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Australian

Poetry Collaboration

#21

PREVIOUS ISSUES


 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
      
Australian Poetry

Archived in Pandora - National Library of

Australia Certificate

from Meuse Press –

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

Australian Poetry runs an exciting series of national e-workshops with some of the country’s leading facilitators.
This edition includes work from some of those participating in an AP e-workshop in August 2014.
 

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

and held a workshop there in December 2014.

 

An intensive small group workshop was held in Melbourne the next day.

 

Here is a selection from all three events.

 

FEATURING: Christopher Conrad, Sherryn Danaher, Wendy Fleming, Jennie Fraine,

Barbara De Franceschi, Janice Lawton, Garry McDougall, Cecilia Morris,

Barbara Orlowska-Westwood, Anne Pettit, Laura Jan Shore,

Ruth Teicher, Anne Thompson, June Torcasio, Margie Ulbrick,

Jim Walton & Deborah Williams

 

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Christopher Conrad

Bandar Seri Begawan Airport

 

I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I ever wanted to    he said

no frills, sappy solipsism or perhaps even self-awareness

just your ordinary, everyday Mancunian accent and she

skinned in Versace leather  rifles through her ear ring collection

as if surveying every loaded meaning in what he’d just said. At Gate 5

 

freezing air  conditioning inside steaming temperatures outside.

Caught in a crucible of mobiles, lap tops and boredom.

Signs of Islam everywhere and its seven hundred year reach

over this island. A Babel of languages and rustling

of papers, some unidentifiable beeps: the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cafe

 

looking down over the airport lounge like a jungle Sultanate.

The Englishman’s benign comment seemed to call out to me

like the Adhan: God is Great. Has god achieved everything he wanted?

In transit the kid across from me is bent over laughing at a text

surrounded by a Weltschmerz of hijabs and baseball caps.

 

Versace’s killer shot himself in the mouth with a Taurus PT100.

His ashes lie neat at the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in San Diego.

I’m not sure Gianni, who made it as far as the front door

of his villa on Miami Beach, achieved everything he ever wanted either.

 

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Sherryn Danaher

The First Attempt

 

Night stealth smoulders as

we inch towards the stream

until,

in that exposed green field,

we acquiesce

to hours of refuge,

welded to a solitary palm

prominent as the sacred stupa.

 

Fugitive to soldiers’ sights.

Sweep of their torchlights like

fireflies through our veins.

 

Stock-still,

your father and I

sternum to spine,

bate our breaths.

You are

my warm, swaddled hump,

your wisps of exhalation

speak into my nape.

 

What knowing

suppresses your cry,         

discerns danger of soldiers’ shot,                    

till tired of the hunt,                                        

they grudge their retreat?

 

With caution,

time separates our bodies

from our perpendicular lair.

 

Onwards to the river

 

Escape craft gone.

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Wendy Fleming

Nebraska

 

I'm drinking rosé wine after the film, at Balwyn Cinema, its

wide staircase, chrome railings, black and silver geometry blazed

on mirrors, glass, my glass. My wine has to be rosé. I have to be

alone, an Edward Hopper image, last person in the café window.

 

Old picture house, a black and white film and I'm reeling

back to how it used to be , protest songs, jazz, underground

in Collins Street; Hungarian refugees  teaching us to love 

wine, Burrows rhythm, hi-pitched trumpet . Where to next?

 

Anywhere away from the incessant noise, bombardment

from those who overtook the plot imagined its unfolding   

Yellow hordes of reds swarming down Asia to Australia.

We listened with fear then finally learned to yawn.

 

Now it's that time of day when the wind has dropped,

overhanging bushes flicker shadows on the path, there's

an unusually long pause between trams, the occasional car slinks

past with ease of a cat. I'll cross the road, start walking up the hill

 

then I'll stop, rewrite the scenes,  a long straight road slicing

through empty landscape, splice Charlie and his son to journey

through mean hearts, failure and splendid resolution

It won't be long. The wait for metaphor.  I'll let go, surrender

to forgiving air and joy’s surge, alone and free.  

