Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Elliott Smith Tribute Night

pic by Darling Ms Cat

Was very fortunate last Monday to read my poem 'Dear Elliott' at the Elliott Smith Tribute Night at the Corner Hotel, Richmond. Many thanks to Chris Chapple for asking me to be involved and for accompanying me on guitar (see above) to the tune of Between the Bars. The sold out gig was an amazing success with all funds going to an Australian child abuse charity. For those who don't know, Elliott Smith was an amazingly talented American singer/songwriter who died tragically in October 2003 from a self-inflicted knife wound at the age of 34.
My poem 'Dear Elliott' will also be appearing in print in the soon to be launched 22nd edition of Going Down Swinging.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Cowboy Kisses

On the way to her house I invent her a new doorbell.
Everytime this doorbell is rung a cowboy appears from behind a tumbleweed, approaches the visitor, one hand hovering over his gun with deadly intent the other hand extending in welcome. The virtue of the visitor is tested immediately by the appearance of the cowboy both menacing and welcoming at the same time.
If the potential visitor does not flee at this vision the cowboy will nuzzle his well worn and stubbled face against theirs and then whisper come in, come in before delivering a cowboy kiss to the cheek.
This is the signal for the visitor that it is okay to enter.
On the way to her house I realise that I've invented her. How can I go to her house? I haven't even imagined where she lives yet!
I tell my cowboy friend to come out from behind those damn tumbleweeds and come help me find a real girl.
He takes me to the local saloon and we get totally slaughtered on Sioux City sarsaparilla.
He tells me inventing a doorbell powered by cowboy kisses for an imaginary girl is a pretty dumb idea but I point out so is getting drunk on sarsaparilla.
I guess that makes us even.

Monday, November 08, 2004

the altered destiny of small rocks and other gentle creatures

I sat on the balcony and I hoped I would see you.

I knew it was this time every evening you walked to the park by my house at dusk to your favourite spot. Where you would lay in the grass and invent new names for trees.

While I waited I discovered a small black and red insect crawling through the hairs on my arm.

It seemed harmless but I could think of more natural places for it to live so I gently took hold of it and placed it on the railing of the balcony.

Suddenly being removed from one world to another without any will of its own was a startling moment of liberation for the tiny black and red insect.

It promptly re-invented itself as an insect neo-folk singer and vibrated its tiny insect wings in a way that sent vibrations of personal and political frustration through the air audible only to other insects (more so to other insect lovers of folk music.)

This moment of altered destiny reminded me of when I was a child visiting my local bayside beach. While wading through the shallow tranquil waters I would often reach down and pick up small rocks from the sandy floor. I would stare at these rocks and consider the fact that before I had come along they had probably occupied almost exactly that same position for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. With one fling of my tiny hands these rocks would land with a splash in an entirely different world. And all I could think of at the time was how incredibly relieved the rocks would feel to finally have a different view every day.

I sat on the balcony a little while longer staring at the re-invented folk singing insect and then gently blew it over the edge where it plummeted into the front garden below and an entirely different world to the one it had just occupied, hence beginning its new career as an underground hip hop artist.

I never saw you walk by that evening and I’m thinking now maybe you don’t come this way anymore.

Maybe something has thrown you into another world.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Evil Bunny May Take Many Forms

A rare picture of the Evil Bunny in human form momentarily startled by the sound of a gentle old man nibbling quietly on a Saltine Cracker in the corner. A moment later the bunny disappeared into the portal on the right leaving a trail of Saltine crumbs behind him.

The New Mount Rushmore

This is what happens when too much red cordial gets passed around a party. Let this be a lesson to you all.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Review of Love is the New Hate

Hey, I'm back after a short hiatus of non-inspiration. Sorry for being away so long (and I'd like to dedicate that apology to Michael Nolan.)
Found a review online recently of my chapbook Love is the New Hate. I'm particularly fond of this little gem...

"Sean has little idea how to structure his poems, just as he has little idea how to structure his life."

He must be reading my mail.

To read more look here.

Friday, October 15, 2004

tara mcpherson

Been grooving on the art of tara mcpherson lately. With this drawing above she really nails it. I wish this had been the cover art for my chapbook. Bunnies, girls and broken hearts? Yeah, that's me alright.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Babble presents Strike A Prose!

Strike A Prose. As part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival I'm participating in a spoken word show called Strike A Prose. Five poets take on 80's identities and strut their 80's fashions on the poetry catwalk! It's going to be a blast! There will be an open section so bring your best 80s poem. Prizes for best 80s clothes for audience members also. If you're in Melbourne come on down and check it out. Starring Emilie Zoey Baker, Sean M Whelan, David Prater, Klare Lanson, alicia sometimes with MC Michael Nolan. Bar Open,317 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. $5/$7. (cheap!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Mime Set

The Mime Set are one of my favourite Melbourne bands. I took this photo of the lovely Sam Wareing at one of their many celebrated appearances at Babble. This Saturday Oct 2nd, they're launching their debut EP Sleeping is the Hardest Part. Come on down to the Empress Hotel, 714 Nicholson St, North Fitzroy. They really are quite good. If you go you'll find out why.

