You are on page 1of 14

Tableland Phantoms

A Suite of Poems

Brentley Frazer

Tableland Phantoms A Suite of Poems Brentley Frazer

Books by Brentley

PostHuman Musings ~ new poems (Digital) 2013 Memories like Angels At A Ball Tripping Over Their Gowns 2007 The Dead Girl Suite ~ poems (Digital) 2006 Major League Philosophy 101 ~ poems (Digital) 2005 Brilliant Future – an antinovel (with Fakie Wilde) 2004 A Dark Samadhi ~ poems & microtexts 2003 The Book Of Such ~ a suite of poems (Digital) 1997 Fugue ~ poems 1996 Oneirodynia ~ poems 1995 Blood Psalms ~ poems 1993 Opera of Destruction ~ poems 1991

Ens Causa Sui

Several texts or versions of texts from this collection have previously appeared in LiNQ (Australia).

This collection first published digitally by Retort Books 2013

© Copyright: Brentley Frazer 2013

All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever [including photocopying, electronic archiving, scanning] without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical or scholarly articles and reviews.

Tableland Phantoms

You walk alone with the Ghost of Time ~Men at Work

Labor Pains

Winding up the Palmerston into the mists of Milla Milla signs loom out: WARNING HEADLIGHTS ON : HEAVY FOG. And the fuzz comes in long after you realise that the radio has gone. I'm looking for a metaphor, the way the road rolls, like a wet dialogue of tongues; then I come across a caravan twisted in a ditch.

A man standing on the edge says he's already called for help. I drive by, curiosity pressed up against the glass; shave twenty off the speedo, you can get nowhere fast.

Higher into the Tablelands with a dog and my mother's galah; earlier, on the hands-free she quoted a poem she'd seen in


Tree of Knowledge, poisoned in protest.


nothing there but eight pubs, a museum and the

—It goes like this, she said, it's written by a socialist, which, as kids, they taught us to distrust.

'After God made the rattlesnake the toad and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water sogged brain and a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where other people have their hearts he carries a tumour of rotten principles.'

You don't vote Labor, do you, Bren? I tell you, they're using the working class agenda to further corporate rule.

No, Mum, I laughed, I don't vote at all.

Irukandji Sails

A Ranger found

four hundred ghost nets

on a seventy kilometre stretch

of beach, south of Aurukun.

Says ‘the local women, with the subterfuge of moonlight sharks, collect them to make art for tourists.’

Goes on to mention they've been substituting Pandanas leaves and Flax cactus with the strings. Countless generations of knowledge, an ancestral understanding of flora trapped in a nylon paradox, drowned fish and hundred year old turtles, mere empty shells in days.

They drift over from Acheh, down into Southern

Indonesia, tumble ashore

tossed up her hair, some of them five k's long, like immense Irukandji, or underwater sails.


though the ocean

He'd just come from a conference up The Cape, listened to some bureaucrats act concerned, said he ‘may's well believe a mystic who claims to be cloned from a semen spill on the Shroud of Turin’, that, ‘those damn men from Canberra, nothin' but spin-doctors, spectators, a catastrophe of television cameras, and worthless.’


I'm living in a shed on the banks of Lake Tinaroo. The second night saw me nearly murdered by a Brown. I got up from the

desk to smoke a cigarette, opened up a door

in the northern wall, swung it wide for fresh

air--and the snake reared up, three feet tall alive with a thousand eyes of dew.

A sorcerer from the grass it struck as I leapt back,

vociferous as a whore, and it fell short, with a slap like someone had dropped a book. From atop the fridge I watched it curse in reptile slang, turn and silently slide out again.

Where Kulara Sleeps

The animus of dead timber-getters reflects in the eyes of raptors from the phantom limbs of Tinaroo. Down where Old Boar Pocket Road becomes a boat-ramp, a triptych of Bush Stone Curlews frozen in grotesque poses, arose as I approached and floated above the lake with eerie screams.

Can't decide if I want to drown myself with whiskey or jump from a bridge. I tiptoe like those curious birds along the fence. Below the calm the town of Kulara, overwhelmed in nineteen fifty three, also some heavy machinery the legend says, though no maps exist, and the locals don't know much.

I asked an old man in a canoe if he knew where Kulara slept, if he could point me in the right direction but he said he'd never heard of it, but reckoned there are dark shapes beneath the water, toward the falls, and pointed beyond a thicket of dead trees full of hawks; and off he went, the water performing somersaults behind him as he rowed.

Night Tiger

Numb, now.

The mountain effervescence, waking in clouds, alone in paradise.

Countless King Parrots in a tree right outside this morning. As

I rolled up the shed door they set in flight, cries rolling down

to the lake. After awhile you lose yourself in the silence, the absence of the world, all the noise and enticements.

Run and you will die tired, written in the sky, with an aeroplane.

I was sharing with a Night Tiger

along the beams. Spotted him on the roof, through corrugated

fibreglass chasing frogs


was last night, stretched out under the lamp on my desk. I went, fetched my Father, who adores snakes, speaks of them

with great fondness in his voice, simply picks them up

couldn't, he said, have this one scaring guests, so he got all Al Qaeda, beheaded him, with a shovel.


could hear him moving

four skins of varying



that he didn't like me moving in. There he

but he

We marvelled how it still slid its head across the cement, fanging the air, wild reptile eyes going out.

