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  #1  
Unread 02-08-2019, 06:43 AM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
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Default sus. per coll.

REVISION II
minor tweaks


...when can we speak?
There’s death in the singing;
a spoon full of death that's served with tea.


The body holds its counsel.
The song has finished now,
and from the wall,
the outline of an empty hand
moves to read each scar.

His mind was a desert.
Mirage became real
and reality, mirage.
He mumbled and cried
but tears could not quench
the rage of his thirst
and the bottle could not numb.

No sound in their voices,
yet loud, so loud
was the silent rack
of a stifled sob
so loud, so loud
was the stifled beg.

He crumbled.
“She be orright, yeah
she be orright...”

but their dying shook him
and his God forsook him
and the black dog took him.

He drank himself
into terror and died,
shaking at the end
of his belt.


REVISION

...there’s death in the singing;
a spoon full of death that's served with tea.


The body holds its counsel.
The song has finished now,
and, from the wall,
the outline of an empty hand
moves to read each scar.

His mind was a desert.
Mirage became real
and reality, mirage.
He mumbled and cried
but tears could not quench
the rage of his thirst
and the bottle could not numb
the girls’ pain.

No sound in their voices.
So loud, so loud
is the silent rack
of a stifled sob,
so loud, so loud
is the stifled call

for retribution.

He crumbled.
“She be orright, yeah
she be orright...”
but their dying shook him
and his God forsook him
and the black dog took him.

He drank himself
into terror and died
shaking at the end

of his belt.



ORIGINAL

...there’s death in the singing;
a spoon full of death that's served with tea.


The body holds its counsel,
the song has finished now,
and, from the wall,
the outline of an empty hand
moves to read each scar.

da' booze
it put tings in my 'ed
smokin' da' gunja too
it do dat
no good tings
bad tings
lotsa tings
my 'ed
'as all dese bad tings
da' drink and da' gunja no good
all dese bad tings
sometime I do bad tings
wid dem girls
bad tings to dem
but she be
orright
yeh
orright...


Their dying shook him
and his God forsook him
and the black dog took him.

He drank himself
into terror and died
shaking at the end

of his belt.

Last edited by Jan Iwaszkiewicz; 02-15-2019 at 07:57 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-08-2019, 07:49 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Jan,

An ambling, bitter-tasting piece. What would you think of a period (or full stop) after "The body holds its counsel"? My only suggestion really.

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 02-09-2019, 07:21 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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I guess since there are no comments other than John's there a worry that this is derogatively racist. Please be assured it is not.

One key lies in the title: an abbreviation of suspendatur per collum used in the final column the ledger of the disposed or dispossessed. A mark of the punitive system and of coloialism

A second key lies in the epigraph that has the serving of tea.


Ww are all cut from the same cloth, generally on the bias, with some immaterial difference in colour.
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  #4  
Unread 02-09-2019, 09:19 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Jan,
thank you for the reassurance, but it doesn't really help the text. The pidgin passage doesn't work for me.

Sorry,
Martin
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  #5  
Unread 02-10-2019, 05:02 PM
Jason Ringler Jason Ringler is offline
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Hi Jan,

I like this even though I struggle with it. It puts me in a room either with a judge whose killed himself and his last memory was a song that was stuck in his head; or of a slave that's been wrongly hanged. I enjoyed the inventiveness of the piece and the song is interesting to read.
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  #6  
Unread 02-10-2019, 07:17 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Hi Martin,

This is not a rendition of a Pidgin nor is it a rendition of a Creole.

It is the rambling, drunken pronunciation and grammatical construction in English of one who has transgressed and tries to shy away from guilt. But as is said further on, he is consumed. It is not a derogatory passage nor does it poke fun at the speaker. There is no hate speech here, there is tragedy.

We have just had five indigenous teenage girls commit suicide in NINE days.

The why of it is complex and I do not pretend to understand the whole, But the basis will lie in the taking of Terra Nullius. In the ousting of one civilisation by another there will all always be a downtreading of those dispossessed of land and power. They will feel the full weight of futility and degradation. Their society will decay.

I have already explained the sus. per coll. title. The symbolism of tea, is in being seemingly benign but containing the poisons of dispossession. The 'singing' is the transmission of knowledge.

When dead, a body does hold its counsel, those still living must asssume.

The outline of an empty hand is the hand stencil found in Indigenous Australian rock art. As the ochre is sprayed around the outside of the hand the hand has only left its outline, its shadow as it were with none of the European symbolism of a solid hand (mortgage, red hand, heavy hand etc.)

