“Love Burns In My Heart”

I like the structure of this one, the slow fading of the first sentence exposing different angles each time. It’s not especially deep or clever, and I assume there’s some technical term for it that I’m missing, but it’s one of the things I’ve written that makes me feel proud each time I encounter it anew.
Written August 22, 2015.

Love burns in my heart
Young and pure and true
A sweet and all-knowing insanity
A passion that warms me always

Love burns my heart
Strong and hot and painful
And forever in ways I never anticipated
A fire that marks me always

Love my heart
Scarred and battered and standing still
Bleeding but never emptied
A still-smouldering coal of incredible heat

My heart
Hollowed and echoing and haunted
A wound the never heals
An subterranean seam occasionally flaring in sight

In love,

“Your Face Is A Memory”

A simpler poem this one, long on cliche, and leaning on a sort of seasonal montage for its structure (and looking at it, not at all hard to see which is my favourite season). It came from a time when a friend and I were enjoying trading insults in which one person says a sentence containing whatever-noun, and the other responds “you face is a whatever-noun”. I said the title of this poem in one of those exchanges, and it chimed something inside me, and about ten minutes later, I had this poem to show for it. Which is nice.
Written December 18, 2014.

Your face is a memory,
Like the faded flowers of last summer
That we picked and twined in each other’s hair under the bright blue sky

Your face is a memory,
Like the fallen leaves of last autumn
That we crunched underfoot as we danced like mad things in the softly chilling wind

Your face is a memory,
Like the snowflakes of last winter
That we gathered into balls and snowmen in a world all turned white

Your face is a memory,
Like the breezes of last spring
That we inhaled and were invigorated by as the green world bloomed

Your face is a memory,
That I carry in my heart

Untitled Poem

Another one from the vaults, written on September 11, 2009.

The spiders have spun webs between our fingers
So long has it been since we
Picked up a tool
Curled up a fist
Caressed each other

We sit or lie,
Reposing endlessly,
Reacting against the imagined pressure of nothings
Simply lacking the volition to move

The screens before us stutter with light,
At times our eyes flick back and forth across them,
But less frequently as time passes

We can no longer feel our feet,
Cannot tell that the rats gnaw our toes

Our stomachs no longer rumble,
Having finally accepted that we are not listening

Our knees and elbows are rusted into place,
Our hips and shoulders will not rotate

Our genitals are swollen with imagined lusts,
But no consummation will ever return to them.

Perhaps one day, the dust that settles upon us
Will make us sneeze
And we will be either broken or arisen,
Powered by the dormant force from within us

Untitled poem

Found this going through some old notes, sadly, I did not think to date it when I wrote it. I’m pretty sure it comes from before I moved out of Coburg, though, which would put it around 7 or 8 years ago.

There are places I go back to again and again
Seeking the things that feel lost
That perhaps were never found
But seem closer here than anywhere else

I am a pilgrim, a time traveler, a spelunker of the heart
In my efforts to recapture, I explore so widely that memory’s territory is expanded beyond its making
I walk these paths so many times that the memory of walking obscures the memories I would excavate

Sometimes, I come up empty of revelation
But times when I do, it is nothing words can capture
It is a sensation and a gnosis, a warmth in my blood, a febrile ease
A relaxation in my heart and lungs, breathing meaning
A sense of rightness and of truth, of finding home’s front door in the fog

And always, the knowledge that this is not enough
That I will return again
That there is more. That there is always more.

Always another epiphany that I’ll struggle to describe

In Memoriam: Catherine Heloise

I’ve been putting off writing this piece. There’s been so much to do, so many people to talk to about this, so much comfort reading I’ve needed to do right now.

Until it occurred to me that at least 50% of my go-to comfort reading books are books Catherine introduced me to. T. Kingfisher’s Paladin series, Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series, basically the entire back catalogue of Lois McMaster Bujold. Catherine had an eye for a good book, and there was considerable overlap between our tastes, and she never hesitated a second to recommend them to me (or anyone else, for that matter).

One of Catherine’s answers to that Kondo-question: a selection of the Cross-Dressing Ken Cakes she made each year for Eurovision

It strikes me now – alas, too late to share with her, because she would love this description – that she is a sort of Marie Kondo in reverse, always asking “what can you add to your life that will spark joy?”

