Resistance is the tenor of reality, and action in it is compromised, bloody-handed, in the world and of it. In some senses it can seem that an ever-larger stake of leftist discourse is consumed by a miserabilist scramble for seniority on a narrowing mesa of unhistorical piety. In the crisis of social, ethical, and ecological collapse that greets us daily, clean hands look more than ever like magical thinking.
The rainbow serpent comes through here on the dry land, and made the creeks, the rivers and waterholes. That’s why on white mans maps rivers look like snake tracks. The serpent made the water run really really really deep and fit himself in it. That became the waterholes around Alice Springs.
Sean Bonney (1969-2019) died in November. He was a British anti-fascist activist, revolutionary socialist and poet who was born in Brighton and raised in the north of England. He lived in London, and, from 2015 until his death, in Berlin….
Marxist-feminist poetics, I have argued elsewhere, requires a preoccupation with social reproduction – as a theme and as an object of inquiry and critique – while at the same time being invested in the temporalities of women’s work. Time itself has been shaped by capitalism in relation to how we work and live.
As though from the belly of the old lady who swallowed an ouroboros come carrier pigeons defecating messages on the city walls about how automagically the world is filled with machinism, a reborn unknown third nature habitat of fright or flight of fancy. There at the gates of this netropolis stands the prophet like a global Potemkin village fool, crying the wolf is in nude clothing.
I don’t know. Perhaps critique — let alone ‘radical critique’ — is today finished as a viable modality of action, whether private or public, moral or political. The word critique enters English from the French in the late 16th century, although its fortunes really take off in the eighteenth century, where it is bound to the upsurge of quote-unquote ‘Enlightenment,’ with all of the ambiguities accompanying that complex phenomenon and its crises, critics, criticisms, criticising and criteria.
1. A wealthy and worldly socialite, financier turned jaded art dealer, resigned to holding life at a certain ironic distance, encounters for the first time a piece of music that – in his emotional response to its phrasing and harmonies – holds out the promise of recovering authentic enthusiasm.
In sacred lands, stories experience growth in the memories of untamed love. It is a world revolving around a core made up of unexplainable metaphors. Wrapping themselves within the reasoning of the subjective mode. Togetherness tied in a dreamt notion of freedom written nowhere. In the merge into the intention of listening.
On New Year’s Day 2020, the Navy ship HMAS Choules left Sydney Harbour for a rescue mission to Mallacoota. Images of families huddled on the beach on this Victorian coastal town, as a firestorm closed in, became emblematic of the sense of existential crisis that gripped much of Australia. Long suffered by people at the margins, the climate crisis arrived in terrifying ways for the Australian mainstream.
Smoke haze hangs over Melbourne. The rim of my car-door is caked in orange dust after red rains. People post shots of the compromised view from their windows and balconies, visibility updates, rain water tank statuses: water like sweet sticky soft drinks left out on a hot summer’s day. I do not rejoice in these recent months of bushfires. But I am pleased that their traces have arrived in our capitals.
Winner: Jenah Shaw | The houseguest For such a formally inventive story – a mosaic of descriptive and narrative passages of varying lengths and degrees of evocativeness, ‘sorted’ under subject headings – it’s remarkable that ‘The houseguest’ feels so warmly…
The questions should be explicit, things like when and how long for and where in the house will an extra person sleep. Then there is the issue of payment: whether there is any, to start, and then if so how much and if not money for board then perhaps for food or power or Netflix, or will the houseguest be expected to help instead with other matters – the cleaning of rooms, the caring of children, the contributing to family life in some other, less tangible way.
When school was done and the hall swept and mopped, when we’d taken Mrs Hamilton’s scraps to the chooks and polished our shoes, as the days lengthened into November we were allowed to run out on the mudflats. We’d play cricket in the cold breeze, if Mr Baye would unlock the bat and ball, and dig for pipis for Mrs Hamilton, who said they improved her soups.
We shoulda known it. Barnett and that bank shot of his. The Piney Vista Drive-In’s what he called it, a wonderment of entertainment technology ginned up out of – typical Barnett fashion – nothing. “Spiney vision?” said Lynch. “Piney Vista,” said Barnett. He looked like he’d slept in his clothes.
The war between the gods of the city ended on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, when Duke Denver impaled the old patriarch Black Fern with a sharpened lamppost in the middle of a busy intersection. The traffic backed up for twenty-two kilometres, and in the following hours, dozens of drivers and passengers were hospitalised for heatstroke. Hundreds of bats fell out of the trees, their small bodies littering the pavements. Half the city succumbed to the blackout.
‘I can’t snorkel to save myself,’ you say, wriggling into your bathers. Rudi tugs on board shorts. ‘You’ll be fine. You’ll love it.’ He smears on sunscreen and steers you out of the pandan-thatched bungalow. Past your plunge pool, under the frangipani, through gardens giddy with crotons.
At the villa gate you mount rusty bicycles.
The creek runs fast down the steep, forested hills that pass for mountains, clumps up into waterholes across the plains where sheep line the banks, and continues on through the bush towards the sea. On the town’s naming day the community gathers behind the hall to grill their black wattle-seed sausages over rusted barbecue plates, the younger children kick footballs that lodge themselves in the high forks of scribbly-gums, and the rest join the throng of revellers down by the creek where an ancient log, nearly petrified, hangs across the water suspended on forked plinths.
Late one Friday night in the year I left university, I woke on a strange and distant railway platform, lying face-down in a puddle of my own yeasty vomit – half-chewed chunks of pineapple strung in my hair – and resolved never to regret another choice. Since then, I have applied myself assiduously to leading a blame-free life, fearing guilt, and retreating from any situation that might lend itself to my own embarrassment or shame. Time and again, I have been reassured that regret is little more than the destructive byproduct of an inconstant mind.
poem to the v-c and university as a whole: a ‘position paper’ for discussion 1. The killers who think they’re life-givers surround themselves with people who will praise them – there are dead trees to climb, crows’ nests to be made, drones to fly, rebuilding the unmaking in own images
‘No Alarms’ could be said to have a strong tentativeness: in tending towards a prose poem, but not becoming one, in tending toward cutup, but resisting the difficulty of that for its own difficulty (of writing this good poem). ‘No…
Give the brigalows time to impersonate metal. Fold the final
reminders like bed sheets. Ignore the echoes. Are you revolted
the right way? Mosquito into the tidiest corruptions. Zap. Soak
the stains. Ear against the wall, diagnose water hammer.
The young sit eir fresia in bottom yard where it bloom best. Feline in mangifera where e move best. So much living in pastime, riverbank where kindred set it down best.
when the black curtain drops in a back room at the airport. solo desk in the corner: union jack + southern cross + lipstick holder. white man drags a beat up fairlane, parks so close our mirrors touch.