Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Survival Day And Some Stories That Are Not Mine To Tell - 27/01/2016

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There are stories of Indigenous Australian people I've worked with, that are not mine to tell. But we'll get to that...

Growing up in the nineties in suburban Australia, I was very influenced by Hip Hop culture, and became very interested in the American history of racial struggle. From Chuck D to Muhammad Ali, to Malcolm X and so on. Because for a teenager- in comparison to Australia the USA has always been cool, with a great soundtrack, and it's always been very, very far away.

So, looking back on it now, even if I didn't want to inherit cultural shame from my forebears, I have plenty to be embarrassed about personally. Though Australia's history is every bit as rich, brutal, dreadful and absurd as American history, I never took much interest in it until I started thinking about see more of the country.

I don't think I'm alone. I think a lot of Australians don't know a lot about Australian history. I think that a lot of times when white Australians meet First Australians, it's under bad circumstances. Like the dudes in the caravan park in Ceduna SA last year, who kept me up all night having drunken fights outside my tent and tried to steal my stuff in the morning. Men and women surviving as best they can within a society that shuns them, ridicules their heritage, interferes with their families, steals their money, their land and property. A society that threatens and often their lives.

No, didn't much like those people I met that time in Ceduna. I was scared of them, wanted them and all their worldly problems and misery to piss off so I could just maybe get some sleep. That's where I was at.

-  -  -

Six months later I'm back home in Melbourne, doing outreach social work, trying to help people being released from prison to reintegrate back into society, and avoid re-offending. I'm driving around Thornbury, trying to find one of my clients, an Indigenous man who’s disappeared off our radar weeks ago. This isn't all that unusual, a lot of people slip through the cracks and disappear after incarceration.

In this case, there's no community corrections/parole officer keeping tabs on him, there was no stable/private housing arranged for him post-release, he has ongoing medical and mental health problems, he's trying to quit heroine and had trouble keeping appointments because his phone was constantly getting lost or stolen. We had organised a series of free driving lessons for him, he was more interested in where he was going to sleep each night. He doesn't tell me too much because he thinks I'll tell the cops everything he's up to. As I said before, his story is not mine to tell.

I go back to his last known address, purportedly where he'd stayed a few nights with a cousin. I'd been there before. Quiet street, dead car in the driveway, with a friendly cat that always came strutting out from under it, neat lawn, all curtains and blinds closed. Pretty sure someone watching me the whole time I'm there but no one answers the door.

This time though I can just make out through the thick security screen, that the front door is actually open. I call out his name and mine the way I usually do, but add that I'm just here to help, and ask is anyone else there.

A woman comes to the door, arms folded, she looks defensive, apprehensive and scared. Maybe the way I looked inside my tent that night, many months and a whole lifetime ago. She says he hadn't been here in months, she doesn't know where he went, where he is, how I can contact him, nothing. Basically she just wants me to fuck off. Because no matter what I say or how it's dressed up, I'm still part of the system, ultimately we do report to Corrections Victoria.

Want to tell you how horrible it felt, knowing what I know and standing on this lady's doorstep, painfully aware of what and who I was representing. White man trying to hunt down a blackfella, because it's my job. And I did, I do really want to help. I just didn't know how.

There's got to be more you can do than reshare Facebook posts and watch the First Australians doco (but that, incidentally, would be a good start if you haven't yet).

-  -  -

Seven years ago I was working in youth activity programs, one of which in the Koori Cultural Secondary school in Glenroy. It was a tough gig. A small and incredibly culturally diverse school, but also a dumping ground for troubled kids not fitting into to regular schools in the area.

I was there in February 2008, when the Australian Prime Minister made a formal apology in Federal Parliament to the stolen generations. I switched my schedule around so I could be at the school that day and watch the speech live in the library with the kids and the staff.

For forty-three minutes this collection of sixty-odd rowdy kids, who would usually never let you get a whole sentence out, whom I could never get to focus on any task for more than minutes at a time, sat in utter silence, listening to Kevin Rudd. We were all watching together in solidarity, for the first and only time in my life that I felt like the government over me actually represented the moral authority I believed in. Australia was actually doing something... right.

Some teachers started crying, then some more, then I did, all that pain, all that systematic structural brutality finally being fucking named. Even as I'm writing this now it's choking me up. Anyone who is cynical about what good formal or gestural acts like that apology make wasn't at that school that morning.

In the present, I don't know what's happened to the young man I was last trying to find in Thornbury.

I don't know that sharing and resharing rhetoric online really helps us. I don't know if I should be telling you about these things I've seen, the school, the people in Ceduna, the missing man. Truly these are not my stories to tell.

I don't know what we do with all that virulent racism, occidental fear and deflected responsibility, attitudes of exclusion and inflated pride that days like Australia day expose.

