This Guided by Poets thread, is the second in the Cafe Poets features. All over Australia, poets are bunkering down in cafes thanks to The Australian Poetry Centre and believe me there are some really exciting projects emerging. If you are on Facebook you can keep up to date with all things Cafe Poets here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Poets/68995496578
I hope to promote each poet and their residency over the coming months. So it is my pleasure to introduce to you, two more of the Cafe Poets – Anne Collins and Jess Cook (cooknkitch).
Heatwave (by Anne Collins)
Adelaide, March 2008.
The house waits for the dawn easterly
to billow its curtains cool.
A single sheet feels too hot,
there’s nothing to breathe,
after a sleepless night
my brain befuddles to zero,
my feet and hands swell tight.
Maroon, mineral-smelling blood
gushes wasted from my womb.
Thick and dry as sandpaper
heat burdens every move
one foot in front of the other
almost impossible. My arm reaches over,
to put a cup down on the bench, I pause, stare blank
into the sandpaper haze,
its molecules scratch my face.
The closed-up house swells tight.
I escape into air-conditioned galleries, ponder art,
then sweat at the bus-stop in a strip of shade.
A crisp, high-heeled wedding party, feathered and buffed
perfumes the footpath.
The crowded bus full of tolerance faces the sun,
moves and stops, jerks –
a woman struggles with her baby, refuses a seat,
a Bluetooth man from Sudan shrugs
and smiles his words into the gritty air.
In the park I listen to writers, ideas and poetry
drift across the swelter
to those fanning metaphors in the shade.
In the middle of the afternoon I’m lost
in the glare of an empty street
squat stone houses frown at parched gardens.
I try to think back to where
my friend’s house sits waiting dark and cool,
fan swirling. I try so hard to think: rehearse
first right, second left – but in reverse
my sense of direction gets stuck.
The heat leaves me heavy-lidded on the couch,
presses on my head as I read
until I surrender to cushions.
Living-room conversation fades as if
someone pressed the volume button.
Dreams come rushing onto the stage.
Did I come all this way to sleep?
The evening temperature is exotic under restaurant palms,
I sip gin and tonic, friends talk about death,
joke that intelligent people are nocturnal.
My shimmer-shirt clings pink,
my legs peel from retro-vinyl chairs.
In the lantern-lit night-park I travel the world in music,
crowds mingle, heat-drugged. I walk home satisfied,
dust in my hair and throat.
In the middle of the night on the deck
I fix my eyes beyond the hills,
onto a plain of crystal lights
stretched across the mouth of the gulf.
I stop myself from saying it’s hot.
I write poetry, essays, reviews and stories. My work is published in literary magazines in Australia, the USA and New Zealand. My two books are The Season of Chance (Walleah Press, 2005) and Seasoned with Honey (Walleah Press, 2008) a four-poet anthology by Lyn Reeves, Mary Jenkins, Anne Collins and Gina Mercer.
I have completed my first week as Poet-in -Residence at Chado The Way of Tea in Hobart. Chado is run by Varuni Kulaskera and Brian Ritchie. It is a beautiful tea house with a performance/exhibition space. While there I’ll be working on my verse novella that has a water theme and exploring the world of tea. During the six-month residency I’m also hoping to work with visual artists and musicians. The first of these collaborations will happen with Brian Ritchie who is a master of the Japanese Shakuhachi flute. People coming into the tea-house will be greeted by the calming sounds of the flute and me reading poetry. Visual artist Marianne Stafford will be working with me to produce some paintings in response to my novella. These will be exhibited at the end of the residency to coincide with a reading from my novella. Varuni and I will also be planning other cross-arts events that will take place during the next six months.
Excerpt from Project ALICE (by Jess Cook)
We had shepherds
Then we built fences.
Universals in universes
while these Gates
These uninvited guests of timely fleshed and textured pastures
Raided shelters and pelted shards of difference to build borders
We guided will
and then guarded against
In dense defence
Fixated tense with molten larvae for armour
Lances standing fortress in a long alarming point of arrest
An inked signature dress
Blotted with besotted blood denches
bleeding gums in bleaching surface
Lines missing crevasse
Stripped Fabric in multiple sizes
Biased stretched with stress and bottle shocked
Shell cracked UN matched labels
wining and dining
With porcupine china
Porcelain spines rattle in shop windows
saving blinks in blanks of purpose
the distortions of being earnest
Falling into chasms where nothing is everything
The levels are flooding
Twin sets are barricading
The macro and micro exchanging
To engage with jungle obstacles
Un expected tests of space and time
Chases of tails that wag behind
The turnstiles effects of teatime
The topsy-turvy world
House arrested as blue-black bows bruise the roof tiles
Silken hair falls for straw coloured Stairs
descending to ascend
To a new found land of here.
Innuendo spins a gallery of fun house mirrors
Sprinkling impressions of self portraits
21st century pirates supply restrictive forces
Too many voices muffled with corsets
Ahh ahhhh ahhh ah ahhhhh ahhhh ahhhhhhh (paper bag)
The taught elastic band snaps
As lungs expand
clarity appears from the invisible
Projections of Alice
Till it’s running so fast it stands still to sight
A neon light tied like a twists of hyper ti died balloons
Holding hands stretched out
Swaying as prayer flags
Looming our existence
There are Infinite possibilities
Rolling with the ever expanding galaxy
Abundance beyond polarity
Beyond strict lines of guide
We find Pink queens in rivers of poles dancing
Flexing the unsigned inking in
parlours tattooed with vanity
Glistening in a fisting of self
Couped up escorts who pawn
Bit my tongue chewing bubblegum
The sum of us hung like candy necklaces
Blowing fist of neon in the future no age shall come between us
No strand of fear demeans us
The fuss of fitting extracted with the canines
Leaving wisdoms intact as cattle grates retract
Along with the gates
Who kept the molars in silence
Back road rodents unable to bite in the daylight
Now pouring out of the tea pot
Pissing in the wind
Kissing no ones ring
Blings blinding like arteries get binding
With The deep fried mars bars
Gluttonous gadgets that metabolise
Riff rafs breaking kit kats
Drilling this that’s like
Left foot red left hand red
On twister mats the dummy spats
incisors insisting fabric scissors are damaging
The weave implanted in our knowing
How did we get assembled in lines of silence?
piled up in tips of casts plastered in ahhhhh (opens like at dentist)
whilst men on roof tops have us looking up
chat rooms chatter (teeth chatter) cold call hook ups
glowing white in ebony wormholes
transportation to motherboards
who hoard our exports to the cyber world
a generation lost in cyber space
looking for love gone mad
the snapping of the elastic band
pulling parachutes for fluttering hearts
pumping adrenaline in all the right places
callous driven out with derby day races
we leapt through the glass leaving faith
So many tasks
Only belief remained without question
It leaped out of frost-glazed windows
to frolic with the flock
on Mountains of crevasses
fleshed revellers of interdependence
The lack of point is for
It becomes experience instead of persistence
So get amongst it
Say ahhhh and charge
Let questions guide you beyond fences
Realise the potential of creation
Ongoing combinations of directions
Interceptions perceptions and more more questions
U R U
This cuckoo flew
Who grew to new
Jess Cook (cooknkitch) is Cafe Poet at Sydney’s Fair Trade Cafe. She is Director of Token Imagination and a performance poet. Token Imagination is an event managment and promotion company for word/performance art, that includes the monthly event, TOKEN WORD.As a resident artist of The Frequency Lab, she has released an album of poetry/electronic music titled Out of Town on a Horse Called Thursday.