Monday, December 10, 2012

falling into the words

On a dreamy eve recently I joined the loved colleagues for drinks at 'The Local' in Carlisle st. I've worked at the StKilda library long enough to remember when this building that now embraces a well-designed and richly timbered beer-house was a huge op-shop owned by an old and very eccentric Russian couple. She had black dyed hair and venomous red lipstick. He was short and wore braces to holed his pants bellow his tummy. And see, it wasn't actually an op-shop, it gave nothing to any known charities, it was just a mammoth and darkly-dank cavern full of old clothes and strange objects. Nothing was priced, all reeked of mildew, and the boards would creak ominously as you tiptoed past the steam from their samovar, on perpetual boil to refill their tiny glasses of tea on the counter.

If you found something you wanted to buy you tiptoed up to the counter, curtsied (ok, maybe not) to the Baroness and with much meekness asked “How much?”. Quickly her husband would be at her side, and together they would ruthlessly cast a calculating look from your quality-of-shoes to carat-of-gold in your earrings.

If you looked poor it was always “For you dahlink five dollars”. Look well-heeled and it was a few moments of vehement narrative about the items' origins and its wonderful OLD and EUROPEAN pedigree...And as a young Australian of this young and ill-bred island that wouldn't know history if it slapped them with a red-talonned hand, you would nod at any price, fumble for the money and leave hurriedly, only later discovering the 'Katies' label...

But I digress.

I really adore most of my colleagues, and on this eve we were in fine form, celebrating the resignation of a well-liked chum who's braved the big decision to change his work and pursue his passions.

Some favourite conversations were with fellow writers. One, L, is a beautiful yet oddly shy young woman I've known since she was a garrulous six-year-old. She's just won a major poetry prize that comes with publication. She was modest: articulate and self-effacing, and we recalled her childhood memories and mine of our social times when I was good friends with her parents. A brief chat with E, a shelver who I see daily doing that wonderfully writer-ish thing with complete unselfconsciousness; he sits at the cafe beside work, black curls bent over the tiny laptop, long coffee lingering at his side, smoke after smoke in his hand as his poetry spills out like heart-bloom. And later a more lyrical conversation with the Polish J. I've read his book of poetry and hear in it the sound of war, of a Europe long gone, ancestral memory drumming out its grief in a young man in a young and brash country. In his words, so adept, his desire to be understood in a second and seemingly useless language.

For him, the act of writing is a warming thing, he described the sun-drenched sensation, he has written of the fire he feels in his work and uses in his work, of feeding the words to fire sometimes so that better ones rise from the ashes. A man of cold climes seeking warmth from his work, belonging, the shock of vodka heating the belly.

And me, with the outback of Bourke a searing harmonic that thrums like blue-wire in my extended Irishy family. Me with the harshly singing Australian light always over me. I, who when I write, am always falling into a cool pool, expanding into the water's caress, falling beneath a dreamy surface, the liquid skin moulding me to the world like a lover to his body.

Ah, to write. To write. To sing and hum and dream.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

and so, a return to what I know.

Nights like this I feel the seasonal cusp, this feels like true Spring being brought in by winds that rise and plummet as furious as a tango crescendo.
Shall I read, shall I ponder, shall I set out on a wander and watch the leaves of the Kurrajong trees whirl?
I know it’s been too long since I’ve been here Sailor Girl.
 The only problem with having ever had a regular blog presence is the guilt when I don’t write here, but just as 'Emily’s Posts' did many years ago in the first foray into ‘Web 2.0’, Sailor Lily had an identity crisis. Honestly it just felt like between here and my adolescent diaries and the two other regular forums I write to I had nothing to say.
So simply to reset, restart and begin, I’ll begin most simply. Today I was a Librarian and it was the perfect time to remember the simple calling of that profession I love. A bit too much time lately has been spent doing useless ‘fattened up’ administration that seems to serve nothing but the beast that has its head firmly planted up its own rectum…
So today I worked at the little library, the one where people almost drift inside then say  ‘ooh, I think that’s my book on the reservation shelf there’, or ‘dear can you help me with this photocopy?’ or they meet the other Mother whose bub just had that awful screaming six-week immunization at the Maternal and Child Health Centre and they open either the thermos or the cardigan and feed milk to the bub and natter to the Mum who for the next twenty-minutes is the only one in the world who understands….

