20151009 narrandera homei’m liking the picture-leading-a-blog-post format at the moment. we took the cat exploring in my backyard for the first time this evening & discovered this compost heap. it’s nice & practical – open air but enough distance from the house. it’s nice to find things & document then. it makes me happy. i’m not sure if the cat was happy. she mostly digs locating moving tiny creatures & capturing them in her jaw. i try to protect the little creatures but she’s a wily kitten.

i have become a bit suspicious of the recent trend of recounting things you’re ‘grateful for’ online. i mean i never take anyone to task for it though. whatever helps is useful. but i don’t think you need be grateful to anything/one for the things you notice. you just need to actively do the noticing, reminding yourself of the things/ideas/sensations/people that are beautiful & that surround you.  it’s then fixing these things via memory. it’s a process like exercise. it’s a language game, a bit, maybe. the colours don’t exist until i name them. so too the things that make me feel good.

today i did a lot of driving. but i tell people i like driving (& i do) because it’s the most effective way of ruling out doing anything else. it clears your to-do list & therefore it also clears your worrying mind (maybe just a little bit). i don’t so much like the ache in my legs.. but anyway. hey see how i actively captured the good thing that is driving? (i bit down on it like it were some little common garden lizard).

prior to that i got to see some beautiful artworks. i photographed one, a method of capturing, but i also do so now here, textually. reinforcement. it’s the refraction through the material, working like a sundial throughout the day, slight changes in tone & placement, endlessly giving.

i also got to spend a brief grab of time with a beautiful person. & i mean that in all of the ways. i drove away thinking of open cut mines again, notions of metals & rarity. how many people have you met in all of your life? & out of that number, how many do this to you? platinum, tantalum, francium rarity? idk. i think maybe none before.

so then it’s later & i pick up a present for my beautiful daughter who turns 5 tomorrow. it was a hard window of time to create, but i get to mall in wagga & make this happen. she has to have something special to unwrap in the morning, you know? of course her sister gives away what it is within minutes… also, i have no tape, so the present is wrapped in a very, um, original way… but my prediction is she will find this quirky or probably not even care. i have a few more years to lift my game.

i didn’t think i had much to say & usually i come to this blog a bit worried about something, looking to sort of ‘write it out’ in the open. but then here we are, you & i, together at the end of another long-ish ramble. it’s very quiet & still. there’s only the soft bark of distant dog. this is all there is, right? oh i forgot to mention those sandals – only the quickest glimpse but now i have that too.


this framing device the latest of boxes

in a long line but resolutely mine:

all the rooms ever labeled ‘my room’

just shifts in tone, squares to irregular rectangles

from grey seas to adult sufficiency


but look i’m here in my nook: an L-shape

between bed & cupboard facing back

to the lamplight (what’s the emoji combo for this mood)


my image cataloguing is as yet mundane

(unemployed smokers (a peculiar type of

‘verandah squat’) + dogs in yards) but

there’s always time for more things


digital decay


days prior & almost unthinkingly i saved

a facebook headshot & thought of tiny polaroids

in wallets, chaotic creases pre-internet but the same

un-knowable truth-value: is that your girl?


i’m literally from the wrong side of the tracks

now but the vanishing point on sunset

from here feels worth the risk


when i studied for my BA i took on a minor in philosophy. (that’s why he’s always so philosophical i hear you say to yourself. ha.) today i was driving & found myself thinking of a philosophy lecturer i had… he was a real eccentric, said a lot of strange/curious things. a few of them stuck with me but one in particular: he’d given me great marks for a couple of essays i’d written but then felt the need one day to reprimand me in front of the class for not sharing enough ideas during discussions. he said i needed to be really wary of keeping things to myself.

it was embarrassing but then i’ve always suffered from social anxiety. i get a small physical reaction even now just thinking about the situation from all those years ago. it’s ok though. i’ve gotten better with age but it’s never going to go away. i think i’m ok with it / who i am.

