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Australian

Poetry Collaboration

 

#20

PREVIOUS ISSUES

 

 

Australian Poetry runs an exciting series of national e-workshops with some of the country’s leading facilitators.
This is a selection from some of those participating in an AP e-workshop in August 2013.
 
Kogarah City Council (in southern Sydney) runs a comprehensive arts programme supporting a diverse and 
energetic community. Also included in this issue is a selection of work from the local writers and 
members of the Kogarah Writers Group who hosted a workshop in November 2013.
 

Finally, Coastlines Poetry is an energetic group run out of Brighton Library, Melbourne.  They meet monthly

and held a workshop there in December 2013.   At present they are putting together a DVD of their poetry

set to music and film to be shown at the Bayside Literary Festival in 2014.

Archived in Pandora

 

from Meuse Press –

http://meusepress.tripod.com/Meuse.htm

 

FEATURING:

gillian bennett, Sherryn Danaher, John Dingeldei, Geoffrey Dobbs,

 June Dobbs, Jennie Fraine, Jasmine Giuliani,

Judyth Keighran, Sandra Lanteri, Stephen Le Page, John Lowe ,

Virginia Lowe, Bridget McKern, Judi Menzies, Patricia Meredith, Cecilia Morris,

Michele Seminara, Ruth Teicher, Anne Thompson, Margie Ulbrick,

Jim Walton, Lana Wayne, Kathryn Yuen & Ilse F Zipfel

 

                                                                

Australian Poetry

 

 

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gillian bennett

Dark Night.

 

I lost the God within

as I walked that cliff road

fraught with death.

 

I lost him somewhere near the oak

that grows dangerously close

and swings a noose so nicely tied

to neatly finish off a life.

 

I felt him slip from my fingers

as I tried to stuff him into my pocket,

a pocket so lint lined

with grief and vomit.

 

I tried to catch him as he fell

but he fell too fast,

suddenly he was gone

and I was alone.

 

I missed his voice.

I missed him telling me

which way to go or turn.

I missed him showing me sunset’s

slow orange and ochre burn.

 

At first the silence

was the single most awful thing,

then it was the terror of lost light,

as I stood alone on that cliff road

one dark and dreadful night.

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Sherryn Danaher

Took It All In His Stride

    

Luck in life

is to have known an elder

who after digging the trenches

returned to parley with his plants

hunting, fishing, the bush

quietening his soul

 

Married, with children

she a dancer, he a bouncer

they danced and bounced their way

out of the Depression

He’d visit ‘the boys’ in Heidelberg

he declared, the unlucky ones

 

Still twenty years yet to live

she died, left him

only her love

and a cupboard to the ceiling

Fowlers Vacola bottled bastion

against his diabetic state

 

To visit his daughter and

family each year

he’d anticipate

the enduring twenty hour flight

as he dug and plotted their garden

did his thoughts drift back to France

 

One trip, mixed up dates

not met at JFK

concerned passengers drove him

an hour to his daughter’s gate

6.00 am, too early to make a fuss

grandson found him asleep in the car

 

He’d fly home to Melbourne

when the weather turned

at eighty five he stopped going

said his roses were suffering

At ninety we said goodbye to him

wore sprigs of rosemary

 

Good fortune

is to ponder the dicky knee

in terms of his Pozieres punctured leg

unhealed in a lifetime

 

Took it all in his stride

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John Dingeldei

Regret

I have no regrets
I do not like the word

It is not that I cannot feel 

sadness
repentance 

disappointment

I feel sorrow and remorse 

I can be contrite
rue mourn grieve
and weep

I have compunction 

penitence and guilt 

but regret?
None.

I may be unable to
accept an invitation
but I will not apologise with regret 

for this was my choice

I am the sum of myself 

all the hurts
losses
failures
mistakes
and struggles

I have wailed in despair 

in the foetal position 

vomiting anguish

I am 

compassionate caring kind 

adventurous inquisitive ponderous 

aware 

sensual 

alive

I am responsible for where I am 

Exactly where I want to be
so how can I regret?

