This morning I went to see an accountant about my tax return. The accountant asked me lots of questions about my business expenses and supplementary income I didn’t know the answers to because I don’t have business expenses or supplementary income. I don’t like thinking about money, or even going into a bank, because every time I do feel unjustifiably paranoid I will somehow rob it by accident. I didn’t know how much money I should put aside so I just put all of it aside and I wasn’t worried until I learned about provisional tax which is when you’re a freelancer and the first year you earn over $2,500 dollars you’re obliged to not only pay tax for the current financial year but the same amount again for the year in advance for reasons I don’t understand plus five percent extra because it’s agreed that people’s financial situations improve with time, and then more on top because I still owe $33,000 to the government for my arts education and will be paying them back until I am either dead or civilisation collapses and I live out the remainder of my days in Kevin Spacey’s abandoned beachhouse in Malibu, smoking weed and making angry portraits of dead celebrities out of seashells. The accountant was the mother of one of my friends and was very kind to me. We did some initial figures and worked out my tax return was approximately all my savings. I thanked the accountant for her time, and asked after the wrists of her daughter, which were very bad and full of painful bones. And then I walked outside into the sunlight and was immediately stung to death by hornets. Ok I wasn’t really stung to death by hornets but I thought it was unfair, not the tax part because I believe in hospitals as much as the next person, just the two years at once. It was a stupid morning at the accountants and a huge disappointment to me. It was such a disappointment I started wondering what the point of the whole thing was, poetry and art and all the rest of it, if it meant I had to spend the rest of my life working at a job where I get yelled at by cruise ship tourists for not stocking the complete works of Danielle Steele and I didn’t even get to burst conspicuously into tears at an Eastern European train station once. I shouldn’t have bothered with a book at all, or poetry in general. I should have gone back to university and learned about maritime law or Russia’s main trade exports. Why make art at all when the conditions are so brutal and exhausting? Why subject yourself to it? For a moment I wished I hadn’t done any of it, and I had never heard of Emily Dickison or any of those other emotionally articulate meadow-frequenting piece of shit dumbasses. On my walk home, I bought an eggcup from a junkshop that had a picture of a frog playing the banjo on it. The frog was sitting on a lilypad, and red, purple and green notes were flickering around him like broken Christmas lights. His banjo was red. Actually his banjo looked more like an electric guitar, but it doesn’t really make sense for a frog on a lilypad to be plucking an electric guitar, because lilypads are traditionally a water based plant but I have an enduring love for both old timey American paraphernalia and lesser reptiles and it was only 50c which, although not expensive feels narratively significant in the context of this poem. I don’t know what the moral of the story is regarding the frog and the money and all the rest of it. I felt very defeated and stupid, like somewhere along the way I had made a very bad decision with my life. I don’t know what the purpose of art is, other than it’s one of the few reasons to live and I don’t know how to continue making it and not get burned out but I came straight back home and immediately wrote a poem about how infuriating it all was, so I suppose I have to admit I have some degree of responsibility for the depressing but predictable way things have turned out.
Hera Lindsay Bird
18 June 2017