Four Poems, by Wyatt Moss-Wellington.
Finding Spring Fever
Bellbirds backdrop the valley
I used to live in;
they filled it right up.
During the day, you lost the sound
of all of them just to concentrate.
Judy plays music loud to match
them one day outside, when we’re
feeding our chickens and ducks.
The chickens and the ducks
are excited. One duck holds a
chook to the ground by its neck,
and dad says we’ll have to eat them.
Cold mud is still sinking in
passing with the wintry wind
back the way it came.
Our last hope of being called home
from school due to flooding
has also passed on, and
we’re all aware of nature’s new bonking season
swelling through the curdled and soured,
Splitting the last of the wood
we listen closer
through the dam of bellbirds
to make out the eerie catbird,
and laugh at the kookaburra
pecking and trying to kill
the hopeful bird-scaring fans
by the scarecrow
by the trellis
with the peas
and the green beans
in the veggie patch.
Poincianas are Queensland to me,
and this when Brisbane was still exotic!
Leaving the old state behind,
various points on the coastline,
and my father and me trucking up
together in the box-loaded van.
Around Coffs he points to a colourful
finch-like bird, says
its rare and gives it a scientific name.
Years pass, and I get used
to the new flavours of Spring.
A jacaranda flower lands in my hair and
I look for an old friend to share it with,
but everyone is new.
I’m pretty well used to this
for all my life.
The right heat, the right humidity,
the right bird call,
the right pollen from the right flower
under the right tree and
every Spring past crashes into my head
The Three of Us
“My attempt to understand this story is full of holes. But I hope that these holes might, after all, have a use; that through them might pass air and light; that they might even provide a path for the passage of eros; and that they might leave, for women and men who want to think generously about these things, room to move.”
- Helen Garner on The First Stone
He’s profiled brutally by a brick wall, and he would
watch the wisps of his Marlboro being eaten by
bitter nothing as though the night’s maw bequeathed
something else that was new; this before he would watch
the lines and lights shifting over her face, and “sweetie,” he
calls her, “what is it?” Numbed music will pulse onward far
away inside—he’s putting her down, but she never takes it
on the forehead, gives it over to him or lets it crease. She sits in
front of him, unaffected that his head is bowed away, grimly frigid.
She has told some time ago that all her relationships
would be love-hate, before she’d say hate-love.
If she skipped into the future, she’d leave him behind
like drying dew, and he would dissolve into the dawn
and wither, curling in on himself again and again until
his ignorant backlash was as nothing as the passing
cycle of day on top of day. But she won’t let this get to
her, she won’t let this be everything, feud, fire and the
usual twofold tragic collapse inwards … nothing but
admiration should be her blanket. Both of them, and they
talk about television, Sex and the City, but miss
all the things that might have been interesting about it.
They can ask themselves what it might mean without asking
what it means to them. For a short while personal
nuance interlocks and in habitual bursts of words and
laughter like lightning they discuss how similar they are.
With nothing more to say he laughs in the other direction
as though someone else were there to share it with him,
and then remembers his cigarette.
Bell-bottomed and boob-tubed, bescarved and
beglittered he’s onstage now, with or without her,
and he tells a story. He sure can dance.
Everyone I worked the fast food with was called Chris,
women and men. One corpulent, woolly male Chris
spoke to me of the way “Abos ruin this country.” However,
I was not surprised. He’d been leading up to this since
I walked in wearing my Amnesty badge. I can describe
him in one way only: unsavoury. He threw his opinions
amongst the tortured and processed chickens, half-baked
them, sprayed them with oven-cleaner and piled them up
high through the whole storeroom. Then he served them up;
filled us up; filled up the customers, I am sure. He was a
part-time manager, but he managed to stuff the whole joint full.
I had to work carefully from back beneath him to take these
down. He was into folk music.
I once switched off the tape of pop tunes at closing time,
put on some avant-garde Henry Cow while we cleaned.
Chris must have slinked round the back with his own tape.
Soon after I heard Suzanne Vega, who I could not
reconcile with this man.
I accepted a lift home from him one night, his last night
before travelling to the other side of the country to manage
some other spring chickens. I gave him a tape of all my favourite
female folk-singers: Nanci Griffith, The Roches,
Jonatha Brooke, and of course Suzanne Vega – some he
hadn’t heard. He was over the moon, and that
was the last time I saw him.
I feel I must apologise to all indigenous people reading this poem.
Up until then I thought music was at least one thing that
made a good person of me.
The pro-lifer who lives down the road from you
met at a street party in March, and she’ll take you to
see her manila-folder-full of aborted foetus blows
to the stomach and to the womb. The most offensive
insinuation, as though it passed by and you never felt
a damned thing like loss: just couldn’t tell her of your
own, three years ago, still leaving you now. She wedges the
folder carefully back between two medical textbooks and tosses
her hair, touches a sparkling glass of red on the mantelpiece.
An attractive woman, looking as if she’d been around the
block a few times. You must think to wonder to tell her
you must think to stop to think. Turns her lazy eyes
to you and now knowing the time comes to stop being lazy.
This is emotional baggage – the force of traditionalism –
and to look at this clearly would mean calculating the amount
of suffering you expect so many to go through by an
unwanted child against the cost of a life, the only pain
held selflessly by the bearer. The cost of life is in impact.
Look at this lazy, emotional woman who in all her years
of living never learned that fundamental arithmetic of empathy!
You leave directly, and cannot see the pro-lifer for days.
Ask yourself to see her as utility, if you killed her
would there be more happiness than if she stayed
alive? Probably true. Learn a few days later of an abortionist
shot dead in Florida.
The pro-lifer who lives down the road from you also
comes accidentally pregnant a few weeks later and
you wait to see whether she wants to talk with you.
Wyatt Moss-Wellington is a poet, singer/songwriter, general ink-spiller and swell bloke. He really doesn’t live anywhere in particular (he’s currently in London) but is an Australian citizen, for which he is still finding some sense of pride. He once made a name for himself writing Choose-Your-Own-Ottava-Rimas in Australian uni mags, and when he was paid for them realised there could be something to this, coming very close to prematurely abandoning his theatre degree. He knows the rest of his poetry is good and is trying to get people to read it. He’s 22 and a half, and already kind of clucky. These days he supports himself by working as a nanny. One day he may be an artist living in a gutter. Please write to him in care of Offcourse.
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