A Poet’s Perspective on a Conversation With a Poet

The conversation started out innocently enough
They asked what I did
I replied that I’m a poet

After that 
we had the conversation that most poets
have had at least once in their lives
or, if they haven’t yet.
They will

The part of the questioner will be played by the reader.
Improvisation is encouraged

It’s difficult to say how I got into poetry
I don’t know, not really
One day I saw a sheet of paper before me
and I wrote down some words
and they seemed profound to me
So I kept doing that
and now I’m here

Well, no, I’ve not really published anything
I’ve yet to be discovered
if that’s what you mean
but I do have a blog
where I post some of the stuff I write
but it doesn’t get much traffic 

Well I guess it is disingenuous
as you say
to call myself a poet when I’ve yet to publish anything

I cook. I work on the line. 
I work the fry station
So yeah, I suppose it is more accurate to say
that I am a frier
rather than a poet
but I still feel that I am better described 
by my poetry
than my skill with in a kitchen

The reason I don’t send in any of my stuff
is because I don’t think I write anything that they’ll like
right now
Mostly what I write is absurdist poetry
here’s one of my favorite pieces that I’ve ever written

    ‘I got on the train
    it went from West Richmond
    to North Richmond
    without changing directions

    that’s fucked’

So what do you think?
Do you like it?

No, it doesn’t rhyme
not all poetry rhymes
I’ve read thousands of poems
I’ve yet to read one that rhymes.

Do you not appreciate the absurdity of it though?
What I’m saying is,
life is like the train
and we’re all just living in it
and we go from one place
to another
without our input
and without really changing directions

And then you get to the really good part
the part where it says ‘that’s fucked’
because of how insightful the poem is you kind of expect there to be some really profound conclusion that can be drawn from the premise that would take multiple lines to clearly lay out and then that conclusion could be debated on by people who study my poetry long after I’m dead, because they will, you know, they will.
but then all that’s said is how fucked it is
again reiterating the absurdity of it all

No, I don’t think it’s immature to swear in a poem
For someone who claims to know nothing about poetry
you sure are acting like an expert

How many poems have you published?
None, that’s what I thought.

Oh, well, yeah. I guess that is technically the same number as me.

So what do you think poetry ought to be?
Something that all can relate to
or something that at least you can relate to
I’m guessing the second one since you obviously don’t relate to me little poem
and because of that you didn’t like it

No, no, please. There’s no need to pretend that you liked what I wrote
I know a critic when I see one
I want to know what tickles your fancy
because it might ensure that I actually make it big in this poetry game
some day

You think it ought to be more relatable
and it should have more lines
and cut out the ‘fuck’ obviously
but what do you mean it should rhyme

It doesn’t need to rhyme
for christ sake
rap rhymes
poetry needn’t

I think poetry is simply the art of expressing complex things
in the simplest way possible
kind of like life
is full of complexities and seeming improbabilities
but ultimately it’s full of simplicities

Think of how complex life itself is
and yet we float out in an infinite void
and the most difficult part of life, for me at least,
is putting on pants. 

That, to me, is what poetry is
I’m on a train
it goes from West Richmond to North Richmond
without changing direction

that’s fucked.

What Did We All Die For

And what cause did they all end up dead for?
Now where are they
those whose corpses that used to lay
strewn about upon beaches and landings and forests
or are they nothing more than food for the worms
and now nothing more than bone
or less

What now do we celebrate
that they in their time

What now do we share
with those who died
wanting to carry on their culture
to share with us

Nothing but dust and shadows

All is lost 
cries the man in the castle

all will be lost
should cry the man outside the castle

Nothing is shared
nothing is passed on

no grain of sand in a dune
can be counted twice in a generation
no belief in a man
can be carried beyond his term

So what did they all die for
and what do we continue to die for
if not a grain of sand
in a great dune
that spans eternity

And yet
so many die
for the chance to be considered
a compatriot
of a grain of sand. 

We Landed a Rover on Mars, and then the Royal Family Ruined it all.

Recently a rover landed on Mars. This can be described as nothing less than a massive achievement of mankind. As someone who has learned physics and computer science, I can appreciate the difficulty that is involved in launching something from Earth and having it arrive on another planet. That alone should be good enough for funding – if we could but fire a cannon and have the iron land on another plant that would prove, definitely, that we have mastered not only the earth and the skies but space itself. 

