Verlaine In The Lake

Verlaine is – illuminatingly – a sinking limb
It is too late to abandon Paris, for him
He has wings like the figure of a figure; he
cannot fly: can barely sigh / complain

Look up Verlaine, the lake is not blue, it’s
useless to you! Write that dream
You are in an orchard: a bird hypnotized by
the colours of the fruit trees. Verlaine

following an upstart lorikeet called Rimbaud
(rainbow, rhyme beau) who always
tries to shake him off. It’s all very Death in
Castlemaine, Scenes from Mildura. Is

the lake a lake, the bird a bird, or but a fake
shadow, a half-thing? Did the poet
go down too slowly to the spring, too late?
His face has gone orange in the blue




In The Beginning Was Parody

We’re heading to gentleness, the citing of violence will
then be forgotten, or seen as impolite. ‘Rogues, clowns
and fools; marriage parties and dances at the house’ all
doomed to the middle ages. ‘Social conditions’ a vast
error. Writing is everything, though many writers
disagree. We are all heading to the beginning
The example lies down with the parable

Rogues, clowns, and fools rule the roost, but cannot write
to save a chook. Of course, it’s not their aim. Was the
snake in the garden real? More importantly, is footy?
Or is it a dream of fear and beauty? Rabelais says the
snake was a sausage, and might’ve added that sausages
play football in our insides, as we watch it on TV
The cliché lies down with hyperbole

Williams weighs a baby on a variable scale and
recommends spinach. Eventually we will live lives worth
meta-commentary, and slide into the sea, realising that
human ideas are the shapes of kelp. That chooks were
meant to be the gulls of inland: but though they watch our
best and our balls fly, they huddle to the grass
The allusion lies down with the ‘pearl of price’

Too much salt on spinach brings on crying: a trick used
by Greek actors, and Jacobeans in ‘The Kelp Queen’
Cleopatra had a fear of being poisoned, and nibbled on the
sausage she kept in her breast. All the people she had put
to death were due to gross misreadings of games of chess
she should have been a writer of light verse
The script lies down with the chorus

Note-taking can be a job, or a job within a job. Williams
pushes his barrow of notes through Paterson, sometimes
adding a baby: to give its mother a break / time to pick
spinach. He saw social conditions everywhere he went
You’re queer chooks, he said to the gulls he met. He cried
to think of all the reality we’d yet to overcome
The theme lies down with the crumb
The eye lies down with the thumb





[Michael Farrell has published several books, including the recent I Love Poetry and A Lyrebird: Selected Poems. His scholarly work is Writing Australian Unsettlement: Modes of Poetic Invention 1796-1945. He edits Flash Cove,]

Copyright © 2018 by Michael Farrell, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.