Ted Nielsen (b. 1968) lives in Sydney, Australia. Five Island Press published search engine in 1999, and Vagabond Press published wet robot in 2001.


I can't believe there's not
another world where we will sit
and read new poems to each other

                                   - Frank O'Hara

in my grandmother's orchard
are many pony clubs & all the ponies
love to blink
                         let me never write
of childhood it's much as yours
& just as vital a blankness against
you trace my limbs & let our pose attempt
to answer questions i avoid i am not
a brave man i am without a childhood
& if i if you there is no protection
nothing to offer my darker moods or yours
& soon consumes us if we never
went to school how could we not
have gone together & yet we walked
across the river out of history where we live
apart & part of everything we speak
& beautiful & meet & go away
to meet again & if we dare not vanish
let me never write
                         & this for you

towards current affairs

the long, tepid afternoon.

i have sulked myself to a standstill,
though perhaps i am 'not well.'

perhaps it is the weight
of all that boring poetry
                    crushing me?

(will you guys please quit it? shrugs.)

i would like to make
a documentary
about my life.

i don't think it will be
an interesting film.


all the things i could say
about my friends.

i wonder if talking is a drug?
psychology says yes.

can we arrest the prime minister
for abuse of a controlled substance?

his control is so rigid
i grind my teeth in response.

how could a lifetime of ambition resolve
into something so dull?

(tedium keeps the cabinet in line.

the boys on the front bench look solemn (pompous),
the country settles lower in the waves.)

he would be in the documentary, too.

a kind of comedic figure
who really wasn't very funny,
peering round the edges of the frame
                    in his silly hat.

the theme music begins.

claimed sustain

i.   reverb

     classic hits & monkey memories
     all set out like a dinner!
     here at the backend
     of the thirty-year crying jag
     what got you going
     is somehow blurred,
     as if you've woken up
     with someone else's head
     on your brother's shoulders.
     leichardt spins around you,
     the beginnings of astrology
     (bus stop rising in laundromat)
     or flawed thinking about sex in terms
     of technologies of reproduction,
     hips doing the xerox thing
     outside petersham station.

ii.   higher calling

     i walk up some street
     wearing something
     ah fuck it.
     revolutionary poetics?
     piss off. like
     standing at the urinal
     measuring your motives.
     i think your one
     lasting contribution
     to contemporary life
     was to shut up
     (a promising
     if ultimately
     flawed project).
     why not apply
     for a grant
     & try again?

iii.  the wild, the innocent,
     & the king street shuffle

     buttocks clenched against the wind
     hammering in from halfway to tempe.
     geography is meaningless beyond
     a sullen reminder i'm not keanu reeves
     so the pre-symbolic better leef me alone.
     imagism connotes the fascist fetish
     but i'm considering the total operation
     just as mathematics fails us
     or we refloat the slave trade
     on a raft of hormones.
     what i do with my anger
     is sublimate it, how about you?
     & is your art really designed
     to make me think you're a wanker?
     it's doing a great job.
     pneumonia. are you at risk?
     bright lights / downtown / keanu!
                         say it ain't so!

iv.  kissing cousins

     riffing on the way your shoes
     rub your heels
     won't carry your end of the party,
     & those film crews
     charging about
     could be a subtle hint.
     best to swallow that
     mouthful of wine
     & see if you can
     repeat that expression,
     this time with a tilt of the head?
     a little quizzical,
     maybe a little skeptical?
     okay, places people.

v.  trans-tasman facial

     rubber dolphins desire pornography
     & what you think of as your heart
     is a bunch of synapses
     you smash with a mallet,
     rugged up & screwed around
     like '80s anthems played underwater
     or listening to the neighbours upstairs
     fucking in their bathroom.
     a handy guide to statistics
     placates your lack & now
     your projections
     inherit their rigour
     from scholastic publishers,
     an algebra of repression
     & the failure of your head derives.

vi.  transcendental bullshit

     clued in at the speed of light
     like the ultimate bassline,
     what's the day doing
     about genocide?
     now i'm more complete
     breakfast's hardly a challenge,
     just check out my fat arse
     on the recliner theory built,
     bubble wrapped modalities
     deflect every impact
     as chemicals precipitate
     from the body's solutions
     (solving nothing),
     phenomenological soup
     for the soul you're having
     trouble trying to conceive.
     time for bed & your
     nightly affirmations.
     time enough for sludge.


where the body forms
                              an imperfect alibi
                                                            like terminal lyric
documentary filmmaking is the perfect toy
& after we decode the menu
               the waiter brings our prize.

               (go easy on the hollandaise sauce.)

will technical problems derail the evening?

the question as modus operandi
picks you up & drives you home,
self-contained as a history of surfing
recovered from a garage sale,
& outside the field of the poem
                              the shape of your aversions
               is hopeful & seething.

does emerson as transparent eyeball freak you out?
                              aloha decorum!

               we're giggly & lurching
but you should see us now,
                              stranded on the lounge /
                                                            implacable & remote controlled.