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Hot Desk Extract: 2042

Read Monday, 12 Nov 2018

As part of the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowship programme, Amanda Anastasi worked on a full book of poetry, 2042 – an entirely futuristic, research-based collection. Envisaging a future year in time, the poems span the socio-political, the personal, and the domestic events and observations impacting everyday Melbourne life.

This excerpt includes several poems from the book.

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Image of water flowing

After the Flood


He has perished and woken many times to begin

elsewhere, viewing former versions of himself


with a wry shiver. Here, the same flux of startling

ends and changeovers and renewed unknowing.


He is attuned to early departures: the leaving

of a father and an ever-retiring mother, packed


cupboards crying of the unwillingness to let go,

the vacant smell of a post-marriage apartment.

It is not the bareness of post-life, but the daily disregard / of the still breathing, that bolts him upright in his sleep.

They come, people at the entry point of shock.

He had been expecting them, the flood alerts


on his phone prophesising another busy season.

They enter before thinking to thumb a message.



The widow lacks a single skin crease when she cries,

her face a sleek bottle pumping grief in neat bursts;


the phoneless entry and single earring, the only other

sign of her inner chaos. He has the script memorised:


words of general comfort that light a mild recognition

in the eye and the well-timed weaving in of questions


about compartment size and style, music choice,

and funeral service programming. Less reference


to the afterlife these days. Presumption is anathema,

along with any notion contrary to self-determination.


Wait for the mention of god first, without cynicism,

then nod as though you understand something.



Increasingly, little is hidden from loved ones. Less

and less, the apparition-hit faces of a mother or lover


after the unlocking of a beloved’s phone or the sight

of a grief-stricken stranger at the funeral. This living

and uttering of a life without omission has its cons –

the more known the dead, the more the stopping stings.


Curated modes of grief expression are the preference

for many: a post detailing the exact minute of passing,


a live feed of the sad informing, lavish moving image

memorials. Yet, the oddest outbursts from mourners


on trains have been reported. What haunts him are

the flawless faces that sit neatly around stunned eyes.



There is something about the reduction of bodies

from limbs to ash that almost reassures; of the neat


cataloguing of past lives, boxed one above the other;

a tower of local occupations and cedings swiped into.

There is little nostalgia for rotting flower water and angels

atop marble pitched in dirt. Ends are marked quicker


and cleaner these days and many still can’t abide replication

or bot replacement. The grieving stand before the remnants


with an unfading reverence – some dutiful, some struck

with rapid sobriety, pausing before the last cruel riddle.


It is not the bareness of post-life, but the daily disregard

of the still breathing, that bolts him upright in his sleep.



Lady Returned


What is the reason for your refund? Now, to explain

the daily company of remoteness; the manufactured eyes


at breakfast and the grating predictability of lilting tones;

the artificial rise and empty pause following a question

Wait for the mention of god first, without cynicism / then nod as though you understand something.

and the mockery in it. The vacancy at the core of her

moulded form. The eeriness of personally-requested


responses from a mouth of one’s particular design, amid

assurances of customer happiness and easeful bot transition


due to latest advancements in realistic softness technology.

Yet, a rigid inner machinery is noticeable, adamantly jutting


from beneath; the ill-fit of herin his sleeping place. He craves

a silly quip, the prattling of a fresh anecdote, an ungainly slip,


a flash of side eye in witness to his inadequacy; a kept complaint,

the stirring of indigestion, a scratched finger, a kiss exhaling coffee


or onion, a gaze upon the verge of a subtle turn. He submits

his feedback and leaves, relaxing into the unruly, tender street. 

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