It stretches past the vast windows
to the Domain, the Harbour, the Cahill
Expressway and its fugue of inner
urban motoring, all the way back
to Nolan’s desert, posted with
Robert O’Hara Burke’s focusless eyes,
azure, intense, a mad cosmology
sitting in back, scanning the edgeless
horizon for anything – primed
for fellowship among the nation’s hopeless,
enbosomed causes: Ned Kelly, nude,
a trap-sprung hare on the gummed riverbank;
or, on horseback, carrying his rifle,
and affixed to a stamp, the cumulus
pouring through his letterbox head;
or Ern Malley, ribs skeletal beneath
his uniform, epaulettes of the undead.
He’s poetry’s revenant. Above the yellow
ochre country and cranking machinery
of Pretty Polly Mine: is that the night
parrot, or a washed-out black cockatoo?
Its claws are colonial-era throwbacks,
curlicued iron lacework, obsolete contraptions,
repeated in the wire-frame weather-vane
atop Sheehan’s Agricultural Hotel.
And there – a great heron sifts yellow mud
along the banks of the pale broad murk
of the Murray. What’s it got its eye on?
Based upon the work at Sydney Nolan’s 2007 AGNSW retrospective.
- 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