David Kennedy: Postmodern Scenes

I - Writing

I miss the old stories, their creaky plots.
At least you knew where you were in them:

you had a street and a house with a number,
you had fifty years of work if you wanted it.

and somewhere close by, same sort of house,
same sort of street, a girl would be touching her hair

in a mirror, then practising signing her name Mrs. This,
Mrs. That, waiting to be yours...yours for all time...

Now we're all supposed to be lighter, unattached,
writing ourselves with Vietnamese cooking

and Australian wines. Parking up in the city,
taking a walk through the mall with you,

time evaporates into short histories of ties,
Game Boys, coffee machines...

II -Driving

Racing down the hillside, freewheeling in neutral,
speed plus gravity feels slick, taking me to the edge

of being out of control. This is the business: living
the new heroism, playing games of chance I can't lose,

with no skill. For the nth time I pass the sand
and gravel escape lanes at the slackening

of each bend and think how they have no-one's
name on them. They're a part of the game too,

a kind of useless morality carried over from
the last century, warning ecstasy's still inertia;

a via negativa that says we're not that good.
But we are. I glance at the speedo - eighty plus -

and reach down to change a cassette.
Sometimes this is all that's good about a day.

III - Building

The earth mover sits on a pile of dirt
in a university science block courtyard

looking for all the world like Rodin's `Thinker'
though it should be indecipherable, anti-nostalgic.

And what is that feeling that rises and hangs
in the air, like dust, over a knot of people

watching demolition in a city centre
as if they're not sure what to do or how to be?

As I watch them and glug my bottled water,
I think I feel the same confusion, the queasiness

of not being sure if I'm involved or passive
in the face of change, if my finger really sets

the crossing's cycle; of wondering how I can consume
watching my world change as entertainment.