Poems from this collection have previously appeared
in Blue Like Tea (Five Islands Press, 2000), canwehaveourballback? (USA), Gangway (Austria), gutcult (USA), HOW2Connect web anthology (USA), In Posse Review (USA), JAMM (NZ), Jack Magazine (USA), muse apprentice guild (USA), Poetry Greece (Greece), Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k) (USA), Retort, Sidereality (USA), Short Fuse: A Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry (Rattapallax Press, New York 2002), SideWalk, Social Alternatives, Stylus, Subversions: generations of contemporary poetry CDROM anthology (papertigermedia, Brisbane 2001), The Drunken Boat (USA), The Stalking Tongue II: Slamming the Sonnet, Thylazine: Australian Poets for Peace.
Universal Andalusia was written with assistance from
a New Work Grant from the Literature Fund
of the Australia Council in 2000/2001.
For Warren Neil Dionysius.
- The Mad Cow of Time
- A Four Hundred Room Harem
- The Boy Cupid of the PKK
- A True Weight to History
- Who the Fuck is Baldwin?
- Maybe It’s His First Time Around?
- Commercial Free
- A Generation of Men
- The Cult of Zeus Ammon
- Song of the Australians in Action
- There’s Something About Baldwin
- A Brief History of Time
- The Sacrifice at Ilion
- Troy Postscript
- Now How Shall We Sing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?
- Punch it Chewie
- Haçi Bektas
- Language Paints That Which the Eye Cannot See
- These Moments, Tinder Dry
- The Road to Damascus
- Midnight Express I
- Midnight Express II
- Requiring of us a Song
- A Very Ugly Australian
- Coincidental MechanicS
- The Rage of Roxanne
- Samos Ferry: a Comparative
- The Curious Noise of History
- You Talkin’ to Me
- Fuck on This
- Another Fucking Recidivist Poem
- Acropolis Now
- Geometrics II
- Some Versions of Mythological
- Being Driven to Matala by Martin Johnston
- More Swamp Riddles
- Softly Multiplying in An Ideal World
- Flesh for Frankenstein
- Blood for Dracula
- The Footsteps
- The Rage of Achilles
- The Face of Agamemnon
- Callisthenes, or On Mourning
- Some More Versions of Mythological
- Trying to Explain the Significance of a Shooting Gallery to a Six Year Old
- Express Samina
- Express Samina II
- Night of the Tongues
- The Trench Cleaners
- Huerta De San Vicente
- ETA Suspect
- The Life & Death of Dust
- Salvador Dali Hunts For Pipis On Bribie Island While Dreaming of Sea Urchins
- The Defeat of Poetry
- The Descent of Man
- The Gypsies
- The Enigma of Adolf Hitler
- Atomic Melancholia
- An Allegory of Time
- Street of the New Cross
- Plaza De Toros De Madrid
- A Pollozanic Bulk God
- Sabtabi Express
- Luxman Julia
- The Anti-Kali
- Padam Shri Nek Chand
- In the Garden of Outsider Art
- The Forest Brigand
- The Forest Poet
- The Forest Tiger
- Good Luck Chance
- New Delhi Station
- Tourist Interrupted
- The Desert of Thar
- Train Song 3
- Train Song 4
- An Allegory of Shit
- The Enlightened Ones
- The River Beas
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Universal Andalusia
in the twentieth century
at most a year.
Nazim Hikmet, Letter To My Wife
The Turks are mostly quite friendly, especially when you escape the resorts and head into the heartland, and prices are very low compared to Western Europe. Turkey is a relatively painless introduction to travelling in an Islamic country – unless you’re a fair skinned woman with long blond hair, in which case all bets are off.
Europe on a shoestring, Lonely Planet
The Mad Cow of Time
Across the freeway from the last
soft-serve, BP petrol station
before the Bosphorus, not far
from where the Great King cum dominatrix
Xerxes, gave its waters three hundred lashes
for impudence, (Circa, 480 BC), Baldwin
(our obese hero – a hereditary problem not one from
over eating) flops down in a small triangle
of scale-rough medusa grass decorated
with the fallen milk-teeth of Attica.
These seven cyclopean ribbed condoms
ring our Western traveller, murmur
complexes for their lost Parian mother lode.
Here is Baldwin. Bull-necked.
A delta of sweat fans out, waterfalls
over his Aswan High Dam love handles
as he perches on Byzantion’s juicy marrow.
The Athenian settler-city ground into bonemeal
for the Attaturk International airport.
A German built fighter/bomber
salutes his arrival; the jet’s metal skin
rigor mortis embedded in a 1970’s concrete
shoe-stand. Its Mighty Mouse nosecone snooty
with Uber Ales ingenuity; model airplane
aficionado’s recurring wet dream.
Baldwin tries to get his head around
the mad cow of time. Constantinople
powdered the lips of merchants, concubines,
astrologers & con artists smooth as hashish.
Now the Ottoman stucco flakes off too.
The West is Best (right Jim-boy?)
The Lizard/construction King shows the East
how to cut costs – stuffing polystyrene nuggets
into chick-dumb mouths of cement building blocks.
Only a mosh-pit, 7.4 on the Richter scale
delivers a Doors concert sized death toll & 40,000
‘Riders on the Storm’. Nowhere, the comforting
red & green of a steam engine or a Bofors AA gun;
the centrepieces of sacred Australian, Rotary
& Lions parks. Only a Delian journeyman’s
pre-pubescent marble-work scattered around
this open-air museum.
Baldwin gazes up the shit-laced
strait to where the Black Sea colonies
grubbed for the universal glory
of the Greek city-states.
Thinks of a jungle-gym of reasons
why the earth could not stay flat
& the limp phallus of history
could not get it up all
starry, starry night.
A Four Hundred-Room Harem
The hair of the beard of the Prophet
is hard to see behind 3mm of bullet
proof glass but Baldwin scrutinises
Mohamed’s eclectic DNA samples –
fingernail clippings, footprint cast;
has a fit over the ornate lacquered box
said to contain Islam’s big toe.
Baldwin squeezes in beside arrow slits
of black wool & Jean-Paul Gautier
wraparounds & tries to catch the eye
of the cleric chanting Koranic verses
over a PA system tucked inside a miniature
wooden jump-castle. He is oblivious
to the core meltdown of inter-cultural
courtesy; of the mostly Italian male tour
group’s think-tank on the geometry
of Roxanne’s gym body & her bleach blonde
curls sending the Turkish army guards
into a frenzy of groin scratching
with their sub machinegun butts.
Baldwin grabs his wife’s arm,
spins her around to face a wall
hung with antique swords, daggers
“Look at the size of Mohamed’s scimitar Rox?
Isn’t it huge?”
“Yes darling a fine piece of workmanship – probably
of Persian design, from Susa or Babylon.”
“Have a thing for big weapons do you?” leers a plastic
surgeon from Naples, his group confidence
snug as a latex glove.
“Only if they don’t snap on the first thrust shithead.
Now, fuck off before I shove a copy of
the Divine Comedy up your greasy arse!”
Outside Tokapi Palace – ancestral
home of the Ottoman Sultans, Baldwin,
head down, the Turkish army guards
paid off, finishes his sceptre-sized snow-cone.
“I don’t care about seeing the 400 room harem
Rox – it cost extra anyway.”
“I’ll give you 401 reasons why I don’t give a fuck!”
Baldwin, noticing the emerald glint
in his wife’s pommel-stone eye’s does not respond. Watches instead the miraculous pool of salt
& melted ice-cream at his feet, fraternised
by a colony of eunuch ants.
The Boy Cupid of the PKK
The boy cupid of the PKK armed
with his quiver of polishes; not
the ruby & diamond inlaid cavalry
piece of Sultan Ahmet II – only
the black & brown smear of dubbin
slavery asks Baldwin for some
coins to add to his ‘collection’.
This politically neutered cherub
from Kurdistan ‘on holiday’
with his ‘cousin’, hanging in
a seedy Istanbul square adjacent
to the sixth century AD ruins
of the Byzantine hippodrome.
Asks Roxanne for Queen’s money,
a cigarette, a shoe shine.
His twelve year-old anger,
another lingual road hazard they
dodge when Japan Tobacco Inc. fails
to satisfy a Mild Seven miscommunication.
The Grand Bazaar of his mind
thumbs through a labyrinth of insults
flushed from a universal gutter language.
“Fuck you, then” is now coca-cola
chic in the Hittite tongue.
A True Weight to History
Baldwin meets his life-long idol
Alexander the Great in an open market
on the back of silver coin & leaves
dejected that his hero’s noble frieze
is only a cheap alloy imitation.
Is there a true weight to history
he ponders? A purity of fact
as he rejects the $4,000,000 lira
asking price for a dog-eared,
cockroach chewed & overpriced
Who the Fuck is Baldwin?
Is a question Baldwin asks
himself as he squats on the steps
of the Blue Mosque lacing up his boots,
& shoos postcard sellers, their accordion
sprung photographs fly-casting into the mid
-stream of his open mouth. Who exactly is he?
An overweight (big-boned his mother always reassured)
Anglo-Celtic, thirty-something, first world,
Gen-Xer, project officer who comes far too
quickly for his wife, Roxanne & who over
identifies with Alexander the Great to such
an extent that he’s worked out their 2nd
honeymoon itinerary based on the same
route Alexander forged through his thirteen
-year conquest of Asia Minor.
Now, how fucked up
is that, Dear Reader?
Maybe It’s His First Time Around?
Back in the Arsenal (arsehole!)
Youth Hostel in Sultanahmet, Baldwin
face flushed, is still livid over the shoeshine
incident. Over being pursued halfway back
to their hostel by the Kurdish kid. Takes out
his frustration on their dirty clothes, pulverising
cotton into the bathroom floor tiles’
“Did you feel that, honey?”
enquires Roxanne poking her head
into the Midnight Express proportioned
“No, what was it, Rox?”
“Nothing dear, just a tremor.”
“You mean an earthquake?”
“No Baldwin just a tremor. Remember,
I’m from New Zealand? I know the difference
between an earthquake and a fucking tremor!”
“Nah didn’t feel a thing Rox. Didn’t feel a thing at all,”
replies Baldwin as beads of soap powder
slide off his shiny new resistant
From inside the Pudding Shop,
Baldwin puts down his pide & watches
the little Turkish boy raise his toy
army tanks to each ear like twin, khaki
mobile phones. The boy connects
free to air to his big “M” culture –
not the golden arches of McDonalds,
but the even more inyourface
social camouflage of ‘machismo’.
On cue, a Western woman with hair
red as the Turkish crescent moon,
shunts her way into the café, hotly
pursued by two teenage boys, sleek
& fixated as greyhounds.
“Why else do you come to Turkei”,
the first one disgorges at her.
“Don’t you want to fuck me?”
adds the second, hands on hips,
his mouth cocked like a revolver.
At the bar Baldwin senses Roxanne
rise out of her seat & winces apologetically
as two thunderous blows sonic boom
through the stunned, tourist clientele.
At a secluded outdoor café, Baldwin
orders two, huge Efes beers & massages
the chamber of Roxanne’s swollen,
right hand; the percussion caps
of her fingernails drum a military dirge;
as a Last Post of hot pink lacquer
chips through Istanbul’s
commercial free veil.
The Efes is having
an effect at last.
Baldwin can only be
sure of one thing –
even with buckets
of cheap beer, time
will still pass.
A Generation of Men
The Turk’s knew death
Would take them to a paradise of sex
Islam reserves for its warrior dead
John Forbes, Anzac Day
On the six-hour trip to Çanakkale,
Baldwin alternates between the 80’s,
slapstick action comedy (with stereotypical,
evil Nazi treasure hunters) & his universal
window-seat through the Camel Koç looking glass.
Fields of sunflowers drape the bus in funerary garb;
their cast-iron faces cringe before Demeter
& Ahura-Mazda the Persian God-King;
depleted plutonium heads pierce the heavy
armour of the earth’s tank skin. Tapping Nazim
a retired civil engineer from Bursa on the shoulder,
Baldwin tries to interpret the pastoral;
“Hey Nazim, what are those cement sheds
dotted all over the paddocks? Wheat silos? My parents grow
wheat back home in Western New South Wales.”
Nazim studies Baldwin, sighs, leans closer
& keeps his voice just above a whisper
as if relaying a tragic family secret.
“Not wheat silos”, suggests
the make-shift Turkish historian.
“Concrete bunkers from the war.”
Baldwin, his ignorance at risk
of developing into a severe complex,
hesitates to ask – which war?
but Roxanne jumps head-first
into the delicate empirical vacuum.
“The First World War was fucking horrific.
In four years of fighting, a generation of men were obliterated.
If mustard gas didn’t turn your lungs inside out,
or you didn’t develop gangrene from shrapnel wounds –
you could look forward to trench fever, influenza,
cholera & dysentery. A quick, clean death on the end
of a machinegun would have been a fucking godsend.
Over 10 million perished. At Gallipoli, the kill ratio
was about 10 to 1. In the six-month campaign
we lost 8,000 diggers, the Turks lost over 80,000.
Yet they celebrate it as a great national victory.
How macho crazy is that?”
At a country bus stop,
his mouth set in quick lime
by Rox’s grip on 20th century warfare,
Baldwin snaps a girl defending herself
with a clapped out bike against the attack
of a white leghorn rooster; captures
a new generation of violence
through the aperture
of November’s sun.
The Cult of Zeus-Ammon
Baldwin counts among his many
love-trust possessions (DVD collection,
Stars Wars figurines, original Steve Austin/Bionic-man
doll with working telescopic eye – who always fought
Stretch Armstrong his evil, rubbery nemesis), his new
bronze Oscar statuette of Alexander the Great
as Zeus-Ammon, (given to him by Roxanne
who dug it out of the Grand Bazaar) as his favourite,
post-industrial lingam. The ram-horned,
diadem clad, Jim Morrison locks flowing pin-up
boy of the Egypto-Grecian cult of masculinity.
(In your eye Robert Bly birth a god from your thigh!).
‘Iron John’ Alexander, the 5’4″ inheritor
of Achille’s sour mantle; the bad-tempered,
uncut wine-drunk Overlord of the West,
balancing gods, budgets & Greek fatalism
in his pudgy hands.
The (re)Hellenisation of Asia Minor –
hideously efficient as the Turkish bus system
that drops Roxanne & Baldwin outside
the Just Looking Café, Eceabat.
“Yes Sir, Madam, this way please.
What would you like to order?”
“Nothing, we’re just looking,”
chant the dynamic duo in strangled
unison as they tear up the oxidised
stairs of the car ferry before an agent
from Yellow Rose Pension can accost them
with his Gallipoli tour spiel. Baldwin,
who never had a Great-Grandfather fight
in WW1, has no idea where Anzac Cove is
as he sticks the eight-inch Zeus-Ammon
& the god’s curved sneer of horn
(ala Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
into the front pocket of his chinos
& snaps at denuded peninsulas;
compound cliff splinters jut from
green bone pine history.
Protects his vapid interpretation
of Lonely Planet cartography
with a slip, slop, slap she’llberight/
Song of the Australians in Action
Was there any road too rough for us to travel?
Was there any path too far for us to tread?
You can track us by the blood drops on the gravel
On the roads that we milestoned with our dead!
A.B Paterson, Song of the Federation
Charging inside the Anzac House backpackers,
Roxanne & Baldwin interrupt Peter Weir’s Gallipoli
on 24-hour video loop – just at the pivotal moment
when Mel Gibson (does anyone remember the name
of the blond actor?) tries to get the no-go message
to his company, but fails, the diggers going over
the top (courtesy of an extreme close-up on Bill Hunter’s
trembling whistle fingers).
“Ah no…not GALLIPOLI. That film’s a piece of crap.
Apocalypse Now is a much better war film – Duvall,
Brando, Sheen – now those guys can act. Mel Gibson should’ve stuck
to making Mad Max films not that Lethal Weapon shit,”
snivels Baldwin (a little bit too loudly) turning heads away
from the freeze-framed, ticker-tape of bullets
ending Mark Lee’s (that’s him right?)
grand, WW1, boys own adventure.
