for Sam Langer after Juliana Spahr


I’m afraid there’re no surprises in this one, you’ve almost certainly heard it before. The wallaby, our wallaby, was brown bright, brown body and of eye, and with an inside and an outside, just like flowers have. And yet the wallaby lived near a bandicoot, a bandicoot of an iniquitous temper, who was black-hearted, wolfish, and a mercenary and villain. The bandicoot’s iniquity was vibrant and involved the congealed backache and marrow expropriation of everyone the bandicoot knew, including the wallaby. And for to exact the bandicoot’s plans providentially, economically that is, and to amass warrant authorisations, the bandicoot did do summon sweetly the wallaby to his eucalypt grotto to be, so he said, forgiven of her debts accrued and her friends remitted as well at the heel-claw of the bandicoot. Yes, so said the bandicoot, and promised in beholding the wallaby to change his aspect, so especially sly and smally, to be more likeable and enfranchising like the wallaby’s. For the bandicoot had seen that the wallaby looked at the bandicoot as if the wallaby knew the bandicoot’s malevolence of freight and gaze. Indeed, and but the wallaby did know too and full well that such insider wisdom is thin window dressing, for so when the wallaby did do sign together with trembling foot and cried, the bandicoot was quick to say the wallaby should sign some more. After that there happened such things that are difficult to speak of here, but needless to say the wallaby was to become articled and made to think to sign some more. Certain in the pub did do put on the desiring voices of authority and victimisation to complicate the wallaby’s relationship to narrative and truth. Some did do read a few callous odes in her name. Others did pamphlets declaring conspiracy too elegant a solution for such a marsupial with exactly such two ears, such four paws, and such a single meaty tail. Some played bush ballads on their beer bottles for her through the trunky bars of the bush. Some read yet more callous odes in her name, with cankerous thickly rhymes to the clink of shears. It is said that the wallaby did go sweetly. That the wallaby said your pamphlets be but wind, your manifold documentations be but rain, and your callous odes be as floods that pass, and how ably that all these things dash at the foothills of my body, my pouch, my matter, my mealy-warm throat, but for that they shall not budge. That the wallaby said O iniquitous villain and felonious loopy wretch, hast thou no shame to shear off in brown clumps that in a wallaby which thou didst so lately and so keenly eye for its confiding hue, and whereof in that same trust thou and thy papers wert so recently nourished by the concording backaches and marrows of my friends? But I have not made up my mind to be annihilated. I have my body and ears whole in my pouch, of which I nourish all my friends and their wills also! And yet in time the wallaby’s shorn skin and scalped body healed against the whitelit screens of the Australian sky and when the bandicoot realised the wallaby was healed he made her, shorn again, to be laden with the heaviest matters of earth and plunged to sink in a billabong. Down down down, explanatory heaven! The wallaby had not made up her mind to be annihilated, but then of course she was. And it was then that the trees of the plains began to quiver from a great wall of water and wind and part of the bush was swept away into the sea. So the animals came scrambling unto the eucalypt grotto of the bandicoot, saying, in a great big ruckus, that the bush was in a grave danger for the horrors, land holdings and humiliations and supplicated that the wallaby’s carcass should be released from prison. And then the bandicoot didn’t listen and so the animals then sacrificed an old swagman in the name of the Moon and then of Sir Joseph Banks in the name of the wallaby. And then a great many did do the putting on of a convict outfit, smashing stained glass window after stained glass window of the bandicoot’s eucalypt grotto, hopping in and out, sweetly, snatching what they could. Capsicum spray and pyrotechnics filled the plains. There were more callous odes. There was a whole chorus. All for the wallaby. Others gelding, choosing at random. Some asked for volunteers, some volunteered. Many in the forest canopy got lost in a flowing flash mob, impressing on all and sundry to dance like yellow winking bombs in the treetops. Many had a few knives, unsheathed, in their pouches the entire time. I am supposed to slug back a middy here and then tase Rolf Harris while the marsupial rats shave every man that still has hair in this café with a crappy Venus razor, the dull one I used earlier in the day to shave my legs, which I try to remember to do for the same reasons that I try to smile more when I am around men and the bandicoot. I am to do forced shearing of all the men here until they pass out and then make them knit scarves and mittens of their own wooling to survive. Then I am to declare in the name of the Moon fuck signing, fuck land-defining systems of debt. And in the name of the Wallaby, all official documentations and all Human Resources forms. Greyhound racing too. And that footage I saw yesterday of Pauline Hanson straddling two sedans that she’d just crushed with a monster truck. And so when the Moon comes out of the bush prison with its head held high the wallaby, still dead, will do join her paws, do hold them to the whitelit screen of the Australian sky, and do say in singing: There’s an old Australian stockman lying, dying / An’ he gets himself up onto one elbow and ’e turns to his mates who are all gathered around and ’e says / Watch me wallabies feed, mate / Watch me wallabies feed, / They’re a dangerous breed, mate / So watch me wallabies feed … And after that for to prove that the wallaby has done sung for the deliverance of the country, there will yet come at the end of November, the year after the wallaby’s martyrdom, a second great flood, coming from all the oceans and seas at once toward the bush to swept the earth and trees, it will be so ardent.



Image: ‘Wallaby’ / flickr



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Claire Nashar

Claire Nashar lives in Buffalo, where she is a PhD student at the State University of New York. Her first book of poems, Lake, was published by Cordite Books.

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