13 Crosstalk JOHN TRANTER

The way you lie there, it's an opinion, those
bronze medal limbs, the sheets crumpled,
your body the site and centre of conspicuous
waste. It's a vote against the mob,
the way you flick the lamp out, thoughts
akimbo, and stare at the visual display.
Sleep, says the computer.

[It sounds brilliant in the dark, at 2 a.m., that
breathing in stereo, so crisp, or rain
in the mesh grille of a microphone.
Is it recording a storm, or sound effects?
The machine listens to its own astrology. Who
left the screen on? That red, that luminescent
green, I must be sleepwalking. Toast,

ham and eggs for two, all on the video.
Does a wish flicker, like that?
Then you disappear leaving a faint ghost
and go to black, as the program dumps
a bracelet of digits in the outboard memory.
The printout spelling doom, do you carry it
with you through sleep, a gift, a poison?]

And when you wake at sunrise, heavy breather,
golden in the light, will you be content?
Hush - the shower's whispering, breakfast is ready,
and two expensive German microphones wait for
breath, for movement, for the trace of your desire.

from Contemporary Australian Poetry (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), edited by John Leonard.
Used and reprinted by permission.

Click here for a reading by Alex Skovron of this poem.

Click here for a video of the Melbourne premiere of Leonard Lehrman's setting, Jan. 5, 2002.

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