Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Tuesday Poem (Actually Prose this time around): "Global Village" by Andrew M. Bell

“For my family very good, we no complain. Live Byron Street, got a few small tree, cut away all the old one. Boss, he's a open-a shop in 1954. I'm-a workin' for him since 1968.”
There are large Italian and Greek communities and smaller groups from Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia and South-East Asia.
“I tink it could be right if officials are right. Ve losink business 'cause of parking. I ring dem, ring dem, ring again. Shire don't care. I've been 17 years. New election, talk very sweet, but do nothink. Extremely unhappy.”
Quaint phraseology is one of the hallmarks of history.
This Foundation Stone of the Leederville Post Office was laid by The Hon. E.H. Wittenoom M.L.C. Minister for Posts and Telegraphs on the 3rd day of May 1897.
Leederville is one of Perth's oldest suburbs. It was named after an early settler, William Leeder, who obtained about 120 hectares of land bordering Lake Monger in the early 1830s.
“It is a four-minute drive from the city, 10 minutes from the beach and has easy access to Mitchell Freeway. And then there is Lake Monger. What more could anyone want?"
Before the white man came, the district had been called Galup. Natives camped there and one of their leaders was Yagan, who resisted the settlers.
“Old, established area. Uncle's 72, lived here since he was 15. Older type homes. Customers lived here a long time. Population's changing - young, trendy kids moving in and doing up old houses. "
It seems Leederville is about to become Perth's next Yuppie suburb. Already the young, trendy professionals are moving into an area, which, for many years has been considered an unfashionable backwater.
To enjoy sitting outside of an evening, free from "skeeters", we would place pieces of cow manure on shovels of live coals.
“It used to be a great shopping centre, but it's gone down. Terrific 20 years ago. Less business. More dead.”
CHIPPER AND SON – Caring Funeral Directors – 144 Railway Pde Leederville
Clean-up plan for the deadly Lake Monger
In 1974, the Mitchell Freeway hammered yet another nail in Leederville's coffin.
The car horns toll the knell of parting day,
The toxic fumes creep slowly o'er the park,
The traffic homeward plods its weary way,
And leaves the world to joggers and the dark.
Dusk on Lake Monger. The silhouettes of hundreds of black swans, ducks and other waterfowl move gracefully across the darkening waters rippled now by a cool evening breeze. It is quiet. Peaceful. Just the place to escape the tensions of a day at the office.
Once as a party of soldiers crept up on his camp, a flock of cockatoos took fright and flew off with deafening cries, warning him.
Lake Monger plan is for the birds
Leederville went into decline as the boom years faded.
Yagan was eventually caught and killed and the native resistance died down.
Recommended measures include:
* Commissioning a landscape concept plan, in consultation with Aboriginal groups;
* Removal of exotic fish and restocking with native species;
(Its chief beauty spot is Monger's Lake, a fine sheet of fresh water about 275 acres in extent, stocked with fish [chiefly English perch, tench, and carp] and provided with excellent boating facilities.)
NEW RELEASE – Magic Glow Friends or Puppy Surprise – Save $4
God’s Gift to you is Life – What you do with it is your Gift to God
Introduction to the Deaf Community and its Culture – A 6-week beginner’s course commencing 26th October 1992 at Leederville Campus.
"It's a little village town. The village atmosphere appeals to many overseas visitors. Doctor, shops, school, everything's so compact. Lot of other suburbs all stretched out, no appeal, no atmosphere. All the restaurants give it a touch of Northbridge, touch of multicultural."
Pearl River bridge – zhongshan specialty – ingredients: Green bean powder, sugar, almond powder, and edible vegetable oil. Packed by china national cereals, oils and foodstuffs imp. & Exp. Corp. guangdong china
Loftus Community Centre – French Speaking Playgroup
                              English for Migrants
“I work here and that's about it. It's a very, very Italian town. You go down to the shopping arcade and you feel like you're in Milan."
"Friendly, not fast-moving, seems to still be in the '60s. Attitudes, way people dress, no one stressed out. Always hunting 'round for a bargain, not very affluent."
Beware - bag and till snatchers are busy
"Don't talk to me about fuckin' Leederville! I got broken into last night and lost two thousand bucks worth of stock."
“Like a little country town. Lived here all my life. Gonna grow. It's gonna hit. Then it’ll change. Lose its charm."
Finally, who remembers catching gilgies in Smith's Lake, near the corner of Richmond and Loftus Streets long before houses appeared there?

Old Post Office, Leederville, WA (Copyright unknown)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I decided to post something a bit different this week. With all the global media coverage of the refugee issues, I thought I'd post this Found Text prose piece that I wrote while living and studying in Perth, Western Australia, in the early 1990s.

From 1988-1994, I lived in Leederville in a small cosmopolitan street not far from the main shopping village area. At that stage, Leederville wasn't a "discovered" trendy, inner-city suburb that it is now. I imagine the population demographic and the cost of housing has changed dramatically.

When I lived there, Leederville was a colourful, cosmopolitan suburb filled with people of many ethnic backgrounds and small shops that reflected that multiculturalism. I used to love wandering around and talking to people with all kinds of backgrounds and stories to tell.

