Articles

Pam Brown

Three Poems

COLLECTED MELANCHOLY

a dead bee
                on the bus seat,
a bipolar daughter
                        cherishing her hands,
     she’s ‘miles away’

                        ~

in every second poem –

        All the reasons not to believe in anything anymore
Words lost and scattered all along the path
                        There’s nothing left to say
The wind rises
                        The world slips away
                                                                The other side

The Arc surrounding this grim landscape
is losing its colour
                        I think it’s wearing out

    Hang on
    And leave a faint memory on earth
    A gesture of regret
    A sour expression
                        What I did best

    & further
                        sombre artifice

                        ~

walking from sulphide to bromide
                                                imagining
                some scenographic terrain –
the indian ocean looks choppy
                                        from the plane,
        its clobbered shore already sunk

                        ~

holding the baby
        with the peachy fur dome head
& making jokes
                        about already dead poets,
nearly dead, halfway dead,
        lining up for "Reading Australia"
                now, what is that?

                        ~

here he goes again,
                        the brilliant sad sack –

    There is no longer even a place
    For the words I will leave

                        ~

yesterday, you were found
                                on wikipedia
    blogging your new album
                        on a national bluegrass site,
        then, scrolling down –
you died
                even months ago

O closed heart O heavy heart O deep heart
You will never get used to sorrow

~

perhaps this place
                takes itself seriously –
‘Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions’,
                                        in time ( you wonder) when
                        did emotions begin?

 


Note: The ‘brilliant sad sack’ is Pierre Reverdy.




The Taps

of
    the old government house
                                        don’t match
the scenery
                        sticks to the palate,
            porcelain cake
        iced,
                                ‘refreshments’
&
        cat-piss perfumes
                                a chicago architect’s
        mock gothic modernism

in the flat above mine
                                    someone seems
        to jump
                        in high canvas
                                        ankle-wrap sneakers,
is it
                jesmyn, edwidge, dwyer –
     some american name
                                            like that?

                                        ~

downstairs
                                    Queen Sālote of Tonga
                    lying like a solemn hologram
‘in state’
            in the ballroom
                                    under glowing clusters
    of white and golden ball chandeliers

                                        ~

saturday morning,
                            in need of a spell,
                    at the polynesian markets    
the faito’o says
        her ceramic charms don’t work

if only she could
                            crank up
                        the faux-greenstone wealth one

                                        ~

the depot faces the skytower,        
                            each oyster holds the sea
            until swallowed

there is a small gift –
                                ‘Len Lye, The New Yorker’
            a brief monograph,    visibly stitched,
        not looking
                        too ‘booklike’

                                                    thanks wystan

                                        ~

         te kōti –
                  19th century māori leader,
        appliqued,                stylised in red & black,
on a polyester flag
                            hanging from a honey-coloured wall
                that smells like vetiver grass

                                        ~

    just after dusk
                                a small brown owl,
a ruru,
        sits on a railing            just outside the boatshed,
                                                    expert in stealth    
    hunting moths    
                        then        fffff    fffff
                                                gone like a ghost

    before midnight
                        a downburst rocks the bure –
        doors flap & bang,
sideways lightning,            crazy winds,
                                    trees sever & crash,
clinging to the day bed,
                                    shaking in a blackout

                                        ~

ecological circuits
                            rewired on lava crops,
    as water & shade
                            does for fern & fauna.

                                taking an upper deck return
    across the choppy crater,
                        through bird wheel
                                                & ferry diesel
        the tide recedes

 


Notes:
     A
faito’o is a traditional Tongan herbalist.
     Te Kōti appears on a flag made by the late New Zealand poet and artist Leigh Davis.




REQUIRED READING

across the fly screen
                        insects & I
            chase the breeze
as the big day shrinks
                    the cool is coming on

the book is sitting there,
                        its blue cover
        clashing
with the tea towel’s orange,
                    stranded

they’ve had their
                        heydays,
the fading teatowel,
        the book of poems
                                translated
        & re-translated

an aesthetics of the surface
                    sliding towards
        evening,    only one language
spoken here
    
    fructose to coma –
            undissolved granules
                        spuming
    in a grubby glass
                on the table top

the poems say
            more
                    than I want them to,
no clarity really,        can’t decide
            which way to read them

everything left
                        as it is,
        the fridge compressor
                                gurgles


PAM BROWN’s most recent book is Home by Dark (Shearsman, 2013). She writes poetry, reviews and makes collages. In 2013 she edited A New Compendium of Australian Poetry for the PennSound audio site. She is an editorial board member of VLAK Magazine and contributing editor to Fulcrum. Pam lives in the motley inner-urban district of Alexandria in Sydney, Australia. NB: "Collected melancholy" appeared earlier this year in the Australian magazine Overland.