The Mime Set

Andrew and Sam of The Mime Set. Photo taken by me at Babble.

possible settings for the moment of our first kiss #2

the dry dusty bowl of a city park fountain
2nd year running of water restrictions
we enter the bowl because we can
you say
I'm thirsty
over your shoulder I see the truck approaching
RECLAIMED WATER in big black letters
its heavy load causes the suspension to wobble
somewhere an abandoned high school swimming pool
suddenly understands
the unbearable lightness of being
I tell you
don't turn around
close your eyes
and when the water reaches your waist
you won't be thirsty anymore

it's all in the eyes

if you're into eyes (and i am) then you're really going to wig out to the work of Sas Christian. in her gallery you'll see a bunch of paintings, mostly of women with eyes so big you could take a dip in there and spend the whole day floating around and barely touch the sides. she also does a fairly sassy Dean Martin. Sas is a damn cool name too, how many Sas's do you know?

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Weird & Wonderful World of Ray Caesar

Bat Girl
Big Ups to Hot Soup Girl for bringing to my attention the amazing work of Ray Caesar. If you like Mark Ryden then you're going to love Ray Caesar. The purists might disapprove of the fact that all of Caesar's work is computer generated using 3D software. They sure look like paintings though.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

possible settings for the moment of our first kiss #1

the new price is right
we’re contestants
we noticed each other in the foyer
Larry Emdur is asking the big question
there’s so much garden furniture at stake
our heads keep drifting
we lean into each other
all the buzzers and lights fade away
Larry Emdur is lost for words
the director is screaming
cut to a commercial

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

what was that ride called? the gravitron?

The images below are taken from the French film Les Quatre Cents Coups or The 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut. I watched this film for the first time today while laid up sick in bed with the flu. It was perfectly suited to a hazy flu-struck mind because it's one of those films that just kind of ambles along and on the surface at least, very little seems to actually happen. Apparently semi-autobiographical to Truffaut it charts the rough existence of a 14 year old Parisian boy. Unwanted by his parents and victimised by his teacher at school he resorts to a life of petty theft. The real charm in this film is the performance of the young child actor and the B&W cinematography.
My favourite scene is where the boy and his friend take off from school to go to a fun fair and end up going on one of those rides which is just a huge barrel that spins around fast enough to make you stick to the wall. What the hell was that ride called? I know they had one at Luna Park in Melbourne once.
This was also a real surprise because my friend Emilie Zoey Baker wrote about one of these such rides in the group poem we performed at the Sleepers Bam Slam held recently at the Melbourne Writers Festival (along with alicia sometimes and Terry Jaensch). We are also recording the very same poem, Lament for an Eighties Lover for Radio National this Friday. Not sure when it's actually going to air. Watch this space for further details.
So it's funny how an odd thing like a ride that sticks people to walls through the malicious use of anti-gravity can pop up several times at once like that.

it's about to start...

image from The 400 Blows. directed by Francois Truffaut. 1959.

heeeere we gooooo

image from The 400 Blows. directed by Francois Truffaut. 1959.

stuck here, could be worse

image from The 400 Blows. directed by Francois Truffaut. 1959.

everything falls away, at last (for ezb)

image from The 400 Blows. directed by Francois Truffaut. 1959.

Friday, September 10, 2004

a light in there, a light out here

shot through the window of Seventh Gallery, Gertrude street Fitzroy. i like the way you can see the streelight reflected in the glass on the right hand side. (click on picture for larger view.)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

there's been an accident on the freeway

i haven't had a holiday in two years.
this fact is really starting to gather some weight.
i find myself pausing outside travel agents and staring at young carefree plastic holiday snow bunnies with million dollar smiles and honey roasted tans. they know all the secrets of the universe because they're on holiday. i know nothing, because i'm not.
i really need a holiday.

this morning i dreamt i was riding a bike on a freeway overpass.
i'm riding up the hill, the only thing i can see is the sky and just below that, the faint blurry outline of mountains in the distance.
this drops me into an ocean of calm.
nothing else matters anymore.
slow languid movement into deep blue nothing.
then something is happening on my right.
i stop riding. the bike disappears. i look down to the freeway below.
i'm suddenly standing on the freeway. wide open countryside surrounds.
there's been an accident.
off to the side of the road there's a station wagon on the grass on its roof. i can its hear engine ticking.
across the road there are patches of smeared blood and white fur.
i look back to the side of the road and there are two huge St Bernards lying on their sides panting heavily. Concerned paramedics in blue jumpsuits crouch over them.
there's an electric afternoon stillness over everything.
i hear a yelp and look back to the freeway to see a small white dog running from side to side on the road. there are clouds of smoke rising off the dogs back.
this small smoking dog runs off down the middle of the road, tail wagging and occasionally barking.

