Monday, January 31, 2011

For some reason

it's not a song that trundles forth from my morning jukebox but a poem, Ozymandias, by P. B. Shelley. ¿Qué Pasa. Perhaps it's the tectonic drift of memory, pushing aside the more recently acquired & exposing things learnt long ago. What next? The Andrews Sisters? The Mills Brothers? Patti Page singing Old Cape Cod? Fess Parker singing The Ballad of Davy Crockett? (Which just happened to be the first record I ever bought. The second was The Modern Jazz Quartet doing Django. Tectonic upheaval. Watershed moment.)
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

Saturday, January 29, 2011

the same song / in different seasons





Friday, January 28, 2011

I'd decided

not to write anything more about the floods, but I've just discovered these terrific before & during aerial photographs of Brisbane & Ipswich that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have posted to their website.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/infographics/qld-floods/beforeafter.htm

Run yr cursor over the pix to get the contrast. There are two pages.

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Thursday, January 27, 2011

De tritest thing

The facts, Ma'am. Just the facts.
I'm not a well-organized person when it comes to the residue of my writing.

I've been almost totally electronic for the last five years.

Therefore, the jumbled piles of paper & envelopes & & & that are scattered around my workroom, on top of & under & in, are probably at least five years old, with the possible exception of little hand-written notes on the back of shopping dockets & such.
I've started trying to sort everything out. (Note to Geof Huth: why is there never an archivist around when you need one?) Now I have many smaller piles of unsorted stuff all over the floor, a lot of envelopes & packing slips have gone into the recycling bin, & I've an idea of how I'm going to categorize what I've got left. When I get around to it. Which I'm going to have to do soon. I'm finding it tricky to pick my way across the room.

To amuse myself in the venture, to give myself something to look forward to, I've decided to transcribe—electronically, of course—the shopping docket scraps, & post them as Detritus Poems. Slight, light, but, hey, you never know.....

The first one's below.

Detritus Poem #1: The Elephant in the Room

Screams for some
time. Then an
elephant came
out from the room

& left the house.
Later, hammering.
A bed being re-
built, the furniture

restored. Bestiality
is not always what
it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

my annual Australia Day post

On 26 January, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip, on behalf of the Crown of Great Britain, took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and became its first Governor.

However, for Aboriginal Australians and many others, the 26th of January is not a day for celebration. To them the date signifies invasion and dispossession. As Thomas Keneally noted in his 1997 Australia Day address -
"A majority of Australians can see why today cannot be a day of rejoicing for all, and that therefore there may be grounds for ultimately finding an Australia Day, a celebration of our community, with which we can all identify."
The choice of 26 January as the day of celebration for all Australians has been queried and argued from a historical and practical viewpoint from the 1800s. That the day might symbolise invasion, dispossession and death to many Aboriginal people was a concept alien to the average Australian until even the latter half of the 20th century. The Editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald of 2 January 1995, arguing for a change of date, stated that January 26 "can never be a truly national day for it symbolises to many Aborigines the date they were conquered and their lands occupied. This divisive aspect to 26 January, the commemoration of the landing at Sydney Cove, will never be reconciled".

Involvement of the Indigenous community on Australia Day has taken many forms - forced participation in re-enactments, mourning for Invasion Day, peaceful protest through to an acknowledgment of survival and an increasing participation in community events at a local level.

By 1888, the year of the centenary celebrations, the white population had increased significantly while the Aboriginal population had declined from at least 750,000 in 1788 to a mere estimated 67,000. (Aboriginal people were not counted in the census until after 1967). The 1888 Centenary events overwhelmingly celebrated British and Australian achievement and as Nigel Parbury writes in his book Survival: ”In 1888 Aboriginals boycotted the Centenary celebrations. Nobody noticed.”

By 1938, the Aboriginal community was becoming well organised in the white ways and able to make strong demands for political rights and equality. An Australian Aborigines League (AAL) had been formed in 1932 and this was followed in 1937 by the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA), a group that began to achieve publicity in the press and addressed a variety of groups such as the NSW Labor Council.

The AAL leader William Cooper and the APA's leader William Ferguson, were instrumental in organising the Day of Mourning Committee for the 1938 Sesquicentenary celebrations. A manifesto, Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights, was published and on Australia Day a conference and protest were held in the Australian Hall, Sydney. Five days later, the APA led an Aboriginal delegation to meet with the Prime Minister and soon after Australia Day, the Committee for Aboriginal Citizen Rights was formed.

The Aboriginal community's push for recognition was highlighted by the 1938 official Australia Day celebrations. Due to a refusal to cooperate by city-based Aborigines, the government imported Aborigines from western communities, locking them up in a stable at Redfern Police Barracks. Immediately following the re-enactment, the group featured on a float in the huge parade in Macquarie Street. The following day they were “sent back to their tin sheds on the Darling River”.

Re-enactments of Phillip's landing continued to be an accepted part of Australia Day ceremonies around the country and it wasn't until the Bicentennial in 1988 that the New South Wales government refused to condone a re-enactment as part of their official proceedings.

On January 26 that year, 40,000 Aboriginal people (including some from as far away as Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory) and their supporters marched from Redfern Park to a public rally at Hyde Park and then on to Sydney Harbour to mark the 200th anniversary of invasion.

From this march grew the concept of "Invasion Day" and "Survival Day", marking the anniversary of the beginning of land loss, but also recognising the survival of a race of people who had been expected to die out. In 1992 the first Survival Day concert was held at La Perouse and in 1998 the event moved to Waverley Oval near Bondi Beach.



The Aboriginal Flag was designed by Harold Thomas, an artist and a Luritja man from Central Australia, in 1971. The flag was designed to be an eye-catching rallying symbol for the Aboriginal people and a symbol of their race and identity. The black represents the Aboriginal people, the red the earth and their spiritual relationship to the land, and the yellow the sun, the giver of life.

In the late 1960s, Aborigines stepped up their campaign for indigenous land rights through protest marches, demonstrations, banners and posters. The protests increased in the early 1970s and Harold Thomas noticed they were often outnumbered by non-Aborigines with their own banners and placards. He decided they needed to be more visible and the idea of the flag was born.

The Aboriginal flag was first raised in Victoria Square in Adelaide on National Aboriginal Day in 1971, but was adopted nationally by Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in 1972 after it was flown above the Aboriginal "Tent Embassy" outside of the old Parliament House in Canberra.

It is perhaps the only symbol commonly accepted by the diversity of Aboriginal people.

The Aboriginal flag is increasingly being flown by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. In view of its increasing importance in Australian society, the Government initiated steps in 1994 to give the flag legal recognition. After a period of public consultation, the Government made its own decision in July 1995 that the flag should be proclaimed a "Flag of Australia" under section 5 of the Flags Act 1953. The flag was so proclaimed by the Governor General of Australia, William Hayden, on 14 July 1995.

(compiled from various sources, all of which, except for the one below, have succumbed to the endemic web disease of link rot)
http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani/themes/theme6.htm

recycled from pelican dreaming, 1/26/06.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

K. Rexroth's "The Advantages of Learning"

There are certain physical characteristics you saw in your parents as they aged that you knew you would inherit. The hair colour you shared with your mother, how it would fade. The pattern of the thinning of your father's hair, & the extent of it – good to know that when he died in his nineties he still had plenty of it. The skin's blemishes, the way lines formed on their faces. Your father's shoulder slump that you also share.

But it is a poem I feel I have most grown into, unshaped by genetic inheritance. One I came across more than fifty years ago, that moved me then, that spoke to the inner me in a way I had never experienced. I do not know if it was some sort of premonition or whether it became some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy but it is the poem that I have most inhabited, that has most inhabited me, over all the intervening years. & even though I have read much that I have liked / loved since then, even though I have written much in which I expose or privately see parts of me I would have preferred remained hidden, it still remains for me the poem.

The Advantages of Learning

I am a man with no ambitions
And few friends, wholly incapable
Of making a living, growing no
Younger, fugitive from some just doom.
Lonely, ill-clothed, what does it matter?
At midnight I make myself a jug
Of hot white wine and cardamon seeds.
In a torn grey robe and old beret,
I sit in the cold writing poems,
Drawing nudes on the crooked margins,
Copulating with sixteen year old
Nymphomaniacs of my imagination.

Kenneth Rexroth

Monday, January 24, 2011

After nearly

four weeks, the water over the airport has gone, & the runway has been repaired sufficiently to allow daytime flights in & out.

It's a positive sign. But there are still a number of negatives.

There is still rubbish piled up outside many of the houses that were affected by the floods. In contrast to the co-operative people power that has been happening in Brisbane, it's almost as if the council here has decided to take their time to clean up the worst affected areas, nearly all of which are in the poorer parts of town.

There are still roads closed, enormous potholes on many that are open, snakes, lakes that were once lagoons, lagoons that were once ponds, ponds that were depressions in the landscape. The smell of mud & decayed vegetation still drifts in, especially at night. Birds avoid some of the watery areas they once frequented. Dead fish wash up in one of the lagoons. There are mudline markers on houses that haven't yet been washed away.

& even though fresh food & produce are coming in regularly now, the supermarket still isn't stocking my favorite 2-liter container of iced milk coffee. Until that is fixed, let me just say that, for me, the floods still ain't over.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

adonis

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snakes on a (flood) plain

I'm tempted to class it as paranoia, but L. reassures me I'm only exercising an understandable vigilance. Whatever it is, let just me say that I've seen more snakes in the last few weeks than in my entire previous life, & I'm much more than a little bit twitchy.

Enough is enough, already. I've seen snakes in the water, crossing the back driveway, on the front porch, in the letterbox, in the laundry. INSIDE in the laundry, INSIDE the house! What happened to that house is a castle thing? & yesterday, I was about to push open the back screen door to go out & have a cigarette when what do I see but a brown snake poking its head around the corner followed by the rest of its meter-long body. I don't know whether it saw me, or whether it decided that there wasn't much to explore, but it turned, slithered across the pavers, & disappeared with a speed & an ability to camouflage itself that was, in retrospect, frightening. One moment it was there, the next it was nowhere to be seen.

Let me add that my apprehensions were not improved by the item on the news last night that claimed the Eastern brown snake was the second-most poisonous snake in the world.

So, today, when I hung the washing out, I spent so much time checking the surroundings that I had to push my eyeballs back into place when I came inside. & when I went outside again some time later, & one of the little lizards that live in the holes in the brickwork, & which I normally quite happily co-exist with, scuttled away from me, I shat myself. Well, maybe not that extreme a reaction, but, I have to admit, I shied away from it faster than I thought I could move these days.

I wander

along the
stochastic
process that
is YouTube.
Eventually
a steady
state is
reached.
Beauty is
not in the
eye. Context
is everything.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A revision

Just over six years ago, after a trip to Sydney, I posted about what we'd done there, what books I'd bought.

I wrote at the time:
Bought some new stuff.......The Portable Magritte — 400 plates yet! At the rate I write my Series Magritte poems that's about seven years feedstock.
I need to revise that statement.

At the rate I'm writing my Series Magritte poems these days, there's about 70 years feedstock in the book.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today the
postman brought
me nothing. An
empty mailbox
later filled by a
green & yellow
tree snake
which watched
silently as I de-
toured around it
taking the garbage
out. That arc re-
traced returning
until eye contact
broken. Which
is when the
snake spoke. Said:
"What does not change / is the will to change"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Newsflash: Blow-up sex toys are "not recognized flotation devices."

In Queensland, acts of stupidity during the floods were mainly confined to attempts to drive across flooded causeways, usually resulting in death, or jumping from bridges into swollen rivers, usually resulting in difficult rescues.

In Victoria, however, it seems like the floods offer other avenues.....
A bizarre decision to ride an inflatable doll down a flood-swollen Yarra River blew up in a woman’s face yesterday when she lost her latex playmate in a rough patch.

The incident prompted a warning from police that blow-up sex toys are "not recognised flotation devices".