An old man I recall from about fifteen years ago came in and wanted help with information on how to donate his organs: ‘I’M A NUNCE ON THE COMPUTER LUV’ so I began to help and find him pages to print. ‘MY LIVERS GOOD AND MY HEART AND I GOT TWENNY-TWENNY DON’T WANNA WASTE YUR TIME’ and I kind of signed and yelled that time at this little library was like Tardis-time, sticky-taffy time i.e. that ‘ I’VE GOT NOTHING ELSE TO DO!!’.
So we signed and yelled and somehow found what he wanted, and he left with the parting joke ‘NOT DONATING THESE EAR-DRUMS THO!’ at which I hooted with glee.  Ten minutes later he was back with a Mars Bar jubilantly extended ‘FOR HELPING ME OUT!!!’.
Yeah I’m trying to diet but sheesh, working til 2pm without lunch gets hard.  Not as hard as that Mars Bar though, which I reckon was left over from his Grand-Sons fourth birthday party back when ‘Wham’ was topping the charts…
Be seeing you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The epiphanies of love: a tree, a rock, a cloud and bubbles

Come closer. Close enough that my love can bloom upon you. I want to talk about love. We don’t even need to talk; the space between us can just vibrate our thoughts to each other.
When I was young I had a tree-house and sitting in it surrounded by pine-boughs and the scent of sap and the cool breezes and the sky view I had my first love-epiphany. Love was beating all about us, could be drunk in through my pores and breathed out as exhalations back to the air. It was greater than loving my family or my pets or curling up in bed with Enid Blyton. It was and it was and it beat out its ebb and flow.
I learned later that this thinking was akin to that of the Romantics, but then it was all mine, my sky view/heart thrum/harmonic of love.

In year ten I read a short-story and had another epiphany. It was ‘A tree, a rock, a cloud’. It was about loving in mere moments, loving via observation and meditation until the object was close-felt, not understood exactly and certainly not owned, but felt within the viewer until their sails filled with air and billowed outwards towards the object.

In my twenties I once danced on a floor of mud in the forest with two hundred others. I had taken ecstasy and began to blow bubbles  from a child’s toy. As we dancers moved amongst the bubbles and the raindrops we merged to become one organism made of many cells, an amniotic cup of love and warmth held in the music-womb. I saw the bubbles as little moments of love, fleeting and shiny and perfect then gone.

Does it surprise you that I live this way, making myself fall into love-bubbles like a happy kid dancing in mud-puddles?  Every day so many people I work with and the moment when behind my mask of boss-girl I love them.  The patrons of my work: the smart the sane, the mad, sad and ugly. The suited, the shabby the cranky or bitchy. All of them their own universes of complexity and memory and love stories. All of them born utterly innocent then stamped or stamped on by the world. Always I seem to feel the one bright strand in their weft and weave, the one second perhaps in which to love them.

I am not a Christian; I disavow the church and most streams of ‘the spiritual’. I see, I love, I write, I love, I am harsh or not, kind or cruel, known or the other. In my tree I try to sit, to feel the air ebb and flow, smell the scent of new sap. I reach for my child’s toy and blow bubbles. I blow them because they dance. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


sometimes we fire-starters burn our bridges:

i walked away, i shut the door, i lit a match and let it drop, i burnt my bridges and the world opened and  swallowed me up.  I took acid in the morning to learn how to see the light again, it took me by the hand and together we walked in the mist down to the sand. kind men lit my fags against the gloam and we all sipped whiskey.  i lit a match i lit some fags i flicked them off and burned my bridges.  i walked away and to the pier i met an old friend i scored some gear we smoked it on the ferris wheel at luna park as the dark lifted he tried to kiss me.  the grass was green and good and i knew i shouldn’t have a minute given over to the candy man and that i had to get away. i jumped the wheel, i tipped a wave, i walked away i burned my bridges. at the palais it is end of day and I score some e because i can see but needs learn to love.  i am beautiful i am god the light is in my  fingers red and green. my feet are beat my hair is air i am tree i am love i am everywhwere iam tree i am love i am everywhere. then people look ugly again and i leave .i still hold a basss up my sleeve, i flick it out and light it  up, take a toke then burn those  bridges. i lick my hand i catch a tram still skating from the fires.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

a kiss for all days, revisited

a few years ago I was inspired to attempt a daily 'flash fiction' blog where I would post fiction of not more than 200 words length featuring a kiss. I didn't get very far but still love the idea of regular flash-fiction posts. As the old blog has played password tricks and I can no longer access it, here are all the original posts. I've closed it down and will continue on here...

