The Negativity Bin (2010)


The Hidden Structure

 ‘Do you think I’m stupid? I’m much smarter than you Mister.’

Judge Judy.


(i) GRY


There are three words

in the English language

ending in GRY.


One is angry.


The second is hungry.


Everyone knows what the third

word is.


Everyone uses them every day.


If you listen carefully, I have

given you the third word.


 (ii) Unemployed People Who Pose as Aliens


Arun, Misbah & Baldwin watch

illicit TV when Helen goes on lunch.

Jerry Springers the neo-Socrates, now;

‘No one’s treating each other right’,

as the cinnabar of his tongue turns

the “undercover lovers” from red hot

to a glossy mercury imitation of alchemy.

Their love a Golem; a ratings construct.


Judge Judy’s no better, no worse (?)

a neo-Thetis,

the scales of justice

tipped in America’s favour, now;

the Goddesses’ blindfold reserved

for inmates in Guantanamo Bay.


Springer’s final shackles of thought

leaked inside Wal-Mart, the neo-Parthenon;

‘This poison’s not working anymore!’


(iii) Job Position: 1200 AD, Mongolia


  1. Buz Kashi players: wanted to join in group activity. Must have own horse & current “H” class license. Duties consist of carrying 50-pound headless calf around boundary flags & scoring a home goal if possible (an early ancestor of Quidditch). Essential: must have sense of foul play & good horsemanship/melee skills.


  1. NB. Nomad-Mongol background desirable.


  1. NB. His Royal Highness, Charles, the Prince of Wales need not apply.


  1. NB. Kerry Packer may apply.


(iv) Job Position: 800 AD, Japan


  1. Living Cultural Monument:

aka Getsu, sword-maker. Must have ability

to fold steel like speech, thirty thousand times.


Good morning

Work Corrections Australia

This is Genghis Khan

How can I help you?




The Music of the Spheres

 ‘Arithmetic, like language, begins in legend’.

  1. Bronowski



(i) Perspectives


It’s a;

Beck – ‘Odeley’, ‘Mutations’

Mercury Rev – ‘Deserter Songs’, ‘All is Dream’

Radiohead – ‘The Bends’

kind of day

(pure lyrical alchemy

on five disc shuffle).


but Arun, Redhoune & Misbah,

the three wise men from the East

keep their heads stuck to the telephone numbers.

The Adoration of the Unemployed Magi

unfolds on Dürer’s 20th century

South Brisbane job renaissance



A perspective/conclusion,

he didn’t draw.



(ii) SPG’S (Samos Party Girls)


Pythagoras hid in the mouth of numbers.

Harboured the language of nature, plucked order

out of chaos; cleared stones off a dirt floor.

The music of the spheres; the Heavens

whined like a crystal goblet, stroked

with a wet tyrannical finger.


A hundred oxen later,

the Muses pushed aside their plates

(having satisfied their desire for food & drink)

patted Pythagoras on the back

& hit the road Jack.

Samos, being just another scene, after all,


the Girls well & truly over it.



(iii) Mutations

 ‘Put a song in your throat

let the dead beats play on’. Beck








These Arabic words;

a fine white powder

on the sealed envelope

of English. A cloister

of languages,

of numbers, of symbols.

The Muses reclining now

in the East, inside

Sala de las Camas

(the harem’s secret heart).

The Sultan sending down

his big apple – one branch

of forbidden knowledge

at a time. Egyptian,

Babylonian, Indian,

Chinese, Hittite, Greek,

Persian. A sweet succession

in the body of science.

‘You can’t touch this!”

The face of Rome pushed

further into the mud.

The Moorish artists cum

mathematicians fused the core

of the Euclidean plane,

mapped the Alhambra’s walls

in pure Escher symmetry.

The Girls starting to go

cross-eyed with the strain

of that ‘Magic Eye’ effect.

Headaches all round.



(iv) Toledo, 1086 AD, Spain.


Toledo, the boom city,

of 1086 AD. Moorish Spain

hustling in the great

music of the Renaissance

to its cultural backwater:

Western Europe.

A veritable beehive

of intellectual activity.

Made good swords too!

The finest silver-steel

in all the world!

Lots of full-time employment

for scholars, translators,

artists, clerks, copy-editors,

black-smiths, armourers, lawyers.

The Peninsula cut in half.

The omphalos of culture

balancing on a sword-blade.



(v) Misbah II


At Work Corrections

Misbah, the Agronomist

from Bangladesh tunes

for work in a Brisbane

car stereo factory.

Can’t use his Masters Degree

in Soil Science, not the ‘right’

kind of dirt under those blue

production-line fingernails.

His eyes; a brimful of floodwater

dumps silt on a tropical soul.

But Baldwin only nudges him

in the ribs, winks & says,

‘You need fluoro at your back

not the sun, a concrete floor

to stand on, not the delta

sands, Mate. Besides, you can

cry about it until the cows

come home, but Bangladesh will

never beat Australia in cricket?’


The Paris to Dhaka

is a human race (?)


 Good morning

Work Corrections Australia

This is Misbah

How can I help you?



(vi) Expanding Our Awareness


For three hours they play

psychological games with the JNM

to identify the extent

of their ‘conditioning’.


  1. Draw four straight lines

through all nine squares without

lifting your pen or pencil from

the paper, or retracting.


  • ● ●
  • ● ●
  • ● ●


  1. Using one line only

make the following configuration

into a “6”.




  1. Read this message once.







How many letter F’s are there?



(vii) FCUK


How many F’s are there in fucking waste of time?



‘The Hidden Structure’ and ‘The Music of the Spheres’ were first published in Retort magazine.