A6 32pp ISBN: 978-0-9580367-4-0
(cover illustration by Jennifer Maguire)
$9.90 including postage
M.M.L.Bliss's poetry and plays have always displayed her eye for stories - her own and others' - and a sharp pen for language. Bliss had a remarkable capacity for being present in whatever she wrote: she didn't pardon, faked nothing, no matter how fragile, no matter how strong the words need to be.
MML Bliss was born in England & came to Australia as a teenager. Most recently she lived in Ravenswood, Tasmania & her book of poetry for children of all ages, LEGEND!, was published by Cornford Press. She enjoyed sunny days & watching gardens grow. Sadly, MML Bliss died in 2005. Her work lives on.
"... black, grey, green and white
You moonshine revellers and shades of night.”
Shakespeare. The Merry Wives of Windsor
old rita tells the residents meeting i'm a murderer,
shout at my dog, wander drunk in the street
sound off at all hours. she says they call me
cooper because i'm the home-brewer.
& she pokes iris, who's new here.
(he's in those units where you are.)
like she ought to be scared.
that rita, she's the one should be packing it.
& she goes on. poor old jean. him on one side
REM daniel on the other. she doesn't feel safe.
she says their music going doof doof
makes her teeth feel like they're
about to fall out. rita the maneater
what have i ever done to her! nothing.
she tells them she keeps finding home brew kits
in my garbage. iris says she's heard
beer-drinkers make good gardeners, she's seen
my beans & tomatoes
& would i like to do hers. i'll do her anytime
her undies on the line, g-strings & lacy bras.
this meeting was called about a walkway
to keep the primary school kids off the road,
rita doesn't want them coming
anywhere near me. should've seen her face
when i walked in & she's still talking about me
not to me. then she gets thrown out
for screaming at me
bootlegger bootlegger, she goes. she's no speakeasy,
they laugh & iris leaves with me. comes over for a drink
rocks me into the cot, but i'm too upset.
make a start on her garden next week.
i'll have rita's AVO by then. & no more meetings
2. the jolly roger
you sit outside at roger's, at his table
& benches on the nature strip
being public. coops comes over
with his home brew fridays
we kick in for pizza &
berina bob goes up mowbray to fetch them
four large extra meat, a slab of boags,
tooheys brick, a coolabah
in case some chicks come round
& a bottle of coke for the kids
roger reckons we're all beer & pizza,
we should be kept on ice
he's a joker. loves kids & dogs - he
hasn't got any, good to his mates.
he'll let you sit on his benches anytime
won't let you sleep there, though.
he's got this thing about tidiness
mondays you see his washing go out,
seven jocks & socks, his jeans
seven t-shirts, a flanny, seven teatowels,
his lace washer & his towel.
christmas, his mum gives him socks & jocks,
jeans on his birthday
his sister springs for his t-shirts & towels & shit.
updated every year
like a corporate executive's car.
everything up front, jolly roger & fill
my glass willya. that coops makes
the beer strong & he brings
a dozen longnecks so we start on that
& we reminisce the camping trip
when budgie woke up with a wombat
in his tent. we thought it was bullshit
until we saw him slam his torch down
over & over & coops eyes light up.
it was a bandicoot, grown
in the telling like any good fishing yarn.
roger's brother brings
a feed of oysters in his cooler, just in case.
those guys are ready
for anything. young jason's the worst,
he took off for the army
went to east timor & jumped out
of a plane. he was on roger's benches
when he came to visit his mum.
ravo born & bred. local hero, told us
about kylie & that concert she did there,
he'd had more than a skinful
by then we'd believe anything,
but why would he lie.
& we watch the setting sun
from roger's benches on the nature strip
chicks & kids come, the cop cruises.
like clumsy moths we follow
the streetlights home,
arses stiff as the boards on roger's benches
3. mr moonshine
moon for short, he comes round with a litre of poteen
overproof clear spirit in a coke bottle.
fresh from his sustainable high
only don't tell anyone. he sits in my chair,
looks for glasses, moon
asks tor nothing. i fetch the lemon flavoured fizz
& pour, half & half
he almost sneers at me
& drips three drops in his glassful
raises it, salut! & we start talking
about tv shows like we know the actors.
moon reads the credits, makes connections
he tells jokes, he deadeyes the redeye,
jungle juice, poteen from the shebeen.
& bang bang it's roger come in
from the nature strip with the boys.
"saw moon coming in with his bag...
i'm holdin' foldin'" a transaction goes ahead.
since when has my place been the sly-grog shop?
moon says just this once. ok roger?
& it's a once only, like a pilot to see
if a show'll take off. we talk about new orleans
& london, edinburgh & goa
though moon hates mardi gras & festivals
& hippies - too many posers
he starts on about andy warhol then
& the Factory & edie sedgwick
who was a personal friend (in his dreams)
& yoko moon believes in the moon.
a still spirit, he calls himself when he's not in need
of an ambulance because he's forgotten to eat
for a few weeks. he looks
a bit like old mahatma, dark & skinny
peaceful. he spends most of his life
in a near-death experience.
gotta go see to my backyard buddy, he says
& stands looks at what's left in the bottle.
skulls it & his eyes roll back in his head. he shudders
like an old bomb flat out over the ton.
stiff as a scarecrow he backs out into the street.
lets the moonshine guide him home