Australian Poetry
Collaboration

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from Meuse Press –

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AUSTRALIAN

POETRY COLLABORATION

#1

 

FEATURING

Heather Brigstocke, Alison Coshott, Jean Frances,

Eileen Jones, Paula McKay, Sheryl Persson

 

 

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Heather Brigstocke

 

 

Light the way

 

Watery space
open arms beckoning

Light grows
the water reveals glory
offers an unwrinkled hand
challenges
dares

Through the window
clouds
shroud the light in doubt
cast a shadow on picture frames
Memories shattered by tempered light
shining for her

And in looking at the source
finds she controls its brightness
by the tightness of her grip
on the extended hand.

 

 

Blue races



They say that on a clear day
you can see the Blue for miles
nothing else acceptable

It’s the winning post!
rump slapped with a blue ribbon
for a race, well done

Can you see the Blue?
For a while she thought she could
certainly at the beginning
yeh, down the middle too

But she fell on the home stretch,
tried to find her breath
inhaled the pack
crippling dirt from many hooves

So she threw off the jockey
there for the grace of himself?
Never! only in the name of the Blue

took off for a track of her own colour
though blue had always been her favourite colour

Yes, she left the Blue deification
to those that quite like
blue ribbons in the saddle
and one hoof in the knackery.

 

¯

Alison Coshott

 

Orange

 

 

A dry red sunball

floats down through

dust from mine dumps;

hangs in the air

with coal smoke

from cooking fires

 

Cars stream home

from offices

to the bosom

of wire garnished walls

 

The traffic lights stop us

red in our tracks.

A picannin starts

his procession

along the row of glittering fringe benefits.

We have been warned:

These boys are used by men,

they run in packs to

distract and steal

through smashed windows

I look at him, this victim

smooth, brown,

big-eyed he begs

Madam - give me money

for bread

 

I turn away, steely eyed

from my reflection

in his brown and yellow disks.

There are so many beggars

 

Wait. I say. No please

from me to him.

I pick an orange from the foot well

poke it through the gap

to him outside

Here - I smile a bit

 

He stares at the orange

I turn away

so not to see him

throw away my selfishness.

I have my pride.

 

But at last I look

(He will have gone by now)

 

And he is eating the orange - ripping its flesh with his teeth

sucking thirstily to save the drops

and hunching over so they do not drip

on his dusty bare feet

 

He could be my own.

I pull away

and driving home,

I despair:

                There are so many beggars

 

 

 

 

granule

 

at midnight mostly

in vengeful dark

i scream in silence

see the stark

ungainly cracks

in my unpolished

faces

of the day

 

¯

 

Jean Frances

 

 

Scold's Bridle

 

I held back secrets

long fermenting in my belly

desperate for your approval

I must not tear out

the roots of our promises

 

Stop up your ears

so I am not forced

to choke back venom

Let me lift this child-mask

from my face

spit out the mustard

painted on my tongue

excrete the toxin

trapped beneath my skin

 

And let me speak as a woman

before the fastening

is hammered home again

 

 

 

Waiting at the Lights

 

I had never seen

a dead person before

lying on the footpath in the rain

 

An anxious doctor knelt

pounding his chest

and giving him mouth-to-mouth

 

The man   his eyes open

skin faintly blue    appeared serene

as if embarking on a trip

he'd been planning

for a long time

 

 

 

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Eileen Jones

 

EMPTINESS

 

I am distraught as I sit in this barrister’s sedate office;

memory is absent when most needed.

I recall the pain,

the quality of its sharpness as it shot through my hand.

But what is its trigger?

I am being questioned about hobbies, tapestry,

the use of my hand, my solicitor sits quietly;

pain’s memory forces itself on my attention

only half of me responds.

 

I want to say – yes, tapestry was one of my hobbies

as were knitting, crochet, embroidery,

dressmaking, tailoring, all kinds of needlework.

Yet I remain mute, frustrated by my incapacity.

The moment passes, conversation shifts.

I mention my inability to respond spontaneously,

my need to go apart to think, but they find it hard to believe.

I’m brain damaged I’d like to shout to them.

With a calmness I cannot feel,

I suggest the neuropsychological report

only to find  they have all my medical reports

from the Brisbane lawyers.  I have no privacy, no secrets.

I feel denuded, stripped, spilled out,

everything is public property –

but the emptiness is mine.

 

 

 

The Thrill Seekers

 

 

On the verandah rail, inquisitive Willie Wagtails,

dressed ready for a black tie dinner,

dance, twist, flit in a flash to perch teasingly

on a magpie’s back, saucy tale upright.

Do they hope perhaps, for a free flight?

With a sudden song—burst they dash through water spray,

wing span maximised to ride the wind, surf air waves,

ski the skies, in flight so free assistance is superfluous.

 

As they skim, waft, dare – devil dart

my enthralled spirit soars but I sit, frustrated,

trapped in a body which lurches drunkenly

because my water – logged head has lost its authority.

Like an astronaut re adjusting to gravity

I struggle clumsily to move rubbery legs on unwilling feet;

clutch my pen to capture the thrill seekers’ rapture

but contrary hands with a will of their own

thwart my intention, leaving me

with an indecipherable scrawl.

My fascination cannot be denied.

Forced to this electronic servant

I record a fleeting experience

of grace, freedom, nature’s beauty. 

With the thrill of the dance a distant memory

vivid awareness of physical limitation heightens frustration,

becomes desperation.

 

¯

 

Paula McKay

Let Me Not Die an Old Girl's Death

                                            (After Roger McGough)

   

 

let me not die an old girl's death  not in a rocking chair ‘doesn't she look peaceful  like that’ death  not a curtains drawn  with the sun going down in black armbands death  nor laid out cold in the front room with background organ music and me  stiff as the pipes  no father o'leary giving me the last rites death (when I didn't ever have any rights in the first place) and not a between the starched sheets in a smells of pee nursing home calling softly I'm coming to join you fred death (& him thin as a rake by then anyway)   no blessing in the end death  or propped up  with pillows so's I could look out over the yard  and see  the two pigs rummaging  through the rubbish death  no mrs swift from next door  & all the other neighbours downstairs making tea and drinking whisky  while I'm up there gasping my last breath

 

                and I don't want a holier than thou and free from sin surrounded by candles and wilting flowers death either with kind  last minute words to people I never liked anyway  none of their noisy children coming  to say a last goodbye to me when I  couldn't stand the sight of them while I was alive death

 

               let me go out when I'm a hundred and four gnashing my gums and conducting loud beautiful music (beethoven  would be good )  flashing my painted fingernails & overthetop dyed hair smoking cigarettes that are bad for my health while drinking  french cognac &  me singing and kicking and showing everybody my bright red knickers

 

 

 

Enola Gay

 

The pilot of the plane that dropped the

the first atomic bomb - over Hiroshima - 

in 1945 named the aircraft after his mother

 

After it was all over

what happened then?

Did you hide behind the curtains

when the doorbell rang

or write your memoirs  

mother to a famous man?

 

And when they held a barbeque

honouring your sudden fame

dressed in floral prints and Sunday hat

did you smile

through all the sizzle and the flame

hold your plate above the smoke

and dripping fat

while the rare steaks charred amid the heat

accept a well-cooked sausage

with the skin quite split

and compliment the chef

for having hit the spot?

 

¯

Sheryl Persson

 

 

JELLYFISH

 

Silent

passive poisoner

you trail festive streamers

wearing cap with rippling fringe

as frenzied fish

flash vivid violet.

Slooshing sideways

not guilty of malice

quietly determined

you extend your welcome

languidly wrapping visitors

in an acrid embrace.

 

 

 

 

DON'T TURN THE LIGHTS OUT

 

Don't turn the lights out.

In the darkness

I can hear again

the shuffling traitor

in the hall

stalking

closer.

 

I feel the syrup breath

ice on my neck.

The nausea rises

paralysis sets in.

 

Don't turn the lights out.

In the darkness

I can hear quicksilver words

wheedling

pleading secrecy.

 

In the dark

the shutter falls on senses.

I cease to be

vacate time and space

for some other victim

until I hear again

the door whispering shut

footsteps retreating.

 

I return to guilt

unable to trade in trust

trapped in torment

facing dark days.

Robbed of hope and joy

impossible to escape

the cruellest betrayal of all

while the predator

roams free.

 

Don't turn the lights out.

The world is already too dark.

 

 

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AUSTRALIAN

POETRY COLLABORATION

#2

NORTHERN STORIES

 

 

This issue contains poetry collected from local writers following an October 2000  POETS ON WHEELS tour of northern New South Wales (an Australian state)… from the surfing/alternative centre Byron Bay, south to the state’s 2nd largest city, Newcastle. This is  a small cross section of the range of energetic writing communities thriving in the regions.

More

 

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NAKED IN SEPIA
 
Sorting through her things
I glimpsed it for a moment --
my sepia mother
naked
under the waterfall.
 
She, who straight-laced
tutored me in modesty,
was rising --
Botticelli's Venus
from a scalloped rock:
soft pearl-shell skin
in rainbow light,
the sight ethereal --
her body luminescent
with a nuptial glow,
arms arced aloft,
head tossed and tresses flowing
over nubile breasts,
embarrassment abandoned
in her gift for him.
 
I glimpsed her joy
in sensual discovery
and felt an envy of her daring
in defiance of her time.
 
I glimpsed her joy
and wondered why
oh why
she tried so hard
to stifle mine.
 
Quendrith Young
(previously published "Poetrix", Issue 14, May 2000)
¯
 
cocktails
 
all mouths tits defining flanks and restless tails
this cocktail crowd enfolding the joneses     they
bounce from 'hello' off  'hi' to 'how are yooo'     he
senses the random molecular motion which dumps them
spinning their social wheels alone on the fringe     she
frets until they remesh and pinball through to a side wall
 
from there it's clear the herd's a fractal pattern
of seething sub-circles all properly self-similar
each ring of tails proscribing otherness     he
notes internal heat triggers convection currents which drive
some to the edge to cool before they drop back in     she
has an eye for particulars     is restless and fidgets
 
newcomers swell the herd and all is dense flux
critical closeness of members       sweat
evaporates from hides to cloud against the ceiling     his
nose differentiates boiled cabbage from testosterone
and other strange attractors     she
leaves his side to cleave into the chaos
on a passage far from random     he
jiggles their keys in his pocket
watches her present herself
 

John Bird

¯

 

AWAKENING

 

You woke me with a smile

torn from pages of a bygone era

I turned on the axis of the universe

for a closer look.

 

Margeaux Marshall

 

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OLD CLARRIE
 
The twilight began to capture the view.

 

Old Clarrie sat on his porch and watched
several Landrovers disturb the dust.
Another usual day,
cattle and the garden. 
Late afternoons staring out
over the paddocks to the coast,
pondering. 
Not much
money in cattle anymore
enough though
with the pension and bananas.
 
Old Clarrie
not all there
never married
womanly comforts
bought in brothels
during Show times. 
Now the loins are never warm.
No needs
other than the daily routine
and the view of the coast
from the lighthouse to Brunswick Heads.

 

Expansive view. 
A training of the eyesight.  
Always magnificent, sometimes magical. 
Old Clarrie lived in a postcard,
the television told him so,
but it was always everyday,
sometimes ordinary.

 

Seasonal rains
left their clouds
distant dark.
Old Clarrie 
leaned forward.
Saw a snake
near the shed in which were
stored feed, paints, parts
and poisons.

 

The twilight focused the lights in the landscape.
 
A lot more lights these days,
used be a time when there'd be the lighthouse,
meatworks and a couple of bright lights
at Mullum and at Brunswick.
That's all you'd see.
 
Cough,
pain in the left lung. 
A rub with a knuckle
and a deep breath.
Better start dinner soon,
or I'll miss 'Sale of the Century'.
Another stab held his breath, 
like the writing he had seen,
earlier by the road.
 
Half-way to the highway. 
That rear tyre must be flat! 
Get out the spare and the jack. 
That's where he saw
spray painted on road,
'I had a joint with Jesus on the way to Uncle Tom's'.

 

What did it mean? 
You can get used to hippies,
but not to disrespect. 
Jesus looks after you.  
City types! 
Hippies!
The flat tyre replaced,
no longer felt like going to Brunswick. 
Get back up the hill now.
 
The twilight was about to introduce the stars.
 
Stupid words.
Shouldn't be said or read.
Stupid thoughts.
Swirled inside his head.
The lung hurt ferociously. 
Cough.
Spasm of the chest. 
Left arm clawed and cramped. 
Hidden pressure stopping breath.
 
The moon is getting high in the afterglow. 
So many lights now,
between the lighthouse and Brunswick Heads.

 

Then there was one less.

 


George Antonakos

 

¯
 
Touch Wood
 
Can I relax now?
Trust the fortune
of gold
sun beams,
sky, a depthless blue?
Dare I revel
in the luck
of being born
exactly me,
almost half century ago,
as peace raged
in the land of plenty?
Am I allowed to forget
incinerated human bones,
ash of my ancestors,
who made a religion
out of suffering?
May I lay down the burden
of guilt
for the luxury of love?
Dare to praise
all that is good,  strong and true,
to sing out my gratitude,
sift through dross
and find gleaming wonders?
Have I the right
to joy?
Or is it my duty
to keen and wail,
to remind those in paradise
that somewhere near
anguish reigns?
What do I owe
for the feast,
for the sumptuous
anointing, for the blessings
of a compassionate God?
Or was my debt
paid in full
before I was born?
And this radiant sky,
my personal boon,
not the prelude
to a drought at all.
 
 

Laura Jan Shore

¯

 

 

Blue  Seal
 
Her  thick  blue  pelt
swallowed  the  moonlight
into  it’s  cavernous  folds.
Greasy  sperm  smeared  up  her  belly.
Her  tail  flattened  and  sated
floated  on  the  lapping  tide.
She  drifted;
refusing  her  instincts
for  deep  water  and  fish
denying  the  cry  of  her  herd
even  the  lonely  yelps  of  her  pups.
She  knew  only  that  man;  and  those  hands
every  roving  finger  an  undreamed  thrill
running  thru  her  fur
feeling  deep  into  her  creases
underneath  her  risen  tail.
His  smooth  belly  bouncing
against  her  tough  hide.
His  limbs  suckered  to  her
as  the  waves  pommelled.
His  meagre  penis;
no  match  for  the  muscled  bulls
she  had  surrendered  to;
did  not  leave  her  bleeding
licking  her  salt-burnt  wounds;
but  filled  her  in  such  a  way
she  would  be  forever  empty  without  him.
Only  his  throaty  whispers
hovered  around  her  in  the  wind.
So  faintly  familiar  they  ruffled  her;
a  ghostly  picture  prickled  her
and twisted  her  head
toward  his  mad  form  in  firelight
brewing  her  yielded juice  with  his.
Rushing,  rushing  desperately
to  beat  the  moon,  the  waning  tide
her  drowsy  mind.
But  the  past  rose  vivid
viciously  clawing  at  her
dragging  her  thru  the  waves.
The  silky   sunk  wretchedly  under   sobs
watching  her  demented  lover  crumble
spilling  his  last  attempt  at  sanity
on  the  sand.
Still  the  man-fearing  beast
drowned  her  sorrow  in  layers  of  fat
and  barnacled  hide
and  sped  it's  whiskered  snout
away  from  the  gruesome  fate
it  had  twice  endured;
hung  lifeless, dehydrated  on  a  rusty  hook
and  three  times  would  mean  forever.
The  blue  seal  swam  that  temptation  cruelly;
blindly  into  blackened  water
pressed  it  against  violent  currents
mercilessly  stripping  every  sensate  memory
until  only  survival  mattered.
 
And  on  her  rock in  the  warm  sun
she  rolled  over
one  eye  closed; exhausted
the  other  glazed;
scanning  the  glassy  deep
waiting. . . .
 

 

Gina Lakosta

¯

 

Subtropical

 

the frangipani leaves plop…plop……plop,

a slight, uncertain drum beat for a

glancing Autumn

half the garden thinks it’s Spring again

my joints know it’s not

 

Brenda Shero

 
 
¯
 
 
Bad Timing
 
He lives roughly under
the same patchy clouds
as everyone else's paycheck
 
where, impatiently sixteen,
choices refuse to rain on him.
Manhood is a closed shop.
 
Though witness grandad's sepia
memory, coaltrimmer on the docks
for two years by his age, and dad
 
in a union lurk, apprenticed
three years to the boilermakers
before Vietnam beckoned.
 
Mum said even grandma sweated
dresses at thirteen, as if he ought
to be shocked, not impressed.
 
School says nothing to his hands.
The girls in Blundstones wink
'*no ticket, no start*'
 
with every precious flutter
of their long eyelashes.
How safe the world has become
 
for his testosterone.  The big engines,
loud noise, sparks and smoke, always
on the wrong side of the cyclone fence.
 
Even shovels and hammers
are out of reach.  It's a lockout,
that's what it is.  That's what
 
he spray-painted on a picket fence
last night.  No job, no pay, might
as well make work for *somebody*.
 

Rob Riel

 

 

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AUSTRALIAN

POETRY COLLABORATION

#3

BROKEN HILL

 

 

¯

 
 

Reclaim the night.

 

Reclaim me

Claim me at all

Who are you to

ride this beast?

 

I am night.

Silken fabric

bat wings

dark fins and claw.

 

Uncaring sending

dreams and demons

Mightily I shadow

your hearts terrain.

 

I am night. Sign

of women, travellers,

corroboree, astronomy

 

Even the sun that I rebirth

claims me not

There is no authority

upon me

 

beyond the moon

the stars, the velvet

cloak of clouds

The storm in all its joy

 

I am night

Lay no imposition on me

I am never claimed

You must look to yourselves.

Marvis Sofield

 

¯

 

Playground

 

Ladder of ages

four little ones run

No. 5 wheeled by Mother

strung out dog leg line

 

Grit stings our eyes

we are grasshoppers on the move

and wander on

doing cartwheels in the air

 

Past the smelly abattoirs

saltbush saturates

our favourite place

this wondrous hideaway

 

Rolling in red vibrant sands

our inner sanctum stirs

blue tongue overlooks the scene

as eagle wings flap the air

 

Magnets draw us

to pluck the red and black carpet

sixpence a bunch we offer

tied with worn out string

 

Would STURT awaken

as we seal the fate

of his desert pea

rest assured rebirth exists

 

Deadly arachnid

hitches a ride on the stroller step

warrior mother intervenes

and our little nipper lives

 

Weary, battle scarred

home from dust and heat

Sandy bend conquered us

but our secret is well kept

 

Grasshoppers have grown now

and we return to claim the sands

of our wondrous playground

Sadly, progress quarried it

 

Pamella Mackinnon

 

¯

Onlooker

 

Push the turnstile, music fills the ears

of brainwashed impulse buyers

sharing aisles with stacks of boxes

playing leap-frog might be fun

 

Dodging wayward wheels with laden baskets

and babies cradled at the top

squishy tomatoes with prices that don't match

sticky juice spurting from a split bottle

 

Like a gathering of the clan

groups of four hold up the parade

watch the child hop, bobbing about

while mum's waiting, dad's cursing and dinner's late

 

A race to the checkout, almost colliding

bell rings Price check is the call

grab a magazine and catch up on some news

while shuffling throbbing feet

 

Entertainment to the observer

watching from a bench

while he sits he pens his paper

missing not this chance to tell

Pamella Mackinnon

¯

 

Autumn

 

Rebellion a springtime lodger

defiance paid the bills

summer boiled and dallied

with convention

 

desire I knew well

 

The chill looms in distant shivers

soon the shackles will tighten

but, winter can wait in the company

of frustration

 

My autumn will be falling leaves

serenely quiet, but stirred by breeze

 

Barbara De Franceschi

 

¯

 

Torture

 

The acid taste of fear drips caustic saliva

to still the tongue

into paralysed silence

 

Odour rank with dread oozes from

body braced for cruelty

upon a reclining wrack

 

Terror gathers in beads like droplets

from a crown of thorns

eyes stare into blinding light

 

I implore with a silent prayer let me be brave

so I will not disgrace the name

of my family

 

In a voice strangely devoid of menace

my tormentor speaks

tools of infliction poised

 

Open wide please, only one filling today.

 

 

Barbara De Franceschi

¯

 

Witness

 

From my chair I see

a weathered seat of timber planks

people lounge, couples rub

not for me to join

grey ocean lunges and rolls with force

to gnaw the sandy beach and grind

 

Detail I gather in segregation

 

Castles left forgotten in ebbs

canvas deck chairs sit lopsided

scattered towels amidst lost shoes

salty droplets splashed

as old men trot and children paddle

in tidal pools with seaweed laced

 

The essence of dreams I yearn

 

To be part of all I see would lift my spirits high

at my nursing home window, I just sit and sigh

 

Barbara De Franceschi

¯

 

They say my love is dead.