The answers were often delicious food (Catherine loves to cook and is very good at it), wonderful music (Catherine also loves to sing, and is likewise very good at that), and brightly coloured fun of all sorts, whether it be crafts, or watching Eurovision, or whatever else gave you a warm feeling inside. It was rarely a physical object, and when it was, the object was almost inevitably art or food (often both, in Catherine’s talented hands): an object less about itself and more about the experience of itself. Catherine has the greatest heart I had ever known. If we are each a world unto ourselves, then Catherine is a gas giant surrounded by deep, deep clouds of love, kindness and compassion. And, as the Kens suggest, by an impish sense of humour and a keen wit. She is bright and sunny and optimistic by nature, and she makes not just friends but communities of friends everywhere she goes.

Catherine with the sign she made and took to the Women’s March 4 Justice last year
That last is important. Catherine loves to care for people, in almost every way. And this often expresses itself in passionate political activism, always aimed at making people better cared for. She is a staunch proponent of pretty much all the classic lefty causes, but in her words, they came alive. There is nothing performative about Catherine’s politics, just a simple, heartfelt urgency that things should be fairer for everyone. She is smart and articulate and so very determined to be fair-minded, and she is equally as motivated to stand up and be counted as she was to try to understand the other person’s point of view.

I have been writing for nearly an hour now, and I’ve still left out so much. Words cannot hope to encompass an entire life, and especially one as full of life as Catherine’s.

I have known Catherine for more than two decades, and her husband for longer than that. It was my great privilege to be the best man at their wedding. Separately, they were both important parts of my life. Together, they have become absolutely indispensable to me, good friends who never lack faith in me and are never shy in telling me what I need to hear. I am a better person today for having them both in my life – and certainly while a part of that is the simple process of maturing over the years, a lot of it is the simple virtues of patience, compassion, generosity and kindness that they have always been living examples of, and whose example I have tried to follow.

I do not know what the future holds, or where we are traveling to. But I know that I can think of no better light on the hill to move towards than the one that is Catherine.

Rest well my very dear friend. I do not believe in a Heaven as you do, but if there is such a place, it is surely one that was made for you, and I hope one day to see you again there.

Love always,

Catherine and her husband (and some other guy) on their wedding day

A Trial By Media is exactly what they want

As is almost always the case with Morris Scottson’s public statements, whatever he actually says, the opposite is usually the truth. (Hence my conviction that his name must, logically, actually be Scott Morrison.)

This week, he’s been fulminating against Trial By Media, a useful spectre when you want to portray yourself or your allies as the wronged party, subjected to this unaccountable, uncontrollable process. It automatically sounds partisan and subjective.

It is, of course, a lie. On two levels.

First of all, Scottson et al clearly have no problem at all with Trial By Media when it suits their own purposes. Just ask Yasmin Abdul Majid. Or Duncan Storrar. Or Bill Shorten. Or Dan Andrews. Piss off the right in this country, and you’ll soon find out just what a Trial By Media really is,

Secondly, and perhaps less obviously, a Trial By Media might not be ideal for Christian Porter or anyone else on the Coalition side of things, but it is most definitely to be preferred to any other sort of trial. A Trial By Media is deniable. It’s subjective. It can be dismissed. It has no legal force whatsoever. And, most importantly, it ends as soon as the media scents some other fresh meat.

Scottson mouths the platitudes, but his heart (if indeed he possesses such a thing – the money his government has spent on empathy consultants suggests that it’s not an organ he has much experience of using) isn’t in it. He’s just waiting out the storm, pretending to complain about it in the mean time. Sure, he’d prefer that this whole situation had never come out, but now that it has, events are proceeding pretty much entirely according to the standard playbook: deny, delay, obfuscate, smear the accusers, and hold on for dear life until the winds that threaten change die down.

Don’t Fall For It: A Pre-Emptive Warning

Very soon now, if it hasn’t already started, you’re going to be hearing a certain story over and over again from politicians. As the Covid-19 vaccines roll out across the world, and hopefully make their presence felt sooner rather than later, the drumbeat of this certain story will get louder and louder.

