Housework

Morning brings other thoughts. All thoughts disappear. I am no longer sitting in the sun. My mobile phone, angled slightly sideways, straddles the line separating the table proper from its extension. A book on the Oulipo faces me much more directly, its title neatly underlined by the top edge of my monitor. I really should read it. Jack runs a service called Top Chop Tree Services. His card is green. His number is 0455 294 499. Beneath Jack’s card is a letter from my lawyers. I have yet to sign my will and pay the account. I know this already. I wonder if there is any point in opening letters anymore. I can imagine what they contain. I leave them unopened as reminders. All the fanciful places that no amount of lingering will lead me to. I have walked deserted Parisian streets. I have been ignored by touts. If only I could find some means of making sense of any of this. If only images could actually appear. Perhaps once the housework is done.

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Walk

Dusk was blue, red and pearly white above the sea. I headed away from the coast, north along the railway line. The creeks had been recently dredged – inky black with mud, stacks of reeds on the shore. A dark figure avoided me as we crossed in opposite directions on an unlit bridge – his hoodie pulled low over his head, his backpack strapped close. I walked across the grass to the end of Sandon Point. A piece of seaweed covered driftwood blocked the path down to the beach. I noticed solar garden lights glowing in the sand beneath – purple, red and blue – and a dim shape beside them. A woman’s voice yelled at me, “Fuck off and leave me alone” and “I can see you up there, you bastard”. I briefly considered responding, but thought better of it, turned around and made my way back to the main bike path. Crossing another little bridge near the Bulli Caravan park, two little girls were skipping ahead of their parents. They bravely said hello to me.

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Ghosts

She observed that the house probably had ghosts and asked me if I was afraid of them. This had not occurred to me, but since she had mentioned it I responded that I was not afraid of any ghosts that may haunt my home. I explained that I was happy here and that most likely the ghosts regard me with affection. Since then I have thought more carefully about this. I believe that the ghosts make no attempt to frighten me because they sense our genuine kinship. After all, I am also in the house alone. I also move from room to room silently. I also occasionally wander around at night. I am really not so different from them. No more than a small accident of time separates us. Indeed, returning to my sensible self, it seems to me that haunting is actually something that living people do. In imagining that I am alive I reproduce the imaginary conditions of death. I am my own ghost. Early this evening, I planted five more plants in the garden.

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Sun and Clouds

Bright, sunny day – the clouds return to my table, crumpled, shiny and soft. The yellow one at the rear billows open for a moment and then returns to its supplicant attitude. Translucent catacombs, with curved, straining arches. Just next to it at the left the bulwark of a ship, an ice breaker heading through a black sea and still far from the prospect of ice. Or equally the looming presence of an albino shark, jaw open as it lunges up to bite some blithe seal. And then there is the sea itself – a squashed, black, uneven thing. It presses its lumbering bulk down upon an empty fruit bowl. So there are three plastic bags altogether – one yellow, one white and one black. I have been shopping. I have walked amongst crowds of people. I have spoken to shop assistants. I have nodded at a former student as he walked down the hill towards some kind of retro record sale. His girlfriend wore yellow stockings. I deliberately chose the slow way home.

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Strap

A bit of metal on my brown bag juts out like a shoulder. A loop of thicker meal hangs from it. The latter is linked to a strap that shapes bold curves alongside the outside of the more passive bag. It is though a quick eel makes its way between the legs of a partly submerged rhinoceros, avoiding being squashed, but still locked to the life of the rhinoceros – still unable to precisely escape. Even when the waterhole is empty of terrestrial things, the eel has only one thought – less a thought than an instinctive inclination – to wait for the heavy legs that will provide its cue to swim and dance. The eel’s bright eyes flash in the muddy, sombre, middling depths. It can sense the pull of the metal at its head and tail. It can sense the risk that this entails, not only of being crushed, but of being held forever by this scene, unable to overcome it, unable to imagine any other way of subsisting – ecstatic in this terminal state.

