Robert Adamson ~ Two Poems

Robert-AdamsonThe Long Bay Debating Society

I spent my twenty-first in Long Bay Penitentiary
Each day in the front yards
We paced up and down
At night I read novels
And the poetry of Percy Shelley
Sometimes an education officer
Would turn up and ask
What are you going to do with your future?
I’d tell him I wanted to be a poet
He would shake his head
And comment I was being insolent
After weeks I convinced him
We wanted to start a debating team
There were plenty of crims
Who would join up
It took a month to convince the Governor
Finally the authorities agreed
We could form a debating society
Things went well and we attended library
And researched our topics
Then came the day a team
From the outer agreed to come inside
And conduct a debate with us
However there was a condition
The Governor would chose the topic
Eventually the prison librarian
Ceremoniously handed us the Governor’s note
(it was the summer of 1964) our topic
“Is the Sydney Opera House Really Necessary?”

‘The Coriander Fields of Long Bay Penitentiary

Serving two years hard;
my thoughts—sweet
as torn basil, or tinged
with broken roots
of coriander—soothe
fragmented fears.

When the mind’s blank
I cultivate musky
persimmons, ideas
flutter, cabbage moths—
one with a lopsided wing
spins in circles.

I swallow, nothing’s
left of my pride—
the prison doctor stitched
my cut wrists
without anesthetic,
his idea of punishment.

Laying with a blanket
on the bed-board,
I think of poppy fields
in the high country of Tasmania,
sun-splotched red blooms
loaded with seed,

their hairy stalks raked
by a wind from Antarctica;
here in my black slot,
an imaginary whiff
of opium mingles with
the bitter aftertaste of iodine.

© Robert Adamson

Adamson is one of Australia’s leading poets, and is a successful writer, editor and publisher. His books have been published in the UK and the USA and his poems have been translated into several languages. He has published fifteen volumes of poetry and has organised and produced poetry readings, delivered papers, lectures and readings at literary festivals throughout Australia and internationally. He has been writer-in-residence at Australian universities, and was President of the Poetry Society of Australia, 1974-1980.

He was a key player in the growth of the ‘New Australian Poetry’ and was an editor of the Poetry Society of Australia’s magazine, New Poetry, from 1968 until 1982. He taught creative writing classes for the W.E.A during the seventies and was the poetry reviewer for Australia’s national newspaper, The Australian.

Professor Adamson is currently CAL Chair in Poetry, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney .




Mark Pirie ~ Poems

markpiriepoemsThe Entrance

Over here friend
			Just swim over here
There, do you feel better now?
			I have been waiting for you
Yes, I want to tell you something

Come, listen!
	take this goddess
	  she means nothing
        	     to me, drink
    		my wine
you see,
the world
 distant frames of energy

a montage of power

careful your 
  arms, legs and
   fingers have new
     meaning now

Climb out of the valley,
  Progress any which way you must,
     We wish you all the best

Oh you have fallen

–   are you hurt?

Just a scratch

Trespassing in Dionysia

enter the
dream tides
of nectar
and brine
where crumbling
give way to banqueting air
imparting sacred pyres
for the libation rites
once there reach
the city of Dionysia
time to celebrate
drunken prophesies
‘the myths of the ages’
all around poets and
playwrights, the
servants of Dionysus

sparse images
movements and sounds
capture the senses
like the subtlest plot
and the gods
speak or do they test?

unlock the deadbolt dream

trespass in Dionysia
witness the death rites

Adonis’s Quest

this is not an
ordinary walk
this walk is
frosted with purpose
you see I’m
climbing up a hill
and when I reach
the top I will
be naked
and in full view
of Aphrodite
but I’m not afraid
to be seen by her
you see I understand
her secret.

Bullshit & Poetry

I wear
the words
‘Fuck you!’
on my
I’m a
radical loser
– an All Blacks
Supporters Club Member.
I lie.
Don’t listen to me.
I write bullshit
& poetry.
I’m a dying
son of a gun.
Forget me,
journey on to the
sun-lit kingdom,
dilute your senses,
and the cure
will be yours.

