Saturday, March 10, 2012

A poem from Sureblock, published in Melbourne by Pat Woolley in 1972 -

Straight All The Length Of Me Long

balcony boys
mothering their motors
and eating saveloys

ankle sox
& polka dots

700 teatowels marching backwards
up lygon street.

Two poems from Cocabola's Funny Picture Book, an anthology of prose, poetry & graphics selected by Pam Brown in 1972 (she was known as "Cocabola" at the time.) Alongside her own poems and graphics, she included work by Mike Brown, Barbara Daly, Laurie Duggan, Gillian Leahy, Diana Fuller, Paul Lester, Michael Meehan, and Netta Perrett. It was published in Sydney by Tomato Press in 1973.

The Leaps


coked off my stoop


the minties
at amateur hamlets
futurist schoolboys

A poem from Automatic Sad published in 1974 by Tomato Press.

Honky Tonk Sunset

the chickens.

the guitar.

the chickenshit.

the lid
of the can
for the rifle.

the fence.
the chickens.
the guitar.
the chickenshit.

Two poems from Cafe Sport published in Sydney by Sea Cruise Books in 1979.


so now i have to pack my forests
    and baggages.
so now i have to pack my eagles
    and teardust.
and the way you talked to overflow
and the way you were so fast to change
    into your many shades of sorrow.
and the way you swept the miracles
    away from your shabby gentility.
and the way you trembled
    as you chose the latest props.

so hello attache case face.
hello briefcase face.
hello screaming suitcase.

the longer i write poems for you
the shorter they become.

In 1979 Tom Thompson, the publisher of Red Press books, invited Pam Brown and Joanne Burns to do a back-to-back book of a series of prose-poem-love-letters which they had been coincidentally writing. Here is one of Pam Brown's from Correspondences -

All Roads Lead To Album Cover Landscapes

i once felt a little foolish with my eyes wide open
obviously searching the western deserts.
searching for you.

so i followed the pull of the moon. drove to the coast.
looking for you.

they had constantly measured the size of your
psychic blemishes. they told me you had shattered
your own glass heart. there was a vacancy. it was as if
we had never touched. you had jumped
from the seventh floor window.

they held a photographic exhibition for your death.
jude and i played all your favourites. drank
overproof all the long night long. in the morning
i drove further along the coast.

all roads lead to album cover landscapes.

In 1980 Country & Eastern was published in Sydney by Never-Never Books. Here's a poem from that collection -

Mountain Lagoon

we are living our lives
as if we are on holiday.

long mornings
when we walk
to the lagoon
in the light rain.

the people around here
drive everywhere.
they say
there is either
too much rain
or too little
in the orchards,
it's the same with money.

the things we do
are useful.
feeding chickens.
collecting wood.
patching the roof.

this afternoon,
every now and then,
i walk from the fireplace
to the window

peach trees across the road
sloping down to eucalypts
and beyond this - the vista
with white mist banked on the hills.

the room is blue.
today, in the room,
i consider this place.

for years i lived
in the middle
of everything i hated.
it felt great
to be part of the destruction
and to continue to live
as if i might prevent it.

the walk to work
past the soap factory,
coal piles, shunting yard,
container wharves,
the wheat silos across the water
and down harbour
the monstrous bridge.

i have come here
to the blue room,
the grey wattle outside,
to repair my losses,
to cover myself in air.

twice a week
there's the mail run
huge wet hearts
fill the letterbox.

a handpainted postcard
of drunk people
out at night.

letters from friends,
family, flyers from
galleries, occasional
bills, bankcard statements

and once,
a home entertainment

do you own
a television set,
stereo receiver,
videotape recorder,
slide projector ?
do you
use them ?
when ?

big events
in the bush.

Small Blue View was published in Adelaide as a combined venture by Ken Bolton's Magic Sam press & the Experimental Art Foundation in 1982. Three poems from that publication, including one about Adelaide, follow -

Sheer Veneer

the biggest buildings
full of
chinless wonders

who drown
in their own
useless evenings

they move
like cows
in big tuxedos

making deals,
shelley fabares
the neutron bomb

this is

old drunks
with personalised
number plates
for falling
the right car


antarctic winds.
in adelaide.

i wait
for change.
to bring it on.

i feel sick
walking home.

life here
is regular,
i go
to work.

over here
in artland

they are writing
about 'art'

they call it
'art language'

and are
for those
who don't
speak it.

in the east
the ocean
the way
we think
the way
we move
and talk

the tiny hills
that surround
this town
mark the spot
the furture

with no future
there's no history.

but the hills
are colourful.

in this town
come second
to funding.

old broken academics
say they are
'stuck in adelaide'
and, at parties,
yearn for paris.

the poetry scene
is insular,
eats itself,
is well-heeled
and uses words
like 'burgeoning'.

i drink
a little
every day.

i walk
the dog.

old film makers
play croquet.
old actors

a kind of
a paralysis,
sets in

ken searle
a budgerigar
on whistler's
mother's head

I Remember Dexedrine. 1970

one of those days
i'm saying things
i don't usually say
verboballistic comets
are shooting
from my mouth
thinking rapidly
like films
run backwards
i race through the rain
like a rocket
to a dance hall
men and women there
are taking off
their shirts
they are friendly
but i wonder
what's inside them
ill in the head
by now
but not thinking
'this awful music'
'this stupid rain'
and then
there is something
the saxophone does
and i have to leave.
the taxi driver
looks right through me
and sees
the corroded rubber hose
that is
my bronchial tubes
i cough like a car
drop the money
all over the seat.
in the kitchen
i polish the brass taps
for a few hours.
on the table
a scrap of paper
where i have written
'the blank bullet
in the firing squad
is one image
i am sick of'
i tear it up
and later
i feel i KNOW
what REALLY happens
dark and daylight
but i've forgotten
by breakfast
which i can't eat.

