Palatal Liquid sought to cure Voiceless Fricative

Newsliness: I’m in Famous Reporter! See below.

Welcome to the second summer of the year. Well, my second—the first was the bipolar (seriously—0 degrees to 30 in a couple of days?!) Wisconsin summer way back in May/June. I’ve been dreading the Australian variety because that means Sweating and Christmas Decorations and…well, that’s about it, isn’t it?

Anyway, it’s here. This morning the front lawn had exploded into dandelions. A red dragonfly approximately the size of France flew by. Nesting birds have spent the last three weeks using my skull as target practice.

I have put my togs on. Not being I like swimming, or because I’m going near any kind of body of water, but because it seems like the only appropriate uniform for the sort of day when I’m going to be doing a lot of overdue housework—and homework—and my little Queenslander maintains a steady temperature of Surface of the Sun.

But! I do have reason to celebrate. I have a huge bucket of finest gelati (nectarine, lemon, cardamom) and I have finished the linguistics class I should have dropped out of months ago. The only thing I got out of it was a variety of phonological puns (see blog title)—they were good. Beyond that, good riddance.

And today I have a date (another one! she came back!) with Simone de Beauvoir. Taking the phone off the hook, kids.

Last but certainly not least, Ralph Wessman at Famous Reporter has published a chat we had regarding poetry and Stuff and Things. You can read it here. In it I claim that dead poets are copying me, amongst other things. And, re-reading it now, I realise I had (another) Gillam fangirl moment in the interview, too. Ah well, it happens.

Bucketsfull of amazing poets can be found in Issue 40, including Geoff Page (squee!), Graham Nunn, Max Ryan, Nathan Curnow, Ross Donlon, Kent MacCarter, Cameron Hindrum, Sarah Day, and Anthony Lawrence. But you’ll have to buy the journal to get all the goods—and you should.

There’s also a poem from yours truly in the print version. (You might have seen it before if you’ve got my chapbook, but I think it’s twice as nice to see it in Famous Reporter.)

Stalking the Moon

We sail under the moon
and it sails through the sky
oblivious—or not wanting
us to know that it has noticed us.
We neither lag nor gain, passing under
the arched backs of bridges
(lazily curious or curiously lazy
in our skyfishing).

We lace backwards and forwards
across the waist of the river,
tying ourselves to the city in case
the moon should dive
(we’ll be a steady net to catch it)
or turn and lift us up
(looking into its face would surely be
too like a mirror)
and swing our steamboat from its anchor
like a censer in a dark cathedral.

The moon only looks over its shoulder
and hurries when morning comes
(with torchlight strong enough
to scan a row of beds for stragglers)
to urge its late body, full with travels,
into a slow descent.

And there is no doubt that the sun
is gaining on us, too.

  (Still, we follow.)

Good luck with summer, guys. Haul out the barbeque, roll out the slip ‘n’ slide and put ice in the kiddy pool. Then send me photos of you in your cossie and silliest apron, in the backyard, covered in suds and eating a burger. Don’t forget your hat; plovers and sunshine want your brains.

Er, signing off.

—Z

Zenobia Frost Stars in Hitchcock Remake

No, seriously. The Birds are coming to get me. None of my housemates or friends-who-live-nearby ever encounter nesting birds around my suburb, yet every time I step out of the house, birds scream and swoop: plovers, magpies, minors, even crows. This afternoon three plovers left a tree across the road and swooped me while I was still on my front steps. A few weeks ago, several species of bird (including a pair of wild budgies) teamed up on me at the cemetery when I was trying to leave.

Considering that all cats like me (seriously, even cats who supposedly hate the world will put up with me), I’m not entirely surprised that birds seem to have a vendetta against me. Kittehs and birdies aren’t exactly best friends. Still, it’s weird. Weird to the point of freaking me out. Does anyone know anything about bizarre bird-curses?

On a happier note, the very kind Dr Jon over at the livejournals had some lovely things to say about my Queen Zen poem, and its connection to (and origins in) some strange and wonderful products over at the Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs.

I Dream of Tupperware

Seriously, I did dream about Tupperware last night. This is because I’ve been to two Tupperware parties this weekend, and signed up to hold my own. One was hosted by a friend, and another was an Annoucement Party for another friend who has just become a Tupperware Lady. She’s like a Tupper Debutante. Oh man.

After watching Silence of the Lambs on Friday (which, by the way, is a fine film…did anyone else find Hannibal strangely alluring?), I did wonder if you could dice up people in the Happy Chopper. I wonder if the big version of the Happy Chopper is strong enough to chop bone, sinew, etc.

