A man curled in his despondency, rocking on his back,
sees a clown leering in the clouds;
another, dreaming his success and loosely splayed on the grass,
glimpses a white stallion dancing in the same clouds.

A woman with hooded eyes and grubby hands
perceives a tale in the tea-leaves to match her prey;
a girl attends to the misty words of the fortune-teller
and attains a life to fit.

They’re selling belief at the placebo shop,
I’ll take one bottle please;
cognitive dissonance is nothing to sneeze at,
I’ll pay to have it removed?

1. A mother, professor and magician
2. die in annus horribilis;
3. do bad things come in threes?

The eyes in the painting
are following me around the room.

Blood seeps around the edges
of a whitewashed history;
and we stand on the sidelines, applauding Ned Kelly,
and gangs of trigger-happy, rampaging bush-rangers,

after all, the convict is Australian royalty.
The adopted son searches for his identity.

The psychiatrist rolls out the inkblots
and the patient constructs the meaning.


4 thoughts on “Constructing Meaning

  1. I love this. It’s so clever. You have really conveyed the tension of cognitive dissonance where conflicting thoughts are jostling in the mind for position at the same time. I love how you’ve related it to watching clouds. So many people can look at the same thing and each can see something different.

    And as for the eyes in the painting – they’ve followed me for years. Yikes. A very thought-provoking poem!

    1. Those eyes are very disconcerting aren’t they Selma – often used to good effect in suspense movies 😉 It’s getting cloudy today – I should go outside and see what I can see (though I better go and buy that missing present I was talking about #eek)

  2. There are so many layers in this poem, and I love the stanza that begins “They’re selling belief at the placebo shop” – just brilliant. So much hocus-pocus in what we choose to see, choose to ignore; choose to believe, choose to block out; choose to revere, choose to denigrate. I must admit, I’ve always been totally bemused by the whole Ned Kelly thing.

    1. thanks bb 😀 yes, people get the ‘facts’ to fit their own belief system – human nature I guess but you would think that humanity would be moving further towards scientific literacy but we appear to be moving away – very depressing really

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