Showing posts from August, 2006

end of August - conditions

So that's it for August and 'the project'. Thanks to those that stopped by and left a comment (and those who visited by leaving other traces, I could feel the pixels rustlin').

This weekend (family duties) and next week (grand happenings, including weekend after) are absolutely chockers, and near impossible for anything outside the squares, the envelopes, the grids, the whatevers. If I get to watch the last ep of Dr Who (on tape), that'll be something, I tell ya.

But I might still try to do my own rustling from time-to-time. Maybe.


I contemplate my modern soul not too much. There's something of steel in the sky and it bears down through clearances of blue. I’ve tried stepping into the same sea twice, or more, and nearly drowned in the shallows. The sand occupies me with its waywardness, its withholding of evidence, debrading millions of dead skeletons. The crust is temporary but the wind taps each wing of a high albatross. A headland is always that far, a lighthouse flashes with some ghost climbing. The rocky beach is littered with fur seals. Danger moves in their sleepy regard and their bloodied necks. I realise stepping here is wrong as well. But the wind is cold and sometimes that’s enough.


Each day is impossible as I fight with contours.

My horizon breathes its narrow fog, as militaries hedgehop by day.

Dusty trees tremble in darkness.

Silver-plated clouds and tiny craters slip stones into my mouth.

Here I wait for breaks at sea, cracks in holes made by language.

I am a stone at the bottom where each word will be stolen.

I could head for the pale yellow distance or die in repetition.

how it might sing

I've just come across Jeff Davis's blog called Natures,. I'm glad I did.

I was actually tracking down some information on Thomas Meyer when it turned up. So, first of all, there's references to Meyer and to Creeley and others. There are some good considered things here including, for starters, an entry tackling poetry and music which, as a poet who makes much musical reference and with a concern for the sonics of poetry, I found useful - thinking in terms of sound forms and the lexical.

I liked that 'natures' is the plural, rather than the grandiose Nature.


fragile tears or strong enough falling
that’s left
the uncertain lengths

there are possibles, rain on earth
and lostness
but are everywhere

and to hear crackles of diodes
of a
few recovered scraps

ardent/ ears/ eyes the taste, skin
some future time
will think

acts in time along with leaves

- with a fragment from a fragment of Sappho

Yes, I know that was a bit of a flurry of words. But the idea of 'conditions' (aka The August Project) was to end up with 31 poems - not necessarily one written every day but one for every day.

So they were all written this month and, no, those last ones weren't just written tonight. I extracted them from notebooks and recent drafts. I didn't post much last week as I was unwell, bit of spring flu.

I saw the Al Gore movie tonight. That was a blow to the head. Not new, mind, but necessary.


The sting in light
brings its news and warnings

Faces circle
a shining of dust

Sleeping lightly
the empty room is a never empty space

The coin is tossed
and it sings through the air



What do we say to barriers
or wounds, that we descend along them?

What do we say to the other side
the sun and moon we do not see?

What of this tide, the thoughts in any tide
making minutes in the gauge, traces in the grain?

The passage of water in concentration
a meditation on the wave, without it no shore or skin.

It makes and moves the heart vessel
and every rocky boat.

Side by side we are rising –
chest, rib, ventricle, moon feather, branch, plinth

fall, returning stream, arrow, light, dark pulse
carbon, membrane, light in light, wave and wound.


What is this?

While we’re talking light passes, though it’s easy to ignore its radiant shift. We’re neither passengers nor eternal. Though we trip on each other’s recall there’s another history being rearranged in shades drawn on ground.

I say, it’s how you think in circles, wanting to merge rather than mark. The four corners of a centre tremble as they touch space.

Our argument may ignite in small layers or return to its great elasticity. It’s no more than extending a mirror into the existence of zero. But I can do nothing unless I lose my own track, in land that made the curve, neither fleeting nor continuing, but always drawn on ground.