Police and a State Emergency Services crew were called to the rescue when the woman and a man, both 19, struck trouble at Warrandyte North about 4.30pm yesterday.

They were floating down the river on two inflatable dolls and had just passed the Pound Bend Tunnel when the woman lost her toy in turbulent water.

The rescued pair were checked by ambulance officers but did not require medical attention.

"The fate of the inflatable dolls is unknown," said Senior Constable Wilson.
Sydney Morning Herald

which, of course,

reminds me of a personal favorite from amongst my Postman (who, sadly, doesn't seem to be calling that often these days) Poems.....
Today the
postman brought
me a blow-up
sex doll &
a torch. I spent
the night in
shining amour.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Give me a ladder, anytime

I personally always like finding snakes.
Geof Huth, commenting on the post below

I don't mind an elephant in the room. But a snake?

I don't mind a snake outside. Not so sure how I'd deal with an elephant, though.

Chacun à son goût, if I can quote Robbie Williams' chest.

I was born in New Zealand, remember. No land-based snakes. So 30 or so years in a snakefree zone.

I lived in Sydney, mainly in the inner suburbs, for the next 30 or so years. Nearest I came to seeing a snake was a shed skin attached to a branch on a trail in the Blue Mountains.

Only since I came here.....

Dead snakes, live snakes, big snakes, small snakes, venomous, non-venomous, brown, black, green. Tree snakes, see snakes, no sea snakes. No elephants, except when the circus comes to town.

Outside, I leave the snakes to their snake oil business. Pause till they pass, or I walk quickly away in the direction opposite to the one they're going in. Snake my way around them at a distance if they're lying there sunning themselves. Maybe I wouldn't go so far as to say I liked finding snakes, but I have learnt to coexist with them.

Until they trespass.....(Notice the sibilance of that last word. It's to be uttered hissingly. & wasn't he the Secretary of State—more sibilance—for Tricky Dicky? Talk about snakes!)

But a snake inside, in the next room, perhaps wishing to sit in my lap, like a cat, or curl up at my feet. Fuck that. The thought of a snake inside is sufficient to be an avatar of paranoia. The real thing? FREAKOUT!!!!!

So forgive me that I misquoted Shakespeare & kill'd the snake not scotch'd it. & let me close by offering up the words of W. C. Fields.
Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Somehow,

& I don't exactly know how, one of the many snakes that have been displaced by the floods got into the house.

I discovered it by accident—got up from the computer in my study, walked out into the inside laundry to get a drink from the refrigerator, & stepped on it. Scared the shit out of both of us. The snake took off & slithered under the hotwater cylinder, I don't know exactly where I went, but the ceiling seems like the most probable place.

We tried to find it, but could find no trace. Got the name of a snakecatcher from the local council just in case. But its absence for the rest of the day halfway indicated that it may have headed outside again, through some opening which we couldn't see.

Wrong. Was working this evening—actually hadn't got that far; was checking my emails when I noticed a head swaying back & forth out from under the waterheater. We managed to coax/drive it out briefly from its hideout—time enough to take the pic below, sufficient room for it to be fully visible, but the space too confined to be able to take major action against it, especially with that hotwater pipe beneath it.


We moved things to give us clear visibility of the surrounding area, I developed battle strategies to try to keep it confined overnight, but decided to stay up for a while longer than normal so see if it would come out again.

Which it did. Out into the open. Where I met it with the back of a shovel.

I shall be visited by the Serpent King tonight. My dreams will be poisoned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

geographies: Tenerife


Magma has an organic
shape & cools rapidly
when it comes in
contact with water. The
conceptual pavilion was
designed with minimal-
ism in mind. The first
video chosen—even
if it's simply an
array of periodic boxes
that separate perfume
from air—will
always play perfectly.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Radar Map, 4.38 p.m. AEST


We're in that small clear area on the eastern seaboard. The sun's shining here, & it's about 32° C. But further down the coast, the rain that's bringing death & devastation to Brisbane & the surrounding towns & cities can be clearly seen, as can its already-begun path into New South Wales, Victoria & South Australia.

