Yesterday it was New Year sparkler January and today it is orange sky May. Tomorrow no doubt will be 2027 with a chance of digital rain.
For nine months of my life I walked this tunnel twice a day and sometimes I wrote down the snippets of conversation as a kind of random urban poem. I decided to do it tonight for old time’s sake. And something unexpected happened at the end.
Two male office workers, in Friday casual:
‘Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah exactly.’
Twenty something female to friend, both with headphones:
‘And I was like, “My mum made the decision.'”
Man to women wearing hajib and looking skeptical:
‘Don’t know, probably.’
Twenty something man in high-spirits to two friends:
‘Yeah but actually she doesn’t live there anymore.’
Curly haired young woman on the phone at the bus stop:
‘I’ve just hopped off at Central and I’m waiting for the bus… actually I’m pooped.’
Man who approached quietly and is standing close to me:
‘ I don’t like to do this but my son and I haven’t eaten… I lost my job and… [hand out clasping gold coin].
Me: [reaching for wallet deciding with joy I’ll surprise this man with a note]. What’s your son’s name?
Begging man: ‘His name is Sean. S-e-a-n.’
Me: [Giving meagre $5] Well my name is Peter and I’m a Christian and God loves you whatever the story. [I don’t believe his spoken story and I don’t care].
Something’s happening in Ukraine
Yet the pictures don’t make sense
Seems some tourists must be visiting
Hope the locals don’t take offence
I see them lolling among sunflowers
I see them resting where they lay
Surely frolicing in green fields
Or dropping by for a farm-stay
Now they climb aboard the green train
More sightseeing must be their plan
Perhaps to Gaza they wiĺl travel next
It’s more than I can understand
That’s enough, we want you back again
Lovely travellers please come home
Yes something’s happening in Ukraine
You should not be there on your own.
While leaders erred their courage held
Bloodied birth waters for a young nation
Not so far from there a crowd yelled
Bloody minded in their mob betrayal
Quiet days that soar still on our modern calendars
Far places weighing on our clever consciences
Calvary and Anzac Cove say, ‘Not my will, lest we forget’.
Great defeats born with blood, borne by love
Teaching us still decades, centuries, eternally
That winning is not always won in victory
But sometimes by the brave, in loss.
The good die young, die in sand and mud, die in their thousands
And we remember them, more than ever, more than mostMoved and strangely weeping.
But listen, echoing along with shuffling feet on dawn’s street
The sound of metal striking metal
Wood giving way, and flesh
And the cry of an only Son
Who dies on a tree, dies with scorn, dies alone
Not my will, lest we forget.
Pockets of unbelief
Some bulging overcoat-size, fit the world in here Doctor Who style
Others faux, stitched, finger-blocking and smug, for appearance
Many inside jackets, back of jeans, silently or savagely stashed
Superior, mildly scornful, more dismissive, of my
Happy Easter greeting, not returned.
Broad swathes of just-believing cloth
But blowing in the wind, somewhat faded, trouser leg
Or sensible dress, unbuttoned sleeve, residual with faith’s fragrances
Pinched and creased and stained by paedophiles and penchants and pus
Didn’t even mention, neither for or against
Unobtrusive, benign, begrudging, slightly bitter? God, it’s Easter.
Collars, cuffs and hidden hems of belief
Heady justification, muddy footslog trailing threads and quick cuffs
Plunged diabolically or deliberately into pockets stirring
Or dipped in sweat of need or heartfelt hidden, hemmed in at home
Not just another day, more than a holiday
The core of my being, nothing more or less, forgive me Easter.
Good Friday fashion eternally of choice and destination
One garment disdained, gambled and divided and sworn
Another devotedly wrapped and wrapped and tears
And what will we wear world, garment of praise, garment of the age?
Lying still, pause for breath if nothing else
It’s a day that defies the pace and my mind turns to, strangely
Good Friday Fashion
…they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
…took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth
It’s small in the scheme of things
But significant all the same
Brought to sight by a flash of light
The unseen is suddenly seen
Water surrounds it darkly
Future written in the sky
Brought to sight by a flash of light
Startling momentous life
What is it?
Peace on earth?
