Bobtail skin—fat and flexibly crisp—shucked
in a roll of fencing wire in the red shed: not dead
the bearer of dead skin, expanded even. Not quite
an elegy of living into habitat reduction. What kind
of contradictory or ecstatic or emphatic elegy
is this? At this precise point, Tracy said a car
from the loop racing the clock would crash
and it did. Through a fence into someone’s living.
Perhaps they were okay with risk, celebrating
tension in a portaloo strategically located,
tilting shit downhill. The rubber scriptures,
tyre tithes, jungle-play among small holdings:
grand open market and competitive swipe,
the logos and slogans of the only ones who’d
insure with glee: Shannons. Brand-placement
in the documentary eclipse of the organic.
The hope repetition will make tradition.
Force-fed, battered people who get a taste
for the formula and endless distension
of their orifices: stimulation must be half-
way to something, surely, like street lights
or surveillance cameras. A snapping
telephone. Bite! Bite! When the drought
sweeps back in and the dunnart hangs in
there on surfeit insects unbalanced,
drinking their blood. I will keep
the mental map of where I’ve seen them
to myself. Selfishness? Stepping cautiously.
I won’t call them “Gilbert’s dunnarts,”
as they’re not and never were, though
he plundered (“collected”) them for John
Gould, in whose name I belonged
to the naturalists’ club at primary school,
and raised four hundred dollars to save
birds and tortoises at Blue Gum Swamp.
Young men buy up properties from their one-month
on, one-month off fly-in fly-out gigs on the mines.
They bring greed with them and turn ground inside out,
sucking what they can out of their month’s leisure.
It’s a good deal for the new world order which they’re
part of and embrace so compassion is latitude
the environment won’t bear: metaphor is worthless.
Like blank cigarette packets the brand inside still kills.
Sociologists can ride pillion to all of this but we
have to live within the fallout. Pietry (pious poetry)
is funded by ALCOA and BHP. Or the virus
that’s got inside, shuffling, switching and rearranging
birdsong so tune and lexicon don’t match visuals:
de-speciesisation and re-alignment, the “best of”
remade in the ultimate hack, all guidebooks
redundant forever, outside gadgets’ stock-taking.
Louche always grabs its place, side-splitting
energy for its affirmation; or sidling furtive
as its calculated smile to take the prize
that we might not even recognise as having worth
but will eventually, when it shines loud
from Louche’s snappy pocket. To frolic
in heritage waste, supplant and replant
with nano-blasts of infiltration: their freedom,
their freedom, their choices imposed: ruminate
on that! And if you’re following the intertextual
narrative you’ll expect some kind of retaliatory
gesture. There is none. The regaining won’t happen
by our hands. Not even fingerprints remain.
The half-fallen tree I am preparing to cut up,
saw into parts that will mewl in the firebox,
might be called a “limb” of the greater tree:
a horizontal rather than vertical take
on growth; I insist we discuss this
in terms of hemispheres and lobes,
of right sides telling left sides
and vice versa; I insist the immolation
of parts is called “incineration”
rather than warmth, mere warmth.
John Kinsella is the author of over thirty books of poetry and prose, including The New Arcadia and Peripheral Light.