Verse 4 – The City Is Sold
I.
It was last year’s top destination
Travel guide trendy, diamond rough
Abandoned fronts house pop-up stores and
We campaign for the rights of small bars.
I missed the festival again. 
The Latec building is rebuilt into apartments
And across the road, the Largest 
KFC in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly glass and painted steel.
And this, this. THIS IS NOT ART. 
II. 
It was so close, and what a story it’d make –
Beat the Germans in the football, and beat
Austerity in the voting booths.
But the numbers fell short. The numbers are always
Falling short. And everything is numbers. 
You’ve got to make them up somehow
Pile them high to staunch the wound.
You don’t like it? Take a number.
Βασανιζομαι. 
III.
It was only this September
Finally sold off to developers
The banks will build hotels and it’s just one more
Street in this city, correctly labelled.
I found their small website, asking everyone
To stave off the end with their bank accounts
Save the moment. HOW LONG IS NOW?
Give us one last push, a gasp, grasping –
They’ve stopped writing since it happened.

Verse 4 – The City Is Sold

I.

It was last year’s top destination

Travel guide trendy, diamond rough

Abandoned fronts house pop-up stores and

We campaign for the rights of small bars.

I missed the festival again.

The Latec building is rebuilt into apartments

And across the road, the Largest

KFC in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly glass and painted steel.

And this, this. THIS IS NOT ART.


 

II.

It was so close, and what a story it’d make –

Beat the Germans in the football, and beat

Austerity in the voting booths.

But the numbers fell short. The numbers are always

Falling short. And everything is numbers.

You’ve got to make them up somehow

Pile them high to staunch the wound.

You don’t like it? Take a number.

Βασανιζομαι.


 

III.

It was only this September

Finally sold off to developers

The banks will build hotels and it’s just one more

Street in this city, correctly labelled.

I found their small website, asking everyone

To stave off the end with their bank accounts

Save the moment. HOW LONG IS NOW?

Give us one last push, a gasp, grasping –

They’ve stopped writing since it happened.

Verse 3 – The City Gives and Takes
I.
By the time they’d sold the building at last,
The festival had flourished and borne fruit
And one morning the words had disappeared
An overnight whitewash, sloshed black paint 
A giant ©. (Nobody “got” it
They muttered about credit and revenue)
But still the banners go up around town in October
THIS IS NOT ART
And the scaffolding creeps over the Latec building. 
II.
By the time the old man killed himself
I’d been back a month.
I scoured newspapers. Suicide in Syntagma.
The city burned anew. An old horror
Was brought out and burnished in the rising sun.
I wrote the word on tables in bars –
βασανιζομαι
And taught myself the alphabet.
The riots grew, a world away. 
III.
By the time we reached the galleries,
I’d stuffed my camera to the brim.
We spoke with Dave, who told us
About the hookers on the street, and made me laugh
And told us about how
He didn’t know where he’d go if the place shut down.
It was coming. HOW LONG IS NOW?
I bought prints, collected cards, salvaged scraps.
We came back the next night, but it was empty.

Verse 3 – The City Gives and Takes

I.

By the time they’d sold the building at last,

The festival had flourished and borne fruit

And one morning the words had disappeared

An overnight whitewash, sloshed black paint

A giant ©. (Nobody “got” it

They muttered about credit and revenue)

But still the banners go up around town in October

THIS IS NOT ART

And the scaffolding creeps over the Latec building.


 

II.

By the time the old man killed himself

I’d been back a month.

I scoured newspapers. Suicide in Syntagma.

The city burned anew. An old horror

Was brought out and burnished in the rising sun.

I wrote the word on tables in bars –

βασανιζομαι

And taught myself the alphabet.

The riots grew, a world away.


 

III.

By the time we reached the galleries,

I’d stuffed my camera to the brim.

We spoke with Dave, who told us

About the hookers on the street, and made me laugh

And told us about how

He didn’t know where he’d go if the place shut down.

It was coming. HOW LONG IS NOW?

I bought prints, collected cards, salvaged scraps.

We came back the next night, but it was empty.

