> Vu d’Australie (2)

Vu d’Australie (2)

Par | 2018-05-24T17:51:22+00:00 8 juillet 2013|Catégories : Chroniques|

Poetry and place : how could poe­try be about any­thing other than place ?

Living in the Antipodes, at the other end of the world from Europe, where the Northern night is Southern day and your win­ter snows­torm paral­lel our sum­mer heat­waves, it is dif­fi­cult to avoid a fee­ling of place. It is sim­ply a mat­ter of geo­gra­phy, his­to­ry and cir­cum­stance. From the begin­ning of European colo­ni­sa­tion of Australia, wri­ters of poe­try and prose, fic­tion and docu­men­ta­ry, have tried to cap­ture what it is that defines Australia, as a place, a place that is not Europe, that more often than not defies Eurocentric cate­go­ries of des­crip­tion and clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Successful or not, many such works have become well esta­bli­shed in the public psyche.

One of the best known Australian poems is  My Country by Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968). The poem, ori­gi­nal­ly publi­shed with the title Core of my Heart, was writ­ten when 19-year old Mackellar was staying in England and fee­ling home­sick for the fami­ly farms in out­back New South Wales. The second verse is consi­de­red by many to sum up much of what defines the Australian expe­rience of place :

 

                                   I love a sun­burnt coun­try,
                                  A land of swee­ping plains,
                                  Of rag­ged moun­tain ranges,
                                  Of droughts and floo­ding rains.
                                  I love her far hori­zons,
                                  I love her jewel-sea,
                                  Her beau­ty and her ter­ror –
                                  The wide brown land for me !

 

But there is more to a poe­try of place than well-mete­red decla­ra­tions of love. In some sense, the lan­guage of a poem itself defines a geo­gra­phi­cal lineage, inde­pendent of any spe­ci­fic ima­ge­ry employed in the poem. Dialect and local idiom can encode loca­li­ty, some­times with a high degree of pre­ci­sion. Australia has a long tra­di­tion of rhy­ming bal­lads, what have become known as “Bush Ballads”. Poets ins­tru­men­tal in deve­lo­ping this tra­di­tion include Henry Lawson (1867-1922), A.B. “Banjo” Patterson (1864-1941) and C.J. Dennis (1876-1938). All used ver­na­cu­lar lan­guage, rich in idiom of the day and place, but none more so than Dennis. Consider the fol­lo­wing excerpt from the Introduction of his most famous verse novel, “The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke” (1915):

 

                        'Er name's Doreen …Well, spare me bloo­min' days !
                       You could er kno­cked me down wiv 'arf a brick !
                       Yes, me, that kids meself I know their ways,
                       An' 'as a name for smoo­gin' in our click !
                       I just lines up 'an tips the sau­cy wink.
                       But strike ! The way she piled on dawg ! Yer'd think
                       A bloke was givin' back-chat to the Queen….
                       'Er name's Doreen.
 

                        I seen 'er in the mar­kit first uv all,
                       Inspectin' brums at Steeny Isaacs' stall.
                       I backs me bar­rer in – the same ole way —
                       An' sez, "Wot O !  It's been a bon­zer day.
                       'Ow is it fer a walk?" … Oh, 'oly wars !
                       The sor­ta look she gimme ! Jest becors
                       I tried to chat 'er, like you'd make a start
                       Wiv any tart.

The pho­ne­tic spel­ling, the abbre­via­tions, and the slang mark this work unam­bi­guous­ly as ear­ly 20th Century Australian. Much of the idiom has now pas­sed out of gene­ral use, but it is still reco­gni­sa­bly embed­ded in its coun­try of ori­gin. (In case you’re won­de­ring, a “bloke” is a man, “brums” are horses, “bon­zer” is some­thing real­ly good ; pho­ne­ti­cal­ly, “dawg” = dog, “bar­rer” = (wheel)-barrow ; “ole” = old ; “becors” = because, and so on… A full inter­pre­ta­tion in contem­po­ra­ry English can be found in Note 1 at the end of this article).

Perhaps it is too easy to link a sense of place with poe­try of older gene­ra­tions, where we have the bene­fit of hind­sight, a wide frame of refe­rence, and a view of the evo­lu­tion of the lan­guage itself. Nevertheless, we can make a strong case that most poe­try can­not avoid being lin­ked to place, regard­less of lan­guage, per­iod, or even sub­ject mat­ter. Evidence for this comes not from lite­ra­ry theo­ry or ana­ly­sis, but from recent neu­ros­cien­ti­fic research on the way the brain constructs nar­ra­tive.

