Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two Doors Down from Billy-Cart Hill

We lived two doors down
From Billy Cart Hill
With a slope faster than a stomach,
Cheese grater tar
And T-intersection traffic to catch your fall.

I would drag my cart like a litter
Up guillotine steps to the top
And mount scary free like Lucifer felt
When God opened his forefinger and thumb
And let him drop.

I’m rolling, leaning back backboard pressing me earthward
Re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, gravel-rashed knuckles locked tight on rough rope reins held by horseshoe nails and pivoted on two washers, a bolt and nut, rattling like a boiling pot lid.

Feel the road typewritering morse code frantic relayed by thin rubber strip wheels through shrink skin wrapped bones, telex writer teeth with no carriage return biting off staccato cries shaken loose.

Whooooooo! Whoooooo!

Screams my lungs letting go and
Wind tears face racing stripes.

Till I wrench the rope
Press wood lever against rear wheel
And jack-knife body to a rolling stop
Whooping winded and tingly alive.

On my ride, my release,
I left my life behind like
Rubber off my Dunlop Volleys.
The cart was a De Lorean
And as the landing pad bloomed
I forgot the dickhead, the dropped catch, the girl
As my speed turned back time.

Oh, how I want to live again like a thrown ball
The freedom of corked thighs and scabbed knees
When absolution smelt like iodine
And closure was a Band Aid
The perfect sense of handing control to
A piece of pine and a single bolt.

So that’s why I’m in Bunnings
Buying axles and rope
I’ve been climbing all my life and it’s time
I prised God’s fingers apart again
And lost some skin.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Traverse Poetry Slam 25 Feb

Hosted my first slam last night, standing in for the wonderful and dedicated Julian Fleetwood. It was a great night - a strong pool of performers and a large, welcoming audience. The Front has done a bit of redecorating and has raided some front lawns to replace a lot of its furniture. Overall, an inspiring start to the slam season of 2011.

I asked the audience for their definitions of poetry and read these out in between slammers. My favourite:
Poetry is...a most beautiful bird that allows us to hold it for a while.

Together with the audience contributions, I found some quotes from well-known poets. I really liked Marianne Moore's:
Poetry is...imaginary gardens with real toads in them.
Finally, while reading the newspaper this morning I realised a definition of my own:
Poetry is...everything political spin is not.
I tried my hand with poet humour, with mixed success:
What is the definition of a simile?
It is like a metaphor.
I performed a poem about billy-carts (soap-box racers for our American friends). I'm sure it's the only time I will mention Bunnings in verse. I will post the poem later this week.

The quality and range of the performers was comforting - the slam scene in Canberra is doing well. There were some poets new to slam and others new to slamming in Canberra. I hope to see them all back next time, along with several of the audience who have now been inspired to give it a go.

Finally, a big thank-you to Bernadette, who did a fantastic job reminding me of all the things I forgot to do. Oh, and she brought cupcakes and performed a very vivid poem about hotel rooms (among other things).


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lindbergh was a mystic

Driving past graveyards, when we were young,
My brother would hold his breath
So spirits of the dead did not enter him.

But I wanted to keep those passed alive.
I would breathe deep,
Inhale the memories and cut-short dreams,
Sweet like the scent of a room just passed through.

One stove summer day I stood inside a ghost,
A lighthouse shade in a cool stone corner,
And wrapped myself in gunpowder smoke
And saltwater mist.

Lives in the air brought back to life.

See, in the right light you could see them
Faces in smoke, their touch in a mist,
On hot days when they danced
On the street in the distance.

In storms I would rush to the window
To see phantoms wave leafy arms at me,
The wind through the wires calling me.

Foggy dawns were armies of steam,
Waiting in ambush in damp valleys;
Thunderclouds were souls reaching for release,
Jostling, holding tight, buoying each other up.

I longed to ride the trade winds and jet streams
Carrying our essence, then and now.
To breathe in the nimbus lives.

For I knew: death is but a sigh.
Our lives are just one exhaled breath
In the weather.

So I did what I breathed to do:
I learned to fly.
Lifted by the secrets of raptor guides
I rose and dipped on the currents in the sky
Of relationships, passions and hopes.

I slipped between cold and warm fronts
Pressing together like lost lovers.
I listened to the passion trapped in cumulous up-drafts,
The voices released in the bruised hearts of storm clouds:

A confession, a conclusion, a humid regret
A young man’s dying wish
A new mother’s love never heard
The snowflake of a mute poet’s first words.

At altitude I had the perspective that comes with death:
How what follows life is as full as the silence after a lightning strike
How vacuums do not exist
How we all blur at the edges
And all the puffs of our lives become one mass

Cupping the world.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Slamming in Orlando.

Last week I won the monthly Broken Speech poetry slam in Orlando, Florida. I travel for work and I love it when the moons align and I get to perform. It is even better when I am well received.

The theme was persona poems, to celebrate the release of the anthology RE:Telling by Ampersand Books. I performed this poem, a collection of three different personas interpreting 'hunger':

The Broken Speech poetry slam is run by a dedicated writer, J Bradley. He is a prolific writer and performer of poetry and flash fiction. He lives at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Riding the Metro

American girls walking bow-legged,
Trailing big hair like revolutionary flags,
Blowing force fields of cliches,
Impenetrable images of
Motivational posters you do not feature in.

First Traverse poetry slam for 2011

7.30pm Friday, 25 February at The Front

I will be MC with the gracious assistance of Bernadette. There will be cupcakes!

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