2 poems by Matthew da Silva: Fossil & Pressure

photo by Gabi Scott on Unsplash
Fossil 

Dawn is buried
in the trunk of the day

it is to come
like regret-and-fear
a companion to events

like birds that alight
on waving branches
or a forgotten friend

or a stake
in what flies over

territory
something rare
wrapped in time’s meaning

instants cascade like wingbeats under the spanning of a valley

now as good a time as any
to sunder
whatever sounds derive from their busy wings
before they alight
on a branch like words you
might put

on a T-shirt

or what could be
a nymph
a ghost of the Cretaceous
stuck in amber
comforting as
potential

like an idea
or like that first thought
see it vanish in the ruffle of the neck

chip

away at the block
fate’s gifted
wear it down
to constituent parts
tear away mummified layers
to show

what’s hidden
in the seed
in channels
you anoint
with sparrow eyes.

Pressure

Difficult to appreciate
the depth of hours, competent weeks
spent messaging

in looping
conversations concertinaed
like weather

across impassive
faces

of this falcon globe

before which I pass
beacons through dreams

over boundaries
placed in the way

rhetoric functions
this way at last

and the fallout
strains the comprehension of ordinary mortals who
if they knew what was happening

daily
would rush
to clean up

all the mess
we contrive to make of the minutes we’re gifted.

At the bottom
of each hour
the guy on the TV
illuminates with simple, precise language aspects of our future

you can read the signs

      at least
      those unclaimed parts of it
      beyond our control
but then y’arrive
like a tropical low

on one of your dips dialling my number
with the tap of a coloured circle

your finger
bringing the impressive
white extremities

of your voice
to bear

and I am chilled
hearing the words
you launch

like stones
at the windows

of my mind.

Bio: Matthew da Silva was born in Brighton, Victoria, and grew up in Sydney. He has Bachelor of Arts and Master of Media Practice degrees from the University of Sydney and lived for just under a decade in Tokyo. He has two adult children and lives in Sydney.

URL: matthewdasilva.com

Blog: happyantipodean.blogspot.com.au

Twitter – Main: @mattdasilva Writing: @bookchatoz Agriculture: @winningthefield

Instagram: matthewddasilva

LinkedIn: matthewdasilva

A Book Review of Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities from Matthew McGuirk (Alien Buddha Press) review by Matthew da Silva

A Review of Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities (review done by Matthew da Silva)

https://amzn.to/3GPbIX6 for Matt’s book

Mixing poetry and prose McGuirk creates a space like ones experienced in childhood and there’re also speculative stories, such as ‘Imitating Dopamine’, a pessimistic prelude to the future of augmented reality corporates like the supposed Meta (Facebook, whatever) which will recreate something like Second Life, a now defunct arena where people would represent themselves with avatars and type conversations with their clacking keyboards (hands raised like Michael Jackson dancing ‘Thriller’ as they made words to communicate with other avatars among the strange planes and angles of virtual reality). Or they would teleport to digital houses in an endless landscape so that, unlike in the real world, they could inhabit dreams beyond diurnal imagining or nocturnal visions. 

Different personalities awaited their endeavour. But never fear, you can do far, far worse than reading such engaging stories as ‘In the Weeds’ and ‘Mac the Pirate’, garish and bold sorties into escapism. Some of this review was written on a Friday. Where would we’ve been, in lockdown, without Netflix? 

‘Just Leaves in the Wind’, a longer story in the collection, suggests McGuirk watches streaming TV in his free time, but when he’s not imagining a chemically enhanced future, McGuirk’s bursting imagination transports the reader to places everyone who’s had a happy (?) upbringing can relate to. When I was reading ‘Ray and the Frog’ I was back in the park beyond the back fence at 110a Hopetoun Avenue, the house I grew up in from when I was a waddling infant until I was seven years old. Down the back, near the gate, we had a swing set. From the balcony upstairs you could see, to the southwest, the trees galloping away over leafy suburbs where the houses sit right up against the welcoming hollows and bays of the harbour. 