Roxanne dumps her pack on the floor,
ignores the death-stares from fellow
ANZAC backpackers aimed at her husband’s
Marlon Brando figure.
“Baldwin, I’ll admit the Jean-Michael Jarŕe soundtrack’s
a bit corny & dated, you know, Oxygene (dit d-dit dit)
but otherwise it’s still a great Australian movie. Anyhow,
you’ve never seen it in Turkey my critical Monash!”
Baldwin gives this homespun
shrine to Australian national identity,
the once over – spies a t-shirt with some lines
from a ‘Banjo’ Paterson poem
etched in blood red dye
crucified to the office door.
‘For the honour of Australia, our Mother,
Side by side with our kin from over sea,
We have fought and we have tested one another,
And enrolled among the brotherhood are we.’
“Shit, I didn’t know we had a brotherhood in a motherland Rox.
Did you? Jeezus, give me Clancy of the Overflow
or The Man From fucking Ironbark anyday!
Individuals excelling against all odds.
You know Rox, like Colonel Kurtz and Breaker Morant.
Besides, Breaker Morant is the best Australian film ever made.
You remember the courtroom scene don’t you? RULE 303.”
“But they were both nutters dear, executed by the establishment!”
“That’s our problem isn’t it – a bloody identity crisis.
Caught in a meat grinder between Britain & America.
Can’t decide between hip-hop & the Queen as our head of state.
Shit, we can’t even get it together to become a republic!
We may as well be in the fucking wasteland
with the Lord Humungus – the Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla!”
Baldwin pauses, perhaps aware
of the many pop-cultural heresies
he has just committed & takes
a swig from his water bottle.
Roxanne pushes him up the narrow
staircase warden-style, a dorm-room key
knuckleduster prised between
the brotherhood of her fingers.
“Honey, take a leaf from the Road Warrior’s
bible to survival in the motherland.
‘If you want to get out of here…talk to me!'”
There’s Something About Baldwin
Baldwin holds his 6.5-inch cock,
stiff as a Foot Companion’s sarissa
in the Anzac House communal shower
& masturbates. Leaves a baggage train
of spermatozoa stranded on the milk
coloured tiles. Watches, the engorged
head of his penis deflate like a cheap,
Turkish cigarette burning down
to the filter of his right hand. Baldwin
assumes that every bloke jerks off
with their opposite hand but has no
conviction to put his theory to the test.
Back in the dorm room, Roxanne
notices the redness of his member,
sidles over & gives his balls
a harder than usual squeeze.
“Hey, watch it Rox, that hurts a man you know!”
“What’s the matter, honey?
Aren’t I giving my big man enough attention?”
“I’m a nervous traveller Rox, that’s all.
I need to relax now and again, see.”
“And do you get the best results in hot or cold water?
You know, Marge you’re soaking in it!”
“Ah…lukewarm, Rox, only lukewarm water
creates the right amount of soap suds for rhythmic
consistency & consistency is what men need most
when they flog the dolphin!”
Roxanne drags out a battered copy
of A Brief History of Time & raises
her left painted-on Vulcan eyebrow
toward the ceiling’s mildew singularity.
“Thanks Baldwin, but that’s more information than I needed. Besides honey, your starting to dribble”.
Baldwin shocked at his ease
at whistle-blowing, inches deeper
into the pale cocoon of his sleeping sheet.
Next morning, a new skin hardens
onto the old, soft chrysalis.
A Brief History of Time
Five minutes after Baldwin exits
the shower cubicle, Carol, a physicist
from Ontario, steps onto his córps de spirits
& mistakes them for an excess
of Johnson & Johnson conditioner.
Some histories are best left romanticised.
As A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson put it,
“Now we know what nation’s know
And feel what nation’s feel.”
The Sacrifice at Ilion
At the harbour of the Achaeans
where Alexander the Great ditched his spear
(Circa 334 BC) & stage-dived from the bow
of the royal trireme, claiming Asia as his own
(with a lot of hoo-ha, over-identification as the NEW Achilles); green phalanxes of pumpkin & cucumber vines
fawned upon by pygmy war-elephant tractors,
overrun the verdant, Homeric killing ground.
In the ruins of Aphrodite’s Temple,
rubbing Roxanne’s sorbelene cream
into the raw skin chiselled out
of his Scaean Gate thighs, Baldwin
muses on his hero’s most unique
display of historical melodrama.
Nine cities of Troy; (a 19th century
fold out/pull this flap/cut along the dotted lines please,
Heinrich Schliemann & wallah! Hey presto!) –
five thousand years of civilisation rendered
into a cheap, earthquake resistant, balsawood
replica. The Troy of the Hellenistic period
(Troy VIIA) an impoverished backwater
out of sync with Greek fashion & politics.
The townspeople plugging gaps
in their mud-brick knowledge with shards
of Mycenaean ceramics, eyes agape as the curly
haired liberator of the Ionian city-states
restored Troy’s epic business; jogging oiled,
naked & laurel crowned to the tombs of Achilles
& Patroclus. Alexander’s favourite Hephaistion,
breathing hard down his leader’s sleek, equine neck.
This called for the throat of a black bull
to be opened methodically as a love-letter,
libations to be poured for the Nereids
& for the appeasement of King Priam,
murdered kneeling before Zeus’ high altar.
Alexander, the great propagandist
bestowed Troy with the coarse,
Macedonian, democratic saddle blanket.
All this, our sultan proportioned hero Baldwin, deliberated on 2334 years later, disappointed
by silt’s conquest & the absence of a suitably
heroic cove to thrust his eucalyptus twig.
As Roxanne pocketed some souvenir
casino chips of Naxian marble from
the Temple of Athena, Baldwin met
his only true Trojan. An old,
rattled Hector who ambushed him
from behind the remains of a 12ft
granite wall, spit-balled with orange
lichen & who thrust an apple/pear
crossbreed into his Kodak free hands.
A hybrid of romantic fancy
that numbed Baldwin’s tent-flap
mouth with his first authentic bite
into the West’s juicy decline.
Baldwin never did find
the tombs of the Greek heroes,
Achilles, Ajax or Patroclus.
He didn’t even climb up into
the tacky, wooden reproduction
of the Trojan horse, being
over-familiar with these epic
& meaningless icons of tourism;
through his insertion as a child
into the fibreglass & aluminium
rear-ends of the Big Pineapple,
the Big Banana & the Big Cow.
‘Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak.
Be walking trees. Be talking beasts.
Be divine waters.’
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.
A flaking skin of salt 400km long –
a dead Narnia of crystal method
& Gypsy Snow Queens broken now
& again by a lost piece of 20th century iron
(a lamppost perhaps) growing out of the bare earth;
an antenna, a dish, out of place
with the sleek hills denuded as literary history.
At the bus-stop, geese & guinea-fowl stand at ease –
watch the passengers descend; the strange talking,
two-legged animals make a bee-line
for the restrooms garlanded by
a fishpond, ultramarine with scales.
One heavy-set hippopotamus type creature
leaves the rest of the pack huddled beside the coach’s secret wardrobe door & moves over to inspect
the twin statues on guard outside
the servo’s main entrance.
The hippogriff (orwhateveritis) spies another of its race –
a green eyed juvenile sitting across the lifeless granite smooth haunches.
“Lion”, the hip-hop artist utters,
as if unsure what language should spill from
its pink tongue colossus.
“Aslan” comes the epiphanous reply.
The guinea fowl & geese
(& all the other creatures great & small) cannot
endure the look of astonishment on
the hypocrites face; a statue itself.
But the little (whatdayacallit?)
‘girl’ just smiles & repeats
the mantra, over & over; “Aslan”, “Aslan”,
as if it were the most common place thing
for her to do in the world.
The Hippocratic oaf blinks once, twice, stubs
out its flaming twig & boards the bus.
The rest of its’ pack does the same.
Be verse novelist.
Love. Think. Speak.
Now How Shall We Sing Our Lord’s
Song in a Strange Land?
By the rivers of Babylon
Where we sat down
Yeah we wept
When we remembered Zion
Boney M, ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’
Göreme is a one fluoro-lemon Porsche town
in the grip of pokémon, Kapadoyka FM
(that means endless replays of Boney M’s ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’,
’Ma Baker’ & ‘Rasputin’) & European skin
sun-warped as a vinyl record, scratched with Top 40,
Celtic armband tattoos, unimaginative as AM radio.
On a street curved as the accordion spine of a dog,
three workmen dig up a cobble-stoned thoroughfare
& Baldwin wonders what the transfiguration of this post-modern archaeology will be, as his steel-capped Blundstone’s pulverise shards of Assyrian pottery,
faded imprints of imperial basilisks; the peep, peep, peep
of day-old chicks pushes an overheated Swiss tourist
into molesting his brand new Nikon –
for the ‘pervert the ancient Eastern civilisation‘ button,
an extra bitontheside he picked up in ‘Little India’ Singapore’s contorted shopping sex-space.
Later, in the UNESCO funded, world-heritage listed,
early Christian underground monastery, open-air
museum complex, Baldwin comes face to face
with the mutilated visages of Jesus, Mary, St George,
St Barbara, the Archangel Gabriel, St Konstantin –
all the red ochre saints & martyrs from the 4th-13th centuries AD, but hell – he can’t stop fantasizing about sneaking off with Roxanne for a quickie in a cool, secluded fairy-chimney kitchen grotto.
Or maybe it’s the thought of getting busted
by a Japanese (swathed in I love Turkei t-shirts)
tour group that excites him.
Baldwin can’t be sure, but he thinks
there’s something in Göreme’s water,
or maybe it was the whiff of DDT
he got that morning from the council tractor
fumigating carpet-sellers & pumpkin stalls
twisted along Göreme’s main-drag vine.
Anyhow, the more Baldwin hears Boney M
on the radio the more he falls for Turkei –
new Mecca for Mercedes Benz,
John Deere, Coca-Cola & Anime film
students gunning their 50cc mopeds
through Kapadoykian mindscape –
as if they were Akira or Shinji;
Manga frame by frame invincible.
Punch It Chewie
When the wicked carried us away in captivity
Requiring of us a song,
Now how shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a strange land?
Boney M, ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’
The next day Baldwin & Roxanne
seek out Kapadokya’s underground cities
(So Dune, Arrakis, Desert Planet) & visit Selime
where Lucas filmed his Tatooine sequence.
Baldwin annoys Roxanne for hours –
pretends to be Chewbacca, Han Solo’s
9ft Wookiee companion & emits strange
guttural roars, scares the shit
out of an elderly Korean tour group –
the Millennium Falcon
of their hearts punched
on hyper drive.
Ali flicks his cigarette ash out
the car window & points at the last
Hittite King, buried under an anthill
the size of the Sydney Opera House.
Near Avanos, (Ali’s home town) the petal
-thin stratum of Rose Valley liquefies.
As they pass brick & clay water shrines,
the kite-black heat claws at their Eyes
(Western, demonic blue) & summons a djinn
of sweat to suckle at Baldwin’s breast.
The wind carves a Neapolitan immortality;
wards off an impure, cold-rock civilization
with ice in its veins.
“We lost so many words when Attaturk sprung
his language junta & forced the Latin alphabet onto us”,
coos Ali, his soft voice straining above
the six cylinder’s abstract hiss.
“Kapadoyka was never defeated –
not even by the Romans”, he adds
as the ink-dipped ears of a desert fox
pick out the three individual blips
on its air to ground-radar.
They’re surprised too, when an owl
of Artemis alights on a cairn
of lichen-buttered stones & stares
at them in full daylight. Later,
mute stars reverse clumsily out
of night’s garage & a scimitar
of moon hangnails over the dried,
nectarine skin of volcanic mesas,
straight out of Spielberg’s
Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The Kapadoykian salmon landscape
opens up; the tiny bird bones
of ‘otherness’ they fear to choke
on pushed to side of their
No one wears seatbelts on this trip.
Ali Karatas, Baldwin & Roxanne’s
ancient historian cum kilim seller
six months of the year
(his family ensconced in Paris),
fluent in six languages
shakes his black mane in disbelief,
as they fish-tail into Haçi Bektas
at 40mph & attempt to lock
the doors of his car.
“The West sounds like a prison”,
he philosophises, offering Baldwin
a 16mg hit of cigarette.
Inside the tomb of Haçi Bektas Vely,
(Rumi’s teacher) they kiss cool mint
marble doorframes, the silk draped
sarcophagi of Caliphs, Vely’s twelve
Babas & whirling dervishes; then crawl
on their hands & knees, hold babies
aloft to the marble coffin & let peace
flush out their hearts like the sacred spring
of Caliph Ali (Mohamed’s son in law)
as they wait their turn & drink from
the metal cupped mouth of Aslan.
Roxanne rubs the centuries smoothed
limb of a holy tree & weeps,
for they, in the company
of the last of the Hittite King
have laid down this day beside
the Lion of God & lived.
Language Paints That Which
The Eye Cannot See
Whether at Naishápúr or Babylon,
Whether the cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, Quatrain 8
“You can take a photo if you like”,
whispers Ali parting the nicotine
curtain of his teeth during a pause
in the Koranic verses, pin-balling
off the walls of Vely’s 5x5m tomb.
But Baldwin can’t as he delights
in the only moment of his life
when the heaviness of spirit
leaves him: a Sufism liposuction.
“No, its alright Ali, I don’t
need to take a photo, I’ve seen enough”,
intones our hero
as he eases his great bulk
through the tomb’s narrow
aperture; Baldwin, re-birthed
by Haçi Bektas Vely.
These Moments, Tinder Dry
V/O. A chick screams its high
pitch mother/child separation coda.
Cut to. Australian, New Zealand, French,
& American backpackers rising like Lazarui
out of their tree-house sarcophagi. No one
wants to drop a *dickhead here: too much
pine resin & fat, war surplus memories
siphoned into time’s constricted arteries.
Zoom up an ancient Karian pathway
where two halogen-lamp bright wasps alternate
sucking face with a frog carcass, warped as a wet cardboard prayer mat. Extreme close up: they deposit their smartest pre-industrial plans. Secret eggs like bronze coins under the future’s carbonised tongue. Cut to: petite Turkish boys aged seven & nine as they practice life skills behind Kadir’s kitchenette. Set the mood for the audience & build intensity with cinema veřite style camerawork. After a breakfast montage of boiled eggs, olives, tomato, lettuce; drown the hornets in a concoction of water, honey, garlic & fried chips. V/O. Buzzing noises, children’s laughter. Close up sequence. Sacrifices
prodded with plastic drinking straws, those taking too long to die naturally, beheaded with walnut handled pocket-knives. Expose: by pull focus – 21st century’s impatience with clockwork technology & pre-adolescent longing for hair triggers & night-scopes. Cut to:
a juxtaposing wide shot. In a corner of the yard’s eye,
a mother hen leads her chick brood in a quiet revolution under outdoor dining tables – liberates scraps of stockpiled food from the West. Pan to: assorted feral, WW2 allies. Close up on two sweaty backpackers –
a fat guy & his well-toned blonde wife at breakfast.
Fat guy is fascinated as the Turkish boys first lure,
then drown lemon-banded insects in a clay bowl.
Looks deep in thought. No one else seems to notice
these fragmentary struggles. Dissolve to…eight standard issue, blowfly cartridges bandoleered across a dining hall windowsill; their manual death-throes a fast gear change through a teacup saucer of golden honey narcissism.
Same fat guy from before leans against a pine beam – watches a wasp approach the trap in little jerky phrases. Close up on his intense gaze. Track a bead of sweat
as it rolls down his pudgy left cheek. Cut back to:
Turkish boys’ ornate death-camp now abandoned. Extreme close up… wasp wings askew, frayed like defeated battle-standards: (V/O) the oracle drowned out by an ox-bone wind-chime’s hollow, self-flagellation.
They are worth capturing:
these moments, tinder dry.
Fade to black.