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Gushing Hose

A small pile of waste paper is arranged at the right side of the table. I deliberately placed it there in preparation for me to fetch it up, exit at the sliding glass door, turn left beneath a modest verandah, head left again through a garden gate, walk down a short section of concrete driveway and deposit the paper in a large, yellow recycling bin. But I have yet to do this. Instead, in the gathering darkness, I dragged a hose down past the bins to water the new plants in the front garden. In the midst of this, the watering attachment popped off the hose, leaving a gushing naked tip. The concrete became wet as I pulled the running hose back to its proper place at the rear left hand corner of the house. The pile of paper remained utterly unaffected by any of these goings on. Even now as a cold breeze blows in at the glass door, it retains its composure. I can only regard it with awe. I can only wish I had similar tenacity.

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Strikings

Sunlight zig-zagging up a low tiered garden wall. Getting cooler. I am wearing a black jumper. Listening to John Fahey’s “The Legend of Blind Joe Death”. The volume fades down in the middle of a track for no particular reason, lifts to become loud and then fades out again. Very little seems to have changed on my table. The table itself, of course, rarely changes. Only the material on top of it. Only the orientation of the chairs. Only the quality of the surrounding day or night. Only the person who types these words. I can hear the garbage truck out on the road. Six small black plastic pots arranged in a row in a clear spot in my rear garden. My neighbour has gone away for three weeks, leaving me to care for the strikings. I wonder what chance they have of growing. All I can do is water them regularly. The rest will depend upon the efficacy of the miracle formula he has applied to their buried stems. My favourite track is “Sligo River Blues”.

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Moon

A smiling young man in a Godzilla suit towers above a small artificial city. Fetch TV – some kind of on-line movie delivery system. $9.95 a month, and for only $20 more, the full entertainment pack, with additional television channels. I try to imagine watching lots of television. Beneath this lavish piece of promotional literature is a large white envelope from the Australian Government. I am quite confident that it contains a bowel cancer testing kit, having already received one some five years ago. I pick it up, test its weight, squeeze and shake it – as though it were a Christmas present. Just a moment ago I was contemplating watching a great deal more television than I currently do. The next I am painfully aware of my own mortality. I can hear the quiet bleeps of innumerable small insects in the garden. The bugs seem to be everywhere, yet I cannot see a single one of them. They lull me into sleep – despite the full yellow moon.

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Cloth

Darkness again. The only light. I lost my way today. Muffled sound of rain. I am searching in the shadows for the certainty of ghosts. Somebody had to die here, but why should they bother hanging around? No idea, especially as the world itself is becoming ghostly – a tentative, soon to disappear thing. Coils of white power cord on the ground. Red wine. One chair angled back from the table. My brown bag has pulled back its hair, revealing a blue flap of soft skin. It nestles into the black bag of gym gear, with its ridiculous white rope handles and cursive promotional text. Their intimacy permits no intrusion. I should leave them be, but am shocked by the visible towel – that two things should indulge in such close exchange in the midst of this terrible silence, that they should ignore the messy stacks of printed materials, that they should risk the sweet embrace of cloth. I wish them well in the midst of their uncertain future.

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Conjunction

A long, sharp knife beside the laptop, shining with a thin slick of lemon juice. Beside it a half drunk bottle of beer. In the air above, one of three lights on the chandelier – a pool of glowing glass, with the bulb a solitary bather. Then back down at table level, my upturned and askew reading glasses. These four things, perceived in quick succession, prompt me to sit down – to put on my glasses, to drink the remaining beer, to notice that the lemon juice is now only faintly visible on the vibrating knife. I cannot help looking up again towards the chandelier light, but suddenly it no longer makes the same impression. It is just one of three chandelier lights. It no longer enters into relation with the three things on the table, which in the same instant suddenly drift away from one another and grow opaque. There is nothing here. There is nothing to see. The evening darkness has descended. The rain has stopped.