Clearly others had different ideas of what a conqueror should seek. They sent a probe, a computer that was able to think and process and report back. But how much did we sacrifice for this information? 2 billion 350 million dollars, approximately, from my research and from my reckoning. 

This cost may seem great to some. Certainly to most 2.35 billion dollars would be a monumental amount of money to any individual. But this amount was not paid to any individual – it was spread about amongst the community. Parts needed to be purchased, information gathered, great minds of scientists and great skills of engineers needed to be acquired in order to even hope of launching a lump of aluminium, and steel, and iron, and silicon, and phosphorus, and all the other elements held aboard that robot that will analyse and assess probably the only planet that holds the key to our future.

But how much media attention did it get? Practically none. Don’t you know how deep I had to delve to find the meaning of the red stripes upon the parachute? Where it was to land and what it was to explore? Read the average magazine, or newspaper, or rag, or whatever and you’re unlikely to have heard more than a piece of steel was landed upon a foreign land that is unimaginable to us except for price it cost. 

Unfortunately, though, I have not been compelled to write this piece because of my love of the rover. And, honestly, I feel somewhat ashamed of myself. I thought that I would so love the exploration of space and the advancement of science that I would have known of the rover while it was still in development, but unfortunately I only learned about it after it was successfully deployed on that red surface. In all honesty, I write this piece because I have finally been informed of some drama that has involved the English Royals. 

The news that was generated from the quarreling of an outdated and mostly irrelevant royal family far outweighed any news generated from mankind taking a further step into the wild unknowns of space exploration. I’ll admit that I didn’t watch the entire interview, because I was so disgusted within the first ten minutes that I couldn’t continue on any further. The thing that sickened me most is how shallow and weak minded all three appeared to be during the evening. From elementary research I found that Oprah is worth ~$3.5 billion, and the royal family is worth ~$30 billion. That is 1.5 rover missions and 15 rover missions, respectively. 

I can’t say that I’m disappointed. I’ve read and studied history and I know how weak minded people are. But I can’t help but feel that if, instead of indulging royalty and a billionaire who made her riches from nothing more than interviews, we invested in new technology and new ways to reach the stars, then we would hopefully move out of the era where our primary concern is who fucked whom and into the era where we concern ourselves with how to build a midway jump station between here and Alpha Centuri. 

But, again, I have met too many people. And it is always unfortunate whenever I meet people because it always lessens my hope that we will ever be more than a slightly advanced ape on a middling, undistinguishable planet. If Oprah wanted she could invest in multiple probe landings of the Red Planet and could help ensure we set up colonies outside of our own world – but she is more concerned with human comforts rather than real change, and is satisfied knowing that she will die in folds of a golden bed while others suffer the cold of the streets of the heat of a boiling earth. If the Royal Family desired they could match the budget of the European Space Agency five fold, and without even making a dent in their usual pleasures, and that would allow a multitude of ISSs to be built (the original only costing the equivalent of $5 billion USD). But they are more concerned with their own status and ways of spending that money on themselves. Especially considering their ties to Epstein, it is likely that the royal family spent more on disgusting perversions than was spent on science within the empire of the English. 

Ultimately, the only conclusion that can be drawn from what I have written is such – I have no faith in people, I have no faith in mankind, I have no faith. We have already irreparably damaged the only planet that we can live on, and despite our resources we have chosen to remain on the damaged planet. We are all doomed, and it is nothing less than what we deserve. 

Our only hope, really, is to die without hating one another.

But I highly doubt that is possible.

So I say to all you – fuck you.

And from the first argument we see - those who have made the argument have never lived in true poverty. 
My car was shit, as were the cars of my friends. The reason they were this way is because we were poor and could only afford cars that were old. 
They only held old odometers that were within 8km/h of accuracy. 

It's easy to squeeze money from the poor.  
If not that then there are many people who are poor, and these people can be easily exploited for free labour under the vague term of indentured servitude.
And beyond we can see that you have never been anywhere other than in an upper class suburb. The rules (that the state writes) state they cannot catch you on an orange, 
but try arguing that when all you have is a public defender; you'll be fined for going on the green. 
Go to an upper class judge 
as an upper class individual and you get off easy. 
Go as any other individual and
you get the book thrown at you. I don't expect you to know 
or understand, 
because you've not had 
the personal experience I've had.
And registration of a car is needed to know where you are. 
Not you, 
you of the upper class. 
But us, the ones 
who have built everything that you depend upon.  
I expect nothing of you other than for you to cast the first stone. 
And I expect nothing from you except to be judged for not being you. 

