“Yes, there is beauty and there are the humiliated. Whatever difficulties the enterprise may present, I should like never to be unfaithful either to the second or the first” (Camus 1967, p 132).

Part 1 Accordion

If fiction has a nature
then its nature is to hide
as soon as it utters
the words we cannot speak

I believe in fiction’s wishful codes
for bringing back the dead
but can it atone our treachery?

There is one diary you cannot look at
It is the one with the roses
and the threat of Bluebeard:
Do not enter
though I give you the key

Find me instead
in the flesh of your dream
pictures I cannot discern
and you can’t remember.
It is dark in here
and as always
no words –
just the tones of abandonment

Remember the courtly truth about rivals:
The other is more important
than the object of rivalry.
She becomes an objective
a limited third person

There are three people
inside this room right now
who know the code
their only shifting cover.

He was from the city
He was from the river
and she was pretty

You said if the city is mine
then I am your counsel
your longing so
I ran down your alley
and ran up your stairs
carried on the surge
of your bright Smith Street.
Finding you as I did yesterday
Put on another videotape

Girmek sarı gelin
Enter yellow bride

and all the seething months it took
to tear up my train:
sitting on your dirty carpet
someone’s leopard skin bra
dangling from the bookshelf above us
you showed me the pages of your assassination
in the memoir your ex wrote
and then you asked me
what was my flaw in love?

To fall in love with transparency

Three sangrias and twelve hours later
we had not touched
like dogs we sniffed out
our minute acreage:
so many near collisions documented our years
that to meet now
could only have the impact of an accident

I asked you how you felt
and you said you just wanted to be sick
The bed turned to flood
Enter our state of emergency
He said you are a flood to me
and nowhere is there rain

Rainbows of lorikeets seek refuge
upon steaming cement walls
The city buildings, rainforest habitat
haven’t you heard?
The climate is changing
and inside the city we are 50 degrees

You said it was better with me here
than not with me here
You had nightmares I lost your record player
and was too scared to return
I was just running late
but you were white
talking of weddings
and having my baby
and I, I avoided the subject
kept trying to find you
in the tropics of Libra

I thought myself lucky:
as lucky as the man behind Fitzroy pool
throwing a ball for his dog, running
but no luckier than the man on his knees
outside Safeway stroking his dog’s head
gazing into its face and smiling

You were from the city
and I was pretty

We used to gaze through the gap in the buildings
our vista cross the suburbs to the hills
commission flats, smoke stacks and star lights
but here on Smith Street we watched queens
dressing in windows, pulling on wigs
and fitting breast inserts
while below us smokers spilled onto the street
out of the bars and Yah Yahs
It took a vintage dress
and a Rich record collection to get here

To enter a state of emergency

A yellow bride, I told you I read his diary’s
open pages on the floor
as I was making his bed
There my name was listed
Temporally, in chagrin and
after me the name of a woman in question
and then the name of another
The full stop after her dented the paper
I should never have made your bed
You lie in it

Cupid bears arrows
because the principle of love
lies in wounding

And like a bad Blues song the dog took off
only days after we’d got her from the shelter
While I awaited her $100 release
(plus the extra 175 from the local council)
I read the case notes of her breed:
this stubborn, intelligent dog
needs tough training or she’ll overrun you

I thought unplanned dogs
were like unplanned children:
you just loved them when they got here

I admit I starting wishing for another
the way Pound wished for a tobacco shop
visited by whores and thieves
anything but “this damn’d profession of writing”

Do not talk to me about sexual promiscuity in women
As Sarah Blaffer Hrdy says
let us call it assiduously maternal

There is monogamy
and it’s lucky to be in one based on trust
but this is a luxury
in a society where resources
are unstable and unpredictable

In this city, such is the weather
and you are a writer so go ahead write
your assassinations
But I shall write softly of you
as I drag his body from the river

Part 2 Mey

I believe that fiction hides
as it also reveals
and in ways unknown by speech
my perception of you deepens
I write so I can deny
the other as a stranger

I should never have read your diary
I should have left you
far beyond the river
in infinite suspension:
your dream world
where lovers never part
and never make up

Ezurum Çarşı Pazar
Íçinde bir kız gezer, hop ninen ölsün
sarı gelin
Erzurum has a shopping mall and bazaar
A girl wanders in it, may your grandmother die
yellow bride

A girl walks inside the flesh of your dream
but it is dark in there
and as always no words
just the tones of abandonment

Elinde divit kalem
Katlime ferman yazar
She has a reed pen in her hand
[She] writes remedy for the sufferers

and I shall write softly of you
you as a boy and I wonder
what was on your mind
the day you left your mother in the prison
on the knees of a man half her age

Ambela para para
Neynim amman neynim amman sari gyalin
The clouds are patchy
O my lover, mountaineer bride

