Mike Ladd is the producer and presenter of ABC Radio National's
poetry program, Poetica. He lives in Adelaide, South Australia.
He has published six books of poetry, the most recent, Transit, was
released by Five Islands Press in 2007. In 2006 he was awarded
the Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship at the Adelaide Festival Awards
for Literature and was a guest of Venezuela's World Poetry Festival.
In 2009 he had a three month writing residency at Rimbun Dahan,
Malaysia. Currently he is working on a new series of video poems.
Mythology, A Rough Guide
White butterflies are messengers from heaven --
the news is not necessarily good.
A heron persuades some fish
that their pond will soon become dry,
offering to carry them to new and better lakes --
you guess the rest.
Good things to own:
the arrow that returns after hitting its target,
the bag that remains full of food,
the shirt that enables you to fly.
Those who are rescued
sometimes turn and devour their rescuers,
so don't assume too much gratitude.
The small and weak but clever
can defeat the big and strong but stupid.
The big, strong and clever, are however, a problem.
Don't forget that a king may well have the head of a pig.
A lovely woman met in a dream can be encountered the next day --
often wearing a large snake around her neck.
A nymph from heaven who loses the least little scarf
can never return, so please check your belongings before you depart.
Bedroom Ceiling Fan
above our reef,
we watch its life-cycle
a fathom down.
In summer it never sleeps,
moving the night's hot breath
on pale, cruciform bodies,
minds refusing to close.
it lies still,
a three-petalled flower of ice.
It is the turning reel
of our private cinema,
projecting onto these sheets
the amateur porn
of positions we've tried.
A boring film;
read books by bedside lights,
and neither speaks.
Times we lie apart in anger,
far as the edges of the bed allow.
Here, your waters break twice:
no muscle can stop.
Baby heads grow in the white field,
howling the slow incision of teeth.
The buddhas become long and bony,
flop down between us
wanting to know what to do with their lives --
as we pretend to know.
My black curly hair
greys and shrinks
to a widow's peak.
Your long chestnut waves
are cropped and dyed.
We are buried in the rustle of weekend papers,
their slightly-altered, repeating stories:
the greedy privatise gain and socialise loss,
husbands and wives cheat each other, leaders their states,
the so-very-reasonable sell guns to fanatical haters,
people destroy what exists, believing in what doesn't --
and we live in the hegemony of gloss.
On setting one, it is a whisper,
a rumour, a silk dressing gown undone.
On setting two, sweet breezes start to blow.
On setting three, it knocks a rhythm
like the lovers climaxing below.
On setting four, it is a white beehive,
an inner sea, a shallow roar.
On setting five, it is a cyclone's light-bulb eye.
Slow down now, slow down, slow.
In the glass cases of the restaurant the frogs all face
toward the light from the kitchen door,
and the claws of the crabs are bound fast with twine;
the realpolitik of Singapore.
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