John Tranter

I’ve been reading a lot of John Tranter lately as part of a series I’m working on. It involves taking a line from a poem that speaks to you and responding to it. I’m currently working on a response to the line “love is endless oil” from the poem Benzedrine by John Tranter from his book Urban Myths. Here’s a draft of the first stanza.

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Blue Dress

(Crime and Punishment mash-up)

The student shudders under his book at her dashing entrance. The blue dress, the white under skirt, the strength of her sexual enthusiasm wafts over on her perfume.

She takes her dress off on the train and parades around in her yellow underwear, six sequins on her bra straps. She says her boyfriend is a liar.

A man up the front hides a long neck VB, drunker than Christmas. He hollers at her to “put her clothes on, there are children on the train”. The student marvels at her almost endearing insolence as she gives him the finger and spits on an empty seat. A certain triumph in her bleary eyes. The suit by the door avoids her stare while the man with the little trolley smiles with pitying condescension.

She has an animal joy, burning with damaged self-esteem. The traffic cops pick her up descending like the gods of war. The drunk laughs and laughs and spills his beer, having avoided a fine. She laughs too, as the cops take her by the arm, swinging her arse as she saunters on, singing in Russian. The student watches as the train moves on.

Wild Saturday night, poetry, and mold.

Ahhh Sunday morning.

I have a new bookcase. It’s chocolate coloured, tall, and begging for books. The walls of my room are freckled with mold that looks to be making a home for itself (the joys of living in an old damp apartment), so I’m frantically moving all my prized books out of its reach. As it is with these things, I couldn’t help but read some of them.

Now it’s late (or early) and I’ve had my nose in some pages by the likes of John Tranter, John Forbes, and August Kleinzahler. So now I’m messing around with words. Here are some I prepared earlier.

Coral lipped, she had her tongue split
down the middle, now she talks strange
She likes to stick it out at small children
declaring that she never saw herself as a
mother

concentrating on the red man, he changes
green and we walk to the movies, she hates
romantic comedies and so do I, so we catch
some Nicolas Cage disaster. We’re not there
for the popcorn.

In the park in the early hours she hands me
a can of Coke, we do the whole look
at the stars and contemplate our lives shit. She feels
Athena is misunderstood – her manager – not the goddess
she tells me, though the goddess has a right to be mad
too, if you ask her, which I didn’t, but to watch her is heaven
and the night’s too cold for me to move.

I think the ending is a bit too weak. But I’m still mulling over what to replace it with. Maybe a detail about the other persona? I don’t know, it’s kind of her show, so… I’ll have to think on it some more.

Wild Saturday night/Sunday morning alone at the keys. I know what you’re thinking, “how does she maintain her extravagant lifestyle?”. Coffee and meds, my friends, coffee and meds.

Why, what are you doing with your Sunday morning?

I, like prayers, say too much.

Been fiddling with a poem for the last two days. I’m not feelin it. Themes get stuck in my head and I gag on the same metaphors over and over. Here’s the middle of it.

Walking by your bedroom
crumpled flowers of clothes
sleepy mouthed coffee cups, slug-like
used condom visible under the bed
you close the door, chin cradling a half smile
you shrug. Your leather couch is
peeling like the sides of a mushroom
the mountains are fresh between
your torn blinds. Your hands travel
my thighs, I am 27, you are not the first to sigh
with me and I, like prayers,
say too much.

annnnd the only lines I like are “Your leather couch is peeling like the sides of a mushroom” and “I, like prayers, say too much”.

Back to the drawing board. At least I’m putting font to Word screen. Right?