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.
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! Dont 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
Questions I Would Ask & The Statements I Would Make
if everything broke in our world and we just had to sit there on the ground till we were dead
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
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
End of the Vision
author of a beautiful poem is
What 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 gently already moving against this back- drop of relativity over- stretched like the voiceless canvas which would speak or break beneath our workers’ hands
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
Choosing 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- ness? The black flower smiles with such untempered beauty The green- ness of the day so eagerly hyphenates – makes
So 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
plate, 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; death
It is full
Death is filled with
of My Heart
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Publications: 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,