'The Madness of the Day' by Dominic Symes | States of Poetry SA - Series Two

after ‘Dug and Digging With’ – AEAF, July/August 2016

Looking forward to seeing you all day
& arriving at the crowded gallery steps

I say   ‘this gallery is full of the same people
desperate to see something different’

but I don’t really believe this      I mean   I am
only here to see you    & like this room

is lit just to accentuate your
best features     the more I look at you

the more I find myself lost inside a mirrored
box     the kind that disappears into itself

it’s called ‘smoke and mirrors’      I’ve played it
before      a mis-en-abyme      a play

within a play    (‘played’
& ‘playing with’)    it doesn’t

make any more sense this time around
yet      the writing is on the wall

I have to squint to read it    but it’s there
the writing is on the ceiling too & it says

‘BLENDED RUBBER TRUMPETS
UNDER A CAR SEAT’

during the performance piece    I let you buy
me a beer      it goes straight to my head

like black helium balloons    I get high
on this darkened ellipsis ...

everyone is being silent/polite   there is
a Foley track      a throbbing? my own heart?

a pulsation like the pattern of light
from a lighthouse penetrating your porthole

should we run aground
it’s turtles all the way down

turns out it’s only three pedestal fans    microphones
we see what we want to see      I guess

‘it’s the bubbles’   you whisper & we all clap
very loudly at exactly the right time

for the first time    there’s a line for
the bathrooms at the AEAF

the companion text says this is not a ‘problem’
but a ‘secret geometry’       an inside joke

& when I come back out you are talking to
someone       you always seem to know

more people than I do   regardless of
where we are together     you are

looking over some featureless shoulder
kneeling beside a box of books (as art)

I say to whoever is listening   ‘if galleries are
the new cathedrals    I’m glad we’ve

worked out how to get people
genuflecting’      & upright by the exit sign

I am overcome by the fresh paint on the walls (not
paintings)      this is new (nauseating?) over

powering    yes    the crowd spills out onto the steps
for cigarettes        I open my stick of gum

that says: BEWARE THE ARTWORKS. SOME ARE
FRAGILE & you wave to me    start walking over

when Aida grabs your arm   & says:
‘I’m supposed to stop you running into it

see    this sculpture is made
of glass’