The Mysteries of Measurement, poems by Richard James Allen
Richard James Allen is an Australian born poet whose writing has appeared widely in journals, anthologies, and online over many years. His latest volume of poetry, The short story of you and I, is forthcoming from UWA Publishing (uwap.com.au) in 2019. Previous critically acclaimed books of poetry, fiction and performance texts include Fixing the Broken Nightingale (Flying Island Books), The Kamikaze Mind (Brandl & Schlesinger) and Thursday’s Fictions (Five Islands Press), shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. Former Artistic Director of the Poets Union Inc., and director of the inaugural Australian Poetry Festival, Richard also co-edited the landmark anthology, Performing the Unnameable: An Anthology of Australian Performance Texts (Currency Press/RealTime). Richard is well known for his innovative adaptations and interactions of poetry and other media, including collaborations with artists in dance, film, theatre, music and a range of new media platforms. The recipient of numerous awards, nominations, and grants, as well as opportunities for presentations, screenings and broadcasts, in a unique international career as a critically acclaimed writer, director, choreographer and performer for stage and screen, he graduated with First Class Honours for his B.A. at Sydney University and won the Chancellor’s Award for most outstanding PhD thesis at the University of Technology, Sydney.
For further information, see the websites of The Physical TV Company http://www.physicaltv.com.au/, Australian Poetry Library http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/allen-richard-james and IMDb https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3700775/
Spending a Pound in the Metro for Joyce
blah blah blah and then
went down with the ship
to see if anything useful at all
might pop back up
like a cork from a bottle
at the bottom of the ocean
what a good year that was
such a waste of all
that drowned drink
The Mysteries of Measurement
I let you go and you drifted off.
Into night. Into nightness.
How long it seems, long in the way
that an ocean is vast and,
adequate to the mystery
of how time becomes space,
The Seven Steps in the Alchemy of Goodbye
In the beginning it was simple, as simple as the wind.
I answered your first question with my hands
and your second question with my lips.
Your third question you answered with my body.
You didn’t need to ask your fourth question.
Your fifth question had no answer, or, at least,
none that I could give. Even now, I still wonder
if there ever was a question.
To discover the thousand hidden answers
to your penultimate question,
sit down by the waters of my poetry
in the years to come,
sift through it like an old timer
panning for fairytales,
dip into its tumbling
to draw out glimmering reflections
of the murmurations of birds
creating rivers of gold
that break their banks in the sky,
until every last drop
of these coruscating tributaries,
diverted from the other side of reality,
has finally found its way back
to the ocean.
Answers to your final question
could only exist beyond this shimmering.
They could only not exist.
All I can say
is that an ocean of laments and lullabies
involutes glittering into a silence
that melts down even the concept of goodbye.
* Perspicacious and Precarious *
/precariousness is our secret middle name\
/a relic of an unmentionable branch of the family\
/though we can’t erase it from our birth certificates\
/however flourishingly we might neglect\
/to include it in our signatures\
/and of course heaven forbid\
/it ever turns up in polite conversation\
\we are experts/
\at free fall/
\while standing still/
\we pass on/
\this skill of simultaneously/
\living and dying in each moment/
\with each breath/
|we will never get good|
|that our birth certificates|
|are our death certificates|
|we always want to know|
|what happens next|
~every moment is~
~as undependable and tenacious~
~as the memory of a kiss~
~under the moon~
~from a book~
~that was never written~
~but dreamt of~
~on a cosy afternoon~
~in a faraway summer that was a winter~
~where the lingering impressions of childhood~
~were a beautiful prison~
~no one knew how to leave~
13 lines for tape-recorded voice
Somebody pressed the button
& the batteries haven’t quite run down
So you can hear my voice
– Booming, squeaky, luscious, foreign –
When I wrote this I had not yet decided.
You are listening & will know already.
Unless you have wandered off
& I am speaking to nobody.
I will never know.
Whoever started this recording has not stopped it.
Perhaps somebody has found in its disembodied voice
Some comfort & company. Perhaps nobody.
There is little else between us.
© Richard James Allen