I am
the sum of all things 

I will not call
regret.

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Geoffrey Dobbs

Disappeared

 

Decay became terminal, a tipping point reached

and things went too far.

 

The odd board he could nail back on a rotting strut—maybe.

The abscess on a window frame, cut out,

 the fist deep concavity fill with agonised care.

But his own struts and cross beams

had already crumbled.

Sinews, muscles slackened,

fingers reset into mad, useless shapes,

eyes milky, sight blurred

so that nothing went where it should or could.

 

Meanwhile the house shed its skin and bones around him,

coated the vegetating yard with fine snow,

dropped hunks of odd shaped timber,

purpose forgotten or incomprehensible.

Cracked tiles slid with glacial slowness to the roofs edge

then plunged over the rusted gutter to smash below and

stub his unguided, blundering feet.

 

In the end they came for him, the nephews and nieces,

Concerned, efficient, unanimous in their assessment.

His protests fluttered in vain against their

smooth intransigence.

And one morning he was gone.

 

The house remained, for a while:

a discarded, threadbare suit,

all its worn cavities cold and empty.

Then, it too disappeared:

not a board, tile or brick remained.

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June Dobbs

Encounter

 

Home from school I longed for a book

under the shady veranda.

But the weaners must be brought to water.

 

Dog Ponty joined me, sunset still ablaze with heat.

Together we traipsed to the distant paddock

summonsed by the  hollow bleat of the mob, bewildered , thirsty.

 

 ‘Come Ponty, way back’, diligently he worked

mustering, chivvying  those foolish lambs.

An older lamb, scenting water, took the cue,

and they jostled, panting

to those troughs of cold fresh water, and drank thirstily.

Soothed, they drifted to further pastures.

 

Last rays, burnt red, streaked the sky.

I sank wearily in the shade of a bleached, dead gum

amid the tall, brittle-dry grass, beside a fallen limb.

Dog Ponty backed away, barked and barked—

foolish dog. I rose to fetch him, to cool and rest awhile.

Then—a curious quiver in the grass;

I peered.

There, coiled and glistening, black eyes watching,

golden scales broken by dark russet bands:

a tiger snake.

Recoiling, shocked, we ran, dog and girl together.

 

‘Lambs all up to water then?’

My father, rolling a cigarette.

 

I stared back in silence

recalling that moment under the old tree,

that fatal beauty

coiled, waiting.

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Jennie Fraine

Mungo National Park

 

Bones poke through after weather; from the weight

of sand and clay baked in outback’s kiln

they speak with delicacy: a bare whisper.

Small pieces of ossified tree, and grey patches

where fires roamed or cooked snacks

also reveal themselves.

 

Births and extinctions: cycles within cycles

continuing beyond our ability to think or imagine.

North was once East North East, he says, and

we acquiesce as patterns begin to make sense.

 

Neither the vast lunette sands, finer than beach,

spreading one and a half metres east per year

nor that lone whistling kite pursued by a plover

cares what we make of it all, what meanings we add.

Nevertheless, I see a future starkly imaginable

arriving faster than the speed of human thought.

from her book Births and Extinctions

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Jasmine Giuliani

Google predictive search

 

My fingers fleeting lances

as they enter the urgently hallow query upon my mind

but when my eyes raise

the predictive quandary sitting sheepishly in the bar is

the definition of love?

such a question upon where I spoil each and every whim

hauled to see

a collected urging for understanding from those 

unscathed, 

the interlopers who dare fill such knowings with one

click.

This, the kind of question which is so obvious and elusive to

those wrenched
like I, a copper nail pulled and swooning away from the plaster

indulgent of nothing

other than the lean.

