Friday, December 31, 2010

marsupial, marooned

A wallaby stands on a large round hay bail trapped by rising flood waters outside the town of Dalby in Queensland.
Photo / AP.

To end the year, a short list.

I intensely dislike e-zines that:
  • Have theme issues.

  • Insist on anonymous submissions.

  • Have online submission forms that don't work.

  • Take months to respond.
  • Monday, December 27, 2010

    Over the past few days

    I've been re-watching the Doctor Who specials that have been running on cable TV. They're out of sequence, but, hey, what the hell, they're always enjoyable.

    Their original screenings were mostly around Christmas—seasonal offerings between seasons, as it were, a "tradition" continued with the new special that aired yesterday on free-to-air TV, a take on Dickens' A Christmas Carol with Michael Gambon co-starring in the Scrooge part. Gambon is now probably best known as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, a role he stepped into after Richard Harris died, but I first came across him in The Singing Detective, that marvellous serial written for television by the late, great Dennis Potter, &, a little later on, in the movie The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (I think I got the order right.)

    Yesterday's cable offering was The Waters of Mars, one of, I think, three specials that replaced the standard annual series whilst the actor who played this particular Doctor was off doing Hamlet on stage. It's about a life form frozen in an underground glacier which starts taking over the human inhabitants of an explorative & scientific colony, Bowie Base One—Yes, there is life on Mars, David—& threatens an eventual colonization of Earth. Needless to say, the script is full of heavy water utterings from the Doctor. "Don't drink the water." "Water is patient." "Water will always win in the end."

    There was also another statement, "water finds its own level", that I found particularly relevant a little later on in the day. It's been raining heavily here over the last three days, something like ¼ of a meter, 10" in the old currency. It also rained quite heavily at the beginning of the month, enough locally to raise the level of the lagoon at the bottom of our street & extend its boundaries, &, through the catchment area, more than enough to raise the level of the river to moderate flood levels.

    Based on the last flood here, a couple of years ago, I had assumed that the level of the river was what determined the levels of the lagoon. Then, the river was in higher flood, & the overflow of water made its way across the flood plain & eventually flowed into the lagoon. Earlier this month, after the water from the catchment area had made its way downstream, it spread out over part of the floodplain, but wasn't high enough to reach across to the lagoon. The lagoon, however, had expanded, & there was now water a couple of meters below the rail & road bridges that cross it, but because the river hadn't reached it, I didn't think there'd be any threat of road &/or rail closures.

    Yesterday, however, when we did our usual rubber-necking tour, down to the river, around those parts that are most likely to flood—some water around but less than a couple of weeks ago—then back to the highway & over the bridge before going around the roundabout & back home, I was surprised to see that the water was now only a meter below the bridges, & was flowing out of the lagoon & on towards the river.

    The rain in the catchment area—& as the radar map above shows, it's still falling heavily—is heading downstream once again. The readings at the various measuring spots that are particular indicators of imminent downstream river levels are all rising quite rapidly & the flood height in the city is now classed as moderate & heading higher. The rain here continues, which means the lagoon gets higher & wider & will probably do more than just reach the back fences of the properties in the street that joins up with the bottom of ours. We're on a hill, so it will need to be a flood of mythic proportions to directly affect us, but if it keeps on raining, & the river keeps on rising & encroaches more widely on the flood plain to join up with the lagoon, it's quite possible that the southern approaches to the city will be cut.

    Saturday, December 25, 2010


    1 Tbsp. dried basil leaves, 1 Tbsp. dried marjoram leaves, 1 Tbsp. dried summer savory leaves, 1 Tbsp. dried thyme leaves, 2 tsp. dried orange zest, powdered, 1 powdered or ground bay leaf, 1 tsp. fennel seeds, 2 tsp. dried lavender, 1/8 tsp. white pepper. Combine all ingredients in a small tightly closed jar. Store in a dark, cool place.


