The moving shapes of smoke. Like flowers.
Like dusk. The man who sets himself on fire
after being denied medical treatment. Cops
and bills and bricks shat. The fact that Sydney
lockouts haven’t curbed CBD assaults. The
inability to sit still. Your English passport
will soon expire. Like milk. The cause of
all your misfortune. Assuming the ocean
is infinite. Stratospheric pricing of luxury
brands. Furniture that appears to dream. The
paradigm of the little red boat shuddering
on the horizon. The language of silent fabric.
Like flowers. Like dusk. The energy which
pleasure does not absorb. Wifi and piss-takes
and blowjobs. Added luxury tax. The scent
of a struck match. The mobile architecture
of clouds. Bubbles in space. The difference
between champagne and sparkling wine. Holes
in the calendar. Cannot be alone. Ask the wind,
a wave, a star. Draw your life as a Venn diagram.
Make a shopping choice. Like milk. Subtle and
irrefutable witticisms. Alleviate your syntax.
Imperative sadness. The obligation to die at
some point. Like flowers. Like dusk. Your baby
teeth are probably still out there somewhere.
Your baby teeth are probably still out there
somewhere. Getting chewed up and spat out
by one digestive system or another. Inertia.
A path one strangely recalls. Gambling, that
superhuman amusement. Like fists. Like
immense and untieable knots. Your face in
city windows. Genuflecting. Unmasked and
en masse. Demonic tantrums in the daylight.
The hellish intensification. Consumption as
a mode of perception. The parade of images.
Doomscrolls. Creatures who seek happiness
in movement. As in phosphorescent vapour.
As in, in a vial. As in the violence of glass
when you can’t contain the urge to drop it.
The moon, who is caprice itself. Formless
streams, threads. The place where you are
not. Marriage and the nuclear. The lover you
will never know. Flowers of monstrous shape.
Like fists. Like minced untieable knots. Like
black spots in the sun. Like black swans in a
time before ‘Australia’. Systems of memory.
As in the law. As in big data. As in delirious
perfume. The hand-wringing over whether
to punch a Nazi or not. The lover you don’t
need to know. A fossilized piece of moon.
A fossilized piece of moon. The American
spelling. Like debauchery. Like democracy.
Sexist contrails over the skyline. Thunder.
Boredom. Accidentally becoming counter-
revolutionary. Losing self to the concept
of ‘world’. What world? And whose? Too
mapped out a future versus daily crop-up.
Self-punishment for self-delusion. Peals of
laughter. Weird domestic sadness prisms.
Androgyny. The fear of being out of touch
with the demotic for identifying this way.
Flirting with solipsism. Footnoted artworks.
The changing colouration of the sea. All the
qualities that make you believe immortality.
Like debauchery. Like democracy. Toppling
into the mire on the side of the road. Hail
the size of golf balls. Flooded greens. Being
flat out. Too tired to die. Pearls of laughter.
Concentric circles of piss. The debate over
whether the furthest planet from our knot
of light is even a planet. Not conforming to
this neoliberal system of spheres. Scroll on.
Sourdough and teargas and plague. Sunny
echo chambers. Walking about with a face
mask on. The moving shapes of smoke.
‘Sparkling Anxiety’ won the Charles Rischbieth
Jury Poetry Prize 2020. Part of a larger manuscript
called Sydney Spleen, the poem was also written
with Red Room’s MAD Poetry project in mind.
The poem adapts and alludes to a handful of phrases
from the poems and writings of Charles Baudelaire,
Sean Bonney, Ernst Bloch and Pam Brown. Its title
plays off a meme that went viral on Twitter: “It’s only
existentialism if it comes from the existentialism region
of France. Otherwise, it’s just sparkling anxiety.”
Read Toby's other Fellowship 2020 poem ‘Beneath the Sparkle’.