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Judyth Keighran

Knitting

 

At the foothills of Donegal

in a new thatched cottage

(public housing for the aged)

Hannah spent her days

knitting Aran cardigans

mapped in memory

 

A family of tourists came

to the cottage next door

The woman spent the evenings

knitting from a pattern

plotted in letters and numbers

 

Hannah’s door was open

to her neighbours

from Australia

The women’s conversation

was wound and unwound

in the coil of their craft

 

She sold her cardigans

bought potatoes

at the Sunday market—

cooled her pint of milk

in the stream near her house

 

The tourists bought broccolini

and whole fresh salmon

chilled their milk

in the refrigerator

 

Smoke from both chimneys carved

identical patterns

blown by the same wind

The brash call of a donkey

fractured sleep in both houses

 

At holiday’s end

Hannah gave their daughter

a red Aran cardigan—

a Celtic shield against

icy nomadic winds

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Sandra Lanteri

Double take

 

My home is hallow

my heart wooden

a perfect miniature

in a larger world

 

My mouth a cavern

I’m piano played

man handled

butter malleable

limp ragged, tin taut,

a go-between

vocal yet dumb

as dishonest as you

pulling my strings

 

I am you

you are me

but when the curtain drops

I’m doubled up

cased inward

and you go free

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Stephen Le Page

Deck Cargo

 

She crouches in limbo -

frog-like, with legs ajar.

 

Java cotton bunches and

shifts, flutters, floats

on see-sawing deck water

anointing crinkled toes,

a baptism of past labours

in melancholy sea-driven rhythm.

 

She is separate, oblivious and

dazed perhaps.

 

Ceaseless squeals,

the hubbub of humanity,

fail to mask and silence

groans of rivets and

plank-squeeze,  squelching

as her carriage rots.

 

She sits,

pores clogged with flying salt

whipped by whistling winds

via flaky paint holes and gunnel gaps,

while the engine

thud-thud, thuds,

wanting to break but

yet to choose its time.

 

Her mind unfathomed, massive

like the sea beneath.

 

Though eyes be distant,

glazed to cramming crowds,

though her boat decays --

inside she’s alive

recounting,  reviving

that budding pubescent radical notion

now wormed deep-deep inside,

first dared ages past.

 

Of something ahead

better, greener, fairer--

to her mind

imagined, so dazzling

to stir and lure and

build within her

a lust, a thirst.

That speck of light she holds

still within –

and waits.

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John Lowe

Rock

 

Sailors once again engage

that old thug god, the sea,

boiling and bullying.

 

Above its boundlessness

stands the lighthouse,

built upon rock to avoid.

 

The navigator,

rocking upon the sea,

can now draw a line

that walks the water.

 

The lighthouse

offers deliverance,

a place, a fixing –

upright, whited,

it stands upon its bluff.

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Virginia Lowe

Conception of a Grandmother

 "Bless what there is for being" [Auden]

 

Embryo

 

A tiny creature floats

contained, content

in whose nascent mind

inheres a world in which

its mother's childhood

has no place

will not exist -

 

A world so real

so tangible to me

for this little one

will be forever

mythical

 

Daughter

 

It was you

who made me a mother

who changed my life

by vesting me

with the mantle

of motherhood

You are mother-maker

 

But now

the world shifts

You are mother yourself

You bear within you

your own mother-maker

 

Mother-maker, you

and now child-bearer too

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Bridget McKern

Greed

 

Fat cats

claw

and scratch

great holes

in the maw of our holy land

 

Not enough

that we have

clawed

the indigenous Soul

to the edge of extinction 

 

Greed knows

no bounds –

is there

no perception of indignity

in this scrabbling

for insane wealth

before the world

shakes its head

wakes up and says

a mighty NO

no more

to these disastrous

megalomaniac days

 

Do we run and hide

our heads in disbelief

from the greed

of fat feral cats

who claw

and scratch

ever bigger holes

and profits

from this body of the Great South Land

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Judi Menzies

A City is…

 

She longed to leave that desolate place.

She slammed the window and cried.

The roofs were grey, the buildings grey,

even the weather was grey that day

and she longed to pack and run away

before part of her died.

