Sunday, November 29, 2009


Nancy of The Undertow

- an update -(after Banjo Patterson)

I'd left a message
on the answering machine
of the last
phone number she had given,
if the share-house
in North Melbourne
was still the go;
she was call-nursing
last I'd seen her
so no one answering
was no surprise
'just hoping,' I said.
'to get back with you'
& signed off: ‘Love you,
Nancy of the Undertow'

And a postcard came
with the Bushgear catalogues
a Toyworld brochure,
& the Lotus Centre Course list
with a postmark
which I failed at first to notice:
The cover was
from Paris, a ripoff post-Dali cameo
but the ink read:
Please Post Christmas Mail This Week.
Her old flatmate, Charlene, had sent it
God knows how she got it
- it had a Gold Coast postmark
- with this message:
"Nancy' s gone to Bali searching
She's travelling on
through Asia with a meditation freak."

So here I am,
loveless old misery guts and hassle -
like dumb Adam
- in another remake of paradise
with the same clay
my maker used stuck to my strides,
down in a stagnating nightlife
more like a gutful of dread;
while she will'o'wisps
the incense and impales lights
like Princess Diana
hip-hopping faith, hope and charity
on the cover of
a Women's Magazine of a world,
where life is lived
up in the glamour of her head.

I see Nancy
up in Bali with her fiddling Yogi
playing moth
to the unholy candles of the night
all warm flesh eating
desires on glitterating beaches
ridin' the honeytouch
sands as a pillion motor-bikey...
She’d have a rage
up there would Nancy -
sipping the dying lights
of each emptying new fancy
in mermaid days,
following her 'inner' footsteps
to leave a trail
of prints afoot in Airs from Nike.

O she'd collect
a Christmas list of friends to cover
with her easy charm,
- her being a good looker -
so long as she keeps
her face, doesn’t enlarge her figure
even rags'll look good
on her by a hyper playbo's side.
Nancy'll be wrapped
in sights and scents of others
fooling the kids like
she really wished more of her own
and drool over bowls
of the simple life of Asians
while bending off the hang of
a necklace Cross 'to put myself aside!'

I am sitting in this
earth of prefabricated kitsheds
trying to get back
to basics and true it in the bush
trying to figure why
the road mess-travelled with Jesus
always finds me
grease-monkeying under 2nd-hand cars;
For the broken
people who lob here vacate me
while the eternal-country
work-want daunts me;
I sometimes wish
I still had my old job in the city
even if the coffee
was dust in foam from Cafe-Bar.

Instead of the allure
of lyric old Asian sitars
I get the dumb
chord of wrong-strum guitars
as our come-of-age
youths look for a 2nd
chance even before they're
old enough for firsts;
They go ape on
the instruments - all Gun Roses
to Kingdom Come
- targetting warrior-like poses
trying to pretend
they've got what it takes
when their whole life
is a blanket curse.

And Social Welfare
send ‘Instruct me’ letters
to be intimate with
them as if they're betters
filling endless forms
writ with toilet wind
to get that
slaves-reward of the dole.
In their sorry eyes,
red-taped with worms, is
no trust, no reflected
dignity, just shifty squirms
as they ask you
who you own a fridge with,
and get you to
spell out your children's soul.

So we go-at Top 40
or else this down-under gets
of us and the current
leaves people next-to useless
giving head-birth
to squeamish Australiamites
with no grit, no oomph,
or sacrifice, no guts, no womb.
All fish-tail below 'the image'
& gonadless as mermaids.
...My Generation sex
our 'self' a skin-deep way,
in fancy down The Undertow...
thinning inside this indulgence
till another kidded-cripple
ego is in the spirit's tomb.

As for the tropics,
I reckon I could fancy
To swap my overflow
for the Undertow with Nancy
That is, if I could take
a turn at bein' traveller
to see Asia’s peasants
come and go;
While she faced
the raw discipline
of one place loved on earth
- even in crisis!
But O fading beauty,
she'd say ‘Take it easy!’
She, O once mine,
Nancy of the Undertow.

Copyright 1988 © Wayne David Knoll