The third issue of Melbourne magazine Steamer — edited by Sam Langer — features a number of one line poems: my favourite is ‘rocker’ by Will Druce: ‘sssssstay onlike a roa deeeeeee afterrrrthash ow.’ It could be drunk, it could be the beginning of ‘Cherry Bomb.’ Neologisms like ‘onlike,’ ‘roa,’ and ‘afterrrrthash’ suggest a mutating rocker vernacular that gets more interrrresting the more the rocker thinks about what they’re saying.
Another poem from the issue, ‘token’ by Ella O’Keefe, is one that knows it was written on a keyboard (as much as the hands may remember ‘duck-egg formica’). It interrupts what becomes retrospective lyrical droning to jump up and want something a: ‘Fresh!/Fruit!/Shake!’ Three exclamations suspended by the question of wondering … Having energised the line and mood, new implausibilities may be murmured. We attend to mockery, then we’re collaged onto a tarmac. Single quotes turn into double: a successful ‘lawn-a-concept-centre’ date then.
when a rooster crows
the whole body is used
& it puts you back
in your own
This could be O’Hara with clipped wings or Williams with the strength reversed to the end. If the first two lines read as likely Emma Lew chopped in half (‘When a woman wishes to be cruel’), that is my ear perhaps more than O’Keefe’s, but criticism’s going on your nerve too. ‘token’ wants to throw so much away, to be casual, that I barely notice I have a bomb in my lap. Meditations, quotes, interpolations, phatic patterning: a way of constructing a ‘place’ of travel. It’s more than travel affect in that it refuses to be a catalogue or sensibility or observation writ small: ‘i.e. being in a place with a lotus/not evoking?’ Perhaps its a new version of ‘Personism’ with the poem between the poet and the laptop, Lucky Pierre Style? The poem moves from the performativity of the opening to a self-determined object to close: ‘rain … drops into pepsi bottle building/bridges with their straws/to the statue’s fingers.’ The everydayness of this poem can hold more than a travel diary. The rooster stands in for what was outside the body and is now in: in the artefact’s body — in the reader’s body. Like rain after coconut ice, it’s as enchanting as you think it is.