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In the shadow of the forgotten land



19 12 2009


Launch of Richard Hillman’s Raw Nerve: Puncher & Wattmann Poetry

Friend in Hand Hotel, 58 Cowper Street, Glebe


Performance piece with Slawek Janicki: In the Shadow of the Forgotten Land


In the shadow of the forgotten land


Yesterday we forgot, today we remember

Yesterday we forgot everything

Today we remembered something

(I can tell you nothing, I said

You resist exclusion

The shutters tell you to enter

The open door creates a panic: “Stay outside, you must remain outside’)

The doors of the city are shut, a light rain falls

Taxis seize the bus lanes

Doors open and shut, passengers alight feet first

In their hands a straggle of loose change

And lists of what next, what to do


We remember when we forget

Every attestation a disappearance

You are here and you are not

The note sounds and we are swept overboard


In the midst of the silence something occurs

In the steadfast silence an appearance

I concede, says the historian

Your picture appears in the paper, you exist

(He’s only a self-appointed historian anyway; no matter)

I concede, you exist

You are on the record, you exist

He shuffles his papers on the dry wind-swept plain

His vanity is endless


The temple he builds is a backyard temple

He builds his temple in the backyard

The neighbours lean over the fence: ‘What have you got there, son, a temple?’

He builds a temple, a backyard temple

‘Should I build the floor or should I leave it

Should I build the floor now or leave it till later?’


He can’t be a god, says the preacher

He can’t be a god, he wears a neck brace

He can’t be a god, he goes to the dentist

He can’t be a god, he can’t quote the Vedic Scriptures

Oh yes, she’s a goddess

Oh yes, she’s a goddess courtesy of her facelift

See, it makes all the difference

She’s a golden girl, she stores honey in trees

Her golden tresses are honey gold

She’s wild, she’s wild like a wild river

We call her Kundry, she lives in Croydon


The fish look coyly, they’re native born

They’re bug-eyed, she says, like mudskippers

They discriminate, they’re discriminating creatures

They can tell, they can tell the difference

They’ll leave alone what they need to leave alone

They’ll devour what they need to devour

They’re machines of our own extension


We forget when we seek to remember

It follows then, she says, that we only remember when we seek to forget

The golf ball clatters against the roof of the dairy

The golf ball goes dink against the corrugated wall of the cow shed

There’s a target

There’s a target and a big sign saying … HELP!

A golf balls spits across the slope of the paddock

Springs on the thick kikuyu, dribbles to a stop

A feather falls from the sky

He looks up, there is nothing

He looks up


He takes it in his hand.


John von Sturmer

Friend in Hand Hotel, Glebe

19 12 2009

(In a performance with Slawek Janicki, double bass)







John von Sturmer & Slawek Janicki, "in the shadow of the forgotten land", Sydney 19.12.2009 at "Friend in hand"