Monday, September 06, 2004

banjos are playing in my heart and the essence of luck

banjos, who would have thought.
it's all due to a man by the name of Sufjan Stevens. and a new album called Seven Swans. it's a gorgeous piece of soft focused alt country new wave folk whatever. look for it.
i knew a man who liked to practice his banjo whenever he got drunk. he lived in a big party house, they would hold loud messy gatherings almost every weekend. but the only complaints they ever received were about X playing his banjo late at night.
i guess it didn't make them feel lucky.
that's a difference sometimes between comfort and discomfort.
i had to think a bit about luck recently as i was asked to write a poem for those sexy beasts at Going Down Swinging that somehow related to bingo. Yep, that's right, bingo. bingo gets a mention in my piece but essentially it's about falling in and out of luck.
here it is


I remember the way you walked around with a pocket full of Trivial Pursuit Cards.
You randomly challenged strangers on public transport to pick a category.
You told them there was a big prize at stake.
If they got the question wrong, you would press a lipstick kiss onto the card and give it to them as a consolation prize.
If they got the question right, you would press a lipstick kiss onto the card and give it to them shouting congratulations, you’ve won first prize!
Right or wrong, you just wanted them to feel lucky.
You wanted to find luck so tangible you could spread it like margarine over the stale bread of bad fortune. Not like the conditional luck of the rabbit’s foot; you told me often of the recurring nightmare of standing in a field of amputee bunnies. What’s so lucky about a bunny on crutches?
I remember you wearing a t-shirt with the letters LCUK printed on the front. You told me later luck was going out of fashion and you were trying to reverse the trend.
I remember choosing geography not because I was good at it but because at that exact moment the tram passed by an Atlas Rent-A-Car outlet and this seemed auspicious.
I remember the whole tram seemed to go silent as you read the question “What River is known as China’s Sorrow because of its flooding?”
I remember a chinese restaurant for dinner, me being accidentally jabbed in the forehead with a chopstick by a fellow diner and having the waitress rush over and tell me I must buy a powerball ticket that night as it was extremely lucky and you shouting yes, yes! and laughing and throwing chopsticks across the table like miniature javelins.
I remember the Bingo machine bought on Victoria St from a Vietnamese two dollar shop called The Machine of Lucky Shaking.
I remember you dragging me along to a Bingo Club and me discovering you not checking off your numbers but just staring around the room wide eyed with anticipation, feverishly trying to guess who the next winner would be.
I remember you leaning over my shoulder while I’m on the Google page and whispering you should always push the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button.
I remember the first time I ever saw you and sadness in the same room. You leaning against the rain streaked window, air drumming to The Carpenters. Hanging around, nothing to do but frown.
I remember you explaining that luck didn’t exist and that your LCUK t-shirt revealed that luck was simply an attitude, a way of thinking available to everybody.
Then I remember five minutes later watching you log on to a A Leprechaun web cam, showing live footage from a camera planted within the trunk of a 600 year old Irish Oak tree overlooking a field where Leprechaun’s are rumoured to cavort. You checked the cam once a day, just in case.
And I remember back then, on a tram thinking, what the fuck do I know about Chinese rivers?
I remember coming up with one river I vaguely knew of, but I didn’t know how to pronounce it and didn’t want to seem like a dick so I didn’t try.
I remember a guy at the back of the tram pulling a Coldplay CD from his backpack and thrusting it up, suggesting some kind of clue.
Cold River?
Chris Martin River?

I remember the nights were cool

I can still see the water pool
And I remember the girl that I knew
From Yellow River.

The trivial pursuit card pressed into my hand. Warm and crumpled, the lipstick smudge across my lifeline. The palm reader refusing a reading, until I washed it.
I remember, feeling lucky.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Candy Planets

gallery window. Dante's. Gertrude St, Fitzroy. Sunday night.

dreams of an evil bunny

working on no sleep... again.
well, a little sleep, kind of. in that floating a centimetre above the mattress kind of way.
there's a fat man sitting on the bench out the front of the shop. he's holding up a sign with something written on it. i can't read the writing from here. he's waiting for something or someone. he's just like everybody else, waiting for something to happen.
I wonder if he's holding up a poem.
I keep hearing things that seem to float past me. tiny auditory hallucinations. like invisible AM radios falling from the sky and then collapsing into little puffs of transistor nothing.
a.k.a. sleep deprivation.
it's kinda nice though.
soft suffering.
those spaces shifting around you. could fall into those and never be seen again.
damn i love the guitar refrain in free so free by j mascis. it's playing now in my head. but playing for real, i think.
favourite song today: someone said - j mascis.
this is one of those days when guitars matter. this is one of those days that gets described as one of those days. a marshmallow jigsaw puzzle. and i'm eating all the pieces one by one.
the fat man with the sign gets up and walks away.
this is my first blog.