see i know philosophy is all about the dialogue, working things out by talking and sharing, so in one sense it doesn’t matter. i was never ever going to be a ‘philosopher’ (ie. someone who works as an academic at a uni). but what he said has stuck with me because there’s a lot to it, more generally. i work a lot with artists now & there is a sense with some of them that their ideas are their currency, & that you have to keep them close to your chest, only discussing something when it’s out there, exhibited, launched, available. i think it’s problematic. if people don’t share their ideas & plans you can’t learn from them. & conversely i hate to think about the amount of unspoken ideas & plans that simply stay inside the head, never to be realised. telling people things gives the things a certain credence. it actualises concepts. it also creates a certain air of expectation & you end up having to act or not be taken seriously. (just now as a typed ‘taken seriously’ from the tv in the other room i heard princess bubblegum say ‘take us seriously!’ weird huh? it was like, the exact same moment…)

in the spirit of this here are some things i’m thinking of that i want to do. steal them & do what you like with them.

  • there’s a quaint poetry festival in narrandera & i’ve wanted to do something to liven it up. the problem is it’s firmly ‘bush poetry’ & quite backward looking. it’s named after a really minor poet – John O’Brien – & the audiences that come for the festival are generally retiree age. i know & have met loads of great contemporary poets, so i think the simplest thing i could do is have a fringe event. i’m just going to invite a great list of poets to come & stay at my house in narrandera. we’ll do an event in a paddock or a local pub. we’ll get on the program. (tim are you reading this blog still? you have to come! march next year.)
  • i had a facebook chat with alex wisser the other night about the exhibition he curated & installed last week in dubbo. it occurred to me: why on earth don’t we have that work coming here? it did occur to me that maybe it was just the photos (they were really, really beautiful shots) & that maybe i just want to be able to photograph the light + art too, but then i don’t think so. it’s only one part of it, anyway. we need to show audiences around here good contemporary work. i should be facilitating this kind of thing.
  • another facebook chat (how good is facebook, right?) with the author alice pung. i haven’t wanted to do writing events but i’m kinda starting to think i should be… this is where my past network is & as an arts-worker your network is your currency. alice would love to come here to run a workshop & with a few messages i can make that happen. why haven’t i made it happen already?
  • while out at willandra i started talking music with rob moss. i told him about the sarah blasko gig i went to in melbourne where she played with a full orchestra. it’s the best show i’ve seen in my life. i mentioned how i’d had contact with sara’s manager before, adam yee, how he’d brought holly throsby to wagga for me for a gig/writing workshop. the discussion then became: why wouldn’t i be calling adam now & trying to get sarah blasko to play in my region? probably a small chance of making that happen but then the point is, if i don’t try to make this idea a reality it’s guaranteed not to happen. by sharing this idea here i’m putting some pressure on myself to do something about it. to live a life with at least some beautiful experiences.
  • & on a more personal writing note, someone on twitter wrote about wanting to go back to tasmania. i said i’d been once & wrote off the travel at tax time – i just organised a poetry reading while there. this discussion then becomes: why not do it again? set it up with a couple of other poets. i had a beautifully productive time in tasmania that one time. basically every word i wrote ended up here.

i’m sure there’s some more things i’ve been thinking about that i can’t remember. there’s also a few things i’m thinking about that i’m afraid i just can’t put here. my thoughts/plans on loneliness are a trifle schismatic, for example. sharing my thoughts on these notions has not gone down too well just recently. i guess some personal thoughts do need to be kept hidden. we live lives that are both practical and confessional. i remember seeing a photograph on display many years ago that had the text ‘it’s the things we keep to ourselves that make us who we are’. i’m sure i’m paraphrasing badly but it probably doesn’t matter.