There's a cyclone forming off the Western Australian coast in the same area that was flooded a couple of weeks ago. Further south there are bushfires.

The map's from the BOMsite.

Monday, January 10, 2011

arrt

Sunday, January 09, 2011

some flood pix


where we normally join the highway




saving the barramundi (those little silver things beneath my hand)


snake


snake tongue


the main highway in town going south, a couple of kilometers before the photos at the top




the "ferry terminal"


street signs at the corner of the street behind us


a couple of streets along. the lines on the road mark how far up earlier floods reached


worms at the water's edge


the river flood gauge




looking down the street at the back of our place


& across from there


the rugby field behind us, a couple of days in


& a couple of days later


the car park at the rugby field


& we now have water views.....

photos by L.Y.

headline hay(na)ku

Vampire
flying frog
found in Vietnam
ABC news

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Meanwhile

The macrocosm

Because the Emergency Services have a boat staging area at the bottom of the street—which, in addition to being a launching platform to carry out their regular safety checks of the flooded plains, they are using as a drop off point for people ferried in from cutoff areas for medical treatment—there is a steady stream of ambulances, police vehicles, Emergency Services transport, taxis being used as personnel carriers since, with the closure of the airport, a major source of their income has—forgive me for saying it—dried up, food being brought in for the workers & supplies being brought in to be boated out to stranded people, going up & down the street. (That just might be the longest sentence I've ever written.)

Add to that a parade of sightseers who, instead of walking to catch the views, have ignored the road closed signs & driven down the street.

Then there is the constant background noise of lawnmowers. The combination of the earlier heavy rain & a week of mainly sunny days means that the grass has been growing at a rate normally shown only by bamboo. We had our lawn done a week ago; already it's shin- heading for knee-high. (& an aside. In Rockhampton, mowing lawns is generally considered to be woman's work. For every man you see cutting their own lawn, you will see at least two women. Sexism on the grass? & you never see children out mowing. What happened to chores for pocket money?)

Plus the helicopters. & the usual bird noise.

But when all that dies away, in the evening, at night, you sit on the front porch & you can hear the noise of what I call the secondary path of the Fitzroy a couple of hundred meters away. It doesn't have the roar of—let's call it—Fitzroy Prime which, as we have heard often in the last couple of weeks, currently has 1000 gigalitres flowing down it each day. Though usually not couched in those terms: the common Australian unit of measurement for such things is so many times the volume of Sydney Harbor, in this case, twice the volume. & the other measuring stick, that of x number of Olympic swimming pools becomes so numerically high that it is incomprehensible.

It also doesn't have the backdrop qualities for TV broadcasts, so you will only see this part of the flood in aerial shots where it looks like a giant lake. It's not causing the photogenic devastation to properties because there aren't that many—the cityside edges of this flow from the river include sand & gravel mining areas, the airport, the golf club, the Botanical Gardens, playing fields, & a couple of parks, with lagoons on their edges—so it only appears in those shots of "the isolated homestead."

But it also doesn't have the natural topographical boundaries of Fitzroy Prime. This is a floodplain, kilometers wide, filled with water. Which means, at this point in time, there's a river, a couple of kilometers wide, within it.


The microcosm

Yesterday afternoon, we walked down to near where the main road through our suburb used to intersect with the main highway.

With everything under water, the roadsigns on the highway assume a new humor. "No entry", "Left Lane Ends—Merge Right"; that sort of thing.

In the shallows where the street meets the water, there's lots of life. Tadpoles galore in a pool created by a slight ridge in the road; small silver fingerlings skittishly making their way upstream via the ripples at the edge as they head for those areas which will return to lagoon status later, & where they will grow into prized barramundi; slightly larger darker fish—catfish?—also heading upstream & having an easier time of it; & a bit further out, in a mini-rapids that resembles one of those artificially-created surf runs, a smallish snake, say 50 centimeters in length, having the time of its life, ignoring the fish as it surfed down & curved back up the small waves, &, every so often, swimming across almost to the road's edge to put its head up out of the water to look at the people in a "hey, see what I can do" kind of way.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The bull at the gate


We live in the street that's on the extreme left of those running up from what used to be a peaceful lagoon that you could walk beside & see turtles & pelicans in & on.

