Issue 30: Corey Wakeling

The Rings, Ending With a Line by Martin Johnston


Three rows of equidistant, west-facing flats,

melted into ripe mudslide.

Much like the allergies of spirit fermenting in pens,

encompassed by pine lattices,

a grand scheme into light metrically restrained

to the administrative quadrant.

Extraction terrace of value glimpse.

A preference for Euclid, to evince school’s quince.

One bullfrog bleats a static forecast, fetid as a foot.


Watermelon thunders as it splits, icicles crackle open.

Tsunami or typhoon aside, the splintering

data demon protrudes from the sieve of your face

as mine snakes, winds, and coils, the mukade death throes

of service and attention, the intorsions

of a super-sparkler in wetting summer.

The Olympics, yes, are thick with long Covid fog,

blurring your run and my throw,

delaying their starting gun,

raising a filmy red semaphore haloed like some heathen

aura, whose sourceless lamp emanates

like a Bandcamp sanctuary from this deliberate

but instrumentally invisible mesh.

From the fires of failure,

some hobbled self-mirage of Col Joye’s relevance

where I see five airplane fuselages

adopted as telescopes into the better Australia they sold,


through which to see you looking through me at a Honda,

at the mirror in which a whole city teeters at the rim

of an underground Persepolis. Athens’ rings like irises.


Resting on a Greek lozenge, package crumpled but

somehow inflated, buoyed by uncommonly staccato Aegean

imitating the Bay of Naples!

The cruise ships, the cruise ships, what would you know

of the cruise ships.

Elephantine retirement floating on a sky city salt afloat,

the cruise ships, drunk by eleven, after all.

Though he would deploy the word “appalled” 

that generosity meant he still would have

extracted the bohemian from a stone or a flake of shell,


or, better, fragment of Hydran stoneware,

jewel from all this white translucent sparkle of their heatstroke.

So much of that skin white-shimmers at distance

just as well as the foam of a fatal inland sea.

What counts is the lute’s premature retirement,

piano at the bridge, synth in the escape, wood percussion

on a backtrack to the graves. At least a big head sits there.

The money and his accidental septicaemia,

the friends who ran off, but of course the faceplant on cottony snow.

Mirages all for a tunnel vision, sunglasses on camera,

better than a heart attack when out for a swim,

or vestiges of song unstuck from oceanic shipping lines.


             Martin Johnston would have said

  – yes, they are all asking me! –

   – this visiting medium –

             “they live for a voyeur at a broken mirror”. 

Corey Wakeling is a writer and scholar living in Tokyo. He is the author of three collections of poetry, including The Alarming Conservatory (Giramondo 2018). Conferred a PhD in English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne, he publishes criticism and theory on modern and contemporary literature and performance, specializing in transnational histories of experimentation. His first monograph is Beckett's Laboratory: Experiments in the Theatre Enclosure (Bloomsbury 2021), his second is Situation, Inertia, and Inconvenience in Japanese Contemporary Performance (Routledge, forthcoming). He is Associate Professor of English literature in the College of Education, Psychology, and Human Studies at Aoyama Gakuin University.

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