All the best men are interested in other men, or their forearms are strong and lightly haired.
All the best men are already without that which they need no longer.
So it is that each woman, adrift, ends up with me.
So it is that each woman pretends she is happy with me.
How many times am I going to be told I feel so good?
That before I came along it was so hard?
That I’m so big? That I do it so well? – all without any reference to the facts.
I could be scaling a volcano that’s posing as a snow-capped mountain.
I could be scaling a volcano, a breathing volcano, scaling its rocky chest,
while the conical beast breathes quietly.
I could be on a giant breast of molten, fuming, breathing matter.
I could be trudging through an ephemeral, snowy skin.
How many times will I be told?
About the sting and cough of sulphur.
About the slow admissions of geology, the truth trapped in the rock.
I could be scaling a snow-capped lie,
a lazy, glacial tongue,
a smoky ode to my own burning questions.
This could all come back to who I am.
All the best men are young men
and despite the years I am not yet sure if I am a man.
To be young and to be a man!
Sitting completely on the seat of a bus or overcoming it slightly,
the body and its occasional hairiness.
To be strong and to suck on hangovers with gritty relish,
munching on savoury biscuits early in the morning.
To eat up the world, thrilled by blood’s sweet circus,
paying scant regard to the view.
To be eager and oblivious to the pit of the night.
As for me, I’ve neither riches nor righteousness.
I’m no smart-casual, golden credit card man.
I’m not grins and strong arms at a Sunday barbecue, light beer guzzle.
If I’m something women haven’t seen before then I am
hardly something they wanted to see before.
And they are moving…
The women are moving with the men.
The women are moving with the men behind walls of impregnable laughter,
while I am a bottle filled with thirsty salt and left to warm on the patio.
I am not youth; I’m not bristling hints of knowing.
I’m all the liminal variables.
I am incomparable because I dissolve amidst comparisons.
The collision of plates: so many secrets spraying out
To strip off my clothes and run, feet slapping the soft earth.
To leap with my delicious limbs, soar brilliantly and splash into
shady rivers, isolated coves.
To be a body wanted by bodies, to be nothing more than muscle, slick ski
and obvious yearning.
So, who is the man I might have become?
Or, who is the man I might be that I am not?
I’m no oasis, no waterhole.
I am not what you might like to come to.
I’m a traveller on a road of a size somewhere between a minor highway and a suburban street.
I emerge only when speech cracks open and illuminates me;
in this sense I’m certainly not geological.
If I were anything, it would be a plant or a lizard with skin the colour of rock.
I have skin the colour of rock and it screams colours and colours of sound.
You see, the more one knows, the less and less one knows.
How to tell each woman from herself?
How to tell the telling from my own halting speech?
The more one hears, the less and less one hears.
Deafened by explosions, when will I learn to see?
– the tremendous, fire-dark storm
of vision’s certainty, of contorted faces unravelling themselves, of trees and
lizards unravelling themselves.
I’m still too far below; I’m still scaling the snowy breast.
I am planting footsteps with my crampons’ frail nails and ascending
at the rate of a life.
A life could be a bubbling tomb upon a floating yolk.
From time to time, ghosts of forests gather and burst into the night,
burst stringy traces of yolk across the black pan of the night,
across sierras and their valleys,
across oceans and their limbs of kelp.
The women’s bright particles keep floating towards me:
their shimmering tongues lapping against the surface,
initially cautious of the steaming debris
then learning something of its vulnerable smoke.
Here I am, changing phases, escaping like the earth escapes,
through fissures of young, restless, twitching muscle.
If I were anywhere, it would have to be here.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith 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