The only attack is on your sanity

Muslims aren’t banning red tulips
Atheists aren’t banning Christmas
Feminists aren’t waging war on men
Jacinda Ardern didn’t abuse Australia
Jews aren’t forming a Blarite conspiracy
Charlie Hebdo didn’t attack immigrants
Monsanto didn’t release a “terminator gene”
Anti-harassment isn’t anti-Humanism
Metal music isn’t harming your children
The UN isn’t a Satanic conspiracy
Pizzagate was never real
Wind farms aren’t a health hazard
Jordan Peterson isn’t a Nazi
Anti-retrovirals aren’t a eugenic plot
Vaccines don’t cause autism
Encryption advocates aren’t terrorists
Internet filter opponents aren’t child molesters
Criticism of Hillsong isn’t bigotry
Trump’s impeachment inquiry isn’t a coup
Veganism isn’t an anti-masturbation plot
Opposing “sex-work” doesn’t “demonize sex workers”
Loathing Pell isn’t anti-Catholic
”GLB” doesn’t magically make someone anti-“T”
Considering elders isn’t anti-millennial.

The attack is on your brain
Get your adrenalin firing, use you as a tool
wind you up, watch you go, do what they want.

Maybe they need a bulwark in the comments
Maybe they need a useful fool
Black and white thinking helps you oblige, makes you feel good.

The slightest suggestion of truth and you let the dopamine surge,
in withdrawal, after the let down, you’ll deny your own rage.

The cycle repeats. The army of binary thinking flesh-bots has another new recruit.
Demagogues of all stripes ratchet things up another notch.

~ Bruce

The Crepuscular Mr Snow

You’ll not likely see him, but he’s there,
out the corner of eye during dawn and dusk.
He dodges nine-to-five commuters,
keeping to gutters and shadow.

You rarely catch Snow in Australia,
though he’s present all year ‘round.
He gusts through alleyways where litter abounds,
He lives under tiles and in cracks in the pavement.

Outside the lamplight at twilight, he watches you,
wondering about friends, daylight, and things you take for granted.
Mr Snow is hungry for company, for food, for life.
Most of all, he just wants what you already have.

Nobody knows how Snow got lost in the grey.
So few could, because so few care to think.
The prospect is horrible; nobody knows who’s next.
Except Mr Snow. He’s seen it before and he sees through you.

Beware shadow-hands reaching from back-alleys.
Beware the tendrils of black teasing your brow.
Keep an eye on the cracks in the pavement,
and don’t write off what Mr Snow can not.

You too could turn grey, white and numb.
You too could eat from a bin.
The winds that harrow Mr Snow can blow through you,
leaving only twilight, garbage and dust.

~ Bruce

Redneck Charlie

Charlie: rusted out, four-wheel-drive, shit-bucket. Conveyor of cray pots.

I remember the late nights on Flinders highway driving home, air from the engine warming bare feet through a rusted cabin. Sand and shell grit falling away from toes and hems as they dried out.

Charlie was my first drive. Off-road. It helped that I didn’t have a road to keep on, nor that I had to dodge any trees. Charlie made short work of whatever got in the way as long as I kept him in first gear.

Mind you, the prickle bush could swipe back, so it paid to keep the windows shut –  an advantage not afforded by the tractor I once got up on two wheels.

I never knew where Charlie went. One day he was there, and the next, Dad brought home a white Ford ute, V8, cassette stereo, broken antenna and all.

Charlie probably deserved to go out with a bang, and Dad was fond of blowing things up at the time.

~ Bruce

RadiCool Melbourne #008 (Serious Edition): The Noise Bar

For readers who couldn’t already tell, I have a confession; I don’t have a hate-hate (or even love-hate) relationship with Melbourne. I do rather love it, in a way – the way you continue loving your dog, even if it drinks from the toilet bowl.

So with confessed affection in mind, breaking with the mood of the previous ‘RadiCool Melbourne’ posts, I just can’t bring myself to be even mildly sarcastic this time around… Such is the subject of this entry.


The Noise Bar

Okay, a totally unsolicited plug;  I’ve developed a severe crush on this pub.

From memory, at the time of writing, on Wednesday nights there are $8 jugs of beer. In good company, several of these were downed the other week.

And I can still see the back of my hand, which is always welcome news.

But it’s when you try the food after the kitchen opens in the evening – it’s then you’re in for something cooked up with a little extra joie de vivre (wanker speak for ‘oomph’).

The menu isn’t too pretentious – it looks a little swanky-minimalist on paper, and the items have fancy Proper Names… but by fuck (which is quasi-sacred in my lexicon), the food is so incredibly good that the right to any mild vestige of trendiness is more than paid for.

I’m still trying to work out just how exactly, the bun on my burger was prepared. The very edges of the bread, almost caramelised, and how they interplayed with the sauce and the juices, mystified me (and as you can see, prompted a certain level of obsession). Although I suspect effect was probably an uncalculated idiosyncrasy of the chef’s (bless ‘im) handiwork, rather than a deliberate ploy.