Can’t yell me to believe in
better educate them
to take away the fright
I’m not going for no
expert’s free endorsement
to mitigate the sight
22, Chenpeng children, kitchen-knife stabbed, village school
20, Newtown little ones, gunshot dead, kindergarten classroom
10, Dawlatzai innocents, bombshell bled, collecting firewood
And that’s just this week
I don’t wanna make sense of
Everything that’s senseless
Everything that’s broken
to help me through the night
There’s nothing you can show me
That undoes all the madness
Liberates the sadness
Or sends all the children home
But I can still remember
A broken twisted traitor
Who said he was a Saviour
Who radiated right
And I can still feel
A resonance of matter
Perpetuance of laughter
An ever outsourced light
Photo: Robert Davies, UK
Mantel’s Cromwell stands amidst the past like a house burned down
It fattens your thought like cholesterol in your veins
Like tar in your lungs
The past clings to things heavily
And you carry the weight without knowing
Your fastest manoeuvre is leadened, leavened
And you blame the present
Ignoring the heavy metal armour of yesterday
But in a slim moment you glimpse
You – divested of this insulation to life
A sharper, faster, nimbler you
One that was forgotten; no, more than that
One you didn’t know existed.
Can you forego once and for all
This raking of the coals
This teasing of your soul
Your sabotage of certainty and seasons
Ah, of course there is no once and for all
That is what keeps you there, in the past
Unfinished business that can’t be finished
So unfinish it with His “Finished”
Even deadly, devout Cromwell knew as much
- Booker Prize 2012: Hilary Mantel wins again (telegraph.co.uk)
Foul and racist attacks by passengers on a bus are abhorrent. Clamouring comfortable classes taking the high ground just as bad. We don’t yell at green light negators in the silence of our traffic doom? We don’t name call and swear blindly in our political houses? We don’t rant and hate in our ivory cafe froth […]
‘Get your copy of the Big Issue’.
‘C’mon big fella,
We’re looking for a good
Just five dollars
All proceeds to help the disadvantaged’.
[Nervous laugh – mine]
Girl to girl, ‘You don’t want too?’
Voice in the air, ‘See ya dude!’
[Exit up the stairs]
Pool of thick, red substance near the bus stop
And two reddened tissues
Could be blood
But seriously looks like the remains of a jam donut
[Second rower? What was he thinking!]
Murmur of walking feet
Warm, very warm
‘He’s a great vocalist, but he’s just not pulling his weight’
Two Asian girls standing in a sea of walkers
‘And she’s consulting him‘
Two nuns, one speaking, Canadian, flourish of the arm
‘It’s good karma’
Young, white, with long dark hair, and not a clue about Hinduism
Cool near the end of the tunnel
Murmur of walking feet
I know I’ve been speechless of late
It’s what happens when your ears are full
Your mouth is empty
And your heart is silence overflowing
I still see things and wonder and create
Small chains of ideas
But the energy to bother has been cruelled
Slipping through cracks
And running down the dirty city gutter
It occurred to me as a small example –
Our life addiction
How we settle for many impoverishings
Because we at least
Are alive to breath and remember
Or to notice the man with maddened hair
Dark tanned cracked face
Sitting on a shady step on hot King St
Counting his coins
Black eyes catch mine before we separate
Or to feel tears swell when crackly speakers
Come to life and bid
Us all stand and silently remember
I saw just a boy’s name
And recalled the worth of two quiet minutes
Here’s to all the dreamers and lovers and stealers
For the ‘sparks soul’
Where ‘love is the only art’; so mention
It again to yourself
And open wide your flailing utterance
I wrote this poem on my phone, hence the short lines and meter. Clearly some angst on this particular day…
Suffer into Freshness
Is there a faith that is safe
From fading vacuous jargon
And well-intentioned simpletons
Who trample through the garden?
The further I remove myself
From religious ways of thinking
The more I notice emptiness
And sentiment that’s sinking.
Is this a sign of my decline
Into a heart that’s hardened?
Or a clearing of my sight
To metamorphing pardon.Read More »
Nothing in life is without its problems
Which is a problem in itself.