A kiss for all days, Day 1

They’d been traveling all day minus a gear across red dirt. The air con had broken down around Broken Hill so when the sun was at its zenith they bunkered down with light beers and salty chips in a pub that wore its veranda like a low-slung hut. Making camp a few hours ago a hot wind had rushed about them, rattling the poles and making the stretching of their tarp near impossible. Pre menstrual and slightly hung over she’d bitched until their hammock was up then flounced into their ‘bed’. Now he was rolled against her, slick with sweat. That they were forced so close when she felt so enraged was crazy. She loved him, she loved these stupid trips they did to kill time between each of her periods as they just kept coming. All goes still and the regular rustle of animals quietens. A shiver flicks along her spine and the chill fluter of air on her bare toes make her hold her breath. Splat- the rain starts to hit the tarp in fat drops, a staccato beat like wings as the atoms about them realign. Something in her chest loosens at last and she turns her head to him and whispers a kiss along his now cool shoulder.

A kiss, Day 2

A young Celeste had turned her back on her Presbyterian church and maintained a zealot’s version of the hippy lifestyle ever since. When they pulled the toxic aluminum pin out of her hip (long after the car accident that had put it there to begin with) her chronic fatigue became less consuming and with time she stopped looking so wasted as she consumed more and more varied foods. A relief for her son Astor who had nurtured her frailty through a lonesome adolescence and serious adulthood. A short reprieve for him then, then this, this cancer that whittled away the little flesh left on her. This cancer that had the reiki and ‘course in miracles’ friends flocking with their flutes and fluttering useless hands. And for him again no such lightness, just his serious duty as the ‘man of the house’, his power of medical attorney. Her body seems a husk to him now though her chest still rises and falls in its inexorable rhythm. Her body cleaves to a life she has always seemed to merely dab at. He turns to the waiting doctor. “Now” he says. He bends and seals this vow with a kiss. Her lips are already cool and dry.

a kiss, day 3

Panting now, she drops the dagger as the deck sways under her bare feet. Lightning flashes again and she sees that his hawk-like features look strangely calm beneath his silver gaze. She can feel her breasts heaving beneath her drenched chemise and knows by his sharp intake of breath he sees it too. All is quiet suddenly; they are in the eyes of the storm. “I hate you,” she whispers. “Yes” he replies. Then he lunges for her, fast and silent, his arms encircling her then reaching to clasp her sodden tresses. Her breasts crush against his broad chest as he whispers along her jawline, “yes”. His mouth against hers is hot and the rain on her arms makes her flesh goosepimple as she unwittingly clings to him. His firm lips slant against her mouth until breathless she gasps aloud. He pulls her more roughly against him and she feels his tongue firm against her own. Heat flushes through her belly and her knees buckle. Around the ship the rain beats on relentlessly.

a kiss, day 4

Giuseppe carefully feeds the tube of liquid plaster into the void left within the settled ash layer. He wipes sweat from his brow for here where his men continue the careful excavation there is no cooling breath from the bay of Naples. Here is only the ash that closed like a coffin around the fugitives; here is the silent scream, the forgotten feast day, the fear captured now in his cast of a fist clenched around some token comfort. He has seen them take shape during this dig, the bodies curled unto themselves, hands holding heads as the Bay trembled and Vesuvius spewed forth fire. He thought he was inured but as the shape begins to form he sobs quietly for the mother with babe clutched to her chest. He knows the small head to be nestled under her chin; he knows her lips to kiss the vulnerable head. Their kiss caught forever, beyond bodies, beyond time: mother and babe.

youth: a kiss

At seven o’clock on a chill August morning a young drunk falls away from the sea wall where he has been propped all night, falls face first into the sand. He opens his eyes upon a long flat line of blue. A beach. A fucking beach. It could be any beach in the world. He can’t remember. He just remembers kissing the girl, the girl with the overcoat, the cigarettes and the sea-misted hair. He trembles and remembers kissing the girl, the soft, salty girl.

