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Eugen Bacon – Frame of Reference

Profile Bacon LEP&W ANZ May 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2021
Special edition featuring poets from Australia & New Zealand.

Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She’s the author of Claiming T-Mo and Road to Woop Woop (Meerkat Press), Ivory’s Story (NewCon Press) and Writing Speculative Fiction (Macmillan). Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the BSFA Awards, Foreword Book of the Year Awards, Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Eugen is a recipient of the Katharine Susannah Prichard (KSP) Emerging Writer-in-Residence 2021. Her creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, including Award Winning Australian Writing, Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry, Aurealis, Bards and Sages, Meniscus, TEXT Journal, Unsung Stories, British Science Fiction Association’s Vector Magazine and through Routledge in New Writing. Her collection Danged Black Thing is out with Transit Lounge Publishing in 2021. Website: eugenbacon.com/ Twitter:@EugenBacon


Frame of Reference

Love is…
an apartment   lit with hand-painted watercolours  vases and photographs
memories in a frame   a big screen right there   65-inch high definition
you make a cuppa   vanilla chai   one minute in the microwave
milk’s just right   now look at the bills

Love is…
a toilet seat   practical   engineered for a purpose  works because of gravity
it’s not to eat breakfast / check your emails   just a healthy disposal unit
takes what you discard   saves you from a megacolon
how long   can you go without

Love is…
a box of tissues   craving crumbs of sourdough   drools of soup
it’s not a sofa that knows skin and bums   feet and cheeks
it’s not a letter from the bank   a copy of your insurance
just a box of tissues   unremembered on a coffee table

Love is…
an uber   sometimes on time sometimes it isn’t   you don’t know what you get
but you can cancel the fare   one driver asks do you want water
takes you to a destination   rates you out of five
you rate them back   is that what you want

Love is…
an airport   hosts in immaculate caps   here’s your boarding pass
travel information   declarations   restrictions that apply
but all you think is hotspots   not the WI-FI kind
there’s not enough runway

Love is…
a swimming pool   azure water ebony lines  sunlit rays through a glassy roof
a bench you never sit on   a silent clock tick tock tick tocking as you dive
mostly you’re alone   bubbles as you breathe   shimmers on the lanes
dead lizard on the floor   water’s ruffled when you leave


The Siren Never Blows

shoulders out in a woo you’re together   and toy with the other team
your synergy dominates a perfect finish   you don’t know
where it’ll take you   but it matters you speak the same language—anti-them
the difference between a dash and an em dash is never life and death

you exchange vows   run centre-half forward-dribble and all in between
you slice your way to shots that arrow the same goal / that’s how ‘tis
you flash through traffic   circle back find space   minimal capitalisation
is just fine   you put numbers on the board   it’s a gut run

you learn at the honeymoon   your partner’s a left-footer   they point the
ball doesn’t go   you mistrust your eyes   prey on sanity   they’re stupid
shots in the throes of a quarter   you question dimensions   at this rate
full season’s on the wing   you see misplaced apostrophe’s   and explode
into a shooting star

you fight combined weight but know safe words   it’s chill that’s decent
double-time / your partner’s left-foot snapper gets you blue maybe blurred
you go out there still kick long goals dead-straight together   it’s on the
boot more than you miss / you flesh out your partner’s acronyms   square
up for a last laugh

you devise clever shots against each other   leap attack defence   extend
make or break / at the three-year mark your default position’s kick smother
strip them off the ball / you go longer / intercept for a free   your focus
expands the margin   it’s a fucking em dash   you stem the bleed

five years on you settle into each other sometimes you don’t   you swipe a
vicious forward   make critical conversions   a few disposals here there
your partner’s silence speaks volumes   in a language of babel   italicise
foreign words   someone’s playing catch up   maybe it’s you

often now you sit on the bench / walk on shadows / no chance for erring
nine years on who’ll take the mark   there are no hand-passes   no play-ons
you get away with half-hearted hit-outs   ball outside fragments of a line
you don’t care it’s a comma or a coma   damn siren never blows


She Knows

Bottom line is… frog music is ribbit grunt hoot but why through the night
from a pond or a creek in a sweet serenade that keeps her awake yet sleeps
the baby and him / she breathes in closes her nostrils pushes out through
her lips so she can ribbit grunt hoot but only whistles peeps clucks a
stone’s throw to the moss in his heart

Bottom line is… once it was easy like a boat into a jetty / holding hands
was never against the rip / now she sits alone on sand and pebbles waiting
for wash to pull her offshore / she’s on the lip of an edgy current / the
water’s lick at eight feet per second

Bottom line is… she drowns again again / her life flashes in multi choice
she (a) gulps to go back! to three yards of marriage   an epoch of waste
(b) tries not to panic (c) finds the dignity of a storm (d) survival-floats
to all of the above

Bottom line is… she moon-hauls to no webbed ecstasy just sirens wailing F#
in 8th octave then a high C / she’s on dry land legs spread wearing odd
socks   her toes hurt for a long time / doesn’t take a genius on comas /
near-death / daemons to say don’t worry love   cough yourself quiet   take
a deep breath and go just go to whatever the fuck you things do

Bottom line is… second sight picks her colours of the day / rosy skirt dusky
blouse / she knows which shoes open-toed no stockings   waits for the 3rd
lift / an itch on her palm’s money on the way / the tic on her eyelid’s bad
news setting sail / black iron enters her gut   someone she knows dies

Bottom line is… she sees the sex of an unborn child but is polite even when
a spectre is sat on your shoulder   more so when a broken ghost has lost its
address / she blinks at the mirror’s unrepentant gaze because second sight
is a bitch / she knows

Bottom line is… she   knows


© Eugen Bacon