Kitchen Table Poets
Kitchen Table Poets has been in operation for 18 years.
This diverse group has been bringing poetry to the Shoalhaven with a roar and a smile.
This is a selection from the weekend in March 2018.
NSW Government — Regional Arts New South Wales —
Country Arts Support Programme
Archived in Pandora
from Meuse Press –
Elaine Chin, Jennifer Dickerson, Colleen Duncan,
Jill Forster, Chere Le Page, Jennifer Mors,
Mardijah Simpson, Alison Thompson & Irene Wilkie
the room thick with frustration
a small figure in the bed watches
bewildered as visitors shout
think he’s deaf not confused
his mind fights to comprehend
what is happening?
a fixed smile on his face he listens
to the conversation around him
struggles to connect his memories
to what is being said
no one sees his confusion
what is going to happen to me?
he asks his wife when the visitors leave
her heart jumps in her chest
helpless she feels sad
tries not to take hope away
her only reply is
it’s early days, love, early days
I am not myself today.
Yesterday I noticed
the subtle alteration
Change of life I expected
with all the associated
advice from friends
This is a much more sinister
gradual overtaking of my body
like a sub cutaneous worm
It was of course bound to happen
She was always an invasive
It’s my mother taking over
when I am working or busy
absorbed in some project
She is wheedling her way in
through the ankles perhaps
at night when I am sleeping.
I glimpse her in the morning mirror.
We’re heading north this time,
making an early start to miss
the rush. Still, we find ourselves
caught in a snarl of traffic
along the south coast road.
We sit in silence.
Voluptuous hills are clothed
in russet, a hint of green adorns
their slopes. The sun hangs low
at the edge casting grim shadows
over places where the secrets lie.
Our suffering has no voice.
The spine of a stone wall
winds around the land
like a girdle, and I recall
that one night spent with
a stranger, elsewhere.
I didn’t tell you.
The shadow where two hills
converge hides the memory
of the child I wanted to know,
his tiny fists curled like
unfolding fronds of a fern.
I didn’t speak of this.
Where land meets sea, high water
gurgles into gutters, drowns every
impulse to run. Unspoken words
become bitter stones of regret,
exposing us with every ebbing tide.
Still I say nothing.
The whipbird’s call cracks
stark across the dry-leaved silence,
cockatoos’ urgent shrills
dare and retreat,
sulphur crests rise with the upsurging waves
while seagulls wheel on the diminuendo.
Ochre dawning with enthusiastic blush hush and rush, ocean murmurings, goose bumps and chills, thrills and summer-fuelled voices from the beach come in waves, gentle piano and crashing forte.
Hunched on the seaside she-oak bark the cicadas drum their cadenza; close the window on the blast and glare like the sea’s surge now subsiding. tidal highs to low, on the summer to and fro draw the blinds down.
Listing sailboat sun-dipped on the beyond, brilliance and haze, we loll and laze, stroked by the sun, lulled unthinking swimmers
moods in syncopated motion
drift on the swirl and calm.
In the fading light seaweed and shells contraband on the sand, blue-bottle sea creatures evening nor-easter on the salt-spray, undulating currents , lapping ripples, deep vermillion triples sun-up to sun-down.
Muffled rumbling of a fan’s blades - oscillating drone, whirring, constant, tilted to cool wide-gapped toes - lullabies into sun-drunk dozing; cloying honeysuckle clings to the air,
Ebbing undertones, laughing flow, sounds of solstice revelry
In pillow dishevelry sun-streaked hair, bronze bangles and candles, gilt-edged pleasures moon-gleam treasures flicker and fade,
light turned to shade,
time and tide... take the summer-long ride.
Chere Le Page
beware of potent moons
It’s a full moon tonight
In Room 7
Vanessa stirs, stretches her hand across the bed
to nothing. She remembers their moments of passion,
his lips brushing hers, her tongue flicking his skin.
She wonders if he’ll find her again.
the sky is shot silk
In Room 8
Richard, hair black as a crow, stands at the door.
Cracks open a beer. Remembers Janie nestling against him, her curls spread like ink across his pillow.
