Salome Starfire

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Archive for the month “September, 2013”

slivy toves

Maybe I am a slivy tove? or a momerath? I feel I might be when I am stealthily executing detective work in the streets or on the tram or even from the comfort of my bed. I’ve become expect at stealthy work from my bed…which gets me to thinking about beds and what beds mean for so many people…beds for dreaming, beds for being born in…oh and deathbeds too. I believe the Victorians would sleep sitting upright in beds as opposed to heads on pillows because they felt sleeping in a bed was too much like sleeping in a coffin. That’s why their beds ‘look’ shorter.  I wish I could be one of those people that could sleep anywhere when they were tired…on a plane, on someone’s shoulder, on someone’s dusty floor…but I can’t do that. I have spent days in bed recently..I managed to chop onions for pasta in bed, write an essay, write a short story, send out emails, brush a cat, brush my hair, stitch a hem, and get several foot massages. Yes, other than the fear of bed sores or calling out ‘GILBERT’ (some savvy Johnny Depp movie buffs will get that one) I find bed to be such a pleasurable place to muse and create on the world.  And when I’m on those excrutiating 10 hour shifts at work I think of bed, of the curling up, of the book.  You know when you meet a lover and you get it on fiercely and for the first six weeks ( or is it still going???) cups and saucers and packets of things, and books and magazines all pile up like a sea around you both? And sleeping together is strange and at first you wake up in the middle of the night and begin talking again. You pick up the conversation and continue until the dawn. You’ve jibber jabbered til dawn and  then you gingerly step off the boat and go make a toastie and a cup of tea and bring it back like treasures from far away lands to eat like birds over your shared meal. You twist and turn and find hidden spaces…like endless promenades of sheets and pillows, in an empire of sleep, sex, rest, and intoxicating love.

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Of Mice and books

I am here early, only with the librarians and the security guards. The lights are not even on in the room I am sitting in. This is the most glorious time to be at the library. My sneeze echoes through the chamber, a mouse scurries. An elegant mouse, dressed in a red brocade waist-coat, a black velvet cap and a pile of papers under one arm. She looks up at me and her eyes widen as though this kind of thing never happens. Tendrils of electricity pass between us, and both sense the pace of each other’s heart. Her heart flutters like a sparrow caught in a spider web, mine flutters as if I’ve awoken in a dream. She stands so very still and I wonder if she thinks I am a big black cat, which is a very reasonable and observant estimation. I try to calm my pulse and I know I should look down to show I am not hostile, but I don’t want to her to disappear.

The lights have just turned on and slowly they warm up in the library. I see no ghosts. I feel no ghosts here. The only ghosts in this place are the ones people bring in, though I suspect level 4 and 5 to be the most haunted if there were to be such things. There are books there written from the 15th century, even older–Copernicus,  Tibetan scripts and a Koran from the 16th Century. The Koran is within a beautiful leather satchel, and I can see the desert winds wearing away at the animal hide and dye, the faded tassels, a breath-taking illuminated manuscript from Florence,  and Galileo’s ‘A dialogue concerning the World’s Two chief systems’ ( refer to http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/after-galileo/story-fn9n8gph-1226482533504# ) When I go up to Level 4 I feel I am in the presence of some of the most wonderful dangerous ideas and some courageous adventurers questing after knowledge, truth, and discoveries.  Galileo was convicted of Heresy and this book was placed by the church on the ‘Index of Forbidden Books’. The book takes the form of a discussion by people on the motion of the earth and building on the theory of Copernicus Galileo’s book is a dialectical exploration of rebuttals, observations and arguments for the motion of the earth around the sun based on rigorous scientific exploration, curiousity, and detailed observations.  Galileo defied the Church’s insistence that the Earth was the centre of the heavenly spheres, and by curiousity, observations of tides,  the motion of the Earth in relation to the sun etc, this hounded and exiled scientist, later banned from writing any more books, subverted the Earth-centred universe paradigm of the Christian Empire. This monotheistic paradigm ruled and regulated what people could write, and how they could conceptualise their place in the world, thus reinforcing the power and dominance of the church. Galileo was a true revolutionary. Okay, so he had a patron who supported him financially, but still, I think we live in a world where we think power comes from having authority over others, lauding title, position, money, status. But what about an idea that rocks the foundation of those dominant institutions?

