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Casula Power House Arts Centre 01-05.06.2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Allxx2yT8i0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdTDa2mG8DI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syuj7GGtNog

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHNqwMQRffM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhdrDJ13j_8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCviikTaJPE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy27Hhv-9lQ

 

 

 

FROM THE LADDER

 

He wants me to say something, he’s very insistent

The fact is, I have nothing to say

I can go along with most things

BUT TRULY I DON’T THINK THIS IS THE TIME TO STAND ON ONE’S HIGH HORSE …

 

I’m not too interested in making a big song and dance about things

Things could be a lot more entertaining

Things could be a lot more intelligent

Things could be much more modest

Inflation of any kind I hate

 

So, yes, you can go on and on batting your big butterfly wings if you wish

Flapping the air around

Displaying your own bright colours

Being first to the intersection

Stealing a march on your pals

 

But then, but then, at the end of the day, something simple

Yes, just plain simple

 

It’s up to the poet to get things accurate

No fudges

No polyfiller, as I like to say

Getting it right

 

The little boy chasing the butterfly is all about the little boy

It hasn’t got much to do with the butterfly

And if, as the poet says, he has watched the butterfly a full half hour

(It seems a tediously long time to me)

He only manages to get himself in a quandary: ‘I know not if you sleep or feed’

It seems a pretty mundane set of choices

Sleeping and feeding, sleeping and feeding

Feeding and sleeping, sleeping and feeding

 

One thing about being up a ladder is that it’s a good idea to think about that

To keep on reminding yourself: ‘Here I am up a ladder’

Ladders demand caution, caution of a sort

They require attention

People fall off ladders all the time, I wonder how that is possible

Perhaps secretly they seek to take flight

Secretly perhaps they wish to take a fall

 

In such circumstances there is not much point worrying about the butterfly

And if one came fluttering by just now it would be a good idea just to ignore it More or less

Just let it keep on fluttering by and not stick your hand out hoping to catch it

 

A butterfly belongs over there

That’s a proper place for a butterfly to be: over there.

 

Just try leaving things alone

That generally is best, I find

Leaving things alone

Just simply leaving things alone

 

 

 

 

HE SAID SOMETHING ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH

I love to go a-wandering
Along the mountain track
And as I go I love to sing
My knapsack on my back

1

You could blame waking thoughts
You could blame something like that

Today’s headache comes out of nowhere
Today’s headache comes out of nowhere but it’s not today’s headache
only
It’s the headache of everyday

The bellbirds chirp, a single note
It’s clear, it’s crystalline, that’s what people like to say
Clear, crystalline

It’s nothing of the sort, it’s just a sound signifying very little

No, it’s hardly the handiwork of God
No, it’s no Hallelujah Chorus
No, it’s hardly a call to prayers and there’s nothing of the supplicant
about it

It’s that noise, it’s that silence – and into that silence something falls

Listen hard, listen hard and you will begin to hear it
Something

Every song is the song of the day, every song is the song of the hour

[end of section]

2

A call to arms, tell me, what would that sound like
Does it have a sound, does it have a name?
The cause, sad to say, remains invisible
Not that causes are necessary
After all, the cause is the first thing to be mistrusted
Rightly, it’s right to mistrust THE CAUSE

Wave your flag, wave your banner
Throw your sheets from the upstairs window
Cry ‘Long live Saint George’ or some other ridiculous slogan
Issue forth your chant: ‘What do we want, when do we want it’
Hijack the ice-cream parlour
Have a meltdown in your mother’s kitchen
Surrender before becoming aware even of the defeat

Settle for what you think you have to settle for

Curse these familiar-unfamiliar surroundings
Do not expect anything to happen
Note the little waterfowl paddling across the slip-slap waters of the river;
It’s not wide, it’s not really much at all, it’s certainly no grandiose stream

Keep your own council
Offer no advice
Settle for less
Deny destiny but settle for less
Call in the fumigator, bring in the bug man
Listen to the hum of the electric fan heater
Note how the sky has clouded over
Call your aunt, ring your maiden auntie
Send a card to Gran
Look out the window and wonder if the stillness will remain constant
Note the hint of moss on the rocks
Observe the patches of painted blue
The white roof, the white railing
Return to the topic
Try to see indeed if there is a topic, something, anything
Note that whatever unfolds unfolds of its own accord

There’s nothing miraculous about it
In fact it’s a tedious business really

Slow, slow, it’s a slow day
And elsewhere a shower of traffic

Speeding
Speeding as if there were, truly, a destination to go to, somewhere
Somewhere to justify the trouble and the expense
Somewhere to justify putting on the seatbelt and driving off, with or
without the kids