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Grey, Blue and Green

No end to this rain. The sky is a dim and striated grey. I bought a ceramic bird bath on the way home to put beneath the Christmas bush in the garden. I was the last customer for the day. The birdbath is glazed blue. I hope it will attract birds. Two items in my mailbox – a Dominos pizza advertisement and a letter for the former owner. The latter comes in a reusable envelope made from recycled paper. A green arrow and some green text explains that the recipient must open the letter at the green end to reuse the envelope. The return address is STATE DEBT RECOVERY OFFICE, LOCKED BAG 2128, NORTH SYDNEY NSW 2059. I consider opening the letter. I consider forwarding it to the former owner. But then I remember that I don’t have her current address. There is also an undeliverable option – a PO Box address. To be honest, I’ll probably just throw the letter out. I will at least make sure to put it in the recycling bin.

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Mandarins

I can recognise implicitly that I should write about the mandarins. They are so strikingly orange. They nestle into my wooden fruit bowl like clouds above a low valley, or better still, like bloody offal in a saucer – the offal, perhaps, of a slaughtered white horse that is scooped up to feed cats. They can also be likened to a group of football players packed in closely to gee themselves up for a big effort – their shaved heads so closely pressed together that they resemble clouds or offal. But these are definitely mandarins. One even has a blue label, which is fortunately bound to come off before I eat the piece of fruit. It is my practice to always skin mandarins prior to eating them. The good thing about mandarins is the you can eat as many as you like. There is no sense of excess if one eats a substantial number in a single day. In this sense, the mandarins may be likened to cigarettes for somebody who has a pack a day habit.

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Walk

I walked up Gray St and across the Princes Highway to the new housing development on Woodland Avenue. Completed about a decade ago but still unconvincing. Small blocks, big houses, lots of brick and half grown gardens. Turned right at Red Ash Drive and then left at Gahan’s Lane, heading up steeply in the direction of the escarpment – the houses becoming older the higher I climbed. Then an overgrown fire trail, with lantana closing in on both sides, to another fire trail leading up to Rixon’s Pass. Followed the track from the top along in the direction of Broker’s Nose, but the afternoon was growing late so I stopped at a powerline clearing with a view over the coast. Large swell rolling into Bellambi beach. That’s about all I noticed before I turned around, worried that it might be dark on the descent, but no problems. Only became dark when I got back and was watering the new plants.

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Sparklers

Beyond the limits of all my naive hopes. Inky, ice-filled northern air. Branches of greater darkness split through the night. Shards of imaginary light play at the borders of invisibility, like sparklers in the hands of the dead. I wiped the table with a wet cloth. I could have done a better job. I could have waited until the water was hot. I could have shifted everything off the table and wiped it thoroughly. Instead I wiped in broad, unsystematic strokes, leaving some areas damp and the other dusty and dry. This is the scene that I contemplate, that leads me into the forest, into the very depths of the night – though it is only mid-afternoon. I can barely stand. I have lost my bearings completely. The branches of darkness twist my head about. There is no need to reach into my pocket for matches. Bright specks of painful light erupt from a thin bit of wire at the end of my incalculably distant hand.

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Capacity for Evil

Circular echoes. All in close proximity. That small rubber band. The opening of a pouch and its looping draw string. The bronze guitar slide in the pouch. The top rim of a coffee cup. The rubber band and bronze slide are drawn into particularly close relation, like the shadows of chickens, like the certainty of temperature extremes. The dark pouch would consume the shiny bronze slide, but cannot quite succeed, which only accentuates its slack and gaping maw. The pouch is stitched at the sides. It resembles some exotic seed. With the slide visible, it also resembles some dark, disconsolate eye – fated to be evil, but somehow lacking the appropriate resources. Instead it is the rubber band that reveals grim determination – a steady, elastic poise. It will not blink. No trace of shining. It is imbued with gummy light. It knows the legitimate power of its circular shape. Sun. What does he sun matter? What additional circularity does the sun offer?

