The detective has left the building and the world. With a coterie of penguins and axolotls, his client has gone on without him, heading to a post-apocalyptic crystal city. The story began here.
We journey onward to the west, finding
country corners and strangers
who make believe their ordinary lives
have not been lost:
motels with sewing kits and swimming pools for guests,
where the penguins jump and splash,
dance their stately dances,
raise their beaks to the stars
with enthusiastic cries of ‘encore’
from the axolotls.*
The detective and his client continue their post-apocalyptic search for what lies beyond the obvious sea. For implausible reasons, the detective wrote a fantasy of his own death in his diary which he passed to his client, who is now keeping a record of their journey. The Detective started off here.
It was no-one’s fault, not his nor mine;
even the bivalves weren’t to blame.
They have capabilities beyond
our human constructs
yet they’re living creatures,
borne below and risen
from deep within the earth.
A detective and his client are seeking what lies beyond the obvious sea. The detective is in a supermarket, the usual refuge in case of an apocalypse, and his client has wisely left the building. (The detective sequence starts here.)
The ceiling and the roof have vanished,
breakfast for a bivalve, and a curling snake
of sulphurous vapor scorches my eyes,
runs bitter in my nose, my throat,
like the small red chillies
one should never purchase.
A detective and his client journey through the post-apocalypse, seeking what lies beyond the obvious sea. Here is part 1.
We walk for hours towards a hidden horizon
where the distant bivalves are silvery phantoms,
in the darkness.
My client has her axolotl armaments,
and I might be brave, but I’m myself—
a frightened woodland creature
seeking refuge from the restless night.
She makes a stop sign with her hand,
although it’s not hexagonal.
Over there a building stands.
We’ll rest until the daylight.
In a post-apocalyptic world, a detective and his client seek to discover what lies beyond the obvious sea. Part 1 and part 2 already happened.
I follow her, wander through
the ravaged landscape
searching for her dream, a fantasy
from long ago.
At dusk, we reach a silent square
of broken swings and slippery dips,
of roundabouts and culs-de-sac,
where all the fallen houses
are numbered zero.
A detective, his client, the mystery of what lies beyond the quotidian sea, and a marginally relevant precedent.
The sunlight hurts my eyes,
I’m unaccustomed to the lack of walls,
and I miss the certainties
my office prison offered me.
My client gives me glasses, dark,
and thoughtfully plasters zinc cream
on my nose,
but the world is not as I expected.
I wake up slowly in the soft infinity,
to discover I’m a dried out coffee stain
on the office floor.
By eight o’clock, I’ve morphed into a forgettable insect;
in half an hour, give or take, I’m a currawong
with a broken wing that fluttered through a window;
and when a customer knocks at nine,
I’m vaguely human, vaguely a detective,
polite, denatured, and unnatural.
on an evening in the soft infinity.
The sheeting rain outside
is a comfort and a warning
while I solder in a copper tangle:
connections from the future to the past,
with an insulating bypass round the present.
In the stormy world outdoors,
bright cascades of lightning challenge
my pretense, until a sudden surge and roar
redacts the copper to smoke and honey,
and a circuit breaker trips.
While forests of rain
are tumbling from the clouds,
From each exhaled breath,
swarms of insects, transparent to opaque,
spiral fluttering, butterflies to birds
to armadillo exhalations.
And soon there will be humans
in the aisles of nature’s
In a flurry of her own creations,
the goddess wakes.
I will not take that path again.
To find employment and the truth
I read the classifieds in tea leaves—
symbol seeking an equation
clothesline seeking washing
objectified stranger seeking life
I’ll try again tomorrow,
investigate the websites in the clouds,
where my skill
at staring into light and dark
might be less superfluous.
An arid future in a waterless world,
where all our understanding wavers
on a bridge to whiteness.
We are replicants in the land
of nothing new, and the westerlies,
hot and dry, are blowing away the children.
As they fall, we fall.
Through the window, washes
on a watercolor planet,
rainy autumn shades in spring, and
in the early evening, scattered photon showers
are forecast, a luminous return of light
from the shadow sun.
Indoors there are smaller mysteries,
trailing motes in negative space—
leaving lamps and bulbs,
domesticities and peripherals,
drawn out between the curtains
to the shadow sun.
I’ve breathed the air chirped by sparrows,
critically appraised everything
I didn’t understand,
searched for magica potenta
in urban mysteries, shaded quantum clouds,
on bedroom ceilings, and found echidna quills,
kookaburra beaks, sobriety, all the words
I didn’t want to write.
Three knocks at the door-to-door,
I said I don’t want any, thank you,
not knowing what I didn’t desire.
You humans are all alike, no time no time,
no time is beautiful, before birth and after life.
My pancakes are shallow thoughts
stacked in the kitchen,
she adds a little honey.
I’m late for work at the hardware store,
mostly robots looking for spare parts.
They’re not like her.
Here are 5 reasons to make your writing incomprehensible—
- impenetrable words allow the reader to focus on the prosody
- mystification creates enigmas, unresolved mystery
- if the meaning is obscured the reader can invent their own
- writing that doesn’t make sense is more likely to be original, less likely to feel familiar
- life makes very little sense—to me at least—so why should writing?
in São Paulo
My night thoughts spider scuttle
to the web of thoughts,
to be forgotten in the halogenic daylight.
Pigeon heralds coo chromatic arches of the dawn,
and by the afternoon’s descent,
a gentle samba on a headland far away
calls in the rain.
Lightning flashes in the belly of the city sky,
deus irae in smoky yellow,
and castle clouds are falling
in plastotechnic raindrops
that merge and rise to build again
as solid as the world.
My phone politely starts my Sunday:
Good morning human,
your mission is to find out
whether purpose matters.
Where subdivided paths marked
I saw enough to know
the truth of almost nothing.
Where falling cartoon clocks shattered
into bells and spiral springs,
I waited for a gentle sound.
Where graduated tick marks
switched the traffic lights,
I stopped to contemplate my lies.
At night when everything was hissing,
pressurized and leaking air,
colors came around, reefs of golden green,
and in the distance,
pages tore like thunder.
A rider on an insipid horse galloped
by my bedroom,
and my dream woke up
while I still slept.
After parts three, two, one, a flashback to the home of the crayfish on their reformed moon.
We live in a concrete paradise,
we must show the galaxy,
attract discerning tourists
and credit cards.
This is the third part. Tenuously connected first and second parts are stored as data on a server.
A pointless unnamed human
was locked in stasis by Célia,
an interstellar traveler
who has a name.
A week and forty years pass by
in a single line of text.
The stasis ends, and one apartment block
still stands on planet earth.
A mostly irrelevant first instalment exists.
An aerial steam train winds across
the Kangaroo Valley skyline
with interstellar Célia and
a nameless human on board.
On the ground, a stray sheep comments:
looks like a little smoky weather on the way,
and high above,
like a Canterbury pilgrim conglomerate,
Célia tells her tales.
The seasons sometimes dawdle, hesitate at the door,
run and stumble
when they’re late to catch
the Keplerian train.
Winter’s ice cracks in glasses,
spring’s choirs sing,
summer’s orchestras tune their instruments.
I do not listen.