 

They say my love is dead and yet

in that place where dreams are tumbled,

all the boundaries of the real erased

I see him corporeal and glowing

welcomed as he climbs into my bed.

 

They say my love is dead and yes

his is no fleshly frame, but shrivelled grey

bloodied bone, festooned with tissue strings decayed.

The object of my need and lust.

 

They say my love is dead and yet

in those dark fetid hours I rise to him in wonder

like the Calophoridae, Sarcophigidae, viviperous

flesh eaters before me, I feast upon his carcass.

 

They say my love is dead and so he is.

for I have stroked the cooling belly of all that I desire.

I have stood above his grave and thrown

another red, red rose upon the growing pile

of desiccated dead remembrance.

 

They say my love is dead but he is not.

From his grave he weaves all spells

He fills me. The very living breath

of my devout necrophilia.

Marvis Sofield

¯

The vivisector.

 

I bought my HQ

for a hundred dollars

after I left

my husband

my house

a Volvo

in the drive.

 

It was a beaten up old Holden

padding torn out

Stripped

Honed down

A dull metal shell.

 

Dashboard

so bone bleak sharp

It could slice noses

lips, from any living thing

pressed up against  it.

 

The old HQ shared my ambition

to return to origins

To gut

castrate

clean out

amputate the past

and then drive on.

 

Marvis Sofield

 

¯

 

Many a good tune

 

Lighthouse beacon,

her corner

lepidopterous admirers gaggle.

Goddess festooned.

 

Irradiated innocence disarms.

Deceived as sulphur tongue licks

Fawning shoulder rubbers

 

I witness from an opposite place

Simmer in complacent envy

My seductress wife

 

Click!

 

The hermetic door seals

Tatters of a private life

Against the fishbowl

 

Click!

 

The remote control

Daytime TV

Cough, scratch, fart, all alone

 

Alone with me

Eyes reflecting yesterday

Ignore me.

 

My Stradivarius

She can soothe the savage breast

Or beckon banshees

 

Pinched waist

Neck trying too hard

Highly strung

 

And very much older than she looks.

Geoff Sanders

¯

 

Clouds

 

Straggler sunbeams

evening cloud sponges

 

crescent centrepiece

raindrops wink in ocean of pitch

 

scarlet screams, clear sere sun

day has begun ad infinitum

Geoff Sanders

¯

 

How to write.

 

I simply start writing

and words come out nicely

and I draw my ideas

and paint them precisely

 

Shit I’m saying and

now I’m starting, inging

I’ll have to redraft

from the very beginging

 

Now I’m just going silly

I’m a slave to the form

I’m forcing the rhyming

In a way that’s not norm

 

I’ll get back on the track

and explain how to write

and I’ll use lots of ands,

and clichés, so trite

 

‘Cause this is my poem

and though it might rhyme

It deserves an existence,

Its own space and time

 

It’ll never be published

‘Cause it’s not clever, clever

Just a simple expression

As old as forever

 

I like that I write,

mostly just to please me

and my thoughts fill the void

of this A4, ex-tree

 

and if you want to write

and you think you’re so hot

just bloody well do it

and get published.........Not!

Geoff Sanders

 

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The work was collated by Les Wicks during a Writer in Residency in December 2000.

Thanks go to the sponsors:

 

NSW Ministry for the Arts

Broken Hill City Council

Regional Arts Fund

 

This collection is published by MEUSE PRESS.

All work © the authors.

APC is an occasional anthology.

 

 

 

Top

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AUSTRALIAN

POETRY COLLABORATION

#4

TASMANIA

 

 

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THE POETS

LIZ WINFIELD, LYN REEVES, KAREN KNIGHT, DARYL McCARTHY, JENNIFER BARNARD & LOUISE OXLEY

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LIZ WINFIELD

 

Venus' Reply

 

As the Derwent embraces

the sea

an old man cries in his sleep

 

as the fishing boat enters

D'Entrecasteaux Channel

a man wakes with

a question

 

as the nurse drives over

the Tasman bridge

the night lifts

answers

 

as the child sits

on the bus

he can still see Venus

over the Queen's Domain

 

and an old man cries

as a man questions

the night's answers

and Venus' reply

 

that it is nothing

but salt and water

and the reflection of

star-dusted dreams.

 

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How to reach her

 

Think of her when you're dreaming

kiss her eyelids when she sleep-murmurs

make a cup of your body

 

gather and weave her a braid of flowers

see her likeness in every bird

bring her the depths of a sky in storm

 

make the sun shine

when she is cold

hold out your hand

 

and offer her

your palm

in which to write her lines.

 

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LYN REEVES

 

S e c r e t s

 

 

if you want to come with me if you want me to show you this secret place you must slip like a shadow along the walls don't make a noise   there's no one here now only me the others have shrunk into corners scuttled into mouse holes under the skirting boards blown away like smoke from the turreted chimney  I take this place stake my claim on forbidden rooms out of bounds where the muttering adults kept secrets from me and from themselves  I stamp my feet on Elsie's polished linoleum and crap behind the kitchen door where Captain Cook did a poop wring out the cloth drenched with blood in the enamel dish serve my father tea and scones in the comfortable chair pulled up beside Gran's cooking range  I slap my cousin's face play ragtime loudly on the pianola open the mirrored doors of all the chiselled wardrobes in all the mysterious bedrooms pull the stoppers out of all the jars on the powder-dusted dressing tables empty every drawer run down the hall singing and shouting at the top of my lungs invite all the children in the street to eat birthday cake with coloured icing blow out the candles with one breath let all the secrets out

 

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Mirage

I'm hitching a ride on your dream

but when we set out I believed

we were headed the same way.

 

You're in the driver's seat and won't

share the wheel, won't even let me

navigate, since I read maps downside-up

and, anyway, you've been this route before,

know it like the back of your cereal packet.

You've costed the trip down to the last

benefit payment and will only eat at the old

familiar roadhouses where you can get

a decent cup of tea.

All night the moon

leans on my shoulder breathing its big

bright secrets into my ear and at midday

the shimmering V on the horizon

aches with possibilities.

 

A mirage, you say, an accident of light.

 

Other drivers overtake. We clamber on,

stopping now and then to cool

the hissing radiator. Just ahead

there's a bend where the road forks.

 

Thanks for the lift. I'll walk from here.

 

 

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KAREN KNIGHT

 

Xmas Day with the Troops

 

He saw a hill of dead horses

brushed snow from his beard

adjusted his crimson-dyed suit

did a last minute check

on a notebook of requests

and he walked through the campsite

shaking hands with the men.

 

He imagined a large table

with a red cloth

where he could leave

boxes of horehound candy

pipes filled with tobacco

and pages ripped from his Bible.

 

He handed out five cent coins

to the men, who held them

as if they were the finishing touch

to a brandy-soaked pudding.
¯

A Day in the Life

 

Visited a gymnasium to observe, not exercise.

 

Took my usual stroll down to the Battery.

 

Stopped at a pistol gallery.

 

Amused myself by riding back and forth on the ferry.

 

Dropped into the museum.

 

Yawned through a literary luncheon.

 

Had my palm read by a gypsy girl.

 

Met a young man who shook me violently by the hand

and expressed in heated language the affection he felt for me.

 

Attended a temperance meeting.

 

Was greatly stirred by the arrest of fifty prostitutes

ordered by a police court magistrate.

 

Dined with the Queen of Bohemia on her return

from Paris with an illegitimate son.

 

Whistled through a graveyard.

 

Wrote to my sister, Hannah the fairest and most delicate of human

blossoms.

 

Gave thanks to this roaring city.

 

 

 

 

Both poems from All Under the One Granite Roof - a collection of poems about Walt Whitman during the American Civil War period to be published by Pardalote Press in late 2003

 

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DARYL McCARTHY
MOONLIGHT
 
The clock in the heavens "strikes" for the tide, the navigator 
                        and this time for me.
Visited my pillow it was 10 pm.
The shining moon stirs the thoughts of men.
 
Earth's child with not a breath
At low perigee passing my window
What does your visit signify?  Death!
 
A message from the barren world on your face
Take stock of life and supply it with goodness
He will fill your soul with grace.
 
The sun puts out the moon as it puts out a fire
I lie beside the morning,
gathering prudence.  I'll exercise its desire.
 
Marked beside the metronome of moon and time
The ebb of life forgotten.
Tomorrow a new journey.
I bid my guest adieu.
¯

JENNIFER BARNARD

Wisdom has no Purpose but to Speak

 

 

The politician speaks.

Words arrive in gouts.

Red with meaning.

Stamping years ring

In the soothsayer's ear.

Wise words come, undiluted.

My friends,

Should you contemplate

Such n' such.

Ears and hands go electric.

Then,

Silence empty as a widow's womb.

Nobody claims to understand history

Or believe in it.

A man on a desert road

To somewhere was struck

By lightning.

The Hapsberg jaw chomps on

Regurgitated memory.

Gutz and Gaul is all we need-

Ask the Caesars!

 

Change?

More blood

than Rome could hide.

The audience clambers to the podium.

Claps wildly.

All is not well!

Rain drops

From Hapsberg eyes.

Lips retract.

I will finish!

But a sneak thief Doomsdayist

Comes

With dagger and foul breath.

The wise man trips on the curtain

And wisdom's done to death.

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THE MAN I MET YESTERDAY

 

Had wild grey hair

Blue lake eyes

Staggered speech.

In his bay blue eyes

I saw a small boy

reaching for his father's hand

But the man mistook his son's voice

for the whine of the wind.

Saw eyes that beggared need

the soft lips

a crushed rose.

He patted his son's head

pulling his hat down hard

he crossed the street.

 

The lad reached in his pocket

and took out the packet

of sweets his father slipped him

that morning.

He ripped the cellophane off

tossed the sweets in the air.

Then he crossed the road

and followed his dad.

Stopped to watch him step

into the strange woman's arms

Saw a  ginger cat gladwrap her legs.

 

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LOUISE OXLEY
AT NETTLEY BAY
 
We wake to long surf, a slow sunrise
masked by eastward hills
 
and the arrival of fishermen
who climb to a ledge and fling
 
whirring lines, small parabolas of patience
cast not too far ahead.
 
Understoreys of bull-kelp have lost their footing
and flounder at the surface;
 
stones of all the kinds
have been left on the beach like fears
 
we must step around.
I choose one - yellow-greenish,
 
sugared with quartz.
Sea-days wear at our edges until
 
we are reconciled to this stranding
and smooth enough to be held in the hand.
 

¯

 

ENTERING APOLLO'S BREAST

 
[After Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’]
 
 
From my bed you watch me undress,
then offer your arms, their tender undersides,
your defenceless belly. This is a welcome so weightless
I cannot name or understand it. I slide in beside you,
irretrievable as sent mail. You fall so easily asleep,
your just-asthmatic breath intimate as whalesong,
a rough cheekbone pressing on my ear,
the soft-shelled bivalves of your hands
closing on my smaller flesh. You hold me
against our separate pasts and this short present.
 
Night opens to the moon. The estuary lies still
as a road, as if there were no undercurrent;
she-oaks trail untroubled at its edge.
There is no place that does not see us;
our secret selves have vanished
like the words they were confessed upon.
You fall so easily asleep. Or, perhaps, are rising.
The light-filled canopy is hung with mist and visions.
Everything is altering. You have opened your arms.
They will be large enough to carry me.

¯

 

AUSTRALIAN

POETRY COLLABORATION

#5

HURSTVILLE

 

FEATURING: Felicity Daphne Baldry, Peter Bowden, Jean Frances, Pam Heard,

 Paula Mckay, Rene L Manning, marny owen & Pat Pillai 

 

 

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Home of the Bidjigal people, Hurstville became a timber felling area for the
newly established town of Sydney in the early 1800's. The township rapidly
grew into a farming community and once the railway arrived in 1884, its
urban development took off.
 
Hurstville is now one of eight regional centres within metropolitan Sydney.
We are located 15 kilometers to the south west of the CBD. Our city is close
to two airports, two major sea ports and traversed by main highways.
Covering an area of 2,460 hectares, the community of over 70,000 residents
has a rich cultural dive arersity with major non-English speaking groups
including Chinese, Macedonian and Greek.

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Felicity Daphne Baldry
Somewhere it happens
 
 
it's only ever in the here and now 
what it is has to reveal itself 
rumbling and roaring 
like a nightmare 
 
what it has to say 
becomes clearer with 
every sleepless sleep 
 
somewhere somehow it happens 
 
and the answers are 
in clouds   baby's spittle 
one derelict's lifeless eyes 
 
looking in that mirror 
becomes a journey 
Sunday's sermon rattles 
(now a headache) 
 
will it happen somewhere 
 
what makes sense 
will it 
dissect the woes   distrust   doubt 
throw them to the wind 
birds feather their nests 
 
allow for everything 
 
 
 
Finders Keepers
 
 
furtively the youngster looks around 
then leans right over the lip 
of the tall container 
her fair cropped hair and torso 
disappear 
 
still visible 
her left hand   holding on 
and left foot   on tippy-toes 
balancing 
right foot in the air   knee bent 
for extra leverage 
 
within seconds she is upright again 
as if she's done this before 
explores her finds 
brushes them off with small fingers 
 
at first   a tentative bite 
followed by 
more substantial ones 
and lengthy chewing 
 
she relishes each mouthful 
 
her plunder   some broken biscuits 
from the schoolyard rubbish bin 

¯

Peter Bowden

THE LIFE I LIVE; THE VERSE I WRITE

 

The life I live,

The verse I write

Come I hope, from a mould

which is forever the same for each

 

Simple, perhaps, not deep,

I write of a searching

The looking for a voice

of what we all can be

 

A belief? a hope? a wish?

Of lives as they can be

But also, I think, I hope,

of lives of love and laughter.

 

But refugees, and politicians, and war

are far from love and laughter

And they are the truth, not hidden,

of my world as it is today

 

So we laugh, and watch the screen

With Big Brother, the reality shows

Like bread and the circuses, and never think

of what the world could be.

 
 
 

Grandpa & the Rest

 

I don’t remember Grandpop

Except for his chamber pot

Out on the lawn by the path

There for weeks before it went.

 

I have an odd and distant memory

Of a shadowed  image in the house

But perhaps I recall the photo, the one

they give us all as kids.

 

The one of him and grandma.

A big man from the photo

Sergeant of police no less

Not a man who’d use a pot.

 

Was it perhaps the other grandpop

Mother’s pa, the one who had the pot?

But he is not even a shadow

I have no memory of him at all.

 

An Inspector of police the first one,

But Sergeant in Taree,

And in a dozen other towns

from the Queensland border down

 

Grandma I remember well

She’s not far from me now.

Musicians hands I had, she told me

A butcher’s was nearer the mark

 

They have gone now, both of them

to the big family grave by the river.

With sons and daughters.

Our aunts and uncles, now long gone

 

Born in those dozen country towns

Here the last to go was Edith, Pops we used to call her

All that now remains are us,

And we are going now too.

 

And when the last of us has gone

We can only hope  their names

are not to be forgotten - , George and Ernie,

Mabel and Toots, Wanda and the rest.

 

Twelve of them, over twenty there are of us

And again the ones who follow us. Then theirs again

- Max and Piper, Chris and Josh , Tom and Fleur -

so many – to remember the big man and us all.

 
¯

Jean Frances

 

After Listening to Jack and Jill on Play School

 

I can't help wondering why

they climbed the hill in the first place

Surely water flows to lower levels

or maybe in this case there was a well up there

 

However I am most interested

in the efficacy of brown paper and vinegar

as a dressing for Jack's wound

Perhaps it could work nowadays

instead of the all-purpose cortisone

 

Though I'm truly sorry for clumsy Jack

and can almost feel his headache

my real sympathy lies with Jill

having to lug a full bucket

down the slope by herself

 

Next time she ought to consider

inviting another boy to join her

 

Maybe Boy Blue with his horn

 

 

Back to the Trees

 

How quiet it must have been

as we swung through branches

or leapt from rock to rock

across a river speechless

with maybe a puff cough

a grunt of satisfaction

or the occasional piercing scream

to ward off predators

 

Now we overflow with sound

words for anger

pain fear and love

whatever that may mean

We talk aloud in our sleep

the haunting speech of dreams

 

You might like to return

take a ride in a time machine

but even with memory

erased by hypnosis

there may still remain

the image of a child

running down a road

with her skin on fire

or a giant bird slicing into a tower

the blinding flash behind your eyes

 

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Pam Heard

Evening Ritual

 

hot water carefully poured

pot-warmed fingers wrapped around

blended leaves infusing

green porcelain of Russian descent

placed delicately on the tray

a soft smile lingers

in anticipation of an evening reading

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Paula Mckay
Dinosaur
 
Somewhere between contentment and anxiety
my grin combines the settled condition
of a woman entirely suited to her lot
and the faded snarl of an exile. 
 
From the comfort of a sagging chair 
I play with words like a she-cat 
toying with her terrified prey 
in the expanding grey of my universe. 
 
Old-age it seems, is a hit-and-miss game 
between the heady laurels of a sage 
and the shuffling steps of the utterly bewildered. 
My reflection tells me 
all I need to know about a changing world. 
 
Home's a dusty place of pictures, books 
mostly out of print, African masks, 
statues of Adonis and heathen gods. 
A creaking ship listing at its mooring. 
 
For exercise I swim in a deep pool of inertia 
buoyed by the constant hope 
I can put off dying for another day. 
 
            
 
Allegory of a Supermarket
after Jorie Graham
 
Faces in the conflux look around, 
bodies push and pass among the crowd.
Those who stand in lines, in groups, alone 
letting the noise wash over them, 
absorbed by the fast, the different, the new. 
 
Those hanging about head-down  
holding onto some one thing. 
Food for worms, for fish or gods. 
Those where the movement is, 
the pulsing, the forward motion, 
letting themselves, like flocks of birds 
(flamingos) gather;  the leaving-behind-of-nests
they've come to feather. 
 
Those with nowhere else to go, 
dreading the walk in solitary streets. 
The lonely, unloved, unlovable. 
Those standing in the light, pointing, lifted, 
up-lifted, music bathing the ears, 
those heads under the water of its sound. 
Specials as tit-bits 
grabbed like worms to beaks. 
Those looking and reaching, squeezing the ripeness. 
Teased or mollified, 
eating the grapes. 
 
Those stopped by an ocean of green 
searching for the guarantees 
grabbing the red, the plastic sheen 
of bread and circus. 
 
Those following their wives, their instincts, 
their imagination, or followed by stalkers, 
store detectives, history, fluff stuck to the heel. 
Time moving over whoever's watching 
from this point-of-sale. 
 
This watching being walked from 
along the maze-like path;  at a glance 
seeing mouths open, lips move, speak. 
Words leaping over their own saying. 
A clutch of words for chicken, egg 
hatching out and up and over into the warm air.
 
This queuing, this paying, this pushing 
this moving-awayness. 
Bells ringing ever-after, ever-after, 
Charon at the check-out. 
                                                           

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Rene L Manning

 

Lepidoptery

           

            Butterflies, familiar with the Way, in olden times

            could nurture philosophical pretensions –

            so Zhuangzi said, a sage not prone to lie.

            These days they’re smarter still:

            they flutter by, wings a-winking,

            then, puffed with power, stamp their feet, sparking

            apocalypse afar, chaos and catastrophes.

 

            But now, regard this lowly grub nearby,

            some ill-begotten spawn, born of unlovely moth –

            what prospects can be fostered for its future ?

            Will it miss out on laurel leaves, only to starve

            on bland rejection snips, at best tempered

            by some emollient turn of phrase ?

            Who knows, it may miraculously moult,

            its imago soaring to Parnassus,

            thence to unending days, not skewered to a board

            but for all time preserved, inside the covers of a book.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                      

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marny owen

 

Home Sweat Home
 
Woman
with the cast-iron complexion and
bakelite breath, life - a layer of enamels
beginning to chip, wit - a jelly-red compote
known to challenge men, constitution
formed by birthing the committee
reflects
on days made difficult by materials.
 
Rust-wreck, chore-torn
break-your-heart materials.
Pure-white linens, just asking for a stain
mocking every hand-stitch
straining relationship like those
massive pans and pots, shocking
always dirty, black and greasy.
Did your back in.
 
Life was ever kitchen-busy
kettle whistle, baby cry.
She'd counter grime
in a steam sweat
tackle adversities
revealed at her table
and dream with the dishes
to rise above them.
 