Photograph: AP, published in The Hindu of 1/5/2011.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

never send to know for whom / the bell tolls;

One of the things that has puzzled me all the way through this flood has been the flow direction of the water through the lagoon at the bottom of the street.

Last flood, the water was running from east to west as it rose, coming in from where the river overflowed into the south-eastern portion of Rockhampton. I thought that was the standard pattern, was waiting for it to happen again, thinking that the west to east flow through the lagoon that I wrote about a week & a half ago was the result of local rainfall that had filled the string of lagoons along the western side of the city, causing them to overflow & run into one another, & then run down towards the river until such time as the river itself overflowed & ran inland to meet & overturn this local flow.

This time, that didn't happen. Instead there was this continuous heavy flow charging through what used to be a lagoon but was now spreading further & further across the surrounding countryside. Just like the river in town, it was full of branches broken off & being carried along perhaps slightly—but not all that much—slower, & it was this flow that came up over the rail & road bridges at the south end of town to cut the highway south & west.

What I had forgotten was that the lagoons are, in fact, an earlier course of the Fitzroy River; that the river, whose outlet to the sea has shifted up & down over something like 200 kilometers of coastline during the centuries, has also had its inland path changed several times by floods in that same time.

It was only yesterday I realized—& I can't be alone in this, even though it's not been reported in the media or mentioned by officials—that the river must have burst its banks above the city either before or at the same time that it was making landfall at the bottom edge of the city, & was following one of its ancient paths in addition to the current one, diverting a significant quantity of floodwater away from the city proper & its measuring gauge, & actually turning this part south of the river into an island.

No matter what Donne says further on in the Meditation from which this post takes its title, we were, we are.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

To know a flood.....


I have been reluctant to write about the floods.

Two reasons. The first is that we're physically out of danger, our house on a ridge which, even though it runs down to the lagoon, is still probably 20 meters above it. & while there are people whose houses are surrounded by water, who have been forced to relocate, it seems a bit vicarious, a bit like playing the tourist, to be talking about it.

The second thing is that it all seems quite bizarre, that we're living in a disjointed landscape. Go down to the river & you can hear it roar, as megaliters of water rush down to the sea at probably 30 or 40 kilometers an hour. Move away from it, & the flood seeps in silence, spreads almost imperceptibly, creating a topography at times that somehow resists logic. Some of the water dispersement is obvious: the river flowing across a road, then following natural channels with the water backing up once the channels are filled. But there are parts where there is no water for a block or two, & then it suddenly appears. Perhaps, & most probably, it has found its way into a stormwater drain which has then overflowed somewhere else in its route.

You can't see the disruption to lives because that part of town is beyond the road closed barriers. Like the rest of the world, we see it only on television. But the roads along the hilly ridge that separates the city from the flood plain allow a view of just how much water there is around, & how much land it covers in all directions. The airport is closed, the highway & railway south—the direction the bulk of supplies for the city comes from—is closed, the highway west is cut, the highway north is possibly going to be cut this afternoon, & the Yeppen Flood Plain has just been declared a maritime exclusion zone by the Gladstone Harbor Master who's in charge of such things, hereabouts. (Though the majesty of the proclamation somewhat spoilt for the pedant in me by the continued use of the term "Flood Plane.")


The rugby fields across the road—50 meters away, maybe 20 meters below us—have now been covered by water coming up from the lagoon. Where yesterday there were ibis digging for grubs in the soggy ground, today there are ducks swimming around, & the ibis have taken to the grassy knoll normally occupied by spectators when the rugby is on. & the State Emergency Services are now using the bottom of the street as a landing port for their boats as they bring in people whose homes have been swamped.


Sure, there's been recent rain in Rockhampton. Half the half meter of rain that fell during 2010 fell in the four days over Christmas. That filled up the lagoons. But the water we're seeing now had its origins hundreds of kilometers away, & a couple of weeks ago.