    Friday, December 24, 2010


    The CIA has launched a taskforce, called the WikiLeaks Task Force, to assess the impact of 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables. The group will scour the released documents to survey damage caused by the disclosures.

    "Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it's mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: WTF," the Washington Post reported.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    The Cormorant's Song

    I try to write down everything as a poem.

    Nothing is inherently "poetic." Everything is.

    I do not carry a notebook around with me.
    I have short-term memory loss.

    There is usually a tablet somewhere nearby.
    My fingers cannot keep up with my mind.
    I lose things in transcription.

    There are holes in the nets I use to capture things.
    My files are full of fragments.
    I use them to build mosaic walls & pathways.
    My poems are about the things that escaped the nets.
    Not having seen them, I cannot remember what they were.

    I make things up.
    Yiminishuqilibi Khan. (d. 645(?) CE)

    included in: Rivalling The Six Dynasties: Poems from the Eastern Turkish Khaganate selected & translated by Umberto Allegrezza; The Uzbekistan Historical Society; Bukhara, 2000.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Coming into

    Rockhampton from the south, about a kilometer past the sculpted bull—one of about twelve erected by the city council, not to mention many more fiberglass ones mounted on commercial premises: this is, after all, the self-proclaimed beef capital of Australia—in the middle of the roundabout that marks the beginnings of the city proper, you pass by a sign declaring that the Tropic of Capricorn has just been crossed.

    It's bullshit. The ToC has already been crossed, about five kilometers south of where the traveller is now. There used to be this sign there in the 1970s

    but it was on what is now—though it may once have been part of the highway—a secondary road that is no longer used by tourists. So, the council in its wisdom & with more than a eye on the tourist dollar, decided to move the ToC into the city & turn it into an information & souvenir shop, with a pleasing backdrop for a photo op.

    The original sign has lost its identification. When we came across it not too long after we arrived here, we thought it was a decrepit busstop, & wondered why there'd be a bus route along this barely used road.

    Commerce 1, Cartography 0.

    The council has been at it again, with economics dictating a change in the way floods are described.

    As the 2008 plot below shows, if the river reached a height of five meters, the flood was classified as minor. Six meters was moderate, seven meters major. This flood was above seven meters so was described as major—which kept the tourists away.

    Fuck that, said the council. After all, there were only about 200 homes & businesses that were affected by water, & not that many roads that needed to be closed, & the fact that all the riverbank carparks were under water was something that really affected just the residents. The only thing major about it for the council was the fact that the tourist businesses lost money through this gross act of misrepresentation.

    So, let's lobby to change the criteria. Keep the tourists coming.

    The plot below is of the current river rise. But note that now, when the river reaches a height of seven meters, it is only a minor flood. Moderate kicks in when a height of 7.5 meters is reached, & the flood now has to be 8.5 meters high before it is described as a major flood, & scares the tourists off.

    Commerce 1, Hydrography or Hydrology or Meteorology or whatever it is, 0.

    Thursday, December 09, 2010

    This is how you know

    that this country's fucked.

    The third most popular search term on Google for Australians in 2010 was google.....



    Kangaroos being rescued from floodwaters by a wildlife conservationist at Lake Burrendong near Wellington, NSW.
    Picture: AAP
    Source: The Australian

    Trotsky, encore

    In the latest manifestation of her fabulous book review blog Galatea Resurrects, Eileen Tabios opens her "engagement" with my At Trotsky's Funeral thus:
    I won’t even pretend to be objective in engaging with this book. Not after being called the “Rose” that is the goal of “Journey to the Centre of the World.” No doubt, such self-aggrandizement is also a misreading, or subjective reading, on my part. After all, when one thinks of the phrase “pot at the end of the rainbow”, one might not only think of gold but the receptacle for someone’s piss. A memory (vs. sincere feeling) of modesty moves me to edit this review to delete my thousand-page discourse on “Journey to the Centre of the World” and its “attractive female” known as “Eileen R. Tabios” (that would be the too-short poem on Page 39; when you check it out, it may be relevant to know that my middle name is “Rose”).
    Since her well-known modesty prevents her from doing so, I have taken it upon myself to reprint below the entire piece she refers to.

