Thursday, December 19, 2013

Poetry just off the press (transferred from my art blog)

Always nice to go back home to Canada to see my family but it is also depressing to see the way the country and the world is heading.  I grew up near Shuswap Lake, one of the biggest and most beautiful in B.C. but money rules here more than ever and there was a lot of it with everybody just panting to have their own little piece of paradise and now it isn't.   'Tearing up  the Shuswap' is the Albertan term for their yearly invasion with all manner of noisy recreational machinery.  Of course there is some poetic license here.  Characters are strictly imaginary but the observations are true.

            'Tearing Up the Shuswap'

It's June when Ron and Rhonda Kretzky
Load their awful kids and snarling jetski
Ron's swimming togs and bourbon, Rhonda's pills 
And head off westward in their giant pickup truck 
That burbles up the hills

A line of faces in the windshield peer out over six feet up
Including Alex already huge but still a pup
If they'd left him like Ron wanted at her mum's
He'd fret and bark and keep the neighbours up
His tongue lolls while the giant tyres hum. 

The rig ain't vanity; it's more like safety, eh
They hear confirming stories all the time
Like with Ron's friend Grey
They work together out there in the oil patch
An accident - he drove right over someone else -
The truck was wrecked but he walked off without a scratch.

It's near eight hours to their cabin on the lake
Or once were cabins; endless rows of houses now
All cheek by jowl
Forgot the zoning laws - Ron didn't put it there; encroaching on the beach. 
Like that when they bought it, eh.  If only he'd been smart and 
Two years go they'd fetched a million dollars each. 

They've extended boundaries in the lake with lines of rocks
And to move the ducks and geese along(the loons long gone)
The plastic owls patrol the private docks 
Its not illegal, you still can stroll on through
Just respect their privacy, and please don't stop or touch the children's toys
Better yet to take the road - further down's a public beach
You'll know by bear-proof garbage drums and endless private mooring buoys.

Carp and squawfish frolic in the green and fertile waters
Fed by septic system waste
Courtesy of all; our sons and daughters
Quite the leveler mixing all that varied age and tastes
And on Saturday 'till late at night
For holidaying girls and boys
There's shrieks and sweets and fireworks
And deep down throbbing in your bones that doofing noise.

Kids asleep they sit out talking with their drinks of modern better times
Since computers hooked to TV screens and looked like crap
And eutrophication didn't have a rhyme
So nice and peaceful here, you put up with the local geeks
Mostly harmless retirees or doper freaks
Not so pushy like in those tourist holes, Phuket or Denpasar
But swimming's great there, eh - sharks finned out, they're up sh**creek
But when you get tsunamis like that one on Boxing Day, there's bodies washing up for weeks -

But leave them to their reveries
Could there be here or in some parallel dimension
Where summer people also bust themselves at having fun
A frozen ball of rock and nickel steel only ten yards wide
A tiny pinpoint glowing faintly as it rounds the sun
A mini-asteroid from out that great dark void
At some impossible height
The great 'X' of the Shuswap
Directly in its sights?
And maybe if some wise benignant god holds sway
Would he could he should he bring that sucker down offshore kerplunk at twenty thousand miles an hour
Before they all go home on Labour Day?

The Future Reveals Itself Occasionally in Unexpected Signs and Portents

Last week I got a heads- up I thought it would be nice to share with my fans and followers and detractors.  Nothing to do with art -it was an unexpected telephone call from a young man I never  knew nor will I hear from again and it struck me as one of those signs that mark a turning point in the tides of history.
This might sound like superstitious nonsense but these things have been very good to me.  Like picking the '87 market crash - my wife got call from her mother all a flutter with their new, huge and unexpected paper wealth from the share market and I instantly understood that this was THE END.  And I had a new share market tool called 'the mother-in-law index.'  Kind of like the 1929 legend about Rockefeller the Elder being touted RCA between floors at $125 a share by the bell-boy. 

Sure enough about three days later the punters were sweating blood as their retirement dreams evaporated.  Similarly the 'tech wreck' - I was working on construction in  a Sydney high rise and the lunch room conversation was about share holdings.  I knew- again - and said 'This is the first job I have ever been on where the tradies ever mentioned or even had share market holdings.  This is the top of the market and you are all going to get your arses burned."  They were not impressed in the least.  But again, within the week and they had. 
So that's the thing about prophecy.  It's about marketing the desirable,  and anyone who actually knows anything can't get a look in because public approbation is made touting high cotton in the sweet bye and bye.  

