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,
like,
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
celebrated

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. 
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
facades
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. 
Bureaucrats.

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
Wine
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
slowly
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. 

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
pride

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
tomorrow.

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.


Smiling

Just smile and everything will be okay
That's what they tell you everyday
Happiness isn't a feeling it's a choice
Why do I have to decide to be happy today?
Why do I have to decide to be happy everyday?

Is it not sick that
despite everything being wrong
my unhappiness
is what concerns you most?

Why do I have to be happy?
To help you move along?
With your pathetic life
as if you've helped me?
Or do I need to help you?

Smile, it'll make life better
But it won't
It doesn't solve how little I think of myself
How little others think of me
How little I think of the world
How little the world thinks.

It's okay to not smile
to not care 
to give up
to be unhappy.

That's the problem with us today
and I know that gets said a lot
but I'm just throwing my opinion in

We care too much about being happy
that we can't ever let us be ourselves
and we can't ever react the real way someone is feeling
and we cant ever feel the way we are feeling.

But we also can't ever be happy
truly happy.
If we jump for joy
or dance on the street
we're judged just as much as if
we sulked
and drank
and stumbled

Don't let the world control your emotions
Don't let them tell you who you should be
You are who you are
If you let them tell you when to celebrate
or how to celebrate
then you'll just become another them
rather than a you.
And you'll be dead
from hemlock.

Sob, weep, cry if you need to.
Dance in a fountain if you want to.
Don't let their failure of emotion control you.
Because they can only hate.
And their hate kills. Slowly. 
All joy leaves and you are sucked dry of any emotion.
And then you are left like them
Dead.

Don't die. 
Live.

Conversations

Conversation
I try to keep my conversations
to a minimum
so that I can limit the amount of time
I have to interact with others

My usual response hour is at about two
in the morning.
This is generally when I am on the verge of lucidness
and drunkeness
and it makes to the most honest replies.

But everyone else is asleep
And so I don't have to deal with replies
or conversations.

That's one of the things I love about modern technology
I can talk to anyone in the world
and ignore them.

Conversations bore me.
People tire me.
And at 2am I am free
of either of these things

Free to be me
Free to be free.