Australian

Poetry Collaboration

#25

 

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from Meuse Press –

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

 

 

Dangar Island

 

A selection of work arising from 2 workshops at 
Dangar Island in March/April 2017.

 

 

FEATURING: Lorraine Bower, John Brinnand, Kim Core,

Penny Gibson, Gabrielle Higgins, Garry Robert McDougall,

Margaret Mahony, Alison Miller, Frances Paterson, Ian Pettit,

Kerri Shying, Peter J Wells, Michael Williamson & Kathryn Yuen

 

 

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Lorraine Bower

CAMPFIRE

 

I want to be somewhere else. I’m knee deep in bushes

bracing against angophora’s dark bulk

in the cold, smoke curls round the rim of an overhang,

carrying the scent of roasted meat,

 

shadows swirl behind loose-limbed figures,

air carries the cadence of an unknown tongue,

there is laughter, eyes mirror firelight,

a branch crack is a bullet, a glider thuds to a nearby trunk.

 

Later, the figures sleep, curled around embers dying to charcoal

beneath rock, sky and constellations,

as wind shakes the trees, water laps the shore,

the dreamers, fire, night, stars, are one.

 

I am no companion in this scene. My intangible self is drawn here,

to taste the ashes in my mouth.

 

The overhang is ghostly grey, roof time blackened with soot.

Where oars have dipped the river ruffles,

air curves around space left by the dispossessed.

 

Walking along the path I look back,

but there’s nothing except the wind, and water lapping the shore.

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John Brinnand

Descent

 

Where elements rule ancestors replenish.

In the high country, spilling from fragile shelters,

they crackle over frost into remoteness

undreamt by the domesticated.

 

This evening, in bitter sleet kangaroos grow dark and hunch.

At camp, resinous plumes conjure fitful sleep and fancy

from wells deeper than imagination's reach.

 

A dingo, singed, nostrils stuffed with soot,

sprints through flaming pillars of button grass,

re-telling gunpowder dreaming: massacre, exile, grog,

spirit punctured, taut, thin.

 

Mid-morning, reluctantly descending from Murray Gap,

the metered clap of my footfall deepens the silence.

To the left, the high side of the track,

a stirring sweeps windless treetops, quickening breath.

Sun shafts pierce the canopy, magnifying vault and volume,

illuminating the crack between reality and reverie.

 

Like a becalmed sailor, cheek tuned for faintest puffs,

I'm alert when the song breaks, then floods.

The same forever song: stalking country like a ghost, 

re-weaving with hypnotic fugue.

 

It passes quickly, drafting my reluctance.

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 Kim Core

Lay On Me... and/or Taking Direction

 

it’s like Atlas carrying

the world

upon his shoulders

Jesus, nailed to the Cross

 

it’s like wanting something

so badly

like motherhood

 

put me in the lion’s den

it’s like I can

stand up

to anything

 

it’s like we’re in a sonnet

like we are in

communion

 

the question why/how?

pick one

sonnet XLII,

my nanna’s house number

mine as well               

you explain that!  Some

 

people are just born

for the job

delivering babies was

my speciality

bringing them up

was the challenge

 

I could’ve been

the King of England –

I could’ve been the Pope

the Captain of a ship

the Captain’s mate

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Penny Gibson

After Fire

 

Black trunks lean towards each other, consoling.

Through years of drought, they husbanded their strength,

survived north winds and lightning strikes

surrounded by the rough charcoal scribble

of fires. In a landscape of black twisted remains

stark branches mourn

but below, new leaves scramble up blackened bodies,

thick, and quick with life.  In another country,

newly widowed women stand gaunt

and solitary, staring with glass-dry eyes

at the burnt out remains of home. Beneath their feet

small blue and white star flowers nod,

hopeful as spring. The dull eyes of the women

search endlessly for their children.

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Gabrielle Higgins

Spring

 

pushes at my clingy soiled-ness:

I am not the tight white buds,

strong in their thin layered folds.

 

Beneath

the whispered shouts

of the pale pink blossoms,

the very-here rock daisies

remind me, but of what

 

I can't be sure,

as I seek reassurance

by the mouthful in

the crowding ordinary,

to fill the chasm

 

that remains.

Sometimes though, sunlight

dances through the leaves,

soothing the infant in me,

as I watch the evident wind.

Previously published New Shoots

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Garry Robert McDougall

To Portomarin*

 

From teahouse peak, rollercoaster ride

besides gorse, because

Portomarin moved from time to time

underwater cause, applause missing,

aa their town drowned

turned back men and women

mourn the dam-to-damn hours

by Helculean estate.