Why did she suffer like all the rest?
Fenced in by pride and the culture of inside.
Nothing really lasts like the laughter of a child.
She lives for family to come again, play the games
but knowing this is wishful, fills her world
with water pots for the birds
waits for grass to grow
and sinks in the past
with a worn-terrazzo look
and tired-metal edges.

 

¯

Pat Pillai 

Dragons vs. Tigers

 

he stood flat footed on the wing, waiting

and I am away with the barnstorming daredevils

standing on the wing, waiting for take off

 

Finch, sure footed, attempts a field goal

sure footed, not flat footed

sure that the pilot will slip us somehow through

that skin which contains the sky

 

ref halts play

we taxi on one  wheel

 

video ref will check for body contact

between body and contact there is out of body

 

flying goggles define the shape of the field

white lines are like cave drawings on your back

 

 

Coast Walk

 

a lizard slides backwards from the path

flicks a forked tongue

mirage shifts

the sun bites hard

 

I am walking on the cliffs

where sandstone cradles a curved ocean

banksias hunch

their blackened pods hurled down

birthed by fire and water

I want to lie down here and drink from rain pools

I want to lie down now

allow salt ghosts

etch caverns

 

 

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AUSTRALIAN POETRY

COLLABORATION

#6

SYDNEY
 
 
FEATURING: Carolyne Bruyn, Michelle Carter, 
Helen Chambers, Dougie Herd, Esme Morrice, 
Michael Roberts, Mary Rose & Brenda Saunders

 

 

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Carolyne Bruyn

 

Mme. Weather

 

Moisture draws to its gathering point

and is pulled up and up into cloud mass

herded by a warm wind into identity.

Like a giant wheel she begins to turn

slowly   slowly    looking harmless

a low someone in an Institute alone

is monitoring closely.

 

The satellite picture is contained

on his small screen but he can hear

the siren’s song. Stormsurge builds.

Disturbs peaceful inlets and beachside cafes.

Cars float out to sea on torrential roads.

 

Desire stirs. He knows these waters well,

all the reefs are charted.

He cannot be held responsible for

this cloaked unknown

this invasion of lust.

She’s coming, single-minded,

straight for him.  Moaning

he rises to meet her

hands flat against the screen.

Helpless.

 

Mind bent double like palms

along the boulevard

he begs for her frenzy.

The limits of desire hypnotise

as one eyewall spinning clockwise

thrills him under the stiletto

of her psychotic progress.

 

When demand seems spent

he looks into the stillness

of her mean

where only his breath can be heard

or his heart

pounding like heavy metal

 

until, blasting out of the clear screen

of his fragile hope

the other eyewall slams in

counter clockwise

intent on what civilisation hoped

she would spare.

The screen goes black.

He sobs for her disdain as she puts down

turns back on herself

everything skewed on the first pass.

 

 

¯

Michelle Carter

Exile

 

to ride the curved fronds

of rain-splashed palms

with nothing but

exiled eyes

to cut through

mannacled vines

to moult

like the sunburnt skin

of a gum tree

wounds flayed exposing

an ivory gleam

to drown in the truth

of gardens

as rain glistens silver

on a ripple of green

to feel like a panther

in an auditorium

like a cripple

on a glass mountain

to enter my heart

the arc of a bird

landing

to fly from my pain

an entire flock

migrating

 

there’s a shiver

beyond sky 


stretched like a graft

the mottled clouds

cicadas hum

their generosity tireless

a whipbird hides

in coils of lantana

his serrated tongue

hyphenates each

gentle stanza of dusk

its verdant syllables

multi-lingual

metaphysical

its fragrant leaves

 

¯

Helen Chambers

 

Refugee Intake Quota 1994

 

I visit with Lily

to taste coffee,

sometimes rich cake eaten with teaspoons.

Tethered breasts drop at table level

as she reaches for another cigarette.

Her olive skin

has grown thick with mothering.

 

Lily talks of Algiers,

of the mother who died last year,

the house on the Adriatic Coast

before that war.

You don't know me she says

I've been like an animal.

 

                                   

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Dougie Herd

 

The first black man in Scotland

 

What boys we were

and innocents.  Too young

but not quite young enough

to hide from truth.

And so we sheltered

where we could

behind the sideboard

in the kitchen

of that ‘room and kitchen’

in the grey east end

of no mean city

where he lived and worked

and died, the day

the first black man

in Scotland came to call.

 

A man as black as ebony.

Young with tight, black hair.

Obsidian eyes in pools of white. 

And yellow palms.

His voice like velvet.

 

We watched in awe,

eavesdropped from our haven

as he told our father’s mother

how her husband fell,

redundant legs that buckled

as he clutched his chest,

and raised a hand forlornly

to clasp the outstretched arm

of the first black man

in Scotland, who caught him

as he tumbled down to God

while they waited in a queue

for a bus that never came.

 

And as my father thanked

the first black man in Scotland,

then showed him to the door,

my father’s widowed mother

crossed the floor

to hold her hiding grandsons

in her arms.  And weeping,

with all colour drained out

of an empty, ghost-like face,

she said, oh boys, your

granda’s never coming home.

 

And we were mystified

but now a lifetime less

than innocent and lost

for words enough to say

what mattered on that day

the first black man in Scotland

came to tell the story

of our father’s father’s end.

 

But only this truth struck us

as we held on tight: 

We said, that man was black.

And she said, yes, my boys.

- God bless him.

 

¯

 

Esme Morrice

I remember the winter land,

the snow was very deep

on the east coast of England,

the snow was blue/white asleep.

My scarf and coat were warm,

as were the blankets on my bed.

A bird is singing somewhere, it sounds forlorn,

it's Mother calls, it flies away, so it can be fed!

 

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Michael Roberts
Rain
 
Needles the road - frying.
Newborn bellyfull globules of silver cellulite
flop from rooftop gutters, slap
into the pavement below - bacon fat pops.
Drain-pipes cluck.
Crystal weaves nestle, tired hardened gutters.
 
Cars hiss.
The wind wheezes, lifts windowpanes to tantrum and,
the rippled road with neon bleed graze
plays host to two sets of front wheels tearing...
rain lightens.
Flecks of dandruff drift downward through the honey glazed air of streetlight.
At irregular regular intervals,
lollypop whistles rise and fall and,
whoop and whirl across the city.
 
Cool air dances at my shins.
¯
 

                           Mary Rose

          The Colours of Love

 

Love is like a pretty rainbow,

Or lovely flowers in the meadow,

For it comes in many colours,

Orange, violet, indigo,  

Blue, green, red and yellow.

 

 

Love is blue,

When I am not with you,

When I cause you pain,

And heartaches too.

 

Love is yellow,

When I shine and glow

For whatever I do or wherever I go,

Your love for me will surely follow.

 

Love is green,

In summer, fall, winter or spring,

For the smile you give me each morning,

Fills my day with joy till evening.

 

Love is red, deep and strong

It keeps no record of things that went wrong,

Can forgive, though the list of hurts is long,

Will even turn faults into a wonderful song.

 

Love is violet, indigo or orange,

Colours that may seem strange,

But one sure thing that will not change,

That’s the love I have for you, sincere,

    pure and true.

 
¯

Brenda Saunders

Knots

 

 

After the massage

I’m ironed out

ready for

           the week ahead

           and the

           ties that bind.

 

One woman’s hands

bound and slit

never open

to the pain

and the

new day.

 

Another screams

at the night

her short fuse

knotted

for the

heavenly needle.

 

A daughter

leaves a note

on the fridge.

Cuts ties.

           

And the face of

the mother

 

in the morning.

 

 

¯
#7
 
AUSTRALIAN 
POETRY COLLABORATION
 
WAGGA WAGGA 
&
BROKEN HILL
 
 
FEATURING: Joan Cahill, Catherine Edwards, Barbara De Franceschi, 
David Gilbey, Grace Hawes, Pauline Haynes, Jana Hlavica, 
Geoff Sanders & Marvis Sofield

 

 

 

¯¯¯

 

BROKEN HILL

¯

Barbara De Franceschi

 

Stretch of Dirt

 

The smell of boiled mutton    

tossed in stench-

outside lavatories,

rancid earthiness

steaming from fresh horse dung,

odorise a forgotten back lane

sculptured on canvas.

Clamorous brush strokes 

stir emotional surges,

flaky faces    dandruff images

unwind in freeze frames.

 

Sunshine prances hair

washed in carbolic soap

uncovers poverty

amongst weedy undergrowth.      

Rubbish tins spill their guts,

summer wind spreads its rumours-

brownish puffs

against a blood churned sky.

Children loiter in dobs of colour

like specks of dirt, tough and gritty.

 

Sticks and stones

couldn’t break their bones

but names unwrapped

meagre parcels of pride.

 

Sheds made from kerosene tins      

compress history.

Lysaght’s orb,

the blue stamp on corrugated iron

gives its approval to graffiti tallied sweethearts

fornicating body parts.

My tongue wants to skid across vibrant oils

lick quince jam from hot scones

whilst straining to hear jovial accusations

spread amongst clumsy drunks,   

fruit tree bandits with bulging shirt fronts.

 

A collage preserved in a thicket of bedlam    

so descendants of blue orbs and kero tins

… might float.  

¯

Grace Hawes

Billy

 

A stripling,

tall, thin, ungainly,

teetering on the edge of manhood

innocent, unaware, vulnerable.

 

He sings.

His voice is joyful.

The old ballads come to life,

we listen spellbound.

 

But that was yesterday.

The years pass, we go our ways

to work, love, learn,

caught in the intricate web of life.

 

Today I saw his death notice.

Loving husband-

beloved father,

caring grandfather.

 

All this is foreign to me.

I only remember

a gangly boy,

singing.

¯

Pauline Haynes

RELENTLESS SEA  SAT 17TH JULY 2004  3AM

 

 

Sky covered by clouds of dark grey

Hiding the sun away

Come with me

Down to the sea

 

The wind stirs the water high

Rolling in Rolling in

Churning the salt to foam

Frothing depositing on the sands

 

Bringing the ocean spoils

To deposit on the beach

Ocean trying hard to clean herself

Of seaweed by the tonne

 

Glistening bustamite mineral sands

A crab claw or two

All pretty and blue

Broken moorings

 

The wind blows stronger

The sea’s rough and choppy…now

Moving dark clouds

Ever forward

 

Time to run

Too late

She’s about to

Pelt down

¯

Jana Hlavica

CABIN FEVER DREAM
 
If I walk and walk
into the wedge 
between horizon and sky 
            will I be
                        crushed into the ground
                        drawn over the edge?
 
I stand but not very high
the pebble redness
            niggled
                        by half-dead saltbush
                        the flicker from a desert kite’s wing
            vastened
                        by hollow music
                        the crooked mulga hums.
 
Let there be 
            no edge
            no other side.
Let there be only one kind of time

the Now.

 

 

¯

Geoff Sanders

Roads Scholar

 

The flat grey ribbon

unwinds, uncaring

outruns always

to link, welcome, unite

 

then to mock

by measurement

cool drinks and sandwiches

full of kilometres

 

on the horizon

gooseflesh trees, tease

a long dry creek bed

count the kangaroos, kids.

 

The flat grey ribbon daunts

divides, separates

territorial visitation

validate or veto

 

vexation, vacation

what a nation

states, flaunt sovereignty

petrol rises nationally on public holidays.

¯

Marvis Sofield

Black diamond man.

 

I am under skies so violent

exposed by storm

bellied

beneath the light show

you bequeathed me

 

how confounding

to feel for you

over this much time

 

cold fire across horizons

your memory

is shiny hard

you so intransient

and I still bolted to this

earth by your leaving

 

you still take up place

inhabit me with an ability

to burn bright

sear tight

scar again.

clear boned crisp

incendiary 

you still

inscribe me

 

picture me at night

x rayed upon my bed

open to the

memory of

your coal black eyes.

 

¯

WAGGA WAGGA

 

 

Joan Cahill

DRIVING TO ADELAIDE

 

 

                                     ‘You’re a long time dead’

                                     my husband used to say.

                                    

                                     We travel west, my brother & I,

                                     talk about waterlogged, over used words

                                     ‘World peace’ has forsaken earth

                                     and ‘live and let live’

                                     the sound of an empty bomb.

 

                                     The concept is abandoned,

                                     the future no longer influenced.

                       

                                     His car is large and embracing

                                     temperature controlled

                                     The landscape is rich,

                                     I doze,

                                     awaken to a change in gear.

                                    

                                     This time the cliche grabs me

                                     with its original intention intact.

                                    

                                     The known but not expected,

                                     the expected but unknown

                                     slides into view.

                                     ‘What is that?’

                                     confronted by grey crusty wastelands.

                                    

                                      ‘Greening Australia’ slams into my psyche

                                     with the clang of truth.

 

                                     ‘That’s what salt does’ he says.

                                                                                    

¯

Catherine Edwards

 

ROADSERVICE

 

If you visit my room

and absentmindedly

lock your keys in your car

I shall have to drive you home

and with you there beside me

your knee another gearstick

I shall have to slide my hand

up your leg glance at your eyes

hear you stop breathing

lower my voice and

(no good Samaritan me)

I shall have to pull over

and have you there beside the road

tear your shirt back and bite

your nipple and as your breathing changes

push my fingers under your skirt

up into the sweet wetness

pull you over onto me

your cries as I push into you

wild----

 

I should have made you walk.

 

¯

David Gilbey

Syzygy

 

This transit of Venus is barely visible

and even those who get close to the telescope

at Sydney Observatory

have difficulty seeing these fallopian clots,

nutmeg spotting custard.

 

As if actually experiencing it in person

makes the universe more real, more connected,

like a newborn Billy Graham crusader

having freshly taken Jesus as his Saviour

scoping the world’s sorrows.

Christ! The arrogant illusion

of personalised authenticity.

 

Trepidation of the spheres, wrote Donne

though greater farre is innocent.

And yet some things were yoked

without violence together that night:

 

walking our dog in the dark streets,

a young man talking on his mobile phone

stopped as he recognised the old mutt –

our daughter’s voice from 500km away

trailing from the exposed earpiece.

 

¯

 

 

 

 

 

AUSTRALIAN POETRY

COLLABORATION

#8 Featuring
the poetry of 
Mark S. Leabeater
From his new collection
Flash White vs the Bag of Nails
(dadadata, 2005)
 

¯¯¯

"Leabeater's poems blind us with their luminescence. He uses every stroke on the keyboard to forge poems of great dexterity and inventiveness." Alan Jefferies

 

¯

.
Flash White vs the bag of Nails or Leabeater’s 1st volume Prismatic Navigation  can be ordered from Dadadata Press at 3/105 ebley st Bondi Junction NSW Australai 2022  for $13 (AUD) which includes postage.
There are 3 CD's available, each 70 mins plus, all up comprising the entire contents of the book Prismatic Navigation. "Lazily spoken psychotropical poetry overlaying soundscapes of unworldly ambiant, rock, jazz and sound effects from wildly ranging environments."
CD 1 = Book 1: Metal Night.  CD 2 = Books2,3: Phoenix Max, Freefall & Tapestry.
CD 3 = Book 4: Posthistory.
Each CD same as above price, or $30 with pris nav book inc. (or $35 posted in aust.)
Pris. Nav. - the book alone is same price as flash white.

 

¯

Alive again,

"Now this is living!"  i remember saying

of the wireless life/ unencompassed,

as i flew feet first over

the sleeping town, the many

houses i had lived in,

the people there i knew, their

particular addresses,

their most natural faces

 

alive again

in our college days

when the wireless life/ was all aspiration,

all good possibilities, none bad/

when any of every imaginably desirable path

spread out all ahead fully

amazing/ly unencompassed/ that is:

exponential potential...

 

before reality

got in front of it all (as it must do)

 

and here we come &/ there we go again,

opening & closing/ doors so long long time

no longer there/ go clapping by under

my nightflying feet

 

feeling the warm dark, a summer night

 

a diffusion of voices 

through my body like Beethoven

music, and out through the top of my head

the hours/ days/ the years flew

inside me/ shot right through me               

jet viscerally

through my years

faster

and faster

 

  until such ever acceleration

tore the sail of the dream,

and the un-dreamer sprang  up

in/to (the rattling room) split second before

the cyclone force 7

from heaven

exploded (((the window)))

 

and the glass between waking and dreaming

intricately fallen & windchimes to

so delicately/ this incidental view:

 

a sliver crescent/ moon slung below

the star of mysterium (or i think it's Mars)

out there beyond midnight, 

and touchable/ who knew.


¯

Artist in the round

world

roundabout turning

only

to turn this rim world's local & temporal 

structure into truth & beautiful

streaks of confluence

the It

the pretty amazing

 

Sitting in that old fashioned

X  legs

way

at the legless axis

of Eternity

until

 

don't

 

even say

 

a thing

until

 

yv got something to say, don't

 

put a fish in a tree or a

bird in the sea, that's

been done before

 

(reaches into the whirling mass of skies,

selects a silhouette twig, and

on mirror coloured waters, draws):

"an uneven heaven not even

thinly disguised"

 

and by, and by

all this haven endures under human                                                                         

picnic tracks,

so

if anyone should ask you what yr doing/

said

nothing (as the easy river & the breezes)

(as therefore also simply)

whatever i want to do

 

(and that's the why

the sitting here quietly

musing

this day & away,       

anyway)

 

 

 

 

 


¯

wanted: laboratory rat

 

wanted: "laboratory rat"...

may as well try for an interview

as any other of these

squares in the evening post

just make me feel sick

as a sheet fed machinist

or a butcher/ or a

plastic film extrusionist

or an

(arborist?) experienced person wanted to poison trees...

 

and i'm sure

all this planet needs

is another growth industry.

 

 

¯

THE HYDRA stared straight at me and

across the many ways,

and said:

a symbol/ knew just what it meant/ said  <<*>>

"Get right

inside the mythologies, Max,

feel like yr

going through

some changes?

you can

cut off my head

& i'll just grow another one,

cut off my head i've got

any many more;

head me off at the pass & i

know the other way, i'm

yr best inter

ests at heart, cruised in velvet

at the end of the bone bruising

day...

 

...you/ can

cut off yr nose/ to

spite yr face, you can

plead ignorance, you can

walkabout in grace/ & never

know it

yet

 

i'm yr many lives/ yr nexus wife &

the ganglion of yr passions"

 

said the Hydra on the path.

 

 

 

¯

Satellite

modern pyramid

high the pinnacle

of a gritty swarming gridded world

glinted spacious a spire

yon charged

imagination on

telescopical spindle of fire

 

reached at least above the stratosphere

and at best beyond expectation

 

in the simultaneous universe

 

a sensational aerial begins transmitting

snapshot

photo imprints of 'something':

seamless

light from unhuman event

so far away, this light has taken

all of time to cross

the crescent of timespace/ the simultaneity

> at the speed of light >

via all frontier/ out there...

(the techs gather around a monitor)

could that really be ?

could that really be ?

'the origin of the universe'...

 


¯

Max's psychedelic dream

 

i see a living human undead skeleton/ a vine,

mine own/ icon of im(and/or)mortality, entwined~

riding high

on a heavingly ginormous slug.  the slug is knowledge.

 

the skeleton's like of chrome,

or sometimes/ these wind chiming bones

are transluscent, a wine bright 

like of glass blown with a constant &

sweetly moving

warm internal light.

 

some other times

these bones are just/

are only a dirty

opaque decaying &

scar/red bundle not even white/ they're grey.

 

>>  there's a canvas face glued on/ the death's head

darker skeleton, 

and it's painted/ roughly

with the features of your own,

 

and always reaching, one boney arm/

one hand/ one palm

stretched high & wide/

which like the face is tattooed

with all archetypal images/ of a perfect life

imperfectly expressed/

reaches ungraciously

up & out, to outer space,

only as a significant banner

of the journey penetrating

into space,

or

the ponderously slow motionly                                                     

joining up of the invisible dots...

and the why? is completely invisible

too.

 

the landscape is the tangerine empty

seething void of potentialities,

landforms shiftingly implied,

and the snail trail across it

is self evidently... the silver thread... of what is actual

                                              ...is intersected/ threaded

with the trails of untold other riders/ "all together now"

creating the whole ...wide world of ...known forms ...as we go

 

...but we're also always/ leaving the known world behind us...

 

the slug, the slug is knowledge

- a wild & difficult beast to ride, in this dream -

with no saddle provided...

 

slimy & unstable, the slug

it knows no underlying structure but what it

leaves behind it...

therefore

the slug is perfect/ adaptation itself...

 

the godslug & i

only slither until:

to see what will happen, when

these bones finally, faithfully...

