In this still blue bright out of nowhere
they appear, five, six, nine, just hanging
I notice them peripherally, a flock much
larger than the usual circle of seabirds
a tenth is still falling, a stone tied to a ribbon
then the shute flowers finally and she brakes.
I hear them distantly woo-hooing each other
legs a-dangle, bodies hung from a string.
Maybe they’ll bring us news from that upper realm:
‘the air is cold and thin’, ‘clouds wispy like pillows’
or say how we appear in our gardens
unexalted, climbing ladders, walking toddlers
or, having snatched themselves out of the great mouth
tell us the particular word death said when denied.
Image: Royal Australian Air Force parachuter, c. 1939, c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr.
And for music this morning, here’s an early album by Max Richter, The Blue Notebooks (youtube) – (maybe start with the familiar ‘On the Nature of Daylight) which he described as a meditation on (and against) violence. Featuring Tilda Swinton reading from Franz Kafka and poet Czesław Miłosz‘s Hymn of the Pearl and Unattainable Earth. Originally released in 2003, here we are nearly 20 years on…
girl in the Honda
smoking as she shift lanes
she's listening to Drake
driving like she doesn't care
she’s thinking YOLO
Image: Dodgem cars, Luna Park, November 1952 _ photographed by Ivan Ives, c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr. Drake, is a Canadian rapper musician, who is currently the most streamed artist of all-time on Spotify, with his songs having been played over 46 billion times, as of April 2022.) He also popularised the saying YOLO (abbr. you only live once). A tanka after Drake Equation by British-Nigerian poet Gboyega Odubanjo
every morning my usual breakfast cereal, fruit and eighteen wild swans lifting over the water
Image: Tho it’s still winter, the bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is blooming here in the suburbs. A piece in tribute to the mullet haircut of Cameron Smith, professional golfer who recently won the British Open. In case you missed it, here’s a patronising piece on Cameron from the Daily Mail – ‘you can take the boy out of Brisbane, but you can’t take Brisbane out of the boy…’
my retro haircut
watched by a half-draped
from another century
— her weary smile
my usual haircut
barber’s clippers buzz
at my neck
reminds me how you...
i stifle my pleasure
my standard haircut
for a few dollars
johnny pushes my hair
about as we chat
— you don’t do that anymore
Image: Two of the first female men’s barbers in Sydney, Miss Dolly House and her sister, c.1927 photographed by Sam Hood c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr. Yes, it’s time for my ‘short on the sides and leave a bit of length on top’ once more, so I was musing on haircuts, an oddly intimate necessity. After Jeanne Lupton, Eucalypt, 32, 2022.
is back his backhand
as if he’d never
is quicker quiet genius
moves like a dream thru the crowd
Image: Country week tennis, White City, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. 1937. Photographer Sam Hood, c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr. This made perfect sense when I wrote this at 2am.
And for music this morning, here’s First Nations musician and composer Dr G. Yunupingu (commonly known as Gurummul) with the posthumous 2018 album Djarimirri – (Youtube) — The album was completed just weeks before his passing in July 2017 and presents traditional songs and harmonised chants from his traditional Yolngu life with orchestral arrangements. Stirring.
This poem was written on the land of the Wodi Wodi people who are the Aboriginal custodians of the Illawarra — and I pay my respects to Elders past and present.
And for music this morning, German composer Max Richter has re-recomposed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons this time using gut strings, period instruments and even vintage synthesisers to create a ‘grittier, more punk rock sound‘ — with Elena Urioste and the Chineke! Orchestra ) (Youtube). You know where to start.
the pub is just
as you remember it
tho it’s all changed
the barman still serves port invalide chilled from the fridge
Image: The Hotel Wellington, Sydney 1930s by Sam Hood, c/- State Library of NSW. (Please, no unkind comments about ears). This photo would have been taken during what was known as ‘the six o’clock swill’ which saw public bars across Australia close at 6pm. This practice continued from post-WW1 through to 1954 in NSW and later in some other states and resulted in heavy drinking and some hotels with very long bars. Invalid port (or ‘port invalide‘) as far as I know was port wine marketed as having medicinal properties.
captcha is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It can involve asking the user to identify distorted text, listen to audio files or identify tessellated images of zebras crossing or zebra crossings or other randomness.
And for music today, something beautiful from Pakistan-born, Brooklyn-based vocalist Arooj Aftab with her album Vulture Prince. (YouTubers)