Here are the difficulties - of clusters, pebbles, mind moon, that great vacant sign, an eternal jewel, the head’s empty bucket, containing all things yet without, rearranging itself within clarity’s blue shadow.

the light
of your fingers
skin under sky


I have been working up to this all day. The gas and incense and the lowly trash invite quick contemplation of older pasts. The sunset spreads its saffron quilt, then the bra-a-ck bra-a-ck of gates and ticketing, the sweet lyres of homecoming. And coming home can be hard, that place. To live there after other places, to move into it smelling of the tunnels, taking delivery in the peculiar accent of dusk, an old-fashioned and decadent indigo, slightly denatured. There’s been a canopy set here for years. It’s used to the complaint, to bearing the weight of schedules and mistakes. ‘Once there was …’ is the beginning of the kind of sentence that can ruin you. And this was? Not equality but your long fingers and your long mind. I still have the entries and they never grow cold.

The next issue of foam:e is now looking for submissions, by the way.


note the calm in ruination
thereof the morning sings
the damages blacken
the deceasing birds
but that production, useless
warms up the skin
with spring world, will tell
it is exactly necessity
in the switches of an emergency

the question will not move
in the screen, windows
and the transformation
of love that breathes directly

extreme scar
the hand has

in answer to loudspeakers
infinite poetry of senses
a question of fixes
the end to given forms
that eat dryness
already manufactured under gas

the constant of abundance
stops memory
that might be destroyed


All we killers
raking air out of lungs
and the trees.

Although I’ve no force
I comply breaking the chain
removing dirt and odours
the while with petrochemical skin
that lights up and
in my hair the slippery
molecules and plastic roots.

As if efficiency was enough god
and out of the tar pits
you raise the candle.


the wine is portuguese
the drums new york
outside is snowy sydney
if sydney had snow
it’s cold though
the weather’s in the south
seems like a trick
bomb clouds and machines
humming like fat
silver planes with hefty wings
dropping dropping
more than passengers
tonight love isn’t enough
you just want it to stop
molesting your psyche
while you paint the sign
as we used to
don’t. give. up. not. yet


I'm to eat the bitter herbs
and give up my innocence
lost when I was less than
six or twenty or
when I confused the taste among
gas markets and asphalt linings
the false spring of jasmine.

Yet the bitter clings
to the lips
the hill, last summer’s gully.
Did you know it sang
through its threads?

Somehow its green colour
reminds you
this is only a campfire
where we lie together


Raising questions, just like the body, each curve in a sentence, of before and after - that I never arrived at the time stated, that the trains stuttered. This wasn’t the time to fall. Small toys still clutter the boxes along with the old believers. A promise as quick as youth, the insouciance of languages between aisles and ring tones. Now, through each eye, everything appears amber, an effect of late winter, and a day after hail. There are 101 rendezvous we never made. That isn’t a wound, of course, nor is it a direct statement. There’s too much that we never really had. The price of junk mail. The embroidery on our predatoriness, a dalliance with ten thousand songs saved on the soft drive. Beware of the yellow sliding doors, they’ll kiss you quick. Alongside tender self-absorption, fog on the towers, an unfinished restoration where stone goes grey and wistful, there are the high dissatisfactions. But it was good in that moment, wasn’t it?

A little paragraph (or two) of congratulations

First, my partner, photographer Annette Willis has just won the Friends of Wollongong City Gallery Photographic Prize. Her photograph was a triptych portrait of our friend and fellow photographer William Yang. So we went down to the Gong last week and Annette received real prize money. Yay! I can't get hold of the image at the moment but I'll work on that. Annette will also have another work quite prominently displayed outdoors in Sydney in October. More news on that later.

Also, this weekend there's been a bit of a poetry beano up in BrisVegas, the Queensland Poetry Festival, and this included the presenting of a couple of poetry awards.

Poet/artist Angela Gardner, my friend and one-time collaborator and editor of that fine e-journal foam:e, has won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Award For An Unpublished Manuscript for her unpublished manuscript, Parts of Speech. And my friend Louise Waller was also runner-up in the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award For Unpublished Poet…
Poetry all round the big old world - the same and not the same:

Poetry wars in Russia

Poetry in taxis - Taipei

must read this


ruined in translation
the birds you know

you, exactly
the way and curve

but always and constant
in my delay

and when tender
the hour is simple, read

entering the world, with
I continue that way

Australian Poetry Festival

The Australian Poetry Festival is taking place at a number of venues this year. Full details on the Poets Union website.