The cloud cover is light
and it does not look like rain
Even if it did
you’re not the kind of boy
who would bring a coat.
As you rode your bike across the bridge
over the Yarra
past the trams to the Valhalla
you were probably just thinking of the film

Yes im siradzin çara
Ah, merit merni sari gyalin
I could not marry my lover
Ah, let your mother die mountaineer bride

Your mother was the thinnest of women
with paper skin and barely able to speak
between cigarettes and pure oxygen
mercurial and clear up her left nostril

Gaynel ez gat gınımanis
Neynim amman neynim amman sari gyalin
You are as white as milk
O my lover mountaineer bride

To trust monogamy is a luxury
You are the weather
unstable and unpredictable

I broke all of the cups in your kitchen
cried for days over the train
and what happened down at the river
and needless to say
how the wedding had gone badly
You just said: I got you, I get you, I love you
Now go to sleep, beautiful

Seni saran neyler dünya malın
Seni alan neyler dünya malın
The one hugging you doesn’t need the goods of the earth
The one marrying you doesn’t need the goods of the earth

I walked McComb’s field of glass
I bought you everything:
bread and hummus and babaganoush
and spoke in bad Turkish
to the kebab shop owner on the corner
who brought me extra serviettes
when my felafel fell apart
all over the table

Ah seni vermem dünya malına
Oh I wouldn’t exchange you for the goods of the earth

I dreamed batiks of flying birds on your walls
crammed your lounge room with the highest bed
an oversized cradle
and a crochet rug in autumn colours
How childishly we wanted a child and

Ah seni vermme yabana leylim
I would not give you to strangers my love

But if you drop all your eggs in one casket
like the weather you’ll become
unstable and unpredictable

I did not want to give you to strangers my love when

Padzvel ez vart gınımanis
You look like a blossoming rose
Ah, merit merni sari gyalin
Ah, let your mother die mountaineer bride

I gave you to strangers
and I gave you to a woman half my age
repeating it’s random
and what’s that about, he said
when they take their bra off
and their breasts just stay there?
Women are losing breasts all the time
and not because it makes it easier
to shoot arrows, either

Part 3 Accordion

Now that I am safe behind this mask
the accordion black box
beard for my heart
Come with me
walk in the flesh of my dreams
I write I cannot hide
from the other, my surrogate stranger

The city is dry and the birds are getting louder
from the yard come the caws of danger:
The lithe dog is running in the grass
her little white face blue black with a crow

Soaring down the yard
I prised the shining bird from her jaws
then dragged her inside and
with my heart in my blood red face
headed back down there with a shovel

My chest, the crow heaving
on the grass her wings spread in flight
watching me with one blue eye
like a verse from Poe’s The Raven

Their eyes remained in their own safe territory
convicted me of beauty then
erected their voices hard against insanity
of long conversations
of talking to me late at night

How do we fight otherwise?

I thought it would take just one blow
but it took me another and another
its mates swooping from me
to the kowhai tree
to the other in me

I watched for its breath to stop
not the sudden white which filled its eye
and when I laid the shovel down
I saw my boy on the back steps
in his pyjamas
his wan figure in the pale light
my witness
and the little dog panted at his feet
a moist feather stuck
to the side of her mouth, swaying

Hrdy said
we keep rearing our young like this
and evolution will phase out our empathy

I dug a hole and as I lifted the crow
came the lines from the Wasteland
about keeping “the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again”
So I tied up the crow in a Safeway bag
and dropped it in the wheelie bin

We could not go outside for hours
for the crows kept furious vigil

I had a dream of your house
crumbling around you
and I was in the concrete yard
of my grandmother’s house
crying as I hurled cat after cat
over the fence into the alleyway
but they kept coming for me

I found the little white dog
with a little white cat
curled together underwater
in an old tin wash basin
a pure image
till I saw that the cat’s stomach was slit

I fattened your coffee with cream
and carried it up the stairs
I woke you like a bear
I was your pretty

You said if the city is mine
Then I am your council, your longing
My infra-structure is crumbling
and you count the ways
I am gone
into a scene of your grunge fiction
My fluids stain your t-shirt and I’ll wear it
but would I have dumped you
in public, on Facebook?

