My neighbourhood is a poem

Lately I’ve been collecting the names of houses in my neighbourhood. Where I grew up, houses didn’t have names. They were just houses. Everything else had names, including apartment buildings, but not houses, and that didn’t seem strange.

When I moved to Australia, I was surprised by how many houses had names, and announced those names via name plates as if they were attendees at a networking event. But I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the house names because I was a busy person with places to be and things on my mind. My neighbourhood is a poem, Ashley Kalagian BluntNow that I’m sick, I don’t have places to be, or much on my mind. When I can walk, I drift along like a fatigued tortoise, trying to reach a precise step count.

Interestingly, this seems to have cleared up some mental capacity for noticiting details, such as all the strange, poetic house names I’ve passed for years but never noticed. Consider these actual local house names:

Orana
Nebraska
Lochinvar
Norwich
Flinders
Hurlstone
Millbrow
Allerton
The Lily
Elton
Divo
Mea Mai
Banyak Pintu
Austin
Hartford
Sedainota
Shangri-La
Edna
Orielton
Karuah
Monteith
Rosedale
Samian House
Darley
Ventura
Boro
Cornucopia House
Durham
Enom Roo
Grosby
Abna
Pleasant Cottage
Huon
Derwent
Lymington
Elk
Toorack
Moss-side
Clareville
Minora
Rosstrevor
El Nido

Even though Edna and Elton are on different streets, I picture them as a friendly elderly couple. I also picture Elton with a purple glitter finish, maybe some rhinestones (the actual house isn’t living up to its name’s potential). I also quite like Rosstrevor. I assume it was a gay couple who argued for ages about the house name, and finally agreed to mash their first names together.

Shangri-La is a terrible choice. If I came home daily to a place called Shangri-La (or in my case, rarely left) and it was dusty and someone had left clipped nail shards across the bathroom counter and there were burned out lightbulbs that only an electrician could replace because that is not at all inconvenient, I’d feel pretty disenchanted with life.

I mentioned my house name curiosity to my colleagues recently, and one of them told me about a man she knows who migrated to Australia and decided at some point to name his house. He had a tasteful nameplate made with the image of a rosella and a fancy font spelling out “Bella Bosta”.

“It’s Brazilian slang for beautiful shit,” she said.

Which is just about the best metaphor for life I’ve ever heard.

 

Do not tell people about your Prize Award

We are pleased to inform you of the release of the
SPANISH SWEEPSTAKE LOTTERY INTERNATIONAL PROMOTION PROGRAM
Your email address drew the lucky numbers 01-5-11-12-21-34
that consequently won the lottery in the 3rd category.

The business I am introducing you to is palpably based on sheer trust
and with a sense of purpose for all modalities
has been mapped out because it falls within my area of Jurisdiction
and it is 100% Hitch free.

I HAVE A LEGAL AND CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPOSAL FOR YOU.
I am willing to send you a free rug simulation.
I know this may sound so strange for you and also extremely risky for me
to offer such proposal to a total stranger via email

but unfortunately this happens to be my last resort to get it done.
Right now I am the most happiest woman on earth.
Every camper should have this laser strong enough to light a fire.
It’s a UltraBeam Tactical Laser..!

-All the words on this page are an ad-
I will be waiting to read from you.
Thank You and Be Blessed.
To your success!

Yours faithfully,
Mrs. Janet Hessian, Network Online Coordinator.

Spoons

The problem with spoon theory
is that I never know how many spoons I’ll have

any given day.

If I knew I had ten spoons,
I could use them accordingly.
But today I might have seven spoons

and tomorrow only three, with no idea why.
As though someone sneaks into my cutlery drawer
at night to steal my spoons,

but then other times replaces some
just to fuck with me.
Let’s be honest –

there was never enough spoons,
even before I had to think of my energy
as a finite supply of kitchen utensils.

A poetry review poem

Review poem of Billy Collins Aimless Love

I’ll confess I don’t read much poetry.
I’m far more likely to recommend Australian non-fiction
or the latest John Sandford thriller, like Buried Prey.

But then I saw Billy Collins on a talk show,
reading from Aimless Love,
and fell for his great playfulness and depth.

Still, it took me two years to buy the book—
so much lost time! What a waste.

Collins reflects the world I know back to me,
its solemnity and humour, the inescapable crush of history,
framing it with remarkable precision:

‘But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.’

I can’t help taking the book to bed,
to sleep with under my pillow
or snuggled against my chest, like a stuffed bear.

And now I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life
asking strangers, ‘But have you read Billy Collins?’
and stuffing handwritten copies of his poems in their pockets.

 

First published by NSW Writers’ Centre