Views from Oyster Mountain – Jalal El-Kadali

Another Order of Being


The water sloshed out of a plastic cup
Became a horse jumping as over a jump
But not completing the manoeuvre
Posed suffering in air
And the work of many hours was to coax it down
Which tragically could not be done
My horse a young girl with very long legs and hair
Had already completed the course
Acting it out as a character in a play
Consisting of yoga asanas
Then it was time for her as my proxy
To go and confess
At the Spiritual-Temporal Authority Hub
Known as the ‘STAH’, where behind a desk
Sat her little brother, alone
On work experience, in uniform
But she brought him a drink instead





We seek the plangency
Of a child’s tears, or better yet
Those of the parents of one
Stillborn for the best
To find an aluminium lunchbox
To save them in, preserved
Like dew in a spider’s web one day
Salvaged from the rubble
Of a nuclear holocaust, whereupon
They scatter forth miraculously
Like a hoard of spiders
That don’t need lungs or tear ducts
And have eaten first their mother and then
Their weaker siblings



Two Trees (Three Days)


Bursting out of a trepanned head
Of ground: there the hands
All grasping umpteen
Of them of this several-times
Life-sized homunculus
Would-be gracile cancer
Neural effigy or child, reaching
For liquorice rope powerlines
To have its thieving hands cut off
Are not
Ah this shod earth
Performing a many-tailed scorpion pose
With us its accomplices

A pair of lungs and a brain
As though withered by addiction
Down to the little green
Incredible shoots and nuts
On a hillside superimposed
They whisper, Listen, we
Like a travelling salesman
In an unlikely location have something
To show and tell you
We grin through the flyscreen
Uncannily, in dirty clothes
The wrong face on our lanyard
No car visible. Then
As our lips move at last, a truck mangles
Your attention beneath its wheels

But perhaps it is more to each other
And the rest of them there that they speak
At any rate you can tell the rest
Of the body parts will soon get involved
Moving as designed, wind
Acting between them as glue

A semi-purposeful activity that
Sloshes over even into
Work, where you notice
Things like bird-like ornaments
Among the branches
Of a tree at whose apex sits
Eugenics and psycho-
Somatically text yourself





Atop a meso pyramid, mesoforms

An open book—as she described herself 

Meaning she liked to try new things

A wind turbine, an oil diffuser

Erotic figurines crafted in marzipan

All on a megalithic scale

Full head of soft hair, from out of which appear

These items menaced by a wrecking ball

Depending from the sky itself 

By some holdfast: moles by the mallet 

Attached to the machine


The door to the arcade lies open

Grace of the Number-One Figurine

Her almond eyes permanently upon you

Reclining on her chaise longue beside an ancient phone

Terra cotta tiles extending

From the kitchen all the way out to the stars

Then the gravid chrysali 

Of your eyelids open

On the proper light of that loveliest bibelot 

Like a great keyhole, Self-Tokeness 

The weather balmy, the merest

Twenty years passing as you sleep off

The intoxication of your first night together

Harassed by nightmares of her absence

In this way you will outlast the world


But remember when she stood like that

Before, one wall only of her sanctuary 

Left standing, the structure having been built

Along a socio-political fault-line

It seemed quite another pair of lips 

That divided that continent in miniature

A map 3D and actual size

Beneath a striated sky so high

The birds flew upside-down

Afflicted surface of a desert 

Amidst the open sea, the reason why 

Today the outlines of the continents 

And words spoken or written

Seem each a sign of signlessness 

To those inclined thus to misread them

Braille inscriptions of absolute contingency


Merely the grossest stratum of cloud

The solid, inwardly inhabited earth 

Finds space for all: coins and tesserae, up to 

Vast cities of cities, country towns and estates

And those cities of trees


Who has their freedom


A traveller, you materialise outside

A mountain shaped like a manor house, in the gloom 

Your shoulder brushed on the way in by

A skeletal figure carrying a baby

And at the foot of the cutting, by the danger light

Another tries to warn you

But you have set out to learn the meaning of fear

Thence a sequence of rooms and passages

The contents of each more horrific than the last

In tableau with stage lighting

Starting with life-sized Sylvanian Families

And working up to a dungeon wherein

You confront a dismembered plastic skeleton 

Marked “yours” (as if to disambiguate

From the one before encountered ambulant)

Lights flashing, an alarm going off

But the noise at length gives way 

To the choral finale 

Of Mahler’s Second Symphony


Strands of yarn brush your face on the way out



Big Breakfast


It was a boarding pass flecked with rain
Now, sucking a tooth like a key
Tied to a kite in a thunderstorm
You remember the coffee stain
Associated with the memory
Of words in a book
Marked with its ten-year-old receipt
In which you were wont to express
The idea of every creature
Turned to stone preparatory to being
Carved into something else
This happened over and over
All of them getting smaller and smaller
Making the world in turn thereby
Larger and larger
So that the tiny island on account
Of its central location
Became a commercial centre
Despite a lack of natural resources


The Woman Next Door Keeps Her Little Dog Tied to a Tree


And forgets to feed and water him
I hear, or pretend to hear, him counting
The moments between his last succour and his next
There are infinitely many, more than he
Or I can represent to ourselves
As mallee gums sucking their ration from the dust
Though reason demand we do so
But then his owner shows up mumbling how
Her unit has been broken into again
By ASIO and/or the CIA
Or a neighbour shows up in her stead
Though one day the dog be dead, poisoned by spies
And here is a temporary proof
Like a top secret note that combusts when read
Adding yet more smoke to this already laden
Horizon of universal salvation




Came up gasping
Nascent self-awareness
The pure abstraction of sails
Someone in green like a gymnast left holding
A bunch of balloon strings: the cordage
Against the outcome of a background check
Acrobat performing as a spider
And like all true art this had a serious purpose
Catching flying creatures to show when landfall was imminent

Yes, you will soon be digging seaweed roots and gathering coral fruits
Whereas now all you like your father before you seem to catch
Are inedible puppet fish
To mock and punish you
The spider gradually replaced by its web
A vector flow chart set before
A player violin
The luthier no blood relative