Andrew Sutherland


Gorgon [a performance journal]

yesterday my shoulders seized up
exhaustion seeping past my eyes
I want to cry my body out of itself
into liquid. somehow preserve my
bone-dry hair, my gums.

this morning I thought I might tie my hair in
tiny Björk knots, but maybe all I’d be is scalp.

sing no words but keep a sound
find flow in sad-man demonstration
steady-cam the soft-snake gaze
make a path to the procession
act more to notice less.

how will they look at me today?
how am I meant to see myself?

off-weight always falling
walk skewing like a crab
zero core & all extremity
shake. then hug. locate
a mermaid-spine – rose
and banana to the base
before the drums begin –

this morning, when I lifted the blinds,
it felt like I was seeing the sun for the
first time in months. for a second, and
still maybe now, I felt I could be finally
ready to melt.

itching scratched into my hands,
my feet; the pus of some pimple
or some bite marking my kneecap
like a milk-white eye. at breakfast
I obsess over a matted knot in my
hair, while a man over the speakers
raps pussy, pussy, pussy. can’t
believe it’s only been two days,
says Michelle. sometimes you see
them glance away, avert their eyes,
turn to their partners like what have
you brought me to? but sometimes
one will plant their eyes to face you,
like: I know what this is. I see; go on.
go on, go on, gorgon, before I’m gone.

at the aquarium today:
      all those jellyfish
      pufferfish, lionfish, stonefish
      degrees of pain for poison

an octopus stuck to the glass
a coiled sea-snake, hidden face
a starfish in a child’s hands

      nurse sharks
      the stingrays
      a sea turtle larger than any of them

and later at home:
      Uma Thurman
      Jolin Tsai
      a shot of Harry Hamlin

staring at reflected clay.

The Little Mermaid [left unfinished]

Antony and the Johnsons, Hope There’s Someone.
                     Virginia Woolf, The Waves.
A stage direction reads: bathed in gold light.

A text about the Southern Ocean, pectorals, and hammerhead sharks.
A stage direction reads: she puts the hook into her mouth.
A character says, “love is death”.

                                         Beyoncé, Crazy in Love.
A stage direction reads: each one clamouring to be heard.
A character says, “at human heat already!”

                                                   Björk, Pluto.
A placeholder for choreography; a placeholder for critical theory.
A text that is spoken in the voice of a princess.

A stage direction reads: she places her hands on his chest.
                                                     Judy Chicago, early feminist works.
A stage direction reads: produces fish-food and puts some in the tank.

A text about capitalism, the erotic, and having a weak voice.
A character says, “love is pain.”
A mirror ball; a lip-synch; a slow dance; a curse.

A character says, “you will feel the corpses of all of those loves grasping at you.”
                                        Judy Garland, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
A sequence that’s been given up on; left unfinished.

A stage direction reads: her face in a shallow puddle.
A character says, “I want to drown in the arms of my pain.”
An ocean that has frozen over; a message in a bottle; a Korean restaurant; a kiss.

A character says, “and always left unfinished.”
           José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia.
A stage direction reads: bodiless in the sky.

           Anohni, Paradise.


Andrew Sutherland is a PLHIV writer and performance-maker working between Boorloo in Western Australia and Singapore. He was awarded Overland’s Fair Australia Poetry Prize 2017, and his poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction can be found in numerous publications including CorditeWesterly, Scum Mag, Verity La, Margaret River Press We’ll Stand in That Place and Proverse Hong Kong’s Mingled Voices series. As a performance-maker, he has twice been awarded the Blaz Award for New Writing, and makes up one half of independent theatre outfit Squid Vicious (@squidvicioustheatre), with a focus on Queer and intercultural performance.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *