27 Aug 2014

Instructions for Survival – Heather Cam

[1955–current, born Canada, migrated to Australia in 1977]

A week after the break-up note:

The pools are dry again,
their salt crusted rims 
smell faintly of tears;
the sponges, once so responsive,
are high and dry,
stiff and stinking on the beach;
the sky is washed out, reeling;
the sea birds register nothing
behind unblinking pebble eyes,
but scream as they plunge,
chiselled and deadly,
to splinter the sea;
the surf pounds and points,
impersonal, enduring.

And realise
there’s nothing here for you;
and the wind’s assault – 
rippling the sands, erasing your footprints –
induces amnesia
amidst the flotsam and jetsam.

Source: Cam, H 1990, ‘The Moon’s Hook’, Poetry Australia 125, South Head Press, Sydney.

Kissing Coco – Liz Queeney

It was March. I’d just turned twelve
two weeks before, so I was finally 
old enough to think about having 
sex with somebody outside
my family. Somebody not male,
and not too much older. Somebody
like Coco from Nasella Park. 
She was everything I wanted
to be (smart & strong & very tough).
She smoked Lucky Strike nonfilters
and could spit as far as any guy.
Already thirteen, so I told her I was 
too, pressing my biceps tight 
against my sides, trying to make
my breasts appear bigger. Hers were
stretching out her too-tight sweater 
(the sweater soft and blue
like her eyes). Catching me staring, 
she boldly stared back. She grinned,
and then she winked at me.
I was afraid maybe she was 
teasing me, afraid maybe she wasn’t.
My heart swelled up till it almost 
hurt. In the past, wanting touch
had only brought pain, but I knew that
I could trust someone who purred
with stray cats. Late at night,
on the swing set in Nasella Park, 
she opened up to Michelobs, 
and asked, “Have you ever
gotten drunk?” “Of course! A lot 
of times,” I lied. I wanted her
to think I was cool. She was
so hot. My mouth was dry.
I sucked down the beer, then
following her lead, I threw the empty
into the bushes. My mouth still dry,
I pulled a Certs from the pocket 
of my Levi’s, then popped
it into my mouth with relief.
Coco asked, “Ya got any more?” then 
seemed all disappointed to hear it was
my last. Without thinking, I offered
her the one in my mouth. “Sure,”
she said as she jumped off the swing. 
Instantly her hands were on mine, 
the chains of the swing digging into
my palms. I was sweating,
though the night air was crisp.
My heat beat so wild
I could hardly hear.
Coco commanded, “Give it up,”
opening her mouth before mine.
The swing no longer moving, still
everything was swirling
as our lips caressed and out tongues shared
the Certs and our first kiss.

Source: Queeney, L 1996, ‘Kissing Coco’, in L Elder (ed.), Early Embraces, Alyson publications, pp. 185–186.

4 Aug 2014

Managing the Common Herd – Julie O’Callaghan

[1954–current, born America, migrated to Ireland in 1974]

      two approaches for senior management

THEORY x: People are naturally lazy. 
They come late, leave early, feign illness. 
When they sit at their desks 
it’s ten to one they’re yakking to colleagues 
on the subject of who qualifies as a gorgeous hunk. 
They’re coating their lips and nails with slop, 
a magazine open to ‘What your nails say about you’ 
or ‘Ten exercises to keep your bottom in top form’ 
under this year’s annual report. 
These people need punishment; 
they require stern warnings 
and threats – don’t be a coward, 
don’t be intimidated by a batting eyelash.
Stand firm: a few tears, a Mars Bar, 
several glasses of cider with her pals tonight 
and you’ll be just the same old 
rat-bag, mealy-mouthed, small-minded tyrant 
you were before you docked her 
fifteen minutes pay for insubordination.
      Never let these con-artists get the better of you. 

THEORY z: Staff need encouragement. 
Give them a little responsibility 
and watch their eager faces lighting up. 
Let them know their input is important. 
Be democratic – allow all of them 
their two cents worth of gripes. 
(Don’t forget this is the Dr Spock generation.) 
If eight out of twelve of them 
prefer green garbage cans to black ones 
under their desks, be generous – 
the dividends in productivity 
will be reaped with compound interest. 
Offer incentives, show them 
it’s to their own advantage to meet targets. 
Don’t talk down to your employees. 
Make staff believe that they 
have valid and innovative ideas 
and that not only are you interested. 
but that you will act upon them.
      Remember, they’re human too.

Source:   O’Callaghan, J 1991, What’s What, Bloodaxe Books.