Maybe I don’t feel so ‘powerful’ observing a system of governance that gracelessly attempts to give us a selection of ‘choices’, or a semblance of ‘democracy’. Maybe I don’t feel so powerful walking down the street in the rich house of dire areas of Melbourne with 5 bucks in my purse, but here is it is…. I may join in from time to time the bemoaning of undertaking a degree in literature and philosophy and continuing with it…but I love ideas, dangerous ideas, and I never once thought about getting a proper job. What the hell is that?  I considered myself an adventuress always on the search for knowledge, for the sharing of knowledge and the creation of new knowledge.  My mum has not been comfortable with this and I have beaten myself up trying to reconcile my idealistic notions of knowledge, creativity and sharing with the reality that maybe the climate is not a climate readily embracing new ideas, intellectuals, and creatives…other than side entertainment on the weekend, or somehow incorporated into a professional development program of a corporate job. #sigh#

But I’ve got this fire in me, a mad universe of collapsing stars and wild visions that I’ve tried to shake, to get rid of, to ignore…but it never works!!!!!  I never thought Galileo’s work would give me such butterflies, would make me feel so deeply for the pursuit of knowledge, creativity and curiousity… to want to share and explore it with others.

From my new collection of poetry, ‘Animal Kingdom’

This is one of my prose pieces from my new collection I’ve been working on…

Seven steps to a Tableau Vivant.

 

1.

 

In unadulterated working cubicles

 

and further galaxies—interstellar space

 

every day is

 

a morbid anatomy.

 

We are conjoined twins

 

you speak to me and a dead weight presses against my lips

 

you are a possum’s tail

 

a bat

 

a spawning salmon.

 

I am a guttered salamander

 

immersed in a posture of surrender

 

 

2.

 

We have labelled incorrectly these dead beings

 

at the Zymoglyphic Museum,

 

under your skin a panorama of living creatures

 

the soil under your painted toes

 

is fossicked

 

these strange currents that run within you

 

culminate in the fogginess of your gaze

 

we both know the controversy surrounding

 

mermaid collecting

 

we both know of leather-winged folk

 

who left city lights

 

to swim again through other jungles

 

such spectacles at night

 

moving in a breathless flight.

 

3.

 

You and I Virginia,

 

are fraudulent animals,

 

our inviolate limbs,

 

and queer protests lust after kingdoms

 

amaranthine

 

under our pendulous breasts,

 

prehistoric folk wanted to take our skin

 

flayed salted stretched and sun-dried

 

 

4.

 

In a black and white photo

 

albino animals behind glass

 

toad, rabbit, birds, and a wallaby

 

poised in movement

 

theirs is a heartbeat in consent behind glass,

 

secured with metal stilts by dexterous hands

 

in a garden you and I will never know.

 

 

5.

 

I have entered through two air-locks

 

it is not for security

 

but to keep the formallin

 

from spilling out

 

People at computers remain mephitically productive— entries and emails hold the clockwork universe together,

 

timetables of pink, purple,

 

wooden owls lucent, perched on keyboards.

 

 

6.

 

doll-pink, doe-eyed, cloven-footed, limbs in cheese-cloth.

 

not like a japanese paper house

 

and not like the hay-bale houses we made at school

 

not like the partitioned houses made of itchy blankets

 

but the crash-pads made behind eyes

 

7.

I am late today because no amount of needle and thread will do,

 

my head flops onto my shoulder,

 

my tail is dry and brittle,

 

my ears are filled with fluid,

 

and even my murmurs sound like nefarious screams

 

but at least the sound of my longing is tailor-made.