Over the last fif­teen years, neu­ros­cien­tists have made astoun­ding pro­gress in unders­tan­ding how the brain car­ries out com­plex cog­ni­tive tasks. Much of this work has taken advan­tage of modern brain scan­ning tech­no­lo­gy that allows resear­chers to see which areas of the brain are active under dif­ferent condi­tions and cir­cum­stances. Almost any cog­ni­tive func­tion now can be ana­ly­sed by these methods, inclu­ding the gene­ra­tion and pro­ces­sing of lan­guage, and its rela­tion­ship with memo­ry and ima­gi­na­tion.

No single neu­ral enti­ty or pro­cess  cor­res­ponds to “memo­ry”. In contrast, there are many forms of memo­ry, that vary in content and time scale. Some forms of memo­ry last only a few seconds and bare­ly reach conscious per­cep­tion. Working memo­ry is like this. Different forms of wor­king memo­ry allow us to build up an inte­gra­ted visual per­cep­tion of our sur­roun­dings as we look around ; keep track of the mea­ning of a sen­tence we are hea­ring or spea­king ; hol­ding a tele­phone num­ber in our head bet­ween the time we look it up and dial it ; and so on.

The type of memo­ry most people find easiest to unders­tand is “decla­ra­tive memo­ry”. These are memo­ries you can des­cribe ver­bal­ly (in contrast to memo­ries for actions, that often are almost impos­sible to accu­ra­te­ly put into words…). It turns out there are two main sub­types of decla­ra­tive memo­ry : “seman­tic” memo­ry and “auto­bio­gra­phi­cal” memo­ry. Semantic memo­ry involves des­crip­tive infor­ma­tion about the objects and concepts we know about and can des­cribe : the “nouns” of lan­guage. This know­ledge of things is sha­red with others and we can look it up in a dic­tio­na­ry or ency­clo­pae­dia.

Autobiographical memo­ry, in contrast, is inten­se­ly per­so­nal. This is your memo­ry of your life and its events. Only you can expe­rience your auto­bio­gra­phi­cal memo­ry : its view­point is uni­que­ly yours. Consequently, nar­ra­tive struc­ture is clo­se­ly lin­ked to auto­bio­gra­phi­cal memo­ry. In prin­ciple, any auto­bio­gra­phi­cal event is enco­ded in both time and space : when and where were you at this point in your life ? However, auto­bio­gra­phi­cal memo­ry is noto­rious­ly unre­liable. Details are qui­ck­ly for­got­ten, and new ele­ments may inclu­ded in the nar­ra­tive that do not match with other accounts of the same event.

Neuroscience research has illu­mi­na­ted two key fea­tures of this pro­cess. First, recal­ling an auto­bio­gra­phi­cal memo­ry neces­sa­ri­ly remo­dels it. A retel­ling can rein­force pre-exis­ting ele­ments of the nar­ra­tive, edit them, eli­mi­nate them or replace them. Second, ima­gi­ning a future nar­ra­tive invol­ving your­self uses almost the same neu­ro­nal cir­cui­try as recal­ling a past nar­ra­tive of a real event. Thus, patients who have brain damage which inhi­bits their abi­li­ty to recall or form auto­bio­gra­phi­cal memo­ries, can­not ima­gine a future nar­ra­tive with them­selves in it.

Highly spe­cia­li­sed popu­la­tions of nerve cells (neu­rons) in a dis­crete region of the brain (the hip­po­cam­pus and near­by areas of medial tem­po­ral cor­tex) encode place and time during the for­ma­tion of what will become auto­bio­gra­phi­cal memo­ry. One popu­la­tion of these neu­rons is cal­led “place cells”. Different place cells record where objects are in rela­tion to our­selves, as we move through three-dimen­sio­nal space. These neu­ral records are conti­nuous­ly upda­ted as long as we keep moving. Therefore, they encode time-rela­ted infor­ma­tion that is dee­ply lin­ked to the spa­tial infor­ma­tion. Another clo­se­ly rela­ted popu­la­tion of neu­rons, “grid cells”, pro­vide a conti­nuous­ly upda­ted map of our own loca­tion as we move through space defi­ned by the place cells.