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Jennie Fraine

School Garden

 
Whenever the heat beat
the fight out of even 
the toughest grevillea, or
the tanks groaned and screamed
with the effort of drawing water
from a sluggish River Murray,

Dad's watercolour vision
of the school's front garden
provided an alternate universe
of mild weather, certain rains.
I imagined lying cushioned on

the leaf-green lawn at its centre.


There were to be cheerful
flower beds, natives and hardy
immigrants bonding in rich
alluvial soils, creating
with entwined arms a space

for freedom, harmony, peace.

Their sturdy growth would

ensure a new world order. 
This was a painting steeped

in soft Spring sunshine.

Yet one thing he left out:
a fountain healing the pain

for the garden that never
was realised, the world
that grew spiky and dry,
the resentful children crouching
on its hard clods, pulling stubborn
weeds under a blinding white sky.

 

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Barbara De Franceschi

Traces

 

The mourners have gone.

Moods are a queasy drench of grey.

Muscle and bone jostle for purpose.

I need to stop the heart

from leasing its vacancy to aversion –

the loathe of all things vibrant and hopeful.

 

I decide to douse time in bleach,

exhaust conscious thought,

purge and clean.

Every task is meticulous,     

eardrums ting with dizzy rings,

fatigued limbs shriek.

 

The last post – a blithe room,

floor to ceiling panes consigned to sunbeams;

an empty daybed/ its vain identity bolstered

by plumped cushions and folded quilt.

 

As the sun hits French doors

hand-prints are outlined – as though the owner

has interrupted a journey to lean

against the lucent panels and peer in at my pain.

 

I stare in a wish-haze.

Hours pass in a sting.

The hands/ so familiar/ rework reality.

 

Fingertips swirl in pleasurable rotations,

they speak from a place where quivers

were set on masculine scent;

ring finger has a smudged indent,

map lines between thumb and palm

decode the secrets – how flesh was kneaded

with a subtle squeeze more potent

than love-words baked on heated tongue.

 

I feel the night-push.                                                                            

Yellow chamois flinches.

Touch cannot live on glass.

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Penny Gibson

Stuck

 

Trapped under a glass grey sky, like specimens

we are stuck, spinning our wheels

immobilised by mud, thick

 

and glutinous as the clouds that hang

above the hospital bed

of the Darling.

 

You refuse to accept. You leap from the ute

Dig. Drain. Reverse, one puddle

at a time while I sit, eyes closed

 

against the mud, the view, the future.

Can I help? I ask, reluctantly.

No,’ you say, ‘Stay there. I will do this!’

 

In the sodden paddock, sheep shiver

in a north east corner, seek

an alternative vision.

 

You are perpetual motion, violent

as a radiotherapy ray. Mud

splatters the seat, the dash, windows,

gearstick. The floor caked with mud

slick, sticky.

 

Two hours it takes, until I understand

what draws you to this country. We reverse

10 ks to safety. Turn, and lead the storm.

 

Sky boils, cavitates.

Rain bursts free, wind now a howl. You smile,

triumphant. A light is in your eyes.

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Janice Lawton

Time Out of Step

 

Fleeting echoes

Ocean hissing

Cavernous, propelled

 

Fallen attitudes

Stark reflection

Florid pause

 

Dank image

Time warp

He lamented

 

Barren hulls

Viability lost

rotting reality

 

Bones fragmented

Youth undone

Dripping regret

 

Feathered clouds

Shredded storm

Dreams sink

 

Prosperity fraught

Time to reflect

Image caught

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Garry McDougall

A Trouser Ecology

 

In June 1944, the Marquis' or French Resistance supported the Allie's D-Day landings with uprisings against Nazi occupation. On June 12, forty-three Resistance

volunteers from the Drome's Venterol, Grignan and Valraes were captured and massacred by the SS.

 

Men of the Marquis

strive where the enemy dare not,

ceding the embittered valley,

our doctor tormented and shot,

teachers beaten before roses,

men shunted to German factories,

the Rhone groaning

our liberation born

of worn trousers and dirty socks.

 

Under night's wilt showers,

chill cascades and ice,

trousers and I on Venterol's sleeping slopes

my hot breath falling

on a cold weapon,

dreaming of my wife,

a back to stroke, fingers in hair, eyes of smoke

-cheek of the Marquis -

bare blanket only, comforts me.