*dickheads = Dick Smiths’ brand name matches manufactured in Australia.
The Road to Damascus
Stupidly, Baldwin forgot
to pack (or buy ya dickhead!)
any kind of sandal, thong or cheap
rubber made in china surf shoe
for the Mediterranean’s slingshot pebble
beaches. Forgot the entrance fee too,
(3 million lira) for Olimpos’ ancient city
cum national park cum feral tourist hangout.
Had to hobble a hot coal kilometre back to Kadir’s, refusing out of calcified masculine pride,
all efforts by Roxanne to share her size 9 casual,
coming apart slip-ons. This short sighted
& barefoot golem padding gingerly
on his blistered trail to self-retribution.
Turning his nose up at the 6 million lira
asking price for a pair of rubber thongs cut
out of some German kombi’s spare tire.
Forgot to have his stupid fucking
road to Damascus epiphany too.
What does Baldwin
want with the world?
A golden funeral hearse
ornate as Alexander the Great’s.
A sect of his own people to crawl
on their hands & knees & kiss
his tomb for centuries afterwards.
The power to grant their every wish
with the universal andalusia
of his big-boned soul.
What does Baldwin think of the world?
The man with an illuminated cosmology
of moles on his chest, arms & legs
is crying out for more black holes.
Baldwin is woken at 2AM
by a woman’s long, drawn out
orgasm. Has a peek through
the gap in the wooden slats
holding the dorm room together,
but can’t work out whether it’s
self-administered or an assisted.
He rolls over, goes back to sleep
& dreams that Boney M reform
& ask him to be their lead singer.
Two hours later a bantam rooster
shatters his vocal ambitions; cancels
his Madison Square Gardens
Elvis comeback fantasy.
Midnight Express 2
Baldwin is woken at 2AM by
a woman’s long, drawn out howling.
He guesses a drunken headfirst
from a top wooden bunk.
Can’t work out whether she’s
seriously injured or not when
someone drawls at her,
‘it’s ok love, can ya move ya jaw’?
Baldwin rolls over, goes back
to sleep & dreams that Boney M
are caught on a 12ft sloop sinking
off the coast of the Aegean.
He swims out aided by a fleet
of blue & white dolphins from Knossos,
but Boney M disappear before he can reach them;
into a Golden Age, greatest hits Atlantis.
Requiring of Us a Song
Baldwin doesn’t tell Roxanne about
his dreams, but is secretly convinced
that Boney M are recording a new album
in Turkei & makes it his new mission
to track them down. He knows Ma Baker,
Rasputin and the Israelites are all on his side.
But little does Baldwin suspect Dear Reader
that his musical obsession will drag him
down like Alexander’s Makran desert
crossing. What else, Dear Reader,
would you expect from a fucked up,
20th century son of Zeus-Ammon.
A Very Ugly Australian
On the pebble beach at Olimpos,
Baldwin skips 3000-year-old shards
of Mycenaean pottery into the luke-warm
Mediterranean Sea. Only averages three
bounces across the earthquake-ripple
surface as Telamonian Ajax’s best tea-set
disappears into schoolboy prank infamy.
It’s a 5.8 on the Richter scale of archaeological
sacrilege, so Baldwin settles down, his bulk
flaring out like a babyskin beach umbrella
& muses on his list of things to tick of;
1) pissing on the Parthenon,
2) shoving his Holiness the Pope
3) hanging a crap inside the Coliseum
4) putting out fires with cans of Fosters;
Dreams: The Adventures of Baldwin MacKenzie!
On the European continent,
Gypsy children whimper in their sleep,
crushed by the olive press of ockerism.
In Turkei, a sonic hedgehog history
reverberates; a billion pine needles
smother a bronze-age temple complex;
unexcavated, dry, brown polyps zodiac
the trashed ‘City of Zeus’. Tourist pillaged.
The throaty ancestry of a student calligraphist
ejects ‘Allah’ from the Grand Bazaar in his
sheer love for the word. Air force jets spill
the coffee stained morning sky; illegal mobile
phone marketeers whirl collective dervish necks,
whistles push the envelope across Istanbul’s
University Square; sound barriers break with
Chuck Yeager arrogance. An ambulance’s pig wail wallows from a loudspeaker, drowns sunflower litany
face down on the road to Nevehsir; a seed lineage
pepper-cracked by Gypsies’ vine-ripened hands
(& Baldwin thought the only Rom was a spaceknight!)
their calloused mesas a blistered harmony from
the Anatolian clay-pan & beggar girl’s pyrolysis
with a document of wind; her dust-mote vowels
& cigarette butt consonants extinguished by
the Para-gliders’ synthetic falcon hiss;
British swamped Ölüdeniz beachhead.
Good vibrations: prayers of a grandfather,
father & son at a Cape Helles war memorial;
Koranic chant of the Dardanelles campaign;
the snap crackle & pop of an WW1 Australian submarine’s last aural movement.
“Listen to this horror story Baldwin”, demands
Rox, eggshell drifting onto her husband’s seat.
“Another tragic day on Turkei’s roads with a multiple
pile-up of gods & goddesses. Near the stone-age site
of Catal Hüyük, an Earth Mother coach was involved
in a head-on collision with a God Bes hang-gliding minibus
enroute to Mt Ararat. The infamous historical ‘traffic monster’
has claimed even more victims. A shuttle bus carrying the Gods
of Olympus to work between the underworld district of Styx
& the Elysian Fields rolled, killing three muses (poetry,
short story & short film) & injuring twenty-eight other minor cultural deities. A three-headed dog also suffered a severe case
of triple whiplash when its snake tail was caught in the coach’s
vinyl upholstery. In other news, an Indian Tata semi-trailer
carrying a load of 300,000,000 gods collided with a Greek
military minibus in the Indus Valley, resulting in the death
of Alexander’s dream of Pan-Hellenism. One Aristotelian philosopher & one Jain monk were slightly injured. In another incident, a tractor rolled into a ditch near Athens killing a School
of Poetics. In Babylon, a garbage truck backed into a half-man/half-eagle, who was pronounced dead on arrival at the King Darius III hospital. In more news, Helen of Sparta lost control
of her Aphrodite 1250Y sedan & collided head on with Paris,
son of Priam of Troy. The resulting accident caused a 5000-year old blackout of her adopted city. In late breaking news, a school bus has collided with a motor home travelling on the wrong side of the Bifrost Bridge. The elderly, one-eyed bus driver died instantly. The driver
of the motor home, one Jesus ‘JC’ Christ has been charged with dangerous driving resulting in death and driving an unregistered vehicle.”
“Is the God Bes that little guy with the huge erection, Rox?”
asks Baldwin, his face radiant with juvenile delight.
Roxanne sighs, puts the newspaper down & flicks
some uncooked egg white onto the side of her plate,
“Yes dear, little guy, huge dick, you’re dead right.”
“Great let’s get a postcard of him & send it to your folks,
they’ll love it. Tell them we’ve taken up nudity as a religion!”
“Glad to see your mind’s on holiday too dear” she replies,
as Baldwin stuffs two hardboiled eggs into his mouth, simultaneously, his Godfather cheeks aglow.
The Rage of Roxanne
“All those AD emperors were fuck-ups”,
declares Roxanne over a lunch of eggplant
& tomato salad, Şiş kebap & apple tea.
“Domitian was a half-assed giant baby/Michelin man composite! Severus had wing nuts for ears. Commodus looked like a Kings Cross pimp. Caligula could pass for a Bangkok transgenderist. Sulla thought he was the God Bes on viagra!
Real men lived in the BC. Diomedes, Agamemnon, Menelāos, Hector, Achilles, Patroclus, Telamonian Ajax, Odysseus, Ramses II, Tiglath Pilaser III, Cyrus, Xenophon, Darius I, Kallimachos, Xerxes, Leōnidas, Themistokles, Epameinōndas, Pericles, Parmenion, Philip II, Alexander (your sweetheart honey!),
Croseus, Ptolemy I, Seleukos, Mithridates….”
Roxanne trails off at the look of incomprehension
in the eyes of Baldwin & Omar, their new ‘friend’
cum carpet-shop salesman. Baldwin, pretends to size
up a bright orange kilim (with mother goddess hands-on-hips Armenian design), gives it a tug with his salami fingers
& is about to ask how much…when Omar butts in.
“Please Sir, Mr Baldwin. How do I get to Aussie & find
a gorgeous, intelligent, woman like your beautiful wife?”
Baldwin hesitates, traces the outline of a tent
door with his left index finger before he replies.
“Oh.. didn’t you know Omar – in Australia,
women glow & men chunder. Can’t you hear,
can’t you hear the thunder? You’d better run,
better take cover!” he philosophises –
one anaconda arm circling Roxanne’s
washboard obliques, the other, toying
with Omar’s camel-man consciousness.
Samos Ferry: A Comparative
The Turkish teenage boy –
Mustafa Kemal’s figurehead for a western future,
leans out over Kuşadasi’s rubber-barnacled jetty,
blesses three huge bass with a rosary of sardine
baited hooks. Baldwin can find nothing particularly Hemingway about this scene (no ‘The Old Man
of the Sea’ fingers cut to shreds hangin’ on for dear life),
though there is blood – a doctor’s pinprick from
the hook of a previous haul’s last rites, consecrated
on Poseidon’s concrete & tire altar.
Hooks a big one this boy, draws it to the surface,
arrow straight with delicate curette fingers –
but the line snaps, the last breath of a bowstring
failing its Cretan master. The boy flaps madly
about (Gollum, Gollum!) for a few seconds & chokes
on the fine asbestos dust of luck’s decaying superstructure. Spying Baldwin & Roxanne astride
their backpacks the fisher boy spreads his hands
wide as Heracle’s Gate. The proportions of failure universal in everyone’s body language;
the hydra that got away now ultra-hip
with its new pierced lower lip.
Ionia, dissects the cultural slips
cordon of our two intrepid travellers
Dear Reader, as the Samos ferry cuts
air with diesel. Eros (ala John Travolta
in Urban Cowboy) waves goodbye from
the saddle of his bronzed, bronco
dolphin under glass in the Ephesus
As Baldwin & Roxanne fade out,
backpacks weighed down with stolen
pottery, the boy rejoins his brother
Argonauts on a docked trawler,
goes back to hunting for Proteus
as Turkei’s future shape-shifts
at the end of the 20th century.
A breaking of surface tension
the only mythology here.
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.
Homer, The Odyssey
And now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.
Constantine P. Cavafy, Waiting for the Barbarians
The Curious Noise of History
The world is young with very light, paper flakes
made of torn poems and torn flags
The curious noise of history
blows in from the outside
ruffles the pregnant collar
of Yannis Ritsos’ patchy suit
coat stuffed with poems spilt
from the camp’s granite mouth.
The “I” of the lyric smuggled
out of memory, impregnated
with the poet’s rock-dust;
the tips of his fingers worn down
with human ink. An extension
of the pick’s blunt causality.
Poets, writers, intellectuals
garbed in words for the first time.
These inmates of language,
origamied with rhythms mechanical
as lice. The syllabic irritation
scratched breath by breath under
a woollen ignorance. The fibrous,
organic response to the curious
noise of history. To the Dead
Sea Scrolls extravaganza, hidden
inside standard prison issue
You Talkin’ to Me?
A mirror ball of pigeons rotates
out of the herbal discotheque, in front
of the National Archaeological Museum.
On Athinas street, trolleybuses hustle for a hit
of electricity & play chicken with pedestrians,
pickpockets & the All American tour groups lined
up in neat rows like D-Day war graves.
‘Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold & what the hell was the other one?’ muses Baldwin as he waxes visual on the museum steps,
waits for Roxanne to finish her Mycenaean inspection
& checks out the Greek women hidden under layers
of 70’s electric blue eye shadow. Fake Levis excavate holes in the sediment of bronzed Athenian midriffs,
while across the intersection, Jeff Koons exhibits 50 photo albums shaved in half & sunk in formaldehyde
laced fish tanks.
All gorgeous Greek islands/white buildings/blue Aegean holiday snaps plus a special b/w insert of Jeff cumming over Pallas Athena’s pathetic face; polaroid semen glued
to the West’s incestuous family history. Let’s call it;
Ionia’s Greek Adventure & sell at Sotheby’s for a cool,
US$2 million. Martin Scorsese would love Athens too, swallows Baldwin. So 70’s. Such a non-threat of AIDS, disco/flares/no risk fuck fantasy. Especially Ormonia
& the YHA straight out of Taxi Driver – an oracle
for pimps, prostitutes, junkies & tabloids; a woman suckling both a baby & a piglet, the Marlboro Man jerking off over a leathery Montana sunset, gimmicky pokémon dildos, more street pornography than you could poke
a thunderbolt at, green space aliens (more Visitants eh John?) goin’ the grope – tentacles tweak perfect sets of pink,
lift button sized nipples & a Parthenon of cigarettes nestling between Western civilization’s abundant cleavage. ‘Democracy’ Dear Reader, has never felt harder than this.
Fuck on This
In the mirror stage
of his YHA development,
Baldwin, boxer short clad,
sucks in his gut & draws two
hand-guns from the imaginary
calf-skin holsters slung under
his ribcage & repeats Travis
Bickle’s 20th century mantra;
“You talkin’ to me?”
“I don’t see anyone else here,
you must be talkin’ to me?”
“You talkin’ to me?”
“I’m faster than you.”
“Fuck on this.”
Roxanne, toothbrush in mouth
gives Baldwin an atomic wedgie;
cut lunches his imaginary-real
gun-toting masculinity; the red
chamber of his scrotum revolves:
unmanned by the white-armed
goddess on her imperial throne.
Another Fucking Recidivist Poem
In Athens of all places, Baldwin
now 3 kgs slimmer breaks down, turns
on Roxanne like a dingo hooking food
out of a Fraser Island tourist’s trustworthy
mouth. How did Lorca describe this?
‘Death has covered him with a pale sulphur
& has placed on him the head of a dark minotaur’.
Snaps at Roxanne with his great architrave teeth; fountains of saliva spool through Syntagma’s
labyrinth of cobble streets. His half-oxen nervous
system reacts poorly to the Athenian traffic; hooves
stall on gutters, nostrils backfire at Romany children asking for map directions, selling packets of tissues,
tablecloths of Linear A, Minoan weave. Sometimes,
a stark monochrome eyesight comes in handy.
Poking his head, horns & all inside Johnston’s
real ‘blood aquarium’, Ormonia’s fish market,
Baldwin begins to understand a little
of the travel monster he’s become.
Dehorned that morning, tears pumped
out of his head’s air-con unit; fish scales glittered
on Roxanne’s chopping board skin – but hey,
Dear Reader, this is Greece after all & some
long-haired Achaean rides in on a Honda scooter,
lighter in hand (a red plastic one with Bitch stamped into it)
& sweeps Roxanne sic Helen off her feet.
Baldwin shies away from this hero – flicks
his shit-caked tail from side to side, walnut eyes ripened with fear as the majestic Theseus knocks him arse over, spilling blue shadow over the median strip’s gaping wound. Baldwin picks himself up, brushes
his hide clean of their mythic scents. Brushes
& picks himself clean as bone.
“Geez, Rox I really gotta piss!
That beer I had at lunch’s gone
straight through me & there’s never
a fucking toilet around when you need
one!” discourses Baldwin gazing
up at the Parthenon’s chipped
& bullet stained carapace.
“Fuck, if only Pericles could see this…
have a fucking spak attack he would,
besides it’s all roped off & there’s too
many bloody American tourists
tramping all over the place…let’s go!”
Baldwin about faces & almost
collides with Roxanne’s delicate
“Baldwin, we’ve only just got here.
You should’ve gone when you had the chance
at the restaurant. I’m not going anywhere,
I’ve always wanted to see this place.”
Baldwin screws his face up & clenches
his thighs together like a shot-putter
winding up for a throw.
“Honey, now means now. I’m not gonna
survive for long. Look I’ll go around the back
where there aren’t too many people.”