Neuroscience can­not tell us how we come up with a sto­ry, how we choose the pre­cise form of lan­guage to create a nar­ra­tive in poe­try or prose. But the neu­ros­cience stron­gly sup­ports the idea that any text with even a hint of nar­ra­tive struc­ture, or auto­bio­gra­phi­cal refe­rence, no mat­ter how oblique, no mat­ter how fic­ti­tious, must include an implied sense of place. Indeed, this conclu­sion reso­nates stron­gly with the work of cog­ni­tive phi­lo­so­phers, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, who have docu­men­ted exten­si­ve­ly the meta­phors of space dee­ply embed­ded in lan­guage (see their Philosophy in the Flesh,1999).

During 2012, I was for­tu­nate to contri­bute to two inno­va­tive pro­jects that lin­ked poe­try with spe­ci­fic geo­gra­phi­cal loca­tions. Each pro­ject suc­cess­ful­ly used uncon­ven­tio­nal means to engage the public with poe­try at these sites. A key to their suc­cess is their abi­li­ty to take poe­try off the writ­ten page and make it avai­lable to rea­ders as they visit the sites, explore them, consi­der the envi­ron­ment sur­roun­ding them, and ima­gine people who may have been part of it. In doing so, these for­mats allow rea­ders to build a stron­ger auto­bio­gra­phi­cal expe­rience, with dee­per refe­rences to place, than would have been pos­sible other­wise.

In 2011-2012, the City of Adelaide, South Australia, deve­lo­ped a series of public art pro­jects to liven up some other­wise less inter­es­ting or under­de­ve­lo­ped areas of the city. One poten­tial loca­tion was Bowen Street in cen­tral Adelaide. The street itself is most­ly a fea­tu­re­less, short wide stretch of gra­vel. But it is sur­roun­ded by a major bus depot, an his­to­ric church, the Adelaide Central Market and many back­pa­cker hos­tels. As such, the envi­ron­ment is a live­ly one, fre­quen­ted by people of diverse eth­nic and socio-eco­no­mic back­grounds. It see­med an ideal loca­tion for a signi­fi­cant work of public art.

Mike Ladd is one of Australia’s best known poets and long-time pro­du­cer /​ pre­sen­ter of the Poetica pro­gram, broad­cast week­ly on Australian natio­nal radio (http://​www​.abc​.net​.au/​r​a​d​i​o​n​a​t​i​o​n​a​l​/​p​r​o​g​r​a​m​s​/​p​o​e​t​i​ca/). Cathy Brooks is a mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­na­ry visual artist wor­king with a wide range of mate­rials, often in the context of com­mu­ni­ty or urban art ins­tal­la­tions (http://​www​.cathy​brooks​.com​.au/).

Supported by the City of Adelaide, Ladd and Brooks deve­lo­ped a novel public art pro­ject, Signs of Life, fea­tu­ring short epi­gram­ma­tic poems (less than 20 words) dis­played on a series of signs erec­ted in the Bowen Street pre­cinct. From more than 150 sub­mis­sions for the pro­ject, they selec­ted 30 texts by 16 poets. The signs were hand-made to resemble conven­tio­nal street signs in shape, size and ico­no­gra­phy, incor­po­ra­ting ele­gant desi­gns lin­king the text and gra­phics. This approach builds on a long, if infre­quent­ly used, tra­di­tion. As Ladd remarks, “The short poem or epi­gram goes way back to the ancient Greeks who car­ved them on tombs­tones. There is a rich modern tra­di­tion of the visual or concrete poem, inclu­ding the Xisto bro­thers in Brazil, Edwin Morgan in Scotland, Jas H Duke, Pi O, Thalia, Alex Selenich, and Richard Tipping here in Australia.”

Some of the texts have site-spe­ci­fic refe­rences, others relate more gene­ral­ly to street life and tra­vel, while some present smart visual puns. For example, here the bus sta­tion :

 

                                   “All pas­sen­gers are requi­red
                                  to trans­fer to the next moment
                                  depar­ting right now as always”
                                                          Simon J Hanson

 

… the taxi stand :

 

                                   “just one more arma­ged­don sun­set –
                                  & a rank of taxis shuf­fling its pack”
                                                          Thom Sullivan

 

… the bike path :

 

                                   “cyclist’s pro­verb
                                  when one car win­dow closes
                                  a door will open”

                                                           Rachael Mead

 

… the people :

                                   “I can’t write let­ters
                                  I write leaves
 

                                   in the sky
                                  in the water
                                  in the wind
 

