Showing posts from October, 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 w…


heavy sequinned flies
burn in the sun

the back-handed buzz gnaws
and wakes dark plans

the neon freeze calls
intentions and dreams

messy clouds

everyone runs
away in clouds

and scattered
had too much

fine it's not
and yet again

is real
so is rain

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.


{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

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.


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

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 Won…

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 …

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.

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 l…

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


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

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

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

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

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


"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.

Sydney rain today

down does
as hills disappear

not small
but blurred layers

one seagull
climbs the chill