I feel that Australia is doing itself a huge disservice with its recent refugee policy. It is denying itself a cultural diversity and richness and it has become blind to compassion.

This Found text was composed from interviews with local residents and shopkeepers, signs, graffiti, local histories and all manner of advertising pamphlets and other ephemera.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tuesday Poem: "'Cuz He's Black" by Javon Johnson

So I’m driving down the street with my 4 year old nephew.
He, knocking back a juice box, me, a Snapple.

Today, y’all, we are doing manly shit.

I love watching the way his mind works;

He asks a million questions.

“Uncle, why is the sky blue?”

“Uncle, how do cars go?”

“Uncle, why don’t dogs talk?”

“Uncle, uncle, uncle.”

He asks, “Uncle, uncle, uncle.”

He asks, “Uncle, uncle, uncle.”

As if his voice box is a warped record and I try my best to answer every question, I do.

I say, “It’s because the way the sun lights up the outer space.”

“It’s because engines make the wheels go.”

“It’s because their minds aren’t quite like ours.”

I say, “Yes. No. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. I don’t know. Who knows? Maybe.”

We laugh.

He smiles, looks out the window, spots a cop car, drops his seat, and says, “Oh man, uncle. 5-0, we gotta hide.”

I’ll be honest, I’m not happy with the way we raise our black boys.

Don’t like the fact that he learned to hide from the cops well before he knew how to read.

Angrier that his survival depends more on his ability to deal with authorities than it does his own literacy.

“Get up!” I yell at him.

“In this car, in this family, we are not afraid of the law!”

I wonder if he can hear the uncertainty in my voice.

Is today the day he learns that uncle is willing to lie to him?

That I’m more human than I am hero?

We both know the truth is far more complex than ‘do not hide’.

Both know too many black boys who disappeared, names lost.

Know too many Trayvon Martin’s, Oscar Grant’s, and Abner Louima’s.

Know too many Sean Bell’s and Amadou Diallo’s.

Know too well that we are the hard-boiled son’s of Emmett Till,

Still, we both know it’s not about whether or not the shooter is racist.

It’s about how poor black boys are treated as problems well before we’re treated as people.

Black boys, in this country, cannot afford to play cops and robbers if we’re always considered the latter;

Don’t have the luxuries of playing war if we’re already in one.

Where I’m from, seeing cop cars drive down the street feels a lot like low-flying planes in New York City.

Where I’m from, routine traffic stops are more like minefields, any wrong move could very well mean your life.

And how do I look my nephew in his appled face and tell him to be strong when we both know black boys who are murdered every day simply for standing up for themselves?

I take him by the hand.

I say, “Be strong.”

I tell him. I say, “Be smart.”

“Be kind and polite.”

“Know your laws.”

“Be aware of how quickly your hand moves to pocket for wallet or ID.”

“Be more aware of how quickly an officer's hand moves to holster for gun.”

“Be black. Be a boy. Have fun.”

Cause this world will force you to become a man far more quickly than you’ll ever have to need to.

He lets go of my hand.

“But uncle,” he asks.

“Uncle, what happens if the cop is really mean?”

And it scares me to know that he, like so many other black boys, is getting ready for a war I can’t prepare him for.

by Javon Johnson

For more information on poet, Javon Johnson, see:


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Your Voice in the Chemo Room" by Max Ritvo

There is a white stone cliff over a dropping slope
sliced along with bare trees.

In the center of the cliff is a round dry fountain

of polished stone. By seizing my whole body up

as I clench my hand I am able to open

the fountain into a drain, revealing below it

the sky, the trees, a brown and uncertain ground.

This is how my heart works, you see?

This is how love works? Have some sympathy

for the great spasms with which I must open

myself to love and close again, and open.

And if I leapt into the fountain, there is just no

telling: I might sever myself clean, or crack

the gold bloom of my head, and I don’t know

onto what uncertain ground I might fold like a sack.

by Max Ritvo

For more information about poet, Max Ritvo, see:

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tuesday Poem: "Listen Mr Oxford don" by John Agard

Me not no Oxford don
me a simple immigrant
from Clapham Common
I didn’t graduate
I immigrate

But listen Mr Oxford don
I’m a man on de run
and a man on de run
is a dangerous one

I ent have no gun
I ent have no knife
but mugging de Queen’s English
is the story of my life

I dont need no axe
to split up yu syntax
I dont need no hammer
to mash up yu grammar

I warning you Mr Oxford don
I’m a wanted man
and a wanted man
is a dangerous one

Dem accuse me of assault
on de Oxford dictionary
imagine a concise peaceful man like me
dem want me serve time

for inciting rhyme to riot
but I rekking it quiet
down here in Clapham Common

I’m not a violent man Mr Oxford don
I only armed wit mih human breath
but human breath
is a dangerous weapon

So mek dem send one big word after me
I ent serving no jail sentence
I slashing suffix in self defence
I bashing future wit present tense
and if necessary

I making de Queen’s English accessory to my offence

by John Agard

Photo Credit: Copyright: Jay Blessed 

For more information about poet, John Agard, see: