My son the frog-prince of fitzroy gardens
is running a temp, the poor mite has been tossing
and turning all day with forehead on fire,
eyes bulged more than usual but mind fuddled less than.
Please, he says,
please c’n I have a bit of cool?
So I lay him out in a heritage case that used to hold
his grandma’s spectacles with silver frames that sadly
dissolved in a cleaning accident with vinegar,
surround him with cotton
to soak up the sweat from his tiny web dactyls
and set out on what is sure to be a long haul
with streets way past bedtime, ice houses on bypass
and most cool-wizards asleep at home between clean sheets.
albert → lansdowne → victoria → brunswick
Feverfew is a herb widely found in old gardens
and listed in the great herbals of history — the dioscorides
materia medica of ce 65 and by legend in the shen nung
pen ts’ao ching of bce 3rd millennium — for the formidable
potency of its demure daisy-like flowers,
temperature reduction just one of many attributes,
another, the regulation of day-night body rhythms
by its high concentration of the darkness hormone.
The facade at Number 9 has turned to glass
with faces embedded in its brickwork, like in jelly,
neck up sans haloes, only animated, mouthing words.
Hi, says one, a hand appearing beside the face
to indicate the heritage case in my arms.
The lady says hi, I nudge my princeling.
A bit of cool to you too, he croaks.
brunswick → gertrude → smith
gertrude ← gore ← greeves
But cool, the same as truth, is like chooks teeth to come by
in back lanes or front, with not one of the other night seekers
having the skerrickest on the laying of patches
over my darling’s frantic little pumping heart
gertrude → fitzroy → princes ↻ ↺ princes
and finally on princes lane I set the spectacle case down
on the bluestone gutter thinking surely
given the dire heritage situation
grandma would jump the cool-bar to help,
but across the tram tracks on nicholson the bombodieri
have begun stomping the soil of the furtive mound
and craters of goo pools have opened up
clicking, clacking, as spectators line up for the chortling frolic
stepping one and then one more into the glug
to be sucked deep into the earth’s fecund triangle,
tickety tack, are then spewed out again on mud geysers
as an airborne flotsam of body-parts that rains down
on watchers screaming in sheer joy at the bitsy
extravaganza, to then wait for the magician to come
forward and fit all the fingers and toes together again
happily like lego and maybe an encore as well
or two, when a hand grips my shoulder
yes, I think, grandma finally,
but it’s an eyehole mask above epaulets that fronts my swivel
and the shush finger right next to where the patches
should’ve been, or something, anything but this.
Please, I say, please.
Feverfew also possesses the mysterious ability
to induce a type of cell suicide
that takes the form of a quiet folding-in
with none of the high drama that characterises
some other passings, even disposal of debris
a low-key merge into surrounds.
But my princeling raises his head,
it’s okay, he says, don’t cry—
blows a final whale-spurt of moss green stuff
before turning to the shush finger,
please, he says, a little bit on the lungs,
and then the sighed passing of a gentle breath,
my silent tears, and from across the night-gardens
of fitzroy the whisper of an echo,
a little bit on the lungs, just a little—
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones