Month: June 2016

The Unicorn and The Lion

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom / wikicommons

 

When I moved to London town

I saw unicorns all around

Trotting, prancing, showing off

Their silky manes, both street and posh

Amy Winehouse with her hive-horn

Too quickly turned to crown of thorn

The gorgeous, lovely and the torn

Who’d bring it on the Tube each morn

And outside London, thought I found

Unicorn habitat all around

The ancient magick of the land

Emerald glades and pebbley sand…

I didn’t spot the British Lions

Sitting noble at their pints

Wanting to protect their pride

Gath’ring power, biding time

Shaking out their mangy fur

Memories of what they were

So golden, graceful, deadly, sleek

King of the jungle is not meek!

Claws were sharpened, teeth bared

Lies were told, tempers flared

Fighting, snarls, self-righteous rage

Ugly beasts who won’t be caged

Cruel attacks from either side

Barbs that puncture both their hides

Boris, Farage, Cameron: cowards

Rich men turning lion’s gold sour

And finally the ivory spike

Overcome by fear and might

A heavy blow, ruthless, loud

And unicorn lies in a shroud –

A silly, worthless mythic creature

Dreams slashed of charm’ed future

Now I hear the lions roar

And nothing will be as before

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Goodbye old friend?

Phone

 

How do I speak about you as your twilight approaches

The way you fit so smoothly

in the palm of my hand

So many times I’ve held you

My fingers caressing your surface

A reassuring presence in so many ways.

Have my eyes dwelt on your radiant face

More often than on the sweet heads of my children?

I hope not, but I fear

You’ve been with me, so near

In almost every moment these past five years.

Have my fingers moved across your surface

More than they’ve trailed over my husband’s body?

Undoubtedly. How unfortunate.

So how do I say goodbye

To one who’s been so intimate

So close

And yet, also, tethered me to tough times

a symptom? or a cause?

when the wet rope of anxiety

wraps round my wrist

cutting, painful, trapped

dragging down, suffocating

in your glowing depths.

But you were a beacon

on those long, long newborn nights

A conduit of joy

upset, rage and the mundane

So many Moments: captured!

A modicum of comfort in exhaustion and despair

A window to the world, it sounds so trite!

Friends spoke, smiled and sobbed through you

And now, my most ardent hope

Is that your stuttering, failing light

Doesn’t flicker out before I fickle find

Your replacement

(A new galaxy awaits!)

It seems absurd to eulogise a machine

But, my smug little Smarty

Mirror of a thousand selfies

You’ve been with me through such a time

It feels silly-sad to lay you to rest

without some remark

before you go to gather dust in a drawer

is it fitting to bid you

Goodbye old friend?

 

Rain

Roses in Zurich

Last time it rained like this

Rain, rain, rain

It was spring? autumn? In…

my share house in Newtown

the same rain, same, same

Some days it would stop

Then it’d start up

again, again, again

Uni textbooks damp and curling

lank hanks of velvet curtain

on my sliding bedroom door

over my barred window, hiding

the pane, pane, pane

Blocking out my hangovers, oh

the pain, the pain, the bane

Of my existence.

A lover called my room “the pit”

But I had a red rose

outside on the covered balcony

A little flame, flame, flame

One night another suitor

Left a small china dog on my doorstep

Racked returning from the pub–

a tender campaign, campaign, campaign.

I’d go to my beautiful friend’s house

Try to ease her sadness

with pizza, throwdowns, hairdye–

We’d laugh, tho her heart was

in twain, twain, twain.

I did my work, I felt sad and happy

I got drunk all the time.

It rained and rained and rained

Sometimes wonder how much has

changed, changed, changed

Missing my mother

The same steak knives in Zurich that my mother has in Sydney

The same steak knives in Zurich that my mother has in Sydney

 

Is it any surprise

We have the same knives

When our lives

Are so easily connected

By flight?

 

But complacency’s unwise

Because not all the ties

Are strong and it’s night

In your world, while in mine

The sun shines

 

And tho the lines

Of communication open lie

The sight of those knives

was a cutting remind

You’re not by my side

I am a feminist

 

I have been on a bit of a blog hiatus. My parents were here all through May and it all just got too much – the blog was something that had to slide. Been feeling a bit burnt out these last few weeks. But anyway. Here I am again.

I’ve been reading some feminist and female-focused stuff lately. Well, I guess I’m always reading this but somehow it’s all come together, as things tend to do. I read Viv Albertine’s autobiography, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. And Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist (followed by her novel An Untamed State). And a million online articles (headlines at least) about the Stanford rapist, the Cincinatti gorilla, Johnny Depp & Amber Heard’s breakup and the fucking US election. All of them seem to relate to the topic.

I don’t know. I feel a bit hopeless and helpless with all this stuff. We’ve come so far and yet we’ve come barely any distance at all. I look at my two little boys’ willies in the bath at night and think – how can these mini-Elephant-head-looking bits of the human body be responsible for so much crap in the world? I don’t even need to say “Why do men think they have a right to women’s bodies?” because I sort of know why – because it’s been like that for a very long time.

