Schlafwagen und Wunderkammer (Richard James Allen)

Posted on May 24, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

FullSizeRender(‘Schlafwagen und Wunderkammer’ is German for ‘sleeper’
or ‘sleeping car’ and
 ‘cabinet of curiosities’ or ‘wonder room’)

you are on the night train to Vienna
and you have already arrived in Berlin
you are about to walk home in Sydney
and you must dash back out to see
the play that is now more popular
than Hamlet in London

you are cold in your high sleeper bed
that you collapsed into
when the night heat came on
suddenly in a rush
without getting under the covers
that are now cold
that you collapsed into

you are wrapped in an old overcoat
you don’t remember owning
dreaming of trying to stay warm
in a high-raked hall of a tall-walled university
listening to a lecture on the mechanics of flashback
and your mind keeps wandering to a back shed
somewhere beyond the Wall in East Germany
full of homemade contraptions that were far too unreconstructed
ever to be sent to a Dickensian-looking patent office
piled high with yellowing documents
that curl like nineteenth century moustaches

you are in the long tail of a tall tale
a cat coiled up in itself asleep
the way those big ropes
that secure ships to their ports
are coiled into perfect circles
by nameless foreign seamen
the forever migrant workers
circling the globe
only one of whom
ever gets off the boat
to become Joseph Conrad

you are being asked by your roommate
your bunkmate your companion
what do you call someone
travelling with you on a night train
in one of the lower bunks
a person who for reasons unknown
shall remain nameless
to set an alarm so that she yes she
that much you can know
can wake up before the guard
who has no English comes with the croissants

you are sure you are reassuring her that you have
             and it may be that you have
                          but you don’t remember in which country
                                       or time zone you would have have-have-have done so
                                                    though you like the idea
                                                                 that this act of thoughtfulness
                                                                              may have occurred
                                                                 and you being the enactor
                                                    if not the instigator of it

you are thinking that you may have to be the alarm clock yourself
though your clock hands are wrapped inside your imaginary overcoat
and not a lot about the rest of you resembles a device
for the capture and distribution of time

you are of the opinion that when you fell into this  sleep  in  a  cocoon  of  vibration  you
were  sure  or  at  least fairly certain that  it  would be a normal sleep that  is  to say just
like any other sleep but on the contrary  it  feels  as  if  you have been having the whole
history  of  consciousness downloaded into the data banks  of  your  body  which for an
unspecified period  of  time have replaced your usual cells but this  is  most odd as you
are  not  sure  if  you  believe  any more that consciousness  has  a  history  though  you
might  go  so far  as  to  offer  that it gets woven in to history finally realising that it was
only ever  a  visitor  to  the aforesaid state  of  you are not sure what really playing hide
and seek  in  the winding corridors and hallways of time and personality a game  it  got
caught up in but now understands it can step away from any time it wishes to exit
                          time that is to say whenever it no longer wishes to be part of
                                       the here and the now
                                                    and the then and the to come

                                                       Knock, knock, knock!

so the question the guard asks you
in English by the way
is not would you care for some breakfast
but are you ready to be awoken from this dream of timelessness
or would you prefer to remain in a room of marvels
a disembodied spectacular down the rabbit hole of the fantasia elevator
             taking up semipermanent residence in the cross-eyed manifesto
                          of time masterpieces of continuous previousness
         a conspiracy of angels flocking in all directions at the holy speed of intuition
                                         as you learn to live in the fantastic space

 

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smaller-cropped-Richard-James-Allen-portrait-by-Saba-Vasefi-Copyright-©-2016-The-Physical-TV-CompanyRichard James Allen’s ten books of poetry, fiction and performance texts include Fixing the Broken Nightingale (Flying Island Books), The Kamikaze Mind (Brandl & Schlesinger) and Thursday’s Fictions (Five Islands Press), shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry.  He won the Chancellor’s Award for most outstanding PhD thesis at UTS.  Widely published in anthologies, journals and online for over thirty years, Allen has been the recipient of numerous awards, nominations, grants, as well as opportunities for presentations, screenings and broadcasts, in a unique international career as an acclaimed writer, director, choreographer and performer. Further information: http://ww.physicaltv.com.au & http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/allen-richard-james.

Richard will be reading tomorrow night, Wednesday May 25, along with Martin Langford, at Live Poets at Don Bank Museum, 6 Napier St, North Sydney, 7.30pm. $7 entry includes supper and drinks, plus open mic and a monologue challenge. Further info/bookings: Danny Gardner (02) 9896 6956, mobile 0422 263 373 or dannylivepoets@yahoo.com.au.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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