I’ll go to jail for this,
the delicate disorder of your night
knees pressed against the counter,
the pencil-behind-the-ear query
of the waitress you left behind,
gluing the scene like twice-cooked araldite.
I’m dropping this summer and I’m winning all the awards
for all the ‘bad sex’ ballads you’ll write
in the dial-ahead secret location of our local café.
To which you’ll respond with a series of lovingly tailored suits
designed to keep all action ever-pending.
I’ll use my time in porridge to prepare
for our encounter in the cocktail sanctuary.
You know you want to
run me over in your father’s Landcruiser.
We’ll make it look like an accident so you don’t lose your licence.
Reading the script backwards gives us something to look forward to:
skin a roo to catch a roo, drown the mother in a water tank
before you can write an opera about it.
Truss me up and I’ll let you
rescue me in the coat you downloaded
from the internet, take the shirt from your back,
pretend I fall to pieces as you walk on by
in daring reference to a song I mentioned once, now deleted.
In exchange, you’ll let me temporarily abandon my connection to language,
ponder the extent to which colour is what remains of beauty
once the object has receded—cornflower, pomegranate, coral, chocolate—and how I resemble Mr Burns (even though you’re the skinny one), drinking in your presence
like a vial of mixed babies’ blood that always needs replenishing.
When you say ‘love isn’t this, it’s that’, I’ll say zip. Say what you like.
Say it with a battery-operated boom box hurled overarm into my bath
full of money, say it gargling a mouthful of insinuative pop-culture
references that I spend a week deciphering when I should be
pondering the meaning of the two stone tablets
smashed to pieces in the video of Everyday I Write
the Book. Oh, won’t you serenade me on your fall-out guitar
with a two-part false memory, triggering lemon-juice lineage
from Liverpool to Seattle to Courtney’s daughter’s ex-husband Unplugged
and dangling from a helicopter? (Okay!
You can have the stupid guitar!)
I’ll burn for this
on my knees in the ashes
of some pathetic excuse for a fire,
or hiding those same chubby knees in a pile of outdated
shag, wishing you’d get the bedheading over and done with.
I’ll want you sitting at a desk, mistranslating
the ballad you wrote about our Lead Belly undergarments.
If I feel up to it, I’ll have the warden sharpen
your overwatered pencils. I’m prepared to make light
of the suffering of one of our greatest satirical dramatists.
Indeed, there is no low up which I will not go.
If necessary, I’ll arrange myself artistically in the furs God gave me,
on the cover of a paperback that gives as good as it gets.
I’ll lay myself down on the flowery hallway carpet,
all lipstuck and bootlegged, my face at awkward angles.
I’ll chop off my own tail with a carving knife.
I’ll write songs featuring characters from musicals
whose names rhyme with yours to conceal your true identity
(but not so cleverly that you won’t suffer nights of sleepless paranoia).
I’ll plagiarise all of the poems and novels and songs and movies and video
clips ever produced because I’m (almost) finally prepared to acknowledge
that Wittgenstein was right and there’s nothing I can say about you
that hasn’t already been said. I’ll let you act out every word
I’ve ever written even if it proves detrimental to my own physical and mental
wellbeing, just so you can teach me a lesson about literary ethics.
I’ll throw the match, I’ll burn the bridge,
I’ll accept repatriation in the form of an involuntary pledge—
your legal fees, half the house, and 1.3 sexual
harassment claims over three years. Take all of this
in advance, with no obligation to buy.
I’m going down and I don’t mean by degrees.
I’m going down in an 80,000 word unprintable secret history,
to be held in a vault to which you’ll have the only key—
with a clause stating ‘not to be opened until the finance falls through
on our Top 10 Blockbuster DVD reprint with commentary:
Two hundred and sixty-seven pages you must read before I die.’
Fiona Hile’s Novelties was awarded the 2014 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. Subtraction was awarded the 2017 Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest and was highly commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019.