Thursday, June 29, 2017

More on Parrots

Below are answers I gave to a series of questions sent to me (mid 2015, I answered January, 2016) but never presented or used in any specific way:

*parrots have always been 'central' to what i do for three reasons:

(1) they were always around me at wheatlands farm - i loved them and yet i shot them as a child and that contradiction was one of the driving forces that led me to animal-rights activism and veganism (see a recent animal-rights poem just up at [this blog].
(2) as a child i also trapped them out on the big farm my father managed near mullewa, and then incarcerated them in cages down south. watching their tragedy unfold awakened me to what i was doing. i was saturated in the suffering i had caused.
(3) they have become more than symbol to me, more than 'transitional objects', they are real accompaniments to my life in the wheatbelt and i to theirs. i feel an advocate for their rights, and try to create space for their nesting and lives.

*i spent many years of my childhood living in mount pleasant by the river, though we spent as much time as possible on wheatlands farm. we then later moved to geraldton. and i spent time, with my brother, up north with my father on access visits and holidays, and also on the farm near mullewa he managed. i have lived in fremantle and south perth (twice), i have also lived in northbridge and for a time in the globe hotel (gone now) in perth. i wrote a series of city-dwelling poems which were published as a chapbook by vallum. they are entitled 'inner city poems'. more of my suburban poems - always about space - are to be found in the book i did with robert drewe entitled sand (fremantle press). the wheatbelt has been the main focus and living place of my 'australian' life, but i have (long ago) spent periods in the city. i lived on the streets for a considerable time when i was alcoholic/addicted for those many years. twenty years sober now. i associate the city with lostness, confusion and confinement re space because of the cycle of self-abuse.

*i think birds are a spatial release for suburbs - they are hope and transcendence. when i wandered the dark lonely places of suburban enclosure (consider john clare and enclosure), i literally communed with birds by way of sharing. i sought to protect them and they gave back. 'introduced species' of birds make their place where native birds have been destroyed, and they in turn enrich the ecology and allow for other birds to co-exist. people who shoot pigeons and rainbow lorikeets etc in the suburbs are an outrage - in the context of 'invasive species'. what a cheek! aviary escapees, native species (especially the wonderful carnaby's) and other species that have gained traction, should be protected and nurtured. for themselves, primarily, but also because they offer understanding of the world at large, realign and free the spatial constraints of the city, and show that there is more to the world than 'owning' animals and owning space. suburbs are about control - birds break down that control in non-violent liberating ways, they can share, why don't we?

a poetics of bird-spatiality in the city.

john kinsella

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Wild Colonial Boy

The wild colonial boy is a loner
The wild colonial boy has guilt over his plunder
The wild colonial boy plunders his guilt
The wild colonial boy doesn’t know
            what to do with the plunder
The wild colonial boy offloads the plunder
            at the trash and treasure
The wild colonial boy can’t tune into the Eureka Stockade
The wild colonial boy tries to fly in and fly out but is caught out,
            amphetamines in his urine
The wild colonial boy shares a cell with a Noongar bloke
            who shares law and knowledge from country
The wild colonial boy rather be inside than out
            because the chains and slavery of the languages
            of occupation leave him confused and angry,  
            but inside is murder and he knows it
The wild colonial boy doesn't know what to do
            with his skill set — he thinks of going bush
The wild colonial boy watches the numbats
            near the huts in the visitors’ part of Dryandra Forest
The wild colonial boy listens to the crested pigeon flying, to the bush stone-
            curlew stalking, the western gerygone singing along with the
            elegant parrot in the canopy and the golden whistler
            and even the nest-hunting shining bronze-cuckoo
The wild colonial boy couldn’t be said to be distracted as the cops
            close in around him, but listening to the cross-talk
            of community, the close-knit interferences of belonging,      
            the distress of songs broken up by songs of repair and reparation
The wild colonial boy is taken and cuffed and has the shit
            kicked out of him — now he is tattooed with a constellation
            that shines over no part of the earth but is permanent
The wild colonial boy watches a young Noongar bloke being beaten
            to death in the lock-up
The wild colonial boy has been extradited as witness
            to be laughed at by the judge, to be warned to say nothing more
            if he ever wants to wander the plains again
The wild colonial boy promises himself he will shout the truth
            at every footy match, in front of every television,
            to the writers of reports who will go home to love and calm
The wild colonial boy wanders the port streets on his release,
            not understanding he’s in a decolonising world,
            the shops bristling with worldly goods, with opportunities,
            and all good things coming to those standing and waiting
The wild colonial boy stops in front of a travel agency window
            and sees a jet will take him anywhere in the world
            and that he can unlearn the codes of his failings —
            he can become he can become he can become
The wild colonial boy has worn dresses and wandered naked
            and has never been stuck on the codes of the pub
            and wonders if his time has come, but the urbane laugh
            at him — his phonelessness — head-in-hands on the kerb
The wild colonial boy looks out for his mate the actor
            but knows in his heart that his friend is gone,
            a friend who had been eaten by Australia,
            a friend whose name he won’t use in a song
            out of respect for the dead
The wild colonial boy looks out from near the walls
            of the Roundhouse and finds solace
            in the sea, the dolphins, the gulls
The wild colonial boy hears the many conversations
            and all languages make sense to him
            though he claims none — he is homeless
            and stateless and his family can't reach him
The wild colonial boy can't ‘call Australia home’, though he has never
            really left its shores; but he has travelled outside its jurisdictions,
            and he has travelled far beyond its metaphors

            John Kinsella