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"I am much loved in certain parts of the global bath tub, whereas in others
I am on anti review / mention lists, & all
I do is get up every day..."
POETIC JUSTICE DE MER
Teri Louise Kelly
We had already decided to sneak into town with the sun at our backs. It was our first wise move in a couple of weeks and was bound to reap dividends. Besides, there were only two ways into town and the other one would have put us in the full malcontent glare of those already assembling for a weekend of verse, orgies and narcotics consumption. Fortunately we found our accommodation without too much fuss. Fuss is not something you need immediately upon arriving in a foreign place hauling a state of mind which is already well past coagulation. No, wise moves indeed, no need to take unnecessary and foolhardy risks within moments of decamping. Which was pretty much how we came to be slightly left of centre, the town centre that is, running the numbers on our already slim 'available options'. It was far too early to consider serious alcoholic beverage consumption, although, out on the streets a few of the first settlers were already crawling around looking for an open microphone, a bar with dim lighting or a hooker with dimmed sensibilities. None of that was for us – not immediately anyhow. As soon as we rounded the curve which curves into ye olde towyne square we were greeted with the sight of local law enforcement breath testing itinerant jaywalkers, and then pelted with a brutish 'passing shower' that rendered the whole place miserable and pre-menstrual. Undeterred however we scuttled crablike to the first bar we came upon, perhaps the only bar, who knew. Obviously this was a 'poetry free' zone, the green zone if you will, some small oasis in what was by then fast becoming, a kind of Wordsworthian cesspool. However, on the up side, drinks were remarkably cheap. Perhaps not the most prudent idea in a town full of weekending poetry whores, but nonetheless, a welcome and more importantly, inexpensive respite from the horrors already unfolding in the nearby rotunda. This was going to be an ugly weekend. We'd known as much before we had set off, but to have those fears confirmed rather than allayed so soon after our arrival, only made us more determined to see the whole filthy mess through to whatever conclusion it was going to conclude in.
Five drinks later.
Ah, notes yes . . . here's what they reveal: “ . . . too much gravy, hard roast potatoes, pork which has (almost certainly) not originated from a pig. A strange and brutish man accosting everyone about the fifty dollar note he has 'lost' on the bar floor. A gaming room which looks to all intent and purposes from our drinking point like the night shift at Area 51. No poets yet. Seven extra slices of bread (plus butter portions) safely stowed away for tomorrow's breakfast. Some fool at the 'all you can eat' counter heaping a plate with cauliflower cheese, oh hold on, that was me . . . front bar resemblant of a Manson family strategic planning meeting, one barely attired or coherent underage specimen of the indigenous female species surrounded by at least a dozen stone age looking boys of varying heights all already addicted to tobacco in a wholesome countrified way. Good vibes for her Friday night exploitations. No poets. A sudden chill, another vicious rain squall, the wharf like something out of Last Exit to Brooklyn minus the transvestite hookers, sailors and yeomenry. One solitary police car its lights pointed out toward a black merciless estuary while its inhabitants stare even more blankly at the idiots dumb enough to be fooling around in lesbian-ish antics in full view of the now gathered (amassed) hoi poloi of the national poetry scene. A bad and weird vibe about drowning. Staggering home across ridiculously small rail lines . . . a loon howling, poets everywhere sucking finger food and laughing gaily about . . .” Yes, those were the notes from evening one. Well okay, tomorrow is another day. Even here.
Day Two Program.
A cirque de soleil kind of night has now passed into the annuls of the file marked 'failed sexual intercourse attempts'. Much ado about nothing, a couple of drunken poets skirting the boundaries of good sense and adultery, nothing to write home about. Back in the town an hour later we are unable to detour around the main drag and are thus, somewhat unexpectedly, thrown into the brutish spectacle of a poet's breakfast. It is an unruly scene full of mismatched hatwear, inappropriate attire, open mouthed eating and generally misconceived ideologies. There appears to be what looks like an effigy of Keats - obviously constructed by a crude pinata maker, thoughtlessly strung above the soiree ready to be smashed in a frenzy of post breakfast revellry, scattering the whole town with what we are unreliably informed are 'modern sonnets' penned by the criminally insane (many of whom obviously have weekend passes). Yes indeed, this is no place for those with a nervous disposition or spare cavital orifice. We move on, on out of town to a nearby beach to watch water. Water has a placating effect. Much later my companion takes off to a lecture. On what I remain unsure, she is deep into the whole performance ethos and as such it is her professional duty to seek direction. I of course am neither a professional or a performer, and thus, even though I am under explicit instruction to remain coherent, I find that with time to idle I am drawn rather alarmingly to the fruits of the vineyard.
Notes made prior to reading.
“Stay sober!!!!!! . . . watch out for slurred syllables, stray microphone cables, bad lighting and anyone in the front row closely resembling Eva Braun . . . what???????? One more drink for good measure, check mascara, rub eyes tiredly, re-do mascara, remember to quit this shit and get some kind of real job.” .
Day two evening session.
Right. There are no passes. Passes are only afforded to members of the gang. I have no idea which gang. Someone high up in officialdom has obviously got a disliking for guttersnipe poets. No big deal, not having a valid pass actually lubricates the wheels of mandatory non-attendance principles. The drinks at the bar are actually getting cheaper per day, this is the more remarkable information. Duly noted.
It is an okay crowd. The usual flotsam and jetsam of the serious drug and street poetry scenes. Good people. We go off without a hitch. Things appear to be on an even keel and even platoincally dignified at the bar post gig, it is only when the rent-a-mob stagger over to the 'later night' venue that all matters become hazy and literal. Yes. This is not my beautiful life – note to self. At some pivotal juncture, measured either by tedium or alcoholic intake, the memory gland ceases to function, in tandem with the navigational lobe and brain to mouth (ore-censorship) utility. Complete meltdown. Loss or rationality, direction and comprehension. How did I get here?
