Day 25 – reasons (& relations)

25 australian_infantry_small_box_respirators_ypres_1917-awm.jpg


Because Anzac Day always falls during NaPoWriMo, I often myself writing about it owing to my many & varied (often conflicting) emotions about it. I think I could quite easily publish a chapbook of just Anzac Day-themed poetry. 

Once again, this is not the poem I set out to write, that one remains half completed needing more time & more research to complete. It is conceivable that parts or all of this poem may one day make their way into that more encompassing piece.

*****

Lest we forget

i.
When Cousin George
declared war
against Cousin Wilhelm
in August 1914,
13 year old Australia,
a British Empire dominion
was likewise at war
— automatically.
We had no choice.

ii.
While many thousands of young
men eagerly rushed to enlist;
thinking it a grand adventure
to assist three spoilt imperial cousins
squabble over colonial interests;
Australia twice voted against conscription
as political parties split & formed new
alliances, elections were fought
& a Prime Minister resigned over
the contentious issue of our involvement.

iii.
60,000 Australian diggers
were treated for venereal diseases —
almost as many who were killed.

iv.
When the war was over
thousands of thousands of men
many with debilitating physical
wounds: torn limbs, gas-burnt lungs,
missing eyes, metal-sliced flesh;
as well as those enduring
post-traumatic stress disorder
back when it was much more
poetically named shell-shock:
the warhorror of bursting bombs
mates exploding next to you,
then days in the trenches
alongside their rotting corpses,
had to be re-integrated into a society
revulsed at the monumental destruction,
keen to resign the war (& too often
those symbols of it) to the past
& attempt to resume normal life.
Many soldiers kept their war silent.
But many of those did not
  or could not
                        make the transition.


 

BONUS POEM: April 25, 2018

In France. In V-B. 100 years on.

*****

Idols

for many windswept years
it’s been our special story
entrenched in lore & legend

my grandfather’s uncle
his father’s younger brother
guts unpacked by a MG bullet

killed in the battle
to retake Villers-Brettoneux
early morning, Anzac Day 1918

however today I met three
families with the same story
all blood drained from it

like a carcass on the hook
plus the bone dry testimonies
of half a dozen more

which has simultaneously
made our special day
less  & a little more   so

25b vb names.jpg

Day 28 – April Twenty Eight: over the top obits

Some months ago, one of the finest actors of our/any generation died after an incident with drugs went wrong.  At the time there was much speculation about what caused it. There was also an abundance of slightly sickly, sentimentalising of “the soul of the tortured artist”.  

Back then, I PDFed a few of the finer examples I read. Today I tweaked & played with some of the more sick & sycophantic phrases, shaping them into a homage to suffering. (I have not acknowledged my sources, for fear of embarrassing them.)

I ran out of time to finish it, but there’s something there I like.

Beautiful Helplessness

addiction haunts every artist
barely disciplined helplessness
we’re all familiar with darknesses force
if we keep the poison away, the elixir is lost
if we had everything there would be love, no desire
art mends what life shatters, so escape into our creations
torment & talent are inseparable

all the d words appear
drugs, done in a dark places in despair?
artists who’ve done deals with their demons
or rather rock star hubris, deliberately courting death
an arrogant doubtlessness they’re above the rules, above odds

the Faustian pact where only utter self-annihilation suffices

hostage possession obsession carnage

the price of prodigious creative vitality is premature & public mortality
fleeing from pain, transfigurance enables endurance of suffering
solitude & uncertainty are part & parcel of artistic expression.

banal
romantic
hyperbolic
tosh

not all great artists suffer

*****

 2014-04-28 23.51.50

Day 25 – April Twenty Five: “national identity day”

As I get older I understand Anzacs, Anzac Day & war more. I also understand it less. Hopefully this poem written at the Dawn Service my Papa used to attend when alive & which we go to in memory of him captures some of those understandings.

keeping the peace

bagpipes fight
the magpies
for supremacy
in cool April air
chilling autumn
leaves & evergreen
eucalypt alike
church bells bless
try to reconcile
that age old
oxymoronic misnomer
fighting for peace

aware what Anzac is
but still shocks
to see the guns
of the catafalque
party so close
reminds it’s more
than just speeches
stirring words
holidays
it’s also old men
getting under
standably drunk

*****

soldier

Image: moi

Day 24 – April Twenty Four: spit-spot off to bed

I’m reading the biography of P.L.Travers (the woman who created Mary Poppins) – it’s a wonderful rich inspiring book (unlike Disney’s saccharine superficial movie).  It sparks, tingles, fires & inspires so many ideas which I dash off as I read. This is the best of them from today.

night terrors

The children are frightened
of ceiling cracks
creaking radiators
& hot water services
which sizzle in the night

We calm them
with ancient tales
of transformation
flights against the sun
forest witches, & other grims

*****

 mary poppins

April 18 – Day Eighteen: Easter ghosts

I saved a bunch of articles I was planning to use/explore in poetic form during NaPoWriMo. Yet almost every day, something more “personal” gets in the way.  Good Friday (the day this was written, was one of them.)  This poem was written in the car on the drive between Adelaide & my parents’ farm.

When I re-read the poem for the first time since posting it on fb almost a week ago, the irony is, the poem itself has a huge hole. The one thing I always think about at Easter is not including, other than through indirect allusions.  Maybe it works, maybe it needs to be addressed in May, when NaPoWriMo is over & the editing process can begin on all these half begun, half completed poetical sketches.  I want to tweak it even now, but will save that for later & repost as first put onto fb.


What I think of when I think of Easter

Looking over the litany of Easters past
I recall very few moments of chocolates & egg hunts 
Haunted by decades of bright eyed moons

Floating down houseboat rivers, discovering cunnilingus
Climbing cliffs, faking falls, tomato sauce for blood
Church surfing with fish laughing at services
Glorious joyous days before he finally died
Driving overnight interstate thinking I was driving to true love
Some lost at the bottom of a bottle
Crashing cars in suburban streets
Several lazy long weekends at the farm
Amusing my nieces, annoying the rest
Walking with a black dog, before meeting my souldog

Tonight the moon’s a ruddy oblong egg
Low, ghosting the hills, as I drive north
What is life but a succession of wounds
Public crucifixions, little deaths, lying in darkness
Trapped beyond stone, & eventually rising to do it all again

What pains me are the holes
Years I can’t remember – when I’m the only constant
No other person or thing to act as yardstick
& the holes

Lovers lost, friends forgotten, children never held

*****

blood_moon_by_darkriderdlmc-d4rzhrg

Image: Dark Moon by darkriderdlmc @ deviantart.com

April 5 – Day Five: modern day celebrations

Although it’s posted a few hours late, this poem was definitely written yesterday.  (As Deb Dawson can attest — I was writing it while watched Tom Cruise play, well, um, Tom Cruise, in “Minority Report”.)

A full day, a bunch of drugs (painkiller & hayfever, I’m not that hardcore), a late night & a wishywashy internet connection when I got home prevented an on time posting. Soz.

Once again, the eventual outcome was not the intended topic. It seems so far every day I’ve had an experience which goads me into poetry-attemping mode.  “Today” (Yesterday) was attending one of the few modern day equivalents of ritual, myth, celebration, collective communion we still have as a culture.  I won’t say much more than that.  See if you can work out what I’m doing before the end.  Locals are going to be at an advantage to international readers…  (so apologies to those three people — hahaha!)

 

Coliseum of the Crow

like Orpheus we began
by descending
into the bowels of hell
our coin to pay Charon
given us by a bank
to compensate
friends who lost
everything in a fire
cross the Styx
find ourselves
in a deserted
concrete mausoleum
half a dozen cars
where a 1000 should be
elevated into the arena
inside the new stadium
before the gates open
strange to be surrounded
by such vast emptiness
where crowds are
meant to congregate
we laugh out loud
at the surreality

then a siren sounds
startling us from
our spacestaring
the rush is on
we are washed away
by damned souls
for surely we are all
damned … believing
in the cult of the Crow

 

1. coliseum

2. hades

The Coliseum & Hades: images: moi