The Fitzroy has the largest catchment area—somewhere around 140,000 square kilometers—of any Australian river system on the east coast, & the second largest in Australia, behind the Murray. Within the catchment area are a number of large river systems, each with their headwaters in a different area but then combining with another, & then those combinations combine, & then they join with the Fitzroy for the last 200 kilometers to the sea.


There has been heavy rain throughout the catchment area for the past few months, but it was the first incursion of this season's monsoon trough that pushed the rivers beyond capacity. There has been record flooding through much of Queensland: within the catchment area, one river totally flooded the town of Theodore, another river flooded 80% of the town of Emerald; both rivers feed the Fitzroy.

One of my first discoveries when we arrived in Rockhampton was the flood height gauge, with indicators showing various flood heights, in the river beside Quay Street. At that point in time, the river was its normal height of maybe two to three meters, & about seven meters below road level. The indicator for the 1918 flood was roughly at eye level, 10.11 meters. Freaky, I thought. There were a couple of lesser floods noted, both over nine meters. I didn't pay it much serious attention.

Over the next few years, the measuring gauge remained a curiosity. Then, in January of 2008, we experienced our first flood here, & the gauge became a point of call for the duration. That flood only reached about 7.75 meters, started dropping, rose up again a month later when the monsoon trough hit. But you could see the measurements changing significantly day by day.

This time around, there's now a shallow layer of water edging across the carpark where we used to park. The road has barricades blocking it off & you have to walk the last half of a kilometer. The river height barely seems to shift—that possibly five centimeters a day is obscured by the eddies & choppiness on the water's surface—but it has now reached 9.15 meters. The amount of water flowing hasn't decreased: it's just that it now spreads across a far wider area & for each of those few centimeters of rise, the area the flood reaches probably increases by hundreds of meters. The river itself is now part of the huge lake this region has become, identifiable from a vantage point by the difference in color, a wide ribbon of gray in the midst of an even wider muddy-brown ocean.


r.i.p. Pete Postlethwaite

Monday, January 03, 2011

geographies: Wall Street

               Temporary stenting 
for the global market
is complex & time
consuming. Tends
to produce false
positives. Is expensive.
But a fabulous way
to align the pixels of
handmade children.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Points of comparison

The area of Queensland currently under flood is:
The State View
"Larger than New South Wales." Queensland State Premier Anna Bligh.

The Federal View
"Greater than France & Germany combined." Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The Global View
"Bigger than Texas." The Wall Street Journal.

Out from Otoliths — Market Street Exit by Caleb Puckett

"Launch it on the cusp," replied Caleb when I asked him if he wanted his book to come out in 2010 or in 2011. So I am. It's 2011 on this side of the International Date Line, but still 2010 for most of the mailing list, so this is both the first book from Otoliths for the new year, & the last for the old.


Market Street Exit
Caleb Puckett
84 pages
Cover image by sean burn
Otoliths, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9807651-7-5
$12.95 + p&h
URL: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/market-street-exit/14258006
Che Guevara and I met again at the annual conference in Wichita. We set to scavenging the pre-conference breakfast platters, pouring ourselves some black coffee and catching up on business. Over the course of conversation, Che became alarmingly introspective and by the time we finished our cups he made this observation: “While a person dies every day during the eight or more hours in which he or she functions as a commodity, individuals come to life afterward in their spiritual creations. But this remedy bears the germs of the same sickness: that of a solitary being seeking harmony with the world.”

At first I was taken aback, confused as I was by his statement, but it all started to make sense as the day progressed. Indeed, later that night in my motel room I was so consumed with Che’s insight that I began penning Market Street Exit as a response. Che, old buddy, this one’s for you. —Caleb Puckett

Do not adjunct your set! Do not change that diode! But by all means take the next exit at Market Street if you want to ride into the sunset of a fading empire and its Western Sizzler buffet of fandangoed language. A gallows poetics haunts this bible-belt church funhouse of prose. Do not Pascal. Do not collect toe wonder doll wars. You'll be begging your pardon for the Earth because this book by Caleb Puckett has "the highest level of recycled content. Guaranteed." —Grant Matthew Jenkins