This Guided by Poets thread showcases the voices of five mighty fine Victorian writers.
I gave the enigmatic Maurice McNamara a call to start the thread and the rest…
So here it is, Guided by Poets (Victoria), featuring poems by Maurice McNamara, Joe De Iacovo, Angela Costi, Jen Jewel Brown & Andy Jackson.
I’ve got fat since I found true lady love
and she’s got a bit fat too
Maurice, I’ll do anything for you
and usually it involves pork
I sit on the couch reading true crime novels
whilst she gets on with making a living
it sounds like good money
but it makes her cranky
fixing up crap someone else wrote
I get on the computer after she’s gone to bed
and write things to other poets
sometimes in other countries
with headphones on
that I don’t want to read next morning
because drink declares
we argue on Fridays
when we get back together again
are you listening to me darling?
she’s worrying about the cat
we eat at occasional tables found in a garage sale
sometimes she cooks and sometimes I do
by Saturday morning we’ve got the weekend
I bring her breakfast
who goes to the toilet first?
and then shower
she takes an hour to primp her hair
when I’ve evacuated my bowels
and drunk coffee, I’m almost human
sometimes we just sit around and do word play
we go to Footscray and eat Vietnamese soup
some days we go to the country
in a good relationship
you just run across perfect moments
because the universe loves a lover
but she complains
if I take her down factory roads
where, too often, I like to go
but usually we find a cat, a goat
a rare weed, a flower
something built in iron we take home
our love doesn’t depend on agreeing
we leave our strangeness strictly alone
we’re at that time of life when we can point out houses we lived in
but we don’t want to live in those houses anymore
I laugh at her in that strange hat
she laughs at me trying to climb the hill
but she’s close to my hand
when I slip down
Maurice McNamara’s debut collection Half-Hour Country is due to be released in 2009 through Small Change Press. He has been involved with Melbourne spoken word scene for a number of years, and now that his children are almost grown up, can devote himself to the sunny uplands of ART.
Dismantling a flockhouse
My brother said
is older than you and me
Textile plants offer the cleanest
spools still half-wound with cloth,
clusters of lint hovering in corners
as if they’re moths
caught in an eddy.
First, cut along the weld,
then the rest of the flockhouse
comes apart in stages.
All of these machines
are going off-shore:
to China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka,
my brother said,
doubling at the belly
measuring how a mixer’s
shaft is to be unbolted.
On the bonding oven’s guards
and long flat panels:
defunct roster sheets,
-Wipe your hands first-,
a Carn the ‘Roys poster
of a lion holding a bomb-like ball
between its teeth
wearing tight shorts
and a Guernsey of maroon
royal blue and gold.
Tattslotto syndicate charts
plotted with crosses of loss
and a few prized ticks
shared-out on Wednesdays.
The names on safety gloves
Clem, and Toni with an i-
did women work here too?
There are only men helping us
dismember this place they’ve
worked in for
longer than you and me put together
my brother said
the women were laid off first
some blokes decided to stay
on and help us
because most of ‘em won’t
find work again.
In the mornings
they nodded their heads at us
to register a ‘Hey’,
and on the day
we closed the plant for good
one man said:
‘Here we are again.’
(first appeared in Verandah, vol. 17, 2002)
Joe De Iacovo’s writing/poems have appeared in Meanjin, Southerly, Verandah, and others. He currently works as a counsellor.
Black Sheep One
They found her swivelled in her lover’s arms,
instantly branded, seared with the hottest tongues
still she swirled deeper, became the second flavour
in the soft serve cone and Andreas became the first.
Her husband was informed while tying up his dinghy,
his hands flew up as if to catch those bad words,
the rope uncoiled and snaked into the sea, he fell in
with his shoes, coat, memories, grappled with the water
he couldn’t drown her green kitten eyes, her splash
of freckles in the indigo light made her look younger
no where near as young as Andreas,
his barber, her lover, his sons’ barber, her lover
his neighbour, her lover, his friend.
She wore her guilt like underwear,
only with Andreas it slipped off, tossed at the doorway,
was sunk in her pheromone’s spell.
Guilt became her second coat worn on the hottest days
when her husband drenched in sea and sorrow
couldn’t speak without a fist fixing into a wall,
her oldest boy tried to split himself in two,
her youngest went missing, found blue-kneed at the dock,
she knotted her apron twice, fought only with grease,
stains, dust and longing, found her sons another barber.
