Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MELBOURNE POETRY MAP: What Are You Looking At? -(May 2010)


This is a poem written specifically for the Melbourne Poetry Map: Audio Graffiti project, created by Eleanor Jackson. The idea was for poets to create work specific to sites/places around the Melbourne city centre, which can then be downloaded, along with a map, from the website, to allow to take a poetry tour of Melbourne.

There's some great names on the list, (as well as mine), we're talking Ezra Bix, Maxine Clark, Steve Smart, Emily Zoe Baker and many more.

Check it:


My poem relates to the footbridge linking Flinders Street Station with the Southbank complex (pictured below)


What are you lookin’ at?

You are looking at...

a set of stairs

leading down to an island

on a bridge

you should be on that bridge

you should go down those stairs

you should be here

In the year two-thousand-and-ten.

Over here mate!

What are you lookin’ at?

You should be looking at South bank

the predominant colour is gray

stencils along the banks say commercial boats only

or alternatively,

you should be

looking at Flinders street station

you should be

able to hear train timetable announcements


What are you lookin’ at?

You should not be looking at

a pack of teenage boys

who hung out there

they should not be there

standing out on a balcony

that in nineteen ninety six seemed to have been put there

for no other reason


at the time

than for you to poise there and yell drunken abuse at passers by.

You should not be now in two-thousand-ten

making eye contact

with them.

What are you lookin’ at?



what are you lookin’ at?

You should be looking at

this river city view

too good to let go un-commercialised

in this new millennium

so you should not be looking at

a cup of coffee

…maybe cake

at the south island café

you should be looking for a comfortable chair

you should be enjoying, all this stuff


knowing none of it was


in nineteen ninety six.

My friend uh, exactly what are you lookin’ at, here?


who didn’t think they were kids in 1996

they live

in a city where not every span of concrete

more than one metre long

had metal ridges on it

to stop skateboarders


You should be looking at


here getting drunk at night

picking fights with the ferryman.

You should be there

in two-thousand-ten

old enough to appreciate


on the river

all that colour

by night.


I said what are you lookin’ at?

You should not be looking back

you should not be sitting on the round benches at the rear

hanging out here

trying to talk young girls into doing things that neither of you had ever done


You should be

a decade

another century

and a new millennium removed

from such disturbances of the peace


should be denying


Nanana swear to god that wasn’t me that was my friend I mean well they’re not really my friends I mean I never really met them before tonight I don’t know who they are or where they are from… officer.

You should not be able to see

a row of dozens of VB stubbies collected along the beam under the bridge

added to each weekend by your friends

before someone else

smashed this all to bits.

You should not be

making eye contact with that kid

he should not now be taunting you either.

You should be looking at

more than a place

that has changed

so… what are you looking at?

What am I looking at?

But no

what are you,

over there



You (reading this blog)

…what are you looking at, now?


To hear an audio version of the poem: http://www.melbournepoetrymap.com/walks/what-are-you/

Now, THE LAUNCH: this Thursday a bunch of us are reading our poems, live, on stage, in living colour and as many dimensions as I can muster (3 at a pinch in my case)

Thursday 16th, at Loop Bar, 23 Meyers Place -in the CBD

Hope to see you there!



No comments: