[The New Australian Poetry. page 225]
beast and man
confronted by fish
we become silent
the elegance of their tail
makes us uncomfortable
one fish will survive
even the best fisherman
[The New Australian Poetry, page 226]
moves in a circle
forwards and backwards
who knows the plan
of the ants?
people say they work too much
I say they are deceiving us
is an ancient animal
he endures longer
than our victories
[The New Australian Poetry, page 227]
they don’t like
their descent from man
the snake and I
share a secret
we both live
flat on the earth
a stiff upper lip
a soft breeze
pocket money for the poor
cups and teas
in the ordinary afternoon
to restore the Acropolis
[The New Australian Poetry, page 228]
although the old marble
is still the best
yet every American wanderer
when warriors become prosperous
they dampen their fires
and the geisha’s grace
lingers in the general smoke
even a potential suicide
cannot find a reason to commit suicide
how can the rigid haiku
still do justice to this age?
The fish is unaware of the sufferings between day and night. The beaches are his doors to an unbearable world whose light destroys him. He is more colourful than a dream, and reflects the fate of the seas. Were he to shout he would tarnish his nobility.
There is no emptiness at the centre of the fish’s concerns. Whether quiet or moving, he is aware of the power of the moon, that glow which illuminates his loneliness. Ships are clumsy shadows which glide past his periphery. He is a symbol for the painter, but not the fisherman.
By his silence he is superior to his human persecutors and survives them by many years. His body knows no contradictions. If the fish tries to fly he tears his soul or burns in the air.
[The New Australian Poetry, page 229]
His glittering above the sea appears as a leap of death. The fish notices the change of seasons, but they don’t alter him. Harmony is his spring. He ignores the shadows of birds even when he becomes their prey.
But he is afraid that man, the more miserable he is, will begin to alter his realm. His equanimity is not equal to destruction. The fish does not conquer his environment, but uses it; by doing so he maintains his perfection. His death occurs without any metaphysical transition. As in the creative process, his innocence unites with the absolute.
If he lies motionless on a plate, it is as though nothing has happened to him. He does not suffer on the hook of the fisherman nor on the spear of the diver. His death is immaculate. Does the preference of the painter to use him for still-lives originate from that fact? If man were to be treated in the same manner, the question of his immortality would have been taken to the point of absurdity.
If each creature contains a whole truth but cannot project it in its entirety, then the truth of truths must lie in silence. And if the fish is a symbol of silence, then it is possible that the seat of the Gods may not be on the highest mountains, but the bottom of the sea.
That the fish feels at home where he does is a mysterious fact. A god-like instinct or an ancient wisdom must have conferred on him the ability to remain constant in captivity and to prefer death to degeneration. It is certain that his history is without the slightest error. And he who observes him attentively falls effortlessly into a meditation which leads him, at least for a moment, into the infinite.
If the fish lives near rocks or in rivers, beside the sandy beaches or in the blue sea, he always radiates leisure and brings all of time to the present. And he draws his circles in one element. If it is true that he still has messages to give to those who observe him in the aquarium, then man’s future is still undecided. The fish never forgets who he is. That is why his coast is a concrete and not a tragic one.
He is, like man, most alive when he is alone and hatches his secrets. And his indifference contains, like the day itself, all the philosophies of the world.
The fish does not so much display his own identity, as
[The New Australian Poetry, page 230]
emphasize ours. By cancelling continuity for the time being he gives us another reality; in short, a truth.
He returns us to the origin to which he belongs, and in so doing becomes both alien and intimately related to us. This origin is the peace we long for.
The eye of the fish is not dull, but reflects the expression of a silence without measure.
In the expanse of the sea his fin is the prophecy of movement. And on the bridges of cities, on the docks of harbours, on the rocks and the shores he passes by and ignores our fate; because it is not his invention.
The country I have chosen resembles everything except a flower. One summer cannot destroy it, a winter not save it. Life exists but often is pressed between the covers of a book, never to be opened again.
The actresses don’t speak. Instead they drag the audience into the street.
Has the drama vanished or don’t they remember a single word? Yet it is possible to walk over the sandhills into another dialogue, where advice is broadcast for sanity and madness. Nobody listens and there is no lack of irony. One can climb a tree or perfect oneself.
Seasons turn away from you but every morning a new bus arrives. To look at the turning wheels makes you tremble or long for serenity. And when some of the empty activities are drawn into the wheels the driver cleans his fingernails. Is he at the crossroad of misunderstanding where every sign makes him insensitive?
A piece of culture, a little night music goes through the air.
[The New Australian Poetry, page 231]
A plane crashes — and you stretch yourself beside a radio. Over there, a conventional wife takes two lovers, or at least she knows where to rest her mouth.
And cats, I remind you, cats repair the broken down marriages.
