The Great Maps of the World as Trodden by Foot
I wonder how many centuries of feeling are held in the grooves of the foot?
There once was a man who hadn’t worn shoes for seven years.
He trekked over mountains, and treaded desert powder
with the familiarity of an old friend,
the walking paths etched in his hardened skin.
I too must circumnavigate the earth.
I’ll unbuckle my shoes and walk barefoot
down the narrow city laneways
past the stencils of political tricksters,
navigating the labyrinths
where the concrete bumps and buckles
from the escaped roots of trees.
The hard, cool bluestone under my soles,
the Weeping Lovegrass tickling my toes.
Talus: the uppermost foot bone forming the ankle joint
with the tibia and fibula.
Calcaneus: the largest foot bone, forming the heel.
Formally known as the calcaneum or os calcis.
Navicular, sesamoid and cuboid bones: the first a little ship
navigating the footpaths of the world,
The second a small seed stuck between toes,
the third a cube: origin unknown.
Phalanges: the bones of the toes, two for the great toe
and three for the others.
They help connect the foot to the ground and the leg to the foot.
I must tread the earth carefully.
Published in Invisible City.
Issue 5 Mapping. 9-10.
and with Tom Civil and Sherry Mclean
in Neopoetry: Poetry/Audio/Video AV Compilation,
curated by Rebecca Canon, 2004.
She sat on the tram dressed in purple,
a colour so luscious I wanted to bite into
her flesh, blood-plum sweet.
Her hair was crimson, short and boyish.
Her name was Violet.
When we chatted,
she told me
she had a
fascination for maps,
that cartography was
and when left alone
she would trace her
veins with ink.
The maps of the forever
she called them.
Leading everywhere and nowhere.
I wanted to tell
her about my day,
about the insignificance
of it all
but she left so quickly
the scent of lavender.
Published in the zines Violet and Small Poems Like Bird Feet.
It is a privilege to have a number of poems appear in the anthology A Slow Combusting Hymn: Poetry From and About Newcastle and the Hunter Region, edited by Kit Kelen and Jean Kent.
A Slow Combusting Hymn features the work of poets such as Kim Cheng Boey, Ivy Ireland, Karina Quinn, Christopher Pollnitz, Mark Tredinnick, Les Murray, Lucy Dougan and many, many more.
A Slow Combusting Hymn is a poetic map of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. It contains poems from 64 poets who currently live in the region or who have strong local connections. The book is published by ASM and Cerberus Press and its production and launch have been supported by the Hunter Writers Centre.
For those of you in Newcastle, the anthology will be launched this Saturday 9th August by Rosemarie Milsom at 10.30am at The Lovett Gallery, City Library, Laman St, Newcastle.
Courtney Love is heading to Australia for her first tour since 1999. I saw Hole play at Selina’s in Coogee, Sydney in 1995 having travelled down from Newcastle with my bandmates from all-girl band Sycorax. I loved Hole! I still do. I remember buying the 7-inch of Retard Girl from Cooks Books second-hand book and record shop and relishing in the grainy sounds emanating from the beautiful blue vinyl spinning on the record player. Hole were so much better than Nirvana, in my eyes, but of course Courtney Love copped flak for everything she did, from what she wore, to her demeanor, to the circumstances surrounding Kurt’s death. Hole, and earlier bands such as Frightwig and The Slits, saved us in a culture of male-dominated rock and punk music in a town renowned for its macho masculinity.
Sycorax playing at El Nino’s World Environment Day gig at the Hunter on Hunter, Newcastle, Circa 1995.
Hole’s show was chaotic to say the least, but it was beyond memorable. Supporting them was Magic Dirt, and even though I wasn’t a huge fan, lead-singer Adalita was a force to be reckoned with on stage. Selina’s was a mix of Hole devotees and yobbo-boy-locals yelling obscenities and spilling beer down our backs. I wasn’t ready for them. Looking back on it now I realise that I’d naively thought that the only people watching, the only people who could afford a ticket, were die-hard Hole fans, not packs of guys who didn’t even seem to know who was playing or seemed to care.
My friends and I pushed our way to the front. It was an epic mosh and I swear for nearly the entire gig my feet didn’t touch the ground. Being short has always made for difficult times seeing bands, but I stuck it out at the front near the stage despite the fact that I felt like I was hyperventilating, could barely feel my body, and my friends, who I swear were right there next to me, were nowhere to be seen. Courtney herself was a shambles, but the crowd didn’t care ’cause she was Courtney Love!!! and this was Hole. We didn’t want polished, we didn’t want ‘nice’. For every new song Courtney was brought a new guitar, an expensive guitar at that, but for every new guitar she was handed, fewer and fewer chords were strummed and the songs became a messy blur.
When Courtney climbed the speaker stack it was the perfect rock ‘n roll moment. She loomed over me like a satin-clad angel. When she jumped, my arms waved frantically in the air to catch her. She jumped and fell hard. It was simultaneously amazing and terrifying to have Courtney Love stage dive into my hands. Her shoes came off and were lost among the crowd. Someone found one and threw it back. It pegged bass player Melissa Auf der Maur in the head causing her to go to hospital and Courtney threatening to cancel the show.
When the gig was over I was disoriented and confused. My friends were nowhere to be seen and I, the least hardcore of the group when it came to moshing, had stayed in the thick of things until the end. I eventually found them, standing off to the side of the stage. They’d left the mosh ages before and laughed their heads off at the fact that I’d stayed up the front where it’d been so intense. I left the gig totally elated and totally wasted, with someone’s fingerprints bruised into my right shoulder blade, and the wire rim of another person’s homemade fairy wings bruised into the other.