So I’ve been toying for a couple of months with the kernel of a project… Basically a post apocalyptic verse novel… Yeah I know… WTF right?
I figure this will be a self published job if it gets anywhere. Either way, this will be my first foray into anything of any great length and that in itself is kinda exciting. So for those interested here’s a little taste…
‘a good place’
She is playing at the foot of the dunes,
filling her pockets with
handfuls of sand.
‘Dust,’ she says, for when
we want to fly
and over the water,
to whatever waits
beyond the break.
At the water’s edge,
men begin to gather,
thousand yard staring
into the grey.
‘This would be a good place,’
A place to lay down and wait,
to turn to sand,
to shed our skin
and be pulled apart by crabs.
To offer ourselves up,
willing and humming,
as fresh hearts
to whatever gods are left.
Everything wounded comes back to the place where it first broke open. All things come back to where they hit rocks and tore themselves apart, casting splinters into foam, air spilling into space and the ocean bleeding in. If this thing you’ve built was a ship, you’d patch it with tar and limbs. If a breached wall, you could send men in to sandbag it, to fill it with spit and furious words and blood and arms but still they’d keep on coming.
You know that there’s a tide coming in; some heavy thing sung in by the moon or the stars or some other dumb metaphor. You remember that there were times when you were young, when you walked into the water, your arms cast wide, imagining that you could hold back the waves. And that there was a time you gave up trying. The year everything turned to glass in your hands. That summer. In that ocean. When you learned at last that sometimes getting through means getting out of the way. Or holding your breath and going under. Fingers digging in the sand. Lungs full to bursting. The world a roar above.
Now here you are. Holding on. Watching yourself watching everybody else. Watching yourself looking up in fractals. Imagining the strange terrain of memory as though it were anything more than another kind of map. Here a schoolyard split lip. There your first broken heart. Beyond those mountains the place where the dead are buried. There, in the ocean, the objet petit a and you.
And you know you’ll be okay. You know that this is how things go. You know that tonight in the space between the grey you’ll find yourself going back to the water and staring into the black. Standing at the ocean’s edge, calling to the lost and mossy bones of something long ago gone under. Fingers digging in. Lungs full to bursting. The world a roar above.
Lorikeets in the tree outside
voices carried on the back
of morning light coming in soft.
Your head on my shoulder
golden hair tangled.
Your hands small on my neck-
The thing in me goes quiet.
Your mumma in the next room sleeping.
The birds singing.
The world made new every
Smoke drifts in from somewhere,
thick and August slow.
Outside the trees are rattling bones
and down the street’s a place to die in.
Every man you ever knew who went,
went out on morphine.
Match sticks burnt to the quick.
Flames shaking themselves out.
You think about beaches,
about smoke rising from the dunes,
about that dumb poem
about footprints beside you
and never walking lonely.
The sand turns to glass.
Old men are walking underneath you.
Shrugging themselves into bad suits
and back out of them.
Opening and closing boxes.
One paints a target on his chest,
another fires an arrow.
Your feet fall heavy and slow
and the glass falls apart.
You used to think that those
who came before you
were better men than you,
Carved from better wood.
Then the light shifted
and everything old was just old.
You think of the men who came first.
How they cut themselves from timber,
hollowed themselves out,
pressed themselves to the wind
and sang like railroad tornadoes.
Men who split their bones open in droughts
and fed the red inside to cattle worth more
than the land they drank dry.
Men who ground themselves
to paper wrapping powder,
stuffed themselves into blast holes
and blew apart in seconds,
what time had taken eons to bed down.
You think of those old men rattling into the night,
of the timber they were cut from.
You’re plucking grey hairs daily now.
The backs of your hands tell stories
and drop matches in bed.
They shake when you breathe out.
Somewhere inside of you
a fuse is lit and smouldering.
Down the street’s a place to die in.
The trees rattle their bones.
The smoke drifts out to somewhere else.
look down the hill and see smoke curling
from the furnace at the hospital
watch the vapoured ghosts of burnt dermis
of limp unwanted limbs shrugged off
of blind eyes plucked and set aside
and cast in clouds to sky
that hangs carcinoma blue
in the mirror search for symptoms
conduct fluorescent inquisitions over unfamiliar spots
note shape and colour and consistency of surface
examine texture and solidity of boundary
above your bed in sun lit cubes of air
see motes of skin shucked off
and floating in an an ebbing tide of light
moving back into the coil
do not become anxious/ become anxious
live long and bear offspring/ examine offspring
do not flee from pathogens/ flee from pathogens
be fit and well/ grow slow and round
do not think of/ think of nothing but
the slow and backward alchemy
of a body gone to ground