 

by women's gaze, damned tears

a cause for men's applause

from time to time,

Portomarin moved to gorse hill,

rollercoaster ride

history's teahouse tilt to hill,

cathedral stones journey

below measure.

 

Pilgrims walk over hollow hill,

the missing buried 'neath tears,

arrivals beer-friendly,

wayfarers waving, cafe applause

spare ribs and hymns at source,

Portomarin's pilgrims turned away

all regret, no doubt, strides

Gonzar bound.

 

*Portomarin is a small ancient town in Galicia, on the pilgrimage route to Santigo de Compostela, Spain.

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Margaret Mahony

 

One year on

 

 

 

 

time has

no trouble passing

it’s impossible

to hold on to

 

look back

and wonder

did I do well

or slip through

 

I’m still displaced

the home

familiar

outside I’m a stranger

 

can’t belong

do I wait

or make it happen

 

will one foot

always be in the past

if I could find the thread

I’d cut it

 

I will grow old here

but still not sure

how to do it

 

 

 

Sutherland

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Alison Miller

I never knew.

 

“You’re the daughter I never had”.

It’s said almost as an aside

to the aide holding the door

as we leave the Home.

 

I don’t think she knows

how much it meant

to hear those words

from my mother-in-law.

 

“I only had two sons”.

I nod to her summation.

Then “you’re the daughter

I never had…”

 

We glide out of the shade.

She: frail and ninety,

me: pushing her chair

together into the sun.

 

 

I know too much.

(For mum)

 

She wilts

in the summer heat

like a drooping rose-

worn out.

 

Dad’s love

fills the air,

“we manage

one day at a time”.

 

“She’s my only love.

I don’t think of

The future without her”.

 

But,

alone,

I do.

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Frances Paterson

Fig at Number 28

 

Up the hill a strangler fig fills up the block

at Number 28; I write a letter and there

it sits, a white corella, posted home, unread,

while special fig wasp pollinates, and seeds

crunch inside tiny packets of jam. I lean

into his wrinkled limbs, spread and tapered from

 

the air, to ask him what he ate. Strangler figs

swallowed whole the clay-baked temples of Angkor.

Two leaves sprout from an under-ledge and cities

fall to their knees, less polite than the five-lobe fig

of the old world, a public leaf on a private part.

In the maw of the new, old names survive,

 

Daranggara in Dharawal. Draughtsman’s

pencil rasps against the straight-edge of the rule;

he freely draws his lines across a pulp of wood

but cannot feel the form of land, its flow, the creek

which drops from pool to pool, which carves with reckless hands,

wreck to regularity. The houses line up

 

on the hill, disciples to the road. The fig

has grown beyond their tidy mantra as he rains

syconia down. At 26 and 30, twin-

-trunked treelings racket round; the staunch fig

holds his place but cannot draw the line; he can

be chopped like Figtree’s fig to clear the empty block.

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Ian Pettit

The Jewelfish                                                                                                       

I am anchored at Flint and Steel Reef, at the base of West Head

Bathed in the pearly summer sheet of full moon as slowly bled

On the horizon are flashes of lightning, trying to spear

Mako sharks, Southern bluefin tuna, Portuguese man-of-war

Remnant harpoons in knobbly head humpback whales as they give birth

After they migrate from krill feed, cavort, to tropical dearth

Of food where they mate and produce young, suckle, fill up their lungs

I feed out line, baited with fresh prawn, on the run-out tide, tongue

Of squid finds prey, latches on with suckers, I bring it aboard

And hook it gently, balanced through its mantle and in accord

With light sinker, cast its translucence upon the brisk water

I hope the storm clouds won’t zero in on me with their slaughter

There is a quick tap on the nylon line and I hook the fish

Play it carefully and bring on board five kilograms of bliss

In the landing net, it is a jewelfish, named for its ears’ pearls

Jewfish or mulloway, dilated eyes lunar, scales are whorls

Of silver and a refracted purple, orange-tinted mouth

I saltwater fill a bucket, hold the fish’s head, uncouth

Cut deeply into its gills to its backbone, the fish evokes

Her childhood in the mangroves, learning to ambush as she strokes

Among roots, plays with her family, from enemies she hides

She dreams of adult playgrounds, sunken hulls, rock reefs, beaches wide

To hit her stride amongst clean curls of waves, currents and curved rips

Finding kelp on gravel to chase yellowtail, grasp with her lips

She learns to dance a waltz and pirouette to a humpback’s song

Her tail is ‘en pointe’ as she spins across the stage: “Am I wrong

As ‘Anna Karenina’ to seek freedom from a husband

Who is conservative, dull as a fishing knife with a band

Of rust?” She perceives the veil is falling, like a climax, flecks

Of celestial bodies as her mind joins the rotten wrecks

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Kerri Shying

Bury the Lede

 