If we went out the gate it was only a minute’s walk to the Rock With the Hole in It. McGuirk’s two friends are just as cruel as we were, or just as heedless. When us kids used to play in the creek that wended its way through the park we’d be watching the fish. They were tiny, no more than an inch-and-a-half long. I recall a delicious stab of pity and regret when I’d brought one of the little wriggling bodies out of the clear stream onto the bank where we played our games, it lay on the grey sand opening and closing its mouth as it tried to get the oxygenated water it needed to flow over its gills so that it could survive. I didn’t really understand how fish breathed in those days but I do remember the pathos of the sight of this tiny creature dying because of an action of mine. And the feeling of shame that came with it has rested among my memories ever since, a plunger over the drain of time.

You can see how this sort of feeling (I imagine McGuirk felt something similar to me when, as a child himself, he’d hunt) might transfer itself to a feeling of pity at what is to come.

An author finds a kind of salvation in writing, as though by putting words down, laying down letters one after the other in a dogged sequence – like ants out of the broken head of a dead man on a beach – you were able to process the world more efficiently, with more compassion (the word we all use these days is “empathy” but I’m not sure I endorse its antiseptic pallor) to make poems or stories to understand who you are.

In ‘The Day the Little Mermaid Died’ we’re once again ten years old. Walking over sand dunes. The beach has a competent chronicler in McGuirk but he also does well in suburbia, as in his story about the computer salesman who decides to get a digital implant in order to escape from life. SThe book ‘Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities’ is a hybrid and contains free-verse poetry as well as short fiction, but the idea of bionic implants is as trusty as that worthy TV drama, which screened in the seventies, ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’. I’d watch the show with my brother – who used to go with me also into the park to play at the creek – on the TV downstairs during the weeks when granny was at home.

My brother still reads sci-fi but I’ve largely moved on. Unless, of course, a book like this comes along. I see the appeal, though these days the number of dystopian fictions is almost like a set of waves that threatens to overwhelm Amazon and Netflix, Acorn and Prime, even Binge (who thinks up these names – are we being asked to do something?). 

It’s almost as though, to escape the deluge, you have to take time out by watching the evening news where you’re confronted with a rotating crop of senior police officers or the Minister announcing another spectacular, million-dollar drug bust in another crappy suburban street. The news crew interviews neighbours but where does the fiction stop and reality start? It’s hard to see much difference between the raid on the perpetrator’s hideout in the OTT police procedural and the raid broadcast on the 6pm news and that takes place in an outer-western suburb when police seized $20-million-worth of precursor chemicals. 

“Meth.” “Death.” We use our TVs – another box – to escape from the boxes we construct to contain our errant personalities. McGuirk writes about these boxes in ‘Walls that Make up Boxes’: “Aren’t we all looking for walls around us and / a box to keep us safe from those scary things, / the cold things, / the things that try to get in when the world is dark? / We all have our walls and our boxes, / unless we don’t.” 

The paradox is that the demand for escape is never ending. If you read McGuirk’s work you’ll find something more expansive. It’s time for a different kind of poetry to preside, one that asks you to think.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Matthew McGuirk

Bio: Matt McGuirk teaches and lives with his wife and two daughters in New Hampshire. He was a BOTN 2021 nominee, is now a regular contributor at Fevers of the Mind and has poems and stories published in 50+ literary magazines with 100+ accepted pieces. His debut collection, Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities with Alien Buddha Press isavailable on Amazon, linked in the bio and also on his website.Follow him on Twitter: @McguirkMatthew and Instagram: @mcguirk_matthew. 

Website: http://linktr.ee/McGuirkMatthew Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities: https://www.amazon.com/Daydreams-Obsessions-Realities-hybrid-collection/dp/B09M5KY8HH/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Bio: Matthew da Silva was born in Brighton, Victoria, and grew up in Sydney. He has Bachelor of Arts and Master of Media Practice degrees from the University of Sydney and lived for just under a decade in Tokyo. He has two adult children and lives in Sydney.

URL: matthewdasilva.com

Blog: happyantipodean.blogspot.com.au

Twitter – Main: @mattdasilva Writing: @bookchatoz Agriculture: @winningthefield

Instagram: matthewddasilva

LinkedIn: matthewdasilva

A Book Review of “Love and Metaxa” by Christina Strigas

a review by Matthew da Silva.

Love and Metaxa Review

When I was reading this book I was reminded of Billy Joel. I felt like I was seventeen again and listening to records downstairs at Vaucluse, the stereo leaking out its sweet sounds like glass through which I tried to see the outlines of my own face. Strigas uses poetry to make sense of her life like I used to use music to make sense of mine, but her enterprise is more real. As she writes in ‘Ugly is Beautiful’:

In a poem you look for peace.
In life, all you find is chaos.

But like Billy Joel the suburban magic of Strigas’ apotheosis – if you read the introduction you can get a history of the book’s becoming, and of Strigas’ journey to becoming a published author – rewards particularly because of the familiarity of the tropes, even though, as a man myself, some of the insights must be outside of my understanding from lived experience. I could never write a poem like ‘A man’, where the poet conjures up a masculine reality as a response to feelings that work to form her but that she seems to resent.

Often there seem to be two voices, one rendered on the page in italics. This second voice is like the poet’s conscience. In ‘Rinsing’ we see romantic love compared to washing clothes. This is an effective strategy as it allows the poet to boldly step into a place where the reader can also share her feelings, and possibly add some of his or her own. It’s a bright-lit room we can both inhabit at the same time – the writer and the reader – as we participate in an act of imaginative reckoning (this is what poetry’s for). You have some predictable tropes (stains, cycles) and though the poem is not long, you feel as though a considerable distance has been travelled. After all it’s thousands of miles between my house and where Strigas lives. But “step‐by‐step you know / what will come next, / then repeat.’ That final line, the last line of the poem, is an invitation not only to contemplate one’s own life, the many times you’ve thought about love as laundry (love as laundry) but it also prompts the reader to do some more work. You might even, the next time you do laundry, think about past girlfriends, past wrongs, mistakes that you thought had been left behind but that, you know, leave their traces on the fabric of your memory.

The two voices form a harmony, as though the poet were two people or one person at different times in her life. In ‘Not a love affair’ there’s the poet of the present (“You feel love to be a phantom. What if that person never destroyed you? What if that spirit wasn’t deserving? Love? What is that?”).

So different from the hard present where the poet is forced by circumstance to put words down on paper in order to come to terms with what’s happened. “Decades later, when you run into an old ghost, you will feel frightened—fifteen with acne again. You’ll know.” It’s almost as though, in her busy mind, the poet were talking to her younger self.

It makes no sense. It terrifies your logic. What does logic have to do with phantoms? You intend to get to the bottom of love. You approach and ask the ghost to sit down, you smile, and then you say hello.

While in this poem the italicised words seem to come from the past, perhaps 20 years earlier, a time of discovery, of shame, of becoming, in ‘I want to be her’ they belong to a woman the poet sees outside her hotel room. In ‘Stranger at parties’ it’s the thoughts of a stranger. In ‘The galaxy of you’ it’s the poet herself in her writing present who’s talking in italics.

Italicised parts might be the thoughts of another person or of 15-year-old Christina, in other places they seem to be the conscience of the poet sitting alone in her room typing, and, for example in ‘Lacustrine’, it’s sometimes not clear who’s saying the italicised words. This multiplicity of voices is characteristic of Strigas’ method. We come close to a source where, we know, many voices combine in our minds as we go about our daily business. The postmodern additions – the references to poetry and writing – are aspects of the same faceted reality Strigas inhabits like a mage. Poetry is like a window opened into a room as we walk, thinking, remembering, hoping, on a quiet, dark street. We can hear the sound of Billy Joel leaking out of a lighted room while, in another part of the same house we’re passing by on soft feet, the flickering blue light of a TV screen forces out images we cannot see. We only know we recognise the tune playing. Is it for us that it plays?

It’s as though Strigas clothes her ideas in words. Clothes figure again in ‘Inheritance’. Here there’s a stain of another kind, but her relationship with money is complex and nuanced. Thankfully it’s not a matter of baldly rejecting, nor is it a covetous link tying the author to the subject, rather it’s an imaginative bond made up of complex feelings that we’re invited to survey as though at an auction where we can bid on their remains by promising our attention for a few moments. (Do I hear fifty?)

It’s in this realm of exchanges and of feelings, things that leak across the borders set up by agreed-upon referents, where we can deliberately tug garments for our intuition and take them off their hangers out of closets, perhaps put them on for a change – will the weather be too cold? is this style right for the occasion? – so that we might step out onto the broad expanse of existence manifest in the vibrant concurrence of consciousness and page. Digital reality a PDF more flexible by comparison to paper, able to be sent at the speed of light, faster than cathode rays spreading out of a bungalow on the dark street. Money isn’t everything

But if I turn it into a poem
it does sound lovelier

though Metaxa is a harsh word, its suggestive weight seeming to drag the poet down. Those memories possibly including ones where the girl was asked to wash glasses. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. The self-reflexive moment of poetry – the (re)lived experience, the past crumbling like broken bread – surges like a wave over the beach of the present. It’s a summer’s day and we’re again on a family outing

But real love bleeds in inks
with an old fountain pen

Wolfpack Contributor: Christina Strigas

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Christina Strigas

From Avalanches in Poetry writings & art inspired by Leonard Cohen (2019) How Leonard Cohen Kept Evading Me by Christina Strigas

https://www.facebook.com/christinastrigasauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/c.strigas_sexyasspoet/?hl=en

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/christina-strigas

https://tinyletter.com/christinastrigas

Book Review: Love is Make-Believe by Riham Adly

(c) Riham Adly

A Review by Love is Make-Believe (Clarendon House Publications)

*Reviewed by Fevers of the Mind Reviewer Matthew da Silva* *further edits by David L O’Nan*

The barest of outlines allows the reader to enter through a doorway Adly creates with letters posted like street signs at the corner of each page. You guess at the beginning of each sentence and if you’re lucky you’ll have an image – an idea – by the time, withered like a willow tree by the loss of another few moments, you get to the end of the sentence you’re reading. Adly’s imagery is distilled and her metaphors speak loudly but the sense of each story is masked by a kind of silence we inhabit when we talk to family members.

We’re much more likely to say the truth in conversations with strangers, and most of the people reading Adly’s stories – short and pithy, ripe and ready – are going to be people who are unknown to her. This magic abides even when the ties that bind a person to their past – like the letter writer in ‘Blind Bat’s Song’ or the child protagonist of ‘Bubbles, Mermaids and Broccoli’ – stretch thin with yearning and regret.

The past seems to pursue Adly, so it’s no surprise to find family at the centre of the drama in some of her stories, but all – even the ones set in a New World of hopes and disappointments, dreams and remembering – fade like memories of past wrongs and merge into wishes for future happiness. The border between past and present, like that which lies like the sun between pleasure and pain, is porous and the things that move across the boundary have names that Adly knows. I was very impressed by the strength of her vision. Even when the traces of meaning fragment and blend back into the substrate of consciousness, images and ideas appearing and disappearing like motes of light shining like eidolons drifting ghostly on the wall of a deserted house you visit only at dusk, you sense that Adly knows what she’s doing. Even when you’re not sure of what’s happening, you feel that the author is in control.

Of course because each reader will bring their own memories and habits of mind to the task of reading the control is not total, though the impression I had while reading was of familiarity. It is easy to familiarize yourself to the struggles, surroundings as she writes despite living far from where I am. I get it. The imagery is put out and lets you into her world. I am there in her streets and in her rooms like a promise.

While her experience is always present in these stories I was relieved to find that there is freedom here for the reader to breathe. You’re not hemmed by blocky ideas but, instead, you’re tempted like a tourist outside a café she doesn’t even know is there. A human despite the difficulties is blessed because not only are there usually two words available to mark the same thing, but he or she can escape the clutches of immediacy and travel in imagined realms to a different place where feelings and joys echo in familiar hallways, where the sounds of a different sea crash on the shore, to where it’s still daylight.

This is a special type of excellence. This story is about you. All you need to do is go up the stairs, walk past the mural with its figures and its background of a beach and the sea, and sail away in a dish like a spy.

Info about: Love is Make-Believe is an upcoming flash fiction collection. A story less than a 1000 words. The story “How to tell a story from the heart” was published in Flash Frontier and was included in the Best Microfiction 2020.

From Riham:

The book is titled “Love is Make-Believe” and I’ve created six parts or sections all linked thematically.

First part is narrated by children be it actual children or adults suffering their parents that caused trauma some of it is cultural some is not.

Second part is about mothers and depression and how it effects their view point. Depression is due to lack of support or abandonment issues.

Third part is called “One way Love” women offering love without anything in return. In my culture emotions are of little value, romance is a myth. A woman is required to obey and please and in other cultures women are often judged or sexualized or misunderstood.

Fourth part is about women who suffered the wows of society and culture, it is no longer personal. I tackle issues like female genital mutilation still carried out to this day in Africa, also I talk about freedom of speech, wars, honor killings and more.

In the fifth part I call it “Monsters” it’s about Men and Women who have done monstrous things to each other in the name of love. Themes of Murder and incest are dominant here.

The sixth and last part is called “Magic” where stories also following the same general theme of the book take on a more surreal nature, magical realism, historical fiction and even sci Fi.

I’ve had six best of the net nominations two pushcart nominations and with a winning story in the “Best Microfiction 2020”

This book is a testament of pain and injustice that either I personally went through and that of my ancestors and contemporary sisters. It is the book of my marginalized voice.

A book review of “I’ll Pray When I’m Dying” by Stephen J. Golds (review by Matthew da Silva)

from Red Dog Press

reviewed by Matthew da Silva

The book’s hardboiled style lets you more vividly imagine the past in which the narrative is placed while simultaneously allowing the author to obscure the sometimes stark divide in Ben Hughes’s characterisation where his illness slips into view. It seems that sometimes Hughes is lucid and controlled – as when he’s working Frankie over – and at other times he’s consumed by panic and fear – as when he meets Joseph Kennedy (father of JFK) in the office of Chief Sullivan. But the hardboiled nature of the pose – all glaring edges and sharp angles – allow for this sort of contrast to be less obvious, or at least it matches it for drama.

And drama is what we all crave, whether it’s in a crime novel (as in the case of the book being reviewed currently) or a midday soap opera. Personally, I’m a big fan of ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ which I watch most afternoons at 4.30pm just before the evening news. Hardboiled an innovation of a time of change and progress, when the shuddering perverse realities created by unjust laws of an older, less progressive age came up against the morphing present with a smack like the sound of a fist on a streetwalker’s pretty face.

Dealing however with modern issues like racism and dementia, PTSD and corruption of office Golds mixes the past with the present in a curious but compulsively readable melange. As you progress you’re always checking yourself to try to understand the feelings that emerge, and you wonder if it’s cognitive dissonance that formulates the drama’s rich appeal. So, for example, when Ben talks with Li Yu in her room in China Town you feel sympathy for her and an equal quantity of concern for crooked Ben and you wonder if the pleasure you sense inside you as you contemplate the possibility of more violence means that you are a man like him even though you don’t suffer from PTSD and even though you could never shoot a man out of anger because you disliked the way he sniffled as you sat at a bar. In fact the idea of holding a gun fills you with horror. Yet you understand and, in that moment of clarity, are transported, as when you watch a disaster unfolding in the evening TV news.

Addressing modern concerns in the context of the past — a time 70 or 100 years distant in time — lets you feel pity, which, it seems, is the brother of contempt, and by examining your own conscience you’re able to feel an echo of pity also for yourself because, like the people depicted in the novel, you are human. The story has this redeeming quality, letting you feel sorry for yourself while feeling sorry for obviously flawed characters as they appear in the story. It’s cathartic. Though reading doesn’t make you drunk you can feel clean and new again for a while in the same way that the second glass of wine might give you a temporary high whereas the fifth will just sit heavy in your gut, though Ben Hughes, who carries a whisky flask around with him for comfort, might continue to feel a benefit past that point, the dullness anyone would feel from drinking a bottle of chardonnay precisely the thing he seeks when he tilts his head back to take a draught. That is if he ever tried drinking wine. I gave up alcohol two years ago and I haven’t read a novel like this for longer than that. Placing the story in Boston is also evocative as the links between England and Massachusetts are ingrained in popular culture as deeply as are the tropes of Dashiell Hammett. When I was young I read John Fante, whose tales of life in Los Angeles illuminated the darkness I experienced at that time in my long and eventful life, and Ben Hughes has a dream of relocating his life – such as it is – to that city, the allure of California and the West Coast entering Golds’ story also in Kennedy’s proposal to use Hughes for a social and business event in Salt Lake City so that the whole of the North American continent is alive in Gold’s breathless imagination. And we know what happened to Kennedy’s son.

Reviewer Bio: Matthew da Silva was born in Brighton, Victoria, and grew up in Sydney. He has Bachelor of Arts and Master of Media Practice degrees from the University of Sydney and lived for just under a decade in Tokyo. He has two adult children and lives in Sydney.

URL: matthewdasilva.com

Blog: happyantipodean.blogspot.com.au

Twitter – Main: @mattdasilva Writing: @bookchatoz Agriculture: @winningthefield

Instagram: matthewddasilva

LinkedIn: matthewdasilva

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