Performance

Two things I learned today at the poetry gig:
a pretty ordinary g&t in a beer glass with a slice of lemon
costs half as much again as a house red,
twice that of a basic flat white; and secondly,
that small performance spaces all over the Inner West
are always up steep and narrow and rickety stairs
(bannisters or rails a rare addition).
I’ve been to plenty of wordy indie gigs –
poetry, plays, excerpts
from unfinished novels –
the venues, like the texts, interchangeable, fungible.
No room for the illusory fourth wall,
the seats trample the stage’s toes.

I imagine the folksong gatherings
my ex frequented in his life before me
must have been something like this:
up dark and poky stairs in Marrickville,
or Chippendale or Darlington,
a rackety room, wine flagons rattle on the trestles
to the bodhran’s beat, the tambourine’s clatter,
the stamp of feet on the unpolished floor,
the roar and the swing and the heft and the haft
of song and laughter, argument and banter,
the fourth wall a curtain of smoke.

I sat next to two middle-aged women
in an audience of mostly middle-aged women,
a few men of similar vintage, all of us
arty, middle-class Inner Westies,
drinking our g&t and champagne,
laughing at the wry observations
of the poet (a middle-aged woman)
on life as a thinking, aging, female.
Cautious, I negotiate those treacherous steps
down to the street and sunshine.
Move on, nothing to see here. No shooting flames,
no swooping birds, no broken clouds,
no words spoken
to waken my crumbling golem heart.