 

What’s with a name

I woke up this morning with Dolly Parton’s ‘Working 9-5’ in my head and could not get out of bed. Obviously I eventually did and with enough muesli and eyeliner I left my shoebox to venture out into the big wide world…the big wide world. There is seldom eye contact and perhaps that’s a good thing on a tram, people are caught up in texting, in daydreaming, in fading hopes and failures.The tone of this piece of writing is slightly depressing, and I can assure you, I am trying very hard to get myself out of this funk I am in. I look for clues, I look for patterns, in the floor, on the bus, in the sounds and conversations…but patterns that will give me the answers I seek to what? I’m not sure I even have clarified the question.  I walk into a supermarket, which I do not recommend, to buy some things for a meal, and I am paralysed. You know what I’m talking about! You look at the shiny trough of broccoli, the tomatoes, the spinach in packets and you start thinking about all the packets and all the avocados and all the broccoli and where it all comes from and how far away, and then I start to calculate how many supermarkets there are like this in Melbourne, in Australia, in the world and I am paralysed on the spot, with people pushing past me.

Personally I think anyone who cross-dresses, plays with gender, drags it is admirable in as far as gender performance goes and courage. Most of the time I feel like a horse on the wrong side of the paddock. I have not left my inner-six year old’s conception of make-up….colour lines smudge–more colour!! I am rambling this morning, and I fear this may not be the finest of my posts, but I’m going to keep writing, even if I don’t post this.

I wonder where my poetry will go…where it will come from. I wonder about travelling to Mongolia and Italy and Brazil. And I am lost to the now. The now. Do you think people are addicted to their iphones? Maybe a chemical reaction between the brain’s reward system and blinking messages happens and so it become completely addictive.

I smelt cat piss this morning in my house. My oldest cat Babooshka has had a peeing problem for ages…”Miss Pissy pants peeing parlour’ as we grudgingly call our shoebox. I clean up her cat pee every morning and night. N and I take turns. I know it usually points to feeling of territory, feeling insecure, feeling the need to dominate…I’ve tried a variety of things over the years.

People are very serious in the business districts of Melbourne, They talk about policy and promises and government and holidays and wait for their coffees. I am writing this all down because I feel if I do not write this all down something is lost. Hopefully not your time reading it. I have been sitting here for 20 minutes and I feel utterly displaced. but you know what? That feeling of being displaced is not a sad lonely feeling. It is freeing.  I feel unrestricted and unbounded, I feel I have unraveled myself because I have chosen to do so.

But have I? Have circumstances, have synaptic connections and disconnections propelled forth this unraveling. I wonder if I would have enjoyed the Paris Boulevard and the small coffee houses in back streets at the turn of the century?

 

6 billion stories

Take off your headphones! Stop the texting…for a moment, and look around your immediate environment. Move out of your comfort circle of colleagues, associates, friends occasionally…I recommend it to all writers-artists-folk-everyone actually. Where I am currently doing my professional practice I make a genuine effort to talk to everyone. I get here early, usually an hour or two before I’m meant to be here, so I can sit and write and observe. And everyone has a story and if you give them enough space and listen with an open mind they just might tell you a few things. I’ve recently met Diana, who cleans the library and has been working here for 25 years. She is from Macedonia and she has four daughters with beautiful oceanic names. Her husband who she loved very much recently passed away from a heart-attack and she visits his grave and sometimes she puts on music and dances around in her wedding dress and thinks of him. As she tells me I start to cry. He was from Egypt and he was very kind and intelligent and was studying engineering at a university in Melbourne. I wonder as she tells me, how many people in this huge institution have ever really given Diana the time of day, how many people have just assumed she is a cleaning woman with no stories? 

And what about one of the security guards I had a conversation with, I shall call him ‘Edward’ He told me he was in the Royal Navy and that once, many years after his Grandma died, she appeared to him but at the time he didn’t think it was unusual.  She was ‘solidified’ in front of him walking across his field of vision and at the time he said he forgot she had passed away and only after realised the strangeness of the experience. 