 

Sleet and rain beat on the town,

the buildings cowered beneath.

Mount Wellington looked foul and white

while gnarled trees framed the chilling sight

and convict ghosts were rife that night

with damp and misty breath.

 

Mount Wellington lay bathed in sun…

She glimpsed a harbour of blue.

They circled round, the plane flew low,

a golden city grew below

fringed by beaches she did not know

and hills of blue-green hue.

 

In parks of thick green lushness snoozed

quaint ruins of sandstone blocks

and fountains played in city squares

while honeymooners strolled in pairs

past sleepy shops of antique wares

and miles of sandstone docks.

 

How strange that now this city seemed

so different from before.

Even the wind that howled and whined

once conjured terrors to her mind

but Hobart now seemed warm and kind…

she loved it more and more.

 

On a mountain path, a traveller

Gazed at the city below.

‘Hey man!’ he asked a passer-by

‘Is their lifestlyle worth a try?’

The local looked down to the valley

And said he didn’t know.

 

‘I’ve travelled ‘round for 60 years

to places of every kind

and I’ve come to see a city is

a personal thing. The pity is

so few can see a city is

an attitude of mind’.

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Patricia Meredith

The Essence of Valour

 

               Imperious authoritarians

               Decimators…of strategic rationale

               Orders so vehemently disputably

               followed through

               There was no escape for heroes

               Foreboding cliffs

               Artillery fire…

               Their footprints ebbed on a lapping shore

               To lie side by side on blood soaked sand

               Survivors’ relived the truth…

               Only the lifeless won

                                              rising to…the elusive peace

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Cecilia Morris

To be

The tilted land,

buckled spirits

tightened

the rising globe

oil outage

whales used for bait.

 

A crease through desert

asphalt veins

drive sand away

from what was

the sudden fall

odious wings stilled

a symmetry of green

sharpened trees a military line

guard the awe of resorts

rolex time 2.20 am landing

the 8th wonder Dubai

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Michele Seminara

All Dried Up

 

I

an old lady

waiting in this parched bed

for something to happen

 

which cannot happen.

 

I

an old lady

with an impatient

unsated belly

 

that will not rain.

 

I

an old lady

whose slow mind spreads out

so far her eye has

lost sight.

 

I

the one

who age must not tame -

 

May my drying up cause this spark to flame!

First published in BLUEPEPPER 2013

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Ruth Teicher

Nature

 

Wind blows,

Trees writhe in agony

Branches drop

Birds migrate

To warmer climes

We shiver and shake

Wishing we had wings

And could fly to

to warmer climes.

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Anne Thompson

Sung Dynasty Pottery Jar        

 

Blue, like my memories, indistinct

and hazy, hovers over

the jar’s near-black glaze;

while outside my window, deep

snow buries crocuses

that yesterday bore spring

through yielding ground. The world

is stilled, when

 

suddenly, this day, the dead pour

out of the old vessel

like snow over lotus flowers.

Words shape the past

into song. I am surrounded

by yellow and purple blossoms,   

and you are with me in the garden. 

I am no longer full

of winter.

 

I clatter about in silence,

reaching out, strangely,

for the presence of the ancient

potter, his finger mark

in the jar’s clay.  I find shards,

mist of blue, black glaze,

patterns without sound.

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Margie Ulbrick

After Waxwings

 

The small wild fruit that lies at your feet

As if it would purr in sun feasts on such elegance

And outside the black wind blows

Leaves catch cold like fire that smirks in your eyes

Every time I see you dance delighted as a silk-blue sky

Reminds me of the first time you stood out under the jealous midnight moon Knowingly

