Saturday, January 26, 2013

Days of the great flood

"Mokare related to me today that a very long time ago, the sea came in and covered all the country for a long way. Porongorup was under water. Mt Lindsay and Mt Manypeaks remained specks, little islands. Mt Hallowell was completely covered. The sea went back with the north wind. No Black Fellow had been drowned, all having run in time to the little spots on the few mountain tops which continued dry. The wallibi, bandycoots and other animals having run in great abundance to the same places to shelter, they fared well. There were living at this time a Black man and woman named Mendeeyerin and Yotogitepart or Yetopurt."

Captain Barker, King George Sound, 1830.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Write like a dead man/woman

The transcript of this speech by Jeffrey Eugenides in the New Yorker is about self censorship in writing. A great article for writers struggling with this stuff:

To die your whole life. Despite the morbidity, I can’t think of a better definition of the writing life. There’s something about writing that demands a leave-taking, an abandonment of the world, paradoxically, in order to see it clearly. This retreat has to be accomplished without severing the vital connection to the world, and to people, that feeds the imagination. It’s a difficult balance.

Read more:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I am consumer, hear me whine

It all happened just like this. I've only taken out the boring bits.

"Hello, my name is Ignatius from Newspoll and I'd like to do a survey. This will take four minutes on average. Do you agree to participate in this survey?"

When he rang I was thinking; whenever I read that 61% of the general population between the ages of 21 and 65 reckon that boat people are illegal immigrants who should be consigned to the remote provinces of PNG, I wonder why nobody asked me. Obviously I'm not part of the general population. And some kind soul from Newspoll is just about to include me! Whoa!
So I answered, "Yes, of course."

Once Ignatius (no, really) from Newspoll had ascertained my demographic status - single mother, high school drop-out who is living on an obscure, poverty-line allowance, aka Passive Consumer of Crappy Junk  - he asked, "Have you heard of these companies before?"

Citi/Multi/Westfieldi etc.
"No. No. Yes. No. Yes."
"Okay. Are you subscribed to any pay television?"
"I don't have a tv."
"I still have to ask: Do you subscribe to Foxtel?"
"Sky Channel?"
"No. Look, I don't have a tv."
"Discovery Channel?"
"Honestly, you're wasting both our time. I really don't own a tv."
"I know but -"
"Well just put down no for all the tv questions."
"I can't do that. I'm afraid I have to ask every single question."
Sigh. "Okay." ...

..."Do you smoke?"
"How many cigarettes a day do you smoke?"

On we go, until I realised he wasn't going to ask me about boat people or Julia Gillard, and one good question seeped into my rapidly eroding brain. I think it became entertainment for me. He was dealing with a woman on the edge. This woman, sitting at home writing a doctorate, when she should really be out catching fish or sailing east to west in a lovely big boat, needed a distraction from her shackles.

Mary Leunig, "There's no place like home" 1985.

Naturally it all went downhill from there.
"Hey, I'm on the Do Not Call register. Are you guys telemarketers? How did you get my number?"
"We got your randomly selected number from our, ah,  database. The Do Not Call register does not apply to us, Ms Toa."
"So who are you contracting for?"
"Newspoll collects market surveys for companies such as some I have just mentioned, Ms Toa."

"So ... these companies are paying you to ask me for information so they can more successfully market me their crap? What is this? There's a missing link in the food chain somewhere here. And how can you bypass the Do Not Call register if you are working for the commercial sector?
"Err," Ignatius from Newspoll's alarm went off; we've got a live one we've got a live one we've got a live one.
"I would like to continue this survey. Would you like to speak to my supervisor?"
"No thanks."

"What is your postcode then? So we can get an idea of your location."

"Can you give me your location please?"
"Don't you have access to the latest national census? I do. It's just been released. (It's here, for crying out loud) The ABS has got shitloads of juice on folk like me. Why do you need to ring me at home and ask me this stuff all over again?"

"O - kay. Could I confirm your phone number Ms Toa." He reeled off a number I'd never heard before. It certainly wasn't mine but he had the local area code right. Talk about downhill. Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you, right?
"That's not my phone number."
"Oh. Alright. Can you please tell me your actual phone number?"
"You're talking to me on my actual phone number!"
"I'm afraid I cannot access the number I've rung you on."
"But you are accessing me."

