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"My Friends" by Komninos (Great Poetry workshop)

This is one of my all time favourite poems. It stands the test of time despite references to events from the '70s and specifically Australian place names. It is very, very long, uses a lot of repetition and yet reads compulsively.

my friends.

my friends
get drunk at cheap hotel
after cheap hotel
day after day after day
and return home with wilted vegetables
and aching heads and guilty consciences.
my friends
take fast train trips to fitzroy street
to score
get on
and get off again some time later.
my friends
sit in coffee lounges
learning to say spanakopita and macchiato
spending their present
contemplating their future and their past.
my friends
design pamphlets
mix glue
and spend their nights plastering the walls of popular streets.
my friends
write songs
write poetry
paint pictures
make films
act roles
dance wildly
express vividly.
my friends
sit wide eyed mulled up
bonged out
in front of television screens
night after night after night
my friends
drink coffee smoke cigarettes
drive motor cars bite fingernails
write poetry to the demon god war.
my friends
were born after the year zero
the year hiroshima burnt
the year man proved there was no god.
my friends
grew up with television sets as baby sitters
suckled by advertising and disney cartoons.
my friends
hailed the beatles as the new messiahs
and rock and roil as a new religion
only to be exploited by their church.
my friends
danced the mekong delta boogie
and the tet offensive rock.
my friends
thought they were living in england until 1972
and knew definitely they were living in the u.s.a in 1975.
my friends
hold placards march for peace the city streets
in government monitored demonstrations
knowing that the powerful
will not give up that power without a fight.
my friends
did not leave the city in the seventies
who stayed
and who stewed in it.
my friends
have not settled down to a volvo a pool
a home and a family.
my friends
have begun an unending process of questioning
which constantly uncovers the contradictions
of this existence.
my friends
sit at home
crying alone
in their chosen aloneness.
my friends
sometimes dream of a volvo a pool
a home and a family
or a mudbrick cottage in the bush.
my friends
wilfully lie bi-weekly for their survival
to government counter staff
who know they are lying
and wouldn’t help them if they weren’t.
my friends
justify their existence
by means of submission government authorities
conforming to guidelines rather than ideals.
my friends
wash dishes sell coffee
wait on tables pull weeds
do anything to supplement their meagre incomes.
my friends
desperately try to resolve their differences with parents
trying to understand why they spend the rest of their lives
sorting out what happened to them in their childhoods.
my friends
have babies with asians and africans
so that they can have amazing little children.
my friends
want to be parents
before they are too old
to enjoy parenthood.
my friends
resisted the societal pressure to marry
but cannot deny the biological pressure to reproduce.
my friends
think more seriously about parenthood
with each successive abortion.
my friends
fail in and out of love
depending on how insecure they’re feeling at the time.
my friends
steal vegetables from market stalls
to help stretch the weekly budget.
my friends
grow their own vegetables
to cut the cost of living.
my friends
take toilet paper from coffee lounges
government buildings hotels and picture theatres
to help cut the cost of shitting.
my friends
are attracted by youth
but know they are beyond it.
my friends
take trips outback
to be closer to the real Australians.
my friends
return knowing they will never belong there.
my friends
learn spanish
so that they can be closer to the struggle in el salvador.
my friends
wake up in strangers beds
with large hangovers.
my friends
count wrinkles and grey hairs on birthdays.
my friends
wait patiently for the phone to ring
or the door to knock or the postman to call.
my friends
work 9 to 5 jobs to afford their social drug addictions
alcohol marijuana coffee and nicotine.
my friends
know what herbs are good for you
and what teabags to drink.
my friends
ask for free range eggs at hamburger joints
to make a political point.
my friends
lick plates in restaurants
to constantly remind the others that people are still starving
my friends work hard at being non sexist
whilst trying not to hate men.
my friends
feed cats kangaroo meat
so they won’t eat the native birds.
my friends
have seen mountains grow out of molehills
mount collins place mount nauru and mount grollo rialto.
my friends
have been mesmerised by the fluorescent
lulled by the white noise dazed by the neon
subdued by the transistor and the silicon
and intimidated by the air conditioning.
my friends
and me

Kominos 1/87

Editing stage: 


Like the great wheel of a much loved truck, this poem goes round and round wearing out its rubber until it frays each time the music changing slightly, until it is flapping, but still going round and round, and i did with it travelling from here to there and back again, round and round; I see why you like it, Jess, it carries you with it, round and round.

Love Ann.

"The image of yourself which you see in a mirror Is dead,
but the reflection of the moon on water, lives." Kenzan.

the repetition is powerful and valid and it carries a great message

A new workshop on the most important element of poetry-
'Rhythm and Meter in Poetry'

author comment

I didn't mean that I didn't like it, I like it very much too, I just got going like a wheel,
and the metaphor of a wheel gave the way the poem was absorbed into my
consciousness meaning, I didn't find it too long I wouldn't have minded it even longer,
and agree with you that it is great Jess.

"the repetition is powerful and valid and it carries a great message"

:) Ann

In fact I love it too!

"The image of yourself which you see in a mirror Is dead,
but the reflection of the moon on water, lives." Kenzan.

Though as Ann says the date is there, it is what we do, who we are, and the many places we have friends.
Kominos remembers most of those friends in this piece, each to their own but such a wide scope, a learning place indeed.
This will still be modern until the next great write of the friends..
Yours Ian.T

There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

This pretty well sums up the self absorbsion of so many of us who grew up in the sixties and seventies. My only doubt as to whether it will stand the test of time is its length. I can easily see it being recalled but not remembered if that makes any sense........................stan

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