In the soft light of dawn


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In the soft light of dawn

after Rod Moss ‘Anthropology: being themselves’ 1994, 106cm x 296cm, acrylic and graphite on 300gm archival paper, collection of the artist (which references Jacopo Tintoretto ‘Saint George and the Dragon’ 1555–58, 158cm x 100cm, oil on canvas)



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0. Artist statement

What is art?

A confession: love and sacrifice. 
            Andrei Tarkovsky




Impale those concave corners 
like pious palms 
to the wall
Unfurl the length of two lives
and — Cut!

My vision is as insistent as an erection


The art of creation is butchery

            (I believe da Vinci said that
             or was it Picasso?)


I excise some small part of me

            (an earlobe, a fingertip) 
Like a slurry of sourdough starter 
that thing     greeds    feeds    grows    larger than a canvas 
            and metamorphoses into some something 
that is sliced 
and buttered 
and devoured by others

            (not me)


Step back here beside me
so you can appreciate the proportion and scale

            (in one word overheard: Overwhelming!)
of this conjoined triptych in 
            w i d e s c r e e n    C i n e m a s c o p e


As frantic brushstrokes fill hours of canvas

and long shadows invert the vision of sunrise

I leap    willingly 
into the static reflection 
whose Deuteronomy diminishes 
my bold embedded-ness within the narrative

            (A failing of yours, you say)


Who am I in this?

The moral crusader of an inverted colonialism 
            (that’s how one critic summed me up)
By whose authority 
does he interpose the archetypes and aesthetic of Renaissance Europe 
upon the physical-spiritual landscape of the Dreaming? 

            (Another failing, no doubt)


But look at them

Look at these apparitions dressed by acrylic and graphite

            just being themselves —

What can be gleaned from 
hours of archival film that spills 
            from the killing table 
like the guts of shot-gunned kangaroos 
scavenged by scrawny camp dogs?


You can examine their wanting in knocked-out canines, go on
Divine their needing by the lint plucked from fragrant folds of hairy arse cheeks
What have you learned, eh?


This is just to say — 
too much    I know I have said too much
             (but have I given enough?)

Possessed as I am by 
            (symbols and cheap illusions)

an everyday kind of existential torment

            (allegory    allusion    metaphor) 
to prove over and over I am worthy 
of something 
            (but what?)

or someone

            (but who?)
— Enough!


Now observe:

On this kite-hawk hill Apwelantje
            (that we all knew as Snogger’s Lookout)

I light a fire for all lovers 
and into the flames

I toss off this —

            the song that once was ‘us’ 


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1. Song of the Crested Pigeon

The grey-crested pigeons 
are coming to the clearing


On whistling wings they come 
into the pigeon clearing 


The sharp-crested pigeons 
are cooing and chanting


In the crested clearing 
the pigeons are cooing and dancing 

Bowing low and cooing loud 
my crest is a spear upright


Bowing low and cooing loud 
his crest is a stone-tipped spear


The feathered fan snaps open — snap! 
to stop the kungkas turning away


Bowing the feathers snap and flare 
to keep them from turning their back


Bowing his feathers flare and snap! 
His wing colours shine like mica 


My red ochre skin glistens 
His skin shines like fire — snap!


My feathers fan — snap! — as I bow 
Bowing his fan encloses — snap!


I bow and bowing dig 
She opens a hole with her stick


A hole is opened in the ground
The waters seep in — snap!


A hole is cleared 
The water flows clear


Grevillea pods rattle in the wind 
Colours scatter among the stones


Grevillea pods rattle loudly

The grey-crested pigeons take wing


The kungkas are in the pigeon clearing 
going underground    going underground


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2. This oblivious kiss

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3. To kiss or to kill

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99. End Credits

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