As Baldwin shuffles off, Roxanne,
incredulous, starts to orate at her
“Baldwin, what are you doing? You
can’t just take a leak behind the world’s
most famous classical monument. This
isn’t home you know…you can’t water
the garden whenever you like…do you
A little later Baldwin returns, a smile
spread across his meaty oligarchic lips.
“Ah that’s better Rox…you know
if there was an Olympic event for
urinating I’d be the Andre the Giant
of the sporting world.”
Roxanne doesn’t reply, just wonders
how she can ostracize her husband
from his association with the WWF
(World Wankers Federation).
(Roxanne daydreams on Crete).
There, that island crouched down
ready to pounce on the blue Mediterranean
bull, raising salt-dust off Crete with its stampede
of breakers; that’s a granite panther of some kind.
Not the Eastern winged variety that hovered like an engorged dragonfly over Babylon’s Hanging Gardens – but wingless, as in the carved relief’s that stalked across the Parthenon’s archaic pediment. No, not the new monument raised by Pericles to Pallas Athena either –
the earlier one, Geometric period frescoed with giants, harpies, tritons, snakes, deer, lions, bulls & of course panthers.
You can see the big cat’s muscle tone clearly;
the sun-dial snout pointed, a flick of bluff ear,
ridge of terracotta neck, burial mound of shoulder, terraced spine jagged as a grave stele, haunches (inc. paws, knees & ankles) anchor strong. A proverbial 1970’s Bridgestone Cat as a single promontory of claw
extends down to a bay’s water dish.
This manx of the Minoan imagination.
Formless now, occupied by a litter
of blind poets mewling to be fed.
(Baldwin daydreams on Crete).
Like Dionysius I & II of Greek Syracuse
Oh, to be a tyrant of wine, women & song
Now that’s a career path even I could choose,
Free from that oppressive bureaucratic pong.
“Oh my god Baldwin! Can you believe
this fucking monstrosity?” spurts Roxanne
as they enter the dark age of Knossos,
pushing past the tacky souvenir shops
to the Palace of King Minos, jailor
of the mythic long-horned bastard
child, killed by Theseus.
“Yeah, Arthur Evans didn’t
scrimp on the concrete did he Rox?”
suggests Baldwin surveying
reupholstered red/black columns.
“I can’t believe this place. Do these
fucking idiots think this is authentic?”
retorts Roxanne mock-punching
a copy of a blue porpoise frieze.
“I dunno Rox. But there sure are
a lot tour groups here. C’mon, girl
let’s beat em’ to the throne room!”
Seizing her by the wrist, Baldwin
scoots through columns of clammy
tourists, oblivious to the death-stares
served up by elderly Americans intent
on yet another Kodak conquest.
“Hey, whaddya think ya doing son, barging
in like that? This is my place in the line!”
“The Minoans were here long before you
Americans mate, & we Aussies helped defend
Crete back in WW2, so as the Fonz used to say –
SIT ON IT! EHHHHHH!”
“Don’t you speak to me like that you little smartass!
I got the Silver Star & the Purple Heart at Normandy
don’t you lecture me on saving Europe. I paid my dues
for freedom, I paid for this tour & I’m the first in line!
Got it, boy? BESIDES YOU & THE MINOANS NEVER HAD THE A BOMB DID YA?”
“No offence Superman, but you can stick your medals & your NUCLEAR WEAPONS up your snooty yank arsehole!”
“Baldwin! Stop behaving like a child & stop fighting
with a war veteran. NOW! I MEAN IT!” fires
Rox, her face sparkling Minoan ruby.
“Is there a problem here?” asks a plainclothes
security guard; mirrored Raybans reflect
Baldwin’s indefensible beachhead.
“This lard ass tried to push in front of me!” spouts
our veteran, wiping his USS MISSOURI baseball
cap across a cherry glazed & bald-eagled head.
“Is that so sir, then you will have to come back tomorrow
please. Thank you leave at once. GO SIR…NOW!”
Baldwin, mouth ajar, stalks past rows
of bemused Yankee tour groups who
add their ALLIED send offs. Such as;
WAY TO GO JOHN GOODMAN, OR
NN NN NN NN FATMAN, FATMAN,
FATMAN & HEY! THERE GOES THE
Baldwin, trembles with rage
walks out into a labyrinth
of Cretan sunshine – Roxanne
strung out along behind him.
As one, they bull-leap
into the nearest ouzo bar.
Some Versions of Mythological
(Somewhere in Baldwin’s dreams).
‘VANILLA ICE ICE BABY. VANILLA ICE ICE BABY’
What the fuck do they know anyhow –
those effeminate gods?
Girls the lot of them. Take my dad.
He fucked off faster than you could say ‘labyrinth’.
He got his rocks off sure – can’t blame him, Queen Pasiphae was
a looker alright, but when he saw
the outcome – me, well he pissed off quicker than a bucket
of sea urchins in summer.
What are you staring at? Take a picture it lasts longer!
Oh shit! You don’t think that Minos’ white bull was my father, do you?
For fuck’s sake! Only the earthshaker himself could give me a physique like this! Seen pecs like these before have you?
Those two wankers were in here
the other day – Daedalus & his idiot son Icarus. Geez, that boy’s thicker than two planks.
Scared the absolute crap out of them didn’t I?
There they were, stickin’ feathers onto each other – mad as a pair of cut snakes & BOO! Out I jumped.
I swear that boy shit himself!
Had myself another little visitor too didn’t I? Aw… shit that was good! She was pretty keen on the old fella –
if you know what I mean! Likes them real long & strong!
Just like in that song.
You know, ‘MY ANACONDA DON’T WANT NONE UNLESS YOU GOT BUNS HON!’
Ah… when get out of here I’ll marry that girl. Left this ball of twine as a present didn’t she.
Said she’d come back real soon.
Told me another group of sacrificial lambs were on their way from Athens – including King Aegeus’ snobby son. Theodore… no… Themisticles… no… ah whatever!
I won’t be kissing any royal Athenian arse in a hurry!
‘WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?
WHO? WHO? WHO? WHO?’
where’d I put that nailbrush?
Being Driven to Matala by Martin Johnston
(Roxanne daydreams, the “Sea Cucumber” in her lap).
Martin’s eyes are oiled to the road, fixed
behind kalamata black, horn rimmed glasses;
lenses smudged as the Phaistos disc
with a hieroglyph of white clay dust;
a delicate history of fingerprints.
His smile falls open like a slim volume
of poetry as the bus hugs a tight Cretan
corner forcing hire cars to abandon
the Post-Palatial road.
His long, dark-glaze hair nestles
like a Minoan steatite headdress
just above his shoulders. A pale
fresco of beard illuminates his face,
waits for some mythologist
to piece it all together.
To reconstruct the throne-room
of his thought with cheap concrete fact.
But Martin just shifts up a gear, rides
high above all the conjecture on his blue
monkey vinyl seat, talks to the conductor
over his shoulder, the Linear alphabet
of their discussion indecipherable
to his passengers – their tourist eye
caught analysing the Californian post-modern
windmills perched like white bull’s horns
on a beehive of hill.
An olive grove has sunk its bronze fishing
hook roots into the temple complex of Gortys,
but Martin keeps the bus cranking along nicely,
pats a statue of Pan with a sea cucumber sheathed
like an ultramarine condom over its horse-sized phallus.
Martin grins even more, takes another long drag on
the cigarette writhing in his right hand like an alabaster snake. Puts his foot down on the accelerator –
pushes the bus’s stained glass lexicon to the max.
Baldwin & Roxanne sway into Matala,
jostled by his mechanics of rhythm.
More Swamp Riddles
On the way back to Iraklio
Roxanne notices that the bus
is being driven this time
by Robert Adamson.
Softly Multiplying In An Ideal World
On an Imprint literary calendar
circa 1990, George Johnston
& Charmaine Cliff relax together
on a single bed, their typewriters
considered as bee-traps fall gently
onto their 1940’s permanent pressed
slacks. Words drone out of them
six days a week. On the seventh,
they bit off more than they could
chew; trapped a hydra instead.
Flesh for Frankenstein
On Red Beach, Matala, Baldwin’s
gaze is drawn inexorably to the slim
forty-something German man who
patrols in front of the bronzed Euro
sunbathers. It’s not his utter absence
of clothing, mid-range uncircumcised
penis or even his oiled & hairless body
that capture’s our hero’s imagination.
It’s not even the way his mirrored
fighter pilot sunglasses survey the ex-pat
Anglo scene Terminator style & pick out
the innocent Australasian backpackers
who trudged 45mins over a goat track
veined mountain just to be perved on.
Or the way the man (the splitting image
of Udo Kier from Warhol’s ‘Flesh for Frankenstein’
& ‘Blood for Dracula’ movies) pauses, hands
on hips & eyeballs each new visitant, then
skips satyr nonchalantly from rock to rock,
crimson sand bejewelling his muscular calves.
What captures Baldwin’s eye are two words
in English, (our universal decadent language)
scrawled in black letters over his buttocks.
One word for each burnished cheek.
“Do you think that’s oil or water based paint, honey?”
asks Roxanne twisting her thumbnail
into Baldwin’s wrestler proportioned bicep.
“Ow! Stop it Rox. What? GOD’S RIFT?
That’s very existential isn’t it? So cultured. Man’s
eternal division with God. I’d say its probably water
based body paint darling, you know, impermanent like us” philosophises Baldwin, his fingers inching
towards Rox’s black lycra bikini strap.
“No dear, look closer”, intones Rox, as the nudist
pleased with at last being someone’s centre of attention flexes his gluteus maximus billboards at them.
“Oh shit!” Baldwin exclaims. “GOD’S GIFT!
& I thought he was being clever & European! How
self-centred can you get? With that amount of publicity,
I’m sure he’s only God’s gift to himself – therefore Rox,
oil based paint for a loser who must really need it bad.”
“Hi there, how’s it hanging?”
blurts Roxanne, refocusing
on clipping her last piece
of painted toenail hanging limp
as a renaissance fig leaf.
Blood for Dracula
Inspired by Alexander the Great’s oiled
& naked libation before Achilles’ tomb at Troy,
Baldwin surreptitiously removes his boardies
then after gathering the necessary willpower,
(with many furtive glances up & down the beach
at his brotherhood of white backpacking butts) strips
off his red Calvin Klein g-string undies. Rolling
onto his stomach, Roxanne rubs tanning lotion
onto his aircraft carrier sized posterior.
“Enough space here to jot down ‘The Iliad’ darling,
& perhaps even ‘The Odyssey’ too,” she muses,
rubbing grains of fine sand between her thumb
& index finger. Her gentle pressure – the first
sublime act in a red giant’s birth.
Baldwin, our big-boned household god
camps on the grounds of the Heraklion
Archaeological Museum – digs the left
toe of his Blundstone boot into
the marbled staircase & elucidates,
“Hey Rox, how much gold leaf
do you think they’d need to wrap
me when I’m dead, eh?”
“Honey” replies Roxanne, applying
a fresh coat of apple scented lip balm,
“Not even the gold reserves of Fort Knox
would begin to capture your unique majesty…
take your weak chin for instance”.
“Alright my pretty little Clytemnestra –
stab me where it doesn’t hurt!”
“But you asked for it, Oh, Son
“What about a marble bust then?”
“Sugar, you’re larger than life already.”
“How will you remember me then,
my terrible, white-armed goddess?”
“By the size of your life insurance policy, dear…
as priceless as the Mask of Agamemnon,
as legendary as the Trojan Horse,
as infamous as Achilles’ fucked up heel!”
Baldwin squints up at his wife,
hovering gargoylesque over him.
“When I go, you’ll be thrown onto
my funeral pyre, you one-eyed witch!”
Baldwin, about to extrapolate
further jerks around abruptly
as footsteps skid on the gravel
“You know what kind of sound
that is, Nero…know by now
the footsteps of the Furies”,
quotes Roxanne, her
Saronic green eyes paralyse;
this emerald & gold wasp.
The Rage of Achilles
A black cloud of grief came shrouding over Achilles. Both hands clawing the ground for soot and filth, he poured it over his head, fouled his handsome face and black ashes settled onto his fresh clean war-shirt. Overpowered in all his power, sprawled in the dust, Achilles lay there, fallen…
Homer, The Iliad
(Baldwin daydreams, “The Iliad” on his lap).
What was the real reason
behind his rage eh, Dear Reader?
Achilles, the prince of war,
King of the Myrmidons,
son of Thetis & Zeus, comrade in arms
of ill-fated Patroclus – slaughtered
like a new spring lamb in the ninth year
beneath Priam’s salmon-pink granite walls.
That one, hah!
Didn’t stand a chance did he,
Dear reader? Or listen to the orders
of the great runner Achilles –
headstrong youth on ecstasy for war!
The distant deadly archer unbuckled
the straps of his breastplate
like a red-hot lover. A cavity
search of the Achaean soul
conducted right there in front
of the massed ranks & Hector,
vainglorious Hector, claimed Achilles’
bright armour & the kill. Patroclus,
hamstrung by Apollo’s efforts, knew
he was a dead man before his
burnished helm hit the ground.
What did Alexander the Great
feel when he came to this part,
Dear Reader, as he quoted from memory
to his favourite, Hephaistion, the uncut
red wine sunk deep into their bellies
like bronze-tipped spears?
Or Julius Caesar, as he leafed
through The Iliad, in rapture over
his baby son Kaisarion, coming
across the prophetic line, twisted
later by Augustus’ privy councillors:
‘It is not good to have too many Caesars’.
Julius the father erupted suddenly,
threw off his bed sheets, a dread
nausea rocketing into his stomach
the night before he purchased
Agamemnon’s inglorious fate.
The great tactician gripped
by a universal masculine rage.
What did the longhaired hero
of the Greeks feel then, sitting
on the beach pouting in front
of his black beaked ships; the son
of Peleus howled like a child when
they finally brought him the news.
Patroclus dead! Knew, his chance
at old age & mediocrity were gone.
Vamoose! Knew too, that pigeon-
holers would be out in force,
his good name appropriated by
myth-makers & by iron-age media
tarts desiring to shore up the popular
vote in some marginal, rural seat
in Argolis. His name used too,
by a gentle philosopher in desperate
need of a fin de siècle publicity stunt.
What was Achilles rage then
Dear reader? An ageless,
auteur quandary, I’d say.
The rights to his epic story
he would never see.
The Face of Agamemnon
Not having looked upon the face
of Agamemnon doesn’t particularly
worry Baldwin, but standing
in the beehive scooped out tomb
to the King of the Mycenaeans;
(the arsehole leader of the combined Greek
armies at Troy, so Rox says) he is tragically
aware of his own lack of an historical
oeuvre, of the tomb’s entrance propped
up with flimsy bolts of wood & iron;
like Dreamworld’s Lost Gold Mine ride
on the verge of collapse. Baldwin snaps
off a photo anyway – realizes later
that his Canon was on the wrong setting
(night instead of spot, you idiot, agreed Roxanne)
& escapes his entombment
as more tour buses descend;
fat tourist drones open the bomb-bay
doors of their economical scent, seduce
the mind’s dark honeycomb
Callisthenes, or On Mourning
How does a historian die?
When it came to my turn, I refus’d.
Proskynesis be bugger’d!
Why should I kiss my fingertips
& blow them at the curly-hair’d tyrant dress’d
like some powdered, Iranian whore? Come off it!
So, up I get, still wantin’ to pay
my respects when some beefcake points
out my ‘so-call’d’ misdemeanour.
Turn’d his cheek away from me,
Wouldn’t even look me in the eye,
& after all I’ve done for him!
His Companions lov’d that!
Thought it was fuckin’ hilarious.
So I gave him a serve on the spot.
Turn’d on my heel & left the party
poorer by a kiss.
Back in the hot seat again.
The cup came around; an undiluted Chinese whisper & I told Hephaistion; ‘I’M NOT DRINKIN’ THAT SHIT
AFTER ALEXANDER AND THEN NEED
THE GOD OF MEDICINE NEXT!’
