Fata Morgana

Have just received a publisher's advance. To write a book about Ludwig Becker, the German artist/scientist who went with Burke and Wills on their doomed expedition to, and across, central Australia. It's not a large amount of money but enough, with the help of the credit left on my card, to make a pilgrimage to Becker's grave. I'm going with an artist friend who'll bring a camera and use it, and other means, to document the trip visually. We'll fly to Melbourne in about ten days times and there look at the art works Becker left behind from the expedition, and other sojourns in Australia - especially Tasmania. Then we'll set out to retrace his journey, which, for various reasons, differed from that of the more famous Burke and Wills. Ultimate destination is a spot on the Bulloo River in south west Queensland, not far from Thargomindah, where Becker died and was buried. I'll keep a journal of the two week trip and write it up with various digressions, mostly into the life Becker led before he came to the antipodes, and what he did here in the ten years before he enlisted with the mad Irishman ... it's pretty ... exciting ...

Image: Border of the Mud-Desert near Desolation Camp. March 9t 1861. Ludwig Becker.


dark of the moon

One star shines through a hole in the leaves of the tree outside this building. What star? Don't know. What kind of tree? A gum, it flowers whitely or yellowly, profligate, often; though not now. The street so quiet this could be the future. The one without us in it. A cat walks along a wall, stops, walks some more. That makes two. Survivors. Cat pauses again, looks up, a green flash from its eyes. Does it see me? Or just ... sense an alien presence there. Street seems somehow soft, rubbery. As if it would sigh and give a little if you walked down it. Cars made of charcoal latex. The White Lady like a ghost, she hasn't moved once since I sold her, weeks ago now. Feel like ringing the new owner up and berating him for neglect. Except what about my own neglect, almost total. I've never seen a night quite like this, so absent, so empty, so unforeboding. The world as it must be when there's no-one here to see it. The yellow star still hangs in the hole in the heaven of the tree, making me think of Magritte, those trees with doors in them that open upon marvels. Light spilling from the darkness within. So quiet, did I say that? Now I will discard my butt end, swallow the last of the wine and step off the balcony into the air. You will see the trail of my tears hiss softly across the leaves. Some slight disturbance blur in the branches and then I will be gone. Into the umbra of that yellow star. Into the aching mysterium. The nebulium.


The Pink
and White


... as painted by Charles Blomfield (who some say never saw them). More here.


smokin' dust

If it had not been for ... if it had not been ... if it had not ... if it had ... if it ... if ...

That's, in six words, the essence of, why, why & how. & who with.

The chance not taken, or taken, takes us, whither.

Dark eyes in the night, out on the smoking bridge. Littered with unsipped glasses of bourbon & coke.

Fugitive crackle of some kind of plastic, sewn into the seams of an old black dress, 1940s.

The taxi I didn't take, looking down from the bridge, I saw it pull away, someone else in the back.

The garden of forking paths.

Sometimes you stand there & know you are there, at the nodal point. Sometimes you don't. Know. But you're there, nevertheless. Never. The. Less.

Didn't even realise Chris smoked. Lifted fags for both of us, from some bloke who worked for a university press. Then left.

Leaving me ... there. At the nodal point.

Where if decays into something more like its opposite. Whatever the opposite of if is.


Think war might be like this? You gallop down a path that was just the faintest trace of a white thread on the night, some possibility that delayed you for the infinitesimal amount of time it takes for a decision to be made.

Or not made.

That taxi. Those dark eyes. Another ... smoke.

& there I am, going ...