Leaden Belly

June 21, 2008

I was told last night (by someone who was very drunk and probably would’ve phrased their point more wisely and argued it more precisely if they weren’t, so to pick apart their basically innocuous comment after the fact is a little unfair, but I’m going to DO IT ANYWAY) that I must feel as though I’m too good for Perth. She said, “What are you going to do because you can’t stay in Perth, you’re too good for it.” I don’t think she meant me in particular, I think she also thought she and all her friends and a lot of people she knew were also too good. Her point is a tired one, that Perth is no good, not for young urbane creative hipsters like us… there’s not enough roads or something, but I chose to take her question at its face rather than argue with this presumption. As such I didn’t know where to start. My plans don’t encompass where they’ll be enacted. I suppose it’s naive to think that the place where you try to achieve your dreams has no bearing on their achievement, but I also think one’s priorities are misplaced if one thinks of being in a certain place, or simply being not-in-a-certain-place is an achievement that one should work toward. If you do that, are you not putting a premium on mere latitude and longitude? It’s fair enough that if you want to be a rapper you’d have a better shot if you moved from Kalgoorlie or New York (although, not necessarily, I mean you’d probably have a pretty bad chance anyway, how good can MC Gold Fields be… actually that has a decent ring to it, I’ll get back to you) but your object-little-a (psychoanalytic term, feel free to be impressed) remains being a rapper, right, not being in New York, right? Access to certain utilities and goods and events is a legitimate enough thing to desire, but is it not one based on the vacuous purpose of consumption, comfort and privilege? It’s not that wanting to be in a different place is an illogical desire, but it’s an ethically bankrupt one. Is it? That’s the way I feel about it now. I do plan to try to do certain things outside of Perth, but this is not because I think that I’m better than Perth, it’s because they can help me get in touch with publishers, magazines, agents, literary cultures that might underprop my so-called career in writing. I don’t know what it would mean to be better than Perth. A city’s name cannot properly describe the city, so it’s impossible to compare it to myself in order to establish which is better than the other. Better? I think I’m probably worse. What have I done with myself today? I ate two cheese flavoured crackers, toast, and my main thoughts have been dedicated to which time of day it would be best to watch Barry Lyndon in. I kind of want to ride around on buses and listen to music, so it might be good to watch at night time, but if people come around to visit the housemates then I won’t be able to watch it. It’d be nice to spend the afternoon luxuriating in the view of a long movie but it’s a little noisy outside. That might diminish my enjoyment. However, once I finish it I could head to Planet to get some more. These are not the concerns of someone better than Perth. Someone has no claim to deserve their place anywhere, they’re lucky they’re allowed to be where they are. I think the point of my ramble has gotten away from me somewhat so I’m going to close it up now.

I think I got a high distinction for my last poem, here is an early draft of it that I’ve since changed:

How We Fled the Wolf

expanding outward from the stove
a hemisphere at whose edge
I destroy floor
peeling up linoleum
alone in the kitchen

Mother in her bedroom
recently free from my beer-sick father
arranging chess pieces on her dresser

giant purple perfume bottle
lipstick, pale red, stick half
dry from disuse, clammy,
like hangover tongue
other bottles and boxes and
a framed photo of me holding
a football in my sleep

She calls to me
I put the lino back and meet her at the door
and promise myself
not to speak during the drive

we are going to the bank, Petal
then to the DSS

Northam is a burnt banana leaf from
the borrowed-car passenger seat
eucalypts and yellow grass
blazing us, the problem couple,
into stigmatic silence.
We are hobbled too by the money
houses, who know how far
we’ve fallen

the emergency grant is
$57.80. It’s not much, but
if you need any more just
come right back

the car ride home
is a deep sea sub
we are sunken and cold, but safe
from the outside viciousness

the house is a friend’s house
so Mum notices the lino and sighs
but this is life outside the gulag



June 11, 2008

When I work I like not to work, but rather to do other things. I’m working on the news, writing the news, writing news for the people, and what I have done to help me along is make five cups of tea, fetch muffins and milk from the servo which I’ve told Pete he can have some of, buy some “Snack” variety of chocolate, eat half of “Snack” chocolate variety, play Scrabble (I have gotten three bingos totally 243 points) and refresh Facebook waiting for various correspondences to come back (no luck). But somehow I have successfully completed two thirds of my work, now I can JOURNAL, since no-one has written me letters to which I must reply. Go on with the chlorophyl.

