Melody Paloma’s In Some Ways Dingo: reviewed
Melody Paloma’s poetry collection In Some Ways Dingo (Rabbit, 2017) is a stark, ironic catalogue of 21st century moments. Of the way we move between screens, nature, anxieties. Drift back and forth between northern suburbia and the rural highways of New South Wales. Interactions with people are sparse – the objects they leave behind, in piles.
Natural beauty is devalued; a rare black opal is 300 times less valuable than the gross profit of the Mad Max remake. Lakes are pink, grass like ’. Department stores are beacons of difference as we weave our way down the East Coast.
The Big W in Parramatta
just isn’t the same
as the Big W in Gippsland
These poems battle with an unrelenting desire to connect with nature, with people, and with ourselves, but at the same time capture how easily we sink into screens, and information available online. People begin to materialise within this second dimension: as reflections, photographs, one of the maybe 5 wax sculptures in the world of Kylie Minogue. Fake, flat and contained on our devices, humanity is either compromised or absent entirely.
…a RAV4 has spent
maybe three days
pressed against a tree
tyres and roof racks taken
still, there are old movie tickets
and fresh bread in the boot
Paloma presents the reader with a delicate and unsentimental view of today’s landscape. The images of where people were but are no longer. In Some Ways Dingo isn’t a tragedy; it shows us moments of poignancy and closeness amidst decay.
it makes you anxious
to think no two of us are ever breathing
with the same rhythm
your panic is existential in that way
mine selfish and clung to you—
These poems are existential. They question this country’s moral lack – demand to know whether we help those in need only to gratify ourselves. What do we do with the dying animal on the side of the road? Leave it there.
‘Sinkhole Poem’ reminds us of the earth’s ability to consume us, and the ability of ours not to notice.
our walls are cracking.
People come over and say
‘these cracks are fucked.’
In Some Ways Dingo is a dry yet sensitive look at contemporary living. Paloma has captured the way our lives can feel cluttered and yet utterly lonely in the same stretch of highway.
Loni Jeffs is a poet and editor from Melbourne.