In 1987, Anna Couani's imprint, Sea Cruise Books, published the prose collection Keep It Quiet.

Nights Like Dots


We sat in the hotel and his eyes shone like the glasses. Raining, and in a place we didn't want to be and I couldn't cross the street and leave him there, believing he would never phone. I knew I was never going to give up drinking even when I couldn't afford it. So we sat there. No money. And we ordered more Coruba rum and talked like travellers. No saxophones. Dreams were made of sweat and that was about all. Nothing romantic, none of that. Just thanks for the drinks and Saturday night was coming up like a storm over Darlinghurst.


I'll tell you the worst things about myself and then you can tell me the worst things about yourself and that way we can decide to avoid any kind of conflict. Like this song - 'There's just a meanness in this world' followed by an extremely pathetic harmonica. And by pathetic I do mean pathos and this is certainly one of the very worst things about myself. I tend to go overboard for really pathetic music.


This is the place from which we part. We live out the nights. Everything is clear. In focus, crisp, sharply lit. Here I listen to myself constantly. In this house the imagery is quiet. I never relax. I scrutinise myself. I examine photographs of friends. Everyone is hurt. In the photographs everyone is happy. One of us is lonely. We hold ourselves forward to the camera. And tonight when she asked me to talk about it. The feeling that I can never express the way things feel. And I am breaking. I can do anything and nothing. Sad. Contemplative. Breaking, without tears. To slip into sleep. Slip away. Not connected, not interested. Tired of love, like Lou Reed.


The pale pink carnations. The pleasure. In the Tower I travel backwards above Sydney and feel displaced. Later my lips swell up. You come on my lips, on my tongue. In 'The White Hotel' the woman offers her breasts to the dinner guests. At the table a man drinks from her breasts. This excites me. Rose petals fall from the sky onto the lake.

University of Queensland Press published This World. This Place. in 1994. Here is the final poem from that collection....

Flickering Gaudi

poem written while writing a poem

Red wine in remembrance of France & purple,
of Italy. White decanted from a flagon, then
a cask, in remembrance of mother. What
to drink in remembrance of friends, of ideas,
of projects, of eight millimetre films,
of sketchbooks, screenprints, letters all
eliding somehow in the depths of the pile ?

The extemporary verve of designs for a life
which never evolve into actual manufacture.
And now, in a kind of inner-suburban
isolation, brilliant - bright - paintings
are attentively wrapped & stacked
at the back of a wardrobe. Mild domesticity
where reasonable evenings become numinous nights
of reading difficult books patiently flat
on your back & raging,
privately, laughing, noting the clues,
improving your vocabulary, never your method.

A grubby featherless parrot imbues the laneway
between the back fences with grotesque shrieks
& croaky mutterings in some ancient
language other than English.

Your letter recounts analagous circumstances -
sobbing in Brno, having slipped on
the ice in your sandshoes you watch
the bottle roll onto the frozen pond.
You revised your destiny & fell
not realising you had fallen, landing
somewhere between mourning & melancholia.
Your gratefully slapstick proof of
Western stupidity. Chewing on sadness,
your secret life - you close your tired eyes
like mauve convolvulus.

Fascinated by the colour fawn & no longer
able to tell the jokes from the real,
you slip into a sort of goon soup
for barely ravenous intellectuals and,
on holidays, participate in red-faced
sit-offs, shouting at each other across
the kebabs like a gaggle of exasperated
situationists. Overhead, lightning strikes a jet.

On the blue-green subcontinent of the lower
north shore a business suit floats in a bathtub
of blood. After all, everyone has
at least one nutcase in their life.

A pamphlet is delivered from the safe haven
of regulation: Don't be a victim ! -
an amazing new product allows people
& pets to move in the home whilst
fully alarmed. Newspapers announce
that the city has "matured" - meaning
the people here will now put up with
the previously unacceptable.

A black & white film of Antoni Gaudi
flickers in the image box moments
before 3a.m. when, having looked up, you were
amazed by the saucepan & realised
its probable constant visibility on clear
nights at this time, cooling off
on platitudes &, plainly, not miserable,
& at last you will offer the best,
the fine champagnes, the botrytis sauternes,
the purest spring waters, laughing tonics,
sparkling fires, & palest pink mornings
to all you've known in this endless atlas
of ordinary life.

Never-Never Books published the featurette Little Droppings as a kind of supplement toThis World. This Place. in 1994. It was compiled from the poems which Pam Brown & UQP's poetry editor, Sue Abbey, had dropped from that book. Here are two short poems from Little Droppings. The second poem, Synchronicity, was published as a poster on the buses in Sydney & Newcastle in 1993.


social realism
on roller blades.


Just then, someone said
exactly what I was thinking -
"the landscape here
is only marginally more interesting
than walking around
with a paper bag over your head" -
which was
what I had been thinking.

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