Archived in Pandora
from Meuse Press –
MELBOURNE and SYDNEY
Work arising from workshops in 2016.
FEATURING: David Atkinson, Louise Berry, Wendy Fleming, Betty Johnston, Gemma Mahadeo,
Cecilia Morris, Claire Roberts, Gisela Sophia, Lyn Vellins & James Walton
Eddies of Memory
Murray and Darling junction;
river red gum saplings, reeds,
subdued chatter of yellow rosellas.
Deep convergence, silence.
A flashback fifty years;
sitting in a primary class,
remote country town.
Teacher strides. Our great rivers,
highways of the pioneers.
Wooden desk, attached chair;
cramped for a gangly boy.
Initials “B.T.”, a predecessor’s etching.
Sunlight dances on last year’s
Remnant fragments swirl,
corellas circling on the river.
Recollections flow, the tributaries
of recall; unconscious eddies.
like skeins of geese returning
to the river as daylight pales.
branches scatter garden and verge
sun glints through gum’s dying leaves
does it know its life
is to expire under the roar of chainsaws
will it curse me with its dying sap
leave me to roast when its shade is removed
I grieve in advance
yet my remaining peace
shattered in the chatter
of those carrying out my wish
protecting my home
I know that to take a life
for one’s own comfort
shows a callousness
hiding under a veneer of justification
will my guilt be eased
am I and my ilk
the cause of global warming
will the anger of citizens
swamped by rising seas
remove my last vestiges of peace
you’re too thin skinned
I hear my mother say
inside I know
I committed an ecological crime
will spend the rest of my days
repenting replanting watering
The day I decide to sort my sock drawer is the day the phone rings 10 times
to tell me of your demise.
I have seven pairs of dark blue socks,
several of abstract design and one green
knee high with black hoops (cost $30)
a hole in the right foot.
Some official, probably police,
called first, announced your death
in breathy voice said ‘hospital…
but nothing could be done’
I like to wear the knee highs
or the green and purple stripes
feel a bit out there, member of a club
My rebel mum , you said.
The next caller and the next after that
and the next after that said
He was doing what he loved.
One EVEN said, His art consumed him.
It was JK6 who filled me in. He said
you had finished your best piece ever.
Look out for it rolling on freight
all over Queensland, back of beyond
like the others it will make it to LA
The outrageous flares, vivid colours
fit for angels. Like he knew. He said.
He said you were flying high, then Icarus-like
forgot the rules, leant back, punched overhead
power lines …melted man atop the car.
FAME. is yours
I'd celebrate wearing those loopy socks. If it didn't hurt so much.
Previously published Eureka St
The present as third party
are not the thing.
Even dressed in my best
and with a clean handkerchief
I’d feel more in keeping
hung on the wall
above the old Chinese vase.
is chopping wood, and scruffy
drinking tea on the back steps
a sketch for a modern loss poem
after Tadeusz Rozewicz’s ‘A Sketch For A Modern Love Poem’ (trans. Czeslaw Milosz)
white is stark
grey, more reassuring.
coalesces on molten granite;
summer, in december
old love poems describe, inscribe.
flesh extols papyric virtues of minutiae;
eyelashes tease unsated skin
is tangible hunger
rattle the pips of an apple core
carcase; cages ripen solely for
marriage to century eggs.
that bird not yet born
putrifies. pomegranate molasses
plagiarise blood in vain
wasted organic chem texts
water : transparent thirst
absence, made flesh.
a description of love, this
statistic seems high, tho—
hyper modern; loss
- a poem.
Sometimes a day just passes
nothing marks it
not even the date
life measured in habits
that encasement in mind
an incoming tide
a girl standing small in a wooden door frame
wearing a grey tunic with black patent shoes
no pick up sticks or spinning top
just a girl
recording what she misses
someone still hurts for her
Behind and Before the Day
a voice barely
decipherable above the river water
sweeping a name under the tide.
Open-armed sunlight slowly passes
until evening throws darkness
over the city like a body bag
behind and before the day.
Outside daylight tunes its colours. Grignan
flowers: here woody as a girl's hairbrush.
Underfoot branches creak like floorboards
and dry grasses
pass a whisper along their fingertips;
there are no frail slits of flowers but a trumpet-shaped
orange and yellow Chrysophaea dipping its nose into a flame.
Now the summer flies hardly
but seem bolted to the air.
The Overland passes the aged
bent with the seriousness
of their agreement with fire.
Behind and Before the Day: the title refers to one of Matthew John Davies’ poems “Behind and Before the Day”.
Comparison to the Continent: the italicised phrase 'frail slits of flowers' comes from Philippe Jaccottet's prose poem 'Colours, La-Bas' as part of And, Nonetheless: Selected Prose and Poetry 1990-2009 (Chelsea Editions, 2011).
their bellies bloat with corporation kilojoules consumed
in solitary, their livers close to drowning in currents
of inebriation more perfidious than coastal rips
infatuated with big sugar’s kool-aid promise of satiated
cravings they’ve fallen for the anodyne convenience of
24/7 over-easy TV series that leave them all singularly
slouched on no-frills couches optimized for goggling
celebrity gourmets self-marinated in medium-rare ratings
battles with teenage zombie vampires who now
proliferate on pornographically super-sized flat screens
while tweets & texts metastasize unnoticed on symbiotic
my-phones flashing error messages about pixelating frontal
lobes & terabytes of far too torpid neurons languidly
asphyxiating in sticky inter-webs of unredacted megadata
nothing that another virus check & defrag can’t fix
Colour me popular culture.
On watching the final of Breaking Bad and looking back.
There’s nothing but chemistry here.
But doesn’t it seem like something’s missing?
What about the soul? Not life alone.
Death, too many blue on gold deaths ignored
all put on the line for that rush.
The incomparable contrast of freedom and control
hasten Heisenberg to his eventful downfall.
White amused by blue, Sky betrayed by an eye
the fallen king, victim of his own breaking body.
Out of control Pink and White zig and zag
as they crackle through hoops and sharp reliefs
Jesse and Walt spin into tribalism
deep shadows etched on their faces
Blue meth twisted out of White and Pink.
Who cares about Saul?
Endless life possibilities miss the fact:
The heart of the Matter is Gray.
Dark Falls by Railway Lines/
The Murderer’s Motif
How the souls cry out their battered endings
from this shallow dumping ground,
here where the train gasps going by,
the abandoned rooms licking their cracked sour paint.
The sandy track glimpsed looking up
from the page or lap top,
the endearing favourite song fluttering in scrubby messmate,
my decorative sentinels shedding skins.
So carefully placed and tended now,
a travelling case, glove, sweater, leaky shoe,
the pair left at home in mistake,
the two dollar umbrella bought especially.
Cured now of all sentient need,
this is how I haunt those lost in waiting,
with the feinted shadow that old mail left unopened
offers the respite of a returnee’s call.
I shimmy down the greasy pole of hope
into the baking sweaty wakeful nights,
the fire blanket of visitation suffocates any promise
that no news tantalises the kindling of a chance.
And into this terrarium of ordinary come exotic
is strained the pattern of vicarious makings,
for a scaffold of all the generous donations,
to craft the collection of what cannot be named.
My heart out of tune from this riff raff life,
sometimes sirens pass by other streets,
the arias of justice play to the audience of the comfortable.
Loaded up, all the mementos burned out of the vanity of possession,
leave only traces of material anonymity.
Gathered from their singularities my vacancies are filled,
one big breath on the overpass,
the express rushes to me.
Previously published Bluepepper
MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.
All work © the authors.