The Ladder Of Creation
‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’
(i) Time And Relative Dimensions In Space
At lunch in the Clarence Corner Hotel,
Mark, Misbah, Redhoune & Baldwin
sit amongst the elderly, released from
the Mater, clutching x-ray/E.C.G
results like U3A Diplomas.
Outside, the muted flow of traffic
is harnessed to a spine of impurities.
On Stanley Street everything
seems brittle as a career in IT.
The bitumen laid down over
an Aboriginal pathway from West End
to Woolloongabba, liquefies.
A simulacra of industry occupies
space & time like a TARDIS.
Culture rematerialises as a pot plant,
a Pokie machine or a jukebox.
At the counter, the barmaid in
tight Jim Beam t-shirt & blue jeans
pours drinks down the day’s throat.
Mark & Baldwin hug their third beers.
Misbah & Redhoune sit on their water.
Barflies call her ‘Michelle my Belle’
& murmur something about, ‘there’s only
two left on that friggin’ submarine!’
Near the front door, two plainclothes
detectives from Dutton Park CIB
frisk the jukebox for hits or prints.
Interview a young woman who can’t
keep her eyes from going walkabout
& protests about ‘doin’ nuthin wrong’.
U2 mouths Sunday Bloody Sunday
as the Manager, backed by the cops
asks her to leave – one way or another.
The Job Search trainees watch her
migrate up the street, out of sync
with contemporary conditioning theory.
The shadow of the Mater Hospital falls
on her like a fifty ton cartoon weight.
She is press-ganged by animation.
The dead certainty of her role,
in the flimsy ladder of creation
preserved by formaldehyde clouds.
She takes aim at a phone box & misses.
The volcanic ash of her anger petrifies,
her spirit doused in the gutter;
a cigarette butt with a trace
of red lipstick flicks out
of a tinted car window.
Hits her square in the afternoon.
(ii) England, 1831 AD.
In the naturalists’ mouth
the rare beetle perches
like an English toffee;
stuffy Victorian juices
start to pierce its hard
exoskeleton (see the hunter
/seeker ‘squids’ in Matrix.)
Like Pythagoras’ warm cave,
the only pocket to hand
as the specimens piled up
around his feet, trekked
under his suit sleeves
& started to irritate
the powers that be.
(iii) The Origin of Species, 1859 – 2002 AD
The Howardian edict:
The preservation of favoured races
in the struggle for life,
or the White Australia Policy
reinvented circa 1960’s.
Crouched behind its Kennedy era
tortoise-shell desk, cumbersome
as a Magnavox, the blood-drinking
vampire finch of Kirribilli House
(once found only in the Galapagos
Islands) but now firmly entrenched
in Canberra, dips its razor beak
into the popular inkwell & smears
some more theories on who should
come to New Holland & how over
the plush Menzies upholstery.
The little dicky bird
summoning all the charisma
of a marine iguana, shuffles
along its antique perch
& chicken-marks its surface
with pictograms of reactionary
‘We decide who enters
my fortress of plenitude,
it chirps to a mirror,
made of that radioactive
it renders powerful
After all, it only
takes what it needs to survive,
& lets the host animal
(see scapegoat) live.
To be bled before another
(iv) The Lash of Primordial Milk
Job Club finally gets to Baldwin.
At the mock interview he makes
sure he turns it into a friendly chat.
Determined not to use those words
from the ‘negativity bin’ (still
up there on the whiteboard, albeit
a bit smudged).
Makes sure to ask pertinent questions.
‘So, Helen, I see you don’t wear
a wedding ring. Is there room
for a Mister Job Network Member
in your life?’
For ten minutes Baldwin
is the ‘star’ jobseeker selected
from his unemployed species.
The others fail to adapt to
the changing job search climate;
fail to grow the extra long tongue
they need for arse-licking.