So, what am I thinking today, what thoughts, thoughts have I had? I am growing more and more confident that me and my peers are becoming shadows of the new 21st set. I remember when I was in that set… sort of, I was never really in that set, the popular set. I have never in my life been a popular lad, I’m probably more popular now than I ever have been and I spend all my time writing the news and eating “Snack” variety chocolate, listening to a download of a Ricky Gervais audio commentary for a DVD that I haven’t seen. (On the topic of not being in demand, I was SHITTING myself because I had left my phone at home while I went to uni for six hours to finish off my highly intelligent essay about how autistic narrators operate to criticise the philosophical precepts of realism, then when I got home not only have I not had any messages, not only have I not had missed calls, but I have CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP because neither of those two things had happened.) Anyway, back to the topic of no longer popular, never having been popular, being taken over by 21 year olds who think they’re the bees’ knees… ah, it’s not a big deal, really. The thing is, most people who are 21 are stupid. Even when I was 21, the 21 year olds at the time were stupid, I just didn’t know it. So I am lamenting the passage of an era that never really existed (one in which I was chummy with all, and all were saying unto me smart things) so hang the emergence of the shadow selves! I don’t mind. I shall simply read books for 10 years until I am allowed to make friends with some 40 year olds. Good idea, right? Right?

I’ve had other thoughts than these. For example, is it evil if someone is idle? If they work a shitty job, watch shitty movies, seek mostly to hang out with friends all day to have conversations of dubious importance, do they deserve to be called evil? While the Cambodians are fishing land mines out of their toilets with fishing lines made out of their grandmother’s long hair, which they sell later at the mercenaries’ markets? Yes they do. But am I allowed to be pious, and point out that it’s evil? What do I do that is helping the bald grandmothers and their limbless, bartering children climb the ladder to non-landmindedness? Well, I’m intending to at some point be writing long features lambasting my fellow man for their idle ways, basically saying “FOR SHAME, ALL OF YOU, A POX ON ALL YOUR HEADS” once I’m a pillar of public commentary, so perhaps that, perhaps that, is action enough? Hm? Hm? Hm. Yes. It is.

Neruda’s got stones on him the size of fists
Great galloping bollocks that ring like bells
when he walks.

Where else would he get the gumption to tell
his woman that he dreams to be a child sucking
at her tit?

and to tell the world that she possesses him
completely? How does he do it so that he sounds
as turgid as a fireman?

Either stones, or the clip and curve of Spanish
drenched in myth and absolutes. A world alive
with God, driving speakers smiling

to their glory
and their doom

Taking Tea for a Ride

June 8, 2008

What can I say about this weekend… I threw up in a public toilet for the third time. By that I mean, I’ve spewed in this same one toilet three times. Actually I think it’s probably the third time in total that I’ve spewed in any public toilet, they just happen to have all been in the same toilet. Wait no, that’s not true, I’ve spewed in the Amplifier toilet a number of times. I used to do that to make myself less sick and drunk and more able to continue partying. Now I am less willing to go to even conventional lengths to party even a minimal amount. You have to drag me away from homework to a pub just down the road. That also isn’t true – I gamely accepted such an offer last night without much in the way of protest, but compared to the canon-shot force with which I used to propel myself randomly and anonymously into the night time it almost constitutes an arm-bend. At the moment it seems to me that, unless you have a vested interested in social climbing or simply expansion, or penis and/or vagina hunting, going out is a haphazard, unnecessary violence. Why do you get out of it at the end of the night? If people like you, a drunken ego. If they don’t, a battered one. Is this the kind of thing people write before they go on rampages? Hope not! Anyway, I’m sure I’ll get back into the swing of things eventually. You can take the boy out of the meat market but you can’t take the meat market out of the boy.

I have known the post-laugh languor of your eyelids
your crinkled eye corners, your wet eye whites
your cheeks puffy and prone to blushes, your loose boy shirts
cream white and specked with curry, the wrinkles
of your mother’s ankles fringing her Capri pant cuffs
on their quarter-hourly stalk of your doorway,
the familiar sting of your unshaven shins and the
books, blankets and broaches beaching your bed botch.
And I have known the pull of your hairclips
choppy charcoal casting caught on your scalp, clawed
from your big black hair, falling then into curls
as you pushed your laptop closed and I pulled you close
your bedroom’s splendour electric on your lips.

Tuneful Mmming

June 4, 2008

Lifetime artists make me want to keep on going. People who only really get going once they’re in their 30s, or has a decent start, then shied away from the spotlight, then returned lazily to great acclaim. People whose life has folded itself into their art so that they do not take time out to make art, it simply comes as they breathe. They are an example from which I extrapolate the truth that if you care enough and keep trying you will achieve something close to that which you wish to achieve. I want to write poetry the way Bjork makes records.