Eyes red from tears, a wretched expression darkens his face.
a branch drums a window
In Room 9
Elizabeth quiets her baby, she’ll wake her big sister sleeping
in the double bed. She thinks of Dan’s body moving
over hers, the warmth of his skin when he whispered
just one more time before he left forever.
shadows crouch in darkness
In Room 12
Douglas, speckled and tagged with age, is dying
for a cigarette. He shuffles to the door, lights up, sparks an episode of brutal coughs.
No need to worry about that now.
silent owls hunt
Ruby, in her golden years, swirls her tongue around her glass,
downs a brandy, prays for a gentle night.
She’s tired of fights, fugitives, guitars and liquor-fueled parties.
Of being alone in this old motel.
the moon watches and waits
Family stands in a tidy line;
complex vessels related by substance.
Textures intertwined, enmeshed with twists, turns
of navigation and negotiation; look closer, within
to see the strain of contorted fragilities;
one to the other.
Father is protector and keeper;
stable and stoic, he is tight-woven.
A tamer of gardens - straight edges, symmetry;
converter of maths to algebraic equation.
With patience, he watches his children grow
and waits for them to leave.
Brother stands next to father,
and sees the world with artist eyes.
Irregular into abstract with a density of texture
disguises a deep darkness; danger within.
Deception trembles at brother’s edges;
secrets remain withheld.
Middle child is woven open loops;
a tumbled tangle of undisguised threads.
Perfect shape to placate, ameliorate; accommodate.
Gullible giver and hopeless helper stretches
to hold them within the wired frame;
keeps them guessing.
Sister is wispy, delicate threads;
fragile and tiny – careful, she may break.
There is longing for mother’s womb; a refuge from fear
that elicits possession, priority and captive control;
twisted contortion in a soft-stitched pocket
pretends an evenness of fibre.
Mother is curvaceous and creative;
complex tussled threads chase predictability.
She is the weft that binds, ties them to the functional warp
but the fibre tangles, strangles; twists and pulls
as she weaves in and out and around.
No-one sees, and no-one asks.
Five are strong in the weaving;
secure knotted strings holding them tight.
Contours differ; shapes and sizes determined by the weave.
Some tighter in the construction; others wayward.
They are all a little frayed at the edges
but won’t unravel.
One Week Baby
I bring wild orange lilies for a free spirit.
She lurks in a grubby brown quilt nest
within the sterile bed (her bundles under).
An old stained pillow
big as a rock guards her head –
sprouting red curls.
One beady eye peers out
from her vixen hole.
As I greet her she knows me
and unfolds like a red flower
blossoming white breasts
and her black haired baby.
It clings marsupial to her nipple.
She tells me her armistice day story
of pain and triumph – push by push.
‘I thought my arse was going to bust’.
She speaks with protective passion
of her child, her ferile furies, fighting the system,
ripping her body, savouring her drama –
prima donna of her own opera.
She fights and frightens the nurses.
Professionals hold case conferences.
One week and another child joins the stolen.
The striped orange petals will have fallen now.
For eight years your body lay on the floor of your Sydney house,
a three-story terrace overlooking Centennial park,
the drawn curtains
shutting out the view.
All they found were folded bones
eased down between a table and a chair,
indistinguishable at first,
from the patterned swirls of the carpet.
Now strangers mark your passing in newspapers and poems.
In the slums of the world,
no-one dying takes this long to be found.
I like to think when they opened that room your soul flew.
The Eye Beholding
It’s too much,
an ibis arrowing,
a peacock feathering –
a silky web against my cheek,
the chiffon air.
I am benumbed –
so many things to choose from.
I wait and watch, hatch the words
to wrap them in with
on every variation.
It’s just too much –
clouds roll over the mountain crest
spilling in the valley fold
against the orange cliff,
a clinging breath, so different from
last summer’s choking blast.
Exploded canopies, blackened trunks
have given way
to eager red-flushed growth.
The trees along the creek show off
their short-cropped heads.
in the grass, a lilac lily fringes,
a dead leaf cha-chas on the patio,
then, in a breath,
a yellow-wattled streak breaks through the view,
snatches soft spiders from under the eaves,
as if plucking grapes.
It’s all too much,
this promise –
yet not enough;
the eye beholding
marks time until
a new day pulses morning’s
acknowledgement: HC 2016 WB Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia
MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.
All work © the authors.