I only know that, back in 2008 we had one day, a single day that one could rightfully feel proud to be an Australian.


Maybe we can still build on that.




         - Randall Stephens / Steven Taylor,  January 26th, 2016







____________________________









 - Peace






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Monday, September 28, 2015

Now would be good - 28/09/2015

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never get enough bread
with my soup
or sleep

always feel
just a little too fat
to fit into my afternoon

want to reheat the thing
I just said
again

could get way more stuff done
if I wasn't already busy
doing stuff

have a very good idea
of what will make me happy
it's whatever is over there
just out of reach
in another colour
yeah like the one they have

I'm pretty satisfied
with my level of dissatisfaction
at the moment
mostly
for now

I guess.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Some Loose Change - 29/07/2015

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busker over there is so bad
think he owes me a few dollars out of his hat

last night owes me three hours more sleep
smokers on the lawn here owe me cleaner air
cars owe me a whole lane to myself
plus a few less opened-door fractures on my ribs
X girlfriend owes me like a year and a half back
poetry in Melbourne owes me at least five more
social work another ten on top of that
and a hairline intact
Tony Abbott owes me a whole fucking country
owe my sanity to a bicycle
and myself a bit more self respect
no one is going to collect on those debts

as for that woman coming up to me crying
homeless over my Bento box, well...

‘spose I owed her at least a brief listen to her story
stuck together cluster of excuses that it was
it was also all true, that
you get no centrelink for up to six months
in some cases
and no support without a fixed address to check
doesn't mesh so well with being homeless
these are called poverty traps
amongst fucks to give I know this is all relative

besides buying the odd Big Issue
I don't give money to beggars
any more than I feel the need to feed these birds

but today just this once
reach into my pocket
drop a few gold coins
into her scaly hand

not because anybody is owed anything
just because I think
it's where that money should be
this afternoon


don't care what the fuck she spends it on
'long as it doesn't go to that busker over there



__________________________________________



































-Peace





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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rouge Rider - 19/07/2015


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I'm looking out the window at this shiny red woman's bike, locked to a hoop on Sydney road with a matching red helmet. I'm madly in love with this bike and it's imaginary owner.

Really I should go out there and wait next to it with a single red rose, and when she shows up I'll simply explain that I have have a red bike too, and that this makes us soul mates. This will all be very cute, she will not be quite convinced of course, but charmed.

Then I should stammer that my bike isn't actually red, but I've accessorized it that way. Of course she will be impressed with my use of the word 'accessorize' and she will not find any of this creepy. Because I'm not like a creep or nothing, yeah. She'll see through my awkwardness for sincere spirit and strength, and then look at me like a sunrise in the mountains. I will hand her the rose without the slightest shake in my hand.

She will pause a moment, swallow some decision with a shadow across her face, drop her handbag (not red because that would just be silly) into the bike's front basket before kissing me playfully. I kiss her back. Somehow the brims of our hats won't get in the way at all. Onlookers disappear, the traffic is gone, the rain falls silent. Re-materializing in my house we then have a night of passionate loving intense enough to strip religion off church walls.

She will have forgotten all about her bike, just as I forgot about my stuff at the Laundromat. Don't ask me what happened to the rose.

In the morning we will walk back here with dumb looks on our faces, back here to her shiny red bike and unlock it, together...


...or, I'll just sit here instead eating with my mouth open, not noticing that dollop of sauce dropped into my crotch as I was scoffing down these withered lukewarm french fries, with BBQ sauce. Tangy and salty.

An unimaginative choice.




________________________________________


























   -Peace





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Friday, July 3, 2015

Still Haven’t Ever Gone Fishing Yet - 03/07/2015

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as a writer
I’m better with prose
than with poetry
though I’m a better poet
than I am a social worker
but a better social worker
than I was last time round

as employee, I’m an honest man
and as an honest man I’m better
... not saying anything else

better with telling the story
rather than listening
wonderful lover, lousy partner
better at making friends
than keeping them
better with burning bridges
than just saying no
better at talking my way in
than talking my way out

never really been good at much
except covering
or compensating for
what I’m not good at

started doing poetry
because I looked around
didn’t see hardly anyone
doing it right

stops writing poetry
every time I look around
and see
the same damn thing

worst thing I can say
about others’ writing
is the same as the best thing
I can say

          ...you fuckers make me want to write

there is great admiration
and pride for the self-contained

it’s a discipline, a strength
that from the minute I discovered
self expression
I’ve never been able to develop

bombs go off inside our brains
all the time
sometimes it’s beautiful
most of the time
it just leaves bodies

the self contained types
bury them
instead I take photos
share a few around
asking if anyone can identify

      the victims

don’t want to die here
alone
in my head
            don’t want to die, period

I will of course
but before I go
I’ll keep trying to do better
with the things I do

because I have to
or else
find more things
to be better at


than writing about it













______________________















  -Peace








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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tom Morello's "Pacific Rim" theme on repeat, since you asked. And no it's not Helping - 01/07/2015


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I don't feel like the whole World's against me

more that the whole World's got it's headphones in
and listens to crap music really loud
while standing close, far too close to me

some days
my own music insufficient to drown it out






_______________________________





-Peace










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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Back-up - 30/06/2015

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The PC repair man thanked me for not crying in front of him, because apparently he has that happen a lot.

