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Mark Young

is a New Zealander now living in Sydney, Australia.
Published widely in both countries during the sixties and first half of the seventies, but then drifted away from writing.
Was brought back to it a couple of years ago by a request to include his work in the anthology Big Smoke:
New Zealand poems 1960-1975. He then assembled a selection of work from that time to form - The right foot of the giant, published by Bumper Books in 1999 - and has started writing again.
The Dichotomous Key
for Lauren

If it has these attributes
then it is this. 
Otherwise it is not this.
                    
& if it is not this, but has
these other attributes
then it is that. 
Otherwise it is not that.
                    
If it is not that
but possesses another
set of characteristics
then..

& so on
down the line, eliminating
the alternatives by
counting in turn the
wings, legs, body
segments, etc.

so that
you start off
with the spider
& end up
with the fly.

The One Percent Philosopher

The outlaw motorcyclist who
has just overtaken me has
the long white beard of a chinese
sage.  Pushed out at right angles
by the crosswind it is then
forced back by his forward motion
so that it wraps around his throat
like Isadora Duncan's scarf, living
testimony to the polarity of yin
& yang, & how they achieve an
existential balance.  The sight
stays with me as bike & rider
draw away; & I wonder how
different the world of philosophy
might have been if Confucius &
Lao-Tze had been able to get
around on a Harley, or if Aristotle
& Plato had had the advantage
of a Sony Walkman so they
could have taken music with them
wherever they went. Although,
alternatively, would anyone
have paid much attention to the
output of someone who wore
leathers & rode a hog, or who was
best known for losing track of
what was going on around them &
almost being trampled by walking
straight out in front of the crowd
surging towards the arena to see
the Sophocles & Walt Disney
co-production of Oedipus on Ice?


The Science Lesson

The constructs.  Had been
unaware that he carried them
round with him until some small thing
escaped & he had to put it back.  Found
the traces of them then, in finding
that he did not know
where that single item went. 

Realised these were probably not
things that came back at him
out of a mirror.  Still
it was the first place he went looking.

He saw nothing in his reflection;
but behind & beside him
were dried flowers in a twist & an
origami bird of folded alfoil.  Also
some Escher drawings
which evoked the similar symmetries
of the tiles of the Alhambra but without
the strange loops.  He recalled
a photograph of that "square brutal fortress"
in Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, the
sky behind it turquoise.  No clouds.

Thought Spain, thought music, wondered
which version of the Concierto de Aranjuez
he liked best.  Remembered the
first record he ever bought. Realised
that he had grown up unaware
of the Sierra Nevada on the
opposite side of the world.  There were
more mountains in there somewhere
plus rivers & the winter sea.  Tamarind trees
in North Queensland & the mouthfeel
of a mango (though these came
later).  Silk - or was it cinnamon? 
Aretha Franklin singing.  A lion statuette
from Sri Lanka.  The sound of bees.

It was his first lesson in the nature of constructs.


Why I am not writing

I am re-reading James Ellroy's
The Black Dahlia, am re-reading
Thomas Kuhn's The Structure
of Scientific Revolutions, am
reading the sub-titles to the
opening titles of the animated
manga Neon Genesis Evangelion
when Mayakovsky rings to say
he will not be coming around
today.  I scan the TV guide
& plot an alternative itinerary.

I think about opening Word
& end up opening Solitaire
instead.  I listen to the humming
of the PC but it tells me nothing. 
It sounds like the refrigerator but
that only hums at intervals &
does not give me card games
as a built-in option - it is
too dedicated in its purpose.

I think about work, where I have
been listening to the presentations
of consultants to decide who
will be the anointed ones to whom
we will pay hundreds of thousands
of dollars to rewrite our planning &
information systems.  I have yet
to hear anything new, decide I'm
in the wrong business.  But the
arrival of the consultants is
serendipitous in that it loosely
coincides with one of the subjects
I have to do at university next
semester.  I plan to use the
aggregated data in my major
assignment - at least I will get
some value from what I consider
to be an obscene outlay of money.

& I am reading & re-reading my
textbooks as the exams draw nearer.
Though they & the other books are
shelved in some sort of order, the CDs
are jumbled.  I am working my way
through them from the top of the
stack on down, sorting them out
by listening to each one in turn
then putting it back in the place
where it was.  I have just listened
to Sonny Rollins' Saxophone
Colossus; now I am listening
to Revolver & decide again that
this album & not Sergeant Pepper
marked the paradigm shift for The
Beatles even though for me
when I first heard them the order
was reversed.  & in passing
I want to thank Thomas Kuhn
for developing the concept of
paradigm shifts & for redefining
the term paradigm.  When words
change meaning they are re-
energised, & if I were writing
I would hope to be using energetic
words.  But instead I am singing
along with Eleanor Rigby & the
refrigerator is humming along
in harmony & the Red Queen is
shouting from the PC "Lay me
on the Black King!  Lay me!"  She
is off her head.  But I already knew
that, was told by Jefferson Airplane
many years ago & reminded of it
by the inclusion of White Rabbit
on the Greatest Hits of the Sixties
compilation I listened to three CDs
ago.  Then Mayakovsky rings
to say he has changed his mind. 
I start to tidy up the house.

(c) Mark Young 2002