I also spoke with a Librarian, I shall call her Peta and we had a discussion of body image and aging. She told me she lived alone and that meeting men her own age had pitfalls since most of them are stuck in their ways with prostrate issues and a lifetime of disgruntled opinions. I told her to date someone younger but she doubted whether someone younger would be interested in an ‘older lady’. She told me her body didn’t look good naked, and we talked about how so many of us are plagued by our feelings of inadequacy.

And if you get here early enough…you might catch a librarian reciting Romeo and Juliette across the reading room at her fellow librarian descending the steps. Librarians getting off on Shakespeare.

It is curiousity and a love of connecting and learning from others that I would like to bring to any teaching practice and to share this love with my students. Maybe I can give them the space that all curious beings need without expectations, agendas and outcomes to just simply (complexly) absorb, and be completely present with their senses. Working here affirms through  a far more esoteric and deeper level what learning is for me.. and it’s not when I’m ‘guided by observing and told what to teach and encouraged to reflect’ It happens outside of what I”m supposed to be taught or guided towards. I guide myself….by curiousity….I cannot remove the writer-the artist from my blood..it is instinctual-primal-powerful. My urge towards creativity, towards finding stories, making connections, digging in the dirt, finding the seeds sprouting, getting dirt under my nails is a potent elixir of life-giving sustenance. Dig! Climb! Stand in the rain everyone is trying desperately to get out of! The indoctrination of ‘responsible and justifiable activities and occupations’ has left the curiousity and playfulness that all children have as a by-product of earlier years. I don’t want to give it up. I just won’t do it! And you know what….neither should you.

I see dead people talking

Have you ever met a person who when they enter a room, you feel a warmth, a smile stretch across your face, your shoulders relax, your breathing steadies? I’m sure you have…maybe a lover, friend, someone you admire, maybe even a stranger? Okay..have you ever met a person who even from the beginning of that meeting, your hackles went up, you felt your shoulders hunch, and the room suddenly felt chilly? I suspect this feeling is a very primal feeling..an animal instinct.Because, I suspect  this instinct comes at us from non-verbal communication. Or rather it’s not the words that the person is saying, it’s everything else. Have you ever noticed that for one to detect sincerity it doesn’t need to be heard? It can be felt in the way someone positions themselves to you, in their eyes, in their mannerisms? Of course, I can’t believe they think they are getting away with their exiguous gestures…I feel like saying ‘ I can read you so clearly..stop pretending, let the charade cease please!’ But no, we just nod, or try to avoid their eyes because they seem so dead and cold. Of course avoiding eye contact can also be read by another person as 1. inferiority complex, or 2. guilt. So we must face the orbs of winter! We must be brave and know that we know and they remain oblivious.

What are we doing when we are talking?  What are we saying when we are saying something?

Is it to win someone over to our side of a story? Is it to tell our tale because we need to talk otherwise we don’t exist?

I know that much communication, both non-verbal and verbal IS about the attempt of one or more people to make meaningful connections, to engage in the sharing of perspectives, develop and extend their understanding, challenge and contest knowledge, create new synaptic pathways of understanding, learning, scope…HOWEVER…so much of it seems to be about POWER. The ego…essential for creating a subjectivity and being able to interact as a social being…grows to such importance that the messenger becomes more important than the message. AND people manipulate each other through a combination of mannerisms and words and their associated position constructed in society. I know this is such a simple explanation but I would love to hear more talking in the spirit of sharing and listening–in developing more intricate and moving experiences of ourselves and the our world than just the gibber-gabber goobledegook that we all do.  Less ‘bossing and demanding, less coercing and manipulation’…more passionate dialectic–more singing, more art, more silence that is not the silence of the oppressed but the silence of the introspective deeply engaged being. More wit and gumption, heart and panache…oh and more silliness! Yes silliness please! More laughter…eeek in a serious corporate world of outcomes and adjustments and pep talks and money and serious adult considerations, and justifications and distribution of responsibility and power… more laughing!! Not the kind of forced laughing you feel you have to do to fit in with the team or group of people which thereby asserts you are part of the team and you are not a threat to the joker, but real guffawing ROFL with the possibility of peeing your pants and forgetting for one moment that you were a responsible
communicating adult. We have constructed guardhouses with our own hands, some of them made of words, we have fabricated tombs that we live in and starved the offspring of our imaginations so that the responsible adult may live.  But what is the ransom of this hostage crisis? To live half-lives…regarding the dreams of youth as simply no longer ours to have..but another generations to dream? It is a high-price..and a price that has no insurance policy.