I am suddenly pounced upon by what appears to be, in my intoxicated frontal lobal region, a rabid red setter, maybe an Irish wolfhound. This hound of the Poetryvilles can also talk, as it's accosting me rather savagely about my number of alcoholic beverages, consumed I presumed. Next, all I can recall is the sound of breaking glass, or perhaps glasses, plurality is lost to me at this moment in actuality. All apologies.
Some thoughts on the homeward walk.
A very large moon grinning insanely. One pelican calling me a dumb brute. Momentary howlings (from me?), complete spatial meltdown, alarming disorientation, lost in space, danger Will Robinson, imminent doom, prostrate on a grass verge looking for divine intervention. Yes. The true bestiality of all of this will only make itself known on the morrow. This I realise.
Day three highlights.
It strikes me as ridiculously backward, even in my hungover mindset, that any organisational body charged with delivering poetry to the disinterested masses, would schedule a poetry reading in a blustery rotunda anywhere before midday on a Sunday morning. But they have, and they have knowing full well that many of their 'expected audience' are either still comatosed, ensconced in a drunk tank, laying on a rail track face down, in casualty after having been found on a rail track face down, or merely floating somewhere in the still fetid waters of the harbour while pelicans lazily peck at their already bloated and discoloured corpses. Strange ways indeed. But still, we, me and my companion (who it eventuates was not a rabid red setter after all) are here, sitting with a divine creature already close to nervous system meltdown due to the disfunctionality of the supreme commander. Whoever that is. Perhaps T.S. Elliot, who after all, has been seen sipping Bucks Fizz's out on a luxury yacht moored in the estuary blocking both shipping lanes. Weird ripples through the millpond of the spoken few. Eggs Benedict everywhere you look, a brewery running out of wine, a flock of seagulls flapping hopelessly after a staggering drunk dropping flatbread everywhere. These are the stays of our lives.
Onto the reading; note to self – that was good shit.
Mid afternoon finds us at yet another reading. I have severe alcohol induced tremors. The chairpeople move the free wine to exactly where I'm sitting. A diabolical oversight in coordination. I resist the temptation – no, I cannot pick up a plastic cup as my hands are shaking and that kind of gig, attempting to pour wine from a box tap, will only succeed in lowerinbg my already waterlogged reputation. I read, my setter reads, and then we decamp. Strangely we decamp to a seat in a bar, which is odd as the drinks were free at the reading venue. We are nothing if not creatures of habit. The entourage of poetic and anarchistic types we are frequenting with at this gathering drift over. They have been manning a table someplace, attempting to sell underground literary wares to a high brow crowd of gaberdine wearing brunchers while intoxicated and with one wearing the cloven mark of some night devil on his forehead like a third eye. Warped times, more drink, then more drink, then chips, then more drink . . . poetry is over, long live poetry.
Day three evening.
There is no evening program. And even if there is, who cares? Yes, there are shadowy people hidden inside vehicles with tinted windows slowly cruising the main drag. Most likely publishers and editors who cannot actually be seen in public through fear of being assaulted with third rate poetry manuscripts. Ho hum. The drift continues. I find myself reading into a microphone in a secret bedroom recording session. That was not mentioned on the program either. Finally the residual slops of the poetry infestation still infesting this seaside hovel finds its way to our door. Thereafter matters blur into a funk of illusion and moonwalking, oh, and maybe juggling . . .
Day three evening notes.
. . . “who the hell are these people?”, why is Michael Jackson here, still sporting white socks? Apparently Melbourne have won another football game and to celebrate Jim Stynes is going to sing the 'Irish Rover' buck naked in Fed Square. Ah juggling yes . . . everyone is doing it . . . even the boy with the beautiful eyes, oh, no he aint, but the devil is here too, proudly showing off his third eye . . . someone who 'claims' to be a publisher (a likely fucking story) is also in attendance . . . a frightening casserole of degredation and debauchery is simmering . . . flash bulb photography . . . yet more moonwalking, a werewolf baying someplace too close for comfort. Later: four in the A M, sounds of mumblings and whisperings, accentuations, clandestine recording sessions, a train tooting, a pelican reciting Poe's Elleanor atop my door frame, or whatever the hell that ditty was called.”
Day four departure.
The good times are over. Some wonder when, and if, they ever actually commenced.
But not us, we have packed faster than the Kommandant fleeing Buchenwald on liberation day. We are out on the road to westernisation and high gluten breakfastry before a beret has even been de-liced in other hostelries: campsites, share bear accommodation, grassy knolls, wharfs or wherever the hell else all of those poets bedded the previous night. No, it was a disturbing encounter of the 'too close for comfort' kind and the lessons learned therewith shall not be forgotten. Lest we forget, indeed.
“ there is a guy carrying a double bass hitchhiking the road due north. He is walking into the rising sun like some beastly apperition of Chaucer zombiefied. His cowboy boots light a tiny spark each time his heel strikes bitumen. As we pass, (accelerating), I cannot help but notice he has rabbit feet hanging from his belt. And he is wearing a leather hat. The words 'Randall Flagg' leap into my head as I step on the gas . . . was on he running a masterclass somewhere and we missed it? Of all the shithouse luck.”
Save A Tree
Read Girls Like Me
Not For The
Faint of Heart
If honesty & candor still count for something,
Teri Louise Kelly
hits the mark
again and again...
AMERICAN BLOW JOB
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