the o’connell street ocean


The perennial machinery must be serviced once a year,
today’s the day, and the job is mine.

I have a manual with clear instructions,
watery words on transparent paper,
and I study them closely with the tip of my nose—
when you’re done, don’t forget the disco ball,
although that might be written on the wall behind.

It’s time to consult my idea head,
neurons and neutrons orbiting on the shelf,
a capricious blend of memory and melancholy.

You must be sure, she says, about your current status—
are you in a dream, asleep,
or laughingly employed
and thoughtlessly awake?

Allow me to simplify the complex,
and complicate the simple.

In dreams, the clouds wash up on beaches,
the sky is underground,
the tides flow in O’Connell Street,
and we can be together like we used to be,
with my ideas within your mind
once more.

Is it just me, I wonder parenthetically,
or is my idea head a little petulant?
Perhaps she’s jealous of my dreaming head.

I swim the sea in O’Connell Street,
search the clouds and the municipal forest,
but find no sign of the perennial machine.
There’s nothing but deciduousness—
mulberry trees, leaves under feet, and a variety
of fruits and bats.

Tonight I’ll change my plan,
I’ll bury myself beneath the garden
and sleep untouched by flights of fish and fantasy.
When the river of the morning runs,
I’ll wash away the soil,
clean out the breathing snorkel,
and see how brightly
tomorrow’s gearwheels
spin the disco ball.


  • Lines for a Friend, 1948-1965  in Collected Poems of Michael Dransfield, University of Queensland Press, 1993.
  • a line in Tithonus (Alfred, Lord Tennyson): Man comes and tills the fields and lies beneath.
  • solar mechanics also feature in my short story Lighter than Claire at The Colored Lens and my poem Nadi and the Sun.


construction—view over Chipping Norton Lake. It looks exactly like that.

19 thoughts on “the o’connell street ocean

  1. the easy flow of this poem makes the reading of it palatable. the quotidian dialogue is very nicely handled too & i especially like the exacting asides to a surreal aspect loitering in the poets mind. i’ll be sure to give some time to previous posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got married in Korea & two, ornate wooden ducks represent the bride & groom. Your poetry has good scansion & the incidentals merge nicely with those things that ‘loiter in your mind’. so long as no murderous though engage the mind i think you have freevreign to wander. It isn’t easy to come by good blog poets so i am pleased i stumbled upon you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wedding ducks, interesting custom. I do have the odd angry thought directed at Windows 10 or Microsoft. I find a little meditation and rebooting the computer does the trick :).

      Thanks again, I enjoyed your Halla Mountain piece and photos.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Actually I’m surprised that schools don’t teach these basic facts. For example, I only found out that beaches breathe by accident, one night when I was fishing off a beach after a hot day and I felt its warm breath around my legs.

      Of course some people might say that the water from each wave was sinking into the sand and expelling warm air, but really, what a boring explanation.

      Liked by 1 person

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