Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Australian art, billabongs, Black Mist, catharsis, Cooper's Creek, desertification, drought, Emu Fields, eucalypt, gamma rays, grail, Graves' Disease, isotopes, manus dei, Maralinga, Mount Hopeless, nuthatch, Regin, Rimbaud, Sidney Nolan, St Anthon's Fire, Temptation of St Anthony
Image: The Temptation of St Anthony by Sidney Nolan: NGV, Victoria.
Rimbaud: I sought voyages to disperse enchantments
that had colonised my mind.
Where the sun strikes and the prickly thorn proffers
no shelter and the cicada no relief,
there’s a dessicated torment and no
solitude in the desert, as Christ found.
Harsh glare distorts even a saint’s vision.
The reclusive can lose their perspective.
Gamma rays will cause some to lose their minds.
A goanna is my constant totem
and a huge dragonfly lures me to leave,
but Satan has monopolised the air.
If I kill the dragon; dip my finger
in its blood, will it reveal its secret?
Will it transform me into a prophet,
who may see the approach of The Black Mist,
or experience St Anthony’s Fire?
The drought has made the billabongs brackish.
The gold cache tempts for a month of Sundays.
The Manus Dei issues no blessing;
no intervention. The struggle is mine.
The mind is its own place and my free will
may choose to receive the full stigmata.
I foresee The Darkening Ecliptic;
the universal diagnosis is
Graves’ disease – even for haloed beings.
Should I go to the wars and fight Regin,
or heed the nuthatches’ advice and act?
I must carry knowledge in my own grail:
the only way to be a dark hero.
My own survival strategy was the
weaving of eucalypt leaves, to combat
oppressions of desertification:
devil-delivered snakes, beasts, scorpions.
Yet each seemed to lack power in itself.
If I was confident and mocked demons,
might I reduce them to a puff of smoke?
The last man, or woman, on this scorched Earth
will carry in their bodies isotopes,
blown from Maralinga and Emu Fields.
The thunder brings no catharsis as yet.
Each must pass Mount Hopeless; find Cooper’s Creek.