M.T.C. CroninM.T.C. Cronin

Working Note

Why write poetry? How not to write poetry? I never knew the answer to the first question and I no longer know the answer to the second. But some important thoughts: I write poetry because, for me, it is a way of ‘being’ in the world. In that world (this world?) I express, communicate, make sense of some things, am bewildered by others, I relax, I am stimulated, I understand and I am baffled. I also eat, sleep, walk, have sex, clean, cook, go to the toilet, cry, laugh etc etc. Poetry takes care of all that. Poetry cares for none of that. It is an interaction of what is instinctive and intuited with what is presented and expected; of awe with what is taken for granted; of all that is not fully understood with all that is fully understood. It is the essential mystery of humanness—all that I am capable of as an intellectual and emotional entity who desires to ‘make’ ever more meaningful and wondrous images to push out into the conversation of life—in my own words, words that never lose their mystery and do not desire to, for truth is, by its very nature, mysterious. It is a constant and yet everchanging joining of what I do not know and what I do; a way to learn how to be whilst immersing myself fully in being.

And in this process—for it is a process—I attend to as much as I can and when I become aware of how much I have seen I am even more aware of what I have missed, what it is that I might not know, what I might (will) never know. That must go into poetry: the missing, the silence, the looking at the knowing of oneself that acknowledges the incompleteness of all things. And the contingency of the self and of the world is at the core of life and thus, at least for me, of poetry, for it is in realizing that one is a part, that all connections are made possible. Poetry is the celebration, and also the exploration, of these connections (and lack of) and it makes its way in the world by bumping and pushing and eliding and slipping and wavering. I went looking for it and its way of life one day when it become clear that I could not make sense of life and it has never disappointed me. But then, I have never given it a hard time. I do not bad-mouth it and I enter its sensibility easily and without complaint. All of its harsh and beautiful musics I let straight to my heart—it can seep right through the flesh if you know the proper way to eat it! Don’t ask me where the words come from—other people’s I can guess at (and will probably be wrong, but it doesn’t matter); my own are less my own than what I could ever guess.








The Questions I Would Ask & The Statements I Would Make

what if everything broke
in our world
and we just had to sit there
on the ground
till we were dead

what if we waited
for just the right time
for these words and didn’t say them
or write them
until that moment came

what if the million cossacks
in my uterus
stopped dancing and kicking blood
on my thighs
what if that

and there were no more children
no life for now

and our autonomous love
removed its ears
and dropped its heart

what if what I offer
looks meagre
but is in fact the reason
of you
and gets beneath these words

is the beat, the drum
and the hand
and the way we move
in the moments
we are simply overcome

what if I asked you
for nothing
would you break the world
and raise the ground
to ignore such a death

I want to be as close to you
as a fact
but love is not exact
at any one time
love is this means

and also the end
so what if my secret
is that I live a life
for here, for now
and the adoration isn’t mutual



The End of the Vision

        "The author of a beautiful poem
is always dead."
                                           Jean Genet

          would you not expect
from death?

Our many greetings
to time
even Goodbye as it sets out back-
wards to sow its memory-
seeds on islands
reachable only by
imagination’s boats and planes
of trust

or Hello!
and the moment explodes
already moving against this back-
drop of relativity over-
stretched like the voiceless
canvas which would speak
or break beneath
our workers’

My hand still with yours
against evidence of the stones
you clutch
the luggage it was said
you could not carry
the disintegration of your
fingers to the cliché
of dust

This grasping
that can be accomplished
without movement
needs no eyes
no ears to discern the song
from the groan
but only desire turn-
ing as would a legless arm-
less beast in the heart’s
hot soil

is about possibilities
and death can be chosen
as if it were the noun of
your dictionary

Do you see the space
beside you
in perfect proportion to yourself?
Is it only me
that sees your gone-
The black flower smiles
with such untempered beauty
The green-
ness of the day so eagerly
hyphenates –
                             makes life!

a little list: what is passing;
what is held; my head bowing
in the warmth of you; again
you turn at the fall of a

wet hands raised; in the street,
everyone looking
at the girl’s tight
calves; even with all its
beginnings; my life
cannot address what my vision
can; the end of the vision;