 

Sunrise to armpit reality,

watershed eyes,

lashes entangled in sleepy pining,

swamp aromatics,

forehead a palisade,

a nose for No-Surrender.

When the microscopic invades your scalp

and Nazis your land, all shall itch.

People call for action, and leaders for patience.

 

In the upland of soiled normality

hiding refugee, airmen and escapee,

learning regimen and drill,

pushing Will uphill to cache and carry,

our legs bearing the Baronnies,

driving our trousers to the world's end,

following the path of Free France of the farm,

hoe and rifle, plough and grenade,

ready for some-day-soon.

Won't the years run Nazi's ragged?

 

Our leaders speak of springs

welling beneath our dirty boots,

flowing from hills into valley,

nurturing the fruits of liberty.

But we farmers forbid optimism,

the grace to fine words -

infected toes wriggling,

knees a wildlife refuge,

thighs of toad and boar.

Itchiness is spiky time,

all of us thinking,

some-day-soon, some-day-soon,

our trousers bearing the years

as interlude to victory.

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Cecilia Morris

TimeTable

 

There is an age when you are most yourself,

you feel as large as an empire.

A tall Moment .

 

The Moment knows exactness,

when to speak, what not to say.

Strangers at a distance table smile

as the Moment hears grace then departs.

 

The Past and Present takeover,

spread clock hands, adjust their

forehead locks, deliver the living timetable.

 

The past like rusted armour

has fallen away,

a wasted man vanished.

The road ahead buttoned with sunshine.

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Barbara Orlowska-Westwood

Beach Volleyball

 

Sky and sea– denim                    

smell of eucalypts 

voices from the beach 

a girl at the net

crowd’s applause cut short

by umpire’s whistle                          

she smiles

her body tense again.

 

Remember years away

beach volleyball at Łeba*

a fishing town

threatened by shifting dunes

its deepened valleys revealing fossils

of ancient trees, insects, animals.

 

From the town a day’s excursion

to the launch of Hitler’s rocket–

broken concrete, rusty rails

protrude from the sand

smell of pine sap

silence

shattered by the seagull’s cry.

 

Memory

like Łeba’s shifting dunes

burying and uncovering

the fragments of the past.

 

*Łeba – a fishing town on the Baltic coast in Poland.

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Anne Pettit

Emergent C

 

Oblivion has been bliss,

but in the haze at the periphery,

doubt now stirs, even in closed minds.

Carbon burns its way into our consciousness

and strikes an uncool balance in a delicate atmosphere.

 

With innate logic, it moves as always

through the structures of each being,

in carbohydrates, fats, proteins

and DNA, the stuff of genes.

 

Yet without us all even coming to know

and wonder at the energetic trail of carbon

- from air through plants to food to cells,

driving life powered by sun -

it seems fraught.

 

It’s not carbon itself that is to be pilloried,

or feared as savage chemistry unleashed.

From fuels razed to meet more extravagant energy needs

- unearthed from plants and animals long-dead,

themselves once powered as we all are still -

cast skyward as carbon dioxide,

it now warms in excess,

greenhouse-style.

 

Reckless fortune hunters ply their trade

and would convince us otherwise,

but the future shines on our choices

to leave this carbon buried - and de-fossilize.

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Laura Jan Shore

Dementia

 

Like a hermit crab without a shell,

she skitters across the sand

to cower in the shadows —

 

no longer sheltered

by the barriers

of breeding and good taste,

 

the carapace of sophistication,

that cocktail hour sarcasm

that masquerades as wit.

 

Without her smouldering cigarette,

her silences

are merely gaps —

 

no longer the brooding

vitriol that seeped out

with her exhaled smoke.

 

Frail and soft,

her still-elegant hands

smooth tousled downy hair.

 

She sits and stares

then as if shuddering awake,

scans the beach

 

for another cast-off shell —

all the particulars that separate,

a dwelling place

 

of judgements, fears, beliefs —

but already, she’s forgotten

what she’s lost.

prev published Poetry Monash

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Ruth Teicher

                                 Alone

                                              World is stilled

                                              Silence sits heavy

                                                   on her heart,

                                                no sound

                                                              but

                                               her breathing

                                                in and out,

                                                in and out,

                                                in and out,

                                      never had she felt

                                                  so alone.