now – because i’m sure you’re interested – i’m going to go out the back with my guitar. it’s 30 degrees outside & i’m trying to set up perfect summer scenario: a bbq, a cold beer, and a guitar in the backyard. i think yesterday’s fixation on music has revived something inside me, just a little bit. i sat down last night to play again & started re-working some material. have my lyrics progressed beyond ‘i walk alone, into / this dream’? not sure. i’ve studied writing a lot since those times so you’d want to hope so. i started putting words to a newer progression earlier this year, about february i think. it begins ‘i didn’t like you from the first time we laid eyes / but i think it was pretty close’. what do you think? it’s more specific, or at least gestures towards that kind of specificity… i think if i were looking at the material as a teacher i’d probably say go further with the imagery. immerse the audience in the place, the mood of the work. place them on that road over in the west, walking into the sun, give them a sense of the domed roofs, the hotted up cars & preponderance of vanity plates (noice, bae, etc), the young burly blokes wandering around everywhere, the pitbulls in every second backyard, the sudden rains, the skimpy bars, the turn of her head to look back & smile, so brief but so clear & real. idk… i ‘ll think about it while i’m out the back playing. beginning with the D chord.


it’s ok the place-specific writing is at an end. let’s turn our attention. you & me. about half an hour from home violet found an old cd in my glovebox, so i casually mention to her that one of my songs is on it (it’s hard to parse right now whether or not she thought me ‘cool’. it’s kinda doubtful.) but she did want to listen to it so there i was reminiscing on the band & my life in the 90s.

it was a project administered by eastern riverina arts [project]. funny huh. but it was a wagga space program initiative, & interestingly those guys still have some sort of web presence. i had no idea at the time how any of that stuff worked. someone else signed us up, & i just arrived in a makeshift studio/loft one night to record some songs. the sleeve dates the cd as from 1999, so i was 21. i hated everything about myself. but i thought i could channel something into music. such a silly & shy young man.

the track was the most basic one in the repertoire. a stupid 4 chords with no real changes. the lyrics i penned are vague & nonsensical (ie chorus: ‘i walk alone, into / this dream’). i guess at least it was better than the chorus of the other song that was a frontrunner for making the cd: ‘can you make it go away’. i’d stopped keeping a diary by the time i was 21 but this is sort of like looking back on one. what was i thinking… etc.

also i sound like i was trying to ape early jebediah, when in reality i wanted us to be like the lemonheads. i just never got anywhere near evan dando’s finesse for melancholic-pop. i mean look at this ‘official’ clip. i still scrape out a cover of this every now & then:

i don’t think i got any of it quite right. but then the band never got much right. we were collective formed to give getting stoned some sort of artistic validity. we didn’t last. but still. there’s some sort of tone i was trying to get right in that song. i do find existence beautifully sad, a lot of the time. you act to try & court happiness, seeking the things, people, experiences that make you happy, but it’s almost always like something is complicating that, keeping it just out of reach. & so it’s recreating that feel, distilling the melancholia into a product. this gives the sensory reaction, the chills. i don’t think anything i’m doing right now compares to playing a bittersweet sad tune about the sad things in life..

(i did write a poem about you though & it’s won a prize but i’m not allowed to announce that just yet.)

there’s a line in an early augie march song that goes ‘if the stuff comes better when i’m on my own / then i’ll make it so i’m on my own’. i think i’ve mentioned it before on this blog. so i’ve quoted this line to a few other writers & overwhelmingly they are dismissive of the stance. the artist doesn’t have to live in misery! is the kind of thing they’ve said to me. it’s some kind of fanciful myth! but at the same time.. i can’t help thinking (every time this occurs) that the opposite is a myth too, something they have to say. because you don’t want to be alone always for the sake of good art. you need to believe you can have it all.

i don’t know what i think.