This place never opens
This desk is far from that desk
There are acres of space to meander in
There are vast fields of painted space to traverse
There are bellbirds to pick at the hours
There is a single kid in a white hood standing on the platform
Somewhere someone sits down with a glass of gin and a deck of cards
and inaugurates a game of canasta
Somewhere someone sits down next to a small table where the telephone
sits on a knitted doily leafing through last year’s Christmas cards
Somewhere someone sits down
And the headache advances
It advances

There is nothing
There is nothing
There is nothing to break the spell of it

[end of section]

3

Stay at home, you can always watch it on TV
Get in Céleste or Céline or some other TV star
Heartbreak High, yet another home run
Run the whole programme from the local shopping mall
Make sure the surfaces glisten
Make sure the sheen is sheenier than Mr Sheen
The Brill more Brill than Brill
‘After all she was just an ordinary lass, from down the road, Loftus
Central’
Garnetvale awaits
Bumbling Brooks
Sparkling Cascade
Nookyrook
Some other nameless piece of inertia

You too can own your very own piece of signed cardboard
And spend a night in Mosman and listen to the roar of the elephant, the
bleat of the lamb  
(There are things there in cages you will note)

And so we heard stories of cattle transported in cattle trucks
Days and days on the railway somewhere between point A and the border  
Days and days
As if the life of livestock must be extended by any means
As if, somehow, some miracle will happen
As if, somehow, there will be a reprieve at last
And the whole of Libya put on starvation rations just to save the latest
shipment of beef their mortal fate

Cattle truck
Cattle truck
Cattle truck

[end of section]

4

To scorn the human condition is nothing at all
For if, as some of us believe, we have transcended ourselves into virtual
non-existence
As if, in the pursuit of the higher glories, we have become nothing at all
Outer space fitted to a commentary fitted to some game show or other

Lawyers with desks
Glamorous defence teams dealing with the high and the mighty as if
polished wood panelling and chrome-legged furniture and natty fitted
jackets in delicious fire-scarlet really mean something
‘Today I think I shall dress in red and sweep my blond coiffure just so
…’
She purses her lips precisely, it’s all systems go
‘Go get him Joe, sink Santa, he’s obviously a lush …’
And so the defence team sweeps to the rescue, preserving the world from
itself

The world watches, the world awaits, adoring!

[end of section]

5

‘Doors closing’
The metaphoric always catches us unawares
‘Doors closing’

It’s supposed to presage movement, a departure
It’s supposed to send us on our way

‘Doors closing, doors closing’

We are frozen here in some sort of relict space
The grind of the compactor
The Council exercising its normal functions
(Turn off that U-Tube, it subverts the workers)
(Do not swear, this is a family programme after all)
(We will tell you what family values are because we know)

A brick falls from the tabernacle at the corner
A pale blond brick
Sparrows skip and skitter at the corner post, they have found an ingress of
sorts
The bellbirds continue their single chiming notes, marking out space and
location
(Tiny acts, tiny acts of repulsion)
I claim, I claim
I shall rent you asunder
I shall plight you mine troth
I shall break these birthday crackers together
I shall do something or other
I shall read the newspaper
I shall do the crossword
I shall sing ‘Home on the  
Range’
I shall sing ‘Home on the Range’ with a high C
I shall ring up Centrelink seeking an appointment
I shall enter sight unseen all sites where the policy is ‘The less you know
the better for us’
I shall enter every site where the official policy is DETERRENCE ONLY
I shall enter every site where the official policy is ‘DON’T BOTHER US’
I shall enter every site where the sign reads ‘(PLEASE) DON’T
DISTURB’

The train stops, the brakes have failed
The train stops, people alight on the platform
The train stops, people alight on the platform dressed in gay summer
frocks with picnic baskets over their arms and a song on their lips
Val-deri val-dera val-deri val-dera ha ha ha ha ha ha!
A song on every lip and a bright toothsome smile for all to see and
children with rosy cheeks
And
And

Smile
Smile, smile, smile
Say cheese
Grin
Grin and bear it
Say cheese
Grin
Grin and bear it
Another photo in the family album
Another
Another
And

Doors
Doors  
Doors  

Doors closing
Doors closing
Doors close

I’m afraid, I’m afraid the General Manager is not well
I’m afraid, I’m afraid the Technical Officer is indisposed
I’m afraid, I’m afraid the General Staffing Officer has flexed off
I’m afraid, I’m afraid the Engineer is out of order
The circuit broken
Something wrong with the fuse box
A short