Glar’d at me didn’t he?
Like I’d kill’d his father
Told me that I’d better be more careful around the Son of Zeus-Ammon!
Hah! ‘The Son of Zeus-Ammon’
I said to him.
‘ALEXANDER & ALEXANDER’S ACTIONS
DEPEND ON ME & MY HISTORY!’
Tell you what. That shut him up.
Tighter than a Delphian
It was the kids who let me down.
Should’ve realis’d they’d squeal
to save their own hides.
Ah, Antipater my best student –
look what they did to you.
How I wish to Hades their idiotic
plot had work’d.
It was that Syrian prietess
that sav’d him. With her shriekin’
& goin’ on. ‘GO BACK TO YOUR WINE’
she howl’d, mad as a moon-wolf
Ah cousin, can you hear me now,
back in Greece, safe as houses?
I’ve stirred up a pot of shit,
I can tell you. Pruned the last
olive grove in my thick wooden head.
Cous – the deeds of Alexander
finish with me.
How does a historian die?
- tortur’d & hang’d
- bound in fetters for seven months
- & or died of disease
- maim’d limb from limb (ears, nose & lips cut off!)
- shut in a pit with lion
- slipp’d some poison in pity (thanks Lysimachus).
& you all still think
this man is great?
Some More Versions of Mythological
I am still the one who writes the poems.
Martin Johnston, The Recidivist
(Roxanne dreams, “The Typewriter
Considered As A Beetrap” on her lap)
Martin, you are as mythic
as the Cyclops now – a legend
poet-fathers tell their daughters,
full of anxiety for Polyphemus
& the classical world.
You don’t want to know what
Walt did to the myth of Hercules.
Um… they made Hera his mother
& let’s just leave it at that!
They’re putting out everyone’s
eyes with the sharpened stick
Like in that 80’s British film,
Withnail & I, when Danny
the drug dealer says,
‘They’re sellin’ hippy wigs
in Woolworths man & as Presumin’ Ed
here constantly reminds me,
we have failed to paint it black’.
We never got to Hydra. Only Crete.
You put us onto the abomination
of Knossos, but we don’t blame you.
It wasn’t your fault. Arthur Evans
rolled in the concrete to prop up
a 19th century reading of the Minoans,
patched up the West’s first memory
of baby blue. Hey Martin, you’ll
be pleased to know that they’re
still doing it! In our shootfirst
&askquestionslater Reality TV,
World’s Worst Cultures!
Your redemption arrived with our
confrontation with the Phaistos Disc.
Just as you described it in, To The Innate
Island. An absolute mind-fuck. (Pardon
the French, Dear Reader but you know what
I mean) You set it all up. The way we
were supposed to interpret the fabled Disc.
I’m working from memory now. You see,
we still haven’t developed the film
from our travels. You mentioned fish,
a scaled helmet, mailed courier –
I’m sure these symbols were all there
– if I could draw, I’d have sketched
them down, but you know, language
paints that which the eye cannot
see (Thanks Yannis). They probably
didn’t even turn out, those shots.
You’re supposed to shoot through
glass at an angle & I can’t remember
to what degree I did.
Martin, I don’t think you failed
to decipher the Disc. Instead,
you somehow managed to glue your
image onto it. A stone holograph
cleverdick! I found your glyph,
near the centre of the Disc, just
where it disappears into infinity.
You wove yourself into the Great
Spiral Nebula, didn’t you?
Became neutrino confetti, flooding
the world with your cosmology
of thought. Perhaps it was a trap –
perhaps the Dorians picked it up
& used it as a frisbee. Who cares
now anyway? Only you & John
& an old blind poet have passed through
the gates: through time & words:
spinning onto the Disc.
“All the great heroes came here
to beg & grovel, you know Baldwin”,
lectures Roxanne, pointing out
the Temple of Apollo’s last couple
of Corinthian canines hanging by
a thread in the mouth of history.
“Heracles, when Hera sent him mad
& he burned his own wife & children
to death. Themistokles, after
the Battle of Marathon when the first
Persian expedition led by Darius
was routed & Alexander, before
the onset of his great conquest
of Asia Minor.”
“You know what Rox, I was reading
one of your literary journals –
(Easterly? Gunpowder? Underland?
Coat? Embargo? Cool? Maglite?)
& this fella was talking about
a new movement in poetry.
What did he call it?
That’s right – Oraclism!”
“Oraclism. What the hell’s that?”
“I think it’s got something to
do with being the mouthpiece or
a conduit for time or history or something.
I forget what he was trying to say.”
“Sounds like contemporary poetry alright,
obscure as fuck or drenched in lyric sentimentality!”
“Sounds like somebody’s got a problem
with the poetry scene, eh Rox?
Is it because no one will publish your work?”
“Fuck those bastards, they wouldn’t know
a good poem if it came up & bit them on the arse!
So much shit gets published these days…trite, clichéd,
sentimental, self-indulgent, wanky, post-modern
language rubbish that passes for poetry! There’s no
market for poetry in Australia – no one reads the shit
& the majority of wankers still think that bush verse
is the bees fucking knees!”
“Then why do it, Rox? Why keep on sending
your stuff out, if no one gives a shit? If football,
cricket, American cinema, Friends, Survivor
& Sex in the City are all that people need!”
“Maybe that’s why where here Baldwin, –
in the cradle of Western civilization.
Not for Alexander the Great, not for
some fucked up romantic notion of ancient Greece,
not even to hear what the oracle’s got to say –
because hey, honey – no one’s listening anymore,
its numero uno. It’s 2001: A Personal Odyssey!”
“So why are we here on this mountain freezing our
tits off, when we could be back in the hotel fucking?”
“Because it’s time we all stopped thinking
with our collective dicks dear!”
“Speak for yourself, eh Rox.”
“Oh, believe me Baldwin I am, for
the first time in my life I truly am
& that’s why I write my stupid little poems
& send them off to be rejected by cockheads
who just publish all their friends anyway.
Now, let’s go see the bronze charioteer before
the fucking museum closes.”
Trying to Explain the Significance of a Shooting- Gallery to a Six Year Old.
Do we all fall now like shooting-gallery ducks? There’s a kind of snowdrop that grows, but never flowers, in the lowest circle.
Martin Johnston, In Transit: A Sonnet Sequence
(Baldwin remembers his daughter, Emily)
Panyiri Greek Festival, Musgrave Park,
West End, Brisbane. Umbrellas raised.
Black plinths held against a grey,
contemporary art gallery sky.
A space filled with fleeting
object d’art. Two yellow helium
balloons his daughter aged six
referred to as ‘honey puffs eaten
by the sky’s mouth’. Her first
public metaphor sent a shiver
through the masses. The Medes
shimmering up behind Leonidas.
Leo, the real estate agent
cum ex-state liberal candidate
cum festival MC assured everyone
that Mythas beer was flowing
from the heavens. The plastic world
revolted at his word & made Barbie
their Queen. A 21st century Boadacea
snagged her brollie on someone’s
polyurethane raincoat; dropped it,
left her mark on the earth all
the same. After the Cretan dancers,
where Baldwin told her about
the ancient Minoan sport of Bull-leaping,
she wanted some real honey puffs.
A chaser for the calamari scoffed;
ink tears the size of mini minors
squeezed from giant squid mothers
Into the lowest circle she took him;
sideshow alley, where delicate snow
-drops of goatee, mascara, tongue-piercing,
eyeliner & lipstick were beginning to blossom.
The Octopus crushed children with inertia tentacles
& dodgem-cars planted the first seeds of road-rage.
It was the shooting gallery of ducks though,
that undid him. How could he explain this one away?
The clowns shook all their heads in unison;
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.
Metaphor went AWOL. He shifted
the black polyester wings hunched
over them & cleared his throat
of earthquakes, but nothing came.
It’s what angry people do
to win a big cuddly toy; erupted
suddenly from his mouth, entombed
them both in word-ash. Frozen
in time’s weekend archaeology –
that neutrino confetti effect again.
I know dad, let’s go get
the honey puffs.
For a moment Baldwin looked up,
hunting metaphors that sped away.
‘62 Die as Greek Ferry Sinks in Aegean’
Herald Tribune, September 28, 2000
Paros, Greece. Night.
“Ah for fuck’s sake Rox, I can’t
get to sleep like this. The fucking
music’s too loud! Why the hell do
they have to have a disco at 1AM
in the morning? No one’s dancing –
they’re all watching the stupid fucking
“I know Baldwin, but there’s bugger
all we can do about it. Go & sleep
in the cafeteria if you want. Besides,
Greece just won a gold medal in athletics –
which probably hasn’t happened since
around 400 BC!”
“Sorry Rox, you’ve mistaken me
for someone who gives a fuck! Anyhow,
the only sports they’re showing
on Greek TV are weightlifting
& Greco-Roman wrestling.
“Yeah Romania just won a gold
& silver in the 62kg weightlifting event.
You should have seen the mullets
on those two guys – straight out of the 80’s.
Pure Warwick Capper! Hey, I thought
you’d be into wrestling honey – it’s so Greek.
Alexander & Hephaistion probably
wrestled each other with oil every night!”
“Now, now, no need to get personal, babe.
Homosocial behaviour between men in ancient
Greece was a fashion, not a perversion, alright?”
“Sure, Son of Zeus-Ammon, whatever you reckon!”
“Besides Rox, Alexander took a liking
to lots of different things!”
“Holy shit, did you feel that Baldwin?”
“Fucking hell, we’ve hit something!”
“Jesus fucking Christ. Let’s go, now.”
“What about our backpacks – my statue of Alexander!”
“Leave it Baldwin, just get out
on the fucking deck, okay. Now. Let’s go.
NOW! MOVE YOUR GREAT
FUCKING FAT ARSE!”
Express Samina II
‘Crew Was Watching a Soccer Match
When Boat Hit Well-Marked Rocks’
Herald Tribune, September 28, 2000
Flakes of Minoan blue paint
cling to the undersides of Baldwin’s
fingernails like inverse barnacles,
as three crewmembers haul him aboard
the life-raft; a kraken dredged up
out of archaic western memory.
“Your husband is taking up too much room,
he’s too fucking big!” mutters a steward,
his white uniform translucent as wet rice paper.
“Why don’t you just fuck off & leave him alone, shithead!
You stupid fucking cunts haven’t got a fucking clue, have you?
“Please Madam, your language. There are children here.”
“And there are more children in the fucking water. Now
do your fucking job & rescue THEM, shit for brains!”
Baldwin, squelching in the bottom of the boat
tilts his head up at the sound of his wife
in full verbal assault.
“Ah, that’s my girl, Rox. Give em’ both barrels eh?”
“Baldwin, this is no fucking joke – you all right?”
“Course I am dear – I only swallowed half the fucking
Aegean! Now I know how Lord bloody Byron felt!”
“C’mon, get up. Fuckwit over there
is getting touchy about the amount
of space you’re taking up in his precious life-raft.”
“Fuck that Rox. I can’t move. My legs don’t work.”
“C’mon, move over here then. That’s good.
Don’t you feel better?”
“Better? We just lost everything!
Our backpacks, my camera, your video,
all our clothes & my statue!”
“You’ve still got your money belt on?”
“Yeah, but wet right through, our travellers
cheques & passports will be rooted.”
“Baldwin, I can see people in the water.”
“Don’t worry, they’ll get around
to picking them up.”
“You don’t understand, Baldwin.
They’re dead. Floating in the water.”
“Oh fuck Rox, don’t look at them.
Come here & sit down with me. C’MON!”
“I saw a little girl, Baldwin,
a little girl for Christ’s sake.
No older than Emily. Jesus fucking Christ,
what happened? What the hell happened?”
“Hey, did you see this Rox?
The Managing Director of Minotaur
Lines leapt to his death from a five-story
window in Piraeus, yesterday. He had been
charged with 62 counts of manslaughter…”
“Poor bastard my arse! He deserved it.
Those ferries are thirty years old. None of them
should be operating at all. He’s responsible for all
of those deaths. Every last one of them!”
“I think he did take the ultimate responsibility
upon himself Rox, wax, wings & all.”
“Don’t sweat it honey, there’s an Icarus falling every minute.
Thank your lucky stars that we’re still alive,
still kicking ass & that we took out
the goddamn travel insurance!”
But what is this? Is it Spain again? Universal Andalusia? It is the yellow
of Cadiz, but a shade brighter; the rosiness of Seville, but more like carmine; the green of Granada, but slightly phosphorescent
like a fish.
Federico Garcia Lorca, Lecture: A Poet in New York
Remember this too: all bad
writers are in love with the epic.
Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
Night of the Tongues
That’s how it was
and the awakened earth cast off trembling rivers of moths.
Federico Garcia Lorca, Crucifixion
“Please its starting to hurt!”
From somewhere out beyond the edge
of the Barri Gotic masculine galaxy,
the medieval voyager of Baldwin’s
humanity realigned itself, after
the split-second circumnavigation
of the bartender’s throat glands.
In the hostel foyer, Roxanne held
off four Guardia Civilia with
the muscular incantation of her
tongue, vomited a landscape
of guidebook Spanish, as a neo-Franco
officer took down Baldwin’s
brass-plaque passport details.
“TOURIST – YOU ARE
spits the anarchist graffiti.
Baldwin didn’t take his ostracism well.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Spain aquaplaned
into the wall behind front desk’s head.
Strangely, all the bi-lingual American
students remained Rushmore silent;
checked their email in the common room.
Wrote their reports for the CIA.
Nobody wanted to cross Baldwin’s
absinthe fuelled Brisbane Line.
“We will see you in court tomorrow,
fat-ass!” snapped the bartender,
as the police escorted him out.
“You Spanish cunts can all go & get fucked!”
came the pre-ordained reply.
(from whom do you think, Dear Reader?)
“You have done enough Sir. Please go
to bed now. They will be back for you
in the morning.”
“Just like Lorca, eh Rox! Those bastards
think they’re gonna fuckin’ execute me too,
YA FUCKIN CUNTS!”
Fugitives now, Baldwin & Roxanne
escaped Barcelona on the first morning train
still livid as scar tissue. Miraculously, the death
squads never materialized at the Von Ryan’s Express
ticket counter & Baldwin’s Great Escape fantasy diminished; Steve McQueen, the ice-blue ace of the American 20th century cradled his fragile last words
like moths. From somewhere distant,
(in light years perhaps) Baldwin begins to grasp
the meaning of the Phaistos Disc.
“It’s like Conan the Barbarian
& the wheel of pain, Rox…
the fucking wheel of pain, goin’ around
& around & around forever”, spits our
neo-Andalusian hero, as he sits
on his new backpack in the dinner
car & claws at the bastard
behind his eyes.
The Trench Cleaners
(Roxanne & Baldwin view an exhibition of WW1 photos)
Entrails of steel wool disembowelled
on the polished pink granite floor;
a micro fibre crown of thorns martyred
in the reconquista of public awareness.
A still-blue Jesus crucified without his cross
in Calvary’s new testament Verdun.
Plumes of chemicals fill the trench
nostrils of commuters, backpackers;
a single tear from a penitent Valencian
Magdalene rolls down the station’s
wrought iron cheek.
In her hands, a mobile phone’s
ochre skull cradled like a split
Her eyes raised toward a Heaven,
populated by halos of closed circuit
TV lenses. Outside, blood-stars
sprinkle over nights’ renaissance
cloth & a woman’s ostrich leather
knee-high boots go nova
on the platform; an allegory of time.
Two medusa-haired Spanish punks beg
for their next stigmata of stainless steel.
Their war medals buried in a bottom lip
passing out parade extravaganza. Beaten,
by a two thousand year old tradition
of body piercing.
A Gypsy woman, her wrinkles deep
as the gills of a wild mushroom,
wraps her body into a perfect question
mark on the disinfected floor. No hips
swivelling Matador or St Sebastian
(with seven arrows protruding) attempts
to engage the El Toro of her pain.
Who will paint the fresco of her annunciation?