An Ode to Sydney Road

Late at night
or is it early in the morning
just after closing time
at my favorite pub
I take a walk down Sydney road
to the place I call home

along the way there are many sights
to see and many more things that
can be explored.

I light a cigarette while I stand in a laneway
and looking around me
all I can see are buildings as old as time itself
Plaster and concrete and bricks that make up
that cover the faces of places
where people used to eat
and live and talk.

Just opposite me is a modern Chemist Warehouse
selling discount drugs
and other things
Down from that is a pie shop
then the Bunnings
and the post office, that will guarantee
your item will get there late
if at all. And that’s run by people,
I’ve found
who don’t care about the person at all
but prefer instructions written on paper. 

Turning to one wall of the alley I am in, 
the light at the tip of my cigarette
lights up prints that various artists
unknown and uncared for
have created and posted around these 
unexplored areas for free perusal.
Beside them and opposite them
the buildings are tagged with spray paint
of the disillusioned and the careless.

My cig has burned out
and I start my walk back home.
La Manna Fresh, 
then the butchers
then La Manna Fresh Organic
and just after that a Vietnamese store
that makes the best Vietnamese rolls
out of anywhere you wish to compare it to.

All modern places, with lights
electricity, friers, burners, fridges
staff in cute little uniforms
or without them
working hurriedly throughout the day
to provide the modern comforts
demanded of the modern times.
While just above them sits the facade
that has sat there for a hundred years
or more.

And now I am here.
It is 3am
and I am the only one who
is alive to appreciate each of these elements
that make up the fantastic buildings along Sydney Road.

Just next to them is a barrister’s office.
Or something to that extent.
And after that the liquor store.
It’s here that you can get a bottle of Spanish 
or Italian
For $12
And a case of Furphey’s
for $15.
Then comes the Middle Eastern bakery
It sells Koftas, and Turkish breads, and Kebabs
but it’s never open late enough
or early enough
for me to want a kebab.

Crawling along the street, now,
comes a cop car.
It’s slowing down at the presence 
of my cigarette burning.
I know what they like to see
they want to see if I even vaguely match the description
of some fellon
probably long gone.
But they’ll not let that stop them
the thrill of arresting someone
even on the flimsiest of pretences
is what they crawl down the road for.
But, tonight, I don’t match the description
so all I do is blow smoke at them
and all they do is crawl on
looking for a different victim of the night.

Equally as preposterous
and imposing
and detestable
is the first fully modern building 
that I’ve encountered
along my walk back home
And it’s a bank.
And it’s disgusting.

Just across the road is a pharmacy
Another one
And thankfully this one embraces the facade
that was handed down to it from generations past.

Then the cheese store
For some reason the only place I feel more at home
than at the bar
is at the cheese store.

Then a cafe,
that I don’t visit often
because I make my own coffee

After that a bookstore
that stocks all the latest
drivel that would be pushed
by Oprah and her lackeys.
that comfortable housewives
can sit around and tsk at
while drinking red wine
and caring nothing of the rest of the world

And now a bar
then another
and then another, but Mexican
and finally, to continue in the tradition
at the end of this section sits
another modern building
this one dedicated to phone plans

Then one of the most glorious buildings 
that I’ve ever laid eyes on.
It’s so unfortunate that what it houses
is mostly government business
but it also has the library
so that compensates for it somewhat.

Crossing the road I pass by my local tobacconist
that also serves as a liquor store
and a general store
and I see, staring through the window
and using the dim light of the sign out front
that my brand of cigs has gone up another dollar
per packet
And now they’re a quarter of a days pay
as if smoking a cigarette is some sort of a luxury
and not just an escape from the world
that prefers banks and phone carriers
to the simplistic beauty of the world already around them.

But if that’s the price I have to pay to kill myself
and get out of here as quickly as I’m comfortable with
then so be it.