20151001 newcastle skyline

almost titled it ‘i’m a fucking travel blogger now!’ but a bit too edgy, yeah. anyhoo.. i like to keep my phone on my left hand side, preferably on a bedside table, charging overnight while i sleep. then it falls easily to hand at 6.30am, when i then thumb through the new material. the right side is no good & if i’m forced to have my phone in such a position it can throw everything out for days. of course i haven’t co-occupied a bed in just on 5 months so it’s hardly ever a problem now. except my daughter zadie snatched the lefthand side just now… so expect nothing good from me for days. i guess you know there was nothing new in the phone this morning. you have this knowledge. lackadaisical in response i google ‘the beach’, work out the quickest way to get to one. i’m going to have an ocean swim (i voice these thoughts to myself inside my head, hearing myself say them), white wine & an expensive hotel room. at least one full day will count as a ‘holiday’. newcastle is just a few hours from wellington so here i am.

oddly i didn’t even realise TINA was on again. (i must have known, though it was effectively put it out of my mind. in fact i remember some promo stuff sent to my work email. i shrugged it off as basically irrelevant to my region. nobody need know how often i shrug off emails in this manner. i save my attention for people that matter.) i haven’t been for a few years but there was a period when i was here every year. i first came when my friend astrid lorange invited me to ‘do something’. it made sense: i was a phd student. doing things is what you need to do. astrid & i knew each by both being phd students, but prior to that, kind of like, poets who put stuff online. i think astrid is the cleverest person i’ve ever met. i haven’t seen her for awhile but gosh i admire her terribly. when i spoke to this artist on the hill tonight he knew of her too & i quickly said ‘is she here now?’ & he said ‘oh no.. i don’t think so’ & i felt myself deflate like a camping mattress. maybe it wasn’t as dramatic as that simile suggests. i exaggerate with this writing. all the time.

but i think the things those years ago that i did were quite amazing really, looking back. i’m usually my own best critic if not my only critic. i put together a collaborative poetry performance involving 12 other poets & got all of them to turn up for it (bar one, fiona wright, her loss yeah?) i presented an academic paper on my thesis & actually felt confident presenting it. still the one & only time it’s ever happened. you know i’m not a confident person. i ache with doubt literally & literarily all the time. later that evening i saw my friend nathan curnow read a selection of ghost poems at midnight to over 100 people crouched in the old lock-up. it was a strange & fizzing & amazing day.

i guess the vibe of that kind of activity came back to me tonight when i marched those two little girls up on another trip to ‘see some art’. there were loads of steps but in the end they had fun. & i met & talked to the projection artist tristan deratz. it brought a lot of things back. & this was only a matter of years ago. i mean, i launched my book here with keri just 3 years ago. facebook reminded me of it yesterday. share your ‘memory’, facebook said. & i capitulated, sharing my memory because damn it if it didn’t remind me of the specific time & place & all the emotions & all that stuff. yeah i know though: it’s gonna bite me on october 17.. no point thinking about that yet. okay i got off track.. the thing was the passionate creation. making work. not working to educate the public, to develop the audience, just doing because you feel it. there’s an importance to this.

i took the obligatory shots of the work on the obelisk & then the one you see above this bit of text, looking back over the newcastle skyline. these final sentences though, they’re just a staid description of actual things i did. no gloss. nothing. but hey remember this? ha.

if i’m not still working on the contemporary online essay i’m at least conscious it’s a thing. or it was. i think it was more popular in 2012. my memory/attention span seems to be shot. it’s alway gotta be clickable though right:

looking backward feels less socially acceptable than looking to the future. if you’re not writing this much of an evening is there nothing to say? i don’t believe it. each time, i think, nothing has happened, there won’t be anything to write about, the thoughts of one human being roaming across a small patch of earth in/during/around one day can’t amount to anything. but then i get a thread & go with it. i assume there’ll be no travel blogging tomorrow. i’m not going anywhere interesting. it’s back to leeton & back to the business end of me. that routine does breed a certain lack of writing. but who knows. maybe i’ll stop somewhere interesting on the way & thoughts will trail off. it won’t be dubbo, i’ve made myself too scared/hurt with the forays, but it’s possible there are other worlds. how many words does my mind have left in it? more to the point: what’s in your mind? it’s occupying me this not knowing.


