Michael Farrell's books include ode ode (Salt, 2002) and
BREAK ME OUCH (3 Deep, 2006): the latter graphic poetry.
He has edited poetry features for both Australian and U.S.
journals. He has recently completed an M.A. thesis on the
billycan in Australian poetry, and an Asialink project on
poetry and manga in Nagoya. His recent collection is a
raider's guide (Giramondo 2008), which features the poem
presented below. It was also first published in Cordite.
Walking through, in/out: my son a shadow? His mind marks the boundaries, he sees only mercy. Out of my quiet yard and body—a threat to nothings. Confusion fails and a clear truth emerges from my thigh ... In my skirts I carry his birthdays, I'm the ring: he's the stone.
I feel like I've eaten last week's donuts. I take on the uncommitted sins of my unborn children. Storms will come, I'm not there but only passing. I won't teaspoon hell to my lips, but I take great draughts of heaven.
Feet grow slowly, blisters quickly, in the living room they grow like mushrooms. In my books I travel, in my mind I live and die the deaths from overhead wires and hawks. My father instructed me in the abstract, ensured the real was ever strange.
Angels aren't opposites, there's always a human figure to draw on. What are we burning? There's gold in death, and cold ash, I taste it with you: every embrace the last.
Like an epic, dozens of my generation go mad and are infected; I feel nothing; I observe from my post behind her ear, as we go singing through the gate.
This is my fit, frame by frame. I wait, as if a child, for the terrible experience. The lies and truth combine in the error only I can tell. I choose the orange—it reveals a murderer's face. If anyone knew if it suited me, what would it mean? I've already used it, they've already copied me.
Where you're going means Japanese colours, cool denim drinks at the innocent's club. I see their destinations, crunch on its magic. I sent you on, noone knows why. I couldn't be the tears that formed you, my heart the subjective pump. That act changed me, made me the mother I'll always envy.
I dabbed soil on my son's brow, a Russian treatment for ego.
Wilde, Borges, Foucault—a pie I foil and carry. Orphaned by god, I become the sunlight on the gate (that I interrupt), the moth asleep (that I wake). Suffering for belief has many forms (all traps). What have I added to my cv since '75, since 9 o'clock? I drank you like beer, like an alcoholic, like banana milk, like piano music. I run when not under observation, now I twine like wisteria, an old lilac soul.
It's a lonely moral, a shock to the emptiness of knitting, channel-surfing. I've never done this before.
Jesus reflects on my glasses—or fire does. Nietzsche's child's the garden's apostrophe. You'd think I'd nothing in common with love, but I look to it in secret. I tell the gate of my loneliness, overlaying the morning's music, embarrassing the peony. It's my fit, my gamble, my fellatio. There's no over, this isn't a cover. If only I was Kuan-Yin. Inside me are countless reactions. I sear and scrape. Will I wake up Australian? Will I save anything? Cool any flame? The flowers tremble in their heresy.
I've been shown the killing example, and go through the motions. I lie to both sides. Absolve me. I couldn't get a girl so I headed for ecstasy. There's no through. Suppose it's night. I pretend to normality, I don't shake, or scratch; avoid mystique and metaphysique. In my leotard invisible against the gate, a red S on my chest could be a cockscomb. I lack the military touch, the easy recycling of a million stockings.
"I'm only Kafka," I say on my way. The light is Keats; I lumber, prosaic. I do everything, it's everywhere. I pretend to be a dream, I mar the peace of ash.
I fear the failure of the image: sitting with Whitman in olive tree silence. I can't leave 'the sunlight,' can't go back 'through the gate'. I risk Vedic sickness—but nothing more—to draw the red from his skin. "Forget ice," I say. Forget bodies.
Dream or nightmare? Them becomes em in my excitement. Centuries click over (what was I reading?). I stop writing, regear my sensitivity. The past's always now—in the scarlet whatever, in the cabbage damage. Blue stasis gives way.
I'll know the colour when I close my eyes (flickering with illness). Breaking for the short timber.
My four fingers reach for you, my enigma enters you. We go into the winepress together: you leave it alone. The worst comes and is still to come. Resignation fights with expectations. Is fame the hand or cheek? The slow experiment continues ...
We die to become angels. The air and ways reverse. A teacher shames us for our angst, yet our axes express a violence that rocks. My decadence consists in this: a hydrangean childhood, brown last century glass. You think I can't stick Marx to this?
The circumscribed spirit, the interpretive tendency: my German legacy? The Irish ship played its radical part (convicts aside). The anachronisms of blood and memory. A faint eroticism my hands can ignore. No parents in sight, no erasers needed. Automatic sainthood.
Like riding, like fucking, I point my angelic toe. My psyche's cage opens. My Catholic substance leads me along a line of despair, the first line I remember.
Into the city of thinking. What once was pseudo is orthodox. The revolution awaits an eclipse, and then it's cloudy, there's the washing ... The roses assemble (they're prophets). I breathe in moonlight: avoiding nothing, embracing urgency.
Drowning in waterlight, I yell the "Prayer of the Hostile". Iron clangs, semen burns on the steps. This is not my beautiful life. I kneel down hard in the church of anxiety. The comfort of splinters in lukewarm hands.
A subconscious Sunday. George Eliot without a novel. The dirt erupts and my feet relax. I meet noone. Through the cold early fog, far from god's skin, I bring my orange tone like snow, like a slow motion pinball. Forgive me—and I'm warm.
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