Then there is the assumption that on sobering the mirror will clear.

It is a shame that in these days of political correctness close reading is blocked off before it can begin.

Regards,

Jan

Last edited by Jan Iwaszkiewicz; 02-10-2019 at 07:38 PM.
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  #7  
Unread 02-10-2019, 07:19 PM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Hi Jason,

No slave and here is self judgment and punishment. He died at the end of his belt.

I hope my response to Martin above will help clarify your reading.

Regards,

Jan

Last edited by Jan Iwaszkiewicz; 02-10-2019 at 07:24 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 02-11-2019, 12:45 AM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Jan,
it is not a matter of political correctness--it is a question of whether a voice is convincing. I understood that the italicized narrator is torn by remorse and hangs himself. But he is given no other voice than his drunken whining. And it just doesn't seem authentic.

Your explanation of the title is also a bit cryptic; googling reveals it means:
"Let him be hanged by the neck".

The empty hand is a powerful image, but I don't think the poem gives enough clues to be understandable to a reader not privy to your explanations.

It may be just me; but I did read your poem multiple times, but certainly failed to make the connections that seem essential to make it work.

Best wishes,
Martin
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  #9  
Unread 02-11-2019, 01:40 AM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Hi Martin,

The voice is exact but I guess it does not travel.

The title is the phrasing used in the British prison logs.

Yes you are right there is too much in the text that does not travel.

Thanks for coming back.

Regards,

Jan
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  #10  
Unread 02-11-2019, 12:04 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Jan,

I've been meaning to respond to this for a while. Since it may be useful, this is where I'd got with this before reading the comments:

I'd googled the title, and got the legal reference, against which the "the body holds its counsel" works nicely. As in the body holds (as in contains) its counsel, but also a sense of being silent (as in withholds / holds its tongue). Counsel seems to work as something like consultation as well as (legal) advice / barrister. It also works to imply a sense of justice and/or self-trial and self-imposed sentence about his own suicide.

I wasn't clear on the opening song, or what was going on with the invisible hand. The scars could be psychological I guess, or scars on the wall.

The voice shows the man lament / reflections / excuses. He's clearly harmed some young women or girls. There's one in particular that he seems concerned about but think she will be ok. To me, the voice suggests something like a Jamaican accent, especially with 'tings' and 'gunga' and 'd' for 'th'.

The next stanza reveals that the girls died. And this is what drives him to kill himself. "black dog" is often used to denote depression (coined by Churchill, I think, or at least, famously used by him) . I'm not wholly clear what he did. At first I'd imagined rape-murder and a large degree of delusion on the man's part. However, it does read like they died later and/or all together. I guess he could have raped and murdered a series of women, the death of each one having shaken him, but it sounds more like the forsaking was a one off event. So, they died as a result of what he did, but that presumably wasn't what he expected or intended (unless he's delusional), and possibly they died together.

The enjambment of the penultimate line is excellent.

So that was where I'd got to reading the poem 'blind'. Now I've seen your comment referring to what this responds to, googled and found the story.

The suicides are linked to sexual abuse and poverty (and likely cultural destruction too). So, this is an indigenous man who has sexually abused girls (children, as opposed to young woman) some of whom have subsequently killed themselves, and at least one, the one he's telling himself will be ok, is still alive. The opening song refers to poisoning, and on one level I guess, to suicide. Perhaps even the method by which one of the girls killed herself. Singing has major cultural significance, as I understand it, from what little I know about song-lines (as myths and maps of the land). So it's the culture and the old, mythical country (the songlines as its now-poisoned veins, maybe) that's dying too.

This is clearly a poem for a particular audience, since it requires a fair degree of local knowledge. Maybe a link to the article would have clued non-Australians in, I guess.

Irrespective of the issues -- valid or not -- of the taking on the accent, I don't know that the monologue works that well as poetry (I've also tried reading without the accent), or at least, whether it works that well alongside the rest of the poem. I could be wrong. I wonder if there's another, more concise way, to convey what needs to be conveyed here without giving us direct access to his thoughts.

There might be something fresher that 'black dog' as short hand depression -- if that's what's intended. Or perhaps 'black dog' has a role in Indigenous mythology (I found mythic black dog associated with McPherson Range, now homeless since its physical home, a cave, was blown up for construction purposes, which would fit the context here). In which case, ignore this.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 02-11-2019 at 12:06 PM.
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