We are our own stories now   

 unpinned from places times

 

sans the facts minus the figures  

 people trade in futures   

 

please don’t tell them 

 more rustic hocus pocus superstition

 

fit for peasants those that

 don’t have one foot stuck hard in the IT door

 

 the element of suspense drained  

  our once-wetland of wonder   shoved

 

 into the twenty-four-hour news

 cycle  day-in day-out no rinse    all spin    

 

when you take the delicates from the pillowcase  

 where they used to hang    it all just looks tawdry

 

the story it is me  

 the story it is me and you 

 

 the story it is  

 

 how I feel   about  

  me-and-you-against -the world  

 

who I say the world is

 what I  see from this pile 

 

 this stuff and nonsense heap  

 minus a yard and give or take these   forty acres and a mule  

 

 sacred flag 

 they fought  for freedom   

 

other ways to measure land  

  fibre   air and sea  no space 

 

but here   inside   

  hell   what a balcony  

 

 out here on the terrace  

 we sit   exclaiming   what a view

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Peter J Wells

Making Totems

 

When he said Harris she heard

Paris and willingly agreed

but thought it strange when he found

a cottage by the sea;

 

before too long

her hopes were stranded

on his Scottish isle, with no boulangeries

no French-filled Latin Quarter

 

just one wood stove

in the workshop

keeping out the mist

the damp while

 

he spent days

making totems,

his tribute to

non-existent tribes

 

from the hollows

of his dreams; long fingers

calloused by the stone

and bone of art

 

ain’t this fine, he said one day

in long black coat and slippers

well it ain’t Paris, she replied

but fine you say and fine it is

 

across our treeless isle,

all cairn and stone

across the ground,

all wafer thin pathways

 

down which we walk

and sing our songs

our ragged rhyme

and reason.

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Michael Williamson

ALIVE AT NIGHT

Living in sharp sketches,

proficient empty, blind, after

the tight blur of the office, I need

to roam my own verandas and see

openness. Next door her clarinet's

purple moods overture the moving sky.

Evening clouds are rusty, patched stone-wash

blue, though half-past nine at night

Silk grey curtains swoop along

deep horizons, over chinks of saffron lights.

A table cloth of lightning flaps

over the whole land, a flash of silence

suspended for the dawdle of sound, yet no

thunder. Every two minutes a spark

cruises up across the darkening south.

Around the night, the surf of traffic.

The giant shawm of a closer jet

fades into a distant rubble of sound.

Behind, a dark blue siren thrills itself

shut. Almost at arms' length one more

white and ruby chandelier roars over

our nightfall valley. As I bend back to see,

my metal chair screeches to end

this chronicle of sky and flight

Dark time rings. Timelessness

ticks in the shadows, and with one step

into his night sky, enters our possum.

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Kathryn Yuen

Ode to a poem I’m TRYING very hard to like

 

Who the f#%k is Derrida?

…sorry I believe it’s pronounced Deruda

Like the airline? Hah.

And who do Sappho and Batho think they are?

Why do you keep appearing in poems

 I’m trying so hard to like??

You three have trespassed

onto my private poetry haven!

Nuked my pleasure.

Like nose rings and nipple

rings and ‘greek flute’ rings

on a Christian minister or

Buddhist monk…..

You don’t belong!

Get!  and take Icarus with you!

 

DBS (or apology for the poem I just wrote)

 

Homer of Simpsons

And MadMen of TV

Salute

 

Turn polite and attentive to

their partners or comforters

Like mere mortal males

 

There is an uncomfortable

Dangerous Buildup of Sperm

During the ratings and mating

 

Period                          Imagine

 

a Rorschach blot on

Brad Pitt’s butt.

The inkings of a drug-sick

Drug-high tattoo-artist

Who’d rather paint walls                      flyyyyy

 

Icarus with concrete boots and

wings stiff with copious birdshit                      there are

 

Turns of phrase to end hostilities or

Kiss away sorrow or tweak pleasure                Words

 

Re-created as a hard bowel movement             ahh

 

The alchemy of turning honey into $%#^!

Is ordinary everyday immanence.

 

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MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.

 

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