blackmail press 26
Ian C. Smith

from: Angipanis of the Abanimal People - Andy Leleisi'auo
ICS's work has appeared in Best Australian Poetry, Descant, Heat, Magma, The Malahat Review, &, Meanjin.  His latest book is Memory Like Hunger (Ginninderra).  He lives with his wife and their four sons in Victoria, Australia.

100 odd years ago

planes can barely get off the ground
skyscrapers are a silhouette
imagined against an innocent blue
when, according to the Internet
bubonic plague, that medieval curse
spreads from Adelaide to Sydney.

Those afflicted who can afford (& read)
a little book bound in sensible red cloth
I found in the musty belongings
of my pal, the old dead pilot
Excerpta Therapeutica
in exquisite gold lettering
published by a drug company
learn that it is best to remain in bed
in absolute rest, with free ventilation
having thrown wide their windows
seeking a moderate temperature.
If they can obtain it they take
strychnine, camphor, ether, internally
& Calol for diarrhea.
They must eat & drink frequently
but in small quantities.
Perfected Wyeth beef juice
ice, iced milk, brandy, beer, stout.

It grows dark.  I have made little progress
bagging & sorting the remains of years.
A plague on procrastination!
Despite the book's excellent advice
or perhaps in ignorance of it
buboes burst from Glenelg to Bondi.
103 souls succumb to the scourge. 

Robert Rauschenberg is dead

Consumer glut glints in possibility
economy in his blood, fabric scraps
sewn to make his boyhood shirts.

Sculpture's massive make-over
a stuffed eagle, goat, stop signs
red paint-soaked bed sheets, rocks, rope.

He feels sorry for those who can't see.
Beauty glows right there in a Coke bottle
trash skips double as art suppliers.

John Cage and Jasper Johns admire him.
These artists link Pollock, de Kooning
with the rush of imagination in their wake.

This complex part-Cherokee Texan Steptoe
drinks heavily, thinks before he speaks
wary of his own subversive wit.

Audaciously combining mediums
he also gives away millions of dollars
recalling his first ready-made shirt.

The 1/4 mile or 2 Furlong Piece grows
even longer than its title, another chapter
in art's what's next? narrative.

A prolific renegade chevalier
succumbs to his old heart.
That former junk's value appreciates.

Extant abstract-expressionists
their gallery dominance now past
feebly toss paint-stained berets aloft. 

Rusty Milo

Her neighbour calls their names
one yipping rufous, the other yapping brown
feeds them outside her kitchen window
as she sweats on another summons
to a welter of emergency teaching
or the seduction of the phone's silence.
Some way to earn a day's pay, she thinks
controlling tomorrow's yobs and bimbos.

She daydreams of a crazed dog killer
a scheming misfit craving a quiet time
loves seachange tales, writing, reading
tries snarling over her fence
but only goads them into poodle frenzy.

She executes her dognap plan
with the precision of a genre novel.
Walkies!  Bite might be worse than bark.
Forgive us our trespasses, she hisses
driving them, quiet now, to a distant park.

His calls she hears as adjective and noun
last through uneasy (non-dogs') breakfast.
He even asks her to her face
suspicious of such easy hours
about his missing brace of hounds.
Who?  Moi?  Onus being on proof.
The silence when the phone doesn't ring
warms her like a sunny proverb.