the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century



This written for the future,
something to look back on, to see
what my thoughts were at the
time. A commentary on what
is now before me, how we feast
on the dead, play replay after replay,
from different angles, rewritten
as choreography, a Hollywood blockbuster
with the producers wanting to make sure
the audience gets its money's worth. It is
what we've come to expect; but most
movies are cleaner, have stars that are
paid more for their one performance
than this whole episode would have cost
to carry out. Think on it. Brood on the
implications of what we've learnt
in the two days since. The stand-in pilots
had work visas, lived next door,
supported themselves & contributed to
the economy of the country they had
come to put on notice. The airlines
paid for & provided the bombs.
The extras paid for their own parts.
There was no need for rehearsal.



Sorry I missed you, but I was out
hunting for words. It seemed
the right sort of weather for it -
a slow sunset intensified by the threat
of a storm that gave clarity to the
evening, a crispness, that quality of light
so dear to antipodean painters. & underlying
everything a tension, a certain electricity,
the taste of ozone. Others had the same
idea . The streets were so full of hunters
when I finally ventured out that there were
barely enough words left to go around. Many
of the best ones had been trampled underfoot
because they weren't recognised for what
they were, though I managed to gather up a couple
after a deal of searching - NEMESIS seemed
almost to be waiting for me at the end
of the cycle path but RETICENCE had to be
coaxed from the front garden of a house
several streets away. I brought them home,
not really knowing what to do with them.
Eventually I had nemesis on rye bread
with Emmental & some seeded mustard
but reticence is still around, has taken up
residence. She is gradually coming out
of her shell. I am finding it increasingly
difficult to commit to a plan of action for her.



This is the nightdress I wore
on my wedding night.
It is still stained with blood.

You are only the second man
I have been with.

I wish you had been the first.



Isn't an
impressionist painting
nothing more than a
list of objects

by being enclosed
in a finite space

            & form
by their being placed
in a particular manner?

& isn't it a work
of fiction by virtue
of the artificial positioning
of the objects?

Is a found object
a work of fiction
or fact?

Is a still life still life? Or is
une nature morte

much more appropriate?



The word / for the day
seems to be dodecahedron. Haven't
seen or heard it for years, & then
three times in twelve hours. True
two of those were the same story,
once in the morning paper & again on
the 7 p.m. news; but even twice is
overload. Usually it's passed over
in favour of pentagon or octagon
or the old-fashioned square
even though it has more sides to it
than any of the others have to offer.
It is an evocative word, recalling
the age of the dinosaurs even though
it didn't get a call-up for Jurassic Park. A
word that sounds good in the mouth
especially if the mouth is that of
David Attenborough, all breathless
BBC & instantly recognisable as he
raises his arm towards the top
of a pile of petrified poo that is
twelve metres high & whispers: "The
dodecahedron was twelve times
the size of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Hence
its name. Might have been known
as D.Rex had it not preferred the politics
of the backroom, to be the power behind
the throne, unseen but influential. There
are rumours it is still around, that
it managed to miss the meteor impact
hidden away as it was, as it still
may be." & still reasonably influential
given our predeliction for creating
such metrics as inches in a foot, hours
in a day, months in a year, the odd
dirty dozen, the twelvefold path, the disciples
& all the other things that seem
to flow from a duodecimal base.



Intermission is over, & you're the headline act,
starting the walk through the backstage corridors
as the last syllables of the introduction
fade away on the in-house p.a. Then
the crisp sound of your backup singers
entering so sweetly but with that underside of toughness
tells you that the first spot has come on, focused
on where they stand, on the left hand side
of the stage. Count the seconds to the second spot,
that points towards the right, towards the
horn section as it punctuates the words, nothing accidental
about the religious overtones of the call & response
format. You pick up the rhythm of the piece
in your walking, pick up your pace to keep time
with it; & as the accompaniment stops, you know
the third spot has come on & now the whole band
is illuminated, clapping their hands, the gospel
associations reinforced as both the backup singers
& musicians have launched into that
universally recognised hook, & the audience is shouting
back, at just the right interval above the band, & you know
it's going to be a good night. & as the announcer
enunciates your name above the noise the other
spotlights fade. A single one follows you as you strut
onto the stage with a set of steps you've ripped off
James Brown, & with phrasing that you've borrowed
from Wilson Pickett take up the second verse of
Land of a thousand dances, an overdone anthem, but one
that gets the audience up & moving with you. & you are
pumped with all the adulation. & lifted by it. & respond.
it doesn't happen like that any more, does it now?