Growing a life of art and gentle anarchy, Narrative: Shamanic story, poetry, music, and visual art in all shapes, forms and ways. Art as everyday domestic based healing and the nuture of beauty.

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The reinvention of work

I have been reading the reinvention of work by mattew fox (1994). He offers a vision of work that seeks to move from an increasingly destructive industrialist worldview/paradigm into a spirited ecological one. He advocates inner transformation of consciousness via ritual, communal and personal. The inner transformation is the place where the outer life of work and culture begins. He suggests that artists work to bring transformative ritual into their local communities. He calls this,”participatory art”, that, “unleashes energy” and works to “heal dualisms”. So i am beginning to look for this side of the arts more and more so please help and guide me to deeper understanding.

under protest (detail).

The Australian writer ValPlumwood also believes that the nature culture split can be changed by the strategies found in Ecological writing and theory. Plumwood believes in giving voice to the more than human as a way of re-spiriting dead matter. In her poetic essay journey to the heart of stone, Plumwood talks about how writers can challenge, “The experiential framework of dead silent matter entrenched by the sado-disspassionate rationality of scientific reductionism” (Plumwood in Beckett & Gifford 2007, p18). The way to do this is to recover an understanding of matter as spirited. She calls for a project that encourages us to, “to think beyond these boundaries, to re-invest with speech, agency and meaning the silenced ones, including the earth and its very stones, cast as the most lifeless members of the earth community” (Plumwood in Beckett & Gifford 2007, p22). The writer can re-spirit matter by work that gives voice to the non-human. By doing this the writer can not only help open up space for the world to talk to human communities, but also they can help the human communities learn how to listen. This is a way of healing a wounded space. IMG_5439

 

under protest

What we saw of the bats

Woke early and kissed you goodbye to lay in bed bleeding menstrual blood and rest your cramping belly

hand in hand with our little girl with plastic pony filled unicorn shape bag

going to the city to see fruit bats by the harbour hanging from trees

past Lidcombe on the train saw blood on the tracks behind blue tape police line and fireman with hose young man with mad eyes cross legs on the platform

made water colour pictures with our daughter on top of magazine collage of handsome ruff hair’d face man with wedding dress model legs and pet pig

went all the way to circular key and leaning off the rails watched jelly fish floating amongst rubbish and huge northern coast turpentine tree ferry pylon structures

noticed rippled shadow of cruise ship big as city buildings

past opera house peaks remember’d sumo wrestling in latex costume with beautiful American girl and photo of a new friend in Spencer tunic naked pile of people

watched seagulls catch imperceptible things amongst the sea weeds

went round to fenced off fig tree giant sculpted rock wave cascade and Gadigal woven stone shield big as a house

moved here by new Zealand artist tip truck and Gosford bulldozer quarry place

heard the laughter of children at wedding party by the pond with eel brushing the surface reflecting black bamboo.

all we saw of the bats was a picture board explaining their eviction by noise wires in list reason’d slope of text laminate

stood there quiet remembering cracking the eggs the broody hen at home had abandoned to find one fine feathered duckling wrapped in translucent sack

blood in the shell on my gloves in the wheel barrow and in the compost bin

remembered emptying the rubbish this morning and seeing a condom full of  my ejaculation cover’d in land filled destinies

follow’d tight jean tourists along wave shaped sign wall invasion narrative history ending at a bunch of green bananas hanging covered in bees

a pencil drawing of Bennelong behind us and a plaque description of 1700’s European taste for the sweet and the novel

round spiked cactus at the lion guarded gates the harbour sparkling and jacaranda blossums in the distance

sound of freeway beneath

picked flowers and went to look up at mammoth bronze sculpt’d war horse Sydney basin sandstone plinth

our three year old girl with unknown native flower’d hair ornaments raided from botanic garden plant museum

into the gallery up smooth steps glittering with coastal sand specks to exchange our bags for a white number’d black bit of wood

somewhere in here we can find lin onus hills hoist pattern’d with dots and hanging wooden bats or have they been evicted too?

up and down escalators thru collections of two dimensional wall hanging paintings

Del barton erect nipple’d nature women naked with birds and five breasts in a landscape of blue named dots

told at the information desk of dismantled clothesline bats

instead

Went to see thousand year old ceramic horses from china painted earth colours on spotless white platform behind glass window with legs flying up and warrior polo playing woman fist clenched

Decided to leave and walked out into the arvo sun

Over pedestrian crossing wedding procession cars stopped to let us cross white ribbons flapping and latter almost got run down by another satin sparkling wedding dressed bride

The cameras flashing in the old sydney hospital courtyard past the fountain edge to wild bronze tusked pig

Caught the train back up the mountain

Out the window deep sandstone cliff face gorge and creek glowing orange from western sun

Handprints ancient in the cave overhangs

Looking at the blue mountain horizon a haze of bushfire smoke and full moon rising behind us in the east.

+Sydney mid spring 2012

Air plane woman and colonial town dust road

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back fence lost/back fence song

Recently this poem “back fence lost” was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Overland emerging poets prize.

The whole experience was really unexpected and strange for me. I even began to wish that i had never entered because if i won i would have to reveal that i am an imposter that knows very little about contemporary poetry in Australia. Through this process i realised how strongly i have come into the belief that creativity is growing more common. That it is becoming less about the individual modernist genius, and more about everybody having the knowledge that they possess the greatest genius of all, that of the inherent creativity of everyday life.

I have always questioned if the world needs another white male middle class story-teller. I have almost given up creative practice because of these issues that are so present in literary and art communities. I still don’t know where i stand on this issue, maybe i never will? But having said all that, art making is about expression of communities, dialogue and healing. That’s a good enough reason to keep doing it for me. Just to make sense of the world and make sure that cultural monster forms don’t swallow me up completely.

Back Fence Lost is a poem that i wrote while living in Katooma. I had just left living on a rural property in northern NSW and was confronted by the shift back into a suburban lifestyle. All everyday things are full of ecological interactions. All these things we live with are openings and beginnings of stories that cascade forever.

In the form and style of the poem you can hear how much i love my favorite poets, especially Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman and Gary Snyder. BUt It’s also written from reading the poets, Kath Walker, Anita Heiss and Yvette Holt. There is also the feeling of co-writing with my peers Julie-ann Henninger and Simon Leo, who are the most important and brilliant poets for me because they share a personal journey of life and growth with me.

The poem was edited and rewritten from its original form which is about 200 lines to fit the 50 line limit of the Overland prize. I have posted both versions of the poem here. let me know what you think…

 

Back fence lost

 

Rough-edged palings warped bent nail shadows and twisted grain,

 

chicken wire half dead bean vine climbing full of seeds and light breeze moving,

afternoon shadow decent of cross beam and 5 + 3 hardwood upright,

once upon a time made with string line and spirit level

 

now an ancient relic leaning:

 

weather-board white grey dusk light through the cracks,

brilliant in the moon-light with arch of Milky-Way arm spiral above,

crawling with snails in the wet dew night.

 

palings torn from the old eucalypt forests,

uplifted volcanic ancient hotspots and leaf litter of thousand year old hardwood

giants

 

in an under story of lace work vine clothes dangling from canopy to buttress,

on a cold windy ridge top

log truck spitting up dust against the bleeding angophoras.

hillsides burnt black smouldering root-balls and the etched road access of compacted and grader

 

r    I  p   p  E  d              l  I  n  E  s.

 

 

This arvo with hand rested on the back-fence wondering,

 

what kind of sport is this anyway?

 

head thrown back in lycra suit racing across the roof tiles with billowing smoke and rafters

collapsing behind

 

cheering in race day hats beneath blue and white stripped umbrellas as soldiers move through

bombed streets in old pattern SHM respirators and ZFK-58 suits

Standing on Olympic podium with chin high ignorant of garden fence complexities,

Hitting snooker chalked balls across green felt war zones with roof collapsing and woman with sick

child begging on the street outside.

 

looking up see the sky rested on the pavers crooked against grey fence shadows

 

still listening

to

 

neighbour mowing lawn over back fence

 

l                       l                       l                       l                       l

O                     O                     O                     o                      O

s                       s                       s                       s                       s

t                       t                       t                       t                       t

 

in the wood grain

 

h   O   l   d   i  n  g

 

the shadow eucalypt tree rusting nail eternity.

 

 

(This is the longer version. It’s a bit more honest and i think it’s better to read.)