After a few moments have passed
I sit myself down on the curb
as the police crawl back again
still looking to me for the thrill
of a cheap arest.
I light up another cigarette
and I reflect on what it was that people past
did on this street.
Probably nothing like what I do now
or what others do.
Probably the drunks on the street
in the days gone by
were far more drunk than I am at this moment
And I’m sure that a pack of cigs didn’t cost
a quarter of a days wage.

It’s Not a Dream it’s a Delusion

It’s not a dream it’s a delusion.
One that we’re encouraged to maintain
To look up when times are troublesome
That one day they won’t be

One day we’ll get to live in a house
Overlooking a lake
With a beautiful wife
That relaxation is in our future
And each night 
After the horrors of the morning
The three extra hours or working
The customers
The boss
The colleagues
We dream of this world
We escape into it

Our foolishness covers our eyes
Deprives us of the ability to see the truth
And turns our dreams into delusions

What chance have you
Of competing with the multinational?
Of competing with those who have inherited wealth
Or land
Or connections and contacts?
Do you truly think that you can work hard
And achieve this thing
This dream of yours?

There is such limited land on which to live
And most of it has already been claimed
And the ones who own it
Aren’t going to give it up easily

Who are you to take it?
A tiresome cog in a wheel
Why not sell to the machine
Work as much as you like
As long as you like
As hard a you like
A cog will never compete with a machine
Neither will you compete on this market

Delusions are the tools of the powerful
Like oil in a machine
That keeps the cogs running
Until they’re burnt out and useless
And replaced

Then you might get a home
One that you are thrown into
And your delusion will fade
And your dream will become reality
Then your dream will become a nightmare

Looking around you will realise
This is what you were working towards
Your entire life
A home for a cog. 

My First Group Ride

The sound of 20-odd motorcycles starting up at once and revving their engines cuts through the air and the sound is furious. I suspect that the sound can only possibly be compared to hearing the chants and shouts of a group of Maori warriors intimidating their opponents with a Haka war chant. It is, in the most literal sense of the word, awesome. 

    This is my first ever group ride. One of the main reasons why so many people get into motorcycling is to attend these events. There is a certain sense of comradery that I feel amongst these complete strangers that I’ve never felt ever before in my life. Upon first arriving I was immediately greeted by the ride leader who started asking about my bike, but it was soon clear that he knew much more about it than I did. My motorcycle is a second hand Ducati Monster 400 that I got for cheap because it had a dent in the tank. It’s good for riding around the city and in the urban areas that I visit, it can handle corners pretty damn well, whenever I fill it up it doesn’t cost mush, and that is practically all I know about it. 

    Instead of embarrassing myself by conveying how little I know about my own bike I decided to delve into what he was riding. It was a Kawasaki Ninja, a brand and model that I certainly recognised as one of the ones known for being fast. Really fast. At just the first inquest I was given a barrage of information about it – the engine size, how fast he’s gotten it up to – 200km/h according to him, what mods he’s added, how it feels going around corners and also the sharpest corners that he’s ever been around. Going around the group I find that everyone is like this, and it makes them all incredibly easy to converse with and I feel that I’ve learned more about riding in these few minutes than I ever did in the multiple day-long courses I had to go through in order to get my license. 

    That’s one of the great things about people with hobbies – ask them even the simplest questions about their interests and they’ll lay out their whole life story with such passion and gusto that you can’t help but be enraptured. This goes double for most of the people here because if you run out of conversation about their ride then you can simply transition into questions about their tattoos, which they are all too willing to explain and that all have interesting stories attached.

    But for now the formalities are over and my fellow riders have began to pull out of the small petrol station that was chosen as a meeting place and as we peel out the individuality of each of the motorcycles begins to be revealed; there are the high whines that can be associated with the Japanese brands that waste minimal energy on making sounds; below that are the deeper sounding scramblers that rumble and sound like an untamed wilderness – this is where my bike sits – and then, coming up just behind me, is the deep and powerful rumble of a Harley Davidson and a Triumph which sound like the angry roars of a raging bull. These two individuals have decided to stay at the back of the pack to ensure no one gets left behind even though their bikes, with those massive engines, could easily overtake me. The reasons for this, I’ve been told, is because our route is going to be rather twisty and their bikes cannot handle that as well as even my bike, despite it’s comparative disadvantage in engine size, and also to ensure any inexperienced bikers have someone around to help them out if they need it. 

