you do it. I'm thinking of resurrecting some older work and wondering if this is a really dumb idea or whether it is better to do that than keep poking around words trying to make something happen new and now.

. A small bit of shameless self promo. One is that a poem of mine is featured in a new anthology In the Criminal's Cabinet from the good folks at nth position. It includes poems and short stories from writers all round the world including Caroline Bergvall, Charles Bernstein, bill bissett, Maxine Chernoff, MTC Cronin, Jennifer K Dick, BR Dionysius, Isobel Dixon, Peter Finch, Brentley Frazer, Paul Hardacre, Paul Hoover, Halvard Johnson, Jill Jones, Jayne Fenton Keane, Roddy Lumsden, Alexis Lykiard, Nessa O’Mahony, David Prater, Peter Riley, Peter Robinson, Rebecca Seiferle, Ron Silliman, John Hartley Williams, Harriet Zinnes and many more. I also went to the launch of The Perfect Diary last Saturday evening because a poem of mine is featured in it. It was a difficult reading mainly because the sound system was muddy and there were a lot of very young children generating a lot of noise and movement, as bored kids will. We couldn't stay as Annette needed to be somewhere quieter and safer for her foot. But the Diary is great (it supports writers and artists whilst providing a good diary, including a pen). Sadly, after ten years, it will be the last one for a while.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

blazing away

It's a hot day here, so perfect for the latest iteration of Geoffrey Gatza's BlazeVox.

I've already spotted some great sonnets by Sara Rosenthal and the on-going collaboration between Sheila Murphy and Doug Barbour. Plenty more as well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

to ...

time to look at the dark side
time to look within
time to look at the corpse
time to bury the corpse
time to walk
time to walk on, to walk away, to walk along
time to acknowledge the corpse
time to look
time to walk


A poem written last night, Tuesday, after a haircut and a quick bite in Darlinghurst. It's closing on 40 degrees heat today (possibly a record for spring in Sydney, I'm told). Luckily I will be spending most of my birthday in airconditioning, before adjourning for drinks then dinner.

Night before my birthday

Drinking Sydney water without thought
stray cut hair drifting round my neck
in the midst of spring heatwave
eating noodles with pearlescent pink
chopsticks. ‘Enjoy your meal’ - he might have
meant it. The mix tape in my head ravels.
It’s harder to forget some things, I remember
a lot of haircuts, some too cute
and curvy, how songs used to explode
and jangle , how hair got long short long.

The chopsticks slip and juice trembles
on my lip. What’s not to like anymore
that hasn’t gone on before. This would
always be my turf, slipped along
the door with fridge magnets, music
patterns frenetic experiences
that now are tired if you’re not good
with crowds in four-four time
under lights. There was never any prize
it’s not only drugs that can prick
the back of my neck. Shorn filaments
will wash free, taxis depart
waiters relax in city smoke and the water
washes down something
silk and sweet.

Landmarks are thin and airbrushed
in the muggy dark, the acid night
its causes and deflections
I’m wheeling in, spinning around
a tune that always bothered me
the singer dead, famously and sad.
She still hits the middle and the high
and now it’s in my hand.
When clouds cry as in blues
I wish they would and they will
when I play the neglected tracks
‘Life Could’ in younger tenses again.

Cockroaches climb Museum’s tiles, rolling
stairs dip down to light and creamy-brown
tunnels. ‘Beware’, ‘beware’, everywhere
under noise that offers no explanation.
People sing as they run, chatter
while they walk, monitors flicker, hesitate
over stations. Something provisional
anyway as I decide not to open up
the machine, tinker with its coins
and mechanism, its stacks of coca cola.
I’ll thirst instead with my keys, my purse
(or wallet, I guess, chocked with plastic
magnetic world-glue). No-one mentions a death
on the Petersham line (yes, email this afternoon
spread the news), no-one naming names.
They roll up the blue centre of the screen
a steadier rate than my own stock timing
and finally Marrickville slows by.