 

...these bones, it seems, (the evidence: trails ending/ desicated

end-of-line meltdowns/ of rider only, or worse; and trails restarted after the meltdowns are complete...) these bones mine own & their

 protean (eyeless, earless, why?less, origins unsaid) silent mount

 

are constructed of the same being

silver threads

as:

is the trail...


¯

Romance under nature.

~See saw & cycle clock

womb and fallow/ under night of new moon                    

the closed flowers of the day blooming tree...

                                                                                  

~See saw & cycle pendulum

pea/cock hanging for action

struts right up to the saxophone dawn blowing

frenzy/ the mind of a thief crowing:

"the day will be ours" in

the time being/ spring...                                         

 

~See saw & cycle starchart reasons spin the devices, see

the diversity of the seasons the same & slightly

different every year, the swing orbital

see saw & cycle

planet wound up to/ encircle Inferno,

at the dawngate again of the first day of spring

the feathered cloud human optic/ bursts into wing

soaring tropic: the stereoscopic

both eyes open

see by night &

see by day

the running empires over/ some lost amazonia

sunning like all becoming, the while

reverse swastika wheels within

sky of symbols within the sky revealing

the cunning subplots under/ galactic laughter gunning

the insensible rush of the comet

on its

long, ineluctable ellipse

O                                                 grazed                                            the blue/black sky,

                                                                                                                               blazed                  

                                     

the obliviously miraculous

romance under nature

 ...mirabile dictu...               

un and even

(under nature) the ancient romance

 

 

                                                                                                   

                      


¯

Star

 

flower,

 

 

*

 


¯

MYSTERY FLIGHT

 

Seated comfy in an aeroplane

cabin/ varnished woodgrain

cabinet, leather & silver/

an old world DC 3...

& there's me

sipping a martini/

dreaming reality~

 

~yep, that's me... apparently

traversing the Transvaal/ out there/ down there/

or then it's the Nullabor ("very dry,

with an olive"/ghost dry rivers. "Yes, wow, look at that,

and thank you, looks great, very much.")

& I look clean & ...definitely going somewhere... 

nonchalant/ly/ confident/ly... (Hawaiian flower

loose tourist shirt &...

 

um, yeah...)

...until i realise/ freeze-frame-sudden/ moment-across-the-world/ that i don't know where...

like/ i mean, like no idea,

like: i don't know where i'm going

to...

...like there is no/ it's a blank piece of paper/

there's no destination/ on my ticket/ um...

 

...looking out again/ looking out there... what's new? Looks like 

some sorta/ anyway it's like never before,

night & day simultaneously, and like

it's ever new, like it's a balloon

expansion of the world i used to knew,

like it's become the world at large/

galaxies are spinning catherine wheels out there

beyond the naked eye, and

down there... down there... sometimes great cities are uninhabited.

And the ants down there, i know they can't see

what i see from the air, i see

the old cities below the new.

 

Sometimes...  are you seeing this? down there

the Himalayas are

blooming/ light & shade/ flowers (pushing up/ like people)

down there...

 

every! time i look/

an entirely different landscape, down there/ looking up at me...

 

(dipper riding/ weaving via,           now

monsoon/ season of drifting

islands/     towering anvil     cloud islands)     

and i,

 

finally i notice, from this

window seat be/hind a wing ~

 

the wing/s are feathered ~

 

slow sweeping  ~~~~~~~~~  they're flapping!

This bird is dreaming

(swooping low now, over tangled green Ankor lost jungle/mpire)

anti-gravity feelings... and the displacement spells me

i am here /so very here/ this poem/ this fragile/ moment

before we wake/ following the cracks

branching out from the primary fractures,

surreal & jumble history/s emerging

in rapid transit

= these mysteries in flight  ~

 


¯

GREEN JESUS

 

Born from the bleeding wounded

green jesus

run between

the crossfire guns the shot ruins

the domino towers of material fortitude

under sphere of the magnitude X

ink bleeds

cold designs from undone tomes

where no footprint

tests the endurance of the savage steady rain

falling fingers

living running dying crawling

sprawling finger roots are prying

underneath the sullen black earth

the golden earth

digests 

heroic blood & dynasty history

so softly so softly

away & away &

...low thunder:

kyrie  eleison...

the incantation

of a rain spun bell.

 

 

 

 

¯

 
 
AUSTRALIAN POETRY
COLLABORATION
 
#9
SYDNEY
 
A selection from some of those attending  a workshop 
at the NSW Writers’ Centre in February 2005. 
 
NSW Writers' Centre
 
FEATURING: Larissa Davisson Farrell , Rosalie Fishman,
Pam Scoble & Julie Waugh
 

¯¯¯

¯

Larissa Davisson Farrell

 

COLD

 

 

I feel cold inside.

Cold and dead.

Cold as deep space, zero kelvin.

Dead like the dark side of the moon.

Something may have dwelt there once,

but long since fell

to utter silence

and desolation.

 

A void yawns where fire danced.

Frozen, stony,

warmth long extinguished,

I miss the spark in me that gave me light.

 

I walk with hooded eyes.

So very cold.

Mare Tranquillitatis.

Nobody notices,

no one can see me

and I can't come back.

¯

 

Rosalie Fishman

On Hold

 

Write, words

Images of aching faces

Death’s background

Frayed nerves

 

Some,      those most desperate             trying to connect in

Feeble pleading tones

How are you?

I rang to see how you are ….

Oh! tired!      yes well of-course

They profess in knowing tones that

       Hold the secret of their paining            not yours.

 

And then the other

Projecting her fear of loss         of you

The unnamed protector

Dependency an irksome, wearying bond

 

And still more

Holding forth in duty’s voice

 

 

Write, words

Images - an enema up the bun

Inserted by white snapped hospital gloves

 

And we laugh,

The ache in that not so great

So go home dear love

You irritate

I’m comfy clean in this

sterilized place

 

Tomorrow I may well want to run

But for now dear love

Go home           give me at least that peace of mind

 

 

Write, words

Images, hurried steps

Down nurse lined corridor floors

 

He’s gone                they just took him down

The officious palm raised chest high

Silencing the scream that never came

 

I was meant to kiss him goodbye

Sat in the car

Cried behind outwardly nonplussed eyes

Streets of jittering cars in peak hour’s race

Asking what now?

 

Oh yes another task to be done

 

 

I’ll be back

Sweet smiled

No one need ever know

The little deaths faced

 By the one who waits

¯

              

 Pam Scoble

Hours

Pacing dismal corridors

Heat packs againsts  an aching stomach

Cringing, contractions

Squatting gripping bed posts, coming up slowly

Warm water embraces, relaxing cramping pains

"Epidural"

Back on the birthing bed crouching in doggie fashion

30 hours gone

A baby's head emerges

Welcome Zachary.

 

 

¯

Julie Waugh 

 

 

 

buddha science

 

 

atoms nudged     drifting 

swirled and coelescing 

inevitable inductees into clouds 

shapeless to an ordinary eye 

but heavy with becoming 

   now a hand that clutches 

   now a blade of grass 

reborn again into suffering 

 

    wanted: personal trainer for nirvana 

    commitment essential 

    no attachment necessary 

 

this think-thing 

this unsouled virtuality 

illusionary     impermanent 

shadowed or enriched 

by death threats 

at least no longer grasping 

half a century in bad faith 

revolving in a connection 

with common couch and velvet buffalo 

 

the Dalai Lama smiles 

he is someone I could believe in 

could pray to 

but he would only shake his head 

and laughing 

remind me that he is just a farm boy 

who gets constipated when crossing time lines

 

 

¯

 

 

Les Wicks collated the work following workshops in 2005.

Thanks go to:

 

NSW Writers’ Centre.
 

 

¯

 

 

 

 

 

MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.

APC is an occasional anthology.

¯

AUSTRALIAN POETRY
COLLABORATION
 
#10
 
SOUTH COAST NSW
A vibrant necklace of communities
from Wollongong to Eden.
 
This is a selection from some of those attending  workshops 
in June/July 2005.
 
South Coast Writers' Centre
Lit link
Bega Valley Writers
 
FEATURING: Anna Buck, Jennifer Dickerson, John Egan, Allan Gibson, 
Susan McCreery, Sue Newhouse,  Monique Watt, Mary Whitby & Irene Wilkie
 

 

 

¯¯¯

Anna Buck

Jon’s place

 

A fox went through the vineyard at dusk

 its cry harsh, grating, a repeated taunt

that raised hackles on the cat’s back. 

 

Almonds shells scrunched underfoot

the crop had dropped, harvested only by

birds; beyond vines stretched,  parallel

rows curving up towards the low hills

 

over which a curved sliver of moon

hung,  a great purple streak 

separating it and the ground

as if a field of Patterson’s

Curse grew upside down.

 

The cry roused mourners listening to

Creedence Clearwater  looking out

 your back door beyond the lights’glow;

 

the black and white Tom crouched

by the dam fought being brought

to safety clawed at the head and arms

of your widow; later she cried

in the narrow kitchen, put tea tree oil

on the wounds that showed.

 

The cat would rather wait for you

in dry leaves under the moon,

eyes dilated at the fox’s approach

than be shut in the house, safe,

searching for your touch.

¯

Jennifer Dickerson

ITALIAN MORNING

 

Some people are up already.

 sun spreading stealthy fingers through

 my gentle night curtains.

 Noise, a garbage truck is munching its way into

 collected rubbish in the street.

 Repetitious the sparrow trapped on one note

 seeks anxiously a tone deaf mate.

 Grass confettied thick with dew

 glints like a carpet of marcasite.

 Bees foraging in clover heads

 uplifted looking to the light.

 The day's soft early Umbrian dawn

 awakes the earth from blue night dreams

 transforms rain on nasturtiam leaves

 makes every drop a zircon gleam

 Beyond the wall the reaching vines

 suck up sun for fulsome grapes,

 join arms in a one-legged Zorba dance

 across the fertile land

 Distant I hear the Sunday bells

 calling  children in to pray.

 time enough

 to open  my eyes and know the day.

 

¯
John Egan
Cello Concerto
 
               From the belly
               of the cello
               rings the great requiem
               for all those millions dead
 
               and Elgar's
               yearning theme
               for the years
               before 1914.
 
               A rolling adagio
               of hills and valleys
               for the green lands
               and the lost.
 
               The plaintiff sob,
               the pain
               for what the century
               could have been
               but never was.
 
               The song
               of Verdun, Passchendaele
               and the Somme,
 
               the raising up of flags
               and in cold trenches
               the cutting down of lives.
 

¯

Allan Gibson

28.7.05

THE HORSE FORGAVE ME.

 

Why is he so angry?

What have I done?

I feel surrounded.

I’ve seen it in the movies –

the horses.

 

 

 

 

hot day heavy work

the tiredness inside me

time for a Bex

and a lie down

What?

What have you done!

Is he going to punish me?

Don’t like being the centre of it all.

What did I do wrong?

I’ve seen it in the movies -

dancing horses with shorn manes.

 

Dad, normally quiet and calm –

so angry.

The horse and he

overwhelmingly filled the scene.

Me – bewildered.

Oh,  they don’t  shave the fringe,

it keeps flies out of their eyes.

Is he going to hit me?

No - its over,

we’re away.

 

That afternoon is still alive,

the horse standing quiet,

trusting me.

My sense of excitement, pride:

expecting approval.

 

 

Dad never mentioned it again

and the horse forgave me.

 


 

¯

Susan McCreery

Other Lovers
 
 
shine in their skin - linked
christmas lights at midnight.
 
 
Meet in the kitchen
like pots of tea, warm and bellyful.
 
 
But we sit in this barren space,
this counselling room,
parched as bones on a gibber plain
picked at by scorpion malice,
and wonder how we came to roles
in such a worn-out play.
 
 
Other lovers
have a one-way flow,
their smiles glint
in the broad morning light.
 
 
We wake to a sickly dawn
and fear for our children.
¯

 

Sue Newhouse

Pleasure Lea Park Estate

From the tablelands
we’ve followed down a trail
to a full blown blooming
in easy country

in a land’s end of honey

for a while we run old tracks

but the brain soon nods
though there’s a bird in every flower
on every latticed fence
and all night and all day the waves break

comfortably

there’s sometimes an unhealthy gleam

a pallor behind the brightness

there’s a need for wariness
and never too far
there’s the subsurface
unexpected

this is Pleasure Lea Park

where it’s compulsory to be happy

but sorrow lilies grow

and every so often
behind closed doors
a bolt gives

a young man hangs himself from a stairwell

the debt collector calls

we must keep busy
must keep busy

Monday, keep fit class
pick you up at ten
Tuesday, keep fit class

we can miss the cry for help

and the fine detail

that so much colour sits on tiny finches

that with the honey

come subtleties of grey

                         
¯

Monique Watt

Cabra flats ‘79

 

Up and down McBurney Road
short sharp arguments above/ below.
Plastic chopsticks clack on woks,
Garry plays Mull O’Kintyre (again)
and Tito’s chasing kids with a
dead mouse on a stick.
His sister’s Miroslava (round and quiet).
(Everybody knows their dad wears a toupee
and sleeps in Miroslava’s room).
 
Marica and Anica perform Dancing Queen
for Red S shoppers walking home
while Dutch twins play doctors with
Law ‘n Miroslava in the toilet ‘round the back.
Zelco (friend of Tito)’s spitting choc-
biscuit missiles from the front yard fence.

 

Eva’s doing handstands
(teasing those girls with hairy pits).
Lady up the road sends a kid to
The Rainbow for a pack of Winfield Blue
with change for a Sunny Boy.
 
Miroslava’s mum is at the kitchen window.
She’s stuffing boiled eggs, mince and black eyed olives
into the pliant shells of tonight’s empanadas.

 
¯

Mary Whitby

 

                                                             harsh ringing

                                                              news of a break-up

                                                             a marriage gone

                                                             into yesterday

                                                             just four months old

                                                             blame wanders about

                                                             landing on who

                                                             or what

                                                             sinks

                                                             finding no substance

                                                             but dark corners

                                                             of tears

                                                             daughter’s pain

                                                             twists mother’s face

                                                             as she struggles to understand

                                                             a new-found son’s betrayal

                                                             white tulle promises

                                                             just candy floss on paper flowers

                                                             with wafting gestures of love

                                                             all in pieces

                                                             as confetti on the wind

                                                             is blown into the past

                                                             leaving only the rain

¯

Irene Wilkie

galactic spiders
 
it's the threat that blisters the skin
the unwanted promises
certain or not
the maybes    the possibilities
eat the neurones
 
at first    people hide
at home    a comfortable den
a bolt hole    perhaps safe
but not impregnable
 
really it is only a cardboard box
lined with cotton wool
blocking off the outside wind
but no barrier
to television warnings every minute
to be vigilant
about bombs
abandoned bags
 
see how sniffer dogs run over them
unsuspecting
 
then there's the new  thing
about gelignite suicides
about body parts needing identification
and that old fright    nuclear war
is rising up again
which could engulf
the boxes    the towers    the nightclubs
the tubal trains    in a single atom split
 
we have seen the creations
of atomic blast
the faces stiff with charcoal
the glowing skeletons
we have seen them already
 
it's more than inconvenience
the flinching of the spine at fears
sterner than summer hail pitting the car
or fire melting the shed
or  the  clout of  waterspout sucking  yachts
it's more than these
 
 
 
the story's bleak and the people know its meaning
they scratch their skins with their sharp nails
until the pain is greater than the dread
 
then finally they don't care    saying the plot
is bigger than all of them
galactic spiders
out of control are spinning
always spinning
hot webs of designer steel
 
the clunking squeals    the  metallic jaws
are quite believable
there could be no escape
 
so they stop
people stop heeding  newspapers
radios     televisions
 
some walk unprotected on spiky dangerous tracks
some wear good luck amulets
some fly out to galaxies
anyway
 
though their knotted hearts protest
people hear
but they no longer listen

 

¯

 
AUSTRALIAN POETRY
COLLABORATION
#11
SYDNEY and
NOWRA
 
This is a selection from some of those attending workshops 
in August/September 2006.
 
FEATURING: Kate Bannatyne, Sue Castrique, Margaret Collett, Jennifer Dickerson,
Betty Johnston, Keturah Jones, Chere Le Page, Susan McCreery, 
Margaret Marks Wahlhaus, Irene Wilkie and Ron Wilkins
 

PREVIOUS ISSUES

 

¯¯¯

Kate Bannatyne

 

The Destination Board

 

 

You knew the poetry

of taking me to yellow fields

and telling me to hush

and listen

to the sweet corn grow.

 

You knew the majesty

of the Byzantine stars

floating gold in indigo

on the vast

above our eyes.

 

You knew the drama

of the midnight dash

to catch a tired express

that could take

a month of summers.

 

And you knew the stories

that would come

from the whistle and thrum

on the platform

of your life question:

 

Where shall we go today? 

¯

 

Sue Castrique

At the Reef

 

This business of preparing for dark

starts with the noddy terns

criss-crossing the air

like sharp black tailor's scissors

snipping away at silk.

They shriek along horizon's chalk

rip back and up

unpickers, a hundred of them                     

shredding the twilight til it hangs

in the new spic threads of

night's dark lapis suit.

¯

 

Margaret Collett

GUEST HOUSES, COUNTRY TOWNS

 

They have names like Bimbadene or

The Spires.

They are elderly,

the paint sometimes left to peel.

There are ‘spacious and elegant grounds.’

Professional couples go there to get away.

Cars crunch to towards reception

over a biscuit base driveway.

 

The furniture in the lounge is

Heavily impressive.

After doing the antique shops

One sits here.

 Lamps snap on, throwing a jaundiced glare.

The men expertly shuffle the pages of broadsheets.

The women doze with last year’s Booker prize on their laps.

A time of murmurs, and clearing of throats.

Some subtle eyeing of others over and around pages.

A fire has been lit, and flutters nervously

in the presence of auditors and school teachers.

A big man forgets himself,

And laughs aloud at something he has read.

In unison, like a herd of antelope,

Others raise their heads in mild disapproval.

 

At dinner, things glitter.

Amid the clink and scrape of conversation and cutlery

Someone drops a knife.

A restrained and tentative esprit de corps has developed.

The semaphore of white cloth napkins.

 

 The more reserved escape upstairs

to shower in huge white-tiled bathrooms

which, for a moment’s shudder

remind them of boarding school

before the warmth envelopes them.

 

Downstairs

in the draped and deep brown lounge,

a few risk conversation.

Snatches of this, of careful laughter

drift upstairs

to mingle with the steam.

 

The bedrooms are high-ceilinged

and cold.

Water pipes creak

with the sudden rush of couples

preparing to retire.

One can hear the tone,

even an occasional word from the next room.

The beds creak.

The globe in the reading lamp

has gone.

 

The long, narrow corridors are red-carpeted

And worn in places.

Many doors lead off them.

There is a bleary yellow light

Always at the other end.

 

Outside,

 the air is cool and clean

and sharp.

Stars crackle

against a deep dark blanket.

A dog barks.

Yobbos yell and chuck a bottle.

It breaks

and splinters the night.

¯

Jennifer Dickerson

SEVENTEEN

 

years, soon eighteen and supposed

to be studying for the VCE

his head full of accelerating

Lamborghinis and red Maseratis

with L plates.

Then came the Girl

with a tongue tasting of mint

lollies, failing year ten.

With those brown saucer eyes

she'll get whatever she wants

maybe some stuff she doesn't.

When she's twenty one

working in the beauty salon

will she remember him

as she plucks and tweezes facial hair.

Will she recall the nights

In her room (with the door open)

as he helped her with English assignments

because Mum and Dad come from Sicily

and have no idea.

 

He visits for Sunday night lasagna

with second helpings,

his hand below the table

 

under their daughter's skirt

fingering his own destination

while the Dad cheers for Real Madrid

the Mumma keeps saying he's a clever kid

smart enough to go to Uni

 

 

¯

Betty Johnston

On a Tuesday

 

I have been a good mother.

I know it. People say so.

To such an extent

it leaves a question. I shrug.

 

And a good wife? Well yes

that too.

 

A lot of work

but not hard. Clear.

 

At breakfast he says

I am having an affair.

 

It happens in TV soaps or in America.

Not in a brick house with a frangipani tree.

Not on a Tuesday.

 

It isn’t true I say.

He spreads marmalade on his toast

and I know it is.

 

I’m late for work

the car keys are lost.

 

It’s true he says.

 

The house is a mess

corners not pulled straight.

 

This is hard.

And not clear.

 

 

¯

Keturah Jones

 

Cambodia

 

She meets us

under the hot sun,

a grave face

melted with sadness.

She greets us with weary eyes,

apologizing for her not good English.

