Stride Magazine -



L’ooking back, I see myself as an intersection,
a meeting point of a million things.’ - Alberto Moravia

Or a light soft as yellow smoke playing about the silvery ruins,
    running over the archways,
where the archway might have been a ‘sooty shadow’ and the
    barn owl looking for a barn makes a
curtain rustling sound under the western wall and those scraps of
    night all quiet is a rubble of old movies
and the anonymous blond who disappeared into the cellar to
    hurriedly search amongst brick
cavities for a cloth-wrapped object (never identified) found herself
    a scuffled death, silent or muted,
recalls a walk-off part her character left laid low, mortally coiled.
    Unreachable age,
where the smart kid sidles up to the car and gabs with the reporter
    ‘Got two-bob, mister?’
is a role that you were alive to play in way back then although
    never remembered,
which qualifies as dream uncomfortable as a consciousness that
    has outgrown life lived
as spectacle under the mottled light beam to applaud 20th century
    Fox amongst the palms and arc lights
‘O Californian mysteries’. Meanwhile, the Studebaker cushions
    the corner and turns
faster than the dolly tracking this scene and passes low down along
    the front row seats and idles sweetly,
segues the curb at last, comfortable as a cliché, and that pair of legs
     you’re left to hope against hope
for again step out to savvy the sidewalk. Intellect takes a holiday,
    senses settle down to view
bleak perspectives over unfulfilled hours by which one means where
    one is, the old familiar address of self,
‘when the melancholy bout from heaven falls, glut it on a rose’
    over the Spanish Steps the wraith of
John Keats sells gewgaws to open-mouthed tourists whose empty
    exclamations like ticker-tape
rise into the air as plain-song. And yet, tradition still holds the
    secret or sacred alliance
within the twin abstract conceits of ‘gentleman’ and ‘art’ when one
    considers (say) Dirk Bogarde in
The Singer Not The Song who might have played the imperfect
    Lord Byron so perfectly but didn’t.
The is the Age of Opportunists that values cunning over grace as
    all the dreaded cards foretold,
is a ruination greater than any loss borne - a declining sun enlarges
    the lengthening shadows as
sunset falls off to the right (regular as clockwork) and plays out
    like an endless, last supper.
In the beginning globalization and the world was one: O pray then
    a return to city-safe pollution,
quarantined away from cringing forests the floating contours of
    limestone hills
where bats straggle starlight mobile as any species-hopping virus to
    brush chicken farm and piggery
over the Malaysia countryside hung bright as tropical tapestry.
    To late for prophecy
in the crowded currents, the tortured city intersections, electronic
    highways, genetic engineering,
and in the extirpation of allegory, where the unicorn has turned
     to obsidian in the corporate
laboratories, and to date the scientific legislators have found that
    ‘there ain’t no cure for love’
and no matter who you ask directions of the journey back to Eden
    begins tomorrow.
The search is on for new creation myths in the light of the earlier,
    overly researched ones as
the hot issue under discussion in cabinets and war rooms revolves
    around whether the quotient on
Good & Evil since the beginning of time has increased / decreased
    in the proud light or remains
A Constant: is unanswerable in the studio warehouses of Foxtel
    by Sydney’s revolving soundstage
or at the spooky boardrooms via Bill Gate’s compound bluely squat
    on the Seattle harbour hills.
St. Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, St. John of the Cross, in the
    back lot playing petanque;
O Meister Eckhart, dream me a dream, Meister Eckhart, you from
    whom God hid nothing –
does the true visionary stare down the endless tunnel of futility toward
    His Light or the Will’s supremacy?
King Cormac sharpens his sword on a granite outcrop at the palace
    of Tara on the morning of December 5,
240 and thinks on his progeny and I stepping aboard a train city-bound
    at this millennium close see him,
foot braced against rock and hear the Gadhelic blade sing in sunlight,
    ‘be a listener in woods, a gazer at stars’
knows a bitter wind in the night will toss the ocean’s white hair
    bring the fierce warriors of Norway;
and William Carlos Williams who makes a storm out at sea makes
    it bloom and hears it fade,
a flowery thing, rain-scented, throughout the whole wide sea,
     and in all its petalled gardens æ
oompah goes old Europe under used-up cigarette smoke oompah,
    sorrow, subtlety, love, loss
three euro-dollars in a fountain and a brass band plays public gardens
    as soft grey stones prop up old stories
and cloud pulls its cloth cap down over the brow of a farmyard moon
    by a pitchfork stand of elm.
Eternal blackness, the God in the director’s chair shouted ‘action!’
    then a billion lights came on,
the circuitry of the God’s anger blew and lit a warehouse of galaxies
    " oh, what a feeling! "
opening night in paradise a story line for every bad marriage to come
    laid out from play-pen to military
campaign through watery ravines to tableland and far desert plateaux
    in banquet hall and daub and wattle huts
family slaughter is history shadow-play back lit before a backdrop
    of burning city or blackened palisade æ
Eden, the ultimate Green Room, ante-chamber to the God’s high seat
    as Godless poets called on God O.
Extinction or out-take, the director’s cut on species / rushes thrown
    to the cutting room floor,
a recall to the factory though the flaw lay in the original design
    and not the bright prototype,
while damage control dictates that one sea horse put in a breeding tank
    does not a species make / re-make:
today we have naming of parts, yesterday we had biological safari,
    but today we have naming of parts as
coral glistens bleached white and imperial in all the neighbouring oceans,
    that point of balance we have not got.
Don’t trust the ‘90s man who whistles in the dark whistling up the
    wind is stalker or psychopath
no longer the friendly bobby of Dockside Green, nor the ploughman
     homeward plodding his weary way,
but the late night suited android outside in the Galleria or parking
    lot by the dumpsters, the oily
dark of the freeway flexing out of the city into lurid billboards homey
