Michael Farrell published open sesame (Giramondo) in 2012 and has new poems in Outcrop: radical Australian poetry of land (Black rider). His poem ‘TV’ was magically re-realised by Marijka Gooding in cordite’s Pumpkin: http://cordite.org.au/poetry/pumpkin/gooding-farrell/. He has articles in JASAL on Ned Kelly and Christopher Brennan.
yet when we listen to their voices
there where colours are religious &
memory they make a lot of noise
take my mouth the poverty of they
dont have mandolins instruments with
keys luck resonates it makes them roam
&what can we blurting out of our
oxfordenglish dictionaries know
yet when we listen to their voices
they draw us like water home & then
well our troubles would really begin
the lay group & its loser leader
travel or become different day
leaves the garden & acting oddly
without knowing kisses straightened me
out& it was like that there boating
arguing using the muscles wed
built for multipurpose & ladies
under umbrellas sated by their
camera flashes on the banks pigs
give birth suckle it was winter &
we looked toward a bileafed morning
we fought it like divorce but there was
an accident with the machinery
iwasnt the witness icouldve
been promise to develop my taste
for the difficult & deny its
here its happening the present &
the contradiction comes in noone
else can salted by their cockatoo
feathers possibilities open
&desire mounts with each postponement
the tortoise who mistook a pickaxe for love
the cares there
a remnant of
the stone chipped
to make the words
they come from the city like satans they
laugh without humour & see with their
shut our town in a valley with blue shutters & concrete flowers
take pictures in a holy way
&he will forgive us
theres one i know so talking
to him he just happens to
be the best looking there
its creation its the veil that
keeps the dark inside we
bear cages & ferries were very
like them still
for years & then destroyed
wearing my hat pulling
whiterussians from it thats
the difference waiting eating berries while the dead
unknowingly have their rests disturbed hes small
showing him my magazines
car breaks down on the hill while someone else suffocates
what we disregard through over familiarity they dont know about except
cleanliness is as close as
we can get we wear
plus fours try
to change things with my lens dri
ving on without too much bad feeling
the aromatic caves live silent men drinking
live in the density of
seeming to be the reason for things going wrong
making it to my
everything stuck up here
protected by glass
or in the case of fish water
news from the erstwhile
brown bookmarks arent an excuse, nor are art jots.
we drive the attendant away with pens. you were at the market.
how often i have thought of you showering,
picking on people, on weekends –
&your partner? is she finally over your moodswings?
there is no homosexual milieu that i know of,
soim a parasite, like in line of beauty.
fitzroy has called at last.
we had to disobey all the signs,
as patriotic as stopping for commonwealth drunks,
&teenage creeps that touch their blurry others.
soi thought youd like to guess,
from beneath your chemical peel, safe.
the others someone you dont know,
i hate questions except about the country.
in the message a grain, a remembrance,
of the rod & the differing menus that had parted you.
we wank-thanked, the prizegiver
i saw your head in a garden shed your brain on,
an express, nothing i could do.
but undress my dummy
wash his salvation-army threads. im going to put away substitutes,
let boredom besiege me as it may.
the short afternoons extend indefinitely & the books lie
on the bed where i threw them sore eyed.
Any poem’s that. He’s on the line, hanging from the wires, I
don’t know. It’s coming in, predicted like
rain, light: bit of crackle, bit of mist. Some
pub he’s trying to get to … let someone
know, accident. New connections that will take over lives, fill
pages of diaries are forming. Once
you think of them, they’re there, their voices have
become part of the chorus you’re forced
to speak with. Open your mouth like an angelus. A giant
journalist with a metal tongue: also
known as a typewriter. It’s decades and
cities ago now. He used to visit
used to listen. Sometimes he’d just speak in syllables. Tidbits
were offered, some syrup drink I’d found in an
obscure corner of a supermarket.
He was trying to recite a poem
I realised after. His diction was shattered: he’d nearly
drowned once, affecting the speech centre of
his brain. He had given up writing, though
had been known to phone the local police
at 4am with crank calls, or poems. Any uniform would
get him going, before the drowning it
was the army. Later he was a lot
easier to honour, and imitate.
I’m on bass which I can’t play. Broken pieces of bread fall from
the ceiling. Words like SHOCK and HOTEL appear. A red paintbrush
slops across my chest. Dancers run through, kicking off their cloven
hooves. I’m on synth which I can fake. The director says ‘I’d love
a swan to come on right now but I promised myself no birds’.
A couple of fops duel. Then I start singing my heart out
in some fleapit while around me everyone’s pretending to
drink coffee. It’s real but nasty.
Bread falls again outside the window but it’s meant to look like
snow or feathers … There’s a boy in a cemetery scraping
it away. A taxi pulls up: lilies flow out. MEXICO.
Dancers strut through, flinging off their bones. Each one becomes a stalk
of corn. I’m dead in the fleapit, shot in the chest. One of my
arms falls off. It pretends to drink coffee. It’s sunny, blue skies
I’m watering cherry trees in the desert. Wind combs my hair
in the opposite direction.