With The Wind, Cellphone Reception, And Random Memories

I feel like a terrible Thespian, or maybe a great

comedian playing a retarded character, like Freddy Benson. Other-days I feel like that guy who shot himself during The Watchmen—like an octopus in a tank of lobsters. I never meant to write my life into a social satire – who was it that said —you seek your own Death, and your failed acts are the most successful. i

I've written my own Mein Kampf while in the asylum. You must want to live, as I held you under you continued to struggle. ii

I want to get a tattoo that says dedicated flesh rebels

against the virtual class, a homage, nostalgia for the remaindered entrails iii --and then I watched myself become like that dead junky we found in a disused hat factory as kids. (If you imagine a tepid green swamp in a tropical forest with crocodiles all round the edges and weird trees pushing up through reeds, sighing as they droop into the water – except you're in an old warehouse and there is a dead guy who has rotted, a lot, and he’s lying in a pool of stinking gore and because of the heat strange puffs of orange fungus have sprouted up through the floorboards, rats eating the blooms.)

Who said –the poacher that shoots at rabbits scares big game away? iv Was it Lawrence Jamieson or was it that dancer in the red-light in Amsterdam?

I don’t remember.

What does it matter anyway, she said, in her penthouse suite, dragging her hand along the edge of the broken piano, that look in her eyes the gaze of an animal, a prophet, or an indifferent rockstar getting head from another groupie, shouted something like

don’t black lung me bone-horn - and then jumped from the hotel balcony.

As Freddy stuck his cock in the mess Lawrence would have said —Ruprecht, do you want the genital cuff?

She squealed —my clitoris does not look like a parrots tongue!

Or, at least that’s how I imagined it, that French model in the Pijp district, high on fly agaric – at fifteen her agent gave her wings, like Angelina v needs another mirror, a million dollar deal with a glossy magazine – fell naked still in heels, a last curtain call for the voyeurs on the street. It’s all fun and games until someone has to get another skin graft.

Occasionally an aspiring Vogue operative stops by in designer jeans to pay her respects, flowers wilted on the desolate empty desk, and the concierge says she’s

departed has left no addresses vi and they leave with one of the guys who hustle the corner, Freddy I bet…

And we loved to dance

isn't that silly? vii He is saying this as they walk away.

we wanted to be professionals,


This suite of poems I composed in the last months of 2010 while living in a tin shed on the banks of Lake Tinaroo in the Atherton Tablelands, North Queensland, Australia.

Lake Tinaroo is an artificial lake. When the valley was flooded in 1953 an entire town was submerged. The name of this town was Kulara.

Labor Pains

The 'Palmerston' is a highway. Access to the Atherton Tablelands is via the Palmerston Highway. Milla Milla is a township in the tablelands. My mother inspired this poem when she told me on the telephone that she had just returned from Barcaldine. She actually did read the poem over the phone, which she saw in the museum and wrote down, thinking I'd appreciate it.

Barcaldine is a small town in central Queensland. Barcaldine played

a significant role in the Australian Labour Movement and is

considered the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party. There is/was

a tree there called The Tree of Knowledge under which striking workers held their meetings. This tree was poisoned in 2006 by parties unknown.

Irukandji Sails

Irukandji are deadly box jellyfish which haunt the oceans in North Queensland.

This poem was inspired by a conversation I overheard in a pub in the township of Yungarburra. As I understood it, the vocal man I overheard worked as a Ranger in the Cape York Peninsula.

By Southern Indonesia I mean Australia.


For those unfamiliar with Australia, a Brown, or King Brown, is a highly venomous snake.

Night Tiger

A Night Tiger is a Tiger Snake which hunts at night. This appears to

be local vernacular.

With The Wind Cellphone Reception And Random Memories

This poem later evolved into a longer poem titled Freddy Benson In Amsterdam which is included in my forthcoming collection PostHuman Musings. The lines about the French model falling to her

death from a hotel balcony while on hallucinogens is a story that was

in the press while I was in Amsterdam in 2009. The original story

claimed that the model shouted 'I can fly' and leapt out the window. With The Wind evolved from journal notes written during this trip.

i Cf – Baudrillard Seduction ‘Death in Samarkand’

ii Cf - Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not

want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live. Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf

iii Cf - The Hyper-Texted Body, Or Nietzsche Gets A Modem - Arthur

Kroker and Michael Weinstein

iv Lawrence Jamieson – a high society con-man, played by Michael

Caine. Freddy Benson was played by Steve Martin – a lower class conman who believed the ‘sympathy angle’ of pretending at intellectual disability would win him the competition to extract

50,000 dollars from an apparently innocent and unsuspecting Heiress

– Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 1988

v For this text, while it does contains several vague post-romantic gestures, (yet does endeavor to purposefully avoid any modernist cliché), I have substituted the character Narcissus with the name Angelina.

vi The Wasteland – T.S Eliot, line 181

vii Freddy Benson – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels