I’ve seen Rob’s poems in many places in recent years, wondering if he was the Rob Walker I’d once taught with in South Gippsland. He doesn’t appear to be, his hair’s not long, black and curly (or not anymore). I made contact with Rob when I read his terrific poem ‘termites’ which you can read here. I’d written a poem with the same title, not unusual, but our language and observations are uncannily close and his is the better poem. Rob has just enjoyed the successful launch of his new book ‘tropeland’ published by the prestigious Five Islands Press. I find Rob’s poetry full of energy, it’s often funny, oozing with his love of language and general pissed-offness with the current government and injustice in general. He doesn’t hold back. I bring you Rob Walker…
Photo by Martin Christmas
In the Land of Trope
boxes of matches spontane combustiously,
self-ignite like passion.
Vampire bats appear as garbags snagged on barbed-wire fences
Butterflies float skyward like liberation
In the Land of Trope street lights go through the phases of the moon
while the real moon waits for the traffic lights to change.
Deep serene ponds resemble your eyes and babies’ cheeks are gardenias
In the Land of Trope ears roar like the ocean
when you hold them up to your shell
cellos are the waists and childbearing hips of country girls
In the Land of Trope cotton wool confined
to bathroom cabinets thinks it’s a cloud
forming over the ranges
the day sky tries to be as blue as the child’s pencil
while the night leaves itself deliberately empty
for the distant sound of a lone dog
In the Land of Trope sweat from armpits impersonates
cinnamon bark and vanilla pods
Similes assimilate later as comparative as a comparison
In the Land of Trope dark sky splits white lightning apart
and all poetry is black except for the pink bits
In the Land of Trope nothing is like anything else
It’s as fat as a fat thing or as like as an as.
It’s as different as everything and like nothing else.
In the Land of Trope pine forests are as fresh as toilet disinfectant,
lemons smell as clean as dishwashing detergent.
Silver coins look like rain-filled sheep hoofprints
In the Land of Trope 2 a.m. clocks tut-tut that you’re not asleep.
Mountain scenes are almost as realistic as paintings.
leaves fall in love every autumn and
drums beat like a
In the Land of Trope dogs feel as sick as a man
wheels are as silly as eccentric children
and tacks never feel flat.
In the Land of Trope rainbows come blank
so you can colour them in yourself
from ultra-yellow to infra-green
In the Land of Trope pins are as neat as houses,
rabbits breed like the poor. A whip
is as smart as a sadomasochist
In the Land of Trope
money is mute and
it’s better for you
and metaphor me
we are the tectonic organic architects.
fixed action patterns, no masterplan
we are the wrecking ball
and the engineers.
bees are greek geometers,
bodies as rulers, hexagons in their heads.
we the pallid homewreckers
with magnets instead. north of capricorn
use our clay skyscrapers
but we will destroy your home
to build our own.
we are Vishnu and Shiva,
no arms, six legs.
we’ve thrown away the plans.
each buttressed edifice with aircon, heating,
form is function,
function, form. hyperbolic paraboloid,
straight lines are anathema
the shortest span between two points is
follow the guy ahead.
we know no Pythagoras nor Euclid,
give a passing nod to the Bauhaus
and gaudy Gaudi who plagiarized
An accident waiting to happen
purposeless and alienated, a coexisting anomie and ennui
a concatenation of the unrelated i lurk on street corners
planning the intersection of vehicles.
delayed by traffic light whim or
leaving home moments earlier you leave yourself
vulnerable to my coordinate points.
I am the haybale awaiting synchronicity
of temperature and humidity
to interrupt a firefighter’s dinner.
I am the thrown match which may peter out
or destroy the entire national park,
the oily rag in the shed.
I am the outdated nuclear reactor
behind the low seawall
waiting for the plates to move.
I am the occasional freight train,
the unsignalled crossing,
the sleepy motorist.
I am the barely submerged snag in the murky river
the sharemarket software trigger
programmed to sell sell sell.
I am the one flake of snow
that begins the avalanche.
I am unstring theory.
I am tired of waiting. So tired…
(all poems from tropeland)
Rob walker has always been fascinated by language and its multiplicity of forms. In between his time as an educator in Performing Arts around Adelaide and teaching English to Junior and Senior High students and adults in Japan, he has also found time to write a children’s musical, essays, short stories, poetry reviews, co-edit a poetry anthology and produce three poetry books. With hundreds of poems being published online and in journals and anthologies in the UK, US and Australia, Rob also enjoys collaborating with other artists. He currently divides his time between grandchildren, a small farm in the Adelaide Hills, travelling and writing.
Rob blogs here: http://www.robwalkerpoet.com/
Five Islands Press, June 2015
PO Box 4429 University of Melbourne