SOUR HONEY. They build a castle around me. ‘Just hang in there’
the director says. Horses gallop through spitting out hay. I’m
on drums, my favourite. A waiter serves me a condom and
a glass of chocolate milk. He takes off part off his face. A
newspaper wraps itself around the café’s Venus de Milo.
She has chips she dips in vegemite. A game of marbles is
in progress under her table. ‘Fleapit, fleapit’ I sing. ROUGH
‘Coconut’ defeats all comers.
The song is about the game. I have fleas, the director says
and I wouldn’t be surprised. The lifeguard in the pool scene drips
with whatever brown liquid they’ve put in there: looks like packet
gravy. Dancers emerge from it. A horse with dentures. The clock
strikes midnight. The band arrive. The director says O O. She
says O P O Q O Alphabet. That’s the band’s name. Gangsters
from the game stumble into the scene and drown in the brown stuff.
The Story of the Original
There were knights, cobblers and such all day and always
were and then one day there was a dragon, he said. What did
you evolve from? the dragon was asked. Fire, the dragon re-
plied. That took a bit of digesting, apparently. The cobblers
were shouting new shoes! new shoes! and the dragon said
what’s that racket? and I suppose I’ll get used to it. Then a
feather appeared. What was it doing? Making us notice it.
Giving us something to talk about / burn / to put in a vase
instead of hair. This all took place in a land, he said. Hairs
gradually became feathers, fires dragons. Everyone had ten
toes for kicking and didn’t care how they’d gotten them. Ten’s
plenty was a saying of satisfaction and warning; approval
and contempt. Something in your chest’s making a noise
said one knight to another while the cobblers were resting.
It has always been there the other said. Once a month they
mowed the squash and harvested the ferns for drawing class-
es. They had three words for pencil: black, white and fire.
They walked around like bodies of water. What were their
coasts? They mainly desired to be themselves, but how could
they be when a new shoeless entity might be around the next
corner like a book published by a star and let fall, mocking
them and the repetitive world they’d built? The cobblers rubbed
their foreheads in the morning losing half their toothpaste
in doing so. The knights were introduced to whiskey and
passed out on the dragon and under the fig. It sounded like
quite a party, he added. Yet it brought the Mary sisters to quar-
relling the next day. A coast’s forming around you sneered
one. A knight had let the cats out of their cages sometime
during the mayhem and the cobblers clung to their fridges
in fear. There’s a thing in my head cried the knight Mary.
The cats lay on the ground waiting to be fed. There were no
tragedies at the supermarket, the dragon said. Oh? said ever-
yone politely (except the cats, not knowing what politeness –
let alone climbing – was) not knowing what tragedy was. The
cobblers never went inside the supermarket, preferring the
little stall approach. Come to my little stall, see what I’ve
got at my little stall, you’ll be surprised, they would call, he
Landboy under observation
He wakes up in the hospital after a dream
where he’s a kangaroo on a football field being
watched by thousands of humans,
and, in another, a Brazilian butterfly flying
instructor trying to wreak havoc on Texas. He
injures himself falling into cyberspace.
His condition isn’t serious. He has a small
amount of water from the North coast on his lungs.
He has a slight flesh wound from King
Street and a tiny piece of metal lodged in
his thigh from an exploding device. His surgeon
says it’s nothing to worry about. He
has concussion from the park but he should
recover from that very soon. He has a cracked
rib from the demo but his lawyer’s
handling that. He has a lingering vitamin
B deficiency due to a series of lapses in the judicial
system. His doctors are optimistic
and the nurses have given him an extra blanket
and urged him to wear his slippers if he goes for
a walk. He has rope burn but the skin
wasn’t broken so it’s not infected. He appears
healthy, considering; though he’s overdue for
fillings and glasses. His right eye’s
a bit puffy, but he admits himself he said
the wrong thing in the shelter. You’ve got the
appetite of a farmboy/ditch digger/
fireman the aides have joked so far. Someone
has written ‘split ends’ on his chart. The plaster
from the supermarket will be off in
a couple of weeks. The driver claimed landboy
had been speeding up Collins Street – between
Swanston and Russell – the skin on
his hand had broken but there wasn’t much
blood. He’d been a bit shaken by the driver’s rage.
He wasn’t on any medication when
he was admitted with possible emu flu. A
clean slate, they’d said at reception. You’re very
cute, he thought the man in the next
bed had said, but the man had immediately
commenced snoring, so he might’ve been talking
in his sleep. He can ask him when
he wakes. In the meantime there’s side effects.
Notes on the poems:
‘yet when we listen to their voices’, ‘twentyseven sorrows’ and ‘the tortoise who mistook a pickaxe for love’ are taken from ode ode (Salt): http://www.saltpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=1876857536
‘news from the erstwhile’ is taken from thempark (BookThug): http://www.bookthug.ca/proddetail.php?prod=201031&cat=5
‘Interference’, ‘Video’, ‘The Story of the Original’ and ‘Landboy under observation’ are published for the first time on here.
My sincere thanks to Michael for sending me these outstanding poems and allowing me the honour of publishing them on here.