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Monday, 30 May 2011

Ah, not to be cut off... (from Rainer Maria Rilke)

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner- what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

There are whorls here at the tips of our fingers...

Winds stick out here.  It is the same way on the toes of our feet, and Winds exist on us here where soft spots are, where there are spirals.  At the tops of our heads some children have two spirals, some have only one, you see.  I am saying that those (who have two) live by means of two Winds.  These (Winds sticking out of the) whorls at the tips of our toes hold us to the Earth.  Those at our fingertips hold us to the Sky.  Because of these, we do not fall when we move about.

Wind existed first, as a person...

Wind existed first, as a person, and when the Earth began its existence Wind took care of it.  We started existing where Darknesses, lying on one another, occured.  Here, the one that had lain on top became dawn, whitening across.  What used to be lying on one another back then, this is Wind.  It (Wind) was Darkness.  That is why when Darkness settles over you at night it breezes beautifully.  It is this, it is a person, they say.  From there when it dawns, when it dawns beautifully becoming white-streaked through the dawn, it usually breezes.  Wind exists beautifully, they say.  Back there in the underworlds, this was a person it seems.

Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle....

The Wind, in its great power, whirls.  Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.  The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle.  The moon does the same, and both are round...Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were.  The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is in everything where power moves...

I wonder if the Ground has anything to say? I wonder if the Ground is listening to what is said?

The land is always stalking people...

The land makes people live right.  The land looks after us.  The land looks after people.

All things can hear and understand our thinking, for all things are capable of speech...

In falltime you'll hear the lakes make loud, cracking noises after they freeze.  It means they're asking for snow to cover them up, to protect them from the cold...


Just as I turned to come back toward camp a small ground-sleeping tinamou sent out his sad call, close to where I was, and he was answered by another.  You know why their evening call is so sad?  They don't like to sleep alone and at sunset each one wanders around aimlessly calling and calling until an answer comes back from somewhere, and then the two move closer and closer together, guided by the calls.  And so they find a sleeping partner.Tinamou Sound

Wolf sound...

Wolf sound

Tired of all who come with words....

Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
I went to the snow-covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The unwritten pages spread themselves in all directions!
I come across the marks of roe-deer's hooves in the snow.
Language, but no words.

We know what the animals do...

We know what the animals do, what are the needs of the beaver, the bear, the salmon, and other creatures, because long ago men married them and acquired this knowledge from their animal wives...our ancestors married animals, learned all their ways, and passed on this knowledge...

Owls often make it difficult to speak Cree with them...

Owls often make it difficult to speak Cree with them.  They can cause stuttering, and when stuttering is going on they are attracted to it.  It is said that stuttering is laughable to owls.  Yet this can work to the Cree's advantage as well, for if you think an owl is causing trouble in your village, then go stutter in the woods.  There's a good chance an owl will arrive.  Then you can confront this owl, question it, argue with it, perhaps solve the problem.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Flesh of Language...

"The rain surrounded the cabin...with a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of rumor.  Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside...Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.  It will talk as long as it wants, the rain.  As long as it talks, I am going to listen."
- Thomas Merton


"Lifting a brush, a burin, a pen, or a stylus
is like releasing a bite or lifting a claw."
- Gary Snyder

Thursday, 19 May 2011


"Breeze from the Land Across"
- translated by Dr Aruna Sitesh and Dr Sitesh Alok
 (1945 – 2007) was a scholar, writer and translator. She was the Principal of Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi, (1997-2007). Her short story collection Chhalaang, received the award for The Outstanding Book of the year Award (1997-98) and the Mahadevi Verma Puraskar by the U.P. Hindi Sansthan, Lucknow, 2000. Her many awards and honors included a Senior Fulbright 1991-92, University of Chicago; Visiting Scholar, Rockefeller Foundation Study Centre, Bellagio, Italy, 1993; and an Australia-India Council Grant in Aid (2005) for interaction with Australian women writers. She was Co-editor, of Pratibha India, Quarterly of Indian Art, Culture and Literature (1981-2007).

The Late Dr Aruna Sitesh translated three of my short stories into Hindi. They have been published separately in Indian literary journals(including the Sahity Academy's "Sakshaktar"), but this month they will be launched in a book of Australian women writers' short stories.

Sitesh Aloke (b.1939) is a creative writer and translator. He has been editing PRATIBHA INDIA, a literary journal from New Delhi for several years now.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sunnybrook (from Trail of Bones and Godstones)

When we first met
a December windstorm
pelted granite across the gravel
and grazed the string from heat-stinking gums.
Mute black and white cattle sheltered
under the ribs of creaking pylons,
their tails crusted and sour,
and in Darwin there was a cyclone.

I moved into the house
in Holbeche Road
where Maltese farmers grew
pig-eyed potatoes,
and where a high tattered fence surrounded
a secret treeless place
where guard dogs were bred
to have no bark.

The paddocks were tortured with thistles,
the empty tin sheds bent under prickly pear:
the dirt poked full of dry dead things
like an insect Calvary.

The hollowed horses,
Regal and King,
collapsed in the dust, playing dead,
and exploded up to the fence
like the dark spit-flecked male things in dreams.

When the waters broke,
I was wearing rubber thongs.
It was hot, and they stuck to
the scarred soles of my feet.

I remember watching for the postman.
She stopped in a brown mini at ten,
slewing off the road up to the gate.
I would hear the crunch over the voice of Caroline Jones,
would watch through dust-sweet nylon curtains
while the baby tipped rank from my hip,
and I gagged on cold toast.

On Tuesdays,
I pummelled nappies by hand,
filling stone laundry tubs
that smelt of hot-but-winsome days and a grandmother.
Cleansed in scalding water and sunlight soap,
while the baby drowsed in the square shade of the house,
the thick cool of that concrete was the only lust left.

When she was old enough for sandals
we straggled to the letterbox
waiting at every dry pothole
while she threw in a handful
of knuckle-like pebbles,
imagining a splash.

One nostril-drying day,
we went looking for cambungi
behind the brick school at the end of the road
and I saw a man loitering in white grass.
He had salt-pan eyes
and leeched-out cheekbones,
and velvet teeth,
like the bottom of a long-drained bore.
He turned and watched me
scuff past
shoving at the old Steelcraft pram

and after that,
I was frightened:
wondering if he lived nearby-
if he would one day trick and brutalize
and leave in a dry gully
some happy child
skipping along the footpath after school,
a silver coin so moist in her hand,
on her way to that shop, lush and dark,
to buy damp yeasty bread for her mother
and maybe a yellow fizzy drink for herself
that tasted of unexpected seasons in another sweeter place.

I couldn't sleep
worrying about the ugly man
and the murdered child
until the day I realized that
the ugly man was my life,
and the child was me.

(Also published in The Nightjar)