White Noise

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White Noise

I’m feeling irascible—wondering if there really are any winners?

the planet has lost, all the animals, endangered species, rivers, the blighted land, the oceans burdened with human waste and plunder… everytime the elections roll around I lose a little more hope,things seem damp and murky—people seem damp and cloudy—maybe they sense my incredulity about them. Are people able to see and fathom trans-generational issues? Are humans capable of seeing how the future is entrusted to us now..but something blocks humans ability to care enough? Is it just simply a basic instinct to care about one’s immediate family and social class status and money and way of life at the expense of the indubitable narcissism of the now.  Don’t we have a duty to this Earth? To the future? What will our grand-children think of us? Is greed for money and a certain entrenched way of living really the motivation for people voting?  It’s hard enough to get Year 8 students to think about life before the internet…so is it generational anesthesia? Has a lack of imagination and the lack of really sincere political debate and philosophical forums resulted in a society that obeys vainglorious avaricious leaders? And where pray tell are they leading us? Into what glory and future?  I’ve become suspicious and rather than looking for the sincerity, I’m picking up the insincerity and leaving conversations hanging. I cannot attempt any more of these pretend conversations when Australia is really going to shit. I cannot smile and feel happy and meditate on the wholeness and oneness of it all. I cannot avoid, nor can I void. Voiding is easy—it’s that thing most people do on the tram in the morning, or when they are having a conversation. Maybe you, dear reader, sense it to? This unmistakable sub-reality grid-like existence that catches the edge of your shirt-skirt-pants-scarf-conversation? The awareness of this grid—I really can’t explain it any other way, results in conversations left hanging in mid-air, becoming painfully aware at the lack of eye contact going on between strangers AND the desire beginning in oneself not to have eye contact with others. There is a mist that tastes metallic and synthetically perfumed, a suffocating mist of insincere sythentic perfumes and car fumes and fresh leather. You know the mist I’m talking about. You feel it leave your clothes damp, you are aware of the edge, and the feeling that you might take me with you. So let’s go. Press yourself into me. Let me feel the sigh against my cheek, let me see the poetry you hide on receipts. Let me see you sink, I want to feel your tears, I want to see your breath fog up the windows of this tram..the lines of graphite, the certainty of destination, feeling blissfully derailed. I feel my thoughts have become even more dangerous because they have no measurable outcomes, thoughts that haven’t been written down or tweeted, ideas that are dangerous enough NOT to be even considered for a dangerous ideas conference. These ideas come about when I am thinking of the farce of democracy, when I think of the pendulum swinging—traps within traps but we are on the ride and we don’t feel the pendulum swinging. It feels like free-falling. I think of all my books in storage in my Muslim father’s shed—safer there than anywhere—I think of intellectuals being herded into storage containers, of artists—creative inventions scientific inventions silenced, moved on…starving. I think of anyone who isn’t one of the boys in the boys club.What has Australia done? What did they think they were doing? Retrospectively those that decided to do the deed will not discuss it publicly—when the containers of human cargo are full, when the prisons overflow,

when even the libraries empty, when the rivers despise the fish and the fish suffocate within them, when the smog asphyxiates us in our sleep … philosophical and passionate dialectic —intelligent intervention—political protest—will they disappear in the silent metallic perfume of mornings and nights? Gestapo exercises—curfews–words banned—not even the space or the tools to learn philosophical debate-dissent-activism-interference. Removing university courses that support philosophical and cultural critique…now that’s a great way towards white noise.The line seems to be perfectly clear now…and there is no interference—white noise.