People with blogs often tell other people, with or without blogs, about what they are reading. This may be to come across as a clever, readerish type or out of a genuine attempt to stimulate reading and discussion.
In my case I’m going to tell you what I’ve been reading because the litter of books next to my bed could be ignored no longer. I suddenly noticed it one day and thought, mmmm.
Anyway, here’s what I’m reading and feel free to use the comment facility with this post to inflict on me what you are reading. No, seriously, I’m generally interested! By the way, this reading does not include the portions of novels I am required to read for the publishing and editing courses I am doing which so far has included Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, James Bradley’s The Resurrectionist and Brett Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park (and that’s just the first week…). And then there is the constant noting of books other people are recommending in my lectures so that I now have a list of about 37 books that simply must be read…
But back to the leaf-litter around my bed:
God had me on a string today, I thought. Everywhere I went, seemingly by chance, I met people, seemingly on purpose. I arrived at Lunch just in time for the Young Woman to ask me about her mental health. ‘I don’t want to be kicked out on the streets or get locked up. How do I seem to you?’ My answer was sweet and sour like the steaming bowl of food before me. ‘You have been more unwell than this but you were right to say the best thing is to see your doctor as you are not quite yourself.’ She was reassured and I left Lunch just in time to see the Old Woman exit the building opposite, heading for the bus. I walked up beside her and gave her the gift that was tucked away in my bag. She kissed me with delight and yelled thank you as we parted. After eight kilometres walking with Tall Boy in misty rain around Blackwattle Bay, I considered my next move and headed for a hair cut. Crossing the road I saw the Owner, who I had just been thinking off. He spotted me and came over with friendly smile and clipped accent. We chatted and he offered me a job and I said for us both, ‘It’s in God’s hands.’ Young Man appeared as we continued talking in the street, also heading for a haircut, which he beat me too. It has been some time and at least we locked eyes and I was able to find him in the barber’s seat and grip his shoulders. The Iranian was all smiles and curls and pleased to see me. I said I would return tomorrow and headed for the bus. Waiting at the lights before the River of Traffic, I spotted the Older Man, on the other side. We waved across the rapidly moving, and I let my green man go as Older Man crossed over. We shook hands, and affirmed friendship and there was more deep eye contact, much-needed assurance. As we spoke, Woman Carrying Box appeared next to us and so as the green man appeared again, we farewelled Older Man, and I switched conversations once more. ‘Growing in confidence’ I thought, as we talked at the bus stop, with women looking on it seemed. She asked a question or two and the red 10 arrived to deliver me from the enjoyable relay-conversation in which I had just featured, all on a city corner. Later, having left Something, I was driving back when I missed Someone’s call. I was not surprised (considering the day) upon reaching my destination to see him parking too, as if we’d planed a rendezvous. We talked in hushed tones and found the Walker sitting cross-legged on the floor, but that is one story too many. As I prepared to leave, having intended to ‘slip under the radar’, Woman of Art arrived but I left with a wave, thinking that if this piece of string continued, I would never get home. But I did.
Fixed someone up with a new set of clothes
Managed not to step on gangrene toes
Helped two friends avoid coming to blows
Some conversation about nobody knows
Marvellous it is how God’s love flows
E – everyone, everywhere
A – all the time, all year round
S – story to begin, end, transcend all stories
T – The… The Christ, The Lord, The Word, The Lamb
E – ending sin, death, the work of religion
R – rising, ever risen, the first of us
Photos: Man-made blue cross on church; God made cross structure in Whirlpool Galaxy. Happy Easter. PH
Awake 6.30, cool of the morning
Maragogype coffee beans lure me downstairs
Before returning, cup in hand for my wife
And the first strains of ABC news
Man stabbed and dying in Marion St
Like Heart? Leichhardt? Where I live?!
And the story unfolds as the day does too
Of a man hammered, and chased, and killed
Between hospital visits
Which is a whole other story
I walk in the bright sun to the spot
Where another human bled and died.
Parents with prams amble by
As do children from school
While two old men in nursing home trance
Stare at the Channel 7 car, satellite dish raised
Can I comprehend that before the heat
There was night, and men angry, raging
In their cars and on their feet
Rushed to steal another man’s life
And the sky is so blue.