I finished a draft of my final poem and found out that John Mateer is reading at Cottonmouth. Our washing machine has started to shriek like Ricky Gervais. I am in a terrible rut but gregariousness is probably around the corner. In this one you were asked to make a poem like a list about a place you were at.

Beaufort Street
The shopfronts dwarf the people
Their grey and tan trousers and t-shirts
Skirts and stockings, all a uniform
Faux-sport flavour
Unable to exclaim over the noise
Of Environ Pore Treatment, Real Estate Woman
Body Solarium and Spray-on-Tan
And the traffic, sedans and rovers
People movers, or else rust buckets
And those who hate the explosion
Of clean surface, modernist cafes
And clotheshops drink
The Scotsman’s beer, and rent Planet’s
Videos with those burning it along
They might be different
Waitresses and designers and speechmakers
And students and jobless and ugly and pretty
And needy and aloof, but this is Perth
And they are white
And they are not that different

I just realised that for the entire time I’m in the US I’ll be taking shits in strange toilets. It’s a good thing I’ve been spending the past two years increasing my strange-toilet-tolerance-threshold. I can now lay all but the tastiest of dishes in houses of friends and family, high end shopping centres, and very clean, out of the way university toilets. Let’s heat up a poop storm.

This exercise was about writing about a celebrity. I chose Ben Cousins.

When the man came around all smiles and said
Hi again, Ben, did you feel the future fall away
Or were you stuck in the fantastic prison
Of your always forever favour?
Did you say fuck it to everything
The weight of now is too heavy
I must feel good immediately
It is worth extinguishing tomorrow
It is worth living out my suffering under
The most insensitive of lenses
It is worth folding the singularity of me
Into a pious stupid storm, to have it
Turn sodden and tear apart?

I am booking a doctor’s appointment today, I secretly think I have diabetes and/or, um, typhus maybe? This and the visa are my last stumbling blocks.

No Simple Pleasures

June 3, 2008

The poetry exercises are finished. Here’s something from today: 

The storm outran the warning
So they were damming the doors
When the big wind came
The son cried for forty minutes
Then didn’t

Mercifully, the night forced him invisible
While his mother choked on heaves
Then lightning, and the entire world alight
And a woman breaks in two 

You were supposed to take the opening line of something and turn it into a poem. I didn’t do much today besides watch the West Wing, listen to Ricky Gervais’ radio show, walk to Mount Lawley, have a coffee, get ingredients, then cook a white pasta sauce. What have I thought about? I’m actually asking myself this. I thought about why I’m going through the West Wing again. I’ve watched some episodes of the West Wing about five times, I’ve watched the ones I’m watching now a minimum of, I think, four times each, I think the most times I’ve watched a West Wing episode would be, like, 10 times. Why do I revisit them, especially when, with distance and repetition, they appear contrived, sentimental, tacky, formulaic? It’s like masturbation: I know and can expect a modicum of satisfaction from them, I do enjoy them, but after a while the pleasure becomes rote. I try to go back to them after a long time and for a time the rediscovery is exciting but it quickly dips back into torpor. So, what does it say about me that my cultural intake these days is chronic masturbation, and not even enjoyable chronic masturbation? Not much? Well, I also finished a book, so suck on that, inner critic.

Met with mother today. I never call her mother. Met with her, we talked about flights to the US. I have to find out when I’m supposed to leave the residence hall at New Paltz before I can book mine. I have to apply for Austudy again so I can have, y’know, money while I’m there. I have to book a doctor’s appointment. I have to book an interview at the US consulate. I have to write a poem. I have to finish my poetry exercises. Here’s the fruits of another one:

It starts with sweat
On my calves
Under the covers
And spit pooling
On my pillow
Arrive then
To my woken eye
Your misery strings
Deep black
All directions
Cloud covering
Your coma face
Surface to surface
Between our heads
It is a good morning

This post is boring. What greater theme can I attach to it? It is the end of a weekend, I went to a small, pretty boring party, a great gig, and a slightly bigger, slightly better party. Going out is boring. I get sad if I don’t go out or get invited to go out but when I do go out I am wracked by the thought “This is shiiiiite”. My mother is very old. I hate that we, her kids, are so hapless that she must worry about us as much as she does, as dottery and naive and hard done by she is. Poor poor mother.

Something I’m still no good at is the morning after.