 

I tell you the story -

all doctors, lawyers, teachers, pop stars

killed.

The Khmer Rouge came at night;

raped women,

massacred children,

imprisoned men,

killed them all.

Babies thrown up high;

skewered by boy soldiers with bayonets.

Others beaten against trees

to save on bullets.

 

Her words catch in my throat,

my eyes burn.

I lift the lid from my water bottle,

sip small sips, look away.

 

We follow our guide

past coiled barbed wire

along high security fences.

We come to a wooden frame

like a swing-set,

an urn of water underneath.

 

The soldiers tied their ankles.

They lifted the prisoners

then dunked them

lifted them - dunked them

until they choked.           

 

We walk inside

and breathe in the stale odour

of an empty cell,

once a classroom where children smiled,

now a derelict death chamber.

 

On the wall a photograph

yellowed around the edges;

a contorted dead man

spent his last living hours

lying there

chained to a steel bed frame

with a scorpion box

and blood stains on the floor.

His clothes are in a Perspex case.

No grave.

All family is either

dead or lost.

 

Through to another room,

much like the last.

Beating our fans back and forth,

the movement is noticeably frantic

in a still, quiet and stuffy room.

Some of our group hangs back.

Jenna’s eyes fill with tears.

We stare at scared eyes

peering from a wall of sepia prints.

The same age as my daughter!

Only a boy.

How could this happen?

We, the visitors, walk on.

 

At the end of our tour

is a cramped shop

selling familiar handicrafts.

Our guide motions for us to buy

but none of us

feel like shopping.

It is an awkward departure and

I take nothing.

Only our guide’s grave face

will remain in my mind,

consumed by sadness.

 

 

¯

Chere Le Page

The Pirate’s Lemon

 

On Sunday we pack sandwiches

of fat tomato and cream cheese

fill a flask with tea

and head for the beach.

The air hums with heat,

clouds swirl in sapphire skies,

breezes play with pelicans.

 

I’m looking for shells, I say,

the ones like shimmering potato chips

I find two and stuff them slyly in my pocket.

A gull swaggers up, calls cheap insults,

a sand crab flips flat on its back, playing dead

we poke and make it dance, stalk-eyed

creating crazy circles in the sand.

Full of guilt, we let it scuttle away.

 

In the distance a strange yellow object

skulks like a small bomb in the sand.

We approach, shuffled by a hint of danger.

It’s a bright new lemon.

Washed in from a pirate ship? I wonder  

 

On Monday we pack orange cake and coffee

to find the sea in a different mood.

The wind is up, the sky inked with clouds

white water churns the sand, thumps and retreats.

No signs of crabs, birds or shells

we pull our hats and scarves tight.

Do dolphins and salmon feel the cold?

We see the pirate’s lemon on the water’s edge.

 

By Friday the storms have passed   

I have to see if that lemon is still there.

The sea is in high spirits,

the air spangles light,

we imagine a whale off shore,

two glistening shells are there for the taking.

Our crab appears, flips over again

thinking he has our measure,

we smile and let him be.

 

Then we see it, dull now,

our lemon, still there.

Will it be there tomorrow?

If it is, I’ll swear Neptune’s playing games.

Once we found hundreds of fresh red chillies

in skeins of seaweed all along the shore

we wondered for days  where they’d come from.

Perhaps that’s what beaches are,

places to dream and imagine.

¯
Susan McCreery
On the porch
 
High in the bush
white flags of cockatoos
screech, as clouds 
like tankers 
shunt day out.
 
Through the doorway
the boys clatter 
on floorboards, unaware
I’m outside on my director’s chair
with a glass 
and a mossy cool 
on my arms, 
listening,
as cicadas drum up
the back-beat of evening,
 
and when they start to fight
and yell, I breathe
in the wine-light, watch
mosquitoes flick 
past distant lines of foam,
till smudges of air
trick my eyes
mauve the lawn
and a cricket
starts its tentative burr,
 
then I go inside, 
armed and ready
for six o¹clock.
¯
Margaret Marks Wahlhaus
CAIN AWAKE
 
 
I was wakened by everyone crying,
But they all used one thin voice.
It was still so dark.
I lay quiet and small, altering my breathing pattern
Hoping to find it was rather
The breath in my nostrils, or blood drumming in my ears,
But I knew what it was.
 
A cat cried it, mewling with rigoured jaws.
 
Perhaps it wasn’t my cat.
Anyway, he wouldn’t come if I called.
I’m not very good at stopping that sort of thing.
 
And outside, it is cold.
 
¯

Irene Wilkie

space

 

 

Pearl mist day

wet earth

rock face shine

are mine

and always have been

though unseen

until time

fills space

and I exist again.

 

 

 

Touching

shy pale grasses

I walk warm sand

smell the salt   the foam

hear the tidal rush

across the platform

slap the cliff.

I am back.

 

 

If I show

all these to you

will you hold

them in your hands

and see me?

¯

Ron Wilkins   

Shadowcat

 

Nothing more quiet

than a French village

in the poet’s hours before dawn.

I stand in the dark

at the third floor window

of the village house,

admiring the beauty

of flagstone-roofed apse,

the honey-coloured stone

of the flood-lit ancient church

against a jet-black sky,

when suddenly, a white cat

slips out of the shadows.

 

I tap the window pane.

Instantly he pinpoints

the source of the sound

and in mid-step stops,

one paw raised.

For several seconds our gazes lock,

then he continues his village prowl,

and I continue my lonely vigil

for the white cat of insight

to slip from the shadows

of my mind.

 

 

Saint Jean de la Blaquiere    May 2005

 

 

¯

 
AUSTRALIAN POETRY
COLLABORATION
#12
FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL de la POESIE
2006
TROIS-RIVIERES, QUEBEC
 
 

FEATURING: Bernard Ascal, Gaston Bellemare, Maxianne Berger, Eric Charlebois, Sylvestre Clancier,

David Fraser, Abigail Friedman, Paul Gilbert,  Philip Hammial, Jill Jones, Marcel Labine, Martin Langford,

Dyane Léger, Erik Lindner, Rufo Quintavalle, Daniel Samoilovich,  Paul Savoie, Lambert Schlechter,

Carolyn Marie Souaid, Jacques Tornay & Hyam Yared.

 

 
 

¯¯¯

 

Bernard Ascal

France

Pas savoir quoi faire 

La vache et moi 

Pas savoir quoi faire 

alors 

bouffons du gazon 

elle avec sa langue 

moi avec ma tondeuse 

parvenus au bout de nos prés 

je constate 

plus rien dans le mien 

mais dans son carré 

un pied de sauge 

une touffe de myosotis 

une brassée de digitales 

ça me déplaît ce négligé 

Meuh Meuh fait la vache 

Moi Mu Mu 

Mu par quelle pulsion 

je bouffe la vache 

 

Elle 

jamais ne me consomme 

 

Trop fière 

ou peur de s'empoisonner.

 

 

 

Not knowing what to do 

The Cow and I 

Not knowing what to do 

Well then 

Let's bolt the green 

She, with her tongue 

I, with my lawn-mower. 

Arrived at the end of our meadows 

I notice 

Nothing less in mine 

But, in her patch 

A head of sage 

A wisp of forget-me-not 

An armful of digitalis 

Such a lack of care doesn't please me 

Meuh, meuh, says the cow 

And I : Mu, Mu 

And moved by some pulsion 

I eat the cow 

  

She 

Never eats me 

  

Too proud 

Or Fear of being poisoned. 

 

 

Translated by Sir Francis  Valley

 

A painter, an author, a musician, Bernard Ascal creates artistic events within the frame of 20th century's poetry as well as contemporary poetry with emphasis to the surrealist poets - from Benjamin Peret to Joyce Mansour - as well as to the french speaking  poets from Africa and West

Indies - from Leon Gontran Damas to Leopold Sedar Senghor, from Aime Cesaire to Abdellatif  Laâbi. Bernard is also the artistic director of " Poètes &  Chansons ", a collection of sound recordings for EPM/France. Bernard's own poems were published in 2005 ( Le Temps des Cerises, publishing house), titled  Le Gréement des Os. His last CD recording is dedicated to  Le Poème de l'Angle Droit  by the famous architect Le Corbusier.

¯

 
Gaston Bellemare
Quebec, Canada
Toujours
main sur le cœur
nous tournons le dos à la nuit
 
Le soleil s’élève de ton corps de terre
Tes seins signent la montée de la lumière
et refont l’aurore du monde
 
je t’aime tant
Maryse
femme
de mon corps
de mon cœur
 
lentement
sourire se dépliant
sur tes lèvres ouvertes de soleil
par fragments
ton corps
ma toute amour absente
ces jours-ci
laisse s'échapper
dans mes veines
rond rare instant de grand Mozart
le rythme et la cambrure recommencés du monde.

 

Gaston Bellemare is a leading figure in Canadian literature. He runs the pre-eminent Ecrit des Forges which publishes poetry while founding and managing the Festival International de la Poesie

¯

 

Maxianne Berger

Quebec, Canada

Ode to a Round Tuit

A poem is never finished, it is only abandoned. Paul Valéry

 

Like a Philosopher’s Stone of resolve

informing a procrastinator’s dream,

you provide the exalted wherewithal

to start and complete whatever chores remain

undone. Couch-potatoing with panache,

dilly-dalliers seem taken aback

when accused of sloth. “Soon,” they swear,

“I’ll finish when I get

a round tuit” – you, pearl of their prayers,

panacea for the indolent.

 

Were you square or oval, Tuit, if

you graced my home – you, the means to every

end – then dust bunnies would vanish with

those bills littering the desk, my heavy

self would slender, the basket full of mending 

wouldn’t overflow, and I’d phone my friend in

Paris to catch up. But finding Lapis

Philosophorum,

Elixir or Grail is far easier a task

than mining for your Unobtanium.

 

As to this poem which is not yet polished,

had I the tool toolissimo, I’d be inspired

to rhyme my “polished” more cleverly than “foolish”

and I’d pentameter the rhythm as required.

Oh, Tuit, elusive as time and rarer

than assiduity, I’ve persevered

to keep you high up on my shopping list.

The job’s no matter: you’re primed to do it.

So I’ll revise this ode tomorrow – let’s

trust I’ll get around to it.

 

Maxianne Berger writes in form – from haiku through nonce to Oulipo. Compromis, the French version of her first book, How We Negotiate, was published by Écrits des forges in 2006. In 2003, with Angela Leuck, she co-edited the anthology Sun Through the Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today (Shoreline). www.poets.ca/linktext/direct/berger.htm

¯

 

Eric Charlebois

Ontario, Canada

Cerfs-volants magnétiques

 

 

Et si ça n’allait être qu’un amour estival,

ce serait le plus bel été de ma vie.

Et si ça allait être un amour à distance,

le doute deviendrait une autoroute.

Et si ça allait être un amour en absence,

tes mains seraient un cénotaphe.

Et si ça allait être un amour en mots,

je me blottirais dans ton inspiration.

Et si ça allait être un naufrage,

je ne veux plus jamais me doucher seul.

Et si ça allait être un amour d’adolescence,

j’espère que ma poitine sera à jamais glabre.

Et si ça allait être un amour espéré,

il faudrait désespérer en l’espoir seul.

Et si ça allait être un amour en silence,

je voudrais être encore plus sourd.

Et si ça allait être un amour sensuel,

je ne veux plus jamais imaginer ou me souvenir.

Et si ça allait être un amour nocturne,

je suturerais indélébilement mes paupières closes.

Et si ça alllait être un amour lubrique,

je voudrais que nous soyions perpétuellement

au bord de l’orgasme.

Et si ça allait être un amour de la beauté,

mes yeux seraient un musée sans miroir.

Et si ça allait être un amour de la profondeur de l’autre,

je lacérerais mon parachute

pour me fossiliser

dans tes ténèbres.

Et si allait être un amour de la complémentarité,

nous serions les deux dernières plaques de domino à résister à la chute.

Et si allait être un amour contre la mort,

je provoquerais immédiatement l’apocalypse.

Et si allait être un amour pour la vie,

nous irons pique-niquer dans tous les cimetières.

Et si ça allait être un amour en fuite,

tes lèvres béantes seraient le bout

de mon monde,

cerf-volant dans le ciel

centrifuge.

Et si ça allait être un amour pur,

je m’aimerais à travers toi

parce que je ferais en sorte que

tu t’aimes à travers moi.

Et si c’était un amour vrai,

je cesserais de l’écrire.

Et si nous ne tenions plus compte des pensées,

nous serions deux aimants.

Et si nous ne tenions plus compte des si

et des situations,

si notre fusion faisait fondre

les et,

c’est là l’amour, simplement.

Si on partait,

comme deux timbres postaux

en forme de cerfs-volants

sur l’enveloppe du ciel,

ce serait le mythe biographique intemporel

de l’infirmière et de l’enseignant

avec leur union comme

tiers-monde.

 

Éric Charlebois was born in 1976. His 4th book Cinérite (Editions David) was published in 2006.

¯

 

Sylvestre Clancier

France

Behind the poem’s bars

 

 

Serpentine moult of mirrors

Ghostly black panther

Augment the thirst of my dreams

My moody soul in the dark

The tiger’s circular path

Behind the poem’s bars

The welts of love’s river

Rilke’s spirit in his poem.

 

Moon of feathers and silk

Season of algae and the sea

Anemone of evening

Agate of my blood

Weave the tissue of my life

Of my nights and dreams

 

English translation by Rufo Quintavalle

Sylvestre Clancier is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, most notably : Profil du songe [Portrait of a Dream] (Encres Vives), L'Herbier en feu [The Flaming Herbarium] (Proverbe), Enfrance [A French Childhood] (Proverbe), Télégrammes du ciel [Heavenly Telegrams] (Céphéïdes), L’Animal animé [The Animate Animal] (Proverbe), Pierres de mémoire [Stones of Memory] (Ecrits des Forges / Proverbe), Poèmes de la baie [Poems from the Bay] (Les Cahiers bleus), L’Âme alchimiste [The Alchemical Soul]  (Proverbe), Ecritures premières [First Writings] (L’Improviste), Une Couleur dans la nuit [A Colour in the Night] (Phi et Ecrits des Forges).

¯

 

David Fraser

 British Columbia, Canada

The Wild Pacific Trail
For Bill Perry


From the tame world of pavement and cycle paths
we slip through a fold in time
tunneling a winding course in the cool dark
curve of salal, cynamocka,
roots twisting ‘round our feet,
downed giant cedar and sitka spruce
whose girth we crawl beneath
like children creeping through their secret place,
or one leg stretching then the other,
or hopping upon their backs
until light breaks and we emerge
onto a steeply descending carve of jagged basalt
leading to the sea, tide out gently
slapping surge channels where
high up a daisy in a niche blooms purple,
one tiny flower buffeted with wind.

Here in the blazing sun we sift
assortments of chipped worn shells and gravel
for the tiniest of treasures,
then we leap and creep the consistent
inconsistency of rock, tide pools
teeming with their hermit crabs
sculpins, sea anemones;
balancing on the blow log pile of last winter’s storms,
our gateway from the forest long hidden
in the swaying mass of salal meeting shore.
A headland with its rough surf;
we take up climbing root-twisted clefts
in rock, hand holds, a foot perch up and
back into the salal, the rainforest
snuggling up beside the foaming sea.

With each headland passed we
emerge into another cove
to meander the sandy beach curled
‘round a craggy miniature jut of rock,
a bull kelp trumpet, its one note
hailing an arrival, feathered boas
dusted of their sand curled round our necks,
then up again disappearing through
a hidden salal gate, wading through
salmon berries, thimble berries,
naming plants and noting shapes,
plucking leaves for reference later.

Forest deep,
sound of sea, hidden places,
secret hideaways, bear trails lined with berried scat,
the powdered dust lichen-covered cedar
scarred deep by six long
claws.

The hold in time disintegrates
as we emerge into a slash
the trail gone beneath the upturned
soil, jagged stumps and logs,
the jaws of a backhoe
carving up the forest for
some golf, tame trails
wood-chipped and highway wide.

 

David Fraser lives in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island. He is the founder and editor of Ascent Aspirations Magazine, http:// www.ascentaspirations.ca, since 1997. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in over 40 journals including Three Candles, Regina Weese, Ardent, Quills and Ygdrasil. He has published a collection of his poetry, Going to the Well (2004), a collection of short fiction, The Dark Side of the Billboard (2006 ) and edited and published the print issues of Ascent Aspirations Magazine Anthology One (2005) , Anthology Two  Windfire (2006), and Anthology Three, AguaTerra (2007) http://www.ascentaspirations .ca/aapublishing.htm

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Abigail Friedman

Quebec, Canada & USA

FOUR HAIKU

dead of winter 

among flames and logs 

a hollow

 

first dream of the year 

carefully polishing 

these jade marbles 

 

swaggering downstream 

drunk on last year's ice 

-- April river 

 

where your car stood 

an empty space 

-- the cry of gulls

 

 

Abigail Friedman is an American haiku poet and diplomat.  She first began writing haiku in Japan, under the guidance of haiku master Momoko Kuroda.  While in Japan, she became a member of the numamomo-kai, an all-Japanese haiku group.  Her book, The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan (Stone Bridge Press, May 2006) recounts her experience in that haiku group and offers insights into haiku and its attractions.  The Haiku Apprentice is shortlisted for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize (www.kiriyamaprize.org) and was chosen as a Top Pick by Book Sense, the Association of Independent Bookstores of America.  www.stonelantern.blogspot.com

 

 

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Paul Gilbert

Ontario, Canada

Divine Encounters along the Downtown Eastside

 

-1-

 

I met the Angel of the Lord

sitting on a cardboard box

in front of the drugstore.

   His wings were well hidden beneath

the denim jacket and hoodie he wore

but the presence of grace was unmistakeable

  i gave him a loonie and I stood there

we talked

  we talked about nothing, of weather and his home

the place he shared while here on earth

  he looked and smiled as we shared some jokes

a laugh he gave and through the joy

   the Grace of God was given.

  I had to leave and so I bid him well

he gave me a 'bye' and I felt

   his blessing as I left his Presence

 

 

-2-

 

The Prophet stood between shade and sun

  half hidden in the shadows

 I nearly missed him as I walked past

  but he saw me and he spoke

he raised his arm, his pierced arm and his finger came up

to point at me

   I stopped and he spoke

at first gibberish but then he spoke in tongues

  a message from God

the divine Logos

the glorious wisdom from above

   He was not a bum, a rubby

but the Sidewalk Sage

  the Pavement Prophet

in proclamations he gave the Message of the Lord

  to these jaded ears.

He spoke with words no one heard

  but he spoke with thunder

not yelling or screaming

  but with the Presence

He eyes seared straight to the soul

  his finger pointed at the heart

and then

as sudden as the words started

  he stopped and dropped his arm

it was over

   the Message was given

 his silence the benediction

     that brought the encounter to an end.

 

-3-

 

The Handmaiden of the Lord

  stands on road beside the curve

She wears a leather mini, fishnet stockings and thigh high boots

her expression is blank

as she stands there with arm out and thumb up

   she knows all see her and know

what's she's doing

   but she must

She makes her silent prayer

   that no one but the right one comes along

 then a car honks its horn and a couple of kids

from the suburbs say something rude

  Their message 'skank', 'slut' is thrown at her face

She rolls her eyes and ignores them

  refusing to break the silent meditation that surrounds her soul

she mediates on

  the next john, the next fix, the next hit

 she prays for

   a soft pillow to lay her head, to take her tears

and eight hours of peace in this world of hate

  she prays

  the next guy won't be a creep, or a perv

and demand those things she hates to do.

   she prays he won't kill her and throw her body in the dumpster

 she prays

 the next john will be a nice guy

  perhaps take her to supper and give her some money

with no demands or strings

  just a hour of fun

     she prays and waits

for the will of the Lord

  to lead her way.

 

 

-4-

 

Each bucket contains

   the Water of Life

the ministration of Grace

  for the Communion of the Saints

to be splashed on each window

  of the willing supplicant

 Squeegee Girl walks between each car

and seeks to give these elements divine

  and offers to the glass and soul

the water and Sponge to clean and cleanse

  both article and occupant of the cars that idle

 

I sit on my bike and wait as well

  no glass calls for her presence

and I here her speak

  'these freaks aren't interested'

and her look is disappointment

 for she knows with each motion of sponge

  the blessing of God will come

she comes near and i dig out a loonie

  and hand it to her

  'nothing to wash' I say

'but give me your blessing, and I'll be on my way'

  she smiles and pockets my gift

and I leave

  filled with the knowledge

of her blessing.