There’s a big sky hoisted onto billboards
lit with fluoro lines and shimmery globes.
It emerges beyond tunnels and awnings
the squeaking of the rails.
We’re waiting for names, for rain
a twist of wind-salt from the eastern sea.

Crown Street, Oxford Street, Museum Station
Tuesday 12 October, 7-9pm

Monday, October 11, 2004

au revoir derrida

It all unravels at once. Jacques Derrida has died.

"But theory ... seduces us less than the event that slips away unravelling, in the studio, in the texts, in the scene, on the stage." - Jacques Derrida

Sunday, October 10, 2004


empty again
becomes the river

won't stop
disturbing the gloom

up and
lie back down

there's three
years of it

sunny, but ...

dark days

Saturday, October 09, 2004

how to overcome gloom

it's well into night now
the district quiet
we must do what we can

clean our heads
before we settle for sleep
for we must be aware

as the noise in the quiet
we will do what can
and not wait tomorrow

there's a conversation
out there with leaves
beyond policy

though the heart sinks
ground is still there
that and time

we'll do and we'll sleep
past the fallacy that
flight takes you somewhere

an afternoon in the garden

the birds: new holland honey eater, red wattle bird, spotted turtle dove, ibis, magpie, wagtail, noisy mynah, a raptor high up

also in the sky: high jet trails, a red kite with two blue tails

white blossoms fall on us or blow down

jacaranda stalks

the sound of a kids' party, plane roar, traffic, someone talking to dogs, some doof doof music in the street below

newspaper scattered around, last minute polling, who should bat at number three, obituaries, nobel prizes

cheeses, bread, corn chips, olives, flat bread, water, wine

my bad stomach, A's bad foot, the world

can we bear to watch election coverage or czech movie preview?

still undecided

I'm tipping coalition by twelve seats

recalling someone said last night 'remember 1993'

the birds continue chorus and call and afternoon lies down in shade

Thursday, October 07, 2004

election blues

plane trees drop their golden dust
into the back of our throats
there's someone over there walking on a steel roof
with a plan and a rule

we talk about merging levels and soft barriers
we are holding onto what

on Saturday I'll head up to the agora
to scratch on some potsherd
ostracising myself or this gloomy country
with clay on my hands

Monday, October 04, 2004

another winner

Belated congratulations (I've been out of the loop this last week or so) - to Judy Beveridge, who won the 2004 Arts Queensland Judith Wright Calanthe Award for Poetry for her latest book, Wolf Notes, (Giramondo Publishing).

smell of smoke

sends signals
its smoky air

day's song

virgin beauty
melbourne cd shop

month ago
in the grey

a find
great ornette coleman

and swinging
in the free air

Sunday, October 03, 2004

sweeping washing
bottlebrush is out

for Annette
photographers with cakes

won fireworks
in the valley

all work
is getting done

new nick
cave is good

and smell
of night rain

Saturday, October 02, 2004


"I walk along, waving my arms and mumbling almost wordlessly, now shortening my steps so as not to interrupt my mumbling, now mumbling more rapidly in time with my steps.

So the rhythm is established and takes shape - and rhythm is the basis of any poetic work, resounding throughout the whole thing. Gradually you ease individual words free of this dull roar."

- Vladimir Mayakovsky, from How Verses Are Made (trans. George Hyde)

grand final fever

light hail down through fine web
water hang onto the cloud south
blue and white football hero streamers
come el magic they want you
come old freddy this last game
weather holds nothing close on truth
along the valley draped in hopes
praise this serious just a game
rain shine on wings and leaves
cars line up across the street

I live in Bulldogs territory. The 'El Magic' signs are everywhere. I lost 'my' team years ago. Balmain Tigers no more. This weekend it's Bankstown v. Bondi. The weather is in balance. Will it hold for tomorrow night's 'clash' (to go all footie commentator for a moment)?

If rugby league is a mystery to you, there's more than you'd ever want on the official site. Otherwise, check updates at the Herald. Or don't bother. The game lost me years ago - thank you, Super League - but people still care, and that's interesting.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Sydney rain today

down does
as hills disappear

not small
but blurred layers

one seagull
climbs the chill