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.
The foundations, the frame and the 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 nervous dash
to the hospital. Then 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.
'Joy and a Fibro Shack' is from AndyKissane's collection, Out to Lunch, Puncher and Wattman, 2009. Andy lives in Sydney and writes poetry and fiction. He has published three books of poetry, Facing the Moon, Every Night They Dance and Out to Lunch (Puncher & Wattmann, 2009), which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Prize for Poetry. His first novel, Under the Same Sun (Sceptre, 2000) was shortlisted for the Vision Australia Audio Book of the Year. A book of short stories The Swarm will be published in the coming year. He has taught Creative Writing at four universities. He coaches basketball, barracks for the Brisbane Lions, and is busy regenerating a bush garden.
Andy Kissane will be performing at the July Word Tree - 2nd July @ Burrinjah Cafe @ the Burrinjah Community Centre, cnr. Matson Drive and Glenfern Road.