    The first part of the ride is just along a highway that’s about as exciting as driving along Monash, but this is also the part where some of the riders create their own excitement. Ahead of me I can see one of the riders doing a wheelie, going at 110km/h, with all the casualness I would give to stretching my leg while riding. Up next is the man on the Ninja who lifts one of his legs up and over the tank and rides side saddle. He’s not even looking at the road and is simply using a single hand to control the throttle. Turning to everyone around him he gives a brief thumbs up, and I can only imagine he has an enormous grin hidden beneath his helmet. After a while of this a competitor approaches; he cuts up through all of us, gives a response thumbs up, and then lays back on the seat and puts his feet up on the handlebars as though he were simply relaxing on a hammock. He only remains in this position for a few seconds before sitting back up, but I am suddenly conscious of all the muscles I’m having to use just to hold onto the bike at this speed.

    After the casualness of their interaction the ride leader and this competitor, probably someone who has ridden with him for a long time, hold their hands out to indicate that our exit is coming up soon. I know that there will only be a short ride after this exit before we get into the main purpose of our ride. The one who was sitting side-saddle pulls off and slows way down before pulling way off to the side. I see in my side mirror that he’s waiting for the two hogs to come rumbling through before continuing. After the final riders make the exit I see that not only does this person’s act help the group by ensuring that even inexperienced riders get to keep up with the pack, it also helps the individual; because immediately afterwards he puts the throttle on full, opens up the bike, and flies past me at speeds I can only imagine getting to on my little Ducati. In almost an instant he’s back at the front of the group to set the pace and be ready to guide people like me through turns that they otherwise wouldn’t have known to make.

    Soon after came the experience that I was promised and that every rider there was longing for – what was called amongst the group ‘The Twisties.’ This is the stretch of road where expediency wasn’t really considered and so the roads went along to match the natural contours of the hills. I had been through some roads with sharp bends in them before, but never had I experienced anything like this. In one moment you were performing a sharp turn where your knees were an inch above the ground and in the exact next moment there was a wide turn that seemed to last an age where you just had to keep the bike turned at an angle as the further it went one the faster you felt you could go until you eventually ended up doing 120 along it with the engine shouting furiously in an attempt to get you around this damned corner. Then you’d exit it into the next corner that required you to briefly slow down and analyse it and only then would you realise how fast you were going. I never thought about slowing down after that; I only thought about how much faster I could have been going. Speed limits be damned. 

    I felt myself, at the end of each corner, growing more and more confident and my speed at the next bend would increase further and further. Then I understood what a very experienced rider had once told me – ‘just look where you want to go and the bike will take you there.’ So for each wind, instead of looking directly in front of me for any sudden dangers I took the longer approach and looked to the end of the turn knowing that my bike would take me wherever I wanted to go. This was the most exhilarating thing I had ever done in my life, having been constricted to the speed limit or, more often than not, less than the speed limit while riding around the city I felt so freed having no consideration for the recommendations of consultants to the police on how to make as much money as possible aka the ones who make the speed limits.

    Just then, as the Anarchistic thoughts were entering my mind and as I was exiting a long curve I heard the bikes ahead flare up in a way I hadn’t heard yet. I wanted desperately to know exactly why this sudden excitation had happened and when I finally rounded the corner and could see ahead I knew exactly what it was. Before me was a long, empty stretch of road whose only occupants were the people I was riding with. This, even I knew, was one of the most beautiful sights for any motorcyclist. I readjusted my grip so that I would have more leverage over the throttle, then I tucked my elbows into my ribs and bent down so that I contorted to the curves of the machine. I let go of the throttle, took a deep breath in, pulled in the clutch and shifted down from sixth gear to third. 

    ‘Putting her on,’

    ‘Opening her up,’

    ‘Letting her go,’

    ‘Fucking her up,’

    These are all phrases that are used, within the motorcycling community, to mean putting your bike at full throttle and trying to go as fast as you possibly can. After shifting into third gear and breathing out I fucking let her go. My throttle was pulled down as far as I could pull it and my revvs were maxed out. I’ve never read Faulkner’s ‘The Sound and the Fury,’ but if the subject is anything other than going full pelt with max revs on a bike along an empty straight of road then the book is criminally mistitled. The huffing grunt of a hog that I was used to was instead replaced by the screaming, furious cries of a beast that was pissed at something and on a mission to find it.