One of the main Sydney venues is at Sydney Grammar School on College Street near the Australian Museum, on 9th and 10th September. Here's a list of some of the sessions.

Sat 9th September
1.00-1.45 Reading: Yve Louis & Michael Sharkey.

1.50-2.30 Reading: Brendan Ryan & Alan Gould.

2.50- 3-50 Between Possibilities: Poets discuss the proposition that good work is seldom produced from a single position. Poets: Joanne Burns, Jaya Savige & George Szirtes.

4-5.10 Reading: Fay Zwicky, Jill Jones & Kathryn Lomer.

Sun 10th September
11 – 11.40 A Poets Union Journey into Spin. With John Carey, Jill Jones, Kerry Leves & Les Wicks.

12.30 – 1.10 Tributes: The Festival pays its respects to Lisa Bellear, Richard Deutch, Phillip Martin, Vera Newsom & Margaret Scott. With Craig Powell & Judith Beveridge.

1.15–2.00 Reading: Stephen Edgar & J.S.Harry.



My body fills with arguments
each day, sometimes
they are about yellow borders
the blaze along the bone.
There’s a bomb in my brain
an irregular tick
inside my breast
an ambiguity in each step
requiring more words
newly repeated
that do not think
themselves into place.
I am my own discourse
and am never alone.


The night bends back on itself. It does not hail or conquer time, almost it doesn’t. We offer the hoops, we take the dive. Years later we may emerge. I am not attending, even so, or getting even. Words will betray any time. The tongue is an instrument, we play as most serious. The way uncovers itself in mysterious shudders, the sudden winter cold. Actions trace their truths and I am in their constant presence without aid. I do not do this lightly, except with breath. The bed is wide and tonight the moon is thin and elegant, an etched nail on the sky. We hang ourselves there as if it’s the only time we have. There is no music. There is no need for music.


with morning brilliance
filters, silhouettes
here's our montage
maps, negatives
our grain

contact is the art

- for A


act bas
ket cycle dress
eagle flare gas
ten interzone jig kes
trel layer meander nes
tle open pat query ride s
ofa tres
tle underwear venture walk
ylophone yell z


This is not a category

it blows its blossoms clear
over the trees
and it is over

looking up the ladders and the trunks
with someone searching
their packets for something
meaningful, at least
a map, a stereoscope
a fine landing

a syntax that isn't anxious about its sequences

that project

I've decided that 'The August Project' was slightly naff - kind of stiff.

As I'm feeling it's all a bit conditional at the moment, I'll keep posting poems till the end of the month under 'conditions'.

If anyone's been following, just so it's clear(ish).

Well, I don't quite get it either. Onward.

I wandered lonely as a ... whatever

but I do like clouds, as does the cloud appreciation society.

would you believe ...?

... a literary salon run by Ben (record producer, DJ and the boy half of Everything But The Girl) Watt - at Cherry Jam, 58 Porchester Road, London, W2.

And also featuring Poetry Boy Band.

bits about cities n stuff

Interesting interview with John Foxx and a quote about cities.

Meant to post this weeks ago. Asleep at the wheel?

... doing that you break out in tears

Dear Mr. Fantasy
Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything, take us out of this gloom,
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy

You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don't be sad, if it was a straight life you had
We wouldn't have known you all these years

Music and Lyrics: Winwood, Capaldi, Wood

I've played this a couple of times on the weekend, making of it what I will.

In case you've never heard it or don't have a copy, here's an article about making the LP including 30 second snip of the song - perhaps not the best representation of the whole song (remember phasing). Err, I'm talking about the band Traffic, thought I better mention that.

I really liked these pieces from Raoul Vaneigem's Journal Imaginaire, translated by Pierre Joris at nomadics.

