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John Forbes

Three recent poems

from the posthumous collection of recent poems,
Damaged Glamour, Brandl & Schlesinger, 60pp, $17.95 (Australian dollars) ISBN 1-876040-10-6  (see below)

Ode to Karl Marx

Old father of the horrible bride whose
wedding cake has finally collapsed, you

spoke the truth that doesn’t set us free -
it’s like a lever made of words no one’s

learnt to operate. So the machine it once
connected to just accelerates & each new

rap dance video’s a perfect image of this,
bodies going faster and faster, still dancing

on the spot. At the moment tho’ this set up
works for me, being paid to sit and write &

smoke, thumbing through Adorno like New Idea
on a cold working day in Ballarat, where

adult unemployment is 22% & all your grand
schemata of intricate cause and effect

work out like this: take a muscle car &
wire its accelerator to the floor, take out

the brakes, the gears the steering wheel
& let it rip. The dumbest tattooed hoon

— mortal diamond hanging round the Mall —
knows what happens next. It’s fun unless

you’re strapped inside the car. I’m not,
but the dummies they use for testing are.


You meet your daemon &
respond with contempt

for all depth & poetry
driven by love and breath

self-conscious bitterness
is best, besides lust or a

detached disgust — as
long as there’s nothing

hysterical about it Art
& life both require this

but your attitude like
inspiration disappears,

leaves you ugly & stranded,
the moment you admire it

Satellite of Love

like unwound toys or the mind of a stone
verbs elude me. I’m willing to change tho’

— if you do too — into a spree or a better
more feeling computer. oh tent of dreams!

where is your tailored lightsail guiding us?
through what used to be the empyrean, but now

is just where satellites go, to stamp like
a giant foot, infotainment & game shows
into the brains beneath? death by stellar
allure or a lack of oxygen might follow,

unless this prayer can save me, the way
damaged glamour seeks out its opposite number

& we move together, draped in the planet’s
tingling aurora, thanks to our huge,
                                                                electric shoes.

Damaged Glamour cover

Damaged Glamour is available from Gleebooks book store in sunny Sydney, or from the publishers, Brandl & Schlesinger Publishers, PO Box 276, Rose Bay NSW 2029, Australia, fax-(612+) 9388 1032.

Seven of John Forbes’s poems were published in New American Writing number four, Fall 1988. Another seven poems can be found in the Bloodaxe Book of Modern Australian Poetry, edited by John Tranter and Philip Mead, ISBN 1-85224-315-5, published within Australia as the Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry, ISBN 0-14-058649-0

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