From the Archives: “What’s Wrong With You?” by the Mike Oldfield Five

Back in 2004 – God, how old does that make me! – I participated in a slam as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival that involved teams of four doing group pieces and random solo poems as well.

Back in 2004 – God, how old does that make me! – I participated in a poetry slam as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival that involved teams of four doing group pieces and random solos. I was fortunate enough to be part of a team called The Mike Oldfield Five, which featured Richard Watts (R), Paul Mitchell (P) and Andy Jackson (A), as well as me (D) and … Mike Oldfield. Our piece was called ‘What’s Wrong With You’ and we came in second on the night behind a bunch of couche tards wearing cowboy hats. Anyway, enough about history. Imagine this …

R: What’s wrong with you?
A: Who?
R: You!
P: Me?
D: Who?
R: You two.
A: Ah, Watts?
R: Yes.
P: What’s?
D: Wrong
R: With you two?
A: What’s wrong with you?
P: What’s wrong with you?
R: What?
D: What’s wrong with you?

R: What’s wrong with me?
All: Yes.
R: I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for years …
A: Can’t see the forest for the trees …
P: Can’t pin it down …
D: Been fossicking around …
R: Tried counselling, even self help books – although they’re all written for straights.
D: If Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus …
P: Does that mean gay men are from Uranus?
R: So, now that we’re sharing …

A: What’s wrong with you?

P: Everything is fine. I’m fine.
R: Really? It looks like there’s something wrong to me …
P: No, I’m fine, everything’s okay …
R: the sun is blue, there’s not a cliché in the sky …
A: Ahhh, he thinks he can get out of it with poetics
D: What?
P: Nothing’s wrong!
R: My elbow’s on the barstool …
A: My pot is full of tear ducts …
D: No, really, I’m …
P: fine. Nothing to worry about …
D: There’s really something very wrong with him.
All: What’s wrong with you?
P: Nothing – everything’s okay I’m fine.
D: (more insistent) What’s wrong with you?
P: I’ve told you I’m okay.
All: (aggressive) What’s wrong?
P: I’ve got good points.
All: That wasn’t the question.
P: I know. But they’re sharp.
A: You’re wrong.
D; You’re all wrong.
R; Wrong wrong wrong.
A: What’s wrong with you?
P: What’s wrong with me is YOU CANT HANDLE WHATS WRONG WITH ME!
D: (softly, imploring) Is that what’s wrong?
P: (pathetic) I stabbed him with my good point …
A: There was so much blood …
R; from such a small virtue!

P: Anyway, what’s wrong with you?

Group breakdown: ‘what’s wrong with you?’ repeat to fade …

D: I feel funny.
R: My right hand and I would like to announce our engagement.
A: I am struggling with the concept of subjectivity.
P: Don’t look at the ground beneath my peach!
D: I’m … a penguin!
R: A fairy penguin?
D: No, an emperor penguin.

R: Well now that you’ve got that off your chest, it’s time to ask: what’s wrong with you?

P: Look I’m so glad you asked …
A: It’s a question that’s been bugging me for a long time now.
R: I’ll be frank.
D: There is something wrong with me.
P: I get mistaken for a backpacker wherever I go.
D: It’s a real chore at airports, railway stations and camping stores.
A: Why?
R: Maybe it’s because you look like a tourist.
D: Well what does a tourist look like then?

A: Am I a tourist in my own life?
P: Possibly.
R: I’d be flattered actually.
D: Yeah right.
R: No, I mean it. I’d feel … cultured. Or something.
D: What about you?
A: Me?
D: Yeah, you’ve been pretty quiet over there in the corner.
R: What’s your excuse?
P: What’s wrong with you?

A: No confession you’d expect will exit these lips – in fact, no confession at all.
P: Well, I can tell by looking at you there’s something wrong.
R: I mean, aren’t you uncomfortable?
A: I think I make YOU uncomfortable.
R: I think you’re in denial.
A: You’re projecting.
D: You’re out of line.
A: Yeah, and proud to be.
I’m inevitable, and if all you see is deformity then you’re blind.
R: At the risk of copping another label …
All: WHATEVER!
P: Thing is, mate, there’s nothing wrong with me.
A: Nothing at all?
P: No.
All: Oh …

© The Mike Oldfield Five 2004

6 Comments

O hai, you were saying?

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