And that story is that the creation and rollout of the vaccine represents a triumph of capitalism, of free enterprise, of the free market. That it’s a shining example of what the market can deliver, when government gets out of the way.
Scott Morrison will be saying this.
Boris Johnson will be saying this.
Joe Biden will be saying this.

It is a lie.

Not a misunderstanding, not a half-truth, not an accidental misinterpretation of the facts. A lie.

To start with, of the six vaccines approved at the time of writing, one of them was produced by a state-owned company (the BBIBP-CorV by Sinopharm, which is wholly owned by the Chinese government) and another was produced by a collaboration between a private company and a publically-funded university (the AZD1222 vaccine by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford). So to start with, that’s already a quarter of them produced by decidedly unfree enterprises.

But even more importantly, none of these vaccines would be being made at all – with the possibly exception of the two I’ve mentioned above – were it not for the fact that there’s a lot of government money being spent to support this research. In fact, there are literally no buyers for the vaccines which are not governments. The market, such as it is, for these products is one entirely created by governments (which, remember, aren’t supposed to interfere in the operation of the market, because otherwise the market tends to sulk).

Furthermore, the actual rollout of the vaccines is being handled, in most cases, by a mixture of privately-owned and publicly-owned medical services. (Arrangements vary depending on that nation in question.) So it’s not like good old free enterprise gets to claim a whole credit for that either.

So, again, the story that the vaccine represents a triumph of the free market is a lie.

Now, the spread of the Covid-19 virus, well, that the free market can take quite a bit of credit for. Whether it’s the insecure work practices of cruise liners, the ‘flexibility’ of casualisation in nursing homes and other industries, the reflexive out-sourcing to private security firms, the fly by night operators allegedly cleaning public transport rolling stock, and so on. The list goes on and on, and all of these are just Australian examples. Each of them is an example of the market failing to deliver the greatest good for the greatest number, and almost all of them are examples of the market’s regular operation leading to preventable deaths.

Just a little something to keep in mind when the propaganda starts up.

This Week, January 6, 2021

Well, that was a year. One I hope we never go back to, but who can say? Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. Renewed outbreaks in my home town and a vaccine still months away. We maintain.

Honestly, I don’t feel like I got a lot of work done in the last six months. Which is one of the things that finds me back here – I’m not sure if anyone’s reading this, but I assume someone is, and thus, this can serve as a mechanism of accountability for me.

And a record of my failure to properly keep notes, which means that I’m actually not sure what five of the different projects I’ve mentioned here are anymore, which is just great.

In the meantime, Projects Lee, Kasem, Periander and Galen have crept forward slowly – I’m pleased at the progress I’ve made, I just feel like there should be more of it. Nothing else has progressed significantly.

Oh, and I’m still wrestling with the same dilemma I had last time I posted here. Here’s hoping for a more productive week by the time I’m writing this again next week.

This Week, July 17, 2020

Not a lot of work got done on my own projects this week – a little of the endless edging forward of Project Lee and Project Kasem, a goodly chunk of Project Galen, but most of my efforts this week went to my contributions towards someone else’s project, the wonderful Wandrer which has enlivened and gamified my bicycle riding all of this year and part of last year.

Honestly, I’ve been taking a step back, trying to go big picture on this, and wondering which projects to push forward with and which not of late. Should I concentrate on those which will generate a profit (and which those are, given the uncertainty of the near and further futures just at the moment), or should I instead just do those which make me happy?

I find myself leaning toward the latter as I type this, but I’ve going back and forth on this for the last few weeks and I’m no closer to a decision, so who knows?

This… While, July 9, 2020

So then I fell off a cliff. Not literally, but I did have a very low period there in which not much got accomplished, but I’m coning back from it now. One of the things I did to enable this comeback was the put Project Jeamland on hold indefinitely, because the stress vs reward ratios on that one were part of what tipped me over. But even Projects Kasem, Galen and Lee have not seen very much progress in this period.

Still, I’m hoping things will get better soon. I feel like I’ve turned a corner, and ironically, my city going back into lockdown may have actually helped – not because it’s a good thing, but because it at least shows that someone is trying to make things better here in Melbourne. That helps.

See you next Wednesday.