    Journey to the Center of the Earth
    Except for those weeks immediately preceding &, if the national entry manages a place amongst the top three, immediately following the Eurovision Song Competition, Icelandic radio plays nothing but Björk. Turn it off & there are the sounds of volcanoes & hot pools which, if you’ve heard them more than once you’ve heard them to the point of boredom. Still Björk.

    Little wonder then that, on a day when the melting polar cap drove banks of fog southward & made moving hazardous, Einar Beestiol, self-proclaimed but much-rejected poet, whose style derived from Voluspo, the great Icelandic creation poem, & whose titles — I Take Thee, Jules Verne, for My Beloved, since, by setting the portal of your Journey to the Center of the Earth in Iceland, you showed me there was a way out — were so long that readers gave up on them before they had even come to the body of the poem, decided on a change that he hoped might make his name heard across the world.

    Three steps to it. Compile a program that through random selection but stochastic process combines & rearranges as poems parts of Voluspo & The Diaries of Golda Meir, a book he’d found discarded outside a goodwill store. His name as anagram as author. A persona to go. Thus Eileen R. Tabios. Thus attractive female, memberless but member of a minority, MBA & former East Coast corporate banker, now growing grapes in West Coast California.

    The R., he decided, could stand for Rose. Even Icelanders have heard of Gertrude Stein.

    Tuesday, December 07, 2010


    I admit it, I'm a sucker for bird stories.

    Wildlife carers in far north Queensland say they have uncovered what is believed to be a world first — a pair of albino blue-winged kookaburras.

    The baby kookaburras, believed to be sisters, were handed into a wildlife park at Ravenshoe, south-west of Cairns. They had been found on the ground after a storm.

    There are some white laughing kookaburras at zoos in Australia, but they are not strictly albino, having black eyes. There has never been a reported blue-winged albino before. Most albino birds rarely live long in the wild because they have no camouflage.

    Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital carer Leslie Brown says the pair require special care. "Because they can't see properly, because of the lack of pigment, they have problems finding food," she said. "Because they are so young they still haven't been taught by their parents how to hunt.

    The birds are being fed small mice, cicadas and moths, are now in good health and will be raised at the sanctuary.
    Story source: ABC News
    Photo: Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital

    Monday, December 06, 2010

    It's barely

    a third of the way through the reading period for issue 20 of Otoliths, & already I've got sufficient material to bring out a fairly substantial issue.

    I've been thinking of going to a bi-monthly schedule, but then realize that, hey, I've already got enough deadlines to keep me busy without adding more.

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    Friday, December 03, 2010

    meteorologies: the BOMsite

    & two hours later, it's passed

    an email from Jeffrey Side

    The new ebook from Argotist Ebooks is ‘Some Geographies’ by Mark Young


    "These pieces by Mark Young have a disturbing and comic speed, and seem, as a group, to get at some essential weirdness of the 'global' info-capitalist culture we're all trying to survive and live in." Sam Lohmann (editor of ‘Peaches & Bats’)

    Available as a free ebook here:

    Wednesday, December 01, 2010

    The bridge is built

    And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

    Walt Whitman: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
    The digital bridge spanning the two New Zealand electronic poetry center's Home & Away—aka All Together Now—symposia, one in Auckland & one in Sydney, is now up at

    There's video, audio, commentary, photographs, the text of talks, & a goodly selection of poetry included. It's well worth an extended visit. I have to admit that I enjoyed being a part of it, on both sides of the Tasman.

    & it may be a virtual bridge, but chalk me up for something like 10000 kilometers of real travel.

    geographies: Hyderabad