The August Project

It's a straitened time
for me, like the era
parched and full of
small agonies
related to bewilderment

My pumice mind
abrades its home
there are no more arbors

You hear each day alive
in its runnels
a kind of delirious
boredom that, sure
can variegate at times

So you might need
an up-to-date glossary
or something shiny
above the wall
a wing off the sun
blithe in the way
it's taken you up
again in ferment
of air, it's not pure
but it moves

The August Project

after all these years
the cats are back
and my mind still
has its dust

the moon trembles
rain as a leaf
is waiting to begin
this fall of night

the quarrel has no
extension and no
silence the house
isn’t still but holds

its own quiet

The August Project

You forget everything is attached to wires.

Getting up sometimes does work.

Once you missed salving your left hand. That hurt for a while.

Rain drops inside.

Peace should never be left to them.

The morning parrots are night’s ghosts rearranging.

We should get drunk more often and hold hands.

To have gone away or reframed the problem.

There’s music on the road: pick it up! it sings.

Better to have let the cats look after the station.

Needing no locks. Then kiss me!

Patience is my secret vice.

Making green water.

Even the trains need to rest.

Careful on the slope.

blog'n roll

Couple of changes to the blogroll. Just added Richard Lopez's really bad movies, definitely on a roll, and Derek Motion's typing space, another Australian in the blogosphere.

The August Project

The things you try
when you’re 18
leaving nothing behind
so beautiful as 1956
a bell-hop’s hat
ghost of a morning’s love
in a river city
mysterious travellers
with, maybe, a .38
riding round all night
everyone looks like Elvis

The August Project

The fire exhales slowly.
What you’re looking at
doesn’t matter.
Clouds make room for rain.

Even my clothes are cold.
You take your pick.
All the while a cat
picks out yards and grass.

The August Project

dark extends
footsteps among secrets


A few things added to Off the street. First additions for a while.

The August Project

what is
worth the monsters

when there’s
cowboys in here

also new

The latest and, sadly it seems, the last issue of Space is just out.

The editor is Anthony Lynch, with David McCooey assisting.

It includes: poetry by Peter Bakowski, Connie Barber, Annie Barclay, Craig Billingham, Grant Caldwell, Louise Crisp, Nathan Curnow, Stephen Edgar, Toby Fitch, Claire Gaskin, Paula Green, Hilaire, Jennifer Harrison, Matt Hetherington, Richard Hillman, Phil Ilton, Lisa Jacobson, Jill Jones, Paul Kane, John Kinsella, Anthony Lawrence, Louise Oxley, Dorothy Porter, Kimberley Rankin, Peter Rose, Robyn Rowland, James Stuart *paintings by Michele Burder *fiction by John Cameron, Gregory Day, Karin Francis, Fiona Hile, Joanna Kujawa, Alex Skovron. *essays by Madeleine Hamilton on the voyeur of Playboy pin-ups, Amanda Johnson on the road to nowhere in Australian painting, Lee Kofman on Odessa’s hard rain. *reviews from Lisa Gorton on two recent memoirs, James Ley on an ambitious first novel and Michelle Borzi on five recent Australian poetry collections

Go here for orde…


Another edition of Haiku Review is now online. Stuff by and about poets and artists.

the translation blog

I've added a couple of new posts to my blog on translation, latitudes, after a rather long hiatus.

They include pointers to useful references on translating classical Chinese poetry, an 'imitation' of Mandelstam by Rosemary Dobson and David Campbell, and my version of a well-known Montale poem. And - my newest translation, of a well-known poem by Du Fu.

The August Project

Three wandering poems

How words graph the sky
and fall onto us. Fever dreams.
Doing, leaves, birds. This world.

— - —

The material empty lights through
in the running, still
or today, world of things.
Washed, curved.

— - —

Smiling in the haze of water moon.

Crows flying, white, dark.

The laughing unseen, bottom of your feet.

The August Project

A history of love, in parts

Red leaves and a storm.

The early life without mirrors.

Broken lines in a coast.

Another night gone inland, into rain.

Not in my voice, but in gardens.

Is sky anywhere?

Sympathy and trees, meaningless, half-seen.

To have gone away.


sometimes ...

..., as if working at the far end of the imagist project - uninflected, concrete, monosyllabic.

The August Project

there they
are killing time
word that's
not about ceasefire

price of
petrol and bananas
in torrents
whosoever sees action

does nothing?