Ignatius from Newspoll gave up at this point. My daughter says that she often gives up at this point too. With me, that is.

He tried one last trick. "Look Sarah. Perhaps I can get my supervisor to talk to you. Can you hold the line?"
He was quiet for a few moments and I could almost hear the shake of his supervisor's head.
"My supervisor asked if he could ring you back."
"You don't want him to ring you back?"
"Not I don't Ignatius. We've just done the phone number thing. All I want right now is a nice cup of fecking tea. Sorry (and I couldn't help saying 'sorry' because I know Ignatius's position in our world's chookpen) You've just done my fecking head in, Ignatius, goodbye."
"Okay then. Goodbye Sarah."

The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory.
George Orwell, 1984

If only Ignatius from Newspoll had offered me a hint of cash to participate in his survey, I probably would have succumbed, rolled over and exposed my belly to him. Yeah.

Missing links, food chains, the proles and all ...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

'She's a hundred but she's wearing something tight'

Bluefin Blues

A few years ago, in the back of a refurbished refrigerator truck set up with a solar generated DVD player, I lay back on a bed comprised of cow hide and watched The End of the Line, a movie about the collapse of the world's fish stocks. It was with some apprehension that I watched the movie. At the time I was fishing the inlets full time and I wanted to see what they were saying about us fishermen and women. I thought these marine environmentalists would be gunning for folk like me ... but towards the end I realised that the movie actually backed up what I'd been writing and thinking about for a few years now.
"If you are going to buy seafood, ask the supplier where it comes from. Make sure it's a sustainable resource. Don't buy the stuff that is under threat. Get informed."

After that, I emailed the marine conservation organisation for their sustainable seafood shopping guide. It's the size of your average driver's licence and they sent me a wad of about 3000 copies once I told them that I sold fish every week at the local farmer's market. Their guide is not too bad for accuracy, albeit a couple of local glitches. Looking at their traffic light system (Red - don't buy, Yellow - Aw, maybe, Green - sustainable) the other fishermen said, "Yes, well, it's okay but there's some species in there that I wouldn't work because there are not enough around to make any money out of." (A fisherman's term for scarce) One bloke poked at the pilchards, of all things. "They're rare as hens teeth here. Why are they called sustainable in this guide?"

Here is the rub. Old Salt tried to entice me out fishing for crabs recently because he'd heard from Kaillis that blue mannas were fetching an obscene amount per kilo; twice what we normally sold them for. He got so wet on the price offered that he forgot about the breeding season. Every pot we pulled up was full of berried female crabs that we had to chuck them all back and we didn't make a single dollar. That was why the price was so high of course. Supply and demand. But imagine if we'd killed the pig that day? We would have made a squillion.

Last week a restaurateur in Japan paid 1.7 million dollars AUD for a single blue fin tuna. Yes, the same price you'd pay for a quarter acre block in Port Hedland. One point seven million bucks ...
This price and the prestige that goes with it troubles me, before I even get to rant about real estate agents in West Australia.

At the markets Old Salt and I charge roughly ten dollars a kilo for fish we'd caught, like, yesterday. This particular Bluefin was asking seven thousand six hundred and thirty dollars a kilo. At that price, these fish are well worth killing. Their flesh, worth more dead than alive, are akin to rhinoceros's horn and elephant's tusk. It's worth goes up with its scarcity. It's just like gold, except you don't have to kill gold.

The price that this restaurateur paid and the economic status that he will, and has already received from the publicity following his purchase strikes me as an obscenity. It's not just rude. It goes beyond bad manners. It is just a plain old obscenity.

This video below is from the movie End of the Line. It's got some blood in it, as a trigger warning to those who may get flaky. Fishing will always bloody and it is hard to kill critters who are hellbent on living when they are on the deck and thrashing about around your boots. (Especially stingrays and sharks. Drama drama.)

I guess I just want to say, have a think about all this next time you go to the supermarket. Think about what is going on and then if you can, avoid the multi nationals and the more expensive top end of town: head down to the local fish monger and ask them to give you the lowdown on where your fodder really comes from.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


 Olive Oatman, 1858. She was the first tattooed white woman in the U.S. After her family was killed by Yavapais Indians, on a trip West in the eighteen-fifties, she was adopted and raised by Mohave Indians, who gave her a traditional tribal tattoo. When she was ransomed back, at age nineteen, she became a celebrity. Photograph courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson, 1927.

Maud Wagner, the first known female tattooist in the U.S., 1911. In 1907, she traded a date with her husband-to-be for tattoo lessons. Their daughter, Lotteva Wagner, was also a tattooist. Photograph courtesy of the author.

From the book  “Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo,” by Margot Mifflin, published by PowerHouse Books.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


My sister and I were talking about the Australian Christmas Tree last night. "Aren't they wonderful?" She said. "But I've never wanted to go near them, let alone pick one of their flowers. They're sort of strange."

Driving by a grove of these trees is a delight. They are sort of strange. They are parasitic and can travel their roots hundreds of metres underground searching for a mate, even plain old grass, to feed upon. They look like nothing all year and suddenly, at Christmas time they sprout outrageous flowers  of a colour I have difficulty defining. Seeing them in the bush can be an epiphany. It's yellow. No. Orange. Life itself? Pumpkin stamens? Not quite. The closest I get to explaining their colour is the colour of the jumper my grandma knitted me for Christmas (from balls of wool discarded by farmers' wives who knew better). I wore it on the veranda on Christmas Day and was so overcome by hungry bees that I ripped it off and never wore it again.

I've always found it interesting that in local lore, these trees are the places where the old peoples' spirits stop to rest awhile, before heading off to the otherworld.

Have you experienced seeing one of your friends/dogs/folk in the weeks or months after their death? I've seen them and felt them and my sister agreed that she has too. Not so long after a loved one has gone ... in the supermarket or down the street, I see them. I've seen their brindle flash, a head of grey hair or a crazy smile from the corner of my eye. It is always from the corner of my eye. Sometimes they stick around for months and it is never a bad feeling. It's like they stay to know that we are all okay and then one day, they are gone and when they go, it's like an elastic band snapping.

A lovely connection between Noongar and European culture on this south coast is this same same law, when it comes to the Christmas Tree:

You must never cut down, break a branch off, or pick the flower of the Christmas Tree because you may disturb the newly deceased who are 'resting', looking over their families to make sure they are okay, before they leave forever.

You must never cut down, break a branch off, or pick the flower of the Christmas Tree because it has been designated as a protected species.

Beautiful, hey?

Have a look here for Moodgar, Nyutsia floribunda, and other names for the Christmas Tree.
Image: Nyutsia floribuna in Cape Le Grande National Park.


I've been unkindly referred to as ballast once or twice in my life. Okay, thrice. Twice by Old Salt who really should know better and once by my ex in the throes of a rear tractor torque situation. "Shiiiit. Just jump in the bucket at the front and hang on, will ya?" To balance the ton of pavers at the back. Nice.

The ballast I'm referring to now is the ballast that keeps us upright in big seas. My friends Greedy and Em built a beautiful fireplace in their backyard from the basalt that was once used to stay 19th century tall ships on the high seas. The stones were dredged out of the harbour recently to make room for the new marina and taken to the rubbish dump. I say basalt but the stones look flintier, more like slate, with the heavy density and colour of local basalt. Perhaps these stones came from England? Africa? South America? Imagine.

Anyway, I'm digressing for a second time. Ballast.
Here is my ballast. Gracie, her Mum and her Dad made up a little trio who kicked arse in 2012 and showed us all how it is done.

Greedy sat down beside me on New Years Eve and rested his dancing legs on the stone fireplace.
"You know Sarah, I just can't wait to have grand kids. Teach them how to catch fish and go hunting and take them out to the bush block, go crazy for a week, teach them to drive the old bombs around the fire breaks, how to do that firestick dancing thing at night ... "
He stopped and looked at my earnest nodding. "Ha! I was being facetious, Sarah. But you're serious, aren't you?"
"Of course I am Greedy. She's got shorter big toes, just like me."

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Toa, Interrupted

I'd like that job sailing across the Great Australian Bight. I really would. The skipper will pay my airfare. The boat will traverse the same course, at the same time of year, as those sealers and Pallawa women I am writing about.
So I'm stewing in my own juices here. The twitching pit in the base of my stomach is a feeling that I recognise from past experience as wanderlust, wanting to go sailing, knowing the job is right there for me if I dare ... and knowing that I can't step off the jetty right now.
It is completely maddening. How to reconcile my reality with a potential reality.
A friend said yesterday that a line from the Eagles song reminded him of me:  
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.