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Art Poetry

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock ~ Illustrated by Julian Peters




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On Writing Scholarly

Springsteen, Six Muses And Me: Music And The Writing Process by Zoe Fraser


This article recounts the journey I took to explore how a prose writer draws inspiration from music and lyrics, as opposed to the traditional sources of written texts in books. Dancing in the Dark, my ‘prose album’ based on Bruce Springsteen’s record album Born to Run, appropriates and reworks Springsteen’s universal themes and female characters. It fleshes out untold stories suggested by Springsteen’s songs, amplifies the voice of a girl locked in the push-pull of staying safe in the house versus being free on the open road, and is juxtaposed to the traditional unquestioning masculine freedom quintessential in Springsteen’s lyrical terrain. Along the way in my writing process, I was accompanied by six Muses. Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Porter, Mary Fallon, Vicki Viidikas, Julia Kristeva and Marguerite Duras were my driving companions.

Keywords: music, writing, driving


Music can be a channel for grace, words can be arranged to form poetry,
love can exist and have a meaning. Things can be salvaged, the past
can be made to yield up something that is pure. ~ Helen Garner

I have always listened to music, listened intently, from the perspective of a writer, to the lyrics being sung, extracting the story being relayed, piecing together the narrative. I have early memories of listening to the records of folk musicians, kneeling in front of speakers, in a little posture of devotion, in my own melodic world. I was travelling, transported through song, feeling the rhythm, the beat through my body, and bringing to life the story in the theatre of my mind.

When I learnt to drive, this act of worship intensified, as it seemed to me that the act of driving, cocooned in my two-door red car with the music right up, was the most conducive environment to taking in a song. My body seated, yet moving forward, conscious of the road and the scenery flying past, awash in the pulsating pace of a driving beat, an unfurling lyrical narrative. Flying solo, these journeys felt like a different kind of travel to me. I would regret arriving at my destination. Like reading, I felt, for a time, tangled up in another world. I did not know who I would be when I got to the other end; the music still on my skin, the poetic words a serenade from the speakers, coursing through my mind, a haunting presence all day.

I would take the long way home, the window down, the volume up, the night unfolding just for me; street and traffic lights glowing off the side of my car, their streaking neon pleased me when I glanced in my side mirror, the wind in my hair. The soundtrack to my life the music I played in the car, against the backdrop of the night, somehow heightened my awareness of the narrative unfolding in the songs, looping around, never ending. Through this process, like reading, like writing, I was shifted; I would come home transformed. My driving became an important part of my methodology, in my ‘inspiration car’; like a musician might work out chords I would work out the stories in my head, they would percolate with my lunar auto roaming.

Haunted by Springsteen

I have known Bruce Springsteen for a long time. I learnt his music, his songs posed as stories, over the years through the radio. I had always been particularly fascinated by the story in ‘Dancing in the Dark’, by this man, wanting to shake off his body heavy with frustration like a threadbare overcoat, ‘sitting ‘round here trying to write this book’. A creature of the night, starved of passion, yet desperate to stay hungry for it. Radio on, bored, manic; he is offering himself, regardless of whether there is a ‘spark’, whether a fire is ignited by the interaction. His call is a warm shot in the dark, an attempt, even if no light is shed.

There will be dancing. Things will move.

I came upon a Born to Run special release box-set in a second-hand store in early 2011. I picked it up almost unconsciously. If I had thought deeply about the purchase, it would have seemed I was setting out on a path, driving down a road and I was not quite at the wheel. This purchase set in motion an organic process, fateful convergences and uncanny offerings, books, music, films all propelling me towards this writing. Soon he was all I listened to. I never tired of him. Bruce Springsteen became a constant male companion to this young solitary female trying to figure out what she wanted in life and in love and in stories. A presence I felt I had conjured somehow.

He began to haunt me.

I would hear his songs in the supermarket; I would discover an old much-loved song was actually a Springsteen cover. He appeared as the voice of reason to John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity, a more comedic version of how I perceived him. Reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir, Prozac Nation, there he was again; Wurtzel turned to him for solace during her long teenage years, lying in her bed, listening to him through her headphones. A kindred spirit:

Sometimes I lie in my … bed and listen to music for hours. Always Bruce Springsteen… I identify with him so completely that I start to wish I could be a boy in New Jersey… All that was left for me to do was shut down and enter the world of Bruce Springsteen, of music about people from where else, for people doing something else, that would just have to do, because for the moment, for me, there was nothing else. (Wurtzel 1994: 50-51)

When I watched the Born to Run documentary included in the box-set I was introduced to Springsteen at my exact age, talking about how, as a young artist, you have something huge inside you, yet you are unsure how to bring it out. Coupled with the songs of the album, a cast of characters emerged tantalised by ideas of escape and freedom, of cars and ‘suicide machines’, the possibility of love, spanning through the course of one fateful night:

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George Vance ~ A Poem

gentlemanwatermarkA stumbled-upon poem, a Paris quarter

Happening onto the Anne Frank Garden
I see a yellow-walled buildingback
a rectangle of blue sky mirrored in a window
an undefined dark stain a yellowed bedcover drooping from a second window
utility boxes on the roof of the Pompidou Center
a tunneled trellis in the form of a semi-ellipse
climbing plants on the walls behind
1 concrete and 2 wooden benches
I finish my pain d’olives on one of them
to the right on an upper floor of the Musée de la Poupée
a woman is painting a yellow windowframe
the buildings are all yellow as is the back facade of the
Hotel de Saint-Aignan many of whose occupants were
deported in the same circumstances as was Anne Frank
this building now houses the Museum of Jewish Art and History
from which I have just come after viewing an exhibition of paintings by
Félix Nussbaum
who took the last train from Belgium to Auschwitz
a graft of the chestnut tree that Anne Frank could see through the window
of her hiding-place in Amsterdam grows next to the entrance to this garden
its leaves are yellow
children play in another garden just behind
next to the graft of Anne Frank’s chestnut tree a rag-piled figure lies
apparently sleeping
across from this figure sits another in an attitude of frozen prayer
a group of men come, point, talk, leave

the show window of the Doll Museum is decked with antique Santa
Clauses, two young girls in red dresses, and a woman in her corsetry
posed under a Christmas tree

a late painting by Félix Nussbaum depicts a pair of humans as articulated dolls
he spent the 30’s unconsciously and evermore intensely prefiguring what would
happen in the death camps and while living on the margins of Europe’s cities never
strayed far beyond the reach of the Nazi net

Anne Frank’s chestnut tree, severely diseased, was fitted with a metal frame in April 2008
of her tree she wrote, ‘while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy’; a few days before,
she had recorded her first kiss

when Hitler came to power Nussbaum’s compatriot, an industrial designer named
Hans Bellmer, swore never to work for the state again he began constructing life-size
female ball-jointed dolls and made photographs and engravings of women and young
girls in ambiguously concupiscent poses, disjointed victim-figures mocking the ideal
of the perfect Aryan body: one example is a seated doll-like girl with members made of
a loaf of bread, a milk jug and a table leg; another is titled “The Machine Gunneress in
a State of Grace” remarks on his work include, “the confusion of the perverse and the
banal”; “an anagram of the body”; “the physical unconscious” he wanted to ‘create an
artificial girl with anatomic possibilities…capable of re-creating the heights of passion,
even to inventing new desires’ Bellmer was welcomed by the automata-loving surrealists
and joined Nussbaum on the Nazi’s list of ‘degenerate artists’ after escaping a prison camp
for German nationals, he finished the war hiding in the maqui in southern France

around the curve of the passage leading to this garden is a gallery sporting vaginas
and penises attached to anguished human forms fondling themselves and each other

the chestnut tree in Anne Frank’s hide-out garden was finally felled by a storm August 23, 2010

in recent years Bellmer’s dolls have inspired a gothic-gore rock group from New York
and the high-fashion Sybarite Dolls exhibited at the Musée de la Poupée

Bellmer once said, ‘If the origin of my work is a scandal, it is because, for me, the world is a scandal’

a day after Anne Frank’s chestnut tree fell, a small shoot was discovered growing out of its surviving stump



© George Vance



Literary Fiction

Cyberian Gulag Archipelago by George Djuric


It is no more according to Plato than according to me, since he and I understand and see it the same way. The bees plunder the flowers here and there, but afterward they make of them honey, which is all theirs; it is no longer thyme or marjoram. Even so with the pieces borrowed from others; he will transform and blend them to make a work of his own. His education, work, and study aim only at forming this. ~ Michel de Montaigne

The human race, in short, has had no important thought which it has not written in stone. And why? Because every thought, either philosophical or religious, is interested in perpetuating itself; because the idea which has moved one generation wishes to move others also, and leave a trace. Now, what a precarious immortality is that of the manuscript! How much more solid, durable, unyielding, is a book of stone! In order to destroy the written word, a torch and a Turk are sufficient. To demolish the constructed word, a social revolution, a terrestrial revolution are required. The barbarians passed over the Coliseum; the deluge, perhaps, passed over the Pyramids.