                                   You do read
                                  what I write
 

                                   You read with your skin”
                                                           Jelena Dinic

The ins­tal­la­tion pro­ved very popu­lar, with images of the com­po­nents of the site tur­ning up on web­sites and blogs around the world. As Brooks noted, “Imagine the sur­prise for locals and tou­rists when they are expec­ting ano­ther boring par­king sign and look up and get a frag­ment of beau­ty, a sati­ri­cal com­ment, or a bit of humour or phi­lo­so­phy ins­tead.” Extended life for an urban ins­tal­la­tion is often a ris­ky pro­po­si­tion and the future of this one is unclear at the moment. However, a beau­ti­ful­ly pro­du­ced book­let is avai­lable and most of the content still can found on-line ( http://​www​.cityo​fa​de​laide​.com​.au/​s​i​g​h​t​s​/​s​i​g​n​s​-​o​f​-​l​ife ). You can see more images of the ins­tal­la­tion at Cathy Brooks’ web­site : http://www.cathybrooks.com.au/2012%20SIGNS%20OF%20LIFE%20IN%20BOWEN%20STREET.html.

The Signs of Life pro­ject was a won­der­ful way of brin­ging poe­try into public conscious­ness. It was a true poe­try of place, not only in the content of the texts, but also because rea­ders phy­si­cal­ly nee­ded to be in the space to ful­ly appre­ciate the context of the words, the images, and the construc­ted envi­ron­ment.

The Red Room Company is a not-for-pro­fit orga­ni­sa­tion based in Sydney ( http://​redroom​com​pa​ny​.org ) for­med by Johanna Featherstone in 2001. The Company aims to “create, pro­mote and publish new poe­try in unu­sual ways”, and the­re­by “broa­den the public’s defi­ni­tion of, and expe­rience with, high qua­li­ty Australian poe­try”. By any cri­te­ria, the Red Room Company has been most suc­cess­ful in car­rying out its agen­da. For example, the Unlocked pro­ject, which has been run­ning since 2010, works with inmates of New South Wales State Correctional Centres to “explore the social value of poe­try and crea­tive expres­sion, its trans­for­ma­tive and rege­ne­ra­tive pro­per­ties”. One impor­tant out­come of this work is that inmates have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to “build prac­ti­cal lite­ra­cy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and the confi­dence to apply” through the prac­tice of crea­tive wri­ting.

                             

In The Disappearing pro­ject, the Red Room Company has taken a cha­rac­te­ris­ti­cal­ly novel approach to site-spe­ci­fic poe­try. Rather than pro­duce a conven­tio­nal print or on-line antho­lo­gy, this pro­ject is built on an iPhone/​iPad or Android app that links site-spe­ci­fic poe­try with cor­res­pon­ding geo­gra­phi­cal data obtai­ned via GPS. Originally run in Sydney in 2011, the pro­ject went natio­nal in 2012, incor­po­ra­ting over 200 poems from a wide selec­tion of Australian poets.

The brief for The Disappearing pro­ject was intri­guing : each poem should relate to some­thing that has disap­pea­red from the site in ques­tion. If you have the app, you can find the poem that refers to a site clo­sest to your cur­rent loca­tion, using an anno­ta­ted GPS-based map. You can also use the app to search the poems in the pro­ject by site or author. If you don’t have the app, you can still access the poems on the Red Room Company web­site : http://​redroom​com​pa​ny​.org/​p​r​o​j​e​c​t​s​/​d​i​s​a​p​p​e​a​r​ing.

The poems in The Disappearing are diverse in style and content : some refer to a par­ti­cu­lar site in a very direct way, others are more tan­gen­tial. Importantly, the poems work as stand-alone pieces. It doesn’t mat­ter if you have never been to the place in ques­tion, but if you have, there is an unde­niable extra layer of mea­ning or asso­cia­tion. Nevertheless, most sites pro­vide some back­ground infor­ma­tion that illu­mi­nates some aspect of its his­to­ry or natu­ral envi­ron­ment. 

