Type
Article
Category
Poetry

Poetry | The ordinary poem

there is a place more real than desire
as real as a train or a brick or a sarcoma,
words are cleaner there, swaying whitely
like feathers in warm air, where dignity
whispers like silk skirts. in the place,
every thing is a thing in comparison:
all bodies are dancers, all objects are symbols,
all symbols are monuments

in the place, poems are money,
money is credit, credit is debt, debts are futures,
futures are the everyday. all items are accounted for. and this
puts the prophets out of business…

more real than desire is a train,
the view from the glass streaked cheaply with shapes —
overgrowth, flickers of bare life, smoke screens, blackened
scaffolds stark as nudity, satellites in the eaves,
leaden feet shuffling —
through the glass, all monuments are symbols
all bodies are a right hand

on a train, cold as a cistern, i write a list of demands:
i demand a new textual violence,
the restoration of the slap and the blow with the fist,
a recession of dailiness,
a cultural shift, the resensitisation of horror,
i demand vitriols, gentle words falling away like stewed meat until a slump
in loveliness becomes a long, low hum,
i demand futures become threats, right hands become fists,
i demand the bright morning arrive, sparkling and odious, i demand
the names of every motherfucker who looked
at the heaving earth and saw an outcome, a teacup or a clean line,
the decorous rhythms of greenhouse plants,
every motherfucker who said there is a place
more real than desire, this is a debt-soaked world, the universe
lawfully unfolds, on this side
cast depravity as labour, cast the decadent as worker, consider the grindstone
in its manifest beauties, the drones in the ceiling, their celestial tones, find
bells, the sun, angels,
all worn to nubs, wrest them from the dross
with peace and honour, birdsong,
winter tomatoes tart and bitter, the happiness of bread, barbarity knitting a sweater, no —

i demand all bells become feral, i demand the sun
and gnashing angels, i demand knives and needles, elegance laid down on the rails, visions,
i demand all vulgar words become flesh, fuck the state, fuck debt, cops, collectors,
enforcers, collaborators, bon mots, fuck the novel fuck it all until the air is thick with demands
and in the dark recall the guillotine is not a symbol, not a monument
it is as real as a train
as a brick as a sarcoma, real as your right hand

 

 

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Ursula Robinson-Shaw is a writer from Aotearoa, living in Narrm/Melbourne. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne and co-director of sick leave, a reading series and journal. Her chapbook Noonday was published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2019.

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Comments

  1. ‘there is a place more real than desire
    as real as a train or a brick or a sarcoma …’

    places have names, and should you study indigenous discourse in round and related to place names, suddenly living and being in a place becomes more real than unquenchable consumer desires, particularly when balanced against a long held and never ceded sovereignty

  2. “and in the dark recall the guillotine is not a symbol, not a monument
    it is as real as a train”

    Yes.

    Yes.

    Thank you Ursula

  3. it is as real as a train
    as a brick as a sarcoma, real as your right hand

    stunning imagery and emotion — man that was a long time to be breathlessThank you so much for this.

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