Survived

It seems romantic, looking back
on it, the withdrawing of 50¢
over the counter, before eftpos, I suppose,
to have enough for cigarettes.
It had back-story, engraved, or
engineered, as when a writer’s past
helps the reader grasp
the sardines, and half
eaten lifestyle salvaged
from dumpsters with the lumps of bread
I got free at the soup kitchen
under the overpass. I always took
the speciality loaves donated from
the supermarkets. They were unsliced,
leavened, and never in plastic,
and usually close enough to fresh
to eat un-toasted. Also, I ate… my
vitality was fluid, thats, never mind,
in this memory, I’m standing in line, with a 65¢
withdrawal slip, and a masculine dollah something
in my pocket, so dead broke, and still getting
wasted! Substance over love. Yet
the memory of it
is that I had sufficient store of each.
Love, food, sunshine, the rent, somehow,
when the time came to exit
that, sever, finally, the needs of that existence,
when the time came to leave, all that I had written,
up till then, was put in a drum for burning.
It was autumn, the drum was over by the feijoas,
on the square of pale grass made by the caravan,
the sea was less than thirty metres away
throwing up post-swell odours of rotting
weed and salted limestone bull kelp.
I  tipped out two sacks of papers, fire-engine
red scholastic exercise books, the too hastily
bound A4 manuscripts, and scraps of exegetically
impossible to interpret commando failures,
soaked it with meths, and bent in
to the drum with a lit match, and BOOM!

Far king me! blown back on my arse,
burnt eyebrows, nose hair, lashes,
fringe sizzle; hairs on the flame hand;
singed, and pumping capillaries, ALIVE!

 

 

 

 

Spun Out

The bowler has it now, spun and thrown to the sun,

to fall to a practised hand: turning, turning.

When he bends to run he sees nothing but the flight

of a ball he has yet to bowl; sees it sear from the hand,

all swept light and then swerve and dip, the seam proud,

tearing at the earth, the off-stump uprooted, spun back,

the long follow-through, the caps thrown in joy.

How it would be, if the mind would clear, the fingers unlock.

How it is when it does not, the mind a pincer on the body.

How it is now, fingers in spasm, the dream running out the arm

evenki: the last speakers

evenki: the last speakers

dedicated to the evenki people of siberia &
speakers of the evenki language

the silence hard upon me now
last run of a river forgotten
last hunt of the bear
long rolled over
into earth
last story
of the tongue
that calls
out to
those of us
long gone

we are the last speakers.

children grand-children
lost to the cities
that tear away
at the waters
rip down
the holding back
of trees
that frighten
the bear
dynamite fish
in the soaring
quiet of the sun
on a valley
of fir trees
the river a cold vein
of vanishing ore
between them
the firs
darkness in the morning
darkness in the noon
lit trunks in
the evening
slip of sun
down between them

we are the last speakers.

the natural breath of our stories
broken into pieces for
another tongue
a subject of
underfunded study
the long root of
our tongue
cut dead
the stories wither there
our fathers’ fathers told
the crackling sticks of breath
they burned on hushed long nights
under the shadow of
the hunted bear
the beat on the broad skin drum
as the shaman rode
the bird of the hand’s
shadow into the
smoke through
the gap at the peak
of the frame and
skins up
to the stars
brought us down
a difficult, bitter
healing

man was i-le*
the sound he came as in
our legends our firelight
telling of the start
of the dark woods

man was i-le
i will not know
another man
as other word
the man of
those who rightly
buried the bear
honoured every
single bone
the tooth and hide
of him

the man was i-le
who left
the dark woods
in tact keeping
first meat for
the fire, and
blade to himself
in respect
of all that wandered
on the evening
moving among
trees, slapping
the waters a sound
above their run
the crossing
of animals, or
ghosts

the fingers were u-mu-ko-shor
fingers that played
the breasts of
my young wife
that tightened in
the hunt that
gutted fish
that stole
a drum beat
on the sacred
skin one time
and dreamed
a nightmare of
hot stones in my
gut my mouth
sewn closed

i will not take
the root of this hand
and put it into
the well-meant
glove offered
me the
pension of another
tongue* paid to
me at the
killing of
that my own
our own with
little else
left to us.

we are the last speakers
having spoke.

beijing
july 2009

*The pronouncations of ‘ile’ and ‘omukushor’ were as phonetic as I could make out from the Russian website where sound bites of the Evenki language were posted.

*that is, the Russian language.