Faces, frames, objects and visitors are treated in the same manner. Hardly anything is noticed. But at the dance it’s the dreams which move through the landscape. Dreams shaped like mechanical horses. Do they bring wisdom or regret?
Is it still a comedy? This question is asked when millions are on the march for the gross national product. Knowing that we cannot turn the stones of this century we throw our last shadows on the banks of the rivers, as all rivers shall soon be closed. And we are silent like the voices of daughters who bang their hair against the modern deserts of the television screen.
When a butterfly lifts its wings, a bulldozer throws a museum on the floor. Apartments of passions, stored like banknotes in safes, remain closed.
We walk so quickly over the black pavements that there is no time to reflect ourselves in the sky. And the echo of our desires leaves no pain in the memory.
Steps consume the earth, whose strength is invisible.
Whole generations disappear without leaving a trace.
At night we hear a monologue of death which stretches beyond the brain. A candle, placed on the stomach of a girl, points to an open door. Behind it there is neither action nor thought.
[The New Australian Poetry, page 232]
It is advisable to sleep on concrete stairs and I laugh at every possible, impossible fate.
On a revolving chair, in the centre of a studio a man is smoking a white cigar. He drops the ash and a variety of facts. His skin, protected by the most expensive material, wants what society cannot produce.
When he leaves, it’s the frustration and emptiness of the chair which is so profound.
Fragments, contradictions! After twenty-four hours between the machines the apples shiver like city lights. Hands on blackout rooms encounter spots not yet registered on the maps of history. Women paint their breasts because every art has become futile.
And from beneath the legs of a gentleman the eyes of two overfed dogs emerge. Are they contemplating or dying?
At least one shore is filled with tree trunks, empty cans and the rustling of snakes. In some caves you can find technical gear, either forgotten or left behind in a hurried departure. We see it taking on an individuality which the owners no longer possess. But our bodies, once so real and full of opportunities are attracting the flies of the ocean like a magnet.
What we know is that the days of fulfillment are over, perhaps even the days of beauty.
Does that mean that every effort was wasted?
The dead should be pleased. We are tearing the contract of their prayers.
When we look at a full square of people, we wait for the
[The New Australian Poetry, page 233]
first snow to fall. At its arrival we smile in solitude. Some have gone far, some have to go further.
There is a testament which says: A word less every day, a companion less every night.
On the fields figures arrive to collect their legendary gestures. For the sake of immortality?
Are we fools or are they great? Or do we have to find peace in the transcendence of nothingness?
We too have been living against the times and have found a hard edge in the most convenient surroundings.
From our window there was always a rope hanging. It was nature which taught us this lesson.
We have heard that many cannot decide if things are close or distant. They are continually waiting for the correct impression, neither trusting their eyes nor any manifestation, be it aesthetic, political or spiritual. In their pockets they are turning egocentricities not larger than pebbles and take nothing seriously except themselves.
Are they the prey of their ego or of their age?
From here one can drive into modern avenues, which lead into rooms outstanding in their conformity. Naturally the inhabitants climb the walls without experiencing anything and finally don’t know to which person, which puzzle they belong. Endless conversations are started about anything one cannot talk about and most are grateful for a stranded doctrine to bite into, whose rhetoric often leads into a common bed or sophisticated labour camp.
[The New Australian Poetry, page 234]
Even dead waves can wash the shore away.
For too long we had been waiting for a wind and when it finally arrived it tore every sail. The moistness of the sail was explained by some professionals as due to banality, which since time immemorial has covered the best of things. Nevertheless, if we pay our debts there is still a chance that a soft spring may enter through the kitchen door.
Among the thousand vehicles heading for places of sex and funerals, emotions and false lights, excitement and shadows, it is rare for one to turn off before passing the last bridge. It could encounter pigeons encircling a landscape of materialistic nightmares. Or a valley of fashionable swords which have turned wisely against themselves.
In a restaurant the hair of the waiter is casting some doubt on the customers who are eating red and black pears swimming in sugar sauce. They are discussing whether the delicacies they are consuming belong in the gallery or their stomachs. Not sure if their doctor, art dealer or intellectual aquaintances could give them reasonable advice, they decide not to take the consequences of their actions. As their excuse they offer their make-up, which is the cause of their behaviour and never allows them to do what they want or should do.
In a society like theirs they are at least convinced that one should dine out whenever one possibly can.
From another shore we can see stars and truth at the same time. There everything is fine except laughter coming from a cruiser which suggests total oblivion. It should not be allowed but a word cannot change it. We decide to drive our keel into any sea, whatever water it contains. And to live directly, yet speak indirectly. Rather to receive a blow than to have no reality at all. Unfortunately the voices of the past, which once knew, hardly reach us any longer.