Some royal blue Minoan bastard perhaps?
The rhythm of the chic shy away from
this dying blood sport & step over the dog shit;
another ritualised unpleasantness to avoid.
To sniff at from an afternoon
in a gallery’s hothouse of images.
Her cubism born out of the First World War’s
social disfigurement (grenade fragments were the best,
splinters of jawbone fed into history’s unholy communion).
In the aerial photographs,
French infantry reattach themselves
to the placentas of shell craters –
the antichrist lifeblood plugged
up with a new movement of men.
How does it all end, this century?
On postcards (ala the famous
Frank Capra civil war headshot)
that will add an out of context
moment to someone’s lifetime
of small talk clutter.
With tourists half deflated
like an Italian dirigible, crashed
out in the Valencia railway station,
watching the trench cleaners
go from aisle to aisle & do
their dirty midnight work.
Huerta de San Vicente
Staring at the bed in which Lorca
was born, Baldwin resists the urge
to jump on it, to test the springs
of twentieth century poetry; notices
instead the Lion motif carved into
the olivewood bed head’s central panel.
More synchronicity. Another trademark
Aslan look-alike that gave a huge
Paramount roar in 1898, but by 1936
had slunk away with its bronze tail
hanging between its scruffy republican
legs. Baldwin lingers, waits for Roxanne
& the tour group to exit the bedroom,
before he sits down on the edge
of the bed & plucks a white goose
quill out of a pillow.
The fat man in Spanish history;
the picture frame of his chest
compressed by slates of glass;
time’s oxidised negatives.
His harlequin tongue,
a feather for grief.
In Fuente Vaqueros, Baldwin
is disturbed by his resemblance
to a shorthaired & sunglass clad
terrorist of the ETA Andalusian
cell, scotch taped to the inside
front bar window of Café Lorca.
Baldwin the desperado.
“The Barcelona Strangler”.
The good, the bad & the ugly
absinthe sculler, still unsure
as to his wanted status, edges
past the flamenco hemmed doorway
into a cadre of teeth, burnt
brown as winter fennel.
A firing squad of Spanish hits
him from behind the bar, but Baldwin,
unable to retaliate in the native tongue
backs instead into a bull fighting poster
& pricks his arse on a trophy Toledo rapier.
More fennel ripens before him; acres & acres
of the withered crop salute his coward’s grace.
Baldwin grabs Roxanne’s hand as she exits
the toilet, flees out the café door before
the farmers & unemployed/under-aged locals
of Al-Andalus can put two & two together.
Before Baldwin’s copper age guilt melts
the Sierra Nevada’s of his cheeks,
a hot muleta red.
The Life & Death of Dust
And when he took off his gloves
A soft ash fell from his hands.
Federico Garcia Lorca, Suicide
(Roxanne dreams of being Lorca)
The ground began to warm up.
The dust, secure in its smallness
in the rise & fall of itself,
over things, people, animals;
left traces everywhere.
Near the edge of the wall
tiny white butterflies
stirred it awake as they
finger-painted the air
with palette knife wings.
That morning when the guards
left the house, rubbing their eyes
& herding the prisoners before them,
a pulse of breeze shot some ash
up the muzzles of their guns.
The whirlwind that followed
made their magazines sneeze;
their clips of ammo cough until
the throats of their barrels
were red raw. Red raw.
The ground began to cool down.
The dust, tired by the day’s
events settled over the film
of Garcia Lorca’s stubborn dead
eye like a matador’s ruby shroud.
Salvador Dali Hunts for Pipis on Bribie Island
While Dreaming of Sea Urchins
(Baldwin dreams of being Dali)
When he was knee high to a grasshopper
the young Salvador Dali, the waxed moustache
still a prickle of hair, was banned from his mother’s kitchen, for the attempted theft of raw meat
tid-bits she left for the village cats.
In despair he turned to rock pools for inspiration.
Digging out shellfish & mussels with the hook
of his little finger. His translucent crab-legs
scuttled back & forth, desperate, for a butter-pan
of crevice to grease into.
It is no great secret where his art came from.
His mother’s overweight scrap bucket.
His detailed menu of every tidal pool & crutch
of metamorphic rock that chiselled out
his apprenticeship of salt.
Years later, on holidays to Bribie Island,
Queensland; leaving his complimentary chocolates
to melt over his verandah, Dali sauntered down
to the beach where he was shown how to hunt
for pipis the Aboriginal way.
His doughy feet dissolved into the sand
with each wave’s fresh bite. The pipis,
undisturbed by Dali’s breakfast appetite
blew voice bubbles, happy in their bi-valve
heritage, glad that they were not blood sausage,
soufflé of elephant or sea urchin.
The Defeat of Poetry
No new age. No enlightenment.
Only a blue horse and dawn.
Federico Garcia Lorca, Nocturne of Emptied Space
(Roxanne & Baldwin have the same dream)
It was a night like this.
The moon a bloated stomach,
stars more numerous than shell casings
as the men who sat around the table
drinking & smoking, signed over
the defeat of poetry.
Six signatures from six men.
By midnight, all the words
had drained out of them.
All rhetoric had fled.
They made a point of digging
fingers into their skulls –
to relieve the tiredness
of their red-rimmed decision.
When it was made at last some
went back to their newspapers,
some took in the night sky
or refilled pipes with dormant
tobacco dreams. Some,
uncomfortable with the idea
(the more squeamish) went & had
a look at the result
of their group think process.
& each time one of them peeped
into the room, the little Andalusian
looked up; the twin suns of his eyes
burned, his breath formed poems
in mid-air. All of which,
evaporated the next morning
when he was led out
into a red dawn.
The Descent of Man
Numbers are the language of nature.
J Bronowski, The Ascent of Man
“How many people died in wars
in the 20th century Rox?” asks
Baldwin, standing at the top
of the Alhambra, surveying Granada
with his cool unmathematical eye.
“Oh, I don’t know Baldwin. What’s
got you so inspired by numbers, eh?
Let’s see if you can count them up.
Two-three million Armenians in Turkey
right at the beginning of the century.
Ten million in WW1. Twenty million
with influenza after WW1 – I’d count them
because of the affect of famine & disease
from the war. About 350,000 in
the Spanish Civil War. Fifty million
as a conservative figure for WW2.
(Let’s see, that’s breaks down into
approximately six million Jews/Gypsies
/homosexuals, eleven million Poles, twenty
million Russians, & thirteen million Germans,
Italians, English, Dutch, Belgian, Czechs,
French, Serbs, Croats, Greeks Americans,
Canadians, Australians, Indians, Japanese,
Chinese etc. etc.). Josef Stalin killed another
Twenty-thirty million Russians himself between
1924 & the mid fifties.
I’d include them too. Probably a million
or more in the partition of India.
The Korean War…maybe three million
Koreans, Chinese, Americans, British
& Australians? I don’t know…but
probably four-five million
in the ‘Ten Thousand Day War’.
“What’s that, Rox I’ve never heard
of that war before?”
“The Vietnam War honey. 1945-1975.
It started in ’45 as a revolt against the French,
then later it turned into a civil war, then
America & her allies got involved.”
“Approximately two-three million
in the killings fields of Cambodia.
Then you’ve got the Gulf War. Maybe
a couple of hundred thousand Iraqis.
Eight hundred thousand in Burundi
& Rwanda in the mid-nineties. Then
you’ve got thousands of Kurds in Turkey
& Iraq. A million dead in the Iran-Iraq war.
The Arab-Israeli conflict since 1949
– again in the hundreds of thousands.
The Balkans conflict – several hundred
thousand there. Then there are the civil wars
in Africa – Angola, Somalia, Sudan, Chad,
Uganda, Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone.
The Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
China’s invasion of Tibet.
Right wing dictatorships & death squads
in South America – El Salvador, Guatemala,
Chile, Panama, Grenada. The Falklands War.
The Kashmiri conflict. Hungary. Czechoslovakia.
Chechnya. Burma. Malaya. Indonesia, East Timor.”
“Do you want me to go on Baldwin?
I haven’t even got to all of the indigenous massacres
throughout the 20th century. But I guess you
can go through them continent by continent
& save some time!”
“So how many is all that my beautiful
but deadly Pythagorean, whose tongue
has the symmetry of a snowflake.”
“Oh Baldwin, how poetic! Wherever
did you come up with that turn of phrase?”
“Um… from some old geezer just before,
when we were in the harem.
He was studying those crazy patterns of tiles
on the walls & came up to me & said that,
‘they had the symmetry of a snowflake
or something wacky like that. Kept on going
on about Greek mathematics & the Moors
& Mohamed & the Dark Ages in Europe.
I didn’t really understand what he meant.”
“Half a billion.”
“What’s that Rox?”
“I’d say at a conservative estimate that
about half a billion people were killed
by war in the 20th century. But maybe
I’m just pulling that figure out of my arse.”
“Out of your sweet arse Rox,
don’t forget that…out of your hot, sweet little ass!”
“Baldwin, you have a one track mind
that’s stuck on repeat, d’you know that?”
“Oh’ I’ve got a mind for figures alright dear,
don’t you worry about that!”
“That’s not what worries me,
Son of Zeus-Ammon, believe me,
that’s not what worries me!”
Baldwin & Roxanne exit the last sigh
of Moorish architecture in Europe;
numbers, the language of nature
crunching in the geometry
of their heads.
Recovering from the Alhambra’s
transubstantiation of numbers & history,
Baldwin & Rox are surprised by two
old Gypsy women; forest dryads that
appear from nowhere, tracing fingers
over Rox’s stomach, gestimating the futures
of our cunning heroes Dear Reader.
“What did they say to you Rox?” asks Baldwin,
grabbing his wife’s azure nail-polished hands.
“Oh you know the usual…that I’ll have three
to four bambinos with a fair handsome stranger!”
“Why, what did she tell you, Son of Zeus-Ammon?”
“Just exactly that Rox. That if I go to India
like Alexander the Great did, then I’d end up
having his short life too.”
“But Jesus Baldwin…we are going to India…
how did she know? Did you tell her about it?”
“No I didn’t Rox…that’s what’s fucking
freaking me out!”
Our two heroes about face to get some
more information from the weird sisters,
but they’ve melted, wicked witch style
into the water fountains, twigs of lavender
& crushed afternoon memories.
The Enigma of Adolf Hitler
In the Reina Sophia, Madrid,
Baldwin can’t help but think;
What are these German tourists
going to make of Dali’s,
‘The Enigma of Adolf Hitler’?
Christ, they’re all old enough to
have been teenagers at the fall of Berlin.
He hovers, his voyeurism driving
the spectre of adolescent ruin
(‘A Tin Drum’ retarded work-in-progress,
isn’t he Dear Readers?) & waits for
the first tear to churn up
the snowdrift of faces
grooved as tank tread.
The gremlin is not disappointed.
“Gott in Himmel Rox”, he barks
out across the gallery courtyard,
juggling two styrofoamed coffees
like WW1‘potato mashers’.
“I should have bought that second-hand
record I found in Athens at the Ormonia
markets you know, ‘German Marching
Songs 1933-1945’. Would’ve been a blast,
back home eh?”
Roxanne, perplexed, chooses
to ignore her obviously insane
husband – burns her upper palate
as an elderly woman collapses
into a bench chair beside her
& weeps; a white embroidered
into her face.
The loveliest sepulchre is that which
is the easiest to remove from the face
of the earth.
Back in the thick of the art action,
Baldwin rips his attention from one
Dali painting to the next as another
search & destroy tour group invades
his personal/surrealist space.
“Not you again fat-ass!” yells
our ‘Land of the Brave’ boy scout,
the USS Missouri baseball cap
pushed down even further onto
the Pine Gap dome of his head.
“Well fuck me if it isn’t the Lone Wanker
back to save the world from mediocrity!
What brings you to Spain, Hemingway?
Come to visit your good buddy,
Franco de fuckwit?”
“You look here shit for brains!
I fought the Goddam Nazis, tooth
& nail in ’44. How dare you call
me a fascist, you sonofabitch.
You weren’t even a twinkle in your
Daddy’s eye when my buddies gave
their lives at Normandy – so don’t
you dare stand there & jerk me off
like I’m some worn out old Priam!
WE SAVED YOUR FUCKING
ASS IN WW2, SO YOU SHOULD
GET DOWN ON YOUR HANDS
& KNEES & THANK ME!”
“Finished making friends eh, Baldwin?”
enquires Roxanne, easing herself
like a loaded .45 into the holster
of her hubbie’s semi-deranged state.
“I’m not fat, you stupid fucking yank.
I’ve got big bones, so eat shit & die!
“Besides General Macarthur, adds
Roxanne purring, you cockheads
stayed out of the war for three years
while we stopped the Germans at
El Alamein & then the Japanese
at Milne Bay! So Mr Hopalong
Cassidy dick for brains, you can
stick your Stars Wars program
& your revisionist modern
American history up your Bill
‘Cigar’ Clinton’s arse &
fuck off while you doing it!”
Einstein, Planck, Dali, Miro
& Picasso couldn’t have put it
any clearer, Dear Reader.
An Allegory of Time
No doubt some thorough American manual
can give you the low down on Europe’s margins
but mine, designed for only one traveller
is better written & much shorter.
Besides, if you remove the art, Europe’s
like the US, more or less a dead loss.
John Forbes, Europe: a guide for Ken Searle
Three ruby jewelled seeds
free fall between the pomegranate’s
cosmetically enhanced skin
& the forefinger of the pre-pubescent
Christ child. This fruit stigmata;
pre-Christian underworld throwback
makes Martin Johnston pause, smile,
& push his glasses back up the long wall
of his nose. His left hand combs through
black shoulder length Velasquez hair, stump
-jumps over a hidden mole’s Doric capital.
His Italian hiking boots squeak like a pair
of Inquisition thumbscrews as he inches
across the polished beech fingernail floor.
Bosch’s demented figures take on more
of that tortured look. Bite down hard
on the afternoon’s touched up flesh.
Further on, St Francis dances on the head
of a leopard & receives Jesus’ crowns of thorns.
& Martin, turning a corner, enters a scene
of true cultural chaos. Two deranged men,
a fat, thirty-something Australian & an elderly
American war veteran jostle each other over
a plumb position to view Picasso’s Guernica..
Martin, distracted by the rush of security
doesn’t hang around to watch the fun.
Splits this sad Western ex-pat scene & skips
casually over the next couple of centuries;
thinks about the five hours he queued once,
to get into the Uffizi Gallery,
& the one hour it took him
to go through it.
Street of the New Cross
Baldwin, slouching on the street
of the new cross, Valencia, listens
to Roger (a Spanish-Mexican avant-garde
poet, photographer & storyteller, whose
grandfather fled Spain for Mexico in 1939)
extrapolate on his city’s past:
“This is where Erasmus the philosopher’s
Uncle, sister & wife were condemned as witches,
hung, drawn & quartered. The house burned
to the ground, the earth salted. A wooden cross
was erected on this spot as a warning to all would-be devil worshippers. Hence its name. Street of the New Cross.
A couple of years later the city fathers of Valencia
offered Erasmus a university post.”
“What did he tell them”, enquires
our thick headed & bull-necked hero.
“To go & fuck themselves of course!”
“This building is where
the Republican government moved
its headquarters after Madrid
was bombed by the Nationalists”,
muses Roger, his fingers bee
busy rolling another cigarette.
“Is it some kind of museum now Roger?”
asks Roxanne, as the tobacco wraps
itself around her shoulders
like a carcinogenic stole.
“Fuck no, Spanish modern history
ended in 1936. They don’t even
teach about the war in school.”
“What’s it used for now then?”
interrupts Baldwin, dragging out
the Canon for a wide angle shot.
“Priests, I think, a bishop or two
& maybe a cardinal. I don’t know
who exactly but some evil fuckers no doubt!”
Baldwin, exiled from the republic
of his self, chooses to agree,
“Yeah, there are evil bastards all over the world.
Just look at Bill Gates. Microsoft will be broken
up for sure & I hope Gore gets in as President.