"Li Kan once castigated the poetry of Yuan Zhen and Bo Juyi, which he considered to be so finely seductive and reckless that people who were not sober and refined would be destroyed thereby. When such writings were disseminated among the populace, the fathers of sons and the mothers of daughters would transmit and teach them from mouth to mouth. All those lascivious words and flirtatious phrases on winter cold and summer heat would penetrate so deeply into human flesh and bone that they could not be removed."

Wang Zhuo (d. 1160) from Biji manzhi, trans Anthony C. Yu, in Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism, eds Kang-i Sun Chang and Haun Saussy.

The August Project

The Thought of an Autobiographical Poem Troubles and Eludes Me

But all words are
I use them in my story told
in half sentences
and the quarter turn of mood

Today is a world of sound.
I hear words that mean
landing jet or rustled plastic
a book that depends on poetry.
And the gas, breathing.

I've been leaning against
the names of things
not just walls but the very air
the rug, the pen
the silver garbage bin.

I was reading a magazine today which contained a poem called 'Autobiographical Poem'. In a way, that seems daring in this day and age. Though 'autobiography' is fashionable as a genre.

"The poem ... is enmeshed in circumstance."
David Buchbinder, Contemporary Literary Theory and the Reading of Poetry

... like the phone ringing
and I hear her birds
in somewhere garden

eucalypt seeds the line
elsewhere comes close
luggage drops in a plane

the mohair rug is thirty-five
and still feels fine
rough and fine.

The August Project - Versions & Covers

The Spare Winter

Each week the weather spirals
cold on the rails The blue falls.
I've pinned hopes on a ticket away
closed my door on the Snowy winds.
The camellia gave up two flowers - alone
I write myself into a mystery at a window.
I gather simpler things on the plate
and count the birds I've missed in the strife.

Each day tendencies penetrate headphones
no-one sits among silence.
In deep city thralls there's a kind of happiness
at each counter something ordinary and bright.
'Praise and blame belong to youth and glory.'
Even a pair of sneakers grows old quick.
Winter rain cannot manage its balm
the black cat softens the iron roof.

- after reading Du Fu

Note: one line quoted from Angus Graham's translation of 'The Autumn Wastes', in Poems of the Late T'Ang, Penguin, 1965

The first draft was written on the train. The seat was cramped, bad design these new trains. But the sun was good, though day is colder. I bumped into an old colleague in the lobby. We're all mo…

a pinch and a punch

First of August. Wattle's birthday, horse's birthday. Beginning of the windy season in Sydney.

And the beginning of The August Project.

This is a kick start, to get the words rolling. They will roll in various ways each day - written daily if not always posted/pasted at the time - as I get the pen (yes, real pen, real ink) kicking along.

First up will be the first of some Versions and Covers. But there will also be some Evidence and some Breathing Exercises.

fresh ear sand - get it now!

The second edition of Mark Young's Otoliths is on free this morning.

Full of poetry texts and visuals by Karl Young, Juhana Vähänen (translated by Karri Kokko), Martin Edmond, Rochelle Ratner, Louise Landes Levi, Cath Vidler, Michael Farrell, Christian Jensen, Ira Joel Haber, Bruce Covey, Jill Jones, Allen Bramhall, Derek Motion, Caleb Puckett, Sandra Simonds (a mini-chap — The Tar Pit Diatoms), Vernon Frazer, Pat Nolan, Donald Illich, J.D. Nelson, harry k stammer, Steve Tills, David Meltzer, Tom Beckett, Thomas Fink, Crag Hill, Ira Cohen, Carol Jenkins, Miia Toivio, John M. Bennett, Michael Rothenberg, Geof Huth, David-Baptiste Chirot, Aki Salmela, Sandy McIntosh, Michelle Greenblatt, Janne Nummela, Tom Hibbard, Marko J. Niemi, Phil Primeau, Kevin Opstedal, Olli Sinivaara, Nico Vassilakis & John M. Bennett, Michael McClure, Pam Brown, Leevi Lehto & Eileen Tabios.

Read not once, read often.

Thanks Mark.