On that cheery note, I’ve left the suburbs and shifted towards the inner city! Best snap decision I’ve ever made! My new house is a gorgeous Queenslander, with views to die for and two very funny-looking (but lovable) cats. Haemorrhaging rent is worth it. I feel like I’m on holiday all the time.

I scoot off next weekend for a week-and-a-bit-long QWC poetry tour, with Rob Morris and Kristin Hannaford. We’re going to have a blast in Sydney, Melbourne and Lauceston, so keep an eye out for us, painting the town red and whatnot.

The Queensland Poetry Festival, by the way, was quite possibly the best ever. It ran so smoothly! A.F. Harrold (UK) and Elizabeth Bachinsky, (Canada) our international stars – with two very different styles of poetry, were my festival favourites. We farewelled Hinemoana Baker, poet-in-residence, last Thursday, and we’re sad to see her go – but glad that she’s produced such gorgeous work while over here.

Anyway, I have no Internet at home, so I’ve only got limited time on this borrowed PC. If anyone needs any Tupperware, I now know the best source. Oh yes. Let me know.

With help from The Little Oxford Dictionary, 1941

sky

noun
1. the vault of heaven
2. the firmament

lark

noun
1. species of small bird, including the skylark
2. frolic, spree; an amusing incident

skylark

noun
1. Alauda arvensis, a small species of bird—plain in colouring, and not at all like its verbly cousin. The male has broad wings and two or three minutes of song in him; females prefer the male that can sing and hover the longest.

intransitive verb
1. (of sailing) to run up and down the rigging of a ship in sport
2. to gambol; to frolic; to indulge in horseplay; to indulge in lark
3. to play tricks or practical jokes

“Skylarking presents a hazard in the workplace.”
—Australian Occupational Health and Safety Legislation, 1998

The Cure and A Strange Whirring Noise

It occurs to me that I’ve posted a lot of advertisements lately, but not many zenrambles, and zenrambles at the very least amuse the Zen.

So yes, I’m listening to The Cure and A Strange Whirring Noise, both of which are coming out of my computer, but one of which doesn’t belong. I wonder how long it will be until this PC pops. Technology hates me. My typewriter never gives me this kind of trouble, but my typewriter isn’t, well, networked.

The Cure best-of/singles collection, The Cure Galore, I bought while wandering round the city this evening enjoying the rain. I like their clean sound. There’s nothing wishy-washy about The Cure. I also think Robert Smith looked a lot darker than his music sounds, which makes me think of Edward Scissorhands.

Edward Scissorhands was made by an American filmmaker. By startling coincidence, I recently travelled to the States. (How’s that for a subtle segue?) I wasn’t going to see Tim Burton, though (we don’t talk much anymore); I was going to see three people: a dear friend in Milwaukee, Fonzie, and Neil Gaiman.

I found all three, and I didn’t even have to go very far.

I stayed with my friend’s family in Milwaukee, and in the first week headed downtown to find the Fonz. Wisconsin buses are like Brisbane buses, and we had to thump the bus stop with the enthusiasm of Fonzie himself to make the bus materialise. We weren’t sure where to get off, either, but again, the Fonz guided us, and—though we pressed the buzzer more or less at random—the bus stopped directly opposite His Coolness. And here he is, standing immortal, Milwaukee’s own bronze Fonz:

Fonzie Milwaukee

Fonzie’s luck stayed with us throughout the day. Later, I found a book dated 1768 in a second-hand book warehouse (like Black Books x 1000000), previously owned by Lady Douglas, Scottish painter. She was 18 at the time the book was published. The book itself, Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love), is deliciously bound and ancient and smells wonderful.

Leon's

Back to the 50s. I became quite addicted to cheesy 50s-themed soda fountains, milkbars and diners in the US, and I’m very sad that they don’t abound in Australia. Leon’s, a drive-in frozen custard (oh my! tasty stuff) joint, is said to be the place  that the Happy Days diner was based on. Though I couldn’t see the link, they did do ambrosail sundaes.

But I digress. Neil Gaiman (and how he escaped me!). For my last weekend, we caught the bus down to Chicago and stayed in a hostel in the city’s centre. After getting thoroughly lost (I’ll read the map in future, thanks), we realised our hostel was just down the road from the Printer’s Row literary festival. Nice coincidence. Not only that, Neil, whom I was intending to hunt down somehow, happened to be giving a speech there.

Unfortunately for me, Neil is smart and the event was booked out, so I wasn’t able to talk to him about whether it would be okay for me to take a bubble bath with Amanda Palmer at his house. But I was this close.