Why do we tend to believe the male story over the female? Because we’re so much more used to male-led stories, it’s familiar. It’s the authority we know. The norm.

I loved Viv Albertine’s book because it was a female perspective on a time and movement I’ve read so much about (the London punk scene circa 1976-79). I loved her insights on music – that women often focus on the lyrics rather than the instruments because you didn’t see many females playing instruments (still don’t, really) but words are relatable – I totally get that. It’s something often said in feminist and anti-racist discussions but I’ll repeat it: it’s so much easier to do something when you can see an example like “yourself” already doing it. I was somehow disappointed when Albertine disappeared into motherhood and domesticity – someone so obviously talented — (although she’s back on the scene now).. And that she was so concerned with appearance – clothing, her weight, hair removal – but then that’s also me. Completely. So I appreciated the honesty. And it’s not like being a mother or doing domestic stuff is non-feminist… is it? I guess maybe a part of me kind of does believe that. Probably a post for another day. And don’t even get me started on the struggle between motherhood and artistic endeavour…

This leads me to why I read Bad Feminist. Because the synopsis struck a chord – about how the author, Roxanne Gay, strives to be a “good feminist” but lives with the contradictions of things that are considered anti-feminist, such as wanting someone to look after her and loving music that’s horrible to women. In her case, rap à la Robin Thicke and the Ying Yang Twins et al. In my case, hair metal à la Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Motley Crüe etc. (I’d say Steven Tyler is a feminist in many ways but that’s a whole other blog post again). I liked that she was so articulate about not having to be a perfect feminist to still be part of the cause. And how there’s still this lack of… stuff… for women — so few examples where you see “yourself” as I mentioned earlier — so we kind of want everything to tick all the boxes and fill all the gaps, which is impossible, of course. I was also enlightened by her words about how women of colour have so often been excluded from the feminist movement over the years. The book takes the form of a series of essays. Some of her arguments, particularly early on, were a tad patchy, but towards the end, some chapters are searingly on point: concise, cutting, powerful. Her essay on reproductive freedom, The Alienable Rights of Women, nailed it. Really worth reading. You can also watch Roxanne Gay’s 11.5-minute TED talk.

Heard/Depp and Gorillas. Well… you read my poem Over Heard and Cincinatti (didn’t you?!) We enjoy judging, feeling superior, BEING superior. Watching and jeering from the sidelines. It’s human nature. It’s nature-nature: survival of the fittest, red in tooth and claw. I guess that feeling of superiority and entitlement that’s so appealing is something like being a top-of-the-foodchain white, heterosexual alpha male? Maybe I’m oversimplifying. Maybe I should just stop reading my Facebook news feed. All this stuff really has nothing to do with us – it doesn’t really change my life one iota knowing, or not knowing, that, on the other side of the world, a child was endangered and a zoo animal died, or the state of two strangers’ marriage.

The US election probably does affect things. Although maybe not as much as America, or the world’s news organisations, might like us to believe! This week it officially became about Hilary-first-woman-everything and Trump the bigoted alpha male. It will be both fascinating and, I fear, horrific to see how it plays out.

In some ways, feminism, and perhaps even the wider equality movement (if you can call it that), is trying to do something completely radical, get us to go against the grain. Use our brains first, instead of our bodies. Ignore and/or embrace difference rather than fear it and/or seek to oppress. But then we’re too much in our heads they say, we need to live in the moment, be instinctive, feel ourselves breathe.  I wonder if that Stanford rapist was “in the moment” for his 20 minutes of action? Ugh. I feel sick thinking about it.

When I break up playfights between my boys, I’ve been trying to explain to my five-year-old that it’s not cool to push or take advantage of someone younger / smaller than you. In fact, that it’s not OK to physically take advantage of anyone ever. That disputes can be solved in different ways and that violence and using your larger body to push down a smaller body is not one of the acceptable methods. But he is still small (except compared to his brother).  I want him to be able to defend himself. I hope I can give him non-violent tools to achieve this throughout his life.

I’m sad. I’m not writing this very well nor expressing all the stuff I want to say properly. I don’t have any insights, others have said it better (see above). It’s a statement that will surprise precisely nobody but I still feel the need to say this: I am a feminist. I am a feminist. I am a feminist. Everyone should be. I’m not sure I even want to know you if you’re not one. I don’t feel a lot of joy in the world right now. I really hope things get better.

Over Heard and Cincinatti

 

Gorillas and Johnny Depp

Have we Heard Amber’s side?

You bet

And a million other commentators

So far from the action and yet

They know the situation intricate,

intimate, yep.

 

Those terrible parents, that awful zoo

Everyone knows

What else they should do

Jail the parents, shut it down

Make the kid get a gorilla-heart tattoo.

Lives destroyed online

and we relish the view