(No, I didn’t have the munchies at the time, nor did I pop any psychedelics).

Obviously it wasn’t all bun-edges, my meal, but often it’s these little details that let on that your food has been prepared by a chef who loves what they do.

Naturally, there were several selections on the menu my picky vegetarian self was able to chose from.


Gig posters plastered the passageways, and the walls of the men’s loo (I can’t comment on the other half’s decor, having stayed where I belonged), and I’m told there’s a regular gathering of left-wing, Melburnian poets. I’m wondering how the locals would handle a Paroxysm Press Spoke n Slurred, or BorderCross SLAM*.

Whenever I hear of poets or literati from Melbourne, some small part of me always interprets the news like it’s fightin’ words… sporting like, etc..

The surrounding locale’s pretty interesting as well. There’s some nice old industrial red-brick buildings out back, with a bloody great old red brick chimney in the middle (I suspect, disused). The graffiti in the previous instalments of ‘RadiCool Melbourne’, for as long as they’re there, can be found along the Upfield line, north of The Noise Bar, which rests right next to the Brunswick station on Albert St.

With the daylight hours being what they are this time of year, on a not-too-hot day, you could take in a little graffiti on a walk, pop in for a beer, and try out the menu. You may even run into a performer or two if you time it right**.

Sobering back up, I can see my infatuation is leading to one of those long-distance type of affairs where I’m not going to get much face time. Almost regrettably, I’ll be seeing other pubs while I’m back here in Adelaide, but when in Melbourne, I’ll make it a priority to pop in to The Noise Bar for a drink, burger and chips.

Those lucky enough to be in closer proximity would do well to take advantage more regularly. Spoiled, Melburnians, you lot are.

~ Bruce

Update: There was some very sad news delivered to me, just a few days after I wrote this post. My compliments to the chef

* The first of which is on the 9th of February, 2013, in Melbourne. More details will follow as they are announced by the venue.
** Checking out events on The Noise Bar Facebook page would possibly help.

Digression via vertiginy


This little piece is in a sense, a spiritual (I hate that word – note: replace) successor to The Loser, which I wrote back in early 2011 and published this year. A unifying principle between this and more recent thoughts, is one I expressed in September

I hope to unsettle, to induce doubt in misogynists (and racists, and ablists, and racists, and homophobes, and so on), through short fiction, poetry and satire, directed at the commonplace. I want to implicitly suggest uncomfortable questions, and yes, I will enjoy watching certain types of people squirm as they doubt themselves.

This can be generalised, of course, to include people who aren’t misogynists, or racists, or homophobes, or so on. If I can induce a little discomfort more generally where people are a little too comfortable (the wealthy?), so as to induce a little reflection, then that’s useful as well.

The following piece is intended to challenge genuine misogynists, through to those who may be a little too casual with their use of a certain reference to female genitalia. I can’t help but think that using sexual references in the negative, is a little too puritan as well – sex is awesome.

I hope to polish things a little in future, in preparation for ambushing an open-mic, or a poetry reading session or two. It’s possibly too long for a slam, although I haven’t rehearsed it yet.

[Note: References to genitalia over the fold, to keep the censors happy. Paraphrases an actual conversation that may trigger some people, so there’s that as well.]

Continue reading “Digression via vertiginy”

Poetry Slam #002

… Don’t go looking for ‘#001’; I don’t believe I’ve published anything on the first one I rocked up to.

A couple of weeks have passed since the last poetry slam (my second) I rocked up to. Outdoors this one was, no less, yet the rain managed to miss us.

The occasion and venue: Wednesday the 21st, World Poetry Day, out front of the Adelaide City Library, as an almost-kinda Adelaide Fringe after-party. (At least the MC, Daniel, looked a little like he was hung-over).

This time around (not that the first was anything to be sniffed at), I surrendered to judging responsibilities, and lucky, lucky me, it was an exceptional showing.

I know that the judges in these things aren’t expected to justify their rulings, and poets can be precious, and all that, but I’m going to expound a little. I hope I’m not breaking any rules.

Maybe this’ll exclude me from judging again. Maybe I’ll be glassed. Who knows?


Something that’s been niggling my dendrites, in anticipation of having to judge a slam, is the use of words like ‘slut’, ‘cunt’, ‘twat’ etc. – i.e. how misogyny is being treated. (The same being true of racist and homophobic epithets).

While I do have issues with these words being used as expressions of abuse, I don’t see the role of a poetry judge as being some kind of moral censor. However, there is still, by extension, a matter of aesthetics that I don’t think can be disentangled from my ‘political correctness’.

Consider the difference between, say…

‘Was sick of being your “slut”, so I packed my bags and left’


‘Sluts won’t sleep with me, even when they dress for attention, boo-hoo-hoo-hoo… It’s so hard being a man these days!’

