Friday, 24 October 2014

Eden Riley Performing "The Prophet."

I've had a splinter in the rude finger of my left hand for three days now. I got half of it out, but the more I dug to get the other bit out, the more I pushed it down. Each morning I wake up after nightmares and the shock of my brothers death, more, worse than ever before. And now I wake up with this teeny splinter in my rude finger, giving me throbbing grief on top of grief.

I told my counsellor yesterday about my splinter and showed it to him. He offered to help get it out. That's the kind of guy he is.

"No way!"

I snatched my hand away, and thanked him because he really meant it. He helps me when he can. I told him I need to buy some drawing ointment from the chemist, to draw it out. I told him I wished there was drawing ointment for "grief" just to get it all out in one fell swoop because MAN. This is actually awful. I'm so tired of being like this. My dreams are all the same - I'm desperately looking for Cam, can never find him, can never get to him in time. I dream of a huge hotel with all his friends and families with their own rooms and own hotels keys and I KNOW that Cam is about to kill himself in one of the rooms and I'm running around frantically, shouting in the fancy foyer, begging the concierge to get another key for my me to open my brothers room but he doesn't, says it's against the rules. And I have to keep stopping because I'm bleeding everywhere, all over the floor, I have to stop looking for my brother while I bleed and find ways to mop up my blood.

It's always too late. I ALWAYS wake up with a start. Another day. Make some coffee, brekkies, kiss boys, go through the motions.

I need some drawing ointment for the soul is what I need. Get all the gunk out. I'm terrified that this will never end, is this how I will feel for the rest of my life? I don't want to be stuck. I don't want this. I never knew pain like this.


This is probably the most favourite photo of me in the world.

Angry and fierce and using my words. I love words. This pic was taken at the state finals for the Word Travels Australian Poetry Slam the other week. I wasn't sure which slam to say because I got a few up my sleeve but I kind of had to do Strong Bones. It's the one I wrote for my brother, about my brother. Hopefully there will be video of it coming soon.

On Sunday morning I woke up feeling crap (SURPRISE!) so I asked Dave for a leave pass from domesticity. Word Travels were holding a bi-lingual poetry slam down at Parramatta "Parramasala" and I just wanted to go in it. Not to win - just go in it, be part of words, be heard. I drove down with a heavy heart. Parked in the shade, and signed up. There were eight poets, and half did their slams in different languages which was AMAZING. A woman did a poem in Hindi about the rapes over in India. I didn't understand her words but I heard her passion and melodic fury underneath them.

It's nerve-wracking, before you go onstage at a slam!

I feel jacked up and excited and so, so in the moment that everything else falls away. Because WORDS. I love them. I love them. It was a knockout slam so the eight went to four went to two. I got all the way to be in the last two, I performed three poems all up in the heat. Sometimes I took the mic out of its holder and strutted that stage like Slim and sometimes I stood there with the wild arm gestures. It depends on the poem and how you feel.

Halfway through the bout I looked down and there was an errant feather from a belly dancer and even though I'm not much for signs anymore, I still took it as a good one.

I hung backstage in the outdoor sauna green room with Omar Musa, a top Australian performer, musician, writer, poet.

As I gradually got through my poems he kind of looked at me differently.

"You're good."

"Thank you. You're fucking amazing."

And I won! The five judges chosen randomly from the crowd all put their scores together and my words got the most numbers. Even though I feel conflicted about poetry being a competition, it did feel good. A beautiful lady presented me with a red sash around my neck and told the crowd that in India, the poets receive a red sash after they perform. I was honoured. And beaming.

Raj Rajpal, Eden Riley, Omar Musa, Rekha Rajvanshi.

Huge props to Miles Merrill from Word Travels for putting gigs on like this. Most people in the audience had never seen a slam before. I think I might be doing a spot for the Word Travels poetry event at the upcoming Newtown Festival in a few weeks. Let's give it up for Newtown!

Afterwards I had to find some shade next to a big tree, digest it. It always comes back - the grief, the pain, the regrets. They keep coming back. Maybe one day they won't? But man.

Every word I speak I speak for my brother all the things he couldn't utter. I've written my whole life but I've decided to become a spoken-word artist because he killed himself. I'll only ever read his suicide note a handful of times because he wrote it when he was in such distress, he wrote it in a moment of time which has now passed, and I will not pore over every word, analyse every little thing. The one thing that kills me the most about what he said is that he has so much love and creativity inside of him but he doesn't know how to get it out.

That's the biggest tragedy I've ever known in my life.

So I want to help him get it out, even though he's dead. I want to honour him by speaking words he couldn't say, do the thinks he didn't think, experiences he'll never have. I ask him to step into this with me, every time. I beg him to help me with this pain.

Way back at the Katoomba heats for the slam in June, I walked into the library that night and for the first time since he died I felt him. I didn't know if it was actually my brain constructing my own incarnation of him in pure desperate hope or if it really was him. It did feel like him, like he was around. OF COURSE the first time he shows up it's at a poetry slam in a library. A classy dude even in death. And since the poem was all about him, for him ... I think he helped me say it. Maybe he's helping me in ways I don't even know yet. Maybe I won't always feel this way. Maybe you get used to your heart being ripped out .... I had to stop looking for you, Cam. I had blood and I had kids and only you had the key. But everything I do from now on, I do it for you.

Last night I went to ANOTHER slam and I thought jeez I have GOT to show my Computer what I've been up to. So I asked a guy to film it for you and he did - it's a bit blurry and shaky but that's ok, so am I. It gets clearer at the end. Doesn't everything? Words are my balm, my drawing ointment, my salve. My grandmother always told me I would be a writer it's true. So here's me last night, performing The Prophet at Caravan Slam, a monthly slam created four years ago by a beautiful woman named Jade. Bad idea on the unattractive lime green t-shirt. But who cares about looks and shaky and sad and whelm. Close your eyes. I wrote it for you.


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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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