Verse 2 – The City Stirs
I.
They started a festival
They called it THIS IS NOT ART
The Latec building mouldered, but now
Its tower no longer warned unwary wanderers;
It buzzed like neon shouting, saying
“Come! Explore the corners where the weirdlings hide, and see
What we’ve been hiding all these years,”
Dust lifted on the streets
And began to dance. 
II.
They showed me the murals where
The boy was gunned down in the streets of Exarcheia
Setting the city on fire, only three years before,
And the embers were never quite doused.
A man muffled my camera, suspicious of police
In the garden they’d wrested from the city
Intended for a parking lot
Festooned with colour
And written small, βασανιζομαι. 
III.
They claimed it after the Mauerfall
A brave new age and a bloodless chaos
It had been a place of pain and purgatory, but now
It filled with artists
A city ecstatic in this moment – 
HOW LONG IS NOW?
You should have seen it then, they say
In its heyday, it housed the Zeitgeist
And we were living an infinity.

Verse 2 – The City Stirs

I.

They started a festival

They called it THIS IS NOT ART

The Latec building mouldered, but now

Its tower no longer warned unwary wanderers;

It buzzed like neon shouting, saying

“Come! Explore the corners where the weirdlings hide, and see

What we’ve been hiding all these years,”

Dust lifted on the streets

And began to dance.


 

II.

They showed me the murals where

The boy was gunned down in the streets of Exarcheia

Setting the city on fire, only three years before,

And the embers were never quite doused.

A man muffled my camera, suspicious of police

In the garden they’d wrested from the city

Intended for a parking lot

Festooned with colour

And written small, βασανιζομαι.


 

III.

They claimed it after the Mauerfall

A brave new age and a bloodless chaos

It had been a place of pain and purgatory, but now

It filled with artists

A city ecstatic in this moment –

HOW LONG IS NOW?

You should have seen it then, they say

In its heyday, it housed the Zeitgeist

And we were living an infinity.

Verse 1 – The City Speaks In Its Own Voice
I.
I grew up in the shadow of ten-foot high letters
Plastered on the flaking shell
Of the empty Latec building at the edge of town
That said:
THIS IS NOT ART
And marked the entrance 
To the dereliction of a failed city centre;
Paint-smoked windows and For Sale signs forming the bunting
Along a parade ground of unpaid rent.II.
I first walked the streets of Athens in the heat of a summer delayed,
Through the fading light as dusk fell.
My German visa brought only friendly remarks from
Airport officials, customs officers
But on the winter walls beneath new “WE BUY GOLD” stores
Was scrawled βασανιζομαι.
They told me it meant suffering
And one girl collected photos of them
Until her phone was stolen. 
III.
I was in Tacheles the night before they closed the garden
My camera grasping last glances at artworks
Before they were seized by the morning
By the Polizei 
By the need for Legitimacy
And the face on the wall asked:
HOW LONG IS NOW?
And everyone knew that it wasn’t very long
But maybe forever.

Verse 1 – The City Speaks In Its Own Voice

I.

I grew up in the shadow of ten-foot high letters

Plastered on the flaking shell

Of the empty Latec building at the edge of town

That said:

THIS IS NOT ART

And marked the entrance

To the dereliction of a failed city centre;

Paint-smoked windows and For Sale signs forming the bunting

Along a parade ground of unpaid rent.



II.

I first walked the streets of Athens in the heat of a summer delayed,

Through the fading light as dusk fell.

My German visa brought only friendly remarks from

Airport officials, customs officers

But on the winter walls beneath new “WE BUY GOLD” stores

Was scrawled βασανιζομαι.

They told me it meant suffering

And one girl collected photos of them

Until her phone was stolen.


 

III.

I was in Tacheles the night before they closed the garden

My camera grasping last glances at artworks

Before they were seized by the morning

By the Polizei

By the need for Legitimacy

And the face on the wall asked:

HOW LONG IS NOW?

And everyone knew that it wasn’t very long

But maybe forever.

A New Project

So the next few posts are going to be a series that I recently submitted for uni… and it’s poetry. GUYS. DON’T FREAK OUT. Poetry is not always terrible and boring! 