And all together for this I have abandoned my other lives

To converse with you as if you were really here

Coming home today as I did

I saw you from a distance working away

Bent over manacles clutch measure pour fill

In the sheer dogged carrying on of you

I knew you would not don tools and see me there

I knew this coming home today as I did

Bone achingly weary red crumbly bricks inside your skin

Eyes burn leak like tears that cannot find a way home

I do not know where I live

I do not know when you will come back

I do not know what I do not know

Fallen stars now under vanished skies

Come in flashes like inspiration

From this choleric universe we inhabit

And I lie here try to sleep

Will it breathe it sense it

Until at last peace comes

And finds me all curled up

Alone in your bed

Waiting for you to come

I’m going to spend my whole life waiting for you here

Wanting and not wanting you

The warmth you bring to my cold chilled heart

The havoc you bring to my neat little life

My children will keep you here and not here

With remnants of our story echoing in theirs

On again off again like some old broken Greek myth

And there in Mykonos the kiss we could never have

That speaks of birth trauma love loss

It goes on and on like some stolen curse

As I live a kind of half halting life wondering

Deeply treacherous inside my skull

The curse of family at my back

My small stunted heart lying smashed

My weary wild bones ache from absence

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Jim Walton

Blackberry Sonnet

The hay cutter speaks of his love

 

Lady, I came for your love – not to haggle.

I am no wisened mariner of orbs familiar knowledge,

But a castaway escaping the casket’s clamour -

Our years wait in your mantled hourglass beyond that door,

My journey is measured in the distance to the bed head.

 

Strand me not here for my bones shudder to cease and the sand runs down.

I would be Warm and Content and Yours.

 

Madam, I am no callow stent and lack the vigour to court these months;

The days are ours and I have not the tongue to maintain the nights as once

I climbed to masthead nests and sailed high.

Put away this doubting nunnery,

Turn the key, loose the handle and say you are mine.

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Lana Wayne

Shadow on the Wall

 

He stands there looking at the sleeping angel

As she lays beneath her covers

And he remains with her till sunrise

When she stirs awakens to find him gone

 

The shadows play tricks on her

AS she searches for her love

Yet he does not reveal himself

Until its time to rest once more

 

How much longer can they play this game

The torment is too hard to bear

Please she begs

Let me come into your world

 

Once you become a part of me

There will never be the light of day

Only shadows on the wall

To keep you near.

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Kathryn Yuen

Unpalatable Pretense

 

Evil lurks behind bleached teeth and blond highlights in hair

‘I look good for my age’, she says as she

backstabs and emotionally abuses her ‘friend’ on the phone

and ignores  the psychological damage she inflicts on her

               toy-boy f#@% buddy and other ‘acquaintances’

 

‘You’re very good to just ignore me

Not get upset. It’s just my Slavic nature’, she says

But her acid-tongue would threaten the devil

And she thinks she could be a music therapist? Start a new career.

 

I’m aware that the stench of excretment lingers if not flushed.

 

For too long, an out of school hours carer of young minds

‘This business pays very well’, she says

 

She’d pulp and insinkerate a baby or her own mother

If  she could get away with it

 

She’s a hypocritical, frustrated creative who minces values and ethics

‘I’m best at structuring other people’s work”, she says

But her work is pedestrian and all her skills like a

homicidal road train before it creates road-kill splatter

 

Note - her only child was a mealticket and laneway  access

to white picket fence respectability

 

And that I have not flushed sufficiently.

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Ilse F Zipfel

Externals

 

Nestled around glazed columns

beside a glassy waterfall

cascades of curved patterns repeat

along plate-bound exuberance

for little hands to reach

 

On black and white pillows

rounding this picture

children scribble on bits of paper

or swirl ‘round on this concrete floor

- a dull appearance in grey begs for light to fall

into its subdued texture variation -

 

Sleeping nearby in half-circle fashion

around a pillar close to exit

three ladies of Asian complexion

dressed in costumes of their land

found refuge here

 

Wrapped in colorful clothes

upright in comforting sitting pose

like dolls I practiced propping up

recover from flights or other commotions

 

I met these three women next day

awake and alert amidst this city’s week-end strollers

aware of others and of me

I think they feel safe

by returning knowing glances

at strangers they met asleep

 

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MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.

 

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