Category Archives: Life

because it is a fine day and

someone made
the rule: no one should have to school
on their birthday

it’s my birthday
and we do
the right thing

we school
for everyone
has to work
or study when the day falls
on a Wednesday

and why should it
be any different
for a homeschooling family

for I am to teach them
responsibility

and work ethic, I am
to teach them how
hard life is and how
hard they need to

we finish before midday
and go skating all afternoon

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A warm winter’s bank

I sit reading Snyder
on a cedar log skateboard

there’s a wattle tree
next to the river

I stand and go to it
to touch it’s yellow existence

and while i’m still stunned by it
being here in california

a man walking his dog asks
about the log skateboard

and I ask him about the wattle

he’s a landscaper
and doesn’t know the wattle’s name here

but knows there are very few
I tell him aboriginal tribes

favour the timber
for making boomerangs

and he asks again
about the cedar log

I made into a skateboard.

Regulations

Walk your Skateboard!

Umm…
          pardon?

Walk your board across the bridge!

I stop. Swap my ten month old daughter to my right arm
and kick the board to my other hand, call out
to my three sons on bikes to stop.
The uniform keeps walking but is looking back
knows I’m going to ask.

Sure. Umm bikes too?

No, bikes are fine.

Right, so, why must I
walk my skateboard
across this bridge?

It’s policy.

Yes, I’m sure it is.
Why, is it policy to walk my skateboard
across this bridge.

 It’s policy.

I stare at him.
Then check that my three boys haven’t already
crossed the bridge to explore the trails on the other side.
I look back at him, swap my daughter to the other arm
and lean the skateboard against myself.
He drops his head, steps a little closer to reduce any scene.

The glass panels
get broken by skateboards.

Right, thanks. I guess
the skaters who are
ollieing yeah? The type
without a baby in their arms?

I turn and walk my board and daughter
across the bridge.
We enjoy the ducks below
with their butts
in the air.

all impromptu and barefoot

after putting the bins out
on the road

I take my daughter in my arms
and walk the trails behind our place

because sunset
has activated
the birds

and she says    Oooh
as our eyes track a large dragonfly

around the oak
high over our heads

a woman walks by

cute baby

and I must admit
she looks like one
who’d put her head down

don’t make eye contact
with anyone out here on the trails

but a bloke with a baby
in his arms
enjoying sunset

and the baby saying   Oooh
at the birds

squirrelI’ve moved to northern California for a year or so. It’s been
a big move but my family and I love it. I’ll try to post some poems
and photos a bit more frequently but there’s just too much to do here!
Hope you’re very well, wherever you may be.

Love always
Andrew Phillips

Andrew

to walk over there

it just became more and more difficult
to wear the responsibility of skin. never a glance

down a barrel aimed with shot
yet this is the modern loaded gun; glances
packed with distance

and sure you’ve got a clip
full of questions
questions

this timber bench seat has been painted dozens of times – so much sitting – the grass isn’t worn into tracks – the concrete path is wide – you could drive tanks full of handshakes and smiles down there

sorry isn’t sorry
if it sits down afterwards
sympathy feels wet and dripping
yet you’ve gotta carry something over there

what is the average weight of an accidental condescending comment? nothing
weighed against an attempt plus forgiveness smile, which is a collaboration

between two
arms folded
looking down at the same spot of ground
standing in a park in south brisbane

What if… ‘Eddie Gilbert Selected’

.        

     for the Australian xi

given a ticket of leave from the aboriginal camp

west of Brisbane

on a chaperoned train ride to Adelaide

instructed to

Bowl Fast as you can at England

there’s Jardine lying on the crease

                                                holding his head

Eddie’s boomerang wrist from a short run

Native Knocks-out England’s Captain Cold

 I reckon Eddie

 would have been first

by his side

to make sure he was alright

the next ball

a scorching yorker

England’s Bodyline Strategy in Shatters

 

Eddie hiding from headlines of himself

on the train back to Cherbourg

///

This is a piece I wrote earlier this year after viewing the work of Artist Ron Hurley at Brisbane’s GOMA exhibition.  The life and cricket career of Eddie Gilbert fascinates me. I hear that The Sunday Mail has run a story about Eddie Gilbert today. There is also a statue of Eddie in full flight at Alan Border field in Albion, Brisbane.

SpeedPoets @ Brisbane Writers Festival

speedpoets

BWF1

SpeedPoets will light up the Red Box (State Library of QLD) this Saturday, September 7 from 2pm – 3pm as part of the Brisbane Writers Festival. There won’t be the regular open mic, but there will be three rounds of live poetry and music featuring some fine local voices, including, Chloe Callistemon, Andrew Phillips, Cindy Keong, Chris Lynch, Trudie Murrell, John Koenig and Sheish Money. So come on out for an early SpeedPoets hit this month and don’t forget, if you have any spare poetry lying around the house, we are still collecting for Poetry for PNG.

Here’s the link with all the details: http://bwf.org.au/2013-writers/speedpoets/

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Presence

You won’t be sorry to check this out.

Another Lost Shark

It’s been all systems go here at Lost Shark HQ this last month or so… three books about to launch, the residency at Varuna and now this gem… a chapbook titled Presence that I had the immense pleasure of curating for Cordite.

presence_keong

Presence features artwork by Cindy Keong and new poems from Nathan Shepherdson, Pascalle Burton, Aidan Coleman, Louise Oxley, Ross Donlon, Tim Sinclair, Jean Kent, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Sachiko Murakami and Jacqueline Turner. Each of the artists responded to the idea of Presence in their own way, making this a unique reading experience.