The red glow of a Flanders poppy against a green paddock is only a memory til next spring. Pumpkin tendrils are sending forays onto the driveway, laden with flowers and little bulbous babies. Australian christmas trees are dropping their orangey yellow blooms onto weedy watsonia and the ficifolia are flowering all their cool to warm reds. The easterlies are roaring in. That easterly is the rub that itches me. They should be the winds to usher me home on the catamaran or, if I were fishing, be the onshore whore I've cursed for years whilst out on the whiting grounds with Old Salt. I've never thought of that wind as a friend until this week.

Instead I'm watering the windblown garden, editing the latest copy from my publisher, freaking out about my thesis deadline, thinking that I really should sort out that bottle of milk I spilled in the car a week ago and patting the brindle dog whenever he puts his paw on my lap. I spend every day in front of a screen, typing (not writing), surfing the internet, dawdling over a sentence ... until it gets to the hour when I crank the Indi500 around the block like some crazy woman possessed with dreams of sailing the Southern Ocean.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Plants himself in all her nerves

"T'is a curious poem," my English lecturer once said. He was a curious creature himself; a tweedy Oxford scholar who'd ended up in the Antipodes teaching the colonials modernist and Irish literature. I could see why he loved it there in Otago - maybe he was the proverbial big fish but I also saw his delight in the odd student who stepped up to his standards. In my obligatory interview with him over an assessment, he was amazed and disappointed that I was doing four units and he discounted me after that.
"You should only be doing two!" (of his units, of course)
I explained that as an exchange student I was obliged to do four, that Pacific Origins in Archaeology and Maori History were making up the quota so I could migrate thousands of kilometres for him to lecture me on Synge, Faulkner and Beckett.

The anthrop and history classes fed me and the exams were easy but the tweedy professor's exams were worth eighty percent of our final semesters' mark. Yes. Eighty percent, for essays on Borges, Wordsworth, Joyce and Faulkner. The exam question for Borges was the one story from Labyrinths that I hadn't read; The Garden of Forking Paths. That story still gives me post-traumatic shudders to this day when I think of the quietening hall, the collective groans and my utter dismay. I can imagine maths exams carrying some weight for a final mark but modernist literature? Irish literature between 1850 and 1950? I will always associate The Garden of Forking Paths as a horrifying experience and it has nothing to do with the story tale itself.
Passed. Just.

Anyhoo, here is the 'curious poem'.
If you've ever read one of my tyger tales, you will see that I've stolen a line or two. I didn't realise it at the time. Blake has been known to write about Tygers but I had no idea I'd internalised this poem so well. No excuses. I can only own my heartfelt larceny ... Read on. It's a (curious) ripper.

The Mental Traveller
by William Blake (1757 - 1857)

I travell’d thro’ a land of men,
A land of men and women too;
And heard and saw such dreadful things
As cold earth-wanderers never knew.

For there the Babe is born in joy
That was begotten in dire woe;
Just as we reap in joy the fruit
Which we in bitter tears did sow.

And if the Babe is born a boy
He’s given to a Woman Old,
Who nails him down upon a rock,
Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.

She binds iron thorns around his head,
She pierces both his hands and feet,
She cuts his heart out at his side,
To make it feel both cold and heat.

Her fingers number every nerve,
Just as a miser counts his gold;
She lives upon his shrieks and cries,
And she grows young as he grows old.

Till he becomes a bleeding Youth,
And she becomes a Virgin bright;
Then he rends up his manacles,
And binds her down for his delight.

He plants himself in all her nerves,
Just as a husbandman his mould;
And she becomes his dwelling-place
And garden fruitful seventyfold.

An agèd Shadow, soon he fades,
Wandering round an earthly cot,
Full fillèd all with gems and gold
Which he by industry had got.

And these are the gems of the human soul,
The rubies and pearls of a love-sick eye,
The countless gold of the aching heart,
The martyr’s groan and the lover’s sigh.

They are his meat, they are his drink;
He feeds the beggar and the poor
And the wayfaring traveller:
For ever open is his door.

His grief is their eternal joy;
They make the roofs and walls to ring;
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring.