    My speedo kept climbing – 130, 140, 150 – the wind pounded against my chest even through my leather jacket and it shook my helmeted head so much that I was straining my neck to see straight. I decided to pull my body in even more, pushing my chest closer to the fuel tank, bringing my knees in to wrap around the curves of the bike’s body, craning my neck so I was no longer gazing at the road in front of me but at the fields beyond me. My hand was still full on the throttle and in the brief moment I gazed down I saw that the needle was at 160 and continued climbing. This moment was indescribably euphoric. The machine was no longer a tool I used to cruise around and look good with, it was myself the way I wanted to live. Every facet of the road I felt intimately, as no driver ever could. I was going almost 170 kilometers per hour. The sun shone over me, the road presented itself before me, and the bike accepted me and encouraged me towards ever further speeds. 

    I almost didn’t feel like slowing down. I felt like just letting the road take me. Becoming a spirit of this path and watching speed-demons push their machines faster and faster for all eternity seemed like a pretty fun way to enjoy the afterlife. But this wishful thinking wore off as the bike in front of me snapped me out of it with the flash of her brake light, and so I applied my breaks, geared back up the fifth, and made the turn. 

    Now we were only going 80, and I felt almost sluggish. This was the speed limit around these bends, but I knew I could be doing at least 120 and I wondered why we weren’t. Then I gazed the reason why; up ahead of us was a small little Toyota that was absolutely sticking to the speed limits and was going painfully slow around the bends. This is one of the reasons why I chose motorcycling over car driving – in a car you are controlled by the idiot or idiots in front of you, but on a bike it’s much easier to overtake and weave between moronic motorists. These people were clearly just some fucking Weekend drivers who don’t know how to drive and would probably be banned from doing so if they weren’t so profitable along the toll roads. 

    After a seeming eternity there was an overtaking area and we each went around them. I took a little extra time to gaze through their windows to see what breed of people would be so boring and so earth-bound as to not want to risk their lives along these exciting bends. Unsurprisingly they were an elderly couple. After passing them I let out a short prayer under my breath ‘please lord, let the road take me before I become old.’

    The rest of the ride went on pretty much the same as before. Soon enough we ended up at our predetermined destination – a lovely little pub with an Al Fresco dining area and friendly staff who had a few members who had joined in on these group rides before and were unreservedly excited to let these “hoodlums and hooligans” in and hear all about their experience along the ride. 

    We talked for a fair while, and for every conversation I got involved in the topic of the old couple going ‘fucking fifty’ around a wide bend that easily could’ve been taken at eighty was brought up. So, as far as I can tell, all the members of this group agree with me. Just remember that if your precious sensibilities are upset by the sound of a motorcycle going through your street then don’t worry, most of us will probably be dead soon. That’s one of the two things I learned along this ride – that these people would rather die in a crash after opening her up to as much as she can take rather than die at an artificially inflated age. The other thing I learned is that these motorcyclists – these rugged individualists – believe in a fraternity of their peers, and their belief in this is far stronger than any other group I have ever interacted with. Anyone willing to ride with them is immediately welcomed into the family no matter their background, experience, class, race, sexuality, gender or any other feature you can use to ‘define’ and ‘group’ humans.

    The final thing that I learned was that I love riding, and I will absolutely be flooring it with this group of wonderful individuals again very, very soon.

Come See the Duality of Man

Come one come all
Roll up and come and see
the duality of man
our freakshow awaits all those who pay
to see how we treat everyone individually

One is so concerned
there is a strong man in a corner
with the opinions of others
he is lifting a heavy dumbbell
that he is willing to torture his body
His muscles flex and relax but that is all that moves
for the enjoyment of others

There is a general feeling of awe throughout
the awed crowd

Next is the one
panning over we notice a man eating
who cares nothing for the opinions of anyone who is watching
no matter who you are you cannot catch his eyes
he sits and enjoys his nachos and his unearned

Come in and see which one you will be
after passing through the hall
or rooms
of mirrors
see what you will be

It doesn’t matter
Noone ever really makes it
They just keep wondering in a field
of mirrors that whir around a sun
stuck in a galaxy
that sits within an expanding universe
that’s far too old for any of them to ever understand

But the muscled man and the nacho man
They keep stretching and eating
Knowing it doesn’t matter
but hoping it does

At the end of the show
they’re both killed
but by what we’ll never know.

