A poem from Sureblock, published in Melbourne by Pat Woolley in 1972 -
Straight All The Length Of Me Longbalcony boys
mothering their motors
and eating saveloys
& 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 LeapsMYOPIC POSSUMS
coked off my stoop
at amateur hamlets
A poem from Automatic Sad published in 1974 by Tomato Press.
Honky Tonk Sunsetthe chickens.
of the can
for the rifle.
Two poems from Cafe Sport published in Sydney by Sea Cruise Books in 1979.
Leavingso now i have to pack my forests
- and baggages.
- and teardust.
and the way you were so fast to change
- into your many shades of sorrow.
- away from your shabby gentility.
- 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 Landscapesi 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 -
we are living our lives
as if we are on holiday.
when we walk
to the lagoon
in the light rain.
the people around here
there is either
too much rain
or too little
in the orchards,
it's the same with money.
the things we do
patching the roof.
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,
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
bills, bankcard statements
a home entertainment
do you own
a television set,
slide projector ?
use them ?
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 Veneerthe biggest buildings
in their own
in big tuxedos
the neutron bomb
the right car
to bring it on.
i feel sick
they are writing
they call it
in the east
the tiny hills
mark the spot
with no future
there's no history.
but the hills
in this town
old broken academics
say they are
'stuck in adelaide'
and, at parties,
yearn for paris.
the poetry scene
and uses words
old film makers
a kind of
I Remember Dexedrine. 1970one of those days
i'm saying things
i don't usually say
from my mouth
i race through the rain
like a rocket
to a dance hall
men and women there
are taking off
they are friendly
but i wonder
what's inside them
ill in the head
but not thinking
'this awful music'
'this stupid rain'
there is something
the saxophone does
and i have to leave.
the taxi driver
looks right through me
the corroded rubber hose
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
i feel i KNOW
what REALLY happens
dark and daylight
but i've forgotten
which i can't eat.
In 1987, Anna Couani's imprint, Sea Cruise Books, published the prose collection Keep It Quiet.
Nights Like DotsSaturday.
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 Gaudipoem 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.
on roller blades.
SynchronicityJust 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" -
what I had been thinking.