And she is all of solid fire
And gems and gold, that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her baby form,
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band.

But she comes to the man she loves,
If young or old, or rich or poor;
They soon drive out the Agèd Host,
A beggar at another’s door.

He wanders weeping far away,
Until some other take him in;
Oft blind age-bent, sore distrest,
Until he can a Maiden win.

And to allay his freezing age,
The poor man takes her in his arms;
The cottage fades before his sight,
The garden and its lovely charms.

The guests are scatter’d thro’ the land,
For the eye altering alters all;
The senses roll themselves in fear,
And the flat earth becomes a ball;

The stars, sun, moon, all shrink away
A desert vast without a bound,
And nothing left to eat or drink,
And a dark desert all around.

The honey of her infant lips,
The bread and wine of her sweet smile,
The wild game of her roving eye,
Does him to infancy beguile;

For as he eats and drinks he grows
Younger and younger every day;
And on the desert wild they both
Wander in terror and dismay.

Like the wild stag she flees away,
Her fear plants many a thicket wild;
While he pursues her night and day,
By various arts of love beguil’d;

By various arts of love and hate,
Till the wide desert planted o’er
With labyrinths of wayward love,
Where roams the lion, wolf, and boar.

Till he becomes a wayward Babe,
And she a weeping Woman Old.
Then many a lover wanders here;
The sun and stars are nearer roll’d;

The trees bring forth sweet ecstasy
To all who in the desert roam;
Till many a city there is built,
And many a pleasant shepherd’s home.

But when they find the Frowning Babe,
Terror strikes thro’ the region wide:
They cry ‘The Babe! the Babe is born!
And flee away on every side.

For who dare touch the Frowning Form,
His arm is wither’d to its root;
Lions, boars, wolves, all howling flee,
And every tree does shed its fruit.

And none can touch that Frowning Form,
Except it be a Woman Old;
She nails him down upon the rock,
And all is done as I have told.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Transit of Venus Year and My Handbag

It was a pretty interesting year for Australian women; what with the Prime Minister's slap down of the opposition leader after two years of personal abuse, Anne Summers' essay Her Rights at Work and an online guerilla response to Alan Jones' usual tirade that educated, powerful women will destroy the joint.
The turning point in all three happenings was the that online community rode rowdy roughshod over the old media guard, yahooing and swinging their bras and Yfronts above their heads. What happened next was what Benard Keane summed up as the rage of the prostatetariat. (prostatetariat being possibly the most magnificent word coined in 2012)

The media has been told for a long time that the internet will bugger their advertising revenue. But no one told them it would happen courtesy of social media campaigns as well.
This had a particularly amusing outcome of upsetting powerful old white men, the sort of people not merely used to running things, but doing so in an unchallenged, and definitely unmocked, fashion. No matter where you looked this year, there was some privileged old white guy angrily denouncing things. Gerry Harvey or Solomon Lew or Ray Hadley or Alan Jones (Old White Guy primus inter pares), or the entire Republican Party (brilliantly condensed into Clint Eastwood railing at an invisible person, an act so laden with symbolism it deconstructed itself in real time), or the old men of The Australian, from Chris Mitchell down, powerful elderly males infuriated that the world no longer gives them automatic deference, let alone allows them to run things unchallenged. 
The result: the rage of the prostatetariat.
(Here - and this is a great article)

The coup happened because even as Gillard's speech and Summers' essay went viral, and Jones was forced to apologise for some truly 'vile' comments (his advertisers were deserting him like nightclub punters after the 3 am spotlights are turned on), the old white men of The Australian completely misjudged the seismic shift that was occurring and tried to maintain their status quo of keeping a witch at the stake whilst wielding pitch forks and a box of matches.
Meanwhile the bloggers, twitterers and FB activists just got on with it and burnt down the prostatetariat tower within the week. No newspapers or matches required, thank you very much.