In the fifteenth century everything changes. Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede Orpheus’ letters of stone. The invention of printing is the greatest event in history. In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air.

Until recently, when thought entered the parallel world of cyber. Initially, nothing seemed much different; pages just sped up flying around for quick convenience. This time, though, they were launched from sites, not books or manuscripts. Since dusters barely altered, what took it on the chin were internals. Holding a kangaroo court in their imaginary nation, to an industry that has read its own obituaries countless times, tribesmen of the new order went for the coup de grâce, their lances high in the vacuum. Before my outdated brain could comprehend this paradigm shift, mediocrity went viral and airborne: people are gathering around quippy bonfires, as dusk turns into darkness and temperatures drop, and human body seeks human warmth.

Although Livy describes it as being tunneled out beneath Rome, he was writing centuries after the event. From other writings and from the path it takes, it seems more likely that Cloaca Maxima was originally an open drain, formed from streams from three of the neighboring hills, channeled through the main Forum and then on to the Tiber. The system then remained with not much progress until the 16th century, where in England, Sir John Harington invented a device for Queen Elizabeth (his godmother) that released waste into cesspools. However, many cities had no sewers and relied on nearby rivers or occasional rain to wash away sewage. In some, waste water simply ran down the streets, which had stepping stones to keep pedestrians out of the muck, and eventually drained as runoff into the local watershed. This was enough in early cities with few occupants, but their growth quickly over polluted streets and became a constant source of disease.

Growing up, I had to use an outer house. In order to get to it, I’d walk through the front yard, commercial yard, and a part of the garden. My roundtrips became an exercise in free thought, which for the naive reason of my youth I envisioned as a barely populated snow-capped mountain peak. Not to mention my imagination being unable to stretch beyond an old medieval craft typical of Central Europe. It is remarkable that the craft has survived, and you can still buy red leceder hearts, honey cookies, necklaces with a cross, little crucifixes and other ornaments – all made of dough.

Sitting above the round hole cut out of thick wood board and polished to perfection by bare bottoms of my ancestors – which for some funny reason reminded me of a misplaced halo, an indispensable content of any sanctity – I couldn’t even grasp the concept of sewage: all I knew was that crap stays where crap drops, petrified like eulogy and unable to spread thin by motion. Those were ‘one shot but you better make it good’ days, and I miss their substance, the gravitas of every drop I made. Come to think of it, what if the gravity itself was more forceful back then, before wearing itself out by entropy and caving in to speed.

One day, while cautiously climbing weathered wooden stairs leading to the attic – an oversized boy with a large, heavy head – I slipped and fell like a tombstone, landing straight on my crown. As soon as I hit the ground fear-frozen – after a brief vision of starry universe followed by session of weeping and whining – what shook me even harder was the sudden insight how quickly speed could evaporate, how deceiving and fragile is its beauty: nymphs’ song to willing ears of wasted sailors.

‘When I invented chaotic inflation theory, I found that the only thing you needed to get a universe like ours started is a hundred-thousandth of a gram of matter,’ Andrei Linde told me in his Russian-accented English when I reached him by phone at Stanford. ‘That’s enough to create a small chunk of vacuum that blows up into the billions and billions of galaxies we see around us. It looks like cheating, but that’s how the inflation theory works — all the matter in the universe gets created from the negative energy of the gravitational field. So, what’s to stop us from creating a universe in a lab? We would be like gods!’ In response, I offered him my thesis that gods must be crazy, since we already invented our cyber universe out of a single milligram of antithought.

Flipping this rusty bronze coin into a shiny banknote, ‘Ten Thousand Cents’ is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase (to charity) are all $100. The work is presented as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, ‘crowd sourcing,’ ‘virtual economies,’ and digital reproduction.