man: a kiss

He sits beneath a deco-leaded window done in shades of blue-green and the world around is all early morning light refractions and a silence as vast as a yawn. Outside, beyond this night world of espresso and weary waiters, early suburban commuters drift about still drenched in the pale wash of sleep. Their hands trail slight air currents and are still loose around a briefcase handle. Not enmeshed just yet in the days spinning schedule. Bright office blocks shoot above like strange and exotic flowers of glass, sprung from beds of silver trails wich cross over and under, already nostalgic for their night’s trails. He can smell toast, and single origin brew, feel the blue-filtered light on his hands, the warmth of the cup.
He thinks about Agnes, that restrained and cool first kiss and how she kept her hands at her sides, and he wonders if she still works in town.

girl: a kiss

Frayed gig posters curl up and crawl down the walls. She is on the fire escape swaying slightly with the height and bass thumps from behind. She’s got her scotch-colored glasses on; the world is sepia and wicked with the sulphuric glow of street lights trapped by dark walls rising above. Far below, a polystyrene cup swishes. She can’t look down though, the door to the club has shut and she can taste the amyl nitrate in the back of her throat mixed with an old fear of heights. All around her mean little rooms fall into each other, fans stuck in their old panes. Even the fans can’t find air. They grate slowly round, round and round.
A light goes on and she sees a square room with walls painted hot yellow. On the sill, someone hopeful has placed a vase of cheap pink chrysanthemums. A young woman passes the window, holding a babe, then dropping her head to kiss its halo of pale hair so softly, a falling-petal kiss. The flowers are wilted, but sweet.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Setting fire to paper boats

Two adults sit in the dusk, man and woman. Their conversation is a lake and they cavort in it like teenagers.  He swirls the undercurrents and makes waves then proffers them to her like a powerful gift. She frolics a little and sometimes dives deep under to feel the strength of his tides.
They take up positions at the edge of the lake. The have each made a paper boat, beautiful objects, and now they place them in the water. He pushes his and its prow makes a handsome shape knifing through the water. Her boat is less muscular, it drifts and dips.  They look at each other, at the lake, at what they have made and how beautiful it is.
Suddenly he pulls a matchbook out if his pocket. Her nostrils flare and blood thickens as he strikes flame along the paper. He smirks at her and holds the fire above her boat. In her eyes he can see the reflected flame and himself within it and he likes it. When he drops the lit match the conflagration is immediate, both boats are brief incendiary bombs that could go anywhere wreaking their damage.
But the lake is safe, just a little manmade folly. The conversation slows and turns away from the ash on the water, as it must do. Soon the ash will sink, the wine will be drunk, the evening over.

Friday, January 13, 2012

a little 'cross pollination' between blogs in the form of some poetry

I tend to keep poetry for another blog-space but then reminded myself that Sailor Lily started out as my sole 'writing space' for all things. This poem came about when thinking of all the avenues of elms dotted around little Australian country towns. Often called 'avenues of honour' there would be an elm or gum tree planted along the road for each man lost to war. I wondered: if those beautiful trees, or the very earth that soldiers were ostensibly protecting could whisper to them who had died, would they try to console?

 Homecoming to farm after war.

Opened by a round of shell how was he to know?
Father and Mother buried him
And then the ground and dark closed in

But the banksias crouched over him
And his sister came with seeds of heath
Who grew their blooms to softly whisper:
“Epicaris impressa, I grow tall and slender
White against the sky.”
 And “correa reflexia”, chant the native fuchsia
“My brown-furred leaves to warm you
In the cold ground to adorn you
We of roots can never die”

          (common flat pea over me I lie and lie and lie)

And his shell, his very bones are crumbling
The grasses grow and hiss
The years as steady as the drip
Of the yard tap, where Bubby plays and grows, waits then goes.
Daddy coughs and spits then goes…

 And he of earth in earth won’t know
That Mum is forced to sell
That Sissy moves to town with Aunty Mavis,
And marries well…

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I could get used to

Being on hols and celebrating
Patting the cats until they love me like mad and become wonderful
Eating food I’ve cooked from my new tome: ‘Kitchen’ by Nigella Lawson.
Riding my bike that has finally been fully repaired
Having café coffee every day for half an hour at least
Going to the beach, or being at home, or ….