You lost my voice
but not my email address
Your words tapered off
and now you just send me links
and below them the white space
so important in the design of web pages
stretches, ending in
Click on Singles in your local area

You do not dream and there’s no doubt
you write much better stories
We learn our lines from lyrics
and emotions from the movies
We are degrees of sociopaths
all of us

The SMS, our twilight utterance,
the conversation we would not have otherwise
like the people from the past
we dig up on Facebook
There’s a reason they’re in the past

Sometimes in anger
I dial your number
and hang up before it rings
to tell you I have the right
I don’t know what about
but I have the right
to my own white space and silence

Tear the flesh off this dream
of finding you on a Fitzroy street
and falling into step beside you
and just to show you how happy I am
I start bounding like a dog and you laugh
well at least half
God she’s acting up
in front of you I could do anything

Unable to contain myself
I drop to the ground on my belly
and shimmy
stones grazing my skin
for you to pick out later
when I had a bath
and you washed my hair

He was in the river
You were in the city
and I was your pretty

And this is what I miss:
your voice in my ear
freed by an era of punk music

This is what I miss:
the oil of your skin without you
it’s a dry music-less world

The kowhai tree is coming
into brilliant yellow flower
A honey eater yesterday
was swooping a cat
and the crows, well the crows
have flown from their furious vigil

I put on your mother’s ring today
and felt the strength, mercurial strength
of pure oxygen and being alive
without cigarettes or prospects

I sat outside on the step
and watched the little dog
her nose to the ground
for a thousand scents

But how do you tell a dog
that it happened last night
and there’s no way
she’s going to get there?

The backyard’s rhizome pages
have nothing to do with couch or kikuyu
They are us, writhing
for our readers in the wake
while we’ve been out all night
crawling round the garden
constructing trails
a thousand sentences
when no way can any of us get there

The other is a hidden
presence on the air
and we, we are like dogs
all over the yard

This story is shut
it remains between the three of us
and like Nietzsche we’ll go mad

after the fire and before the threat
of even blacker Saturdays
see her billow in a dress
yellow with smoke eyes streaming
hit the rock face.

Notes on process

This paper continues my exploration in a diverse hybrid form that mixes poetry and prose to create a series of meditations. In this instance, the subject is fiction and the way it simultaneously hides and reveals the other as a stranger. Like the dog following futile trails of scent in a morning backyard, writing is borne out of hunger and yearning.

“Each doppelgänger love” is composed of various threads of narrative-verse using repetitions and variations and movements between “dream” and waking states to disturb linear form. The meditative lines or threads are thus matted, woven together, reflecting the Deleuze and Guattari concept of the rhizome (Deleuze & Guattari 1987).

As in the Deleuze and Guattari conceptualization of the dynamic, non-linear formation, the “matting” effect underpinning these verse fragments is created by a conscious and unconscious referral outwards and inwards to the other lines, in the attempt to deepen ambiguity and possible interpretations and to create resonances and reverberations. Each verse then becomes a refracted sound chamber for another. Similarly, the text contains the element of circularity, but this feature is constantly broken open by points of eruption in the narrative; for example, by author’s intrusions or shifts which directly acknowledge the reader, audience, or the music from which the text in its composition and performance is inseparable.

In this piece, an improvised recording was created by the musician after the composition of the words without any prior knowledge of the text. The writing was composed knowing that an accordion and a mey would be used. The use of the accordion was inspired by E. Annie Proulx’s novel Accordion crimes and my fascination with the internal workings of this instrument, which the player carries as weight before his/her heart. It drags upon the shoulders. It hides.
Echoing this image of the weighted heart is the past and the fragments we call upon and then dispel by the act of writing, an act that generates hauntings and disturbances. “Each doppelgänger love” drifts and sometimes struggles between Deleuze’s dynamic past and Freud’s “uncanny”: The “uncanny” here brings to the surface what is uncomfortable and perhaps should not have been brought to light. Consequently, the emphasis on movements which shift between dream and “reality” attempt to explore this notion.

Artists who love and work together offer other dimensions for understanding and misunderstanding of the other. How writers approach this in an ethical sense is one of the “arguments” present in “Each Doppelgänger Love”. One of the “lines” or threads in the text picks up this issue in its use of the lyrics of a song called Sarı Gelin” (see further notes below) which I first heard on the CD A Rough Guide to the Music of Iran. I fell in love with its haunting music and singing. Sometime later, I heard a version in Turkish by Arif Sağ played using the Saz (lute). I sought out the lyrics of the Turkish version, but did not seek a translation of them into English until much later. The pleasure in listening came from the sounds of the words themselves and particularly the way the Saz forms a counterpoint with the voice in Turkish halk (folk) music. Words and music are not blended, but rather the Saz rises against the voice.

The voice is used in a halting way in order to make the breath apparent. This created a correspondence with my exploration of diverse and hybrid forms: a seeking of ways to present the ambivalence and fragility of language. The hesitance I hear in the Turkish folk songs forms an equivalence with the movement of sentences across lines or enjambment used in poetry to create a tension, a tugging effect. The halt suggests uncertainty, a yearning, and pain. Also, in the initial not seeking out translation, a space was created for me in which to write, responding to the emotion in the song. This was at the tail-end of two years in which the lyrics had sat, untouched, in the document holder next to the computer.

