The Tyranny of Quirks 

Chris Andrews

In the lost masterwork of Melbourne fumblecore

set in the summer when the shuffle met the bounce,

there are hesitations so patiently rehearsed

you’d swear the actors were winging it or blanking.

The whole stunt / accident distinction collapses

in an unspectacular way on the dancefloor,

any surface, that is, with the requisite slip.

Microphones got buried in leisurewear, so when 

from the depths of hood and couch our lost heroine

sums up the lesson of the seminar, it sounds

like stuttering: 'Posers of posers are posers.'

One review was titled, ‘The Tyranny of Quirks.’

The one. I'm not saying it was hard to be snide 

about those nicely put-together young people 

savouring the privilege of disillusion 

in a world where most don’t even get what it was 

they thought they wanted. But I have not forgotten 

a scene singled out for its sheer self-indulgence:

Who is this not even secondary character

puttering wearily amid party jetsam,

purging ash and dregs, momentarily tempted

by thimblefuls of distillate but saved by yawns,

while a far magpie descants, and the light balance

tips imperceptibly from lamp to paling sky?

And another scene, dismissed as ‘decoration’:  

a man comes up the street in a wheelchair shouting:

‘I want to walk again. I want to fucking walk!’

and some nimble hand-held camera operating

shows how two tenants of the standard miracle

are broken in their strides and don’t know where to look.

Chris Andrews, who teaches at Western Sydney University, has published two collections of poems – Cut Lunch (Indigo, 2002) and Lime Green Chair (Waywiser, 2012) – as well as translating books of fiction from Spanish and French, including Selva Almada's The Wind that Lays Waste (Graywolf, 2019) and Kaouther Adimi's Our Riches (New Directions, 2020).