Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Arrival

Special Edition

Sydney airport and Central Station have seen the arrival of hundreds of poets, both old and new. On Thursday, W.B. Yeats was seen leaving a shop at International arrivals with an Australian rugby guernsey and a Qantas shoulder bag. At Central station, Ezra Pound and Charles Olson were entertaining patrons at the bar, reciting poems and telling jokes. When asked what they were doing in Australia, Pound snarled “we are petals on a wet, red bough.” Overhearing this comment, E.D. Blodgett (big Ed) replied: "Exactly, the key to Pound’s great line is the word ‘red’. It blossoms and then it turns inward and there unfolds, in that mysterious space Pascal notes in his investigation into the red abyss."
The list of poets is a Who’s Who of fame and notoriety: Charles Bukowski, James Dickey, Mallarme, Rimbaud, Keats, Shelley and Raymond Carver were in close, animated conversation with Rodney Hall, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Elizabeth Campbell, Fay Zwicky, Neal Paech and Geoffrey Lehman. Security was keeping a close watch on proceedings, especially when James Dickey removed a hunting bow from its case and began instructing Keats on its finer points and uses. Dickey’s long been impressed with Keats, especially his ability in the ring, and he’s looking forward to seeing what Keats can do when the gloves come off.  
The exact reason for the poets’ arrival, en masse, is not clear as no-one will speak of it to reporters. However, it is suspected that the poetry wars of a few years ago may well be behind this strange invasion. Autograph hunters were sadly disappointed, as every poet ignored the proffered notebooks and copies of their work.
“We are here to do business, not seek adulation,” Seamus Heaney said as he stepped into a black Mercedes. Other poets were less inclined towards explanation. “Fuck off,” was all Bukowski had to say as he hailed a cab. Lucinda Williams and Townes van Zandt were met at the airport by David Gilbey and Rod Milikan. The two country singers were drunk when they walked through customs, both of them humming ‘Red River Valley’. Milikan said: “These people are like Gods to me, but they’re acting like animals, strange animals but with beastly manners none-the-less. I feel gutted, it’s a tragic thing to experience.”  Gilbey was more upbeat. “Look, it’s no big deal, they just need a few sessions at the Wagga Wagga Writers Centre. A few workshops and they’ll be clean.”  
The San Francisco poet Jack Spicer was met by John Tranter in his vintage MGA. John said “Jump in Jack and I’ll take you to The London, (a Balmain watering hole.)  Spicer was not convinced, he shouted “Duncan’s slipped me a mickey-finn, I’m at the Gate reading my Grail poems and next thing I wake and there’s an Opera House with wings! The Land of the local poets is identical to the poets of Mars: red planet, red poets, what the fuck! I don’t give a hoot, just take me to the ball-game.”
The great surrealist painter and practical joker, Picabia, was met by Ken Bolton as soon as he walked through the arrival doors. Picabia wanted to know if Vicki Viidikas would be singing torch songs in the cafes at night when the battle weary waggaists returned from the front. He kept asking Bolton “Is a Magic Sam a weapon or some smart new move?”
Ed Dorn paced up and down the taxi rank looking for an excuse to throttle Emily Dickinson. He wanted to demonstrate that he was politically incorrect right from the start. Then he ran into Picabia who was in the bar drinking with the billionaire Freddy Seidel (who is funding the arms supply to the Island.) According to Blodgett, Freddy’s family make some of the best weapons on the planet. Seidel’s new secretary, Kate Jennings, was handing out free copies of Seidel’s book Ooga-Booga. Ed took this in with one penetrating glance and said “Oh shit, this is my worst nightmare. Seidel and Picabia, who put those two in touch?” Then they were off on classic Indian motorbikes Seidel had shipped in. Dorn watched them roar off into the night. “This is all beside the point,” he said. “We shouldn’t be worrying about the Waggaists. It’s the godamn Waggafish I’m concerned about. When we circled Sydney I could see a red tide flowing out from Broken Bay, a red plume of warning. What the hell do you think that was? It’s certainly not a drunken cowboy pissing into the stream.”
Not long after this as I interviewed Sam Coleridge in the transit lounge, he started telling me he would not be able to stop talking until I heard the whole tale. It was all about Messmer, le Fascinateur, then Sam cast some kind of spell on me. I couldn’t feel any apparent ill effect but the words he used made me feel very creepy. The floating hair, the flashing eyes and all that stuff was not mesmerizing, but slimy things were beginning to crawl across the ocean of my left eye. 
Latest news is that many of the poets have hired ocean-going craft and are heading out to sea. Those who try to follow them are being pelted with sinkers, balloons filled with fish blood, and vitriolic curses.

According to Seamus Heaney, the interior of this plane turned red as it approached Sydney. The word "Red" can be seen on the video monitor, left.

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