I was intrigued when finding a Turkish translation to read the line “may your grandmother die”, which expressed an anger I had not perceived in my listening of the song. I knew by this time that the song was about the forbidden love between a Christian girl and a Muslim boy. The anger became my “line of flight” and I sought out further translations. In my understanding now, perhaps there was a shift in meaning: in earlier versions the speaker in the song wished himself to die (the word “Sinan” referring to the speaker’s name). Over time, this shifted into “Ninen” which is the word in Turkish for grandmother. “May your mother die” is used in other versions as well. What this movement in meaning suggests is the territory for a whole other paper, but to summarize, I ask whether there is some correspondence (in the shift of meaning from the wish of one’s own death to the casting out of this wish onto the (m)other) with absolute/ outside representations of god and, on the other hand, a conception of god which is within and only thus, a metaphor in the early Gnostics’ conception (Pagels1989) as it was taken up by Sufi mysticism.

Notes on Armenian & Turkish lyrics (with Hidayet Ceylan)

Sarı Gelin is an anonymous folk song of Armenian origin (Karanfil 2006, p. 7; Yurdatapan 2004, p.190) and relates the story of a young Muslim man who falls in love with a Christian girl. It is a “Leyla and Mecnun” type story (similar to Romeo and Juliet). The song has many versions and is popular in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Turkey.

The lyrics used in this paper have been kindly translated by Hidayet Ceylan. I have used an Armenian version of the song as performed by the band Kardeş Türküler and also a selection of lyrics from different versions of the song in Turkish: one as performed by the musician Arif Sağ and the other from lyrics collected in 1918 by historian Ahmet Refik Bey from the North-eastern provinces of the Ottoman empire, where the song was popularly sung with a Kurdish rhythm (Altinay 2001). The lyrics for the latter were sourced from the online publication Türkü Dastları(see Bibliography).

In Turkish, the word “sarı means “yellow” but more commonly is translated as “fair-skinned” or “blonde”. The word “sarı” also refers to the Armenian word for “mountain” (“sarı”). Gelin means “bride” or “maiden”. In an Azeri version of the song, the title is translated as “My fiancée in yellow” and in the following clip the dancer wears a yellow bridal dress.

For stylistic reasons, I have chosen to use the translation “Yellow Bride” in this paper, rather than “Golden bride” or “Blonde bride” as are often used in more contemporary versions of the song.

The song, which “has become a part of Turkish culture throughout long years”(Karanfil 2006, p.7) is felt by many to be a “bridge”, symbolizing “the common cultures, values, songs, traditions, memories, and histories that both…non-Muslims and …Turks actually possess” (p. 7).


The presentation of this paper at the Double Dialogues Conference: “Hidden Stories” at the VCA, University of Melbourne, 11 Dec. 2009, accompanied an improvisation on accordion and mey by Phil Carroll. My thanks to this musician.
My appreciation, also, to poet Hidayet Ceylan for his translation of lyrics and his tireless research assistance concerning the background of the song “Sarı Gelin” from publications written in the Turkish language.


Ahmet Refik Altinay (1919). Ike Komite ve Iki Kital (Two committees, Two massacres) Istanbul in Türkü Dastları ‘Sarı Gealin Adlı Türkünün Hikayesi retrieved 3/2/10

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (2009). Mothers and Others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding (Massachussetts: Harvard University Press).

Albert Camus (1967). Philip Thody (trans). Lyrical and Critical (London: Hamish Hamilton).

T.S. Eliot (1981). The Wasteland and Other Poems (London: Faber & Faber).

Field of Glass (1985). The Triffids “Field of Glass” EP, David McComb, recorded BBC Studio 5, London, Mark Radcliffe (Producer).

Ahmet Insel (2009). “This Conduct Was a Crime Against Humanity: An Evaluation of the Initiative to Apologize to the Armenians” in Birikim February 2009, Aysegül Ünaldi and Kenan Ercel (trans). Retrieved 12/2/10

M. Fahrettin Kırzıoğlu (1953). Kars Tarihi (History of Kars) İstanbul: Işıl Matbaası, p. 377, 379-380.

Ezra Pound (1971). Collected Shorter Poems (London: Faber & Faber).

Adrienne Rich “Trying to Talk with a Man” in Diving into the Wreck: Poems:1971-1972 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co).

Irvin Yalom (1993). When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession (Penguin: Ringwood, Vic).

Sanar Yurdatapan “Turkey: Censorship Past and Present” in Shoot the Singer!: Music Censorship Today. Marie Korpe (ed.) Zed Books: New York, 1994, p. 190.

Sari Gelin (anonymous) Arif Sağ in Yenisarkisozleri.com. Retrieved 29/1/10

Sari Gyalin (anonymous) Kardeş Türküler. Retrieved 3/03/10