    as motels down off ramps moving
parallel brushing by his shoulder cruising vacant as a Jeffrey Smart
    urban scape and suddenly is there
looming dead still, dead quiet, fixedly stands before you the breathy
    whistler, the suited android.
In your mind you are the kid again back by the bus-stop waiting
    on your father (responsible yet) to
collect you from the green dental building with rows of globed lights
    numbered and nursed
the stranger threatening with a bag of sweets to whisk you away in his
    car hidden close by and you unsafe on
Willis street that is by far too wide, open to hide your fear in where
    the lolly-pop sun melts down
and you crinkle your face up hopefully into a protective tough mask
    older kids wear against their own because
the surprised, wide-eyed approach fell back to likely encouragement
    as the man with sweets cruised by again.
Can you remember what you felt then? loss of confidence in dealing
    with authority and a later life,
here you first suspected corruption without knowing its true name;
    a bogus kindness, trick, or vulnerability.
Can you remember what you saw then? the regular Saturday matinee
    echoing footsteps at the core of light
into the darkened room steps the villain invisible with unhurrying
    chase, and unperturbèd pace –
you followed the perils of the man who walked the shaft of light faded
    into an immovable, black space.
Newsreel footage: crowds, trees struck in surprise of autumn, flags;
     parachutists blister sky over Normandy;
match-flare on horizon from Missouri; atom bomb uncorks a cloud;
    camera flashes cup winner;
God Saved the Queen save us every Saturday arvo with Loony Tunes
    flicks at the Brooklyn ‘flea-house’
Clint Walker looming large in buckskin through mountain torrent
    and conifer slopes in Grizzly;
Jeff Chandler, steel-grey-haired on the bridge of the battleship doing
    it tough under Jap zeros;
ghost of Doris Day (bright as a haystack) Elvis, gangsters and Apaches,
    an iris opening on mesa country.
Old curled, black and white beach shots, the shore line rocks blurred,
    an opaque sea and one young parent,
you out of shot (in memory) long before puberty had landed with its
    civilizing, cinematic angst –
Save the little Angel in the arch, that marble lintel fallen into the alley
    (say) a small collapse in Venice
a daily event important as prayer or washing hung out on balconies
    where floods rise in drains over
St Mark’s Square, that you wonder if Venice will blur, Turner-esque
    to memory? golden city of the lagoons
its foundations sunk 12 to 25cm since 1900 still within view of the oil
    refinery and tankers that ply
mainland channels and giant cruise ships tower above San Marco ever
    deeper channels and draughts
open the city to Adriatic flood-tides as authorities debate lock-structures
    or mobile barriers and the Italia Nostra weeps
not for Visconti’s but another environmental death threatening Venice
    a plague of speed boats and oil tankers
the slow disintegration of the platonic ideal into age, death and decay
    styled as sensuality –
O applaud again Dirk Bogarde’s poise (repeated in The Night Porter)
     a childhood turned nightmare
garish as fever or the devil’s harlequin laughing madly at the hotel guests,
    he saw the demon floating
out of his body the condemned man embracing a barren, last yearning
    in the last days of that century,
in the last wash of light, the impossibly sad flow of Mahler’s farewell at
    the borderless regions of dream.
Dawn, no hasty orisons nor nom de guerre for tribes out of Africa,
    from first light to campfire lit
over unacknowledged distances, quicker than continental drift, arose
    the technomadic culture
the ‘hunters & gatherers’ v the ‘fitters & turners’ guided by the noetic
    compass, under ridged brows
that served as caves of thought, they paused, and man who paused
    long enough to reflect on his
going hence as his coming hither, made of stars an inkling unto history
    writ in every print (since made
or observed) later preserved in magnetic circle and the runic signal,
    while every leave-taking
became a yearning, simple as a hut, safe as houses, heard solid as speech;
    still later æ ritual fixed its bayonet
and fire that bounced off the wall of dark, twined and interlocked demons,
    and it was demons made speech –
the castle instructed found the city as the river encircled became a moat,
    thinking man walked and made the road.
As through a telescope (winkle of light at the bottom of the well) by
    day you recalled children’s voices
off the island loud as gulls, here it is a nightly wind brings grandeur
    to the least of cities,
and enlarges æ high up on rock strewn ground monks pass under flared
    stars, welts of light in the sky’s arc,
to the Byzantine chapel overlooking the sea, a glistening darkness,
     to this small, high interior, soft lit
that is memory of all caves that gathered diverging tribes over time
    and before time when roaring
dissensions from out every era closed, passed, and dimmed, heard in
    chants rubbed vocally by antiphon;
echoes departing into whispering that leave in single file once more
    out across the mountain pathways.
At the height of the Winter Solstice, the sun’s longest rays between
    the trilithon in low shimmering,
golden planks fall to the stone altars of the dead laid deep in barrows;
    the soul is grown wise in the dark,
yearns to return to the light, again to enliven all growing things.
    Generosity of Infinity
is a question of silence moved and steadied by the layers of night on
    this Winter Solstice, here contained
within the stone’s ribcage, allows spirit and breath to brighten blood-red,
    remembered as the
dizzying motes of stars at Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain encircled.
    Annex or vestibule
serve as always, departure points of the compass, a corridor placed
    parallel to our time, waiting room,
lit chamber at New Grange no longer vox stellarum of ancestral spirits
    who never looked back
as we do to a belonging (at once the simultaneous defeat of time) when
    every way lay open –
texture of stone, sacred and upright, arranged through us by them stands
    attendant upon our seeing
and our dreams, knowing that is an unknowing, eternally present,
    played out over the ruined senses.

Winter Solstice / 21 December, 1999

                   © Stephen Oliver 2002