Sunday, December 03, 2006


Dave has been up north! And I have been ferreting through my very disorganised documents looking for a version of something which no longer seems to exist, or only existed in a dream (curses!), and while so doing have found this poem-like-fragment which is about up north. Circa 1997, I think.

Two Mile Creek #2

Where I live nothing has a name
the rivers have no names
the mountains have no names
There is a place where the sea sticks in
There is a place where the coast sticks out
There is an island
and none of them have names

Where I live nothing has a name
we call a lot of things by the names of long-dead
paste-coloured millionaires
Not one of whom ever saw them
Or would have cared enough to notice them
if they had

We call the things where we live by the names of
slave traders
cattle raiders
any number of people who wanted to get rich quick
and the very occasional saint

Some things we only give numbers

Nobody knows the name of anything where I live
Even when we remember the things we made them give us
And worry about whether they will ever forgive us
Nobody remembers that even they don’t remember
the name of anything

Because nine times out of ten they are dead

Or else we have taken their fathers
and beat them for calling things by their names
until they only knew how to use our words
and play our game

So no one knows the story
Of how so and so came to that mountain there
and did something there for some reason
So that it was called the mountain where
so and so did something for some reason
And instead it is called by the name of the
man who once gave a hundred pounds to another
man who once saw it on the morning of
September 16th, 1864


Dave said...

True dat.

Tangentially, and only slightly less lamentable, is the utter failure of imagination demonstrated by the nigh-ubiquitous appelations "Deep Creek" and "Sandy Creek". Though it's ironic that these boring names are probably much closer to the traditional means of identifying a particular geographic feature than "William H. Montmorency Ponds", or whatever.

Dr. Clam said...

Yup, I recall an early version of this did reference 'Sandy Creek' and 'Stony Creek', as well as my perennial favourite 'Two Mile Creek'