Something like the Weather
(to John Forbes, et al.)
1. It begins and in spite of everything (sleeplessness,
fear of attack) is almost serene. Shooting speed
in a room behind the GPO, each letter
one more step in the direction of universal literacy.
Nobody needs poetry for this. Or do they?
Witness our little ceremonies, the nightwatchman’s
redemptive vision, the hairdresser’s assistant
like some hapless Venus of Urbino draped in her
sleek reclining chair. Tomorrow we may slip out
past the wire-conducting trees into the languages
of the news stands. Or sit alone, white serviette
folded into smaller and ever smaller epigrams.
You check the dials, the registers, the glass eyes.
Could anything have happened in the meantime?
2. “The visible in materialisation is not the material.”
Old Quiros waiting to cross the road – then
the coffee arrives. You notice, how he stood there
deliberately, like a ruined observation post, framed
by the corner window at the station kiosk. All those
elapsed times, cut-out faces in green commuter buses.
First light. Floating through billboard retail scenes.
Quiros in his drunken boat paddling towards
Elizabeth Street. 8.00 A.M. and progressively the air
becomes rubberised and limp. Piecing together
an itinerary of what’s left to come: this hour
meant for nothing more, having struck root in us,
stroked and shaped and misintended by it.
The same repeated hour, the same deliberation.
3. One of the ten plagues of Egypt made its way even
here. Slouching under the harbour on hollow legs,
to re-emerge, strangely intact, propped against
a bar in Harold Park holding forth on Michelet’s
Historical Monuments. And this, as good or bad
as any other place to live and die in. Television
made the outside world invisible; poetry made it a
wreck. In each particular a ritual has been arranged –
the metrical progress of footfall up the stairs,
a closing door, a too insistent respiration. Things
there are hardly notions to impress upon. Asleep again
under the moon-broadening night, the sound of
police helicopters, the broken-bottled serenades and
street hustlers bidding dreams of wordless fornication.
4. Something to be filed away on the internal memex.
Nights of bondage fed on the wholly unreal, a city
dredged up from barbarous pre-history, crime or
Wanderlust. You know the score, tapping out rhymes
on the shoulder of adversity, for the sake of a look
or as little as an admonition. The truth was never
believable, in any case. We have invented the worst
as best we can, always reflecting the contrary of intention.
Underfoot the banging becomes more and more hellish
and idiotic. (Why won’t the dead finally shut up and
sleep?) The distance travelled is still not far enough.
The migraine purrs. Morning shouts in its familiar drawl.
A dry meniscus rings the eye, thickening over it, caul-
like. And how the dumb horrors laugh.