David Prater’s Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles makes expli­cit refe­rence to time and place within the sub­urbs of Sydney. This sec­tion, Jazz, is set in the Atlantic Cafe, Elizabeth Street :

           

                        A lit­tle bird inside my cra­nium orders me to write
                       a poem on the sub­ject of the old Atlantic Cafe but
                       I can’t do it. Who would care ? All they ever see­med
                       to serve was steak and peas, & I never ven­tu­red
                       inside there any­way. Too busy moping, pro­ba­bly.
                       Why ? They remo­ved the soul of Strawberry Hills
                       just to make houses from its yel­low clay years ago
                       & the pub that shares its name has since stop­ped
                       playing bad jazz. Oh yes, blows away the melo­dy
                       it does, just like a wind­chime. Cue rag­ged Tibetan
                      prayer flags. The paper car­ries yet ano­ther article
                       about th’ Australian poe­try, writ­ten for the over
                       68s. Cue Transvision Vamp, baby. ‘I don’t care’.

Close to my home in Adelaide, South Australia, Temporary by Alison Flett cap­tures the inci­pient dra­ma at the beach on a hot summer’s day when chil­dren and sharks vie for atten­tion :

 

                                               on the sand
                                              we lickn
                                              our ice­cream
                                              sweet drip it
                                              disap­pr its colours
                                              in tween the grains
                                              –

                                               under the jet­ty
                                              a cel­lo­pha­ned bou­quet
                                              strappd to the upright it was
                                              a des­can­so for a child
                                              got car­ried off
                                              by a rip
                                              –

                                               in the water
                                              with the kids some guy yell
                                              shark I thought
                                              he was jokn till I see
                                              the fin the tail flick get out
                                              I says quick
                                              –

                                               on the sand
                                              my youn­gest ask if
                                              we go in the water
                                              again will it happn again
                                              no I says it wont not
                                              like that

Set in Brisbane, Queensland’s lar­gest city, this excerpt from David Stavanger’s poem,  fridge, conci­se­ly des­cribes the tran­sient nature of manu­fac­tu­red objects in the envi­ron­ment :

 

                                               floats down river
                                              wor­ries about mud lice
                                              and loss of power
 

                                               stops in no par­king zones
 

                                               will recall
                                              a brief encoun­ter
                                              with a Gospel pia­no
 

                                               enters the play­ground of roofs
 

                                               yields nothing
                                              to hun­gry dogs
                                              or start­led onloo­kers
 

There is much of great value in the The Disappearing Project. Not only is the qua­li­ty of wri­ting uni­form­ly high and enga­ging, its use of a popu­lar tech­no­lo­gy plat­form repre­sents an acces­sible – and suc­cess­ful – means to link word and place in way that is impos­sible with conven­tio­nal media.

However, the poe­try book is by no means obso­lete. My final example of the contem­po­ra­ry explo­ra­tion of poe­try and place in many ways echoes the approach used by CJ Dennis nearly100 years ago : the use of local ver­na­cu­lar lan­guage, told in first per­son yet employing dif­ferent voices to present an account of life at a par­ti­cu­lar time and place. Last Days of the Mill (2012) by poet Pete Hay and illus­tra­tor Tony Thorne does just that (http://​last​day​sof​the​mill​.blog​spot​.com​.au/ ). This won­der­ful book is set in Australia’s island state, Tasmania, which is dis­tin­gui­shed by its ancient cool tem­pe­rate rain forests. These forests have been a source of conflict for many years as log­ging com­pa­nies seek to increase their har­vest of old growth trees whil­st conser­va­tio­nists fight to pre­serve this bio­lo­gi­cal heri­tage. Regardless of their posi­tion in this debate, eve­ryone ack­now­ledges that the saw and pulp mil­ls pro­vide an impor­tant source of employ­ment for the local com­mu­ni­ties. So when a large mill closes, for wha­te­ver rea­son, the conse­quences can be disas­trous for mill wor­kers and their fami­lies.

In 2010, the paper pulp mill in the North-wes­tern Tasmanian town of Burnie clo­sed down, 20 years after a tumul­tuous strike by mill wor­kers. Around the time of clo­sure, Hay inter­vie­wed some of the wor­kers, while Thorne pro­du­ced a series of evo­ca­tive images of the mill and its machi­ne­ry. From his inter­views, Hay crea­ted ten mono­logues, each in a cha­rac­te­ris­tic voice, employing the speech pat­terns and ver­na­cu­lar of his inter­vie­wees. The results are stun­ning, pro­du­cing a com­plex mix­ture of oral his­to­ry and poe­tic reso­nance. Some sto­ries are tough and uncom­pro­mi­sing, others sur­pri­sin­gly fra­gile and vul­ne­rable. Take this example from Slow as an Old Wet Week, Jorgensen Street, Montello, 1992 which refers to strike-brea­kers (“scabs”) tur­ning up at the mill and the high chance of ensuing vio­lence with the unio­ni­sed stri­kers :