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Anne Thompson

Home (Almost) Alone                                                             

 

The clock strikes half-past one                             

rain casts down                                                      

the next-door radio blares                                                                                 

coffee’s gone

radiator    stutters    snaps

thoughts stall                                                           

lightslidesintoafternoon                                         

I loll

I hang

I yaw

the tip of the oak tree tap-raps

atthebaywindowpane

only my little white dog

pit pat    innocent

comes to my defense

impatient to go on

a walk    shoots down three flights of stairs

waits below the final step

sits then spins    spins then sits

outside guzzles water drops

yippi yap happy

makes the shuddering rain

a game

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June Torcasio

Stopping on roads in late afternoon

(after Robert Frost)

 

This highway a metaphor

acceleration is all.

 

Behemoth bearing down upon coupe

equal before the law of giving way

traffic snarls, blocked arterials

frustration, red-faced shouting

nobody hears

overtaking

white-knuckled fear

screech of brakes

relief when the way is clear

I am late for dinner, storytimes

everything       

promises broken by journey’s end.

 

How did we come to this?

entrapment, perspiration

plastic, vinyl, fatigue flickering light

spectrum reduced to red and green

ages to go before I sleep.

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Margie Ulbrick

Want

 

there’s a strange kind of sick feeling

lurks around behind my throat

makes its way up into my mouth

sounds a siren against my teeth  heralds

some kind of oncoming

 

I don’t know where it comes from

look backwards over my left shoulder

if there’s a clue to be found

in a past that memory witholds like hide n seek

never satisfied

 

the gaze my mother never held the eyes

that looked past or through me

a stomach malnourished she nearly killed

my brother she told me once

some kind of cluelessness she explained to me

coated in shock incredulous

blameless the same kind of starving empty eyes

looked up to me the same kind of blank cold absence

must have looked back at him still not there

not here wanting things to be different wanting to be far away

wanting some other kind of life than the one she had

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Jim Walton

Transit of Venus

 

Slipping from the cylinder    masts straightening

Quietly we abridge the floats of ice

Embarkation only a hint    in the stop bottle moon

Our science is too primitive for this

Leave it to the Renaissance   flummoxed oceans

Wrap their capes indifferent to journey

The long haul pulls incessantly   knows its strength

In the blink of eclipse penguins ride polar bears

Boundary markers sparkle   shifting spheres

Alternating helix bubble in the pharmacist’s jar

The finger’s tug in mizzen   circumnavigate a myth

In deep water dreamy fluorescence makes it possible

To see the waves tumbling shoulders   slipways of chance

Anchor over the palette of waxing awakening  

 

prev published Bukowski On Rye - Mythic Poetry Series

 

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Deborah Williams

Gallipoli                                                                                         

 

A sliver of shore is before me, small and unremarkable.

Plain white headstones on manicured grass stand to attention around a spreading tree.

I tremble as I sink into sand, to read the final letter of Sargent Robert McHenry.

I see him as he tumbled toward the bank, just twenty-one years old, he believed in the fight.

To be cut down, his cry unheard over gunfire as his blood seeped into the soil.

 

There is a drop of silence as the busy backpackers and tourists stop.

 I roll back one hundred years, to read Robert’s words. I falter on his final line.

‘If I ever get through this war, I will be a better fellow in many ways’.

 

Sargent Robert McHenry, a baker, who played footy on Saturday,

hushed before he ever reached full voice.

His final letter passed down, reveals what he never lived to say.

‘The Australian boys are looked upon as a grand fighting body of men.’

‘Never a thought of defeat enters their heads, I feel proud to be one of such a body.’

 

The letter flutters in my hand like a trapped bird; I see it through a blurred mist.

Those around me weep as Robert’s words echo in Anzac Cove.

We are together in kinship; the living and the dead in this sacred space.

 

The breeze whispers to the sea, she continues to ebb and flow beneath a huge blue sky.

I sway with her rhythm as the unbidden words reverberate.

 

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MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.

 

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