 

Paul Gilbert was born, raised and educated in Windsor Ontario.  Since then he has lived in three provinces and a number of communities.  He currently lives and works in Essex Ontario. He edits the online journal Above Ground Testing.

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Philip Hammial

Australia

MAID

 

A maid what I need

for the rough road home. To serve

as a foil to a fool with a fear. Fear

of the vision rods & the conditional make

 

of a mouth cropped past

all tense. Unjustified

this complaint? It’s just

that just once I’d like to drive

 

my share of chariot, no wheeze, no shiver

for the true & private as I thunder

through a country in unsacred

 

congregation, telling death

to myself, a maid to pamper the leach

& lurch of a mortality funk.

 

Woodford

December 31, 2006

pms1206

 

Philip Hammial has had twenty collections of poetry published, two of which, Bread and In the Year of Our Lord Slaughter's Children, were short-listed for the Kenneth Slessor Prize. He was the Australian guest for FIPTR in 2004 & edited “25 Poetes Australiens” (EDF).

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Jill Jones

Australia

What's coming next

 

 

 

We are coughing because the train is late. 

Someone still wears a volunteer's uniform. 

 

The tabloids have all had coupons torn from them. 

Maybe it's easier to focus on cloudy days. 

 

No use worrying, the results are in. 

Do dreams stand up in the slashing gravel? 

 

An expensive perfume arising out of damp air. 

There's the smell of a fire sale. 

 

An age is coming of slow intrinsic diseases. 

No matter how long he stares at the map, the carriage falters. 

 

What worked then and what's working now? 

Equivalence is in the magic. 

 

In the glass is another world. 

You can bare silence and find it neither golden nor clear. 

 

If today is streaky, tomorrow will be unreasonable. 

There's a long street where leaves are tipped red. 

 

The peace gets more anxious. 

'For sale' signs are out, stapled on plywood. 

 

Pages of legal clauses have upset the momentum of speech. 

Functionaries run towards the rain with buckets. 

 

There's something damp at the foot of the columns. 

Effort is required but less smoke, please. 

 

All bets are off. 

You have to go through it. 

 

Summer is a long one. 

I'm jazzed in loved lawn.

 

Previously published in Papertiger. Jill Jones' latest book is Broken/Open (Salt, 2005), which was  shortlisted for both The Age Poetry Book of the Year in 2005 and the  Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize in 2006. She won the Kenneth Slessor Prize  in 2003 for her fourth full-length book, Screens Jets Heaven, and has  collaborated with photographer Annette Willis on a number of projects. She is the Australian guest at FIPTR for 2007. http://rubystreet.blogspot.com/

 

 

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Marcel Labine

Quebec, Canada

Poems from Le Pas Gagné  (Éditions Les Herbes Rouges, 2005)

 

Nous sommes en vie, simultanément, de tous nos organes à la fois,

partagés entre le hasard des bêtes, de la botanique et des pierres.

 

Nous sommes des croisements, des chocs improbables entre des lettres

désassorties et des lois inconnues, par-delà toute poésie.

 

La prose de nos vers est inimaginable, elle oscille et vibre comme nous,

Sans que nous ne sachions l’exacte nom de sa fréquence.

 

 

 

 

We are alive, simultaneously, with all our organs at the time, torn between

the hazard of animals, botany and stones.

 

We are some crossbreedings, unlikely shocks between unmatching

letters and unknown rules, beyond all poetry.

 

The prose of our verses is unimaginable, its oscillates and vibrates,

like us not knowing the exact name of its frequency.

 

 

                                                                                                                          (page 171)

 


 

 

Le monde entre dans le poème une syllabe à la fois et puis se perd sous

vos yeux dans les entrelacs d’une ballade ou d’un sonnet.

 

Les mots des livres verticaux devant vous, sur ces rayons qui vous

entourent, ne sont que la dernière métamorphose de la réalité.

 

Et vous êtes là, calme et tranquille, livré à la contemplation de la

démesure de la poésie, tissée à même les entrailles de la langue.

 

 

 

 

World is going in the poem one syllable at the time and then is getting lost

under your eyes in the interlacings of a ballad or sonnet.

 

Words of upright books in front of you, upon those shelves surrounding

you, are only the last metamorphosis of reality.

 

And you are there, calm and quiet, contemplating the immoderation

of poetry woven from the bowels of language.

 

 

                                                                                                                          (page 172)

 

Marcel Labine was born in Montreal in 1948. Since 1975 he has authored 14 books of poems and 1 essay on the American novel. In 1987, he won the Governor General’s Literay Award, category Poetry for his book Epidemia Papers (Papiers d’Épidémie). Last year,  he was the winner of the FIPTR Grand Prize for his book The Won Footstep  (Le Pas Gagné).

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Martin Langford

Australia

Greys

 

There should be a word for subtle

beyond the clumsiness of categories. I am thinking

of the silver-, black- and buff-inflected greys

of a nondescript country of bloodwoods and apples,

geebung and silver-top ash; so nondescript

what gulfs of arrogance—it is almost invisible.

Just a copse, and then a copse, and then another.

There is no central grey to which others relate.

There is only an angled abundance of juxtapositions.

But cloud warmth is in them. They are at home

in sun, glinting and settled in spectra. They’re at home

in monstrous sheet-blue and in light, shifting airs.

Coded for dull, they are intricate, various, endless,

dishevelled, complete. Ochre and pale-yellow laminates

glow underneath them. Brilliant black tesserae

scroll them with fire-scars: flame-welts of charcoal

down cork-stubborn, low-relief ziggurats. More than

defined by, they grow out of weather: rain-swell

and wind-tug, regular sun-pressure thickenings; seasons

that summon and glide with the tremulous shadows-

and-lace of their noons.

 

If we must have a flag, these are the greys

I would have there: subtleties, plenitudes,

at home in vast, even light;

none more important than others, with no grey more visible;

space all around them, and through them, and on either side—

a welcome, without exclusivities;

a scuffed, twiggy opening you enter with every next step.

 

Martin Langford is the author of five poetry books, the most recent being Sensual Horizon (Five Islands, 2001). In 2004, he edited Ngara with John Muk Muk Burke, a companion volume to the Australian Poetry Festival. His most recent publication is Microtexts (Island, 2005) a book of aphorism and observation about poetics. He was the Australian guest poet at FIPTR in 2005.

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Dyane Léger
New Brunswick, Canada

Recollections

 

I learned how to speak with dogs

soft and low

on a night like the night of death.

 

I learned to howl with André Schmitz's dogs

parked "at the Ocean's edge with its terrifying voices,

at the outermost boundaries of a land, unable to flee any further."

 

I learned how to bark without making a sound

marking time

going round in circles

like the poet

aware

that I was condemning myself to eternal damnation.

 

Along with the last of the dogs

I'll die spent, my weary wandering come to an end.

Even then...

God - if He still exists

still won't understand

why I crushed the poem's skull

and not a drop of blood spilled out.

 

translated by Rachelle Renaud

From Like a Boxer in a Cathedral. Born in Notre-Dame de Kent in 1954, poet and painter, Dyane Léger has written and published six collections of poems and her work has appeared in literary reviews in Canada, Europe and the United States. Graines de fées was awarded the France-Acadie (1980) and Comme un boxeur dans une cathédrale was a finalist for the Estuaire Literary Prize (1996), while her paintings have been exhibited in the Maritimes, France and Eastern Europe.

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Erik Lindner
Netherlands

In the coming storm

the road becomes unpassable

 

barriers close behind us

hazard lights dim in front

 

a small roof window left

at the height of the dyke

 

the figure that sits there

ticks the table with a thimble

 

the child turns in sleep

the television plays mute

 

the corner of the fire escape

from the rear window

 

she puts the newspaper in the basket

leans on the back of the chair

 

counts the tiles up to the mat

the cork strip against the doorjamb

 

sings under her breathe

her fall makes a hole in snow

 

translated by Megan Keating

Erik Lindner, born 1968, wrote three books of poetry in his native Dutch: Tramontane (1996), Tong en trede (Tongue and thread, 2000) and Tafel (Table, 2004). He compiled the first anthology of contemporary Dutch poetry published in France: Le verre est un liquide lent (Farrago, 2003). For the Dutch radio he makes live reports about poetry and the place it has in society in different places, like Marseille, Montreal, Taipei and Tirana.
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Rufo Quintavalle
UK, France
 

Theories of Justice

 

It was after glue had been poured on the town

then lifted off like a gummy negative

that the folk went naked through the naked streets

to test the persistence of law in a world

where daylight showed no tact or history,

their shoulder blades, haunches and genital scraps

advancing in silence past the sandstone walls.

 
Rufo Quintavalle was born in London in 1978 and now lives in Paris after a three year spell in the American Midwest.  His work has appeared in such journals as The Wolf, MiPOesais, nthposition and elimae.  He is a poetry editor for the Paris-based literary magazine, Upstairs at Duroc. This poem first published in Barrow Street (Winter 2006). 
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Daniel Samoilovich

Argentina

EL HUET-HUET

 

La memoria, pensada como lluvia,

y la lluvia como cristal de aumento

sobre la letra apretada del paisaje.

O si no, el rumor del verso, dicho

con voz áspera aunque no audible

tras la pantalla de la mano izquierda

alargando las sílabas tónicas —acentos

sobre el trébol ya mojado, sobre

las piedritas del camino.

Transparencia; pero también

convexidad en el borde de las gotas:

como si el mundo en sus extremos tendiera

a ponerse de perfil, el placer

en su límite a la agonía.

Y a través de esa lluvia sin rachas

inverosímil en su perfección

cruza el parque, sonámbulo, el huet-huet.

 

 

 

THE HUET-HUET

 

Memory thought of as rain

and rain like a magnifying glass

over the small print of the landscape.

Or the murmur of verse, maybe, spoken

in tones harsh though inaudible

behind the left hand’s screen

lengthening vowels—accents placed

on clover already wet, on

the road’s pebbles.

Transparency, but also

convexity at the edge of the drops:

as if the world offered its outer edge

in profile, or the outer edge of pleasure

bordered on agony.

And through the even rain

unbelievably perfect

crossing the park, a sleepwalker,

the huet-huet.

 

The  huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii) is a bird of about 22 centimetres in height, with a loud and clear voice, but difficult to spot. It lives in the Araucanian forest, in the southern Andes between Argentina and Chile.

Translated by Julian Cooper

 

Daniel Samoilovich was born in Buenos Aires in 1949. He has published ten books of poems, among them Superficies Iluminadas, Madrid, 1996; El Carrito de Eneas (Buenos Aires-Rosario, 2003), Las Encantadas (Barcelona, 2004)). Samoilovich has won the Julio Cortázar Award of the Argentine Book Chamber (1997), the Leonardo Award of the Argentine Arts Museum (1999) and, as a translator, the World Theatre Award of the Ricardo Rojas Cultural Center of the University of Buenos Aires (2002). He has been a judge in several international prizes including those of the Fondo Nacional de las Artes (Argentina), Casa de las Américas (Cuba) and Caupolicán Ovalles (Mérida, Venezuela). Since 1986 he has published the Buenos Aires quarterly magazine Diario de Poesía.

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Paul Savoie

Ontario, Canada

There is a climb 

she says 

a way to move your body 

so the cliff simply punctuates the horizon 

a way to reach the path 

The escarpment 

in each sighting 

cradles your skin 

with currents of scent and longing 

You wear the landscape 

the way dancers shed their skin 

in the variegated glare 

 

There is a shift 

she says 

a stripping of bark 

an aperture between walls of shadow 

embers of light in open palms 

an embrace as when wind curls around a fallen leaf 

 

There is the place 

she says 

you lean into the blue 

so far into the diaphanous glare 

you tilt the empty space 

in the direction of a single word 

parted lips in the act of unfolding 

Curtains flap outward 

gather muted voices 

into an utterance so distilled and pure 

the unsuspecting bird of prey 

passing along its edges 

gathers you into its breath 

 

its flight 

to the farthest reaches 

of your gaze 

 

From Fishing for Light (Black Moss Press). Paul Savoie was born on the Canadian Prairies. He has written close to 30 books in every

literary genre, both in French and in English. He also composes music for piano, is passionate about film and travel.

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Lambert Schlechter

Luxemburg

REGLEMENTATION DES DECIBELS

 

Te donne pas des airs, ne vocalise pas, ne fais pas dans la tonitruance ni dans la gesticulation, te prononcer, ça tu peux, émettre des sons qui se conglomèrent en paroles & en bouts de phrases, ça tu peux, on te garantit pas une audience mais comme tous les autres, et ils sont nombreux, archinombreux, il s’en rajoute chaque jour, t’as pas idée combien ils sont nombreux et ça ne cesse d’augmenter sans cesse de jour en jour, et néanmoins malgré ces circonstances, cela c’est maintenu : comme tous les autres tu peux t’exprimer, il ne revient à personne de t’en donner la permission, la charge du donneur de parole n’est pas prévue, il n’y a aucune réglementation parce qu’aucune réglementation ni quantitativement ni qualitativement n’est pensable ni même envisageable dans cette urgence où nous sommes tout le temps, tu existes et par le seul fait d’exister t’as le droit de t’exprimer, avec la seule notable restriction comme nous l’avons notifié de ne pas tonitruer, parce que cela n’est pas supportable, parce qu’il y a toujours le danger que par  une sorte de contagion tous se mettent à tonitruer et c’est cela qui est insupportable pour la simple raison que, bien avant même que le premier se mette à tonitruer, une tonitruance virulente et fracassante est déjà à l’œuvre, incongrûment et fatalement, un assourdissant amoncellement de décibels, alors qu’il nous faudrait pour le bien de tous et avec l’assentiment spontané & primordial de tous, il faudrait des plages de calme et d’apaisement, il nous faudrait même et avant tout et sans prétextes et arguties, sans réserves ni privilèges, il nous faudrait avant tout et à l’exclusion de tout le reste, il nous faudrait le silence.


LE REFUSEUR DE MOTS

 

Il venait de Côme, assis sur son mulet, devant lui chevauchaient les compagnons, deux sur cheval, deux sur mulet, ils se dirigeaient vers le sud. Un soir dans les plaines du Brandebourg il s’était arrêté de parler. Il avait dit aux compagnons : J’ai tout dit, – et il se tut. Et passaient les nuits et les jours, ils traversèrent des dizaines de comtés, duchés & royaumes, innombrables péages, sous soleil et pluie et grêle et neige. Quand un mulet mourait ils en achetaient un autre, les chevaux étaient plus endurants ; ils burent vins & bières dans les auberges, et personne jamais ne voulait connaître ni la raison ni le but de leur voyage. A Augsbourg ils firent étape pendant une semaine, du vendredi au vendredi, les deux chevaux étaient morts, assassinés, ils achetèrent deux nouveaux chevaux. Et celui qui avait dit : J’ai tout dit, continuait à se taire. La veille du jour où ils atteignirent Augsbourg, il avait failli s’écrier : Demain Augsbourg !, mais n’en fit rien. C’était un renoncement. Et les compagnons, pendant le périple, après Augsbourg, firent beaucoup de commentaires sur ce renoncement, ce renoncement-là et tous les autres renoncements, pendant qu’ils cheminaient vers Innsbruck. Voyage vers le sud, vers Côme, puis plus loin que Côme, le plus loin possible vers le sud, peut-être que les mots allaient revenir, mais ils n’en savaient rien, peut-être qu’il fallait aller au sud du sud, jusqu’à la fin de la terre, jusqu’à la mer du sud, ils ne savaient pas si les mots allaient revenir, il fallait continuer à cheminer, jour après jour, eux devant, lui derrière, muet sur son mulet.


LA DEDICACE DE THOMAS BERNHARD

 

Pas de hâte, pas de précipitation, non c’è fretta, ‘s hat keine Eile, nous avons le temps, rien ne presse, plus rien ne doit presser, ce sont des injonctions qui viennent, toutes seules, fermes, sans se presser, laissons faire laissons venir, le temps, pour le moment, ne compte pas. Je suis assis à côté de Thomas Bernhard devant une espèce de meuble-secrétaire qui est en même temps une sorte de hammerklavier, Thomas examine le texte d’un cahier posé comme une partition au-dessus des touches de faux ivoire ; il me montre un mot dans le texte (écrit en français) et me demande s’il est au féminin, il semble qu’il ait besoin de savoir cela, sans doute en vue d’une dédicace qu’il s’apprête à faire. Je suis tout chamboulé qu’il ait encore eu le temps et l’occasion de venir me voir, de passer cette après-midi chez moi, dans ma maison au bord de la rivière qui dehors devant la fenêtre coule coule. Thomas est de bonne humeur, détendu, souriant même, il est content d’être là, comment se fait-il que…si peu de temps avant de… avant de…, et j’hésite, fais des calculs, cherche dans le déroulement des jours, trouver le jour, trouver la brèche dans le temps, si peu de temps avant que…, avant que… Il est assis à ma gauche, porte son chandail gris-vert en laine, chic & chaud ; il examine le texte et me pose cette question à propos du féminin d’un mot écrit à la marge du manuscrit, et moi je suis chamboulé de bonheur qu’il soit venu, qu’il ait pu venir, qu’il soit là, calme, à l’abri, chez moi, bonheur précaire & menacé, puisque dans ma tête je cherche à situer ce jour, soudain plus rien ne compte que le temps…, comment avons-nous fait pour avoir, avant sa mort, encore le temps ?

 

REGULATION OF DECIBELS

 

Don't take on airs, don't vocalize, no more bellowing or gesticulation, express your opinion, that you can do, utter sounds that conglomerate into words & bits of phrases, that you can do, we can't guarantee you an audience but like everyone else, and they are numerous, extremely numerous, there are more every day, you can't imagine how numerous they are and increasingly increase from day to day, and yet despite these circumstances, this has kept up: like everybody else you can express yourself, it's nobody's role to give you permission, the job of granting permission to speak is not in the plans, there are no regulations, because no regulations, neither quantitatively nor qualitatively, would be thinkable or even conceivable in this omnipresent urgency, you exist and by that fact alone you have the right to express yourself, with the only notable restriction as we have notified earlier to not bellow, because that is intolerable, because there is always the danger that through some sort of contagion everyone will begin bellowing and that's what's unbearable, for the simple reason that, well before the first person begins to bellow, a virulent, ear-splitting bellowing is already at work, inappropriately and inevitably, a deafening accumulation of decibels, whereas we would need for the good of all and with the spontaneous & primordial agreement of all, we would need moments of calm and relief, we would even need above all and with no pretexts or quibbling, with no reserves or privileges, we would need above all and excluding everything else, we would need silence.

 

 

THE REFUSER OF WORDS

 

He came from Como, sitting on his mule, in front of him the companions were riding, two on horses, two on mules, they were heading south. One evening in the plains of Brandenburg, he had stopped talking. He had said to the companions: I've said it all, – and spoke no more. And nights and days passed by, they crossed dozens of earldoms, dukedoms & kingdoms, countless tollgates, under the sun and rain and hail and snow. When one mule died they bought another one, the horses were hardier; they drank wine & beer in the inns, and no one ever wanted to know the reasons for their journey, or its purpose. In Augsburg they stayed a week, from Friday to Friday, the two horses died, assassinated, they bought two new horses. And he who had said: I've said it all, was still silent. The day before they arrived in Augsburg, he almost cried out: Tomorrow Augsburg!, but he didn't. It was a renunciation. And the companions, during the journey, after Augsburg, talked a lot about this renunciation, this particular renunciation and all renunciations, while they rode on toward Innsbruck. A journey toward the south, toward Como, then beyond Como, as far as possible toward the south, perhaps the words were going to come back, but they didn't know, perhaps they should go on to the south of the south, continue on to the end of the earth, to the south sea, they didn't know if the words would come back, they had to continue to ride on, day after day, they leading the way, he following behind, silent on his mule.

 

 

THOMAS BERNHARD'S DEDICATION

 

No rush, no haste, non c'è fretta, 's hat keine Eile, we've got time, take it easy, nothing's urgent, these are the injunctions that come, of their own accord, all alone, firm, in no hurry, let them do as they please, let them come, time, for now, doesn't matter. I'm sitting next to Thomas Bernhard in front of some sort of wooden secretary that is also some kind of hammerklavier, Thomas examines the text in a notebook spread like a partition over the imitation ivory keys; he shows me a word in the text (written in French) and asks me if it is in the feminine, it seems he needs to know this, probably for a dedication he's getting ready to write. I'm deeply moved that he had the time and the occasion to come see me, to spend this afternoon with me, in my house near the river that in front of my window flows. Thomas is in a good mood, relaxed, even smiling, he's happy to be here, how is it that…such a short while ago before… before he…, and I hesitate, calculate, search in the passing of days, to find the day, find the breach in time, so short a time before…, before he… He's sitting to my left, with his gray-green sweater, stylish & warm; he examines the text and asks me this question about the feminine of a word written in the manuscript's margin, and me I'm so moved, so happy that he has come, that he could come, that he is here, calm, safe, in my house, precarious & endangered happiness, since in my head I'm trying to figure out the day, suddenly nothing matters but time… how did we manage, before his death, to still have time?

translation by Helen Rosfelder

 

 

¯
Carolyn Marie Souaid
Quebec, Canada
INUKSHUK
from "Snow Formations" (Signature Editions, 2002)
 
 
That brown speck on the tundra
that thing like lint
on a white dress,
that’s me.
Move a little closer.
 