See, calling it a first world problem wouldn't have helped, but telling me about a mother whose computer he worked on, had lost all her baby photos, yeah that did.

He wasn't able to recover much from her PC, but one of the few folders he retrieved turned out to have some naked photos of herself. That's embarrassing.

She cried, I didn't.  I wanted to though, only reason I didn't is that I generally can't in front of other people. It's like urination stage fright, or performance anxiety.

So, I've lost over six weeks work on sorting out photos for the book I'm putting together, what I've been working on since early May.

I'd been saving into an external hard drive that I accidentally pulled off the desk via the power cables at the back, while rearranging a plant and a lamp. It landed with an almighty whack and it now refuses to open. Dozens and dozens of hours work. All gone, because I wasn't watching my feet properly.

He was the arch -IT/tech looking guy. Obese, shabbily dressed, haircut like a schoolboy and laconicly unhurried in his work for the $160 per hour he was charging for his services. I can't imagine how he'd handle people crying in front of him. Then again what do I know.

No crying, but went and  hyperventilated a bit though, in the corner behind my bookshelves where he couldn't see. Behind my weights and back rollers and piles of DVDs and y'know, everything I own that doesn't make this a cliche single guy's pad. Fuck it.

Anyway I hope he didn't hear me, He was phoning in his job summary. Just reiterating loudly to his boss that we couldn't get anything of the drive.

I was pacing my place waiting for him to leave making fists, breathing deep through my nose, probably most people who be very uncomfortable being in the same room with me. If he noticed my body language at all he didn't care.

Figured I'd cry or smash something after he'd left, but I didn't. Went straight down to JB to buy a new 2TB hard drive to start over again, from scratch. Because that's doing something. Because it feels better to do things. Like actual functional, emotionally intelligent people do. So today I'll pretend to be one of those.

Still pretty numb though, at least I don't feel like crying or breaking anything now. Don't get me wrong, if I thought it would make me feel better, even temporarily, then I would. Ultimately it'd just be another mess I'd made that I have to clean up.

As soon as I finish this piece of writing I have to crack open that box and start over. Writing helps. The time I didn't cry because I didn't lose baby photos and no one random saw my tits and I hooray still live in the first world. (Although first-world is a term that refers to the cold war era -with the Soviet Block and allies being the second world, so technically I don't live in the first world anymore.)

Anyway, here I go again. I'll watch my feet better next time.

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________________
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-Peace.





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Thursday, June 25, 2015

a fire just waiting for fuel - 25/06/2015

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legs feel like arse
your hands and elbows stiff from making fists
and you wouldn't have needed to burn off
that whole bowl of chips worth of fat
with a boxing class
if you hadn't eaten them
in the first place

you wouldn't feel like going away
if you hadn't have come back
wouldn't want to write it down
if you were happier
but writing it down
does make you happy

you wouldn't be so hard on yourself
unless being hard on yourself
was what makes you happy
you like people you can talk with
about the people you don't

you chase loneliness away
with the kind of company
that sends you screaming
back into your own

you like porn instead of
sex instead of porn instead
of hungry for a healthy appetite
and the hardest times you have
are in trying to do
those things un-challenging

like cycling somewhere better
than actually getting somewhere
and look where it gets you

you're looking for fuel
a stomach full of empty grumbles
being there
to tear it down
to build it back up
to get even better still
at tearing it all down again

sift
repulse
attract
reload
write
stop
eat


then burn it off again
































__________________________





Sorry folks for things being so dead quiet round these parts in June. I've been busy sorting through travel photos and lots of stuff in preparation for a future book and other writing. Expect some more poems and pieces of writing here soon, promise.  Stay tuned!







-Peace







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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#metaphor


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I did not hear tonight's question

but my answer is no






_____________








-Peace









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Sunday, June 7, 2015

P.S. I Hate Cops - 07/06/2015

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If I wasn't feeling lousy when I rode here, then by the time I got done with two police officers here debating the semantics of where the train station starts and ends, and where I stopped cycling to avoid a fine, did the trick.

Feel lousy, but dodged the fine. Think it's easier to talk a cop down now that I'm older than most of these constables you'll meet out on street patrol. I can 'speak with authority when questioning it' but my insides still churn while I'm doing it.