 

Fence song

 

1

 

Late summer beneath light rain on unbalanced weed infected pavers,

 

It’s 3pm and I’m out here wondering about the world.

 

Look up at old fence and hear the neighbour gallant on the other-side struggling with   lawnmower

 

Sounds like a beast of a pull start cord siezed by rust,

 

I am thinking about suburban backyards and my display cement

 

How many fences in this town?

 

How much separation?

 

How much old-growth destruction for land claim’d bound airy lines?

 

Could we pull the fences of the world down with rusted jemmy bar and hammer and climbing

 

children?

 

Reclaim the commons of humanities sensual belonging:

 

Make sure everybody has a home, land to grow food on and a place to fuck wildly amongst the

 

Strawberries.

 

2

 

With strange neighbour alien mowing grass

 

I touch the fence-face with curious fingers…

 

The rough-edg’d pailings warp’d bent nail shadows and twist’d grain,

 

Chicken wire half dead bean vine climbing full of seeds and light breeze moving:

 

Afternoon shadows decent of eros cross beam and 5 + 3 hardwood upright,

 

Straight! Plumb! Level!

 

Once upon a time made with string line and spirit level,

 

Hammer’d, Saw’d, Chisl’d fit together neatly,

 

Now an ancient relic leaning,

 

Weather-board white grey dusk light through the cracks,

 

Brilliant in the moon-light with arch of Milky-Way arm spiral above,

 

Crawling with snails in the wet dew night seen through window ghost panes knot’d and reflective of

 

Strangers,

 

Caress’d and clamber’d by morning glory!

 

3

 

Later I am sitting with a splinter in the palm of my hand for an hour looking at Arnhem land painting in thick

 

Missionary curator mediated book cover,

 

Near the garden fence on plastic chair unfolded!

 

Ancestral mother dancing ochre patterns and spirit healing on the back of x-ray serpent render’d on bark scroll.

 

How many thousand years?

 

How many moons, suns floods?

 

How many cyclones, fires, droughts?

 

Old ancestral dancer in the deep unknown desert on the sand holds down nuclear death,

 

Dispers’d radioactive elements, Uranium, Plutonium Strontium-90,

 

In world wide power station facilities,

 

Those chemical elements dug up spread annihilation for children, mothers, lands, disrupted power by tsunami earthquake nuclear meltdown on deep earth fault line,

 

In the rain drifting the biosphere in clouds fallen in soil,

 

Gives Mona Lisa bone cancer!

 

Rots Venus birthing!

 

Withers van Gough sunflowers!

 

Marbl’d David’s cock flush’d crack’d down museum toilet!

 

Monet’s haystacks disposed black toxic rain burnt!

 

Turns them to earth.

 

4

 

Old spirit dancer wake my young body!

 

Wake flesh blood dormant spirit warrior and forgive my ignorance and push my face in the dirt to greet my own ancestral dancers of other climates!

 

Before anhilation!

 

Before the children’s bodies are eaten by cancers!

 

Before the sacred land is murder’d and lay’d bare!

 

Before apathy and despair burry me in mounds of asphalt concrete and toxic ash!

 

5

 

Fence origins:

 

Palings torn from the old eucalypt forests,

 

A mountain range of beauty 3000 kilometres long from tropic to curv’d southern snowdrifts,

 

Uplifted.

 

Volcanic ancienthotspots and story’d cultur’d geologic wonders.

 

The sacred memory of creek-bed and the erosion of slope by cyclone torn trees.

 

In the warm afternoon sun, I am remembering mist rising from subtropical ecologies and ochre filled creek banks, the leaf litter

 

of thousand year old sentient giants,

 

Communities of rich interactions and deep strength sunlight filtering through thick vines

 

Hanging.

 

the eucalypt forests of old growth hardwoods giants in an under story of tree ferns,

 

a lace work of vine clothes dangling from canopy to buttress heart shap’d skeleton leafs,

 

creeks clear and fed from springs in the moss cover’d ground,

 

tree spiral figures embrac’d in the branches of worlds spreading in spirals of galaxies and leaves roots dug deep chew’d on by serpents,

 

curl’d around the trunk tongue flicking at the moon deep in the tree of life,

 

how many seasons?

 

How many winters of frost and snow?

 

How much dormancy and how much times of budding?