This time it was an offer whereby I, little Joe Bloggs can now trade OTC derivatives for $10 a pop against the likes of Goldman Sachs, the 'Vampire Squid' and fabulously wealthy  Fed-backstopped  Morgan-Stanley with their hundreds of young computer jockeys with Nobel laureate designed 'black box' trading programs that operate at the speed of light.  And further - there was no counterparty risk (which of course is the faint possibility you and the markets might break someone's bank and thereby go hungry yourself 'cause they won't be able to pay you) because the originators of this 'trading platform' who would collect my $10 were themselves the counterparty issuing their own 'synthetic' derivatives as required; priced as per the 'real' ones.... its not just 'whew, that makes me feel so much easier about it' but yes! the void in the plexus aka greed or lust, like maybe there really is something in this for me.  Anyway, his obvious confidence in the face of mere $10 commissions suggested that perhaps I was in  line to be plucked as well as serviced. 
When they get to me it is the final barrel-bottom scrape for patsies.  OK I haven't yet been touted to by the mail lady but there is a quadrillion nominal dollars 'worth' of this crap out there somewhere, on a million corporate books;  hanging over our heads waiting to bring our way of life to a crashing end.  Might be nice to at least have a few extra tins of beans in the pantry.

Update: August 3/2014

Last Wednesday the shares of the worthless Twitter went up 120% after hours on news that profits were twice expectations, ie 300 million dollars.  If that doesn't qualify for the unexpected seminal moment I don't know what the hell could be even crazier and it's the crazy things I notice and file affectionately.  On Thursday and Friday the markets swooned.  And maybe 'worthless' is just a bit of hyperbole;  someone is paying them, after all.  It certainly isn't me, not having an account.  In fact I thought I had never even seen or heard a 'tweet' but my wife says those are the little comments that come underneath the TV screen during Q&A.

I won't say I am going short here on any uptick although I really think I ought to.  But its like this.  Not only is it a bet against all the fools in the world, you are betting against the power of government as well.  And even if they can't stem the inevitable tide they can make it uncomfortable for contrarians - in a panic they will simply hold off the great QE taper and you are whipsawed out of your position, and there is yet another ever-more- dubious upward leg to this juggernaut even if it means the vaunted recovery was only a dream after all.  But even that might be universally embraced as positive proof that bubblemania will be funded at zero interest into outer space.  And that goes on forever.   As H L Mencken said; "No-one ever lost money underestimating the taste (or was it the intelligence) of the American public."

Ideally I would like to see a short- lived recovery here where there is a low- volume tussle at a new high on the major indices.  And be touted to face to face by someone I know of low intelligence.

Finally if you nail your colours to the mast publicly you have an ulterior motive, like you want a great call so people will buy your newsletter or think you are really smart and then they will follow you and then when you lose your own overconfident arse in the next hiatus, so will somebody else. And then it isn't just that the universe is unfolding as it should for fools, YOU will get the blame.

Update September 14/2014
The pattern of the US market has completed as above and begun its reversal, Thursday probably marked the end of the line.  After the initial decline a recovery to barely new highs, then a flat and thin market with ever thinning breadth even while iron ore, oil, copper, gold have been falling, falling.  All textbook stuff.    But as for short - The Aussie dollar has fallen several percent in that time which means that 'short' wasn't a bad idea (in one's own market and currency) but EVERYTHING has been going down simultaneously so it would have been a neutral exercise IF you won and not only did nobody notice, there was much hand clapping as the celestials will want even more of our corpse.
Anyway on Friday I penned the sheep for worming, podiatry and marking the lambs.  The young rams were in clover, taking advantage of the tightly packed ewes or anyone else.  Its the off-season and they don't care.
And somehow it all coalesced in a poem.  QE ends in October - or will it after all?

                                          The Rape of the Flock

The feast is spread and like a leaden turd the bread upon the table lies
And should'ring guests are lurching through the door, the wine already drunk
With raucous lazy speech and glittering eyes.
The scheming coyote in mid-air; one pregnant moment - blissful, unaware
The pricked balloon or crumbling promontory
That highlights each banal installment of the story.
And so the elbowed throng, each finally in his place to feed the beast
Ignores the squeaking, cornered cabin boy whose cries of “Rats de-shipped!”
Mean nothing to them in the least
And roundly curse the cook: “Fool -but better late than never!”
Where's the yeast?”