           

                        He says these scab fel­las
                       is all tat­toos and black clothes,
                       that there’ll be blokes goin arse over tit,
                       cra­cked scones and blud noses and that.
                       Into the old rat­tle­trap y’get, he says t’me,
                       get yrself home quicks­ticks now.
                       I star­ted t’say not in a pink fit,’but he shut me up, sayin look,
                       all th shei­las is goin.
                       He has t’stay’f course.
                       Reckons he’ll be safe as houses, but y’can’t not wor­ry –
                       he’s no great shakes with his dooks, me dear old Razor.

 

Or this reflec­tion from Shit Sandwich, Great Lake shack, 2010 :

 

                        My bloo­dy secret life.
                       Times I won­der if it was all pathe­tic.
                       Th few people I let in all said th same thing –
                       fr chris­sake mate, snatch th mill,
                       get y’self down th road t’th uni­ver­si­ty –
                       and don’t think I wasn’t temp­ted.
                       But the mill was th real world, not
                       th fan­tas­ti­cal stuff f’me wee­kends and nights.
                       Couldn’t bring meself to do it.

 

This is clear­ly poe­try of place, spea­king clear­ly with the voices of locals (for ver­sions in more for­mal English, see notes 2 and 3, below). The magic here is that out­si­ders can gain some sort of know­ledge of place that can­not be gai­ned from ency­clo­pae­dias, a video, or per­haps even a visit to the loca­tion itself. Poetry of place, when it works well, as it does in all the examples above, allows us to expe­rience a sense of fami­lia­ri­ty with a part of the world we may never other­wise inha­bit.

 

Notes :

Here are modern English inter­pre­ta­tions of the examples quo­ted in the main text :

 

(1) from "The Songs of  a Sentimental Bloke":

 

Her name is Doreen. Well, spare my bloo­ming days ! ( = I don't believe it!)

You could have kno­cked me down with half a brick.

Yes, me, who convinces myself that I know their (women's) ways,

and has a repu­ta­tion as a bit of ladies' man in our neigh­bou­rhood !

I just line up and show off with a sexy wink.

But strike ( = knock me down with a fea­ther)! The way she piled on dog ( = told me the error of my ways)

You'd think a bloke ( = a com­mon man) was giving back-chat ( = being impo­lite) to the Queen.

Her name is Doreen.

 

I saw her in the mar­ket first of all,

ins­pec­ting horses at Steeny Isaac's stall.

I back my (wheel-)barrow in ( = start up a conver­sa­tion with her)

– the same old way –

and say, "Wow, it's a fan­tas­tic day.

How about a walk ? … Oh holy wars !

The sort of look she gives me ! Just because

I tried to chat to her, like you would make a start

with any tart ( = a girl wor­thy of admi­ra­tion, rhy­ming slang with "sweet heart").

 

(2) from Slow as an Old Wet Week, Jorgensen Street, Montello, 1992 :

 

He says these scab fel­lows ( =hired strike brea­kers)

are all tat­toos and black clothes,

that there'll be blokes ( = com­mon men) going arse over tit ( = get­ting kno­cked over)

with heads cut open and blee­ding noses and so on.

"Get into the old rat­tle­trap ( = an old, bare­ly wor­king car)," he says to me,

"get your­self home as qui­ck­ly as you can."

I star­ted to say "not in a pink fit ( = never)" but he shut me up ( = told me to be quiet), saying "Look, all the women are going."

He has to stay, of course.

He says he'll be as safe as houses ( = will not be in trouble), but you have to wor­ry –

he's not very good with this fists ( = can­not fight very well), my dear old Razor.

 

 

(3) from Shit Sandwich, Great Lake shack, 2010 :

 

My bloo­dy ( = ama­zing, cur­sed, unbe­lie­vable, boring, or any other adjec­tive you pre­fer…)  secret life.

At times I won­der if it was all pathe­tic.

The few people I let in (to my secret) said the same thing –

For Christ's sake, mate, give up on the Mill ( = stop wor­king at the Mill),

get your­self down the road to the University –

and don't think I was not temp­ted (that is, I was temp­ted).

But the Mill was the real world, not

the fan­tas­ti­cal ( = ima­gi­na­ry) stuff for my wee­kends and nights.

I could not bring myself to do it.

 

 

X