Jacket 19 — October 2002   |   # 19  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |
This issue of Jacket is a collaboration with Verse magazine



Pam Brown

Two poems



On eventually entering the library

(in faux-naïf)

in every ear
      a black foam dot —
is the entire CBD
     in mourning
    or off to cocktails ?
         scuffs,
   lacquered toenails,
zimmy black suits.
  rows of shiny packets
   in the platform slot-machines
        celebratory, glinting.
that crumpled white shirt, this
   old tan bag, or black,
            this imploded pair of thongs.
corporatism’s doom ?
  everything seems stretched,
    quite worn out
     like tangled muscles, middle-aged.
my own insouciance a cover,
  on the steep escalator
behind the woman-in-black
   before me
     and, followed,
   pressed to walk
         automatically
up
       the tarnished moving stairs,
      to imagine this
    as ‘workout’ —
propelled, at the top,
  towards a crowd
rushing the opposite way
   past skateboards, beggars,
students, ning-nongs (everyone’s up
at 8 a.m.) —
hot chips bar,
       through the ticket gate,
out
onto a cluster
of disfigured houses.

briskly, past the building
     that holds
an as-yet-unsent letter
  rejecting my application
    for a brief change to routine,
well, no, really,
an application
     for a JOLT — to think
on paper with Pasolini,
     else-where       and then —
no go —
so,
I’ll pass the building
    daily, and — daily,
    as usual —
think
‘how chronically unfashionable I am’
even after all the building’s staff
      has relocated
         to safer, better, brighter premises
or, arts-functionaries, I quote John Berger —
  saying, to put it more baldly,
     ‘I don’t sell much.’
not somewhere between
  success and failure,
I’m altogether
          elsewhere

from the footpath
  steamy glass fridges
      in adjoining
   takeaway milkbars
bring on
  a (sudden) bout of
self-service indecision

(excessive choice
  ‘no iced tea’. . .
          hopeless. . .)


in the newsagency
I check and play
   ozlotto —
the proprietor
   proffered affability
    once I started to stop
for The Weekly Guardian
as well as the lottery,
            on he goes, today,
  — this summer humidity,
the weather bureau
predicts alternatives
    to the actual weather
       of any day — weird
weather, terrible weather,
     strange. . .

inside the university campus
  a man in a business suit
whose eyes seem smashed
     with recent pain
passes dazedly —
he looks like
   Yevgeny Yevtushenko looked years ago,
only smaller ,
or maybe Vosnesensky
  ( who I saw reading at the Con
     but can’t remember physically)
  and further up
     on the horrible gouged phenomenon
of nineteen-sixties
  grey concrete steps
an overweight security guard
in a boy’s boyish cap
   & blue university uniform
is relishing
      a meat pie

(hurrah)

this is
the last morning shift
of the century
for me,
and that’s what I say
to Agnes Wroblewski
when we cross paths
   in the shady sandstone quad —
‘Kojooshko’ — Agnes who told me
    that —
the correct pronunciation
          of Mount Kosciusko

entering the library,
     the greasy blackened edges
  of the metal ceiling fans
                     whirring crazily

at my desk : under tall windows,
a dark blue storm approaching —
could lightning
  be attracted to
        the radiation fields
that fill this workroom ?

        ‘Doubt it !’
   the wilful supervisor
   stamps her foot.


Retarded pretensions

"They won't come through. Nothing comes through. The
death
            Of every poem in every line
            The argument con-
                                          tinues."

— Jack Spicer

nothing more untoward
than monotony
has occurred

my process commences
without instruction,
with an artless question
‘anyway, why communicate ?’

surrounded by scenery.
why don’t those
migratory birds
leave here ?
is it such
a beauteous ecology ?

having landed in times
when the usual response
to beauty
is to buy it
or to try to
         win it,
I make my clunky gestures
towards
a build-a-bricks outlook
(construction, not architecture)


how do I do this thing
& appear not to ?    at least
never be seen doing it.

not writing
for any cause
& feeling
consequent guilt
about it.

(exactly
how well-motivated
are you?)

an epiphytic magnavox box
clings to a telegraph pole
beginning the link outwards

transitive and optimistic —
flick that crow off the antenna !
head pell-mell
for the grammar !



But wait — there’s more! ...from Pam Brown’s author notes page here on the Jacket site, you can link to a photo and a biographical note, and also to dozen or so Jacket pages where her work features or where she is reviewed or interviewed.


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