To feel this world
the amino acids humans cannot synthesise
are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, methionine,
leucine, isoleucine, lysine, histidine
and the non-rhyming tryptophan,
bound for brain and mutating to serotonin —
this molecule affects your moods and electrical pulsing,
so be careful, these are things we need
notes that humans cannot hear include
the sound of thylacines crying in a van diemen forest,
a dodo's plaintive shuffle on a nearshore kiwi island,
a mammoth's woolly orgasm on an ecstatic arctic tundra,
an esperance dog weed's silent transpiration
the rumbles of a gastric brooding frog giving birth by burping —
these things are far too late for caring
things we need to see and taste include
the surging milk of human kindness
the euphoric rainbow of random caring
the startling scarlet crest of a gang gang cockatoo —
these would make a nice day, nicer
to feel this world, close your eyes and inhale
the earthy pungent tone of musk
on a summer-scented
late evening's perfumed otherness
The brittle sound of daytime barking
Some days it seems we live
in a table-top terrarium with 17 desperate dogs,
such is the brittle sound of daytime barking.
The man comes to read the gas meter:
dogs across the road, dogs next door,
my dog and a host of other unknown
rip the kind of silent air to pieces.
He simply smiles and says:
Yo, bro, how you go?
I get excited, turned on by
early morning hip hoppy rap
from the energetic mouth
of our meter-reader.
Great, Bro, say I, but short of
the rhyming slang which might
have followed. Nice to see you, mate —
thanks for reading my meter!
He trips off, down the street
to another encounter, another silent meter,
where disturbed dogs may bark
like mad and if they could,
bring the house down.
Then the postie arrives en scoot,
drops the lid after inserting mail
and rides off down the footpath
to a new cacophony of seamless barking.
Four-legged creatures of the sparkling morn:
bark on, since it is your precious sounds
that tell the world these are my people,
and you, relative outsider — harm them at your peril.
My task is to watch, observe, bark —
and if needed: to bite.
You then apologise for stepping into
these private worlds where loving pets
guard the future, and retard the chance
of ugly happenstance.
What's not to like about
these wondrous local choruses
of thrillingly jangly, whooshy sound bites?
And a man on a bike with manners.
Call me Mr Waiting Man:
I wait for Mr Plaster Man to dry
Mr Sander Man to rub it back
Mr Painter Man to lick
his way across your ceiling
and then a longer wait,
the longest wait of all.
I wait for the forces
of nature, time and memory
to resonate and bring
it all back down again. Living
with incipient horror
in a suburban landscape
borrowed from time
and held close to the modern
heart with consuming passion
and inarticulate adoration.
Then, as time proves over
and over again: volcanoes spurt,
apocalyptic magma screaming;
atomic clouds descend, ionising lives to dust;
tsunamis pour in, swamping smiles
with liquid extinction. Then, just
as you think it couldn't
get worse, you switch
to channel 13 on the final day
of life as the asteroid hits
with a force and magnitude
beyond pain and dissolution,
beyond description. The road
out turns back, the road in
vaporises, all skies
lose all their light
all photo synthesising slams
all production is
ships sink to the bottom
of boiling oceans
planes fall from a melting sky
like shivering confetti
all genetic codes unravel. And soon, in
a billion years or so,
life re-forms. A
casual observer is overheard
to remark at the time:
well, the elephants
look more like mole crickets
and the viruses are longer
than road trains,
and that stuff which looks
a bit like gelatine colluding
with dyslexia and vinegar,
and violet in its wobbling,
is what's left of the former
world's greed. And humanity? It
wrote itself out — and sorry,
but you won't be returning
any time soon.
Allan Padgett is a WA poet who performs regularly at Perth Poetry Club. He has been published in Creatrix, Uneven Floor, Creative Connections, Regime, Rochford Street Review, Plumwood Mountain, Grief Anthology 2016 & Unusual Work. Allan's poem 'The Wheatbelt turns to dust' was second in the 2012 Creatrix Poetry Prize.