We knew it as thrumming beat and ribtickle rhyme,
not as howling town wrapping steel river, hungry town
of whiskied blood and tackleboys, a place to ditch
your turpitude, canvas-sway across the ribcage
of the world to begin again in underbelly.
You were not the first — a path worn like centuried stone
by forebears dragging linkirons. You were not alone —
blood-thick brothers propping craven hearts. Here,
you tinkered and tailored and swilled, then pocketed coin
not your own, having sloughed a past but stowed your self.
Lucky for us, your blarneyed nights bartered your loss of luck
for a son, who came shimmying fast from his mother’s
muddied skirts to earthen floor, a missed catch,
a blue-eyed lad with bow legs, a mouth to match,
and a tongue beleaguered by wisdom. They say the blow
levered spirits from the star-canopy of his skull,
who whispered worldly thoughts in rhyme and song.
He was mocked, and hailed, as the chosen are,
but he was a love-learned boy whose aphrodisiac
innocence honeyed his way into scented sheets
and delivered me a grandfather. Oh, the miss
and hittery of it, the snatchery of love, with its tattle-tale
offspring who grow into men. Life, my grandfather
used to say, is a bubble in a bath. Crying’s no good,
you’ve gotta laugh.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTCOMING SOON with 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