Petit Testament
‘Sorry to wake you. … The things I tell you will not be wrong.’
The Giant to Agent Cooper, Twin Peaks
My monsters have voices
None of the rooms are quiet
I play with the door handle
to get it right
Alone with my demons I try to explain
this is not how it’s supposed to be
fwiw they agree and their voices surround me
they know #thereisnoescape and I am not
‘sole clerk of my metamorphoses’
I am traces of voice left
on a tape on paper
I am the arms of all my monsters I scour
night like a huge machine whatever wanders
in my dreams isn’t anything I dream
beside myself in the morning a likeness
to waking sun cries and whispers
that sing from earth echo memory
I am reminded of myself
when I wake
I haunt others
in my sleep
One monster returns to me
one monster returns me
I carry this monster with me
It can be very small
and very hungry


This Thing
Words shudder in
the wind then
double back like a shout
or an answer
there’s the austerity
of today’s beings
how we’ve been changed
by this embedded
— thing —
without boundaries
like a summons
as more than a dream
This is not coincidence
it’s larger than that
from remote plains
or mountains
from lakes or blood
It’s all about touch
its vehemence
in brilliant anxious days
         as if invisible
or a stain on your shirt
as if levelling with you
before striking
While the real dream
the real beast
raises its hands to taint
In the end it’s hunger
emptiness an entirety
where they make
the new monster
cash history
Who sucks out this blood
spits it into the vat
or a vial that blurs
every address
of memory


Who Is Building Me?
‘I have imagined the soul to be a damp membrane in varying shades of red.’
Ingmar Bergman
I’m the touch of a button
pneumatic reticulated streamed
I was foretold like fire
lightening was a knife
thunder crushed me
on the hour
at the hour
I heaved up into air
How do you look at me
Monkey rabbit rat
A horse of dreams
A fish in your house
With hunger
My soul pours into a bucket
Ephemera as food for the ground
a dialogue with the devil
‘What is the point of all this?’
The Devil: ‘There is no point!’
‘Then, who is building me?’
I can hear the nails through me
the bricks drop
the slicing
as I turn back
where I walk
where I fall
I do not stick
to fashion
not even blood
as a poet
I’m ironing a shirt
or a pillow case
I am my dark shifty fantasy
| there is no escape |


What I Learned From My Monsters
– my monsters come in with their cheek
and their checklists
their lies are shifty yes things
yes, you need this thing
or the thin dribble of turncoat day
the drag of the ebay
a flounce that thrashes my id
amongst my giggling egos
– my monsters send me east and west
in the time it takes
to post my picture on some petty site
then they simper with
the we-didn’t-mean-its
after they pull the chair away
– don’t believe them, they mean
it and dreams get dirty
– my monsters know they have me
at least for now
and isn’t now for always, never in time
like the past or what’s to come
isn’t now the time of hunger
endless sessions of emptiness
– on a path waiting for an arrival
in a room waiting for a voice


Welcome to the Horrorcene
‘You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.’
William Blake, Proverbs of Hell
Remember the smell of money
as I hand you this coin
Cash is now a concept
Money always was
I could give you something I grew
like a virus
The sky is a veil covering up
the death of suns
And every hill a pastiche
of an old land of peaks
rises gullies creeks
Are these real goldfish
Maybe every bird is animatronic
Every spring snowdrops burst out
of the cracks by my door
Someone tried to poison it
It’s stubborn and wrong
But don’t leave me this way
I don’t belong either
I’ll keep on being wrong till I’m gone
Into the neverending false ladders
fuzzy windows crooked chimneys
cracked maintenance music
poisons in the drain
karaoke nation in a bathroom
a slipping mirror chance corridor
unlucky verandah
Who comes and goes with knives policies
guns with bad love with chains
who comes with electricity and jolts
bullets and samples of DNA
blood or a product to close your eyes
Feel your way along
intermittent power and light
the maintenance music is now on repeat
open up a cupboard of nightmare
throw clothes in a circle on the lawn
burn whatever you might be forced
to swallow


I’m Someone. Very. Like Me
I am down and out. On the lawn living on dust I am. Queer riddles you do not know. A machine. Of bone and flex more hungry or more empty. I am unimportant and will be. Thankful becoming lost. While I am looking for you thirsty. As a motorcycle. More hungry. More empty turning. Green in the wind.
See this bright. Above. I am.
Not what I am. But not. That either.
I’m sometimes very. Like me a child caught up. In a game colder now than I was. Before barefoot. Among stacks more hungry more. Empty living on dust unimportant. Thirsty thankful. Clean naked. And cool waiting for power like water to shower. Upon my arms. Almost a man turning green in the wind almost. A leaf.
I am. Growing into my hands.
Listen. Again to that forgotten.
I am thirsty as a sextant. I am to proliferate a machine. Of bone and flex I’m falling. Down my body roseate and frequent. Missing Pages Out Of My Life. Thankful becoming. Lost dreaming I am. A space station colder now than I was. Before awake. With extremities. And windows. Dreaming I live in. The milky way.
Hear it. Among the bane.
Believe me. I’m dangerous.


My Fears, My Feathers
Sometimes I feel my feathers
just behind my shoulders
I know they’ll never grow
But each night my back
groans with worry
that turns to flight
I don’t want waxen wings
I’m afraid of cold heights
The sun’s so far
And in between
is airless space
Even as I lie here
I’m falling


Notes and references:
This sequence of poems responds in direct or (very)indirect ways to Frankenstein, Mary Shelley; Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary Prisons); and works from the exhibition, Monster Theatres, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2020, including ‘Reclining Stickman’, Stelarc; ‘Untitled (Death Song)’, Megan Cope; ‘Reading for the end of time’, Mike Parr; and various images in the accompanying exhibition of prints, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, including works by Francisco Goya, Odilon Redon, and William Blake, among others.
‘My workshop of filthy creation’: quoted from Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.
‘sole clerk of my metamorphoses’: quoted from ‘Petit Testament’, in The Darkening Ecliptic: Complete Poems, by Ern Malley.
What is the point of all this? The Devil: There is no point!: taken from the title of a lithograph by Odilon Redon,Anthony: What is the point of all this? The Devil: There is no point!’, in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia.
‘Who Is Building Me’: The poem’s epigraph, ‘I have imagined the soul …’, quoted from remarks attributed to Ingmar Bergman about his film, Cries and Whispers (the film’s title is mentioned in the first poem in the sequence).
‘I’m Someone. Very. Like Me’: all words in this poem are assembled from poems appearing in various books of mine, including The Mask and the Jagged Star, Flagging Down Time, The Book of Possibilities, Screens Jets Heaven, Dark Bright Doors, Ash is Here So are Stars, The Beautiful Anxiety, Breaking the Days, and Brink.