On the occasion of Gig Ryan’s sixtieth birthday

A sapphic collaboration

That it’s pure, when it comes from their mouth, well I’d
spend two dollars on earplugs. I’d drink milk and
cider together. See a green object move
  around a window

of our first meetings prompted that poem writ

in English then self-translated into

ad hoc without your knowledge but

  No free cigarettes

The little tribe approach the statue and read
the inscription. I thought they were ghosts but now
I’ve a new prescription. Wear a red sash and
  vote for competence

more. Back to twenty zero zero

you called and said: Are you mad or something

for the first time, realised someone did

  Care, white as she is

Imprimatur before its time cons a vice—
getting nostalgic for last drinks, freedom was
the coincided dream she polishes like
a saint at breakfast.

Her massive smoke hinges through his tinder, its
female fry a script that writes itself. She can
hear the sharply dented air around this guy—
here comes her poem.

In turn, undiagnosed visions ran rampant—
the penultimate hook, the cohabited
skin: shipping out, keel-jammed, in search of a less
public solitude.

Meanwhile the basement carpark fills with liquid, 
spreading thin as mirror, turning; discandied
images drift, open-mouthed, to the entrance.
Lines come into sight.

A few photos in the altogether prove
nothing. Disinhibited, sure, and Nordic.
Just tomboy types relaxing, taking the air:
kind of genius.

then that redolence died and it was natural
landlords every/nowhere, like reeds, or romance
and the economy wilfully obscure,
a bulletin smeared

Jealousy’s too bad. If our paths cross, don’t blink. 
At least we’ll get to share the thrill of being
discreet (discrete), explicit, inviolate,

erupting into a palm, light from a phone..
space tourism going wrong, and maybe right
sound of rescuing a horse from a mine shaft
what, all ultimate

creak / your house tortured like an albatross / where
children squawk your name over / and last birds call
hearing birds fall out of trees / the wings of home
enfold you and lock

Value this longevity paired with distance
over depth; for neighbourly chitchat, insert
real talk only every so often, growing
lean as a poem

factory birds pipe like an alarm / we lay
the falcon / before the rain birds whistle and
you become a statue they mate and peck on
above the traffic

Ranging wild from heat of the west to inner-
city raining Melbourne or raining London
your sun not receding like tail-light, still high-
beam on the long road

Go to city galleries, taking stock of
culture past and present and filtered always;
west to east and back again, hook turns, long straights.
 Swan River → Yarra.

an exhortation condenses and appears
with statue draperies positioned now to
break magnolia tessellated silence
insert routine bell

Light will fasten firmly on claw and talon,
and so gods will take their place inside blankness,
listen hard to what comes of flowers holding:
 gravel road back home.

gilt curlicues will be briefly permitted
while protesters reveal the street’s true function
building new monuments to intuition
glyphic present tense

At the bar you stifle a desire to spit
like the camel you watched when flying out of
San Francisco (missing the Bowie rerun
for the second time

Because if, as you have it, each poem says
fuck you to the last, this one should do the same.
It should throw down the gauntlet, cause discomfort,
pull us into thought.

and accidentally hitting nature docos
which spooked you but the camel made sense, grinding
molars like a day-tripper, like the people
drinking behind you)

And if description starts to get the better
of our lump of sand, we can look once more to
those strands of poems you hate. Still an apt guide
for what not to do.

Motor breeds a tight, dark plane where silky spills
Now in, now out, an exit hesitated
or phantasm suggested with broad issue,
crystal hard magma.

Fringe sittings outlasted lunch market a maze
Choice of tones, shades—season Rosa (Luxemburg) 
Politics of ultramarine feeds summer
She knows the orbit

Feedingly we moped, but regained our sassy
Once she was among us, bringing the future
Swathed in the kind of brow we could only hope
For. This. This happened.

Crescent cut the rooftops, city of imprints
Two decades plane trees half a ring but who counts
Bells pre-Christmas burnt through sun—embankment stones 
Regards amethyst

Or Orpheus, chopped head flotsam on shit creek
and still he can’t stop talking—Now your thoughts on
politics, please, while I wash up—A night sky,
he’d show the saucepan—

Pure Bane: the fire rises. Aperitifs change
but the purpose of the meal remains the same.
we feast on the detritus like a business
like a hospital.

Now show me the marks where the cut head starts self-
grafting—says, ‘Look at you, making the whole room
gloomy’—Yes, he checked—‘She was always shit at
following orders’—

Siri, we can’t assume the car isn’t packed
with enough small screws to atomise a lie
when the bomb detonates and the poem mewls,
    unslakeable thirst.

If life were a rapprochement of adjectives
Companion words would populate Union Street
We scratch all our names on love’s carbon footprint
Skirt driveways of fate.

Only you can write an urban calculus
Of Sydney Road madonnas in gilt-edged frames
The inner north as true north Jerusalem
Bel cantos equate.

The poets

Michael Farrell (1 & 3)
Ouyang Yu (2 & 4)
Louis Armand (5 & 7)
Bonny Cassidy (6 & 8)
Kate Lilley (9 & 11)
John Hand (10 & 12)
Toby Fitch (13 & 15)
Tracy Ryan (14 & 16)
John Kinsella (17 & 19)
Ella O’Keefe (18 & 20)
Kate Fagan (21 & 23)
Aden Rolfe (22 & 24)
Melinda Bufton (25 & 27)
Nguyen Tien Hoang (26 & 28)
Lisa Gorton (29 & 31)
Liam Ferney (30 & 32)
Ann Vickery (33 & 34)


Read the afterword to this poem, written by editor Corey Wakeling




Read the rest of Overland 225


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