Can you imagine what will happen if that George
DUBYA Bush retard wins. It’ll be WW3
for fucking sure! C’mon, Rox, Roger, I’ll take
a shot of the two of you…for the posterity
of our new universal republica!”
Plaza de Toros de Madrid
The Spanish say ‘El sol es el major torero.’
The sun is the best bullfighter, and without the sun
the best bullfighter is not there.
He is like a man without a shadow.
Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
The sun had quartered the best
portions of the afternoon & stamped
the barrera with a huge crescent-shaped
piece of shadow, when Baldwin
& Roxanne found their seats.
“This isn’t so bad Rox. We’re not
too close to anyone. Look there’s
the President up in that balcony.”
“Baldwin, my arse is going to kill
me sitting on this concrete. Be
a darling & go & get one of those
cushions for me & a beer too.”
“Sure Rox, what did your last
slave die off, huh? Do you want me
to rub your back for you too?”
“Oh, would you honey, thanks!”
Ninety minutes, six dead bulls
& one cornada later, Baldwin &
Roxanne throw their cushions
into the ring with everyone else;
follow a tragic finale not understood.
“Why did everyone throw their
cushions into the ring Rox?”
“I think because that last Matador
was shithouse – he was going for
his alternativa & failed.”
“His full matadorship or something?
Did you see the way that bull tossed
him over its back? Jesus Christ,
my heart is still racing! Feel this.”
“Yeah mine too. Wasn’t that an
adrenaline rush though? Forget
about extreme sports, bullfights are
the fucking coolest thing out!”
“But did you see the crowd Baldwin?
Everyone looked middle-aged.
I think it must be a generational thing
– it’s probably a tradition that’s dying out?”
“The 20th century’s almost dead Rox.
What’s wrong with people having a little
bit of fun before the next millennium, eh?
What’s so evil about tradition? This
doesn’t hurt anyone. Jesus, these people
have been through a fucking civil war.
Franco only died in 75’ – maybe they
need to relax by killing a few bulls
now & again. Besides we’re not going
to see a bullfight in India now are we?”
“I suppose so Baldwin, but I can’t help
thinking about that poem by Lorca.
You know the one he wrote about
his friend the bullfighter who was too
old but went back into the ring
& was gored to death; ‘Lament
for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias’.”
“You, Baldwin, you remind me of him.
Ignacio. So vulnerable, so larger than life –
I’m not going to let anything ever happen
to you, my love! You know that?”
“I know you won’t Rox. But don’t worry,
I’ll be alright – nothing ever happens to me.”
It’s a place that somehow gets into your blood. Love it or hate it you can never ignore India. It’s not an easy country to handle, and more than a few visitors are only too happy to finally get on to their flight and leave the place. Yet a year later they’ll be hankering to get back.
India, Lonely Planet.
They were worlds apart: the man and woman, the dog and goat, east and west, the black canal and clear water tank. All opposites piled on top of each other, all extremities pumping their struggles out into the heat. What marriage was possible with the chaotic landscape?
Vicki Viidikas, Cuttack (Orissa)
A Pozzolanic Bulk God
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities-ever, however, implacable,
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropriated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages
The fresh scab of a pye-dog
heals over the wounded afternoon.
Didn’t you know that they fuel
trucks in India with pig’s blood;
axle grease is subcutaneous puppy
fat siphoned out & the rickshawallahs
sleep, wrapped in real polyp soft,
Alaskan fur seal. Scratch a shanty
& a pariah kite drops. The industry
of vultures picked clean as Pharsi
bones & carbon 60 poison scams
back fire on the false teeth godmen.
The city is an ultrasound,
& all the spoiled negatives
burn outdoors, outdoors.
Here’s Baldwin & Rox in pregnant
traffic, waiting, watching & waiting,
trying to elope to the Foreign Tourist
lounge, New Delhi Train Station, when
thought’s ceiling fan oscillates through
them: Everywhere the strong, brown gods.
CO2 bleaches their lung’s oyster
bed as a Tata’s steel-belted claws
rends a black hole in the raw tar,
strewn from baskets that smoulder
with lotus. Beside the patched highway,
street-kids rigged with canvas bags,
prise off the hub-cap of time & hawk it.
They don’t know much about gods;
but they know that the semi-trailer
is a primitive, pozzolanic bulk god.
Its chrome Mack fetish, soldered
Sphinx-like to the hooded cobra
of a sacrificial, bitumen altar.
Kalighat recycles the sump of goats
& airbrakes; a throaty afterthought
shatters the awe of smog-busters
engaged for a combustive nanosecond
in the puzzle of a mongrel road-kill.
The fox terrier cross, hardened
into an indecipherable Phaistos
Disc, on the bronze-age shoulder
of a hungry, New Delhi Road.
Both poetry and living illustrate:
Each season brings its own peculiar fruits,
a time to act, a time to contemplate.
Cowpats racked up; cheap
manufactured landmines detonate
in the faces of the low cast; history’s
consensual disfigurement of the poor.
A world away in France, ‘diggers’ from
Ypres strip time of its proper regiment
– the unknown soldier of individuality
reburied over & over again in a public
concretism worthy of its own art gallery.
The West’s private collections all dulled
despite restoration; mass produced
in the ego’s hollow shrine. India
smoulders; Baldwin’s eyes burn.
Thrust deep into Ganga Ma’s glacial
mouth, a red brick spikenard; remains
of a 19th century British rail-bridge,
the attempted industrialisation
of the Godhead. Now a pedestal
to post-colonialism. For the split
second illusion of a child standing
in the mid-stream of consciousness
on the back of a crocodile, jaws
snapping at bus axles patched
with twine – arms extended in mudras;
Don’t be afraid Baldwin for I am
also your mother, extols the whitecap
witness, not a charcoal mascared
child, fool, but a manifestation
of the Supreme Truth – the One,
idiot, Varuna perhaps. Let this
reality stream from your forehead.
Build no new dams to self-knowledge,
oh, Son of Zeus-Ammon. Take all your
Western rubbish with you – don’t
throw it over the side of a mountain.
Here in the foothills of Shiva’s
‘fortress of solitude’, become
your own pop group.
‘Scratch a rock
& a legend springs’1.
- Line from Arun Kolatar’s poem, A Scratch
Behind closed ashram gates,
temple guardians (Dvārapalakas)
morph into Dicky Bird/Ganesha
umpires; raised fingers trumpet
as skull cropped Hindu boys
practice their reverse swing on
a flat cobblestone pitch. Several
gods get in on the action; the Trinity
hold a mid-wicket conference & set
an attacking field, Brahman stays
behind the stumps, Visnu goes
to first slip, Shiva to second, their
3333 manifestations ring the boundary
of potted palms & bougainvillea
(ala Mike Brearley’s one day field
setting circa 1980). The umpires note
this in their match reports & throw
up obstacles to the fielding side’s
path to righteousness all day long;
turn down every leg before appeal,
every bat-pad chance, before
bad light stops all universal play.
The gods gather their gear;
bats, tridents, maces & go home –
faces red as cherries with the effort
of one day enlightenment.
Baldwin adorned with his 5ft
python necklace poses cross-legged
for the eye of the shutter in Roxanne’s
forehead to open – sending a shaft
of blue light into his eyes painted
with fine Ganges river dust.
The snake recoils automatically
into the hands of its owner/manager
& Baldwin, freed of the symbolic duty
lumbers to his feet, Indian children
tug at his Ganatapi proportions.
Hands over the twenty rupee fee;
his Fanta orange tongue hangs out
in a shameful display of earthly
intoxication. The Omega Man,
all on his lonesome.
Padam Shri Nek Chand
In the garden of outsider art;
Nek Chand’s world famous waste
recycled into men, women, children,
fabulous beasts of broken plastic
bracelets – 20 secret, hot years
of Duchampian experimentation
before the City Council caught him.
One man’s private obsession turned out:
this Simon Rodia of the subcontinent,
broken porcelain, tiles, telephone conductors,
bottles, glass, stones; a lingam of garbage
fused into an Indian DreamWorks.
This living gallery occupied by
the Chandigarh poor; more collective
ownership per square metre
of avant-garde art than anywhere
else in the modern world!
The labyrinth of an Eastern Minos,
peopled by homunculi cast from
bed springs & buttons. Padam Shri
Nek Chand – the Tom Bombadil
of India; a nature spirit investing
time & energy in humble roadsides;
in the found object enlightenment
of the 20th century.
In the Garden of Outsider Art
In Nek Chand’s shrine to recycling
Baldwin loses his Western baggage;
a post-pak jerry rigged by Chandigarh’s
finest stationers that could not squeeze
through India’s rigid postal system, it
being three centimetres too long &
Baldwin, three rupees too short.
“Christsakes Rox, I just put it down
to take a photo & now it’s fucking gone.
My Lorca posters, my two metre long
bullfighting poster, your photocopied
poetry & the poster of Shiva. Whoever
stole it is going to get one hell of a fucking
fright when they open it up, don’t you
“Sure honey, but I think it’s better
this way. You’ve been carrying that
shit around since Granada & let’s
just put it down too some bad karma
produced by that hideous fucking
“It wasn’t hideous Rox, it was
a work of fucking art & it would’ve
looked great in our living room,
in a nice black frame…& what
about your poems… what if we die
in a plane crash & your notebooks
all burn up, hey? What then?”
After a fruitless hour
Baldwin admits defeat,
the park’s homunculi
glimmer with mischief,
but they haven’t seen
The Forest Brigand
(Somewhere, deep inside Tamil Nadu.)
Veerappan the forest brigand squats
on his haunches opposite our bull-
necked hero & studies his dissolving
“Look at you, big Western fat man.
You think India is great adventure
for you until Veerappan catch you
like fly eh? What you do coming
to my jungle?”
Baldwin winces, a thin jet of urine
trickles down his meaty calf as he
eyes the .303 calibre Lee Enfield
rifle slung across Veerappan’s back
& mumbles a vague reply.
“I…we were on an tiger safari
& I got separated from the others.
My elephant bolted into the scrub
& then I fell off.”
“Ha! You fell off eh, Humpty Dumpty,
Georgie Porgy Pudding & Pie kissed
the girls & made them cry!
Who are you then fat man?”
“My…my name is Baldwin. I’m
Australian. My wife’s name is Roxanne.
She must be very worried about me…”
“You Aussie eh? I like Mark Waugh
& Shane Warne very much. They are
very bad men like me! I have killed twenty
policeman with my gun, you wait until
Aussies come to India. We will show
you some cricket eh? Ganguly, Tendulkar
& Dravid will beat your Glen McGrath.
You haven’t won in India for thirty years,
you know that fat man?”
“Um…no I didn’t know that, but
my favourite cricketer is Steve Waugh.”
“Ah… Steve Waugh yes he is very
tough man like me, when there is big
problem for you Aussies he saves you
all the time!”
“Yes… he does I suppose. Australia’s
on a sixteen test match winning streak
you know, Mr…”
“Nice to meet you Mr Veerappan.
Do you get to see much cricket out here?”
“No… unfortunately not. I do
not leave my forest. The authorities
have orders to shoot me on sight!”
“Why is that? What have you done?”
“Not very much. For ten years
I kill government men who steal
sandalwood & shoot every tiger.
Then I kidnap the famous Bombay
movie star, Mr Arjuna Kolatar
& hold him here for a hundred days.”
“I…I see. What happened to him?”
“Arjuna? Oh, I give him back
after his family pay big ransom!
Eh, now how much you worth
Mr Baldwin from Australia?”
“Me…um…ah I’m not worth
very much at all. I’m only a public
servant back home. For the Tax
“Tax man eh? I think I shoot
one of them too. Ha. Just kidding
Steve Waugh number one ok.
Are you married Mr Baldwin?
Is your wife beautiful eh?”
“Yes…she’s quite beautiful
& fearless like you Mr Veerappan.
Takes no shit from anyone.”
“No shit eh? She a good cook?
I could use a woman like her.
She got blonde hair?”
“Ah….yeah she has…”
“Nice one Mr Baldwin what does she do?”
“She’s an ex-kick boxer but now she’s at uni.”
“University in Australia eh! I think
you very lucky man, Mr Baldwin.”
“Oh & she writes poetry.”
“POETRY! By Lord Shiva, so do I
Mr Baldwin. Here, I show you some
of my writing. Don’t move please.”
Baldwin doesn’t move an inch
as Veerappan dives into a hut
made of palm fronds & strangler
vines. His sweat & urine hatch
a double plot to gag his mouth
as the forest brigand re-emerges,
a fanatical gleam on his face.
The Forest Poet
“Here they are Mr Baldwin,
who looks like Lord Buddhāvatāra.
Ha! My poems of struggle & defiance;
‘The Veerappan Sūtras’.”
Handing Baldwin a thick folder
of loose leaf paper, Veerappan
squats at his feet & urges our
bull-necked hero to open it.
“Please, Mr Baldwin read it.”
Baldwin flicks through
the illegible handwriting
until he comes across
a neat typed poem on
thin translucent paper.
“Ah…you have chosen wisely
Mr Baldwin. That is my very
best poem. Please read it out loud.”
Baldwin slides the poem out
delicately from a slush pile of
semi-mouldy & rain eviscerated
pages. Holds it up reverentially
like an original copy of the Rig Veda.
Baldwin takes a huge breath
before he launches into Tamil
Nadu’s (& probably India’s)
most wanted, gun-toting bard’s
The Forest Tiger
“The forest tiger is very restless.
He prowls about being careless.
His jungle home and English gun.
Never sits still always on the run.
He is the Lord of Tamil Nadu.
Never be captured or put in a zoo.
His stripes hide him like a tiger.
The government are the real robber.
Steal the best of his sandalwood.
He knows that is not very good.
They cannot shoot the forest tiger.
He is quick as Sachin Tendulkar.
All follow Veerappan for you must.
Or you will die and come to dust.”
by The Forest Tiger
Baldwin looks up, notices
moisture in Veerappan’s eyes.
“Mr Baldwin Sir. If I give you
my poems will you please publish
them in Australia?”
“Um…well…I’m sure my wife’s
got a few contacts with editors
& publishers. Yeah, I’m sure she
can get somebody too look at them.”
“This is my big dream, Mr Baldwin.
For my poems to be published in UK
or Aussie & your wife a poet too!
I cannot believe this Mr Baldwin,
I cannot believe it! Lord Shiva
has led you to me & the world
will know my name. Veerappan
the poet! Thank you Mr Baldwin,
thank you. Come, now I show you
the way back to tiger safari camp.
Please follow me.”
Baldwin lumbers after
the brigand cum bard,
clutches leaves of poetry
to his chest & hugs the most
fabulous words he will never hear.
Good Luck Chance
In this epic
Baldwin is not offered
‘A Good Luck Chance’
by the venerable Sai Baba.
Just buys a stick
of his trade marked incense
& boys’ light up.
New Delhi Station
“Baldwin. This is not Kings Cross Station,
Platform nine & three quarters to Hogwart’s
Schoolof fucking witchcraft and wizardry!
I can’t see the bloody Foreign Tourist
Booking Office anywhere.”
“Excuse me Sir, Madam, can I help you?”
intervenes a slim man in a old cotton suit.
“Yes, we’re looking for the Foreign Tourist
Booking Office. Do you know where it is?”
“Please come with me, I will show you.
It is across the street…the building with the blue front
– you go up the stairs at the side to the second floor.”
“But why is it over there? That sign says it’s
somewhere in this building!” retorts Roxanne
cocking one eyebrow; loading that mental gun.
“That is an old sign Madam.
Please come this way, I will take you.”
“Hang on a sec Baldwin, why should we trust him?”
“Madam look – this is my card see? I work for
the New Delhi Tourist Commission. See..”
“Nah, I don’t think so. It’s alright mate.
We’ll find our own way.”
“Please Madam, don’t you trust me?
Here is my photo on the card. Sir,
your wife is not very trusting.
I am only trying to help you!”