Good night
ladies and gentlemen
and please come back

Be Who They Want You to Be

Start studying the things they tell you to study. Don’t look outside that sphere. Your interests aren’t important to the function of our lives. Put your head down and study, this will be important for your future – our future. Our collective interest is all that you should be concerned with. If it is then we will reward you and if it isn’t we will punish you. That’s what’s at stake here. Here in this classroom full of people with individuality. The entirety of society. You wouldn’t want your parents or your siblings or your grandparents or – heaven forbid – me from suffering would you? Then sit down and learn the things you must learn to ensure no harm comes to them. If you don’t then everything could collapse down around you. The walls, the roof, the very fabric of things that holds us together.

slap. A hand comes down upon my desk. Were you listening to me? I wasn’t. But she can tell lies that slip from teeth and the punishment for lies is worse than the punishment for silence. She informs me that a day of writing out platitudes awaits me this afternoon instead of playing in the fields, playing outside. That’s certainly one way to ensure someone bays to your instructions. Meekly and wordlessly I accept my punishment of detention for the afternoon. Gazing down at the notes I’ve taken so far in class I try to distract myself. I’m bored is all that I think about. That’s also all that is written. This class is boring me. I’m bored. And now I’m punished. I guess you could say that I am boorish. As in bored and punished. I thought it was clever – so clever in fact that I jot down boorish in the corner of my notebook while the teacher continues.

It’s some time before the exercise of listening to this megalomaniac is over and the whole time all I can think about is boorish. Bored and punished. Funny. Definition of boor, by the Merriam-Webster dictionary 1989 edition (the only edition I own) 1. A yokel 2. A rude or insensitive person. The second definition makes sense, but what is a yokel? I doubt I’ll ever know. The USSR was still around in 1989 wasn’t is? I wonder if any KGB agents converted any yokels to the side of communism. Maybe that’s why it fell in 1991, too many yokels. I wonder what was taught in schools under communist rule. I doubt it was so different from what I am taught as to make a difference. The difference is that I know that a yokel is a boor, and I am a boor. Then I think about Cletus from The Simpsons and how he is a yokel and I laugh.

slapping upon the desk again. What are you laughing at? is the question that I am immediately confronted with upon my return to this classroom from the lands of the Soviet Union of 1989 – the land of yokels and Cletuses. I didn’t realise I was laughing was the only reply I could muster. I was just writing down notes. And then I showed her my notes that were full of scribbles that could maybe be construed to represent the things she was teaching at that time. Not good enough was the interpretation that I interpreted from her various screams and condemnations. I guess I would be staying behind for more than just lunch. I had gone too far – my imagination had gone too far. It had imagined things outside of her field of view and she hated me for it.

So I stayed on for the rest of her class – at the back of her class to be precise. The place where all dissidents were sent. The bell rang and all the other students were silently happy – gazing at eachother and sending messages of where to meet up and what to do telepathically. They were all dismissed and merrily they went to their lunches and their designated areas of control as though they were lions. But meekly I shuffled off after the teacher who still had lessons to teach me. I was to spend the period of time reserved to play learning. But, not exactly learning. There was nothing new for my mind to consume, analyse and confront. No, it was something that all knowledgeable beings knew instinctively. Except for me ofcourse. For some reason I had to have special lessons to learn this lesson. And so I wrote and wrote and wrote the message that was so utterly important to our advancement in education. It was so important that anyone who veered from it found themselves writing it out until they eventually believed in it – and they always ended up believing in it. That was part of the appeal of the statement – no matter who you were you would eventually believe in the statement.

And so I wrote it out and as I wrote it out I found myself believing in it, as things are supposed to be. It made sense and only now, upon reading it for an hour, do I understand why it makes any sense. Then I began to think of other people and how they all needed to learn this thing the same way I had learnt it. I begun to think of my past self, of only a few minutes before. Or was it hours? It didn’t matter. That person was behind me. I had evolved beyond him and had learnt through the repetitive writing down of this thing.

In my next class I was far more malleable to what they were teaching me. Even if I disagreed with it. I didn’t want to go back to that place that had me write out line after line after line instead of spending my time outside. That’s how they got me to be who they wanted me to be. And I was happiest that way.