Seems I’ve been here since the Vikings,
since way before you.
For years, I’ve watched the herds
come and go. The river.
 
I can certainly tell you a little something
about bearing up, stalwart. Resilient.
Unaffected by the rose moss
springing in a breeze,
 
the teardrop
clouds.
 
Let me tell you about the stone
will. How, even through the
poignant light of softer days
I go on, standing.
Visibly intact. Touch me,
and I fall apart.

 

Carolyn Marie Souaid is the author of four books of poetry, co-produced two major Montreal events : the Poetry-on-the-Buses Project (Poésie en mouvement)and Cirque des mots / Circus of Words, a multilingual cabaret of performance poetry. She received the David McKeen Award for SWIMMING INTO THE LIGHT in 1996. In 2006, NEIGES, a French translation of SNOW FORMATIONS, was published by Les Éditions Triptyque.

¯

 

Jacques Tornay

Switzerland

 

Nevertheless

 

We must surrender to words in a softly sung contentment,

               lips half-closed, without any abruptness,

be to ourselves like a cat sits under the apple tree to follow

the gliding of the moon and bothers about nothing else.

 

But serenity is an inaccessible continent,

a train that doesn’t come, a broken down messiah, and we remain

standing up at crossroads, encumbered wth imprecise questions

and improbable answers, at pains to choose.

We nevertheless have a vast ingenuousness to invest

with the same dash and go as in those times when we were small.

 

We are conglomerates of molecules sacred

by the hope of an opening,

dreamers of unwalled promises.

One of our hands say goodbye to the sun turning behind

the mountain’s shoulder while the other welcomes the night

like we would a sister. Each word serves as a sesame.

There’s no useless gesture. The least fragment of an existence

is worth being retaken

and registered under the form of a rare pearl.

 

We nevertheless discern those moments dipped into the Absolute

               that are given to us.

For a start, let’s not close anymore those circles we draw

on paper, on beaches, in the air or anywhere.

 

An author of 24 titles, Tornay has a keen interest in parallel, or marginal press.

¯

 

 Hyam Yared

Lebanon

 

38 

 

I couldn't cut through water

with my reflection. 

 

My wound in my reflection.

my reflection in my wound.

 

My wound is healed by water.  

Unrippable faces. 

 

 

39 

 

You cross the tunnel of my body,

a forest set ablaze by its own fire. There

do you find more embers than in my eyes,

more life than in a dead leaf? A journey

between sky and clay: too many worlds

between me and my body. An odyssey of hands

stretching further than water. 

 

 

49 

 

My finest hymen. Abandon. A way

To your other side

 

 

Translated by Richard Burns and Melanie Rein, from “Blessures de 'eau....The Wounds of Water”

 

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¯

Special thanks to the AUSTRALIA COUNCIL and ALLIANCE FRANCAISE SYDNEY 
for enabling my attendance and the translation of work for readings at the 2006 festival.

 

MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.

APC is an occasional anthology.

¯

AUSTRALIAN POETRY
COLLABORATION

#13

SYDNEY

 
The NSW Writers’ Centre has proven itself over decades to be a fertile nursery for new and developing writers. 
This is a selection from some of those attending a workshop in August 2007.
 
NSW Writers' Centre
 

FEATURING: Robyn Edwards, Tim Entwisle, Penelope Evans, Sonia Hunt,

Suzanne May and Marian Waller

 
 

PREVIOUS ISSUES

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Robyn Edwards

 

Bondi Dreaming

 

Big ladies, middle ladies, thin ladies

All bouncing over and under waves, all bounding, entering

Hurling bodies through water, skin peeling back ocean

Boundless ocean in body.

 

Large breasts, half breasts, skinny breasts

Bobbing on the sea, swinging, shifting, sitting, position is everything

Breasts waving, rubbing the soft ceiling of the sky

Ocean rhythm in body.

 

Old women, half-way women, young women

Ocean sprites run leaping through time,

Dusk falling, moon calling, water cooling

Ocean seasons in body.

 

Fine ladies, dreamy ladies, wicked ladies

Body surfing the cruising wave

Head down, arms fly, hands pull, legs muscle, body rockets

Ocean’s horizon, pirate’s heart.

 

Fresh girls, quiet girls, shy girls

Yelling, motioning, gesturing, waves fall like boomgates

The ocean listens to the footfall, the catcall, the young dance

Youthful again inside each new wave.

 

Black bodies, brown bodies, white bodies

Colour the sky, dive under oceans, through histories, 'round nations

Changing bodies, transforming oceans

The Dreaming is alive.

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Tim Entwisle

Eco-tourism


I ate a coconut crab once.
He was fifteen years old -
a fine specimen.

It is an endangered species
in many parts of the Pacific.

You can tell the gender of a crab
by the curvature of the under-shell
so I know he was a he.

He was presented to me in the afternoon
trussed with twists of grass,
caught by the local men
and brought to the proprietess of the resort
after I had placed an order.

Madame was of French descent,
had been born in New Caledonia,
and trained as a cordon bleu chef.

Her ingredients free-range,
her flying fox in red wine had been divine.

It was she who encouraged me;
she who sent out the hunters
to bring him back alive.

I am slightly sorry to say
there is no happy ending.

I ate him that evening.

But I do owe him something,
an epitaph:
He was most delicious!

¯

Penelope Evans

 

 

BOLERO FLAMENCO

 

 

Full house: slow rhythm

pumps seduction to the balcony.

 

 

Front stage, crushed velvet

billows gypsy flame.

 

 

Fans flutter ebony,

snap shut to tap Bolero accent

across pliant wrists.

 

 

Disciplined by net and scarlet petals

chignons glisten in the smouldering.

 

 

The Spaniard prowls,

bare torso ripples.Slick heels

gathering force, reverberate.

 

 

Spot-lit, Ravel unravels -  

sweat, kettle-drums, raw innuendo

saturate the air.

 

Maybe Antonio Gades is justified - 

culture has become a whore. 

 

  

Antonio Gades 1936-2004

A Spanish flamenco dancer & choreographer helped to popularise the art form on the international stage.

 

 

¯

Sonia Hunt

Footsteps


The agapantha sits purple
in the earthen vase
the peaches ripen
in the bowl
spilling the sides
with their perfume
Footsteps
from the bush
fade as the door shuts
the clock ticks
in the foot's step.

Through the window
white limbs shine
on the moonlight
I hold the coffee
in my cup
and the wind ripples
laughter floats
on the surface
of this completely still
and ordinary
ordinary night

 

¯

Suzanne May

THE GLAD EYE

 

 

 

 

 Sideways peek.

green eyes intent

rogueish interest

 gratified with an answering spark

perhaps a naughty wink

would a saucy alluring glance

bring a response

considered carefully

unwilling to give direct invitation

only flattering curiosity

langorous dropped gaze

 tilt of chin

slowly lifted brow

finally achieved the

sensuous

seductive

inviting

mischievous

look she sought

so

 

turned her back to the mirror

sauntered to the ballroom

ready

 

¯

 

Marian Waller

Stonemason’s Alley, Mahabalipuram

Wheezing, wincing at the dusty glare,
bony shoulders straining
with his load, the ageing cutter hauls
his lurching tray of rough hewn stone into the lane.
He’s on the home stretch now.

At least he’s almost there, until
his cargo teeters as he swerves
an instant for a passing cow.
Relieved at last to let the wooden cart arms drop,
he halts in time.

Nervously watching for the foreman’s curse,
he mops his grimy brow.
Stands and wavers, waits to catch his breath
by a stall piled with iridescent spices,
while a clamour of lean dogs spin,
pirouette and yelp, mad in the choking air
for scraps.

Hears now ahead, as everyday,
the fellowship of dusty ghosts creating song,
the steady chink chink chink of steel on stone,
as side by side, corralled in cluttered workshops
down this lane,
squatting on stools or mats in fields of dirt,
the powdery craftsmen
tease out crowds of gleaming
gods from soapstone.

Some see the old man standing
breathless by the lurid stall.
They turn back grimly to their art,
willing him not to fall.

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AUSTRALIAN POETRY

COLLABORATION

#14

SYDNEY
 
 

FEATURING: Susan Adams, Monica Dennison, rhonda w rice, Marion Tracy, Lyn Vellins

 

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Susan Adams

 

BLUE, BLUE

 

 

 

Where did it come from?

      you know

this day that bleeds your heart

the breath you don't exhale

where the day takes a gulp

      and forgets to swallow

      and wide-eyed

      looks at me.

 

It hangs, in its hanging,

                                                                                 its clarity

                                                              straightens me out

                                                              and I hang too.

 

                                                     The hallow-ed

                                                               halo-ed

                                                               hello-ed light

                                                    shaves my soul.

                                                    Exquisite pricks of light on nerves

                                          extend this pinch of time

                                                               to mine.

 

 

 

 

WAIL

An abandoned calf whale starves in Sydney Harbour

 

 

 

As the whale calf sucks

the yacht hull for surrogate nurture

I suck the air around me

and also starve.

 

We are both malnourished, our life extenuated

by our hopes for succour

but defied by the falsity

it takes to survive.

 

As the cuckoo in the currawongs nest

we are out of place

hunger drives us on our search

lives as bleak, our outcomes poor;

for life that’s starved cannot be brave

this truth is knocking on our graves

as weakness robs our strength to strive

both succumb to man’s decide.

 

Don’t huddle to the boat dear whale

Don’t graft to the shape of the mother you know

Don’t break my heart watching you, wanting it so.

¯

 

Monica Dennison

Rebel Ranger

 

 

Today I caught the bloody galah,

parrot-faced, white-capped, round head, cavalier

rider of the skies, below her tepid air.

 

And planing left there, how she

flapped her fat wings, shrieked

her right to be heard, to squawk her dismay

flap her outrage, display her plumage,

rule her domain, demand justice and place

in the avian race, and a part in

the celestial, cacaphonic, symphonic scheme of things.

 

My heart got a hiding,

stirred for this bird.

 

Galah, what a name, what a shame,

you who liven the skies and flash a pink breast,

who hop, dart, glide with the best.

You may flutter and scrounge, drop heaps of gunge,

but I love the jouissance, the cheeky come-uppance,

those chats on the power-poles, that noisy defiance

of all decorum and grace oft ascribed to your race,

I love your grey wings, rebel spirit.

 

Let me salute you dear bird

and make deep-down space

for a bird of such art.

 

You cheeky bloody bastard!

 

Bedouin Blues

 

 

He sat with camels in his eyes,

swarthy,

rusty beard,

thick hair a cap on head,

a heavy blanket of a wrap around his wiry body,

his gaze elsewhere.

 

He stared into the street,

an untouched cappuccino,

frothed and sprinkled, at his side.

 

I waited for three kebabs.

 

He sat unmoved.

Camels, sand, a far-off land

had him in thrall;

trim khaki pants and polished shoes

a concession to the foreign place

where space and time

had left him stranded,

tribe scattered, life disbanded.

A suburban street,

the snarl of cars

no place for one who used to own

an open sky, a desert reach,

a fragrant oasis the only breach

in a long day’s journey into space.

 

And still he gazed.

 

¯

 

rhonda w rice

skittling

  

I want to flit across the stars

dance on flecks of ocean foam

ride the rainbow’s endless arc

skip on wings of silver flame

 

want to taste the soulfulness

as lovers kiss their last goodbyes

hear the silent echoed sounds

of whispers carried on the breeze

 

so I stand and greet the storm

in slow embrace arms opened wide

let the raindrops kiss my face

draw the turbulence inside

 

then for this brief ecstatic time

I claim infinity as mine

 

stranger on a train

 

i saw her cry

her cheeks were etched by tears

i heard the heartache in her voice

wanted to hold her near

 

what hidden anguish

caused her trembling hand

i wondered what was hurting her

wanted to understand

 

her wounded soul

was somehow reaching out

i felt her pain

that lonely stranger

on a crowded train

¯

Marion Tracy

 

Alien Abductee

 

 

1.             marker memories         

 

 

SITUATION:  An abductee is strapped down in the space ship.

 

 

Alien 1.  Push that probe in deeper and we’ll down load its brain pictures.                           We could clone them for the next Toy Fair.

 

Alien 2. That’s a good idea or we could freeze dry them for Kiddies Carnival bonanza goodie bags. Here goes;

 

 

A stocky female in uniform, on TV, is holding one end of a lead attached to the neck of a comical bare body exposed on the floor.

An ethnic group is efficiently stored in the form of organised lines, on TV, of skulls in a cave.

A naked girl with an open mouth is running into the camera; her skin is falling off her body in an interesting shape.

Something is puncturing a tower so it bulges and flares red smoke, on TV, and tiny black dots fall from windows.

Ropes are pulling down an image; people shout as the statue comes apart.

A large machine, in a big square, is moving its nose about, on TV, following the steps of one man.

A vulture is considering its next meal; in the photo it seems to be bony girl on sand for starters.

A  cloud is rising, on TV, with a  vegetable shape.

A man’s face is blurred sideways seems another man is about to press a small object to open up the side of his head.

 

Alien 1. Looks like we can make some real money here.

 

2.            alienation

 

 

SITUATION:   An abductee is strapped down in the seclusion room.

 

You’ve sucked all the images out of my mind.

I can’t breathe.

Thousands of mouths are full up with my screams.

 

 

          LET ME OUT       No more plastic gloves and probes

 

     MIND PLAYS TRICKS

                                              BLANKET OF FOG.    

   Fragile                Crying inside                    INVISIBLE

          CRASH AND BURN YOU DICK HEAD

 

              Frozen open                                 NOISES AND HANDS

              I NOTICE THE WEATHER INTENSELY

                                        

Too quick to judge        YOU SILLY BASTARD

                               UP UP AND AWAY     My glass heart

THE LID HAS COME COMPLETELY     off

 

          TURN TO THE   FUCKING WALL

¯

Lyn Vellins

 

Airbound

 

all day I have heard

words feather the air

around me,

 

disconnected moments,

thin as a hair’s shadow.

 

In sleep they reached me as

nimbussed breath

 

waking me with a light rain-touch—

an old memory of you.

 

Perhaps their loss is

what is needed this hour—

 

as if orphaned syllables

had found a place to roost,

somewhere in

somewhere else.

 

Earthbound

for my father

 

At four, the spade was a treasured plaything -

bright and brilliant yellow –

like the lemons on your favourite tree.

 

Our foreheads bent together in the blue shell

We tunneled and dug

 

until we reached Africa

where we ran laughing with the wild dogs.

 

At the beach,

the spade ruptured the air

as it swam over the burning sand

 

eventually

finding the spring within -

bringing

much needed water

to the drip castles

filling the new wells and dams

and bringing life to the horses

 

In our garden of sweat and toil

the well-worn spade

turned the hessian blanket of earth

so we could plant the seeds

from which our life together

bloomed -

 

Today,

the sturdy grey spade

rained the first clod of earth

on the box in which you lay naked

 

and fell with a thud on my heart

 

I sank to my knees

the cold damp earth cheerless

 

lemons squeezed my eyes closed.

 

 

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AUSTRALIAN POETRY
COLLABORATION
#15
ADELAIDE & PERTH
 

 

PREVIOUS ISSUES

 

 

 

FEATURING

from

PERTH

David Barnes, Andrew Burke, Martin Chambers, Liana Joy Christensen, Josephine Clarke, Suzanne Covich, Lynne DePeras,

Kevin Gillam, Helen Hagemann, Louise Helfgott, Patricia Johnson, Trisha Kotai-Ewers, Patricia Moffett, Anne Morgan,

Jeanette Nelson, Susan O’Brien, Virginia O'Keeffe, Glen Phillips, Marcella Polain, Flora Smith, Rose van Son,

Jayne Surry, Lyndal Vercoe & Julie Watts

 

 

from

ADELAIDE

Jude Aquilina, Christina Bell, Sharon Kernot, Kimberley Mann, Louise Nicholas, Amelia Walker & rob walker

 

 

 

¯¯¯

PERTH

 

 

David Barnes

in still places

………………st. john boys home

 

   it was on friday

i said i would be there

help, raid the storeroom

supplies.

 

   “i was caught creeping

                      in shadows.”

 

the cobwebs

of my mind– burn

the thud of discipline –

strikes.

 

i flew elsewhere

down indistinct fissures

away from consuming

claws;

 

   “in to the longed-for

              abyss–of– nonexistence.”

 

i was neither here

nor there

although my friends knew

where i was;

 

i did not see, feel, hear

rain beating against windows –

or the howling

wind.

 

infinite in

my childhood-mind

a phrase hammered within me. ---------

 

   “hey things

             are, as they are; it’s time.”

 

time to make your final run –

no more

walls.

 

after, there were

no more

Walls.

 

¯

Andrew Burke

Which artist painted that?

 

 

My pup scratches at the bottom drawer

of my desk, scratches and keeps

scratching, so much so

that I relent and pull the drawer

out. In it, rolled up tight,

is a sheet of butcher’s paper painted

in blues and greens, neo-realistic

if only we could read

the realism it is neo to. It is

our world, a detail thereof,

from the view and comprehension point

of a pre-school child, grandchild perhaps.

This is My View, it seems to say,

a clear view of where grass absorbs

sky, river meets ocean,

a disclosure one day for the ancients

in their dotage.

 

Chances are the artist attends school now

and learns more and more logic

and language skills each day. Still

ocean seeks grass, river reflects

sky. His poem about a truck

is illustrated and pinned on

the display board. In his poem

the truck carries things

and drives between shops, but

it has a disquietening element the author

will not change: his truck drives

north, it seeks North unerringly.

Teachers dismiss this as

a blemish, Father wants to know

how the truck will ever return to base,

and Mother tousles his hair, saying,

He’s just a boy, he’s just a boy.

Grandpa bends down to ask,

Do you want to be a truckdriver

when you grow up? No, he shakes

his head, a scientist, only

a scientist. Can’t they see that?

 

¯

Martin Chambers

Thousands protest global warming

 

I saw a picture, on the internet,

Thousands protest global warming.

Snowmen was all it was,

their carrot noses and downturned eyes

Accusingly,

Accusing ME!

‘Do something’ I yelled back.

‘You’re going to melt.’

But they had no ears.

What kind of fool made them,

that cannot hear the warning?

¯

Liana Joy Christensen

Imp Spinning

 

The thing is, you see, I’m no princess-to-be

you won’t catch menopausal me easily

with your devil’s deals

 

I’ll do what I must

trapped in this barn

dust motes glitter briefly

as each afternoon the door cranks open

just enough to admit the forklift carrying

forms, forms, forms

 

You expected donkeys?

This is the 21st century!

Still the central facts stay static

say, a woman in a barn labouring

against impossible odds to produce

the expected miracle

 

Alone in a barn

in despair

the air grows ever drier

the towers of silent paperwork attract

vultures that fastidiously eviscerate sleep

a sinewy thread of dream dangles

from the lammergeyer’s beak

 

while in the furthest reaches of nightmare

forms perform unspeakable acts

with white trash junkmail

spawning triplicates

 

Chaos

Entropy

               Death

 

who from birth defy their  Father Bureaucracy

 

I’ve been around a time or two

so it’s no surprise when

right on cue the imp appears

and with a flourish bows low

 

“Alzheimer’s at your service”

 

Now here’s a new twist

The imp shrugs theatrically

“Rumplestiltskin’s strictly for entry. 

Me I work with exits. 

The deal’s the same either way”

 

I sigh and sign

then together we make a wheel of words

and spin

and spin

and spin

the forms into gold.

¯

Josephine Clarke

Returning to Chudalup

 

karri trees

drip wet light

draw a veil over me

 

yellow leaves

lost pieces of stained glass

stud the path

 

leaf litter

musty sanctuary

calling past winters

 

the canopy thins 

granite waits   

beneath an overcast sky

 

I climb the time worn dome

breath rushes

 

I am back at that place

where young lovers

carve their initials

in rock

 

love and stone

against each other

on a timeless covenant of landscape

¯

Suzanne Covich

The Man in the Moon, God, Hansel & Gretel

 

1

Too much, too small to

see it all back then. Now,

I take time to look and listen,

see the pictures framed clearly

as birds beyond these walls

sing me into my smallness where I

find, yet again, the lost, the broken

bits and begin to fit them together.