“Um….you say it’s over there….shit Rox,
how are we going to cross that fucking road?”
“Baldwin, this is a scam, can’t you see it?”
“No Madam. This is not a joke. Please
follow me, I will help you carry your bags.”
“No Baldwin, don’t follow him. It’s got
to be inside the station somewhere!”
“Where are you going, Sir, Madam!”
“Excuse me. Have you been here before?
Have you ever been up these steps?
(Click of a Biro nib being retracted)
“Here it is Baldwin. Up the stairs.”
“No Madam, I assure you, the Foreign
Tourist Booking Office is across the street…”
“I know. Across the street, in the building
with the blue front & up the side stairs
to the second floor!”
Roxanne pauses, sizes up the man’s
mis-matched sunglasses, fake ID card,
torn notepad, leaking biro & faded suit,
before she unleashes a round into that
“Sorry sunshine, pull the other leg.
It plays ‘Fuck me dead but I’m a silly cunt.
Now GET out of my fucking way!”
Vast, this vision
Valley of the Gods
Vicki Viidikas, Kulu Valley (Himachal Pradesh)
“Can you believe this Baldwin?
These guys are selling package tours
to the Kulu Valley. Fuck that for
a joke. It says here, that 26 Westerners
have disappeared there since the mid-eighties.
They didn’t know why until an Israeli air force
guy went missing & the Israeli government
launched its own investigation. Seems like
people were being attacked in their tents, robbed
& thrown off mountaintops. Pleasant isn’t it?”
“Geez Rox, it’s like a Bermuda Triangle
of backpacker murders. Even Milat didn’t get
that many, I think? Serves them right though.
Going off the beaten track by themselves, looking
for their ‘Eastern’ spiritual experience. They reckon
they grow really good dope in Himachal Pradesh –
its probably all drug related or something.
Deals gone wrong, you know what I mean.”
“Yeah honey, I’m not about to vanish
without a trace in India. You though,
you could pass for Ganesha & probably set
up a cult or something! You’d like that…power,
money, women…a Rolls Royce for every day of the year!”
“Now who did that again? Sai Baba? No…
that’s right, the Bhagwan. I think he only
got up to 30 or 40 rollers though.
Didn’t quite reach his enlightenment through
suffering under the Western automobile tree, eh?”
“Quick Baldwin, here comes that beggar again…
the one with the snake. Let’s split before
she asks us for another group shot. C’mon!”
Sensing the rapid
withdrawal of body-heat
the common Indian python
sticks out its blue tongue,
which abruptly turns into
a miniature golden arch
upon contact with the sun.
The Desert of Thar
The dune beetle raises its upturned icebreaker
hull at a perfect angle to the morning star.
A tear from Lord Siva condenses on its convex
onyx chassis, inches down; obedient mercury flows
into a Corinthian helmeted head. For 15 minutes, Baldwin, high on bhang cookies, amuses himself
by flipping the beetle onto its back, burying it
in sand & watching the insect fight its way to
the surface, only to be swamped in mica again.
The meaty hourglass hand of god releases
granule after granule – saturation bombing
(insert Vietnam War footage of Hanoi being bombed).
This is how Roxanne discovers her husband.
The sadistic, suburban lizard torturing boy,
caught in the fusion of a new dopamine memory.
“Baldwin, what the fuck are you doing with that beetle?”
“I think I can. I think I can. I think therefore I am.
I think therefore I am a beetle too. Oh, what…
Hi Rox, isn’t the sunrise gorgeous?”
“Baldwin, you’re delirious. Come back to bed at once.
You’ll freeze your nuts off out there!”
“Yes Ma’am, freeze the nuts off a monkey’s butt!
I am the Lizard King I can do anything! Hah!”
“Fuck me dead Baldwin, you’re insane & stop
torturing dune beetles for Christ’s sake. C’mon!”
Half dragging, half tobogganing her husband
down the sand dune, Roxanne catches the early
morning glint of the camel drivers’ henna teeth,
bared in sympathy.
Train Song 3
“Jesus fucking Christ Baldwin,
some Indian army guy just groped
“What the fuck. Where is he?
I’ll beat the living shit out of him.”
“No you won’t. This train is loaded
with the Indian army. They’ll fucking
kill you without thinking. Have you
seen their eyes? They’ve all got thousand
yard stares. Must be from being so close
to the border with Pakistan.”
“It’s your blonde hair Rox, you’re driving
the male population of Rajasthan nuts!
Why don’t you cover your hair
with a scarf, for Christ’s sake?”
“Fuck off Baldwin. I’m not deferring
to these nutters, no fucking way!
The next bozo who wants a piece
of my ass is going to be in for
the shock of his life.”
“Now Rox, have some pity.
The men in India are all fucked up.
You’ve got the caste system, arranged marriages,
Bollywood fantasies – half the men will never
find a woman to marry.”
“Fuck the men honey – what about
the women. Do you see any mother
in laws dousing their son in laws in kero
& setting them alight? Do you see
any Indian women giving their daughters
an overdose of sleeping pills, because
they haven’t got a son? Do you see
the mis-use of ultrasound equipment
to detect the sex of an unborn baby
as a boon to Indian women?
Even the fucking cows have a better
life than most women in India!”
That night in the bottom bunk
of their three tiered beds, Baldwin
stays on guard duty, keeps eyeing off
the Indian army privates who patrol
the corridors; who stop & stare
at Roxanne’s prone form –
at her hair buried under the goose
feather burqua of her sleeping bag.
Train Song 4
Indira Ghandi, railway sign, Shimla
An Allegory of Shit
John Kinsella’s novel Genre
begins to make more sense
in Rajasthan, particularly
the part when one of his male
characters relays a disturbing
childhood experience – of trying
to crap outdoors as a dog eats
his shit, stuck halfway out
of the boy’s arsehole
(sorry Dear Reader, but there’s no easy
way to put it!). The dog then licks
his fingers (as all friendly dogs do!)
& the boy smells his own shit
on them, transported via the dog’s
rough tongue. The boy never tells
anyone about it. John, so done
to death in India.
From the rooftop
of the Slow Food restaurant,
Baldwin looks over the crenulated
wall of the golden sandstone, 12th
century AD fortress & spies a boy
of about 8/9, trying to take a dump
behind some bushes – but a pig
(not a dog this time!) keeps butting in;
tries to occupy the best seat in the house
& have a go at the expectant poo.
The boy, interrupted, tries to kick the pig
& crap at the same time, but piggy, black
as a burqua keeps on being attracted; a large
hairy magnet to the boy’s refrigerator flesh.
Then two more pigs approach, curious
as to the frenzy of action, both eager
to monopolise on the boy’s excrement.
Nothing wasted with our scorched
earth policy. Nothing
nullifies the pig element.
Baldwin can’t get the thought
out of his head that one of these
boars might suddenly turn into ‘Pigsy’
from the TV series, Monkey.
That it’s all being staged with wires
& secret Holy Man palmed chemicals.
Where’s Funniest Home Videos when
you need them? Baldwin, fascinated,
watches the boy defend his makeshift
desert latrine from the trio of razorbacks,
wants to shout down some words
of knightly encouragement from
the battlement to him;
‘Kinsella was right – you can
trace it all back to our childhoods’.
the boy gives up & races
back home across the dirt street,
a dust-devil rises with each footfall.
The pigs, Baldwin decides
as a waiter dumps a menu
into his lap, those three little pigs
have at the end of the 20th century,
now become the wolves Dear Reader.
Read the special of the day & weep.
The Enlightened Ones
The sadhu, his three pronged trident
resting flat across his obsessive-compulsive
knees, sucks on an illusionary American cigar
& offers Baldwin a toke on his blackened chillum, enlightened with ganja. Pursing his lips over
the holy man’s calloused palms, our bull-necked
hero inhales, his western trained mind convulsed
in Hep A/C D/C ‘dirty deeds & they’re done dirt cheap’ antagonism. Even the ancient, schoolboy seed
of leprosy is sown.
“You like ganja my friend? Plenty for you, only 300 rupees”, intones the sadhu, his eyes white pinpricks against
the worldly possession of sunlight filtering in through
the rainforest canopy.
“Ah…no…no it’s alright, I’ve got my cigars, see duty free from Germany”, replies Baldwin hacking & coughing into his sleeve.
“250 rupees, my friend, just for you. You like India? Where you from, my friend?”
“Ah….Australia. Big place sir,
like India. Very strong cricket.
Only 200 rupees for you. Please sir.”
“No…what I’m really after is something like that”, indicates Baldwin, fingering the sadhu’s multicoloured string
“You can have this bag, my friend”, offers up the orange cotton clad visionary, ”for you, only 100 rupees.”
Baldwin examines the frayed carry-bag as the holy
man dumps its contents into his lap – a hefty quantity
of ganja concealed inside a leather tobacco pouch.
“No…you keep your bag. I wouldn’t want to deprive
a holy man of his only possession.”
The sadhu extends his right hand, grips
Baldwin in that most formal of western
rituals then cups his hands & smiles.
“Please, rupee for food.
I have not eaten today.”
Baldwin dives into his pocket, extracts
some coins & sprinkles 5 rupees into the sadhu’s
lotus flesh bowl. Gives the holy man a new
cigar, waves goodbye & walks down the road;
ignores the plague of autorickshaws
spreading down the mountain.
The River Beas
The thin-lipped armorer,
Hephaestos, hobbled away;
Thetis of the shining breasts
Cried out in dismay
At what the god had wrought
To please her son, the strong
Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles
Who would not live long.
W.H. Auden, The Shield of Achilles
Baldwin marks the X spot
with the heel of his blundstone
where Alexander the Great finally
halted by the River Beas, Himachal Pradesh;
a golf divot of stories leaches to the surface
of Lord Shiva’s rugged country club.
Alexander, ground to a halt by Rajahs,
mountain tribesmen, old wounds, homesick
Macedonians, Indian elephants – the Missile
Defence Shield of the ancient world.
His insatiable competitiveness to reach the end
of the earth & the Eastern Sea doused by too
many rivers, monsoons, flash floods, an army
of 4000 tuskers always around the corner.
“This is where the Hellenic dream ended, Rox. Right here. Alexander’s men refused to go any further.
If only they had known how meagre the opposition
was on the other side – he would have conquered all of India too.”
“Then what would he have done Baldwin? Conquered China? Arabia? South America? How many more people would he have butchered, if he had lived longer? Half a million?
One million, two million?”
“He chose Achilles’ fate then, I guess didn’t he? A short life
& fame. He was my age when he died – Thirty-two.”
“Baldwin, you’re going to have to stop comparing yourself to HIM all the time! Alexander was a short, murderous, brilliant psychopath
who slaughtered non-stop for thirteen years. There’s nothing romantic
about that. Nothing romantic at all about the terrible destruction
he committed, the men he killed, the countless women & children
he enslaved, all in the name of Hellenisation!”
“But Rox, he was a great man. A thinker, tutored by Aristotle.
He explored the world as much as he conquered it!”
“Honey, I love you, but you’ve developed a simplistic masculine relationship with history…with the world. There’s nothing glorious about an early death. Hardly any of us will ever be remembered
after we die – by anyone! Achilles, Hector, Alexander.
Their names survive to this day because they killed
a lot of people! They fit a masculine heroic myth
that is constantly perpetuated by the media.
Who do you think will be the most remembered person
of the 20th century?”
“Um…probably Adolf Hitler.”
“Exactly, a butcher, not a painter, not a poet, not a scientist,
but a plain, ordinary mass murderer!”
“Geez, Rox, what’s got into you today? You still feeling sick?”
“No Baldwin, I’ve just had it.
I’ve fucking had it. With travelling. With India.
People should come here to get a perspective on how fucked up
the world really is! Anyhow, we’re out of India in three days.”
“I know, Rox, I know. I’ve had it too! I can’t wait to get back home either! All of our problems are completely insignificant compared to what we’ve seen overseas. Piddly. Hey, do you
think we should sponsor a kid through World Vision
when we get back home?”
“Yeah… sure Son of Zeus-Ammon, when we get home
we can think about it then, when we get back home.”
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Well that’s about it for this epic
story, Dear Reader. This Iliad
of exploitation, this Odyssey
of obscenity. Not much happens
after this point. Baldwin our bull-
necked hero, after stepping off
the plane in Brisbane, collapses
& dies of complications arising
from DVT (it was the 20 hour flight
from New Delhi that did him in!).
Roxanne after mourning Baldwin
for three years collects his life
insurance& remarries, Jasper,
a Danish gym instructor.
& WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?
The Italian Doctor from Napoli
is eventually caught philandering
by his wife (who happens to have mafia
connections) & disappears in mysterious
circumstances. The boy cupid
of the PKK grows up & helps
to establish a new Kurdish State.
Nazim the retired civil engineer
from Bursa wins the Turkish National
lotto & writes a bestseller on Attaturk
& the Gallipoli campaign.
Carol, the physicist from Ontario
discovers a gold vein whilst hiking
in Alaska & becomes fabulously wealthy.
The old rattled Hector from Troy
really was the ghost of King Priam
& still haunts Ilion to this day.
The little girl with the green eyes
who sat on the stone lion & whispered
‘Aslan’ grows up to become Turkey’s
first female President.
Ali Karatas of Avanos, becomes
a world famous lecturer on early Hittite
culture & eventually becomes Head
of Archaeology at Oxford University.
Boney M never reform.
Omar the carpet-seller migrates
to Australia & marries.
The Turkish teenage boy on the pier
at Kuşadasi becomes the captain
of his own trawler fleet & a champion
in the protection of the Aegean’s fisheries.
Alexander the Great continues
to be the romantic hero
for generations of boys.
The Minoan Palace complex
at Knossos is destroyed by another
earthquake & not rebuilt with concrete.
The belligerent American tourist
(Hank Reeves was his name) is kidnapped
by lesbian guerrillas in Michigan & after
two years of capture converts to feminism.
The Minotaur shoots US rapper Eminem
in self-defence (& claims that Eminem
stole his lyrics) & is acquitted by the US
Supreme Court. Martin Johnston is awarded
the Nobel Prize for Literature posthumously.
The Udo Kier look-alike from Matala
wins a Udo Kier look-alike contest in Berlin.
Achilles, Son of Zeus & Thetis
comes out of the closet once & for all.
Callisthenes, cousin of Aristotle remains
hard done by Alexander.
The literary journals Easterly, Gunpowder,
Underland, Coat, Embargo, Cool & Maglite
receive grants worth one hundred million
dollars from an unknown South Indian
benefactor. The little girl at the Panyiri
Greek Festival becomes of one Australia’s
greatest writers. The statuette of Alexander
the Great as Zeus-Ammon lost in the sinking
of the Express Samina off Paros, remains
lost for eternity. The bed in which Lorca
was born continues to attract fans of Lorca
to Huerte de San Vicente in Granada.
Salvador Dali’s paintings
continue to disturb people.
Roger Garcia becomes one of Spain’s
most influential avant-garde writers
& publishers of the 21st century.
Nek Chand attains enlightenment
& is deified as Nekchanda, the god
of outsiders in the Indian pantheon.
Veerappan the forest brigand receives
amnesty for his crimes, is elected
a record 5 times as the Tamil Nadu
State Governor, eventually becomes
the Prime Minister of India
& publishes three collections of poetry.
John Kinsella wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The little Indian boy molested by pigs in Rajasthan, becomes the UN Secretary-General & abolishes
poverty in the third world.
It will be a long time, if ever, before there is born an Andalusian so true, so rich in adventure.
I sing of his elegance with words that groan,
and I remember a sad breeze through the olive trees.
Federico Garcia Lorca, Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias
& so the Australians buried Baldwin
breaker of cultures.
It will be a long time, if ever, before there is born an Andalusian so true, so rich in adventure.
I sing of his elegance with words that groan,
and I remember a sad breeze through the olive trees.
Federico Garcia Lorca, Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias
& so the Australians buried Baldwin
breaker of cultures.
Universal Andalusia book review by Tim Wright 27th February 2007.