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Famous Reporter # 34



                 ANDY KISSANE

         Joy and a Fibro Shack

"I’m a little ashamed that I want to end this poem
singing…" — Robert Hass
The difficulty of writing a poem
is like the difficulty of building a house
without a plan, wood, a hammer.
You have to start somewhere
and if you have a tin of nails,
then that’s as good a place as any.
Foundations, frame and finish will come,
if you work at it.
Or might not come.
There’s always the canvas shell of a tent.
There’s always driftwood and burlap fastened with bamboo vines.
There’s always the music of corrugated iron in a hail storm,
or its blistering shade at midday.
Is a poem a palace or a humpy?
I prefer humpies, furnished with a daggy couch
reclaimed from the council clean-up.
I want to capture the grit beneath fingernails,
the mysterious gaze of a brush wattlebird
peering at me through the window,
the misery of a broken marriage,
and the elation of the night we bumped
into Rebecca at Kilimanjaro, the restaurant
not the mountain, crammed around a table
as those first contractions took hold of her body.
Breath, heartbeat, blood—the heroic stride
of that old iambic line. And screams far too loud,
far too long for the sanitised labour
of soap opera—they’d call it over-acting,
they’d call it amateur, they’d say
it was in very bad taste.
I prefer poems to come into the world
shining with vernix, green with meconium,
radiant with the open-eyed awe of a baby
in the first half-hour of her life,
while the wind lifts and rattles the walls
until the house resonates with its own bright keening,
like the night I was up at 3am,
walking the kitchen, walking the hallway, walking
the lounge room, holding a baby
who would not stop, would not stop,
just would not stop crying.


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