If a narcissist can be defined by one criteria
it’s the belief that they are entitled to special treatment.
In a world where everyone puts themselves forward,
standing back actually makes you a leader.
Narcissists read fact as fiction, and fiction as fact.
They get upset when you accuse them of lying
because they’ve been lying to themselves. They’re addicts
who need you to feed their addiction, while getting you hooked
in the process. You fall for their crap because they’re experts
at flattery. They go straight to the source of your vanity
and fan the flame; you understand why so many seek fame,
which is a trap. There’s something in their gaudy
declarations that makes you embarrassed. It’s the feeling
that comes from being scammed – the moment you realise
you’ve been had – that you’ve fallen for a trick designed to lure
the greedy and stupid. But here’s the thing: scammers
also target the desperate – those so starved
they cannot rationally assess the situation –
you always get robbed when you can least afford it.
And that’s what it feels like – theft, but not of your cash
or jewellery, but that which is most irreplaceable,
most precious. For so long I’ve called myself greedy
and stupid but I’m neither – Jesus, if either
were true I’d still be in corporate employment.
A narcissist can only see their own image; their eyes
are mirrors. They’re so good at faking sincerity
they don’t know how to recognise or appreciate
the real thing. But through the crack in their worldview
sometimes a message slips through. Well here it is,
darling, lover, seducer; my middle finger.
It was an honour and pleasure to speak with Alice Allan this week on the Poetry Says podcast. I was a huge fan of the Australian Poetry Podcast, and I’m thrilled that Alice has picked up the poetry podcasting gauntlet.
You can listen to our interview here: Episode 8.
Alice had asked me to talk about a poem that I really loved, so I went totally over the top and spoke instead about two entire collections: Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy, and Interferon Psalms by Luke Davies.
We also had a bit of a chat at the end about my recent (and somewhat infamous) poem Marrickville.
Thanks Alice! That was super fun!
You can subscribe to Poetry Says on iTunes, and you can also follow Alice on Twitter.
A version of this poem was published earlier this year, but I was never completely happy with it. This is the redrafted version.
xxxxxxxxxthe word derives from Mesmer,
a German guy who spoke of animal magnetism,
of energy transference. Mesmer, with his swirling
pinwheel eyes that paralyse the mind and slow down
time, the swoon on the cusp of an epiphany, a dream
that’s neither good nor bad but interesting.
Standing in my lover’s light I’m caught
like a child in a doorway looking up at a giant
and his meanness dissolves as he carries me
like a tombola prize with my feet dangling
through the sky. But like so many boys, he’s rough
with his toys, and plastic can only be pushed so far
before it will snap. Yet whenever I crack
he’s always the one to come back, waving
his wine-stained peace rag, his voice casting spells
and his eyes like magnets, electrified –
and the whole thing starts again.
What ‘faith’ means in the modern age
is getting up and going about your business
day after day after day after day
without asking for a miracle.
A miracle – two eyes and a face
witnessing your witnessing,
and the weird relaxation that comes
from realising we’re all the same.
An act of creativity is always an act
of optimism, and the willingness to love
is always brave. Yet there is godliness
in solitude, and pleasure in waiting.
The hopeful suspense, the anticipation.
It’s the reason why we cover the eyes
of the person who is to be given a surprise –
it’s the juxtaposition of darkness and light
that jolts the dreamer alert to the fact
they’re alive. Suffering, like everything,
exists in the mind. You can change it –
that’s what faith is. You need it to survive.
Details are important – I’ll grant you that.
But the kind of detail you’re attracted to
says a lot about your character. Either
it’s a stampede down the well-worn track
of triviality, or it’s an arcane interest taken so far
off the grid as to be called ‘madness’.
I know which I’d pick. Madness,
it’s subjective. No matter your interest,
if you can find (or bribe) enough people
to align their opinion with your own,
you can set up your deck chair on the sunny beaches
of the majority, shouting: Petrol prices! Immigration!
while the rest of us decorate our sandpits
with sandcastles built out of idealism.
Never thought I’d reference Wordsworth
but here we are: it’s the grains of sand themselves
that are interesting – which leads us back
to detail. I’m most certainly for it.
But when it comes to what’s reported
by every form of mainstream media
you can spare me the details, please –
they’re not very important. I’m hoping
to enlarge my mind with smallness.
In July 2015 I travelled to California to attend a poetry conference. It was actually just a coincidence that Luke Davies (the poet whose work I am studying) happened to be at his home in LA while I was there, but it was a blessed week, and (after some serious prodding from my supervisor) I arranged to meet him for an interview.
I am not a journalist, and I am also not an excessively confident person, but despite these impediments I managed to do it without having a seizure or vomiting on myself. Even better, I was able to cobble together enough material from the ‘interview’ to pitch it to Meanjin, and (gods be praised!) they accepted it.
It’s out now!
Note: ‘Poets on Porches Drinking Tea’ is a nod to ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee‘. I’m an enormous fan of Jerry Seinfeld, and I actually think there are many parallels between poetry and comedy.
Anyway. I’m so happy to see it in print. Cheers Luke, you are the coolest poet to do a doctorate on; all my PhD buddies are jealous.
Stupendously chuffed to have been included in Cordite Issue 54: No Theme V, edited by Fiona Wright and Omar Sakr.
The poem they went with was Marrickville, a grumpy piece that manages to insult just about everyone.
I’m honoured to be included again by such a fine publication. Happiness.
A glass of water beside my bed – right in the spot
where I’m prone to flinging my pillow, directly
beneath my iPhone plugged in to charge like a man
attached to a bungee – unwittingly tethered to death.
I turn to anxiety as a way of warding off bad luck
(as if luck had anything to do with it)
and the worst thing is, it works.
Night after night, catastrophe is avoided
thanks to a nonspecific benevolence
which reduces suffering in idiots. I’m grateful
that this omniscient goodwill sees beyond
the girl too lazy to deal with clutter to someone
absorbed in the task of doing something that matters,
something greater than superficial order.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThe glass of water
has always been there, and I’ve always
ignored it. ‘Fantasy prone,’ they call it.
But my dreams are always good.
The pillow only falls to the floor
when reality seeps in.
Compatibility has less to do with pleasure
than it does being able to tolerate awkwardness
and boredom in each other’s presence
without hostility. That’s why romance
is associated with being young –
no joint pain, shonky guts, drooping jowls or chins
or nuts – it’s easy to love when the physical
is a baseline from which everything else
is up. The inconvenient fact I’ve come to know
in the lull between distractions is the long haul
isn’t fun. But there are other descriptors
with more than one syllable that lie in store for those
who can stick it out – words that go further
to illuminate the human conundrum.
Beyond infatuation lies something sinuous
and nourishing – beneath the field of poppies,
a paddock of mud. That person must be out there
for me, surely. I’m too full of life to give up.
* ‘As she breathed in the spicy scent of the big, bright flowers’ is an excerpt from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
On Sunday 28th February I’ll be joining Anna Couani, Kate Lilley, Ruark Lewis, Conrad, Joanne Burns, Billy Marshall Stoneking, Miro Bilbrough and Les Wicks for a poetry reading at Yellow House.
Entry is $10, which includes tea and cake. Good value, if you ask me.
Bookings can be made here.
Very excited to be involved. See you there.🙂