I'm numb, and this weekend has driven reasons to be happy in and out of me like an air exchange under my breath. Spent the afternoon with my family, sat for the last half hour before I left watching my father playing Monopoly with his two grandchildren.

He can laugh. I tell you he laughs, animated and bright in a way I never saw myself when I was the childrens' age. That jovial spirit, he was never this lively before my niece and nephew came along. Was that sense of play always there under his gruff and cynical surface? I'd like to think so.

Like when I play with a cat, rubbing noses and dangling string, and wanting that part of me out front all the time. It would be a great way to operate in the world, all the time.

Except for when dealing with cops trying to impose on you, then I need to be as intimidating and assertively confident as I possible. I can do that.

I love being out cycling through the dark under amber light on cold quiet streets on a night like tonight. But I don't like that I'm going home to an equally cold and deserted home.

I like making peace but also like standing up for myself. I wish I had a cat to pat right now, wished I'd joined in that instead Monopoly game instead of just watching to the side having a beer quietly. I sat there the way my Dad would've when he was, say, the age I am now. I'm still uneasy around young kids, like they'll see what an emotional fraud I am. The way cats do.

I wonder if, or where I can cross over into that more playful territory. Instead of standing of standing my ground at a train station, debating boundary lines here, out in the cold.





Thursday, June 4, 2015

"You're not wrong Walter, you're just an asshole." - 05/06/2015


.

my injury collection
is about as interesting
to everybody else
as everybody else'
tattoo collection
is to me

guess it's just a matter
of dressing for the cold
not to show off how much
skin I have in this game

the worst thing
that ever happened
to me
told me she'll also be
there, tonight

have to not be
a complete tool
to not be
a petty little man

in theory
I should be living
by that tenet
everyday anyway
of course

in practice
I have to stop digging
all these holes
in my moral high ground
no matter how big a plot
of land
it occupies

or at least use one
in which to bury
this hatchet
held so tight
in the digging

anyway not to worry
about digging in
or anything to bury down
that's not where we're at
tonight



because no one's throwing a party on my moral high ground











________________________















-Peace






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Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Which has lead you inexorably... here." - 01/06/2015

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religion is fundamentally
any given civilization's attempt
to ask the question

                'So why should humans bother trying to be good?'

only problem with that
fundamentally,
is that if God does exist
I'm pretty sure she thinks


              it's a stupid fucking question.




_________________
















(finally a poem my Dad might like)






-Peace










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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sex Hair - 28/05/2015

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"sex hair"

somehow he'd never heard that phrase
before she mentioned it
it caught him
saying it over and over
kid with a new toy
shiny
sex hair, sex hair haha
her sex hair yeah
I like your sex hair

he writes down everything he likes
he likes to use everything he likes
he likes to show people what he writes
himself into corners
just to work phrases in
to figure things out
and she didn't like
the things he wrote

he could respect that
poems aren't good places
to find yourself in

he sees the writing on the wall
but then again he sees writing
everywhere he looks

it's on the lamp
left on in the other room
all night

sees it in
two whisky glasses
abandoned on the floor
one not as empty

see it in the disturbed
contents of an open draw
rummaged through bedside
for material

sees it interrupted
sleep in the evocative
tangle in the eyes
in the sheets
of paper
crumpled

worse still is when
he sees things to write
about what is not there
for others to read in too
a disservice to wordless
urges made worthless
sleep on it, absent-minded
while that writing on the wall
reads- 

"some things you really shouldn't share"

he wasn't reading
those words back though
too preoccupied


         waxing lyrical about sex hair.





_________________








-Peace.











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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day One - 27/05/2015

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have to stop
instantly falling in love
with any woman out cycling
in the morning

        then again
        maybe I don't

microwaved food
sugar and beer
and porn
and casual sex

so desperate
to be better
setting a reminder
that tells me
'stop hating'
each morning
at 9am

what I can go without
is being this fucking good
at telling you all about
what I should be
going without

got enough shoulds here
to starve a whole village
of artists

I can do privation
like it's a vice
and vice versa

need another fix
of fixing
gimme another hit
of withdrawal

and all the while
only thing really wrong
with me is
I keep looking
so hard
to find


something that is wrong with me
































_________________________












-Peace









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Saturday, May 23, 2015

much of our muchness - 24/05/2015

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there was a time
when we didn't incessantly post up
every thought and feeling online

we were not given to display
each and every wound
for random strangers and stalkers
for the creeps, freaks, frenemies
and the odd lurking relative
to read

of course we were better
much better
in our own private companies
back then

also we were happier
much happier
with who we were being
back then

naturally I was better
so much better
at lying
than



what I have now become.





_______________________________









-Peace.








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