Published in Overland Issue 244 Spring 2021 Teaser / Poetry Birds, again Ursula Robinson-Shaw after Coleridge, Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Harry, Gareth, et al., The birds are at it — hacking up the morning — domesticated but brain dead, my friend the poet says, a kind of interior haunting — their same tricks, on the same beats — Things ‘just go on,’ reprising — the patterns of kissing, the stiffening of thought, Michael on the telephone, in the garden, forgetting — Arranging our natures for the short term, what we lose in aura we gain in mettle, what we gain in mettle we lose, somehow, we are gratefully disposed to dawn chorus, asbestos, bringing in the slippers — My friend the poet lacks character, citing stone fruit, afternoon light — he forgets to act, and is acted upon — makes shitty connections, deals in a lot of talk — like the birds, a great mimic, a thief of life — so true it isn’t real, he says, greedy with artistic faith — Only poets and the idle rich buy themselves boredom — the kind of good luck that feels like bad luck — it’s good for the soul, not knowing things, having a low threshold for guilt, a low tolerance for desire, making ‘guilty pleasures’ a little uneven, hysterical with self-confidence, thinking proudly that the circumstances are charmed, a harmonic system of work, intellect, inaction, an old string of beads snapping, threaded back — Michael, telephone, the garden, forgetting, the assertion of habit, like a loop in a monologue — Listen, it all amounts to deflecting an evil eye, in the end the sun comes up on the left, a sure sign of something, then it goes down on the right, no good, but at the height of every day it looks higher — mist, snow, pestilence, high wind, lyrical dressing for the sense of loss — I have felt eternity dwelling on a bus, seen the albatross at an online funeral, not literally, but true as in, real enough — I have burned green blue white sitting in my room, full of static yearnings, pantomiming self awareness and being extremely wonderful, every tree and flower convenient to my being, stewing in damp linen, choosing helplessness as a style, typing — WE HAVE KILLED THE BIRD! — with one hand — WITH DEATH-FIRES, WITCH’S OILS! — sweaty and decadent at the doorway of sense, thinking grey time, Extinction, then in the garden, every morning, birds again — My friend the poet says the meek shall inherit and the meek were birds, are they? — in our lives of the mind we are fastidiously bored, yelling at the chemist through the plexiglass, trying to return a bad mood like look, it’s in saleable condition — My friend the poet says hey, remember the chain-smoking beast yawning and obscene, come pub it’s only 11, it’s Thursday, hey Stranger! — double! — hypocrite! Listen! — my friend the poet can hardly walk to the bathroom, needs a minute alone, we ask darl, are you alright — replies I’m fine, I’m feeling storms, stars, all high things — dragging two pints, wearing proudly his bad luck, asking what is to be done, wringing his skinny hands — Listen!, my friend the poet, in a voice like a footnote, cites observations, arsenic greens, painted ships, in a formidable statement about — we can’t avoid a theme — the mule of tragedy and satire, the present scheme, the big flat now all sterile, like most crossbreeds, the more since there are no new days — noting failures with a powerful hmm, he says, hmm over everything — the glitching sky stuck at noon, the endless day yawning, between us all we have seen the devil or figured out how he moves — we talk him up while Michael whispers sacred things asleep — My friend the poet cuts the safety cord and says everybody smells the devil, but nobody believes in him — which sounds so true it’s real, we agree, holding slippers, dull as a painting Read the rest of Overland 244 If you enjoyed this piece, buy the issue Or subscribe and receive four brilliant issues for a year Ursula Robinson-Shaw 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. More by Ursula Robinson-Shaw Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays 6 First published in Overland Issue 228 1 February 20233 February 2023 Reviews This is where the rat bastard poem comes in Dan Hogan Rats will be found wherever nonsense presented as sense becomes the authority. Such is the cornerstone of anything organised along lines of capital: bureaucracies, workplace hierarchies, real estate, aspiration culture, institutions, ruling class artifice, governments, etcetera. Wherever there is capital there are rats—hoarding creatures, capital’s henchmen. First published in Overland Issue 228 16 December 202225 January 2023 Poetry Poetry | Wombats shit candy Michael Farrell To avoid treading on a snake, I stepped on a land mine. Did this really happen, in my dream? No. Is it a fiction, then? Yes and no. The time I spend looking for socks is insignificant: lie, irony, or philosophy? Wombats shit candy. Joke – hallucination? This is in fact a truth claim. My poems: litanies of truth claims.