EARS WIDE OPEN // tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown)

In May this year, a dream came true. Tati and I met face to face! Yes, the girl from Ukraine and the boy from Australia got to greet each other with nervous smiles in a Georgetown airport! After a year or so of fruitful collaboration, we were finally hanging out in an unfamiliar place together.

Malaysia is truly amazing. We spent our days gamboling about, exploring every nook and cranny, and getting to know one another a little bit. The smell from the storm water drains was the first thing to hit us upon arrival, but as our inquisitive minds began to take in the frenetic hodgepodge of sights and sounds that is everyday life there, our noses quickly forgot about unpleasant aromas. In fact, the tantalising whiff of street food would soon fill our olfactory senses instead.

We visited temples, botanical gardens, cemeteries, and even strolled through some obscure lane ways in search of street art, yoga joints and cat cafes. Oh, and the traffic! There were cars and motorcycles everywhere! We had to scoot up onto footpaths so narrow that they seemed like a drunken town planner’s afterthought. In fact, the whole city was a crazy scramble of mismatched buildings and bizarrely angled roads. It was a frenzied hive of activity that never seemed to stop.

And through it all, I was in the company of someone whose imagination easily outpaces my own. We’d use our down time to collaborate on new writings and new ventures. What fun! And even on that last day back at the airport, I remember us furiously typing up something awesome and wonderful on Tati’s laptop before the free WiFi expired. That something was a poem called tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown). Tati and I hope you enjoy this reading of it (by yours truly).

Every time I look at this piece, I smile fondly. I do miss Tati’s company, but hopefully not for long. We plan to make this happen again. I wonder where to next…

tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown)

in the muted glow of my mind
i saw peace just hanging there
i wanted but couldn’t have it
a fruit forbidden
inert and out of reach

there was darkness sweating from the cracks
along my skin and beneath my feet
so i walked the earth in search of naught
a loop unbidden
the streets in parenthesis

i stepped into right steering whirligigs
to chance my life into submission
i moored on jetties, shook off rickshaws
a stomach chidden
i panhandled for bread and circus

trash was art and art was salving
for gashes in walls and souls without traction
and i was art and i was trash
a twine lidden
on soaked paper at a cyclonic bus stop

for all their many eyes and limbs
the gods continued uninvolved
kittens and i slept side-by-side
a shrine hidden
lullabied by stinky holy water drains

© All rights reserved 2016

58 thoughts on “EARS WIDE OPEN // tanjung (a gangrel’s dream of georgetown)

  1. Beautifully written with great imagery. I also love your recording of the reading, Tony, as I assume this is your voice, right? This is perfect for an open mic. Have you already participated in at least one poetry event and performed this poem? If not, you definitely should.

    I had to look up some words (remember English is my third language), so if gangrel is a wandering beggar in the darkness and not being able to live in peace, but in a life of submission, then this poem makes me think of the artist-writer who is not being valued in our materialistic society, especially when I read these lines:

    “trash was art and art was salving
    for gashes in walls and souls without traction
    and i was art and i was trash”

    I think you have included this poem in the right section of your book Death if this gangrel is living unhappily and “i was trash” which is nothing other than all those things we remove from our lives. Therefore, they are dead in our eyes. It seems like the first person narrator of the poem looks a bit spiritually dead too, has no more trust in god ( “the gods continued uninvolved”), not being able to live decently but just surviving, taking all the risks of an artist who cannot earn a decent living, someone who lacks recognition.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It certainly is my voice, Marta. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I’m glad I did it. I don’t know that I’d be able to do a poetry open mic though. That would be far too nerve wracking! I tried stand-up comedy for a while, and that was a scary, scary experience! I like your reading of this poem by the way, and I don’t wish to impinge on that with an explanation of where we were coming from when we wrote it. And, yes, we feel it was included in the right section of our new book too. That was certainly a very deliberate placement for sure.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I have been to several open mics in San Francisco and Barcelona and they are a wonderful experience. At the beginning I was a bit nervous but soon got used to it. You and Tati should definitely give it a try.

      Liked by 2 people

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