Issue 20: Michael Farrell

Verlaine In The Lake

Verlaine is – illuminatingly – a sinking limb

It is too late to abandon Paris, for him

He has wings like the figure of a figure; he

cannot fly: can barely sigh / complain

Look up Verlaine, the lake is not blue, it’s

useless to you! Write that dream

You are in an orchard: a bird hypnotized by

the colours of the fruit trees. Verlaine

following an upstart lorikeet called Rimbaud

(rainbow, rhyme beau) who always

tries to shake him off. It’s all very Death in

Castlemaine, Scenes from Mildura. Is

the lake a lake, the bird a bird, or but a fake

shadow, a half-thing? Did the poet

go down too slowly to the spring, too late?

His face has gone orange in the blue

In The Beginning Was Parody

We’re heading to gentleness, the citing of violence will

then be forgotten, or seen as impolite. ‘Rogues, clowns

and fools; marriage parties and dances at the house’ all

doomed to the middle ages. ‘Social conditions’ a vast

error. Writing is everything, though many writers

disagree. We are all heading to the beginning

The example lies down with the parable

Rogues, clowns, and fools rule the roost, but cannot write

to save a chook. Of course, it’s not their aim. Was the

snake in the garden real? More importantly, is footy?

Or is it a dream of fear and beauty? Rabelais says the

snake was a sausage, and might’ve added that sausages

play football in our insides, as we watch it on TV

The cliché lies down with hyperbole

Williams weighs a baby on a variable scale and

recommends spinach. Eventually we will live lives worth

meta-commentary, and slide into the sea, realising that

human ideas are the shapes of kelp. That chooks were

meant to be the gulls of inland: but though they watch our

best and our balls fly, they huddle to the grass

The allusion lies down with the ‘pearl of price’

Too much salt on spinach brings on crying: a trick used

by Greek actors, and Jacobeans in ‘The Kelp Queen’

Cleopatra had a fear of being poisoned, and nibbled on the

sausage she kept in her breast. All the people she had put

to death were due to gross misreadings of games of chess

she should have been a writer of light verse

The script lies down with the chorus

Note-taking can be a job, or a job within a job. Williams

pushes his barrow of notes through Paterson, sometimes

adding a baby: to give its mother a break / time to pick

spinach. He saw social conditions everywhere he went

You’re queer chooks, he said to the gulls he met. He cried

to think of all the reality we’d yet to overcome

The theme lies down with the crumb

The eye lies down with the thumb

Michael Farrell has published several books, including the recent I Love Poetry and A Lyrebird: Selected Poems. His scholarly work is Writing Australian Unsettlement: Modes of Poetic Invention 1796-1945. He edits Flash Cove,