 

6

 

I am remembering when i saw a pademelon feeding at dawn on fern shoots,

 

Eucalypt silhouettes on a cold windy ridge top:

 

Log truck spitting up dust against the wounded bleeding Angophras.

 

Hillsides burnt black smouldering root-balls and the etched road access of compact’d and grader

 

ripped lines.

 

Walked amongst the forest logging debris tall trees gone lay down across a stump as big as a bed,

 

I found a glider dead torn apart still in it’s hollow felled by chainsaw and harvesting

 

Machine:

 

Full of maggots!

 

7

 

This afternoon with hand rested on the back-fence, once alive in a forest community,

 

now leaning against a neighbour separation device.

 

I am making a quite prayer:

 

Old tree hold still the ground!

 

Hold the atomic annihilation beneath!

 

Wake my ancestors cell forms and genetic ephemera!

 

ancient spirit power!

 

Show me the spiral branch of warriors and the graves where they feast!

 

8

 

What kind of sport is this anyway?

 

Head thrown back in Lycra suit racing across the roof tiles with billowing smoke and rafters collapsing behind,

 

Cheering in race day hats beneath blue and white stripped umbrellas as soldiers move through bombed streets in old pattern SHM respirators and ZFK-58

 

Suits,

 

Depleted uranium casing baby deformities,

 

Hitting snooker chalk’d balls across green felt war zones with roof collapsing and woman with sick child begging on the street outside,

 

Standing on Olympic podium with chin high and forgotten garden fence complexities,

 

Finding god in church on pews or a with a hairless child woman with chemical melted hair, tanned skin and black silk dress,

 

Jumping high in metal studded boots on the back of someone falling down to catch an incoming atomic missile!

 

9

 

Down with the fence!

 

Talking with the neighbour he agrees!

 

Says: Knock it down put up steel colour bond one!

 

No!

 

That’s just another captalyst nightmare mining atrocity,

 

Replace it with metal galvanised uprights for black spiders to hide in,

 

Remove the rustic shadows of bent nail ecstasy silk thread leaf dangling homes,

 

Take it to the tip and dump it out of the car wash polish’d utility,

 

Burn it in a pile over a privet prun’d manifestation,

 

Write holy laws in the ash and breath the smoke.

 

10

 

Looking up i see the sky book rested on the pavers crooked against grey fence shadows

 

Still talking to the neighbour over the edge of fence controlled chaos

 

Could we pull down native forest wood saw’d fence to make communal garden beds?

 

Grow food and boycott the supermarket slave driver subtle and paver of fluorescent death,

 

Tomatoes leaning pick’d by small children hands and cook’d for dinner,

 

Find chicken pecking snails for dinner holy saviour of silver-beet destruction,

 

Find freedom in penis climbed and caressed by lovers hands!

 

In Breast and clitoris aroused by gentle tongue or fingers,

 

Because enjoyment is a deep human need, not a capatlyist destruction tool.

 

Save the earth by playing football, basketball or cricket with friends

 

By listening to poets!

 

By fucking and teasing pleasure from free loving bodies,

 

By Chinese checkers, backgammon, naught’s and crosses!

 

Don’t need new TV!

 

Or microwave!

 

Find our peace cooking on an open-fire beneath a sky full of distant suns!

 

Sing with guitars or drums or cooking pots!

 

surrounded by healing medicine herbs!

 

Wood grain eternity holding the shadow’s eucalypt tree of life rusting nail infinity!

 

Map the journeys of stars or snails!

 

Dance ecstatic and refuse to be a consumable unit!

 

Play table tennis on the reclaimed fence paling table beneath the peach tree spring blossoms and watch the fairy wrens chase their fancy blue breast’d hero!

 

learn each others names and sing songs of deep earth healing!

 

discuss political paraphernalia and bury newspaper politicians in piles of compost and chicken poo!

 

+ Katoomba autumn 2011

 

 

 

The great gastronomic revolution of 1952

 

                                                                                                        The great gastronomic revolution of 1952:

IMG_4697

Ate dreary food:

Living off tea, bread and butter:

Pale and bloodless little fish or fruit:

Red meat:

264 lbs per head per year:

Bigger plate mound of meat than USA: England: France: Germany!

Meat coupon scale on the wall.

Butcher shop community place:

Red meat religion?

 

gastronmic revolution of 1952

 

1952:

A revolution in the kitchen!

Demand for salad industrial cafeteria:

Anti-chauvinistic cuisine:

World war post migrant national diet, jugged wallaby:

Roast brush turkey Sundays:

Sea slug soup:

Baked paw paw, wonga wonga pigeon, turtle fin and prickly pear jelly:

Kangaroo tail soup:

Cures for indigestion in southern colonies:

Coffee grown on the river in cairns:

Sri lanken harvesters on 1900 plantations:

Flannel shirted black gum booted pants tucked in:Wild

Aesthetic pleasure of corned beef:

Casserole, steak and crayfish:

Regular haunts, Pavlova, lamented lamingtons.

 

Meat pie national dish:

Sold fresh:

Frozen over long distances:

Truck driver supermarket transport on highway one:

Factory meat pie perpetual despite the onslaughts:

Half a million pies a day:

Throughout the state:

Councillors cross the road for fine cuisine:

Chamber cafeteria shunned:

Mocked in some circles:

Whipped:

Looked like smoke:

Sealed, respectable, invalid:

Heroic:

Banished.

Found poems

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mOvement

drAwing

still liFe wiTh crOoked Tea pOt, chlorOphyl aNd OchRe

I have been having lots of fun painting and drawing. (I feel like my poems are drawings because i use the sense of sight and they read very visual/descriptive). I have been recovering a lot of the pigments i have collected and playing around with chlorophyl. It is nice to work with greens again. It might seem strange, but i have been playing with still life. But it’s not so still! There are phsycic resonances in these things: After conversation: the left behind objects like teapot and cups carry a story: a potent narrative: Vase with Banksia pod and brushturkey feather sticking out: the feeling of spirited handprints reaching across and out of the table, the life of ideas and plans: simple things, who is going to run the bath for the children: big things… How can any sane human being cut down the old growth forests of Australia? The deep love of ourselves and each other that we find when we really connect: the presence of shadows, hurt and the dead: possibility… when we talk about good ideas and begin the journey of nurturing them into life.

Climbed up sandstone weather eroded rocks
patterns like oceans
of memory
the song
of
bare skinned dances:

My daughters six year old feet
covered in yellow clay
and crystal sand shards: She made faces and looked deep
into
the valleys
hundreds of meters below.

A creek line cool feeding a forest of vines,

we are looking at old sassafras trees,
they have leaves
the same colour as her eyes.
-Flat rock caves spring 2011

I started working with natural pigments as a teenager. A close friend taught me how to collect and use tree sap, you put it into a jar with a little water and leave it in the sun for a few days: (thanks to that special person). That set me off on a decade of painting with clays, ochre’s, chlorophyl, charcoal and tree sap: at the time i didn’t think about what it meant, i didn’t have much money and these materials were freely available. As i worked with these natural pigments i became interested in environmental activism and politics. To collect and use natural pigments is not only an attempt to liberate myself from industrial capatlyst control over creativity: it has been a journey into belonging to place: spiritual belonging: and the politics of colonisation that exists there. Recently i have enjoyed learning about others who also work in this way, especially Blue Mts artist Scott Marr: Have a look at his work… it’s really interesting.

Under rusting tin roof

tall
spotted gum      iron bark

coiling

terracotta
star valley vessels

ancestors

dotted
earth
skins

talking        drinking
a
cup of tea

smoke from the campfire

+Anakie, Nymboida

Connective Aesthetics

Suzi Gablik in her essay, ‘Connective Aesthetics’ talks about a move away from the modernist mythologies in art making. The individualist artist working at making their own vision of the world. Gablik criticizises the modernist approach and suggests its growing redundancy. We don’t need more artists making individualised products, but artists that work to “affirm our radical relatedness” (Gablik, p2). Artists who seek aesthetics based in, “less monocentric mythologies” (p2) are redefining cultural myths. Gablik writes, “Art that is grounded in the realization of our interconnectedness and intersubjectivity – the intertwining of self and others – has a quality of relatedness that cannot be fully realised through monologue: it can only come into its own dialogue, as open conversation (Gablik, p4). Viewing art is no longer about artist/spectator binary, it is not just about the individual author.