It is full

Death is filled
                                       with longing



Apple of My Heart

With a skin that tears ragged like a fruit this heart has not always rested in this position, slightly tilted in a bowl beneath the lights, a bruise two-thirds of the way down and to the side, aorta, a stem and with all the significance of that without a branch and from branch to tree. How to live?! I always wanted to whisper to a particular lover. To keep our words beneath the terror of sound. I account for this with the secret, that large bite taken and kept in the mouth till it warms to the temperature of the body. This exact heat it shares with disclosure, that passion that becomes too great to remain an inhabitant of any place. Visitors are like this and so it has been confirmed since my time here. They come with flowers and oranges, never with any fruit that marks, though the flowers die and do so all over the floor and furniture. They come with things to tell, trying to speak but gushing or falling to the chairs with a mouthful of silence. Falling in that tight circle drawn by responsibility and guilt. They know me. They cannot unknow me. On good days I call the nurses and ask them to bring my heart on a plate, cut into quarters and seeded. I offer it round. But on days when I’m bleeding all over I lie still and quiet and think of my own plans. My old plans. For a time my chest hums with bird-twitter through the leaves and the lonely frou of the sun’s soft voice, the orchard’s hymn in my memory sung by light that occupies the air as if a context. This is when I close my eyes and move my lips into that faint language of the breath. Lover, I say, as quiet as a sensation along the skin, will you eat my heart, core and all? I need to know if you can crush me in an instant. I need to know if survival is a plea you will ignore.



Approaching the Body

It is the tongue that welcomes another to the body.
The hands can only give signs.
The hair would seem to indicate joy, but cannot
The arms fulfil the desires of the chest – to love.
Eyes speculate and search for the mirror that coats
the surfaces of all other bodies.
Ears and nose peel the potatoes in a relationship.
Feet do the tricks and promote dizziness.
The spine waits bravely to be hurt so the body can
lean towards another.
The stomach stores pain and sometimes distributes
The head turns, to or away, and the body before it
loses or gains edges – this is significant.
Neck, by itself, bends in a way reminiscent of life.
Shoulders are not married to solid objects as they
are in art, but are soft and reveal the child.
The pelvis, held firmly like a basket, is for
masking pain.
Fingers and toes, fingers and toes. What fun!
The genitals are always talking, even chattering.
The breasts and nipples are transparent in eternity.
Through them can be seen a dirty string that is
joined to something that can’t be seen.
The collarbone is beautiful – like a staircase with
only one step.
Legs are actually tongs and should be used for
The mouth is so harmful.
The back surrounds us with the idea of it and
together with the head is how we think of
When the body is naked and opens itself to another
it assumes its one anonymous posture, for even in
death and sleep we are ourselves, thinking
ourselves at the end of the world.
Inside another body – just at the moment of
entering and if you enter quietly enough – you can
hear the true pronunciation of your own flesh’s



Bio: Margie Cronin publishes under the name of M.T.C. Cronin. Her poetry, short-stories and reviews have been published widely in over a hundred different journals, newspapers and anthologies in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the UK, Canada and the USA.
    Margie has written three novels, one in verse and two in prose, as well as a verse novella. She currently has a number of poetry manuscripts in progress and is working on a novel and a collection of essays which will form her PhD on “Poetry and Law: Discourses of the Social Heart”. Margie worked in law in the 1990s and is now teaching literature and creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney, in the Department of Writing, Social & Cultural Studies. Margie has just received a two year established writer’s grant from the Australia Council. She is also writer-in-residence at two Sydney secondary schools, and lives in Newtown with her partner, a musician, and their two young daughters.

Zoetrope – we see us moving (Five Islands Press, 1995)
the world beyond the fig (Five Islands Press, 1998)

— shortlisted for the CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 1999
Everything Holy (Balcones International Press, USQ, 1998)
— shortlisted for the Jessie Litchfield Award for Literature 1997, The Age Poetry Book of the Year 1999, the Judith Wright Calanthe Prize, Queensland Premier's Literary Awards 1999, the Kenneth Slessor Prize, New South wales Premier's Literary Awards 2000, commended in the Wesley Michael Write Prize 1999
Mischief-Birds (Vagabond Press, 1999)
Bestseller (Hazard Press, forthcoming 2000)
Talking to Neruda's Questions (Vagabond Press, forthcoming 2001)



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