Egyptian History

I don’t write poetry all the time. My writ­ing pro­cess goes some­thing like this: a line, a con­ver­sa­tion, a thought will inspire a string of more lines. As I drive, or while cut­ting onions, or talk­ing to some­body, or sit­ting and read­ing, I will form a com­plete poem, aloud. Then as soon as I’m at a com­puter I will write what I remem­ber down, and it never seems as good as what I said (I need to invest in a dicta­phone – to prove myself wrong, most likely). And then the poem will gather pixel­lated dust until I need some­thing to read at a slam, or I remem­ber it and want to send it to a friend, at which point I will open up the doc­u­ment and edit it (or edit it right in the email) until I’m hap­pier with it, send it away/perform it, and con­sider it complete.

It’s a truly strange pro­cess, but it works. This poem is the res­ult of one such pro­cess – it was writ­ten about a month ago, in the car, after listen­ing to a song by the The Jane Aus­ten Argu­ment called Sil­ver Suit. The Jane Aus­ten Argu­ment are a truly amaz­ing Mel­bourne band – a third cab­aret, a third heart­break, a third laughter, they hit all the notes on all my heartstrings and I love them dearly as people – lovely, kind, humble people who, I very much hope, are going to get all the recog­ni­tion they truly do deserve. Check them out and tell your friends.

This was a very long pre­amble for a pretty short amble. To the point: this is a poem about my dad, who passed away two and a half years ago, and about whom I have writ­ten many poems but am happy only with this one.

Egyp­tian History

You taught me Egyp­tian his­tory
Under the wattle in the back­yard;
Between the toma­toes tied to stakes,
Around the Hills hoist and
Here in the lawn­mower­shy grass
You built me obelisks and temples
Of sand­stone and old Nile silt,
Your soft hands helped me up pyr­am­ids
And your soft eyes were swinging lan­terns
That glimmered in steep dune tombs;

The wattle tree is gone now
And the toma­toes haven’t grown so well
Since you’ve been gone,
But there are still obelisks
Among the weeds
And tombs to dis­cover
Like secrets
Along the driveway.

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