Monday, 15 May 2017

secret: the feelings we feel when we're not feeling feelings

do not for one second think I am not
collecting, categorising and filing away
each word you say to me.
each second of eye contact sits
in a file
in my heart
for me to feast upon
during extended periods of absence.

do not for one small moment
believe your jokes and slips of the tongue
(see: there; another one)
are not painstakingly checked over
and inspected for tone
do not fool yourself that I do not know
what you're doing, or
what I'm doing
that it goes nowhere
that our truths are different.

do not for one brief instant
allow yourself to entertain the notion
that I am yours. Not any more than
   you are mine, but
somehow you are - your words and looks
and breaths are my private collection
forgotten in 12 months, or never.


secret: a poem for this week, and this heavy weight

suddenly, the world is so small
& it's quiet
   like living alone is quiet
   like being nobody at all
      can get very quiet

when somebody made you
almost with bare hands
when you were clay
& you're shaped in their image
despite absences & gaps?
I cannot imagine. The words
   slow me down,
because I love you & somehow, still
leave absences & gaps of my own
when I wish that this whole time
since we started
I'd been more.
suddenly, now is the time to be more.


secret: on worshipping, idols, and teen girl obsessions

A little more than a year ago, I saw Miranda July and Carrie Brownstein at the All About Women festival at the Sydney Opera House. I wrote about it.

I don’t know what you call it when you’re not a teenage girl anymore, but you see artists you admire, who have made you feel something, somehow, and your heart gets full. what’s that called? because I am 30 years old and I have lived and breathed some years in the world, paying tax and driving to work for 9am starts, I have realised some things about how humans are and how systems work and what parts of these systems can be made to work for me and what parts just suck.

but I can sit 3rd row from the front of a talk at 10:30am, and listen and listen and feel like I’m remembering things I’d forgotten about how I’m meant to live and be and work and make and do, and my heart gets fuller and fuller and I start to know myself for sure again, and I just refuse to call that simple inspiration; I can feel it, I can feel something the same way that dancing and wine and skies full of moon and stars make my heart pound right up to bursting. I can feel like this feeling is falling in love the way I’d thought perhaps I never would (love always seems to be so practical and awful even when it’s lovely) and possibly I never will, not with a human, not quite in the open way I fall in love with everything when I am reminded of myself.

That feeling of all things being not only true but truly possible: that’s the feeling we could aim for when we work with others to pull forth their full potential. I can’t see any harm in wanting to fill rooms of people with excitement over everything they might do with their lives, and everything they might look like. There’s a rush of creating and of making that does not have to be boxed into the arts on their own. It could be about anything, a drive to make people feel that feeling.

It could be about making people laugh. Laughter means a lot of different things. It means happiness and it means amusement and it means relief; it might meant surprise, the shock of a penny dropping where you and me are all ok just the way we are, and we already know we are powerful and have everything to offer.

Being engaged as a member of an audience is a treasure to behold, and it is never really just about being able to recite lessons back or checking a box or a follow-up test. Leading is showing people how to care in a way that moves us along; that helps us to tread the earth in a confident forward motion. Working and not caring seems such a waste.

Imagine being the kind of person who inspired the feeling Miranda July inspired in me in the Sydney Opera House on Sunday morning: I walked out of there knowing that I was right to think I could do better than I have been; that what I have to give, once I roll it out flat and name its parts and sort it out so other people know where to put it or want to roll their own selves out flat alongside, that what I have to give is every bit as good as I already know it is.


poem: black denim

god bless you skinny legged
black denim encased
boys in bands

I imagine you’ve grown your hair long since you were a private school boy
you’ve grown a moustache and you mean it
I’m laughing at your jokes and calling your eyes over
you cannot see me in the crowd through the lights,
but still I’ve made a cosy story for us

let us never speak;
by 24 you’ve read just enough philosophy to be dangerous.

there’s no way I can oversell the fact that
you’re not smiling at me, even through the lights, you’re not smiling for me
and I’m not the one you pursue to take home
girls like me
never girls like me.

god bless you boys in bands and your
skinny black jeans

After the show
I leave suddenly, because
it doesn’t matter how good you look behind a keyboard in those black jeans if you’re a dick.

that’s a lie, because I am powerless before black skinny jeans
the cockiness of youth.

