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Sport 32: Summer 2004

Brian Turner — Chances of Revelation (at Big Bay, August 2001)

page 77

Brian Turner

Chances of Revelation (at Big Bay, August 2001)

What lies in front of us
that isn't a lie? What spreads above
that isn't empty of all
but our illusions?

Why shouldn't the sight
of familiar places
fill us with joy
and, sometimes, invoke

melancholy and nostalgia
as well as glad memories?
Why is sadness
the flip side of happiness,

and could we live
with one only? Isn't
there more than either/or,
more than winners

or losers? Don't insist
that choice is a right
or a given: we're not
required to be saintly,

just appreciative,
and to look for the art in,
or of… or else forego life's
chances of revelation.

page 78

You may be a liar
at times, in some ways
but you're not deluded
to the point where
you'd claim your life
was in order
like a few of your friends
were tempted to,

implying you ought
to note they hadn't
made as many stuff-ups
as you. Hardly
illuminating though true,
so how is it
you can't accept
they're really worthier than you?

It's nice to be musical,
good too. To make,
one hopes, pleasing
sounds, rather than

discordant noises:
the awful stuff
you'd sooner not hear.
The trouble is,

others do, their ears
different from yours.

page 79

The thing about old lovers
is you can't say
they're pretty any more.
It's a bugger.

And they can't say
you're as good-looking
either… or did they, ever?
That's a bugger, too.

Don't give me only anything.
Some of this and some
of that'll do, and I'll
come up with…

you never know what,
but it'll be
different, or so
one supposes.

Are you bent?
A bit.
Are you contrite?
Now and then.

Have you ever
been a hit?
Dunno, but you
very much doubt it.

So when you
find out what's what
you'll know…
how much?

page 80

Surely it's not a lie
to say you'd make do
with the blessed sound
of running water,

a breeze in the tall trees,
the last of the sunlight
bronze on the ruckled forest,
a patina on the slopes

of Red Mountain in the east
that's worthy of notice
in the sense
it's of no serious consequence.

It's said a poet's a poet
when scarcely himself,
though that's beyond
the himself that's the collection

of recollection that
trips him up, the things
(or thinks) he thinks
he thinks, the buzz

that stops him saying
what he was going to
because he's not sure
what good it will do.

page 81

You were advised
many times to commit,
not to half-arse it,
which is good in theory

as long as the theory's
sound, but not when
the cry Holus Bolus
turns out to be

almost an
ethical injunction.

You haven't tricked anyone,
aren't tricked out
and hot to trot. Trit-trot,
trit-trot, it makes

a non-threatening sound.
But trot-trit, ah, you hear that
once only, and never want
to hear it again.

In some ways
adding's better
than subtraction,
for you're going

to be deleted
before long…
though you could argue
pruning beats planting

page 82

when the choice
is yours. You know
what the problem is?
It's the urge

to take control,
and by refusing
to take part
you lose.

When you're outside
in the sun, seated
in an old brown armchair
in your little porch,

a deer fencepost
holding the roof up,
drinking black coffee
and eating the chocolate

biscuits that are bad
for you, music's playing
all over the place—
magpies, merinos, huntaways,

and a miscellaneous
collection of small
avians whose noise
is disproportionate

to their size. It's enough
to say Hi to happiness,
to vow to try to persist
in staying alive.

page 83

Little but questions, questions, questions.
For instance, why so many conventions?
Why acts requiring apologies?
Why maladies instead of melodies?
Why the weak battered by the strong?
Why do we keep getting it wrong?

Don't even think about trying
to define identity as such—
say you've enough trouble
with your own. Say there's
difference and there's similarity
and not much in between. No.

You swing, turn like a weather vane,
and every time someone says
aim for consistency, you shrink
from view. You know the ideal—
supposing that were it—is
not possible for you, not because

you're a loser, always, but because
faith's an hourglass
and complexity rules. So pray
that others might respect you
for the right reasons, for yourself,
perhaps, when you find it.

Horace Walpole was said to have been
a genius for gossip, to have had
‘an outsider's soul with an insider's access’.

page 84

Great. Gossip's everywhere ubiquitous
but the problem is
the purpose to which it's put.

You write, in part,
and mindful always
that all is qualification

until The End, to explain
yourself to yourself
and give others their due.

You take it there'll be
something to see tomorrow
that you haven't seen before.

Your neighbour's bare arse
at the window? Nah, not.
Sheep that talk sense,

or a strange bird
in the lilac ‘bent by’
flight ‘coincident’

singing outside your window;
a young man
with straw in his hair

and a belief in beauty
pursued by a woman
who doesn't think

the problems of the world
are caused by males;
and a morning like?

page 85

Like no other when
nothing further's required
to be taken further.

The private man
is often oddly different
from the public man
says Chesterton
making it hard
to disagree.

You think it's not
what you say about
yourself that lasts
longest, but what
others say that strikes
others as memorable

be it true or false.
Like when Chesterton
said of Alice Meynell
that she was not ‘shadowy’
or ‘fugitive’, ‘She was
a message from the sun’.

Both the worst
and the best thing
about being a poet
is, as Jung said,

his ‘work means more
to him than his fate’.

page 86

Distance is distance,
it neither sees nor hears
nor looks any way.

It speaks, though, and haunts
like the welling in Borodin's
Steppes of Central Asia

where distance becomes
the space between
a dog chasing a rabbit

and the nearest burrow,
between a falcon diving
and the finch's darting eye.

You live in a valley that doesn't seem
much like a valley to those
who don't live here, because
the hills on either side
don't look high or steep,
and they're not, until
you're on them and the effort
needed to climb them hits you
as the views do, far and wide:
and because the valley too
is pretty flat except for the few
unimposing old river terraces
easily overlooked as you fly by.

But that's the Ida, you say,
and you like it because
of what doesn't catch the eye
when you drive through quickly:

page 87

pieces of sky captured in ponds,
mailboxes to farms you'll not notice,
everywhere the innocuous
assuming more significance.

‘We are ourselves
pools in a long brook’,
says Ammons, who is, presumably,
more honest with us,
and himself, on paper
than in person.
He's not alone there.
I fear I may be a bit the same,
and it makes me feel
part of a team
whose members are told about it
by self-appointed selectors.
Like rivers at noon in high summer
we glisten, we mumble, mutter.
And when we take
a shine to the world
it takes a shine to us.

Spring Nor'wester

When the nor'wester blows in the night
you lie in bed and say it's
the whole world's bullies and blusterers
hard at it under cover of darkness,
the time of cowards. And when it stops
and you go outside to see
what's caught on fences and snagged
on bushes, what's lying around
on paths and roads, you're at a loss to explain

page 88

why your one wish is to meditate
rather than mediate, as time does
as earth complies. Accept that melancholy's
only one part of your life
and happiness the other.


Don't expect whatever's or whoever's
up there has a sense of obligation
to any of us. After all, who's heard back?

How much room is there? And who
gets priority? Let's just say
today would be a pretty good day

to make for the Pearly Gates, and,
would that, when the time comes,
you've a choice of hour, a choice

of weather, a choice of light,
and your heart's less heavy,
and your eyes are bright

with the fanfare of a full life.

Chicken or the Egg

It was his fault,
he changed.
It was her fault,
she changed.
Both have truth
on their side.

page 89

It's a win-win
that no one wins.

One trudges on. Stops here
and there. Scratches
and scuffs, signs of wear
and tear. One unlatches
gates and crosses fields,
then pauses, till time yields.