Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 48
spring equinox, 2023

Featured artwork, Elephant 1, by Neila Mezynski

New Works

Owen Bullock

The Advice Box

When you open the advice box, it tells you how to use a knife-grinder; the difference between garlic and dahlias; how to find a nice pixie car (god bless the childe); how to turn the story into a butterfly; where to find coral; where to drink from the brook; how to write a banging tune; how to sew mitts for the snow; how to live with verve; when to take up archery; what's the best way to spot those frogs you hear so often but have never seen. Ceramicist Clare Solomon created it. When you visit the gallery you write down a question you want advice about and put it in the box, things like Should I keep writing poetry? It's hard to learn and get published. You draw an answer from a tray and receive the advice to a previous question, like Try it for a year and see if it works. Then you offer advice to the question the person before you asked: Keep the baby, it's the essence of the thing, the bathwater superfluous. If you go back to the exhibition later, you get to see what someone replied to your question: Just write for yourself.

Language Tic(k)s

We ate curly-wurlys in those days. Too big to steal from the corner shop's helter-skelter, where we waited like humpty-dumptys for the bus to school, from the teeny-weeny hamlet to the hurly-burly of 1200 kids, in pods, willy-nilly, 30 at a time, leaving behind Incy-Wincy and Apply-Dapply, hoping for lovey-dovey and rumpty-tumpty with girls too grown up — why the interest in wibbly-wobbly boys? At least we learnt about art: Shakespeare and Meatloaf — the hurdy-gurdy came later in the topsy-turvy of the festival where the great learning began, higgledy-piggledy, itsy-bitsy by itsy-bitsy to the umpty-doodly and hocus-pocus of grown-up life.


In my half-jersey, I sip a pint of half-and half at half-time in a game I probably won't watch till the end. Someone will win someone will lose, my half-sister says. Light from the half-moon shines on my glass, clicks the old half-pennies in the half-window. Determined not to get half-cut or half-under, I lean into a recent memory: my half-life party. Past twenty-two years in the new country, a half-dozen each of friends and family invited to do items in the half-lit lounge. Half-tones and half-notes, a half-naked belly-dancer; poetry half-truths and aphorisms' half-wit — yet nothing half-baked, half-arsed or half-cocked. Even half-sized neices scooped a half-measure of hip-hop with half-steps and half-nelsons as the half-hour of half-dark neared, half-smiles and better all round, no half-mast well past half-light. And now, I'm over halfway.


It's a win-win, not a so-so. Like a four-four, reliable, resonant through the ages, from Sumer is icumen in to Kendrick Lamar — you don't need to go beyond it for a go-go or a can-can. With a tom-tom, you get up, watch the pom-pom shaking, yo-yo jiving, the audience with a la-la. Give yourself a bon-bon, good bun-bun, ten-ten. Not a no-no to have fun — in Wales the farmers say yes-yes to agreements — but you have to move on from a good night, maybe in a tuk-tuk, ta-ta.

Owen Bullock's most recent publications are the chapbook, Impression (Beir Bua Press, Tipperary, 2022), a single long poem, and Uma rocha enorme que anda à roda (A big rock that turns around), translations of his tanka into Portuguese by Francisco Carvalho (Temas Originais, 2021). He has also published three collections of poetry; five books of haiku; and the novella, A Cornish Story. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Canberra where he teaches. Other interests include juggling, music and chess. His website is poetry-in-process.com and he can be foun on Twitter @OwenTrail and @ProcessPoetry.