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

Light
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

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