In his book ‘7000 days in Siberia’, Karlo Štajner – Tito’s komrad since Moscow days in the thirties, when singing L’ Internationale had the same cheerful effect as a six-pack of Löwenbräu today, and Babel was given a villa in the writers’ colony of Peredelkino – who spent 20 years in Soviet gulags between 1936 and 1956, has described Soviet concentration camps as a nightmare even the greatest writer could not portray (sic!). He said Solzhenitsyn had not experienced even a part of what he, Štajner, had in the Soviet gulags. ‘Aleksandr Isayevich was not sent to the distant, cold areas but was imprisoned in camps near Moscow, in the so-called Yellow Home, a camp for internet intellectuals (oops, a typo: interned). Of course, the prisoners there also suffered, they did not enjoy their stay there, but their sufferings cannot be compared with those we experienced in the far north, under inhuman climatic conditions… I mention these examples in connection with Solzhenitsyn because Soviet citizens were not able to notice the changes that had taken place (after World War II), but I noticed them.’

But upon reflection, knowing the new theory of fundamental nature of the universe is just learning more physics. And while intriguing, this is not like proving scepticism to be true. David Chalmers contends that there is still a ‘physical world’ which we interact with; what is different, its fundamental physics is not strings and particles, but bits. Furthermore, learning that there is a creator outside of space and time who allowed our minds to interact with physical world, while obviously of great metaphysical and personal import, it is akin to learning that a particular religious view holds. This would be an earth shattering revelation, but it doesn’t mean we are not situated in the external world we believe we’re in.*

  • My only comment to the above story is not mine. It belongs to a Dutch genius who happened to be an artist. Berndnaut Smilde creates clouds using a smoke machine, combined with indoor moisture and dramatic lighting to create an indoor cloud effect and take surreal shots worth Dali.

© George Djuric

George Djuric is a former rally racing champion, master chess player, taxi driver, street fighter, student of anti-psychiatry and philosophy, broker with Morgan Stanley… and a writer all the way. Published a critically acclaimed collection of short stories that altered Yugoslav literary scene – ‘The Metaphysical Stories’ – was dubbed Borges of the Balkans, as well as reborn Babel. Djuric infiltrates flashes from his vivid past into fictional alchemy for the salient taste of the 21st century.



Andrew Leggett – Four Poems

oldscriptwatermarkOLD HAT

Rainbow lorikeets and mynas feast
on palm flower nectar and the red stellate flowers
of the umbrella. I turn from the window,
rise from my desk, pack my notebook,
my laptop, mobile phone, wallet,
half-devoured tubs of hummus and taramasalata,
an intact packet of brown rice crackers
and a pinot gris in a lime green cooler.
I reach for my panama hat, a white fedora,
softened with sweat, with salt lines on the band
and blood stains on the crown no number of runs
through the dishwasher will ever render clean,
those well above the rent in the brim
where the fibres have begun to move
towards their own unraveling.

My old hat and I are driving across town
to a meeting in a tall apartment building
just across the street from the hospital
where my friend died last night, a couple of hours
after we left her. From the living room
the view of the old brown river is good.
On the day they drained her pericardial effusion,
the river was rising, just about to burst
its banks. The rain was lashing me and the wind
was so strong that I almost lost my umbrella.
Along the covered way between the buildings,
plastic buckets kept the drips from the carpet.

When I enter the room, I am informed
of the decision for White Lady Funerals,
their rooms just streets away from my place,
at Seven Hills, near Morningside. Those ladies
buried my Aunt, took her frail body to Hemmant
from Cannon Hill and never brought it back.
I lift my hat and place it on the table.
I will not throw it in the ring, where the widower
deliberates between burial and cremation,
mentions the virtues of a plot on multiple levels—
one for her, one for him, and one for their girl,
who plays with her iPad and is not dead yet.

I open the crackers, distribute the wine—
the body and the blood. I’ve brought the only food.
I wish I’d stopped to purchase loaves and fishes.
I am assigned the music task, all on account
of my vast collection of Leonard Cohen.
I agree to help collect the coffin, flown in
from New Zealand, strapped to the roof
of a Volkswagen, and driven across town
to be customised. I offer to feed them all
at the wake before the wake
for my friend who will never wake again
at my place next Sunday. I collect
my computer, my notebook, the lime green cooler
and leave to shop at Woolworths,
wearing my old panama hat.


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Poetry Spoken Word Video Poem

Robert Paquin – A VideoPoem


Ce court métrage explore en poésie le sens profond dun paysage forestier du peintre canadien contemporain James T. Palmer.
This short film explores through poetry the profound meaning of a forest landscape painted by contemporary Canadian artist James T. Palmer

Screened at the International Festival of Cinema and Technology, in Seattle, Washington, in 2008, and in Los Angeles, California, in 2009. This is the English dubbed version.

© Robert Paquin