new zealand electronic poetry centre
Mark Young
3rd Birthday

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Promoting the album

What’s the name of this place?
he asked as the plane was
coming in to land. Auckland
I told him.   He wrote it down
on the inside of his wrist.
That evening I was at his
reading.   It’s wonderful to be
in your wonderful city — a
slight pause during which
he stretched out his arms as if
to embrace those in front
of him & glanced imperceptibly
at his wrist — of Auckland.    The
audience cheered. It’s been
so stimulating since I’ve been here
that I’ve haven’t stopped writing
about — glance — Auckland.
He assumed   the position.
Auckland / mumble mumble /
Auckland / mumble mumble /
Auckland. All you could make out.
Paused for ten seconds to let the
audience know that the poem was
finished. Was roundly applauded.
I hear he’s doing Texas next week.
Can’t wait. Mumble mumble / Dallas /
mumble mumble / Houston /
mumble mumble / San Antone.
first posted to As/Is
reprinted in calligraphies

Every time a different poem, a different
context, but the biographical note remains a variation
on the one theme. How I was born in Hokitika
in New Zealand sixty-two years ago, have
done this / that, published here / there, am now
living in Rockhampton, Australia. It ’ s the truth, no
denying or escaping that. But scared
I will give too much away if I put too much in
I leave out the most interesting parts. Now only
the bare bones are revealed; & reading them
more than once is more than boring. & that ’ s
just for me — think what it must be like
for other people who follow the sport.
So I have decided to write a chameleon poem,
submit only that but change the biography with each
submission so that meaning, subtexts, even
the very sound of the poem are transformed
by the information that accompanies it. I have
beginnings, have biographies, though which
is which is open to debate. Put it down to the fact
that my mother spoke rapidly, had a tendency
to blur her words so that I was never sure
if it was aliens or Raelians who had
abducted & cloned me when I was nine. Sent
the clone home she believed. Left the
real me wandering the world.
He Me We
grew up to be R2-D2, grew down
to be George Bush senior with chromosomes
so damaged by the cloning process
that any male offspring would almost
certainly be intellectually impaired.
Set out to prove Fermat ’ s last theorem
but were beaten to the punchline.
Changed our name to Richie Valens.
Were so badly scarred in the plane crash
in which Buddy Holly & the Big Bopper died
we pretended we had died as well, disappeared
into another name change & forged a will
giving our new selves as the beneficiaries
in the hope that the cyclical nature of fashion
would make us popular again in thirty or so years
especially since our death had happened
in such dramatic circumstances
it would probably inspire a Hollywood movie.
It was a good call. We have lived off
the royalties & on an abandoned oil rig
in the Southern Ocean ever since. Spend most
of our time refining the definitive piece on
whether Procul Harum ’ s A Whiter Shade of Pale
contains more of Bach ’ s Air on The G String
or his Wachtet auf, ruft uns die Stimme. But we
cannot agree. So in the meantime, in between times,
writes the poems
write the bionotes
& occasionally
we write to one another.
first published in calligraphies

A static charge

Here was I thinking
I was unique
until I read in
today’s paper
that the reason I
& another few
hundreds of
thousands of this
city’s inhabitants  
are getting
electric shocks
when we touch
is because
the air is so dry
there is no moisture
for the build-up
of static electricity
to discharge to.   We
walk around
on polyester carpets
wearing polyester
trousers &
polyester sweaters
& all that
accumulated frotteuring
turns us into
walking batteries.
Touch something
& wham!   All
the energy in the
battery we’ve become
goes flowing
down our arm. &
here was I
thinking that I
had accidentally
brushed the
electric chair & now
I discover I’m
the fucking executioner.
first published in calligraphies

Homeland Security

Certain words are flagged
for recognition. The surrounding
passages on the endless
monitoring tapes are
isolated & extracted, sent past
voice recognition software,
digitalised for immediate
interpretation of permutations
& association. Names, times,
places. More words to add. This
is no brief history of the world
but a paranoic infinite
dictionary. By themselves
the words are meaningless.
Meaning is added later. “I am
going to the shops” is sufficent
reason for assassination.
first posted to pelican dreaming

The Mao ficcione

Mao Zedong as he
is now known
started the Long March
with 100,000 followers
& three movies. When
they reached Shanxi
there were only
8000 people &
one movie left. Loss of
faith, starvation, accidents
& the continual harrassment
by Jiang Jie Shi’s
Guomindang army
accounted for the attrition. The
two movies – The Battleship
Potemkin & Les Enfants du
Paradis – were lost when
a landslide carried
the mule that was carrying them
away. Stagecoach was the
only one to survive; but,
fortunately, the pedal-powered
generator that provided
the electricity also
made it through un-
scathed. It is said
that by the end of the
March all the survivors
knew every word of the script
by heart. There is a poem
of Mao’s that starts:
“The long shadow
of John Ford
guards the entrances
to the Shanxi Caves.” That
Zhou Enlai who
drove the generator
is equally revered is
evidenced by the number
of bicycles in China today.
first posted to pelican dreaming

The Return of the Hapsburgs

Take the old shotgun
out of the cupboard & give it
a thorough inspection. You feel safe
with it around but it’s been there for so long
it has probably rusted. It’s time for an
upgrade. Think how much safer
a well-oiled Uzi would make you feel.
It’s time to take down all the crucifixions.
They come across like early Mapplethorpes
before he discovered foreign objects. Put them
in museums. These days it’s
gospel halls that outdo shopping malls, all
praise the lord & pass the collection plate.
Burn the balaclavas & the
makeshift body armour, the placards
extolling anti-globalisation. What
makes you think you can win
by using force against force? You’re amateurs
playing power games against self-interested
Masters. There are other stratagems
& the accessories are still there
in the bottom drawer
longing to be used again. Take to the streets
wearing ankhs & amulets. The time
is once more right for. Dancing.
It’s one of those things you don’t forget.
Terminator Arnie’s one-man army
is on the march to Sacramento, the victory celebrations
compered by a talkshow host. Maybe
the whole set-up is the lead-in
to another Jay Leno one-liner. The comparisons
are with Reagan, but he was just a fuckwit
puppet. It’s Jesse The Body Ventura
who’s got a lot to answer for.
first published in sidereality, vol. 3, issue 1

© Mark Young 2004


Last updated 15 December, 2004