Let us speak, I can teach you something
beyond the music lessons your parents paid for that have you here, fodder for women
as well as girls
as well as me
as well as all of us.

us, we’re 
all scrabbling for 'cool enough’; 
you are unironically wearing a full moustache.


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

secret: New Year's Eve, 2016 to 2017

Last time there were fireworks it was New Year’s Eve and I was dangerously close to going home with an unfamiliar boy from whom I’d felt an unspoken pull; that draw you get to a beautiful stranger; that tingle of mystery and recognition that can be endlessly romanticised, made all the more tantalising by virtue of the woman he had ignored on my behalf until she chased us down the street some time long after midnight.

I’d sat in the middle of one of the main streets of my hometown at 12 midnight, traffic be damned, with a clear view down the hill to those momentary and momentous bouquets of light and sound that meant something to those of us with resolutions, a year of shit to put behind us, dogs at home quailing at this faked thunder. 

I’d sat with a friend and his wife, our arms around each other by default, wishing each other all the things you’d expect of a New Year’s Eve. I’d steeled myself away from those "be better” promises, but I was pleased to see the back of a year that had dragged me with buckling knees into commitments, right past failed relationships I’d never given more than an “I wish” to. 

There’s a melancholy all of its own to realising you’re not even feeling particularly caught up in the sentiments of ringing in the shape of a new year. I found myself drawn into a long conversation with my friend about the nature of our friendships, which was telling of the year I’d been planning to have, but not of the year our friendship subsequently shaped up to look like. I worked to be heard over acquaintances and strangers singing hits from the 90s; we abandoned our important chat to sense-make snippets of conversation floating by us. 

Being made carefree by the hour of the morning, with the year still so new on my fingertips, I touched the shoulder of this beautiful stranger to launch myself into a back and forth on horoscopes. I laughed right into his face as he made a sparkly-eyed case for us two being an excellent match based upon the months we were born, as though we somehow knew each other quite aside from the basic facts we were missing. He asked my age, I asked his age. He asked if I liked girls or boys or both, and I asked him the same, and we smiled, complicit in our elusive answers and mutual interest.

Last time there were fireworks in my town, the night’s love story ended almost there, with a few small additional details in the shape of his female companion’s heartbreaking chase down the street (and my cluelessnes, or lack of finesse with pickup lines, or both). I am not one to steal someone out of the warmth of someone else’s heart where I can help it (no matter my fantasies). I am not one to wait to be chosen, either. 

There’s a story that goes something along the lines of, the way you spend the first hours of your new year determines the look and feel of the whole year ahead. For me, being wanted, and wanting, and then walking away on my own steam to my own house - that is my year, and perhaps more years to come. This is not a story of a pity party. I chose this, and I have power (that comes with the being wanted) and I listen to my heart (that comes with the wanting), and I reach to take the exact parts I want. 

All this is to say no more than that I remember the last time there were fireworks in this town; I remember the way they made me feel, which is really no more or less real and human than I’d already learned to feel. I remember the colours and the shapes, and the noise they made; I remember they went for longer than I’d expected, and I remember feeling the open space left over when they were done. 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

poetry 2017: 8 Jan

it is exhausting to find a place to sit
in my world of one or the other
as though a person can't be
sad but overjoyed
sunburned with a vitamin D deficiency
starving with a full belly.
they forget to balance in the precarious in-between
& they push their forgetting into my hands
expecting me to happily take hold.
I am bored by the broad world
having stumbled into a party uninvited
filled to the brim with people I know.

it's the happiest heartbreak to want both
but to also want neither;
to believe in standing up for your beliefs
while sitting quiet and wordless.
yes - exhausting,
to find a place to sit
in a seatless party
toasting failings; grasping straws
pushing past your handshakes.