In your madness a friday

This post goes out to you. Because I know the world is full of taxis and full of take-away shoes.

So this is to you, to your madness a Friday, to your beauty that did not bow so low you forgot to rise,

to your weirdness, your perversity, your pervert beauty.

Even in this tetris game and even with your take-away shoes you cannot hide your immensity—so do not shrink

there will be time enough under the earth for that–I dare you to grow into your immensity

you brush pass the buildings, you wake the ghosts of old libraries and they tell you stories–profundity of paint

and bags that keep opening with stolen goods-vials violas a diaspora of sighs

ubiquitous love ubiquitous wild inside the lining of your skin–you sew up in your dreaming

a scramble of electronic primitive calls

A nightingale, a collision with sparrows who have taken refuge in your heart–and it flutters and it sparks these

sparrows, pigeons, leaves on a slipstream–you have to sit still and quiet to detect the currents—but you always

find it.

I am there with you.

Dorothy Parker for Dinner

I would have had this posted earlier but I was looking for Enough Rope. You know you are on the hunt when that strange thing you do with your tongue on the edge of your lips occurs and you hunch forward into the computer scouring for…a 1st edition 5th print run of Parker’s Enough Rope. I’m thinking at this point ‘Ahh it’s so cheap! Fools! How is it no-one else has found it??? This is incredible! I think I know where I want all my spending to go from now on!!’ And so I begin carefully looking at photos of the old brown book, all the while conscious of my purse just disappearing off the table edge. So I looked at the photos of the rather plain brown hardback book. I thought about having it and reading it on the tram and then thought about how dangerous on-line shopping is. I’m not the kind of girl who buys expensive shoes or bras, and I’d perhaps be better supported and dressed if I were, no….I’m the girl who stresses over not having enough money to get my teaching registration and then begins to salivate over a 1st edition book of Dorothy’s. I imagine holding it in my hands…no I imagine coming home tired and checking my letter box and finding the bundle of joy, clutching to my cheap brassiere  and relishing in that delicious vanillary smell of old books. I don’t open it straight away, no I take my shoes off, wash my hands because the tram is full of flu-ish sickly looking folk and click the switch on the kettle. I put the package down and pretend I don’t want to rip it open… I casually turn it over in my hand all the while inspecting the finer details of place of shipping, what stamps they’ve put on there, the way my name feels very important and certain on the front. I feel for the book, its hard exterior seems so much smaller than I thought it would be. I feel it through the packaging, the thin wave of bubble-wrap. See!! This is what happens when I had decided to look up Mrs Parker’s birth date and death date to make sure I had the right details. Ah the details! And sure enough, I hear the postie rattle by but not for me, and I’ve boiled the kettle twice and have not managed to move myself from this incredibly uncomfortable sitting position. Perhaps in another life I would have the expensive shoes, the perfectly fitted bra that lovingly caresses my decolletage and my first edition copy of Enough Rope. But I have bitten off more than I can chew, I retreat from the electrical lights of internet shopping and remember my copy stashed in storage in Brisbane in one of my father’s ten sheds. I wonder if I can get someone to get it to me. Looking for Dorothy means I am in need of her smarts and wit, it means I need to be the broad that is not ashamed to be broad, to be big and bold, to be out-spoken. I need that Parker gumption, I need that tenacity to play with the boys and win their marbles! I need my smart ladies around, plotting to overthrow every big book industry giant in the world ( Vanity Fair kicked Mrs Parker out for her leftie tendencies! )

Dorothy Parker

you did not take shit

though often,

you did like to dish it.

Dorothy I need you,

your bravery and charm,

I wish I had your skills

with words to dis-arm

all the pallid girls

and the wretchedly cool men

But I have only boring impatience,

and an uncertain pen.

 

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