Rob McGere, alias Paul Mitchell, ponders poetry from the construction site ahead of his Melbourne Fringe performance, Being a Wheel Family.
This is one of them Bogs, isn’t it? Yeah? Nah? A Blog you call it? Oh yeah? Short for bloke doin a log. Must be.
Anyway, howareyez? I’m Rob McGere. I’m a freelance construction worker and poet. And with a name like mine, as you can probably guess, I cop a fair bit of shit on the building site. Blokes takin my tools, my lunch; they hide it here and they hide it there and they go, Ha, ha, Robbed ya Gear! Ha, Ha. Yeah. And it was funny. In 1982. And what’s wrong with them, anyway? My name’s Rob, not Robbed. They can’t even bloody gramatise.
Useless mob they are.
Anyway, I write most of my poems when they’re not around. In me lunch hour at work. I keep ‘em in me lunch bag. With me peanut butter, sultana and honey sandwiches. Not a lot of people like a sandwich like that and not a lot of people like my poems. But who gives a shit? If you look in my lunchbag, you’ll get the good gear.
Get it? The Good Gear? Like there could be a bad McGere! Well, the jury’s out when it comes to the wife and the missus. I’ll give ya chapter and verse on that, I tell ya…
Anyway, people reckon poetry’s for the bloke in the black skivvy, but I reckon it’s for the fella in the high vis vest as well. Even that tool box of words right there, high vis vest, that’s poetic. It’s got a fair bit of that aliteralisation goin on in it. Takes me to spot it though, doesn’t it? I can spot poetry from about forty meters, give or take a stanza or two. Yeah and, like I was saying, I think poetry’s for the bloke in safety glasses as much as the little bloke in the horny rimmed.
So I’ve written a poem about it. About poetry being for the everyblokenwoman. And it’s called ‘Cement Poetry Lament’. Which is a bit of a joke there. Because there was this hard thing to understand back in the day called ‘Concrete Poetry’. So I’ve called my poem ‘Cement Poetry Lament’ just to mix it up a bit. Like cement. Bloody bit of humour there, won’t stone ya! So here we go, anyway, my poem. Goes like this:
Cement Poetry Lament
Poetry? Nah, mate, nah, they say,
not into it, no time for that.
Don’t understand it.
It’s all too bloody hard.
Speak straight why don’t they?
You know, and it doesn’t rhyme.
I can’t make head nor tail of it.
And what’s it got to do with my life? Hey?
It’s all about bloody flowers and some
of the sentences don’t make
any sense at all. What the hell
are they on? I mean, give me
a good story, a good yarn
tell me something I care about.
I mean, they poo poo Banjo
and that, but I dunno,
he had something to say didn’t he?
Horses and riding and that? Meant
something then. Give me a poem
about now, my life, catching a taxi
on a Friday night when you’re pissed
and you don’t want to go home,
but what’s your choice? The missus
is there, she’s got her slippers on
and you want to stay out boozing
but it’ll turn to shit at the pub
and it’s already shit at home.
So write me a poem about that
why don’t they? Cos they don’t
bloody care’s why. They don’t
give a shit about the little bloke,
the fella who sweats his guts out
every day from nine to five
that’s not poetry, is it, there’s not
a black skivvy or a friggin cravat
in sight, no berets just beanies.
And I’ve had enough it, I want
me poetry too. I want me poetry,
I want it sweet and slippery
I’d settle for my missus’s poetry
bloody anything but that crazy
nonsense that you can’t understand,
you got me? Poetry? That’s not
poetry, poetry’s bloody poetry, mate,
you know it when you see it, when you
feel it, when you smell it: poetry: it’s
all over you before you know where you are!
There, that’s it, that’s me poem, like or lump it, dip it or dunk it, set it to music and play it with a trumpet. Or a handsaw. Your hand’s sore if you think I’d chop up a good poem like that for any old woodpecker! … Ah, look, anyway, if you want to hear more, and some from the missus and the eldest son, come along to Being a Wheel Family. I won’t explain what that means; I’ll end up going around in circles. But the whole thing’s happening in the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Dunno what that’s about … I mean, if you’ve got a fringe on your noggin that’s great, but I can’t see how there’s any use having a festival about it.
(in the Fringe haircut thing)