I share a café table in Redfern with a young man whose bitten nails are lacquered scarlet, or Hunter’s Pink, like a London bus, then roughly scraped at by his teeth. Let’s call him Dorian. His hands are large, pale and beautifully formed, their squareness implies both invention and practicality, his alabaster thumbs arc like Bacon’s. To him it is androgynous transcendence; to me it is purely transport with poetic nomenclatives, Monopoly’s real estate; the stuff of desolate, historical novels. It is Dickens sending his sons, cruelly burdened with ‘potential’, to Australia, Austen on A Mystery Tour, the Brontës looking for a rough gypsy or two. It is Blyton’s imperious ‘Parp-Parp’ taxonomy, Potter’s Puddle-duck’s paisley shawl. (The 328 bus to Chelsea, World’s End, ran aground here, its deluded shoppers shuffled through The Sales without a purse, or benefactor – but with grasping hands. Some unleashed their European grotesques – the less callous amongst them surprised themselves.) A man with cerebral palsy has fallen crossing a lane and crawls into its gutter, a local man helps him to his feet, leans him against a wall to regain his balance and checks his forearms and bare legs for injury. He hugs his rescuer as though he has pulled him from the sea. Heathcliff breaks from the man’s embrace, glowers and strides away, wolfhounds at his heels. Dickens’s sons gather after the fact. Dorian and I agree on, among other things, Plath’s delusions (her anglomaniacal brown study, sodden sheep, errant cottage garden romanticism, for which I too have a propensity) – how unfortunate they were for her, and how crucial it is to find someone with illusions as real as your own and make them flesh. (Vivienne Westwood described her 1965 ‘meeting’ with Malcolm McLaren as him being ‘a one-off. He was fascinating and mad, and it was as though I was a coin and he showed me the other side.’ Its thrall lasted fifteen years; at his 2010 funeral she wore a Gold Label headband, re World’s End unisex accessories, which stretched ‘Chaos’ across her forehead, re his mantra re cash, re her lost protagonist.) Dorian hints at a discreet deep disappointment. (He and his full-lipped, saffron and chrome-haired girlfriend parted two months ago.) Dispossessed urban seagulls levitate and resist above us like metamorphosing plastic bags and our other side’s intertwined other; mine has the blond shoulders, the flaxen fusilli, of the scrapped buffalo nickel, ‘Liberty’ on his flip side. (Horses bring their satin musculature to him, as I wake weighing words.) A worn meniscus rim, his proud man’s good soldier’s skin, flare at the Elysian edge of these feathered eclipses on Regent, just off Cope, beneath 2012’s Transit of Venus, re her night-sweat fevers, Westwood’s divine bustled cellulite, our hearts are high
and rocked silent.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith 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