Andreas couldn’t sleep without her nose butting his neck,
if only it was just the bed where he ached for her,
he couldn’t open cupboards, read books, watch clouds,
he couldn’t cut her style into the shape of others,
her wayward curls were unrepeatable,
he saw his future as a cracked vase with a dried rose.
He tiptoed back to her with a wave across a busy street,
a smile, the freshest longest red rose, a card, a letter,
love written, love touched, love held.
She turned back to ice-cream melt,
clenched her fist against her heart and said,
Tomorrow is only possible with Andreas.
Angela Costi is the author of three collections of poetry: Dinted Halos (chapbook, Hit&Miss Publications, 2003), Prayers for the Wicked (CD, Floodtide Audio, 2005) and Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007). Honey and Salt was shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Prize 2008. Her poems, performance text, essays and stories have been widely published, broadcast and produced, including in the US, UK, Greece and across Australia (for example: Sojourner Boston, wanderingdog UK, LiNQ and Radio National-ABC).
Jen Jewel Brown
Medusa lead rascalation
I turn on the tv
and there you are
with your guitar slunched into the solo
lathering and turbulating
growling, humming and hubbubing
moa-ning and rascalating
o that thrumming low drung rumble
of your Medusa lead
come closer you
leaning out of the set
to blow your lava crack chick
stack between my feet, bang!
bright spark tangent innocent
reaching down, this thuddering live
rubble crack below
like this massive channel
sex soul synchrome twister wrench
energy opens me up
you right through from the magma
reaching from the hot rock at the centre
of the world right through
to the stratosphere
connecting eerily and endlessly
to you through you to you
now I’m a through-way
my fingers radiating
snakes of fire
a lit-up pinball douce machina
paying out in spades, in tangos
bang bang bang ding ding ding
in pepper-tongued blades of words
Jen Jewel Brown is a widely published writer across many genres. Her story on familicide and Family Law, Suffer the little children, was featured in The Age on May 3 2009. She is an activist and single mother who likes to see what poetry can stretch to. She prefers to dance with her demons rather than wrestle them, or better still, matchmake them with her angels and get away free. On the brag front, Jen was the winner of the Greater Dandenong Writing Awards Open Poetry Prize 2006, Spinning Room (Melbourne) female ‘call-back’ poet of 2005 and Victorian Writers’ Centre Poetry Cup Best Performer in 2004. She’s also the author of Skyhooks’ Million Dollar Riff and poetry books Marsupial Wrestling (Outback Press), Alleycat (Feral Books) and gutter vs stars (Flat Chat Press). Her work has been widely anthologised. She is currently working on two new poetry books and other projects. She blogs at: http://flaminghoop.blogspot.com/
The trick has become this – how to pull the thumb out
of the dam and not drown. Here on the couch, our legs
face in the same direction, our thighs almost touch.
The clinking of pool-balls is an ambient sound,
the crack and sigh of another crude attempt.
I want to tell you how strange this friendship seems,
to ask you where your grief is, as if in your composure
you are being dishonest, but I fear this might be
the stone thrown into the clear face we’ve made.
Perhaps this poem will ensure it’s sufficiently obscure.
Or, in a public place, where a certain absence
of intimacy’s the done thing, here’s an album you might like
and half an answer to a cryptic clue. Is it funny
when they speak of themselves in the third person
or safe, a way to pull back as they begin to shrink
into the other? Mateship can be a collusion
or a way out. You arrived and the line where I end
became slightly more blurred. Who’s to say
it’s not all a miraculous accident of cause and effect?
Miles away, wave after wave breaks against the beach.
And I speak as if the pulse of blood in us
will not be stopped by any blade or disease,
that these bodies which breathe the same air are enough,
that consciousness is no more problematic than its lack.
I reckon I’ll get another. You want one?
Andy Jackson has been published in a wide variety of print and on-line journals; received grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria, and a mentorship from the Australian Society of Authors; and featured at events and festivals such as Australian Poetry Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Newcastle Young Writers Festival and Overload Poetry Festival. Most recently, he was awarded the Rosemary Dobson Prize for Poetry, and will be a Café Poet in Residence for the Australian Poetry Centre. His most recent collection of poems, Among the Regulars, is scheduled for release by papertiger media later in 2009.