Big Bridge #9

Poets of Australia


Jordie Albiston


... can never be catalogued or appraised ...
- Orson Welles

I collect mistakes and faulty prime numbers she says
about herself. I collect quotes and jokes and dreams
like Freud himself he says. I used to collect foreign
stamps till I gave them all to the damp Italian girl
nobody spoke to she says. A prime philatelic mistake
he says. My collection of coins echoes each continent

as well as the nether countries she says. My matchbox
covers are close to complete he says. I tried to collect
cigarette packs but prevention prevailed in the end
she says. He says you can always take it up again.
My snowdomes serve as my homes-away-from-home
she says. That's how I view my Disneyana he says.

I have a collection of personality defects dating back
to Christ she says. Well my ten mint commandments
are carved out of bakelite made by the Romans he says.
She says I possess enough swizzle-sticks to fill your
Studebakers. I'll pull them out with tin Civil War men
he says. Will you trade your range of Lionel trains

for my wind-up carousel causes she says. Plus your
display of Victorian hysteria he says. I could let that go
if you throw in your horde of Victrolas and vintage
hymns she says. Then hand over all your ornamental
issues he says. She says if and when you give up your
entire vocabulary of isms. In your dreams of Xanadu

he says. She says your heart. And everything therein.
(It is said that Citizen Kane was possibly a woman.)

Things To Do (Suburbia)

        for James Schuyler

Find pen and large sheet of paper.
Imagine tearing same sheet into bits.
Put name and number in boxes not
provided. Lick index finger. Take
perforated breath. Prepare to tick

off tasks: (1) Bring in mail. Sort.
Place death threats Final Notices
Dear Johns into piles. File love
letters and advertisements under
Better Times. (2) Deal with week-

old emails from both friends. Invent
fresh clichés. Send. (3) Recite ancient
recipe for instant removal of Even
Toughest Stains while ironing tarot
cards Bible Koran and balancing on

free hand. (4) Investigate CNN.
Digest various psalms and/or vows
and promptly discomprehend. (5)
Close curtains and mind. (6) Study
today's astrology guide. Draw stars

and stripes in pleasing figurations
all along neither side. (7) Take five.
(8) Pray for DIY mantra or Girls'
Own Manual chant. Move furniture
a little to right. (9) Welcome day-

time TV and other safe drugs. Fold
latest fax around organic cuppa
and simply relax. High Five. (10)
Recall what someone ordinary said.
Half-open one curtain and mind.

(11) Close above again. (12) Write
Nothing Really Matters out twice
or less in very neatest hand. Decide
to Do Nothing and When to Do It.
(13) Order Exciting New Excuses

over Internet. (14) Pick up phone
dirty laundry phone rotting lemons
phone low-energy levels. Swallow
insults and suicidal flies. (15) Take
five. (16) Print out saga. Leave on

kitchen bench. Pack fare-thee-well
tale and manifesto. Leave on bench.
(17) Forgive everyone (18) except
yourself. (19) Forget psych report
life-support lullaby script. Practise

Art of Saying Nothing I Know
Nothing of This. (20) Tell jokes.
Compose punchlines you somehow
have missed. Phone Home. Cry
quietly. Tear same sheet into bits.

Jordie Albiston was born in Melbourne in 1961. Her first poetry collection, Nervous Arcs (Spinifex, 1995), won first prize in the Mary Gilmore Award, second in the Anne Elder Award, and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award. Her second book was entitled Botany Bay Document: A Poetic History of the Women of Botany Bay (Black Pepper, 1996). Her third collection, The Hanging of Jean Lee (Black Pepper, 1998), explores the life and death of the last woman hanged in Australia, in 1951. Jordie received the Dinny O’Hearn Memorial Fellowship in 1997, and was original editor of the first all-Australian all-poetry ezine, Divan. She holds a PhD in literature, and has two children. Her most recent collection is The Fall (White Crane Press, 2003).

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