Oh, this blog is getting long. My giddy aunt. I should leave it here, and sleep. I was going to tell you about American supermarkets, walking tours of haunted and non-existent Chicago neighbourhoods, Woodland Pattern Books, Riverbend Books, Jeff Harpeng’s glorious poems, my annoying poetry-writing habits, gloves, rat pizzas, pirates, and hat juggling—but these must wait for another time. Let it be said that life is good: the flu is finally clearing up; debts are being paid off; after an uncomfortably long hiatus, I’m writing things again; the Brisbane rental market looks like it might soon be affordable; and I’m making marvellous (and charmingly unrealistic) plans, as per usual.

Spring in the North Woods, Wisconsin

Lady to Ladette?

Important news, readers. Auditions are being held for the next season of Aussie Ladette to Lady.

There’s actually a large portion of my brain (or if not my brain, then my kidneys) that would very much like for me to go on that show.

Sadly, a friend did point out the other day that I don’t regularly binge drink, swear at strangers, or moon people. Well, maybe I should learn. We’re talking a free five-week course in cookery, dress-making and etiquette, here. After all, I’m hardly a perfect lady, so it can’t be too hard to head in the other direction. Right?

A few days later, while recording some spoken word demos, Nerissa pointed out that to ‘pass’ as a ladette I’d probably have to be hip to whatever young people today are into. I am a young person; I must be hip. Right? Hmm. Actually, right now I’m thinking of the number of times the high school students I tutor smack their heads against their desk when I try to make up-to-date pop culture references.

I’m just trying to make it interesting for them. Okay, so I don’t completely understand these sparkly Cullen people listening to bands composed of young men who sport fringes at jaunty angles and jeans that are half falling-off, singing about how much things bleed when you cut yourself shaving. Maybe they shouldn’t use Aspirin, or something. Doesn’t that thin the blood? Maybe they should buy safety razors and make sure to use shaving cream.

I don’t know.

I should probably get back to pretending I know which poems I should submit to Publications of Interest.

I should print a zine titled ‘prominent literary magazines’ so that everyone who’s in it can put that on their CV and feel great.

Oh. This photo. This is a picture of the inside of my head:

zenbrain

Here’s a small poem to reward you for getting through this blog entry without your brain also turning into feathers and sparkly things.

~~~

Epilogue I

I see the moon half-empty
behind spilled-milk clouds.
In the backyard hammock,
I drink gin and tonic
and wait for the sun.

That sun has so much
to be glad about.

Things I Want to Be when (if) I (n)Ever Grow Up

  • Writer of The Great Australian Novel, or just the great Zenobian novel—that’d be lovely
  • Owner of a hat museum
  • A tiger trainer
  • Owner of a 50s-themed milk-bar
  • The host of Antiques Roadshow
  • A burlesque dancer / cabaret star / hula hoopist / belly dancer
  • A travelling safer-sex educator
  • A professor of linguistics and mythology
  • A mermaid in the circus freak-show
  • An explorer and anthropologist
  • A fairy at children’s parties, minus the children
  • A drag king
  • A martial arts master
  • A champion swing-dancer
  • The person who gets to name the stars

NEWS:

You can now subscribe to this blog by email! Receive poems fresh in a bottle first thing in the morning–but don’t forget to put the bottle out for recycling at night.

Subscribing would be a great way to keep up with my impending important annoucements! My chapbook will be launched by SweetWater Press on the 3rd of May at Metro Arts. More details to come shortly, but keep the evening of Sunday the 3rd free.

Adventures in Outer Brisbane

This morning my engines were kick-started by a sight of this ’67 Ford Fairview outside my medical clinic:

Ford Fairview

Om nom nom. Sometimes cars just get me going a little too much.

Anyhoo, after my appointment I spent twenty minutes outside in the beautiful sunshine (finally, the humidity is gone!) enjoying the last few pages of Sandman: Worlds’ End. The thing I love about this particular collection of Neil Gaiman’s comics is the way the narratives flow; like Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Worlds’ End contains stories within stories—sometimes five deep!—and they are small stories that prove that you don’t always need a grand narrative or twist in the tail to engage the reader. And, as always, I love the way Gaiman weaves the threads of old myths through his writing. It’s downright yummy.

One day, I’ll do what that man does. (But in my own voice, of course.)

Anyhoo, we moved on to Hawkins Gardens. What I like about this place is that it sells several of my favourite things to look at: flowers, antiques and fish. I did what I often do and pretended to be wealthy and English (cheeky, I know) in the beautiful, high-end antique store there. I fell in love with an 18th century French writing desk, and the gentleman working there was willing to give me a very fine price indeed, but alas, I am not yet the Lady of the Manor whom I expect one day to be. I told him I’d think about it.

And I will be thinking, and possibly dreaming about it, for days. It’s beautiful:

writing desk

You can’t see it very well in the picture, I’m afraid (from my phone), but the inlay is exquisite. So many different timbers were used, and–oh!–the detail. Check out the tiny rams’ heads on either side. Even the legs of this item were beautiful. I could easily collect desks. If I had the casheroonies.

ram!

Luckily for me, I derive almost as much pleasure from flowers as I do from antiques, so instead I wandered around the gardens for a bit (the smell of the fruit trees reminded me of visiting my grandfather in the summer as a child) bought granny’s bonnet, lobelias…and I can’t remember what the little white ones are called. Kendra thought they smelt nice.

Kendra with flowers

Actually, I think she was more interested in laying claim to the box they came in. She bit me the next time I put my hand in it.

granny's bonnet

I should also mention that I had the best strawberry milkshake of my life (fresh, with actual strawberries and everything) at The Pearl Cafe at Wooloongabba the other day. I was wearing a nice suit at the time, and the music was great, and I drank the whole milkshake (which was almost as tall as me–even the waiter was impressed). I felt very buoyant indeed.

So that’s all for today. Nothing profound, just small pleasures and unexpected delights.

Martini and madrigals, with no pun intended

A few fun things to note for today (gosh, I really am blogging myself into oblivion):

1. Who Killed Amanda Palmer arrived in the mail and made me squee. ‘Tis a fine album, and Ms Palmer kindly signed an [unused, might I note] panty liner for me at her glorious gig earlier this month.

2. I enjoyed Martin Martini and the Bone Palace Orchestra for the third time in recent months yesterday evening. They’re a consistently vibrant and surprising band, and their tickets are always affordable — which is the most important thing, really. I will say that aside from Mr Martini, the band was looking a little zombified last night (they certainly sounded alive, though). We had a grand ol’ time.

Oh, one more thing: I remembered last night that their trombonist is one of few people to have seen me in pajamas (we crashed at the same sharehouse once). Seeing me in nightwear is a like catching a glimpse of a rare breed of fairy wren, except only if the wren feels rather awkward and quickly flies off to put Civilised Day Clothes on. Maybe he would have recognised me had I come to the party dressed as Arthur Dent or something. Anyhoo.

3. I know xkcd is always awesome, but there seem to have been some especially awesome comics up in the last few days. You should go nom on them.

4. I nearly forgot about the madrigals! Fellow poet Nerissa Rowan and I are toying with a new performance project, Madrigal Maladies. Keep an eye out for us, because we’re going to rock your poetry pants off. More to come.

Zen and the Very Blustery Day

It’s a bit windy outside. I should go about my collection and fix hat elastics.

There’s an Italian word I learnt yesterday that I was going to share with you, but I’ve decided it’s so delicious that I’m going to keep the whole thing to myself. Maybe I’ll show you the plate with the crumbs on it. If you can guess what it is, I’ll give you a raspberry. Clues? It’s a musical term; if it were a fruit, I think it’d be a cherry; and it has to do with gentlemen in balaclavas.

Anyhoo, newses:

Many of you know what a sensitive bug I can be; I had research vegetarianism for work, and haven’t eaten meat since–not even yesterday, when Caitie’s cheeseburger smelt like some kind of tasty god–but I have been enjoying making things with lentils.

I’m very definitely travelling to Wisconsin in May to meet the Fonz (and co.), so I’m madly excited about that. I’ve been using my departure date as a deadline to clear up some unfinished business, and I’m feeling so much better for it. I’m enjoying a week of great levity, even if I feel swept off my feet with busy-ness. Days need to be longer.

Finalising venue stuff for launch of The Voyage shortly, so watch this space. Ms Walsh has been doing a very fine job of the art for the book; do take a squiz at it here. I’ve not yet seen the final image, but I’m leaning towards this glorious drawing for the cover:

Sky Fishing

Sky Fishing

Finally, for today, here’s a poem that’ll be included in the chapbook. It was printed in The Definite Article in 2007, and hasn’t seen the light of day since then. And yes, the house in the poem did have massive cracks in the walls. They let the sunshine in very nicely.

Woodgate Sonnet
for Andrew, the ghost

And suddenly it gets colder. The sun
lingers on the horizon, waiting to drop
like a stone to the water. Buried under

the sand, our feet feel the tide. We pull
our coats around ourselves, pockets heavy
with shells, and hunt for our shoes in the dark.

My hands rebel against the chill; keys tremble
in the door. We shuffle in, pad around
in sleeping bags, leave the dishes till morning.

We drink dark Earl Grey, pour an extra cup
for Andrew, listen to Bowie or maybe
Waits, and notice yet another fissure

opening the walls between us and the sky,
us and the water, us and our Woodgate.

Oh, and I’m setting myself a new challenge. I’m going to write a poem for every single one of my hats (well, for their mysterious previous owners). They shall appear here in coming weeks (months… who knows).