Tom’s new spectacles

November 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Posted in australian poetry, contemporary poetry, poetry, writing | 15 Comments
Tags: , ,

Right, like you are looking him
straight, in the eye of the
obvious, hustling pool in
the Pineapple Hotel

pools of strange languid creatures
for whom the function of colour is
not abstraction but attraction

nines’in the corner pocket declared
thus tacitly doubling the risk

crossing the bar
always a complex
exercise in skiff
w/- crosswind
the barrister lying
in with his new tax free
dime a half hour reward which
licked its tongue
into the corners of the evening,


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  1. “licked its tongue into the corners of the evening” is a quote from Thomas S Eliot’s “Lovesong Of J Alfred Prufrock” which you can hear him read here on youtube.

  2. even stranger creatures for whom the function of color is rainbows
    both abstraction and attraction and with alfred, lord tennyson
    ‘i hope to see my pilot face to face when i have crost the bar’
    Ha! Brilliant, Tipota. A wide sea we sail. Did you see all the ‘c’s in this one. I might tag it C. And I like the way ‘hustling’ in ‘hustling pool’ can be either a verb or an adjective.

  3. This is too cool. I feel like I’m back in a smoky pool hall in Brisbane. You know they used to call me the shark. The Pineapple – it’s been a while. Absolutely love this bit:

    crossing the bar
    always a complex
    exercise in skiff
    w/- crosswind
    trademark experiment with the visual, Gabrielle. tinily, w/- the w is like the path of a boat tacking into the wind. / is the bar and – the path after the bar, so it is both a contraction of ‘with’ and a little map, cool and it holds up the rhythm of the reading, makes the mind skip a little which is that moment, arched still silent at the peak of the ascent before the descent. The best time to cross a bar is on the peak of a wave, you see. bar – barrister, bar-public bar, bar in music notation, bar-lots of other things. Write like you are looking him (TS Eliot) straight in the eye. Right, like you are looking straight into the eye of the hurricane (see later sailing references.) First word on the left hand side of the first stanza – right, straight, obvious. Last three words on the right of the second stanza, creatures, colours, attraction. Which one of these is the illusion, the ‘straight’ barrister for whom colour is an attraction? Who is hustling who? Double the ball off the cushion into the pocket, win the doubled bet. Prize – a tax free dime for a half hour reward ‘crossing the bar’. Not to be too obvious about it (one American movie type explication.) A straight-acting lawyer sneaks down to the local bar and picks up something colourful. But the devices used do more than prettify the story, they allow the story to exist in a wider context, they connect the bare bones of the facts to all the ideas surrounding those facts. They examine the nature of language, it’s visual side and acoustic side and uses homonyms to release words from their one-thing-ness. And most importantly they release language from its pedantic linearity. There is a lot more going on in there than that, many other ways in which the poem is not linear. The two ‘x’s like kisses, the deliberate linebreak, “the barrister lying” to relate back to his apparent straightness. “nines’in” to make the sound of ‘sin’ more obvious than it would be without that little trick.

  4. Hi Paul – the ‘hustling pool’ is great and ‘new tax free dime’ and colour as attraction is an outstanding description – ah, so the pineapple hotel is real – just saw those great arches inside the dinning area I assume
    Hi Ashley. I haven’t been in the Pineapple for twenty years or so, I imagine it’s very different. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Oooh, the atmosphere of this one — incredible. And you continue to amaze me with the delightful, picturesque poetical phrases you coin. 🙂
    Cool, thankyou, Thomma Lyn. I must find a way to turn this coining into coin.

  6. “pools of strange languid creatures
    for whom the function of colour is
    not abstraction but attraction”

    I read this so many times, in so many ways and it was beautiful in a different way each time. So many images popped into my mind, all vastly unique. I think my favorite was the brief glimpse of the otherworld that lingers in my sight when I read this as one continuous phrase. I love it!
    Fantastic! Thanks, Psychobillygirl.

  7. I love the watery play of pool of strange languid creatures doubling the imagery.
    Double trouble, Ms Squirrel.

  8. “for whom the function of colour is
    not abstraction but attraction”

    as in g-rainbow, or gravity rainbow. And gambling, hmmm… It might go further than ….or I still fumble in the smoke of my own interpretations…
    Gravity rainbow? I’ve never heard of that one, Ana. I’ll have to look it up.

  9. Oh sinister and threatening… love it! (though I’ve never been to the Pineapple Hotel myself).
    Hmm sinister is a great word, with a fascinating etymology about ‘left’. Glad you enjoyed it Tracey.

  10. hmmm, and the guy’s first name is also Thomas (Tom, T.)

    But than there are lots and lots of Toms out there, and I was only told ones that the subjects one can write about are few -for after all the truth is simple. It is just that each new interpretation is unique (and yours also beautiful) – for it is the world that is complex.
    If the truth is simple but the world is complex…hmm that is a bit of a mind bogglement, Ana. As is the fact that a spectacle is something you look at but spectacles are something you look through.

  11. Loving it. Reminds me so much of Johnny Green Room, Carlton, early 70’s. So alive Paul. So alive. xJen
    Thanks, Jen. I bet that was a fantastic room, Carlton, early 70’s. And we are both still so alive! Amazing.

  12. Ah, Eliot. 🙂
    I had the theme from Love Story playing in the background as I read this, and the combination was almost surreal!
    That would indeed be surreal, my friend, sorry. The garden is looking absolutely gorgeous.

  13. Very cool. ‘licked its tongue
    into the corners of the evening’ is awesome.
    Awesome, full of awe? Only if handsome is full of hand.

  14. Were you crossing the bar where the drinks are served, or the bar where poetic lines diverge, or the bar of the music that separates jazz from the rest. It don’t mean a thing, you know, without it.

    Wonderfully light tempo, am humming the tune now.

  15. Well you really are a magician! It’s great to get some further details about the poem from the author. This is the type of stuff that students will be discussing when your poetry is on the national curriculum for schools and universities. That w/- is pure genius. When I looked at it I saw a sail in the wind, which created a natural pause in the text – but your little map just adds a whole new dimension to it. The sail was like a drunk person trying to get to the bar but leaning (in to the wind, so to speak). Just another thing – I think all poetry is essentially non-linear if it contains metaphor, simile, allusion, symbols and imagery.

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