just the latest of w places names i guess. wagga now fills me with a vague sense of unease. i’ve spent more years of my life there than anywhere else. it now feels like things have not worked for me there. a palpable sense every time i sight the welcome sign. my kids live there. my ex lives there. my mum & sister. & it continues to fester & grow in a weird way. the majority of your highschool year are still there. you feel watched if you have any reason to walk the main street. the traffic burgeons. things change in a similar way always & you don’t understand any of this.

willandra is going to live on for that one image. even tonight someone mentions it. ‘he’s the guy who took that shot’. i try to explain that there are more, unedited shots still sitting on the memory card but it was almost literally like those words trailed off into the exhaust/noise of a passing truck, lost on the wind. & i tire of repeating myself. what does it matter. the image has the kind of fame only 150 likes on facebook can garner & now it simply has to become symbolic of the time. looking back east, away from the sun, & the way that peculiarly red light brought out the leaves on the wildflowers. it’s the best i can do by way of explanation. i’ll maybe be back there one day but will i be losing myself in the colours or just my own memory again? no point pondering the future i suppose. all moot.

having never been here before wellington is now to be associated with missed opportunities. on the way i chased down a site-specific project that never happened. my theory is there will never be an explanation for it’s non-appearance either. i think that would be preferable. then, i miss the last project, arriving to a darkened street & just the instagram memories. my little ones have had fun just going places anyway, jumping into strange towns & roaming, & they’re now utterly exhausted.

(‘where are you?’ – i wanted to respond with something vitriolic but i didn’t. (nobody is driving through my region to look at projects (if they were though they’d find things planned & mapped a little better) so maybe i should just stay put too. maybe everything i’ve done is taking things too far. i’ve never really appreciated the limits of interaction, always pushing it a little more. i mean even the stupid rhino thing embarrassed me today.))

the girls are heavy breathing cocoons in the bed opposite while i type. our hotel is an old homestead perched on a hill & it could be anywhere. if you like, imagine me writing by candlelight.

i’m not doing well at engineering casual social situations, right. there’s always some moment that makes it seem laboured & difficult. even if it’s just a text going unanswered. or slamming a car door without looking back. or any other of the moments, times. i can’t imagine not trying though. i guess i’m only in my 30s so i haven’t lived that long, but it sure feels long, & i know there just aren’t many of those… times of giving over one’s self. it feels right, even if never straightforward. so yeah. i keep on being stupid. people will eventually give you their binary answers, even if they don’t want to. even if they feel silence is best. i’ve learnt this from the terrible past.

i’ll turn this off now, awake at 6.30am, see what my phone has new, decide more decisions. it’s always new.


a time lapse of the day’s end & this

it parallels your own pathetic fallacies.

the suffuse orange hues symbolic

of all turning points in your life,

the crimson-to-blue banding of the eastern sky:

it just means ‘you’ / your significant romances.


make of this what you will. & you will –

it’s what you do – ever creating order

from the stimuli. that much at least, true.

at home now she doesn’t think of you,

this. controlling her emotions she’s patterning

all-of-the-things. you are unhelpful & complex.


take the narrow road back

to the homestead & stop dwelling

on your own dramas. as if on cue,

the deep dusk disappears, gets lost,

gives over to black. take something

from this night, these words.

if it’s the deletion of all memory

it just makes sense.


usually i come up with the thought bubbles while driving. i do a lot of that nowadays – sometimes it’s a productive time behind the wheel, other times not so much. but i forgot to include one of the elements i had floating around in the posting of earlier today & it’s been bothering me.

i drove wagga – leeton – darlington point – whitton – a few hours all up. my daughter slept & this future writing was occupying me the whole time. i’m a sporadic writer. when i’m disciplined, i run every night, i make notes, & make poetry from the process the next morning. i’ve not been very disciplined recently. sure there’s a bit of flux i can blame, i guess. this sort of journalistic writing tho generally happens when something happens. & today it was 2 separate people (within the space of around 12 hours) telling me that they’d been reading my blog. i was kind of taken aback. i don’t deal with that stuff well. i’m never quite sure how to respond. i’m socially awkward as a real physical person. but you know me right.