I like Suzi Gabliks ideas. I am sure there is more to it than i can understand and probably heaps of critique. When i first read her book ‘The re-enchantment of Art’ i changed my way of making art work. I no longer just make paintings/drawings alone. Most of these works have been in collaboration with my partner and children. I have an easel set up in our main living space, where the Tv would normally be, we often make art together and its fun: we learn about each other and create the visual narratives of our home and the journeys that converge there.

Looking down cascade gully of sassafras: Coachwood: Listening to whats old:  Dig it out this way: Mix: Fine red dust: in the water crystals

down the track past boulders and tall turpentine trees

seed pod space ships: nettles overhanging the path: climbed up naked to stand in the falling water: then: collected some nettles: to make tea at home with my lover.

                                              +Royal National Park

Rusted rio rod
red
hot in campfire

burning
holes in green
bamboo

smell of resin smoke
ghost

measured
into

key

or

wild      flute    melodie

                                                                                                                                            +Waterfall

Beauty, wonder and good energy for the earth.

Re-spiriting matter/more than human

In the green studies reader, the Ecocritical theorist, Lawrence Buell defines Ecocriticism through what he calls the, “environmental imagination” (Buell, L 2000, p1). According to Buell, It is the ‘environmental imagination’ that attempts to understand potential environmental crisis. It is also the ‘environmental imagination’ that seeks strategies within culture to stop environmental destruction taking place. Buell writes, “Environmental crisis is not merely one of economic resources, public health and political gridlock” (Buell, L 2000, p1).  He is suggesting that approaches to environmental crisis are not limited to the most obvious arenas, that there are other ways that this perceived crisis is being approached. The ‘environmental imagination’ is one such way. He goes on to write, “The success of environmentalist efforts finally hinges not on some highly developed technology or arcane new science, but on a state of mind: on attitudes, feelings, images, narratives” (Buell, L 2000, p1). The ‘environmental imagination’ does this by inspiring change in the way people understand nature. It works to create culture that values the environment with care and responsible connection. Buell suggests a number of approaches that Ecocriticism uses to achieve these aims under the umbrella term of the ‘environmental imagination’. These include art forms which: Seek reconnection with place, a re-visioning of the future to be a place of cultural sensitivity and ecological care, and connection with the experience of other people and non-human nature.

Deer were introduced into the royal national park area early in the English colony for the sport of hunting. Later after the area became national park the deer had survived and thrived. Environmental concerns decided that the animals were damaging the local ecosystem and hunters were given licence to remove the deer from the park.

HUNTED

Sleeping
on the beach

beneath ocean size storm
clouds

a herd of deer.

Headlights of a car
coming down
the
hillside

The red spotted Angophoras
twisted

by

the coastal sandstone
and wind.

The deer sleep
on
a hill of sand
bone
and the campfire
shells
of
molluscs

-Little Era Beach

 

KURADJI

Wind Swept
dunes

cockatoo screech
over the dozers
and
road grader

fire and smoke
Skeleton found by brothers
rested 5000 years
or more
being torn poured with bitumen
still singing people
together.

-Sandon Point

The Australian writer Val Plumwood believes that the nature/culture split can be changed by Ecocritical writing. Plumwood suggests giving voice to the more than human as a way of re-spiriting dead matter. In his poetic essay journey to the heart of stone, Plumwood discusses how writers can challenge, “The experiential framework of dead silent matter entrenched by the sado-disspassionate rationality of scientific reductionism” (Plumwood in Beckett & Gifford 2007, p18). The way to do this suggests Plumwood is to recover an understanding of matter as spirited. He calls for a project that encourages us to, “to think beyond these boundaries, to re-invest with speech, agency and meaning the silenced ones, including the earth and its very stones, cast as the most lifeless members of the earth community” (Plumwood in Beckett & Gifford 2007, p22). The writer can re-spirit matter by work that gives voice to the non-human. By doing this the writer can not only help open up space for the world to talk to human communities, but also they can help the human communities learn how to listen. This is a way of healing a wounded space.

Road-kill

We meet
dressed
in fur
our own
and road kill.

clean and eaten.

The forest canopy
is
skeletal
remains
under our feet,

covered in mud
covered in earth.

I am smoked
by campfire,

dreads full of seashells,

we are returning
to
cook lentil stew
in our kitchen:

coming home
to
sleep -dance our reunion.

-Dundurrabin/Nymboida

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