I’m afraid, I’m afraid the workers are in revolt
I’m afraid, I’m afraid worker morale is at an all-time low
I’m afraid, I’m afraid the staff spends all its time on U-Tube looking for
something ever so slightly animated
You know, something with movement
I’m afraid, I’m afraid the staff has forgotten what each other looks like  
They’ve gone blank, they’ve entered a visualisation blank
They’ve entered a recognition free zone
The site of recognition has been rendered null and void
They think that Animal Farm is all about rabbits
They think that Lucy in the Sky is all about
Is all about
They think that David Bowie should have died already
They think that Major Tom should have had a better name, a more
important nomenclature
They think he should have had a swipe card of his own at the very least
They think he should have had his own  private docking bay
They think he should have had DISABILITY PARKING
They think he should have had free parking on account of his Native Title
standing
They think he should have been the first child born in outer space
They think he should have been called Captain Cosmos at the very least
They think the next State of Origin should be played on the moon at full
moon
And Wimbledon, too
And the Rose Bowl
And the World Ice Hockey Championship
And the Mickey Mouse Cup
And the Green Cheese Platter
And the General Service Award for the Month of August

Suddenly the screen goes blank
BLANK!

Bzzt bzzt bzzt bzzt, bzzt bzzt bzzt …
BZZT BZZT bzzt bzzt bzzt …
Blank! (plaintively)

Major Tom Major Tom Major Tom!

[end of section]

6

And now we are about to perform
What will you perform
And now we are about to perform
What will you perform

The butterfly sits on the branch
The butterfly is still
Self-poised, says the poet
Not frozen seas more motionless
(He pinched that from his mate)
In any case it’s not that kind of stillness we seek
It’s a stillness that quivers, unlike the ice
It’s a stillness that stills all movement
That traps the wind between its wings
That knows what it is doing

Ice knows nothing

I’m sorry, I left my Esky soul behind today
I left it in the freezer
I left it behind with the frozen fish pellets and the frozen peas
I left it behind with yesterday’s stale jokes and the unread newspapers
I left it behind with the secret remedy for whooping cough
I left it behind with the family history there on the shelf
Like the newspapers, destined to remain unread
Forgotten on the instant
On the spot

Scandal lives forever
Scandal is eternal
Scandal lives forever even if everything is forgot
The scandal lives on, it haunts
The scandal lives on for at any moment it can return
It threatens
A spectre in wolf’s clothing
Little Red Riding Hood in her little red riding outfit
Her jaws smeared with blood
And a wicker basket over her arm

For the suburbs are murderous my dear
For the suburbs are wreaked with blood and accusations left unsaid
Accusations that are accurate and therefore unfair
One slip of the lip
Control, annihilation, venom, spleen
The national heritage far from dead

‘Oh say can you see …’

Doors closing, doors closing
Please stand clear, please stand clear

No, I’ll be there any minute
No, I don’t know anything about that
No, I don’t remember
No, no

No, you can always get it at the supermarket
No, the weather report says
No, you’ll just have to make do
No, I won’t be there Friday

No, no

Turn off the camera, turn off the screen
Turn off channel 9, 13, 21
Turn off channel 63

Your spite my dear is endless
Your malice precedes you by several leaps and bounds
Your green card got lost in the post
You’ll need to register in Manila
There’s nothing we can do about it
We told the technicians yesterday
We sent out the order months ago
We sent
We sent
We sent

They brought the tablets down from the mountain
It was they said the Word of God
10 fingers, 10 commandments
Holy Writ
A digit for every thing that must be obeyed
10 – 9 – 8, counting down
7 – 6 – 5 - 4

They brought the tablets down from the mountain  
They brought them down

We prefer, they said, the Golden Calf
The workmanship is very fine
The gold gleams
You can get it on special if you’re quick
You can pay on Pay-Pal, it’s sure to turn up one day
If you send a further two thousand dollars we can guarantee shipment
instantaneously
If you send a further two thousand five hundred dollars, we will, we
assure you
We will …
We will …

Honourably yours, honourably yours

If your life insurance isn’t paid up let us suggest that you remedy the
situation immediately
Pay it now, pay it now

You may, with any luck, earn a special dispensation
Pay it now, pay it now

Benedicte, benedicte!
Live long and prosper
Benedicte, benedicte!
You too are Spock’s lost child

[Turn off monitors one by one]

Casula, 2 June 2010