anyway, this sense of being ‘read’ was the impetus. in a sense when something takes me like that then i think blogging the thoughts is the only real way to get rid of them. i suppose it’s cathartic. it’s like how christina stead’s characters would sometimes ‘worry a notion’, which usually involved a single piece of dialogue lasting pages. the talking cure. i’ve only got you to talk to but.

the element i forgot to include in the earlier posting was my emotional investment in instagram. i’m not sure how it was going to fit in, but it seemed to be a related idea, and i know it would have fit. i would have made it. i would have worried it into place.

i’m struck by the notion that i possibly feel the impact of an image a little too much. it’s a palpable thing. when i thumb through my feed & come across something i like, it’s a bodily sensation of liking. i see your perfectly balanced beach shot (with the elements in a pleasing compositional symmetry, the subject caught in a perfect athletic poise, & the focus so crisp & real you can feel the cold of the waves) & however momentary it is i feel like i want to reach out & hug the photographer. the heart isn’t enough.

that’s not completely normal is it. & i know i don’t really have the visual language to describe what’s going on (i mean Jason once had to tell me the correct term for ‘rack focus’, after i’d been talking about this thing i loved for at least 10 minutes..) but i do know what moves me. & i want to communicate that to you. this medium is such an indirect form but then maybe that’s the best way. all forms of communicative media defined by the degree of mediation.

not nothing

you read the internets to escape the solipsism. it makes sense in that way. all of your theories of yourself, who you are what you mean in the world, only exist inside your own head. it’s the same for all your theories of what the past meant, what will happen in the future and the plans/structures you overlay in order to keep things going. are you seeking to complicate or simplify? it doesn’t matter. only this makes sense: you’re in there, & you need to be comfortable. but you know, it can also feel isolating at times. the thoughts you think are the only things in the world. the idea of ‘getting outside of your own head’ (even though it’s impossible, really) has some validity & worth.

so you read things & you get a sense that there are actual other people in the world, & that they are not dissimilar to you. the specificity of their stories & words, this gives you a sense of generality (paradoxically, i know). these other actual people also have real lives they live out while suffering the menace of their own thoughts. other people have reassuringly specific ambitions, routines, sadnesses & loves. it changes nothing but it maybe helps you cope. we are all human beings doing things in the world. it is, at least, not nothing.

but when you go beyond this you run into problems. i’m talking about not just reading the internets, but seeking more. specifically seeking contact. in response to the material, the arrangements of words, the mood & tone: ‘are you ok?’

it’s become increasingly meaningless & the only response i’ll give you is ‘yes’. who cares if it’s true or not. i’m not going to go into it with you. i suspect everyone is both ok & not ok all the time. i try to convince myself the ‘ok’ outweighs the ‘not ok’, maybe in a 70-30 ratio. but who knows. anyhoo – ‘yes’ is all you’ll get even on a second or third insistence. ‘yes’. ‘yes’. ‘yes’. that’s all. i hope to put a stop now to the recent spate.

i’m not the author figure who will elaborate. it’s not quite correct to say i care little for your good intentions. but it’s also not quite incorrect. things can co-exist.

really, i only care for the very specific internet emails, subjectless & with the content limited to ‘hi :)’ – these are the gestures i keep stupidly anticipating. over-thinking it (of course) yields the idea that those particular missives span distance in a non-confrontational manner. it’s why i would always feel the corresponding physical smile on my lips. it was involuntary. such an email is like seeing someone special just a small distance away: she smiles ever-so-briefly, and waves.

you don’t need to know anything more.

i’ve written this at the end of so many of my students’ creative writing assignments: this ending feels artificially conclusive. perhaps something more open, more suggestive, would be more satisfying?

i write that so much i think it’s become my own peculiar cliché. but i can’t help it. i want students to think like i do. nothing ever really begins or ends. your task as a writer is to just complicate, or simplify. whatever you choose.

i guess it’s only september but this track will almost certainly form part of my top 10:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 739 other followers