Here’s a link to the chapbook… and please, spread the word as this deserves to be read widely!

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it’s a cat conspiracy

 .

there’s one in the shop window

who makes eyes at my family

 .

they toss the idea of him into conversations

and I hiss like a hot wok dad’s-joke

to move on

 .

the manipulation of cute

how could you deprive them

 .

a conspiracy of retracted calls can we pleeeease

has stretched in the kitchen for two years now

maybe it’s time

 .

I move us all back to that country I love 

where cats are delicious

 .

.

.

Go on, send me angry mail. I’ll eat it all.

note: nothing was harmed in the making of this poem

run around renku

Turning Japanese lately with the traditional form of renga or renku. Yes, it’s related to haiku. It’s a collaborative series of linked verse. Here’s part of a summer renga I wrote with jDub which we performed at Speedpoets last Saturday. Enjoy!

 

I’ve been writing with a bunch of other Brisbane poets in a renku called ‘Snake Weather’ and the first three parts of the poem is over at Another lost shark. Check it out if you have a moment. ‘Snake Weather: part 1’  – ‘part 2’ – ‘part 3’ 

on stilts

 

Those good people over at Stilts have featured Graham Nunn, a few of my friends and myself so if you have a moment click over there to check it all out.  Stilts

Make sure you check out Chloë Callistemon’s poems and have a listen to her read her piece [If we could speak between. Chloe

Here’s a link to my poems Wagtail and other poems

Have a great Friday.

brisbane is friday square library with poetry

You heard me.

This Friday

Alchemy presents: February in Reverie

Tiggy and I are performing our ‘That zero year’ setThat zero year
(including the two-voice poems ‘Options’ and ‘Drowning in three children’)

It’s a conversation of pieces
delving into grief, loss of child, mayhem, escape, home birth and the odd happy moment too.

Friday also throws at you music from Tony Dean and dance from Vivienne VSassy.

Friday 5:30pm – 6:30pm
at Brisbane Square Library
266 George

hope you can make it and say g’day

No, you can’t borrow our book
because we’re in the library

but you can buy it for ten.  

 

The next big thing (for me anyway)


Ashley Capes invited me to continue a self-interview (started by Ivy Alvarez) to talk about my latest book/blog/writing. Cheers Ashley. You will find his own interview about his newly released book between giants hereI’ll now tag five other writers to talk about their writing so stay tuned to hear about them soon.

It thrills me to say that I do have a book to talk about (my first – launched in September this year) and Ashley was the superb editor for it

What is the title of your book?

That zero year – by Tiggy Johnson and myselfThat zero year

What genre does your book fall under?

pOeTrY

and Attempted-Parenting – is that a genre?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s (almost) a conversation of poetic portraits touching on topics of birth, family, love, loss and grief from a husband and wife’s perspective.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The whole thing may have started halfway through a Speedpoets gig in Brisbane. I had just stepped down from the open mic (in fact I may have just read a version of On a hunt for my face) and Tiggy mumbled something about doing a project together.

We wrote the project through 2012 and performed the poems plus a few extras at the 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival, which is also where we launched the book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

My poems range from early versions in 2010 through to the rigorous on-demand 2012 writing regime demanded by Tiggy, ‘You’ve got to write a response to this poem… now!’

Actually, Tiggy really taught me how to write intentionally on a given subject. That was foreign to me. It’s been a fascinating exercise working together on this project. The majority of work in That zero year is from the past 12 months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Family.

The death of my son, Isaiah, in 2007 inspired me to start writing in the first place. Writing has been pivotal in helping me process the grief and pain of losing him.

My wife Rebecca, who I get to share this smudge and scream journey of parenting is also a major inspiration to me. And of course my boys, like all children, are able to show me the world through their tears or Tigger-leaping eyes. I love being a dad to Jonah, Isaiah, Noah and Josiah.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Independently published. You can get your hands on one by emailing myself or Tiggy.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

My sister has just had her first baby so I’m sending her That zero year along with Graham Nunn’s The first thirty and other poems and Julie Beveridge’s Home{sic} as a Brisbane/Tasmanian taste of parent-oetry.

I’ve also got to mention Nathan Curnow’s The midwife from his latest book RADAR which is a contrast of (un)co-ordinated movements of his own wife catching babies. It’s a piece in praise of midwives, which I’ve also attempted in my poem The home midwife (see below).

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Steve McQueen – because sometimes parenting is sitting in a confined room and throwing a ball against the wall, while plotting escape.

Did I say that aloud? I didn’t really say that did I? Will family services come to get me?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I love how Tiggy’s and my poems weave around a thin narrative from the vastly different perspectives of man and woman. There are topics like death of a child, home birth, marital frustration, burnt hands, hospital rooms, kids on flights, sewing and fishing with kids and breastfeeding at 2am. I hope you get your hands on a copy and enjoy something from it. Here’s The home midwife for you to get a taste.

 

The home midwife

She pulls up in a hatchback
carries a leather case swollen
with years in and out of waters

a little vial of rose oil
and herbs transferred through bellyskin
to help the body yawn.

She walks down a hallway
to brew a pot of raspberry leaf
fennel, stinging nettle

and chats between the heavy breathing
makes a joke about stir frying the placenta
but doesn’t laugh.

No phone code or knife sharpening
for spine on spine, head up bottom down
or umbilical wrapped around the neck

she has whispering hands;
chinese point massage to coach
an aquatic half somersault
and unfurl the ribbon.

She reads faces too
guides a father’s hands
to be in on the magic of catching skin
slippery as water

it’s a black art
to let a baby happen
in your living room.