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Dope

People were here. They have gone. A unopened bottle of wine, or better, a bottle of wine not drunk, stands close by and in the near distance a morbid relic – a collapsed headstone, actually a breadboard. Bread, olives and cheese – these are things people expect to eat, but not on separate plates. A breadboard is much more convivial. Now that my guests have descended uncertainly down the front steps, nobody can stop me listening to George’s McRae’s “Rock Your Baby” – “Woman take me in your arms, rock me baby”. I listened to that song a lifetime ago as we drove through the back blocks of Miami looking for dope. I can recall thinking that I was somehow growing up. I envisaged some kind of future, but it never happened. Nothing is ever as envisaged. No matter how closely I attend to the immediacy of my current circumstances, I am always distracted. The nights spread across the far hills.

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Creatures

I have closed the glass door against the windy day. Four green tomatoes that had been growing next my front sewer line – product of an earlier disaster – sit hopefully on my rear step. Doubtful they will ripen. I’m following links to obscure bands, typically with dead members who in turn need to be pursued more closely still. Saturday morning. What should I be constructively doing? I have already washed up. Since I cleaned the table, it no longer serves as central focus. Instead it establishes a vantage – a flat platform set amongst the woods, with odd creatures dashing from tree to tree in the mid-distance, gnashing their teeth, refusing to appear as anything but dark shapes. I feel at liberty to disregard them, to sink into my uncomfortable chair. I am waiting for the day to obtain shape, to discover its proper identity, to rise up on its haunches and then, in a fitful moment, fall on its back writhing and foaming at the mouth. Not yet.

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Rainforest Tree

The leather laces of the fronds blow against the grey sky. The far window has 12 panes. The curtains are always pulled. The roof is immaculate green. The intensity of green grass. The hedge around my BBQ is already growing back – curling tendrils and expectant, mounted leaves. Only one tree left to be planted – a small, upright rainforest sapling. I rescued it this morning from where I had left it last night, amongst the back weeds. The pot had fallen over and the tree was already drifting into the oblivion of the surrounding skeletal weeds – pitiful, but scarcely seeming to care, slipping into unconsciousness, finding its way beyond the moral necessity to grow. I picked it up and moved it to just outside my back door (until I decide where to put it). It is standing up now, but I know that I only have to look away for a moment – to wander off, for instance, to make coffee – and the pot will fall over. I will never see this happen, but it will occur.

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Plants

I bought 17 native plants at the Botanic Gardens. An elderly employee helped me load my car. He stood beside my trolley and handed me plants one by one. Each time he said something about the size of the plant – “this is a big one”, “this is a little one” – as though I couldn’t see just by looking. When I knocked one of the pots over, producing a little pile of dirt and mulch in my car, he said, “you clean that up”. Helpful advice, I guess. I spent the rest of the day digging up garden beds and planting the plants. I didn’t finish until it was dark. Despite the light rain, I made sure to water all of the new plants, dragging the hose around to the opposite side of the house to reach the most distant beds. I was covered in mud by the time I finished. I am looking forward to seeing the garden in the morning light. The overall impression escapes me for now. I am not sure that there is a whole lot more that I can say about any of this.

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For Sale

In the morning I will often sit on the couch in the front room to eat a bowl of cereal. Occasionally I will go into the small sunroom, with its two cane chairs and large striped cushions, to look out toward the sea. I use the bathroom and laundry fairly regularly. I go into the bedroom mainly to sleep. I use the corridor to move between rooms and also when I am entering and exiting the house, although sometimes I will take the rear glass door and the side gate. I spend most of the time in the dining space adjoining the kitchen. That is where the table is located. The chairs are just basic pine chairs. The table is very plain as well. I bought the four chairs and the table for $30 altogether. The hippies across the street had put them out on the verge to be sold. It seems that that the wife had received a payout when she become redundant. They have since bought new dining furniture, which they describe as surfie-metal-gothic.

