In praise of Cricketmas

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Baxter — a boys' own tale in five voices

I. Satan

I've been asked, and I'm building
up to it slowly. The fall. When I'd
been cast down, I wondered just
where on earth or in the heavens

this weird place, made to keep me, was.
Beside me stood such strange companions,
each too quick to anger — too quick, too,
to tears. I asked, what bonds are these?
Is this an adventurer's reward? To stoop
as one in the huddle of the homeless,
shivering with rage, beyond even hope
of revenge? I guess it always was.
God's people have only ever known
the way of hard power. Against art,
against play, against the song
of a siren dollar and a dollar siren.
Anyway: have faith, my friend!

II. Aeneas

Multas dat mare lacrimas[1], ancestors
said in their day, breaking free of
the humdrum waves that brought
only ageless cares to those nearer
shores. Now we are so much
further afield. Our olives, too,
would weep their oily tears if they
could see this land. Dat mare.
The sorrows of sea-travelling
have made so many a landfall here.
Positively queer. An ocean of cares
and a wealth of hurts, all from that
first look of disdain: you're welcome
anywhere but here, for this is
The Unwelcome House. And, yes,
multas lacrimas. The wise see
the sorrow everywhere among us,
even in Philip Ruddock's sneer.

III. Siddhartha

This permits the chop and change:
each chapter is a new life; each
life is thus many lives; in each
moment, therefore, I stand for each
moment of each moment of each
life, and of each life. In this, we know,
a certain wisdom lies. (Do not be, ever,
every; be always and forever each.)
We wake to each, not every, sorrow.
Waking's what we teach through our
endless exemplary emptied days, while
nights are but each effort to escape
from every dream. You know, like the
river, everything returns, but each is as
the wave, the wave on which we came.

IV. In the cricket

Peter Taylor, selected straight from
Petersham firsts to bowl his offies
for the baggy green, taught us how
the 'Strayan dream can fizz and spit
through Sydney's fond atmosphere.
It's so old school: the delivery of danger
is shrouded in languor. Those days
at the beach, watching surfers riding in,
were a prelude to his mission, a certain
Taylorisation of swooping and swaying
in praise of the sun-gods: Cricketmas!
Did you wonder how we came, though?
How our boats made their ways through
rushing waves and seagulls to this,
these peaceful grounds of whited play?
Well, we had to face each one
on its merits, take things one day at
a time. It was very much a case of playing
the percentages, but you know,
I guess, in the end, a champion's always
a champ. We crumbled under their
pressure a bit, let their sledging
get to us — what can I say? Still,
that's why we're in this situation.
We've just got to work our way
forward from here. I think we'll start
with our approach to appealing,
look like we're really hungry for that
decision. Let them know we want
the win, that we've come to play!

V. Prospero

It is nobler in the mind
to speak than to be spoken
of, to mend than to be
mended, to call the scene
than to be two dopey young
lovers over sea, for such is
the nature of nobility: we hold
some are born to lead. It's in
this spirit, then, we've decided
to separate you two awhile
for your own goods, Australia
and asylum. Otherwise, I fear
the play might end too soon, too
simply, lacking good dramatic
pain. Therefore, oh lovers, oh,
the things that you'll endure!
Of course, in the end we'll need
to be kind, let you unwind, bring
ease after the many days of screaming
mind. I'm even inclined, after
you've done your time, to throw
wide open the doors to the party,
to call you (each and every) mine,
to escort you down the great line,
guide you from the ridiculous
to the sublime. But don't stop!
Detention's never over till the
mage completes his rhyme.

[1] 'The sea sheds many tears.' (Lit. 'many gives the sea tears'.)

Tom ClarkTom Clark, PhD, MPRIA, teaches Public Relations, Professional Writing, Creative Writing and Literary Studies at at Victoria University. He has previously worked as a speechwriter, a political adviser, and an educational researcher.

Topic tags: Tom Clark, Baxter, Satan, Aeneas, Siddhartha, In the cricket, Prospero, new australian poetry



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'Cricketmass' is very apt - different name, of course, but still a good purchase on the subject. Thanks for these. I came here from Tom's cliche 12 step campaign!
andrew burke | 10 December 2008


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