These particular bits of poetry are about three different cities that are very important to me - Newcastle (Australia), Athens and Berlin - and how a piece of graffiti in each of those cities tells the story of how it’s changed in recent years.

I submitted it to my teacher under the title “The Words of the City” but I don’t really like it, it was more a WIP placeholder than anything… But there are four verses, and each verse has its own title, and I like those so I’ll leave them in place. 

(EDIT: Pronunciation guide, for reference - βασανίζομαι = va-sa-NI-zo-me) 

P.S. Thanks to the ever-talented and awesome Ele for her help in editing these, and to Miki and Lisa for reading them and making sure they didn’t suck.

iwillnothangmyselftoday:

Today I did not hang myself because I saw the intrepid Cratey for the first time in a year!
Though I didn’t see that rearing horse until later.

Ele and I caught up for lunchternoon tea today, and it was SUPER. We went to Darby Street for smoothies, and man - you simply cannot beat watermelon+strawberries+ice cream, it is the best!! Then we chilled (quite literally) in Civic Park for a while, and suddenly a few hours had passed without me noticing. It’s the first time I’ve been in to the *cough cough* so-called “CBD” of Newcastle in a really long time, and actually it was eerie how little has changed since I moved to the town thirteen years ago. Still a plethora of empty storefronts and shops that have gone out of business… We keep being told that Newcastle is “rejuvenated” but I guess I haven’t seen that yet. Seeing the huge empty space left by the 80-year-old fig trees on Laman Street hurt - I loved those trees, and the street looks just awful now. It was funny crossing this bridge though, it’s been at least three or four years since I last walked over it, and I used to walk over it every day for nine years on my way home from school. I don’t know how long the horse has been there, but it looks familiar, so maybe quite a while?

iwillnothangmyselftoday:

Today I did not hang myself because I saw the intrepid Cratey for the first time in a year!

Though I didn’t see that rearing horse until later.

Ele and I caught up for lunchternoon tea today, and it was SUPER. We went to Darby Street for smoothies, and man - you simply cannot beat watermelon+strawberries+ice cream, it is the best!! Then we chilled (quite literally) in Civic Park for a while, and suddenly a few hours had passed without me noticing. 

It’s the first time I’ve been in to the *cough cough* so-called “CBD” of Newcastle in a really long time, and actually it was eerie how little has changed since I moved to the town thirteen years ago. Still a plethora of empty storefronts and shops that have gone out of business… We keep being told that Newcastle is “rejuvenated” but I guess I haven’t seen that yet. Seeing the huge empty space left by the 80-year-old fig trees on Laman Street hurt - I loved those trees, and the street looks just awful now. 

It was funny crossing this bridge though, it’s been at least three or four years since I last walked over it, and I used to walk over it every day for nine years on my way home from school. I don’t know how long the horse has been there, but it looks familiar, so maybe quite a while?

Newcastle Cathedral - 08-08-2009- (3) (by DoctorJ73)
One of the things I really enjoy about being home in Newcastle is the sound of the bells in the cathedral ringing out across the water at midnight.


Even after nine years of being dragged here to Chapel Services every Friday by my school, I find that I have a great store of fondness for this building. It’s probably because it’s also the site of the performance of a play I co-wrote (and years 5, 6 and 7 performed), and a piano piece I composed when I was about ten, and a lot of really awesome choir performances. Also when it comes down to it, I got along really well with the school chaplain, Father Brian, who was very open to thoughtful and engaging philosophical and theological discussions, and had a great sense of humour. 

Newcastle Cathedral - 08-08-2009- (3) (by DoctorJ73)

One of the things I really enjoy about being home in Newcastle is the sound of the bells in the cathedral ringing out across the water at midnight.

Even after nine years of being dragged here to Chapel Services every Friday by my school, I find that I have a great store of fondness for this building. It’s probably because it’s also the site of the performance of a play I co-wrote (and years 5, 6 and 7 performed), and a piano piece I composed when I was about ten, and a lot of really awesome choir performances. Also when it comes down to it, I got along really well with the school chaplain, Father Brian, who was very open to thoughtful and engaging philosophical and theological discussions, and had a great sense of humour.