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Pig

A scrap of paper resembles a small pig with a stunted, stumpy tail, abbreviated legs and two tiny, little distinct eyes looking straight upwards. Beyond that, as you’d expect, a quite distinct snout. This scarcely evident pig subsists in a flat state beneath the looping immensity of my tilted back, laptop screen. The pig cannot run off. It is stranded and utterly naked against the brown of the table. Cables bend and twine on either side. How it managed to take convincing pig-like shape is an accident of the clouds and my extreme youth. I am breeding pigs. Just the one. Let it try to run away. Let it try to escape beyond the horizon of ordered things. I have only to tilt the monitor forward to see it again. I would butcher it if I had the heart and means, but instead I simply gaze at it with dreamy eyes. It is good to keep animals. It lends me some partial humanity. It makes me happy and whole.

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Rubber Band

So I did it. Quick, half-arsed clean of my table. Most of the paper gone. Just a small stack of apparently necessary stuff. Two largely empty notepads. Listening to the White Stripes first album. A narrow archipelago of coins. My two sets of keys randomly splayed. A Stanley screwdriver pointing roughly my way – some small, clear plastic box adjacent to its tip, like a miniature prison in which the soul of the most evil person is kept. Pens, a portable hard drive. Francis Ponge’s The Nature of Things. I wonder whether Ponge would ever descend to simply listing items? Would he stoop to naming them without considering how they are properly described? A very small, circular rubber band, somewhat isolated. A pair of reading glasses in a dark cloth case. There were eight cargo ships on the horizon tonight. I walked along the beach in the rain. The bright lights of a football field made it hard to find my way back up to the path. I could see the rain on my shirt, which was becoming almost wet.

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Spoon

I found a spoon placed on top of an unused Yellow Pages near the centre of the table. Rather than simply observing it, I picked it up and placed it at my left. The spoon is not directly in contact with the table. It rests on top of two black leads running into my laptop. It needs to be washed. Traces of avocado are evident. The head is streaked with a light sense of oral contact. Milky streaks extend from the curved crown down to the neck. Soft reflections of the overhead light run down its narrow frame. I have no sense of how long the spoon has been there and can only wonder that I have not noticed it before. I had hoped to see something more than uncleanliness in its greyish silver depths, but instead I see only a spoon that needs to be washed. I am determined to only speak positively of what I see, to not invent scenes that bear no relation to the experience of the spoon itself, but now I am tempted to speak of salamanders and exotic moonlit scenes.

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Drifting

The confused experience of drifting breeds fantasies and, more than this, modes of being. I lie in bed most of the day. I go on long walks. I don’t wash up. I can’t focus at work. I try to imaginatively repair the damage. I imagine the damage as much worse than it is. The drifting is as much a swirl or words and embodied attitudes as it is a spreading, inchoate thing. It constantly obtains form and then decomposes. There is no actual wound to heal and so nothing heals. There is no sense of an end. An end is undoubtedly coming, but it seems even worse than the state of drifting itself, in that it involves giving up and forgetting. The drifting remains as much because I will it to remain as because it will not go. The drifting is an amputated limb. I am accustomed to its absence. I struggle against the limb’s absence and cannot do without it. Through a window, playing on new leaves, I recognise the heedless light of a hidden sun.

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Surgery

“Free Tablet”. I could use a free tablet. I should be able to begin with the simplest things, if not with objects on the table then with some words that have descended from the light air of this roughly bright morning. Nothing that can be felt on the skin, unless I attend very closely. I am not sure that I have that level of attentiveness. Voices, birds, cars, doors and the rest. Everything is growing though it is nearing late Autumn. All the flowers of an ignorant Spring. Seems like I have a great deal to do, that I am neglecting many little tasks. In the midst of my neglect, her face has changed. The lumpy awkwardness of it, which was her particular beauty, has been replaced by an anonymous symmetry. Why this attraction to surgery when it does nothing but highlight the traces of age? Lines are more pointedly visible in their absence. I have passed away again. I am distracted. How can I be sure that I wouldn’t do the same thing?

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