Wombat's Nasty Secret

All of us artistes find ourselves toiling away for nothing.  Unfortunately most of us attribute unwarranted significance to our own worthless endeavours.  That's my own definition of the word 'wanker'; one of our more colourful Australianisms.  Not me personally of course.  Sure I earn nothing, but I also understand perfectly well that my efforts are transient, meaningless, and insignificant.  But I find it amusing, and hope it will be similarly enjoyed by at least a few of my creative peers and my small fan club.  Which anyone of good will is welcome to join.

I have a friend who is a very serious poet.  One day I mentioned I was working on a children's book that was a spin-off from an artistic commission in which there is a carved wooden book with the title 'Wombat's Nasty Secret.'  It would have both prose and poetry.....

"Oh yes!" he said impatiently.  "I can see it now, Willy Wombat and his little bush pals and their wonderful adventures tripping through the flowery undergrowth....  Hasn't it been done to death by now?  No-one will publish anything like that."

"Well this is different.  Right now I am working on a bit about a wombat being torn apart by mongooses."

"What!" he shouted, leaping from his chair.  "Mongooses! No-one will buy anything like that!"

But I immediately understood that I had something good.  That's what its like to be a contrarian.  And here is a preview in the form of that fragment of an epic poem appearing therein.  If the occasional line refers to something vaguely recalled out of TS Elliot or somesuch,  it was intentional.  But I haven't been able to find the source try as Google and I might. 

                         The Story of Hard-Hearted Harry
A Cautionary tale for Self-Serving, Psychopathic, and Otherwise Criminally Inclined Wombats

It was Hard-Hearted Harry, the scourge of Tocumwal
Hard-hearted Harry the hairy-nosed wombat
The hairy-nosed wombat who wanted it all.
Which is never enough for some people it seems-
The kind you avoid like the plague on the street
And never get shut of in disconsolate dreams
The king of the rackets, the police in his pocket, kahuna of crime.
He was the biggest, baddest, most feared, capo of capos
To rule Shepparton and Morwong at least
And maybe also Gagebrook
In his time.

His loan-sharking business might grab your attention
His suit only knows
How he coldly foreclosed on the orphan’s estate
How neatly he snaffled the poor widow’s pension
And committed other outrages
Too numerous to mention.

His burrows were found at prestigious addresses
Marked with black X’s on all of the maps
With chauffeurs and butlers and chiropodists’ services
Underground caviar and gold-plated taps!
But alas for his lifestyle; a criminal faction
Had arrived from the States
To take over the action.
They were slinky and long and kinky and lean
The most malevolent gang of Hawaiian mongooses
A still- living wombat could ever have seen.
Implacable, merciless, never defeated  
They telephoned Harry their itinerary
Who famously answered (expletive deleted!)
 “We’re coming your way with a courtesy call –
We’re tired of your hare-lip and catcalls and taunting
We’re going to give you much more than you’re wanting:
The bigger the wombat the harder he falls
You hairy –nosed wombat who wanted it all.”

They searched out and found him to harry and hound him
And slowly the murderous circle closed round him
Of unspeakable shirts and untuned ukuleles
While he pleaded and threatened
And thrashed in the melee.
He whined and he wheedled, cajoled and he blandished
And brandished his claws and slashed with his teeth
But for each bloodied battler that cut and retreated
A half-dozen more would slink in off the street.
How he laid about bravely, his blows thudding down
The shrieks of the wounded upsetting the town
But on pressed the Hawaiians, like the Bloods AND the Cripps
The names of their black pagan gods on their lips.
He slipped and their chief murmured ‘Aloha Harry ‘
And “Kamehameha, lest we forget thee!”
As he braced for the kill.  But Harry arose and again laid about
With claws and with cudgel knocked more of them out.
Again he went down and …..  all earthly travails
Must end for the worst and the bravest heart fails…
He came up for the third time and with one final wail
Went down in the forest of bottle-brush tails.

Some morsels of Harry were all that were found
That half-filled a matchbox
Collected by keeshonds that scoured the ground
Where the battle was fiercest.

The coroner queried the size of the sample
Sadly shaking his head
“Not enough for a knackwurst.   I cannot conclude
Or imply that poor Harry is dead.
Perhaps he has bunked to more hospitable climes
Where mongeese and wombats partner in crime
And plumbing runs champagne......
And the sun always shines……”