The first is about misogyny, while the second is misogyny. Further, the second, self-pitying as it is, is insincere, and I’m not fond of insincerity in any art form. So I don’t need to be a ‘politically correct’ censor in order to have the use of this kind of language influencing the score I give.

I want a poet to open up, not to hide behind confected delivery or fire-breaks around the ego. So if a poet wants to use these kinds of words, they’d better be brave and up-front and brutally honest about what they’re on about – at least in as far as I’m concerned.

‘Slut’, was fired off just once during the night. I’m not sure what exactly the point was – there was rhyme. It was a clever little number. Maybe I was being a little clueless, but I marked it down from an 8 to a 7.5.*

Kami delivered a sincere jeremiad about the world he’s bringing a daughter into. ‘Slut shaming’, and the treatment of women in general wouldn’t have seemed out of place. Of course, it’s his poem.

I can envisage Kami handling the gender epithets with integrity and candour.

Maybe he’d want to correct me on my speculation. I can be a presumptuous shit, sometimes. I’m sure that’s not against the rules, though.

At any rate, I gave Kami a ‘9’. While I’m generally not fond of jeremiads, and I’d probably argue with a few things he said, given the chance, Kami, anxious as the sincere father, earned every single point.

The night however, was dominated by Red Uncensored (Jenny), and in a way that left scoring artefacts from things like performance order**, out of the question. It was wonderful, blind luck for all those who didn’t have to follow.

Literature, having been populated so much by the works of Cartesian dualists for so long, has probably robbed the language of the ability to adequately describe just what was so excellent about Jenny’s performance. It was a perfect synthesis of high-precision mechanics and expression; no ghost-in-the-machine, Jenny was just a perfect-delivery poetry machine with whatever it is a monist could call ‘soul’. Spunk? Pluck?

The timing… what timing! There were pauses and breaks, and changes of tempo, yet when it was over it felt like you’d just been rolled in the blink of an eye. What The Fuck Just Happened?

To accompany the high-definition, digital-fidelity, razor-sharp carving up of the allotted time, there was light and shade, and analogue, tonal variations across all points in between. If that wasn’t enough, the poem capped off making fun of impotence, which always gets bonus points from me.

Thankfully, not being called upon to explain my judgement, I just gave Jenny a ‘10’.

Really, I’m grateful to all-and-sundry who made the experience possible; library staff, Daniel, the other judges, the crowd, and of course, the poets – all giving good performances.

There was an air of excitement about the potential for these slams in South Australia, and all quite justified (IMHO).

Now, on the topic of words not being adequate, my own in representing these wonderful wordsmiths, and in general, I’ll leave you to enjoy some footage of Kami doing his own thing for South Australia in last year’s national poetry slam finals.

Kami at the 2011 finals – (2:27)

~ Bruce

* Update/Errata: As noted by Dunja in the comments, I’ve neglected to mention that the poet in question using the epithet was a woman – an important contextual detail. In an earlier stage of drafting this post, this was mentioned, however in the editing process, particularly the trimming of a number of paragraphs, the detail was lost. It is something I should have picked up on before hitting ‘publish’, but alas not… My apologies.

** On reflection, although it wouldn’t have changed the final results, I’ve decided to myself that I would have liked to have given Nigel, who went first, a higher score.

A stage in the continued emergence of literary sensibilities…

It’s been a colourful few weeks since the quiet start of Rousing Departures. I’m still graduating back into the swing of things, mind you; getting a feel for all the buttons and switches, all while exploring a few new avenues of literary experience.

A good part of the fun has been Embiggen Books’ recent #bookshopsaredead event on Twitter. Essentially a light literary exercise, the gist is to come up with variations on book titles that reflect the changing state of the industry – what with the electronic book taking sales away from flesh, blood and paper booksellers.

‘Schrödinger’s Bookshop by John Gribbin #bookshopsaredead #bookshopsarealive’ was a pet favourite from my own attempts, and Warren’s ‘Do Booksellers Dream of Electric Books by Philip K. Dick’ was particularly apt. Also existentially angst-inducing was Russell Blackford’s apocalyptic ‘The Bookshop At The End of The Universe by Douglas Adams’.

There were of course, a number of other wonderful contributions, no less enjoyable, only I don’t want to repeat myself and I’m running out of the effulgent language I’d need to describe them all. Call me overly sentimental, but I feel from my end as if the experience has been comparable at least to some of what the ‘pussy is bullshit’ episode from Hitch-22 (the one that had Salman Rushdie producing ‘Octobullshit’) had to offer its participants.

Unfortunately for Embiggen, prior, and giving context to this fun, a sewer pipe burst at their new Melbourne location only a few weeks after opening. With a forced temporary closure, the chosen theme is deeply ironic. I hope the black humor has at least been as good for them as it has for the rest of us!

Embiggen Books, demonstrating considerable morale, have taken the product of this spree of words to artfully produce a number of beautiful posters, displaying them across their storefront during the closure. Producing something looking a little like this… (I’m flattered). Continue reading “A stage in the continued emergence of literary sensibilities…”