What happens when guys
like Paul Kelly, Chris Mitchell,
 Christopher Pearson and
Alan Jones misread their own readership.
Anyway, whilst on this feminist slant, I think I'll talk about my hair and I may at some stage move on to my handbag. There's also the slightly fraught question of whether, with my new status of grandma, I'll ever get laid again and if I do, will it be weird, uncomfortable and with all lights turned off. As MF keeps reminding me, I'm quite young for a 21st century grannie, which makes the whole nanna dating scene sort of strange. What to do. I've been angsting about a lack of boyfriend sauce for a while. A factor in this dearth may be living in a country town where the gender demographic is female heavy. Perhaps it is also being a nearly six-foot tall wild woman who gallops off at the hint of a gold ring and has a reputation of being a bit lippy, wins at arm wrestles. Grandma. All those states require someone quite um ... quixotic and special.

This paragraph has no bearing whatsoever on the above paragraph's subject. Of course someone will love me despite the twigs in my hair, I mutter defensively. Having run out of shampoo, I want roll with it and see how long I can go without washing it. Yes, there is a light aroma of woodsmoke and sweat. There's a few twigs and bottle brush flowers going on too. Like one of the Toa sisters, my hair thrives on the briny and I've always loved leaving salt in my hair for days after a swim. It gets glossier and shorter as the curls tighten and begin to dread.
Said sister was told once that her hair smelt and she should probably wash it. "But it's not itchy yet!" she answered. Mine's not itchy yet either. It's actually starting to feel really good. So there.

Personally it's been an odd rollercoaster 2012 of highs and lows. Some of them I've blogged about and others have been a bit raw to document online. Fishing out at Pallinup was definitely a highlight, along with getting my book signed by Fremantle Press (coming out this year, yay!) and Matilda Grace, ohh, that baby ... My handbag is honest testimony to my year: phone charger, diary, tampons, pocket knife, screwdriver, so-called smart phone, headlamp, ear phones, rollie papers, sandalwood oil, blue wren feathers, pliers, tissues, cable ties, a water bottle, puncture repair kit, asprin and crushed seashells. An apple and a book.
These items service my midnight visits to the whale graveyard, my own personal road side assistance needs, fish filletting habits, a night on the town, working out of town three days a week, living in a tent, roams around the red cliffs or to the sand bar at Pallinup, a funeral for a tiny blue bird, some minor emergencies, some major joys. One major joy involved the little plastic jar that my daughter made me cart around in my handbag for the last month, in order to salvage a portion of her placenta on the big day.
And all this ephemera lives in a canvas miner's tool bag that I cannot seem to give up for anything more feminine or elegant because it is just so bloody useful.

Oh - hey - Happy New Year everyone!
May it be happy and honest and fruitful.

If I were tickled by the rub of love

If I were tickled by the rub of love,
A rooking girl who stole me for her side,
Broke through her straws, breaking my bandaged string,
If the red tickle as the cattle calve
Still set to scratch a laughter from my lung,
I would not fear the apple nor the flood
Nor the bad blood of spring.

Shall it be male or female? say the cells,
And drop the plum like fire from the flesh.
If I were tickled by the hatching hair,
The winging bone that sprouted in the heels,
The itch of man upon the baby's thigh,
I would not fear the gallows nor the axe
Nor the crossed sticks of war.

Shall it be male or female? say the fingers
That chalk the walls with greet girls and their men.
I would not fear the muscling-in of love
If I were tickled by the urchin hungers
Rehearsing heat upon a raw-edged nerve.
I would not fear the devil in the loin
Nor the outspoken grave.

If I were tickled by the lovers' rub
That wipes away not crow's-foot nor the lock
Of sick old manhood on the fallen jaws,
Time and the crabs and the sweethearting crib
Would leave me cold as butter for the flies
The sea of scums could drown me as it broke
Dead on the sweethearts' toes.

This world is half the devil's and my own,
Daft with the drug that's smoking in a girl
And curling round the bud that forks her eye.
An old man's shank one-marrowed with my bone,
And all the herrings smelling in the sea,
I sit and watch the worm beneath my nail
Wearing the quick away.

And that's the rub, the only rub that tickles.
The knobbly ape that swings along his sex
From damp love-darkness and the nurse's twist
Can never raise the midnight of a chuckle,
Nor when he finds a beauty in the breast
Of lover, mother, lovers, or his six
Feet in the rubbing dust.

And what's the rub? Death's feather on the nerve?
Your mouth, my love, the thistle in the kiss?
My Jack of Christ born thorny on the tree?
The words of death are dryer than his stiff,
My wordy wounds are printed with your hair.
I would be tickled by the rub that is:
Man be my metaphor.