 

2

I dream of the Man in the Moon, the

little girl growing big too soon, growing

wings to fly along silver beams, the Moon Man

said, again and again, would hold me—

guide me safely through stars far beyond any sky,

my small eyes could see back then.

 

3

Grown men darken the house, the school,

the baker’s van. They stand, make shadows in the

corner of her room. She fights, talks to fish, cows,

to a God she cannot see and does not believe, will

lead her safely through the night. She runs, no

longer cowering down to wild bulls, no

longer fearing the dark swirling river.

 

4

She forgets, she blanks out, she’s lost the I,

finds it hard to string sentences together. She

dreams of motorbikes and Australia, curls up

like a child yet to be born, she screams

a scream her sisters help her to remember.

 

5

Split, silenced, alone, her dreams of escape, take

her too soon into the arms of a lover—pillar to

post, pillar to post, her world spins too fast for her.

 

6

Strong and unafraid, it’s the fishing she loves,

the family eventually together, safe sleeping in beds

in a house near the water. She’s proud to be

her mother’s helper and longs for new wings to

to free her from swings, to fly high, to plunge

into the bay to find mermaids to play with forever.

 

7

She’s Gretel. Big Hansel and Gretel, they

sail the seas, they love one another, travel to

new countries. Gretel learns to cook, clean, sew and

get over her resistance to aprons and kitchens. She’s

the mother, the unquestioning, child mother, silent and

ashamed, so very unlike the Mary she played at Xmas in

schools where she once dressed in blue to sing Lullaby and

Goodnight with a heart open to boundless opportunities.

 

8

Patterns, attracted to opposites, we think, but

deep down, the sameness sinks in as too much

wine settles the desire to run into stories that

once comforted her. She’s alone, terribly alone, and

in the silence, dark, drunken silence, she reaches out

with words that connect to something other.

¯

Lynne DePeras

The England-Australia Thing

 

It isn’t possible to know what your country is like

Except for that first second’s glimpse

At the touching on tarmac

Over the wing

Of the plane returning you from the ancestral place

 

Scrub, the first second’s glimpse of it

Scrub growing out of grey sand

By the tarmac

Scrub low

As the hills look low, low as the new-built airport terminal

 

Sun beats on the wing of your plane still turning

On heated tarmac

And on faces waiting.

Beats out of you all love of sun

Sun dries the heart out, beats on skin

 

Beats on the silvered skin of the car you’re in

Speeding witlessly

Past architected buildings

 

In the car the cottoned bodies talk of beach-white sand

Your mind is here

But the feeling in you lags behind

In a distant rain deep land

¯

Kevin Gillam

a crooked eye

 

as I wash me in you

the clock fibs, night folds while

you hover, watch me in you

 

the light antique now,

lemoned at the edges

as I wash me in you

 

moths are drunken deckhands,

jigging, stopping only as

you hover, watch me in you

 

if you were to run fingers

but no, no maps, too soon

as I wash me in you

 

two notes from mopoke drip,

break the meniscus of thought

while you hover, watch me in you

 

and the moon casts a crooked eye

over the imagined

as I wash me in you,

as you hover, watch me in you

 

 

¯

Helen Hagemann

Salt-filled Memories

for Edith and John Sydenham

 

Grandfather got sick of hiring Bullions’ boats. From a photograph gone to rust, he says, ‘All summer, the crowd took them at dawn.’ I can picture him standing around bailing his own, that fine piece of hardwood he rowed and baited in, exploding estuary and bay with a waist logic of anchor and chain. My grandmother stashed Sunday leftovers on the best plank, away from the sun and mop of wave. I reflect on her life, knowing nothing of his, only they grew closer in ‘42, fishing for hours until the moon paled over Saratoga, or the whiting skittered to the lighthouse past Box Head. He died there in the boat as the light twirled silver, as the rip deepened, as the bream paced his line, as the briny sea opened its mouth. I remember the lawn hanky at my grandmother’s nose, wondering how she faced the agony of oars. In khaki shorts, Wellington boots dressed for bagging worms, the snapper run, the point’s salt-filled memory, she unravels the lines of her mouth. ‘I turned with the food, with a hot cup of tea, I saw him slumped, asleep.’ In the burning bay, slightly sweating hair, my grandmother placed a consideration of sunstroke in her hands, moistened his curling lip, as if he was not yet gone.

¯

Louise Helfgott

A Moment in Guangzhou

 

It’s five thirty

In Guangzhou,

Ten million people

Pour home

Into fengshui houses,

A typhoon of faces

Averted, as they flood

The underground stations

Where every moment

Trains hurtle to a thud.

 

Market alley ways

Conceal a roaring trade

In scorpions and snakes,

Covert police raid

Courtyards and delegations,

Dispersing congregations

Along with free thought,

In the distance

A thunderstorm breaks

Black rain clouds sight,

 

The silk road

Transformed to a bitumen freeway

Many years ago

The winds of history blew away

Dynasties of olympic proportions,

Gave way to industrial consortiums

That choke and smother,

While in mountainous enclaves

Villages split open by seismic forces

Tearing apart families, brother from brother,

 

At midnight

The lights turn off

A country shudders to a halt

In the hotel loft

The last departures and arrivals

Herald a new revival

Momentary hope,

At end of day

Peace descends, with the fog,

Ensuring a culture’s survival.

¯

                                                                                               Patricia Johnson

you are walking

dim light drops from the doorway

Into the darkness of the passage.

dust motes hang in air

like flecks of colour that float in your eyes,

rain thrums on the roof

a soft coat of dampness settles on my skin

 reminding me of restless storms of long ago.

panes of glass rattle in their cages

and I am lonely and afraid

until I see

that you are walking toward me.

 

¯

Trisha Kotai-Ewers

On the veranda

(memories of Tom Collins House)

 

An island lapped by sound’s colours.

The red shriek of galahs, woven through

with a magpie’s clear yellow evening bell of song

punctuated by the maroon shot with brown

of barrackers’ yells as the Saturday game winds down

on the oval.

 

The faded wood of the veranda has morphed

into a tablecloth for today’s feast, as

Castello cheese, sundried tomatoes and chocolate

odour the air, to tempt me away from writing.

 

Once Mattie visited a group of poets

here on the veranda,

or so Allan assured us, all a-glitter with excitement.

 

I wonder if she stands here now, puzzled to see

a gaggle of writers, sitting on her veranda,

breathing in her creative space.

But after nearly sixty years, she must be

used to us by now.

¯

 

Patricia Moffett           

“A cold, hard, beautiful, cruel country,” he says.

 

He says

                She has a cold, hard, beautiful, cruel mind

He says

She is always cold to him

He says

He cannot understand, why?

He says

                She is hard, she never cries

                At sad films

He says

It is beautiful

Her mind that earns money

For him to spend

 

He says

She is cruel, unfeeling

He says

During a film scene

He says is pertinent to her

He says

No matter how hard he stares

To impress on her

The error of her ways

And to check that she has registered 

His reprimand

He says

                She never turns her head

He says

                She keeps her face impassive.

 

He does not know

                Inside, she is crying, crying, crying.

 

¯

Anne Morgan

BREAD UPON THE WATERS, LAKE JUALBUP

 

Tortoises crossing, the road signs caution;

An ancient shellback is hanging in the shallows,

bearing not the earth upon his shell

but a forest of algae.

Skinflaking.

                  Still.

                        Too still.

 

Black swans hold impossible asanas,

promenade in pairs,

or scroll the lake like Viking longboats.

A ragged stump of swan is dredging depths

where her floating mate is poled to shore.

 

We think botulism is killing them,

a council workman says, people feed them and they stay

instead of heading off to purer waters.

He buries five tortoises, puts crosses on their graves.

This man maintains the whale spume fountains,

tiles unruly edges, although the mortar

still preserves the graffiti,  fuck.

As if the wildlife needed a reminder.

In the shrubbing of that island,

swans brood away from human eyes.

Yet tortoises attack the cygnets.

Eat frail webbed legs.

 

Three girls hunker at the lake’s edge,

face-pierced adolescents, about your age,

chewing white bread rolls.

Eurasian coots skitter, red-eyed and mendicant,

leaving wakes of Pyrrhic victory.

Those girls have read the signs

but like you, have not yet learned

that charming waters can brew toxicity.

Summer’s glowering makes feathered bones.

It’s not just wildlife we can love to death.

 

¯

Jeanette Nelson

Gibb River Station

 

Dust moves like misty rain
A green frog
clings to the corrigated wall
then jumps
through humid air
and waits for rain

 

Pippa wets her paws

In the stainless steel bowl

after walking

on the Gibb River track

 

Wind stirs the warm moist air

School is in

Black eyes brighten as

rain drums on the roof

thunder shakes the clouds

“Deadly Miss”

 

The mob runs for cover

Dogs bark, cattle low

Rain catches the swirling dust

and turns it into mud.

¯

Susan O’Brien

The Send Off

 

 

Her garden flutters white,  

photographers stalk the stars,  

a rocket explodes midair.

 

stargazer now dancing with stars, 

death is a poet,

death is nearly always a poet.

 

Only the poem has to live first. 

¯

Virginia O'Keeffe

HIDING SIN IN FREMANTLE


   I
 
The wall curved a slight angle
patched and cemented,
convict hewn masonry
cutting  sky, blocking cloud
embracing the wires.
Only the guardbox incongruously perched
broke its breadth, 
snooped on the men beneath the wall.
 
Over Knutsford Street the wall's shadow throws itself
into the branches of scribbly gums
onto the veins of bull-nosed verandahs
fingers under floorboards of cottages
with limestone skirts, down lacy collars.
 
When workers lived in this street
did they lie awake and fear the men beyond the wall?
Perhaps they judged them harshly
or in the quiet rhythm of their lives
thought not of crims at all.
But when the death knell belled on the Freo breeze
Only then did they open their hearts and weep
for those behind the wall.
 
                      II
 
The bell of St Francis tinny on the breeze
chimes out four strokes on the hour.
Up Ord Street a musician
trombone bouncing, runs awkwardly
disappears through the wall.
Above the gaol no angels
just an avalanche of cloud
hanging.
 
Who does the musician blow his bones for?
Oom pa! Warders? Murderers ? Pa Pa Pa!
Who's the patron saint of prisoners
the lost and weak? Oom pa! Oom pa!
Certainly not St Francis
with his bell and braying sheep.
 
It seems Joshua has forsaken this wall.

¯

Glen Phillips

I SAW AN ECHIDNA

 

Once in wheatbelt bushland all alone

an echidna hid its head from me.

It crawled into a fallen hollow limb

from a whitegum on the woodland floor

 

and left its prickled back to face my

expected attack. Or whatever I’d do.

And you also? Did you have the thought

I might come crashing through your woods

 

when you’ve been busy day and night

working your heart out for your family?

Checked in my stride, I sense you seek

to hide your face from my reality.

 

I touch the sharp spines you raise

as you draw back. This whole landscape

makes you feel lonely perhaps. But I

am the intruder, foreigner in sacred place.

 

Should just think myself lucky, mate,

I was privileged to share your space

 

¯

Marcella Polain

The gate (or, consultation with a pain specialist)

 

 

All across this bayside suburb, jewels gleam from women like light.

Streets poach beneath banks of peppermint trees.

Carparks bloom against beds of roses.

I am whooshed to the appropriate floor in shining, scented machinery that speaks.

The receptionist bounces her cleavage between me and all the other contraptions.

 

You sat so close I could have touched you like you touched me, squeezed

my arms and legs, saying This muscle? And this? But there are rules.

 

Rule one:

You have soft, white inquisitor’s skin.

Your shirts are pale and fine as noon.

I watch your wide pink tongue behind

your long white teeth and

fumble through my own vocabulary.

When, finally, you ask why I became sick,

I feel your bite. Quick and

through to the smell of me.

The hot bewildered bone in my

speechless upturned hands.

 

Rule two:

I am at the gate.

My hands are useless at its mechanism.

On its other side, you – sentinel –

have narrowed your eyes like a sleepy horse I

once fed my lunchbox apple.

 

There should be tiny white spider orchids,

plump hands of purple-wanderer,

shy bobtails by the fence posts.

Paterson’s curse should be a striking knee-high purple sea.

You could snort your hot horse-breath into my hand.

I could stroke your neck, your long warm flank.

And you. You could mount me like the stallion you believe you are.

 

Rule three:

I watch your tongue, feel the holes in my face.

Search them for a password, a confession sweet enough for

you. To lick. And nibble. Lick and nibble, nip.

And open. Nip and open, unlock. Release.

Release me.

 

(First published in: Therapy like Fish: new and selected poems by Marcella Polain, 2008: John Leonard Press; Melbourne)

¯

Flora Smith

Where the birds were

 

 

They still ask what happened at the windmill.

As if someone drowned in a dam might resurface.

 

I do know the blades moved and he fell;

he fell at my feet. That was all.

 

Of the time before, I only remember the birds;

the windmill covered with them when we came

like a widow wrestling with a mourning bonnet.

 

They rose together, leaving me in the sun-

blind morning with a flash of black umbrella,

and him climbing the windmill.

 

When they found me, I kept asking about the birds.

I knew if I found the birds, that was where he would be.

¯

 

Rose van Son

Morning Sonata

 

he plays

harpsichord

sonata in D major

rolls notes with his eyes

prisms in his ears

pry music

 

in concert

trebles caress fingers

knit together

purl rows

 

takes her breath away

¯

Jayne Surry

A Valentine

 

I’m a designated carer,

$100 a fortnight

To care for my loved one.

We rarely talk of love –

But then we never did.

Love is in the action,

Doing for someone the things

He cannot do for himself.

It’s contrary to everything I believed once.

Last night I found half the contents of my freezer

On the kitchen floor abandoned there

When he went in search of ice.

Growth for me is not mentioning it,

Silently throwing the thawed contents away.

I used to say “Don’t you remember?”

But he doesn’t.

I repeat the same information

Sometimes three times in ten minutes.

I’m no saint

And sometimes it’s repeated through gritted teeth

Though he doesn’t seem to notice now.

I wonder how he feels.

He doesn’t want to talk about it.

The journey must be terrifying.

My presence is necessary and non-negotiable.

Does he believe it’s love?

¯

Lyndal Vercoe

In the City of Glass

 

He listens to the compass of his soul

the needle-point inclines towards the East.

 

He listens to the patters of a pattern

beats which fall in circles

small repeats

untempered

like the mutter of a waterfall.

 

Like a wall of water falling

in continuum, incessant

 

water surging

sometimes ebbing

susurration

comfort to chambers of the heart.

 

Sounds like water spinning spiral columns.

These he calibrates until

his wall of water stands.

 

He sifts through sound

weighs it in the balance against Hesperus

strains out old excesses

shaking it in rhythm as the water falls

finds mute.

¯

Julie Watts

There's something wrong with the sky

 

though its a canvas unblemished and

blue

 

there's something wrong with the sky

though birds sail mildly

 

there's something wrong -

for the river

 

that smooth jade mirror

is broken

 

is khaki  

with black lapels on torn shoulder collars

 

there's something wrong with this oh so perfect sky

that peers calmly through the hand span of the oak

 

the river the river

jagged and splintering

 

under oblivious sky.

 

 

¯¯¯

ADELAIDE

Jude Aquilina

Bovidae capra

 

Goats will keep your blackberries

at bay, they said, just build

a little shed, for they feel the cold,

and let them graze your paddocks

clean.   They omitted to add

 

they're vertical creatures:

easy to see how they rose

to devil status, reaching up

on hind liegs to seize forbidden

leaves, fruits and laundry.

 

Yes, they'll eat your prickles

and weeds, but as cheese and greens

when they've cleaned out all the

gourmet feed, defoliated, deflowered

and devoured any trace of flora.

 

Fences are exercise hurdles;

gates, persistently nudged

till they budge and part to let

the herd into virgin pastures,

or the lolly shop of my pot plants.

 

They climb like Tom Sawyer

out along gnarled branches

to strip the ancient gum tree bare

all the while, they bleat and butt.

One by one we eat our mistakes.

¯

 

Christina Bell

Bodhisattva’s Reward

 

When your heart feels joy

it is enlivened, made beautiful.

 

Your growing peace births a formless, still mind

and loving kindness makes your soul brave.

 

Life sighs between endings and beginnings –

let go, let go, let go.

 

Priceless gems of wonder arise from this grace:

love in action, true forgiveness beyond understanding.

 

Such boldness embraces pain

turning fear into acceptance and doubt into certainty.

 

Each day brings chances to serve and be served –

lifetimes removed from your past limitation.

 

Softening daily, humming playfully

chortling at the deep happiness found within Nature’s love

 

your gifts shine brighter, your heat beats stronger

your will evolves into faith and light.

 

Whatever surrounds

love tempers might.

¯

Sharon Kernot

Mrs Brown

 

We like to have a few

me and my friend June

she comes over with her husband

she’s not young, like me she’s sixty-three

and we might have a bottle of Brown Brothers

just one

and then we’ll get carried away

and we’ll say –

Where’s Mrs Brown

Go and get us a Mrs Brown from the fridge –

and we’ll send the men out

while we talk and talk

and they roll their eyes

cos we might start laughing or crying

and the tears

oh God the tears

we cry and cry

but we’re happy

and we’ll drink every drop of Mrs Brown

that’s in the house

and then June and her husband’ll stay the night

you know cos they’ve drunk too much

to drive home

and the next day

oh God it’s terrible

we feel awful – really, really sick

but we love a drink we do

we love our Mrs Brown.

 

¯

Kimberley Mann

Shadow Lifters

 

Trees flex their muscles at dawn

Creak their backs in young winds

Trunks strain upwards to stretch

Stiff from the stillness of sleep

 

Warmed by slanting sunshine, as morning

Stretches long they begin the heavy work                                          

Of lifting all the black shadows slowly upwards  

 

Trees awesome silence stuns us

Watching their stillness we witness this sacred lifting skywards

They pull the shadows upwards until they are above their heads

Well muscled branches hold the shadows up, victorious

All weight & darkness held up for the count at noon 

 

For the decades of minutes this lasts, almost drowning in light

All trees lift themselves under invisible halos, are channels for energy

 

Following the brief chance to rest in even balance

A time of easy holding, the heaviness of the day weighs

Branches sigh with the heat and all this effort

Perfectly synchronized they begin their lowering act

Houdini, carefully, into a tunnel

Muscles fatigued, shaking but still in control

Afternoon is dangerous

 

All trees make this gradual semaphore 

For the landing of shadows, the grounding of shapes        

Trees alone have the ability to flatten

The world for sleep, for rest, simplicity

 

Very slowly, in full faith, each tree lets the shadows

Back down, belaying the woman, the man

Each of us, tidily to the ground, in increments

Lowering very gently with rope

Dark circles widening, tender hands to let them down

One by one – so as not to chip the crust of the earth

Or shock the animals & insects with the terrible thud

Of the impact

Of the absence

Of light. 

 

¯

 

Louise Nicholas

Isadora Duncan's breasts

 

Sometimes, one of them peeked above the parapet,

cocked a snook at the policeman in the wings

whose job it was to make sure they stayed on home detention.

 

At other times, aided and abetted by perishing elastic,

one of them would find itself, eye-to-astonished-eye,

with the audience.

 

And once or twice, awakened by murmurs

from the orchestra seats, and hoots of feigned disgust

from the gallery, the other breast joined it

 

and they swayed together, enjoying the rush of cool air

and feeling totally ‘at two’ with the music.

It never lasted long of course:

 

the policeman would return from a swig of bootleg,

and Isadora would gather up her twin Isadorables

and pop them back in the papoose of her Grecian tunic.

 

But there was one occasion, when an aging Isadora,

aggrieved by jeers of “fat old cow” and

“mutton dressed as lamb”,

 

ripped her tunic to the waist and invited her breasts,

blushing pink with pride, to take a deep and dangling bow.

“This,” she said, “this is beauty!”

 

¯

 

Amelia Walker

Tidal

 

Skin
against skin
against skin against
your skin, so smooth
and hot. I want nothing
but touching. You. Your skin, mine
stripped back. Skinless. Serpents. Dying. Being born.
Ripe. Raw. Sweaty. Sunset breaking, a blood egg
over reckless waters. Shadows of gold. Our tongues
laughing dolphins, surfing ripples of salt. Breaking
into fits of skinless. Breathing. Screaming
I want nothing but touching
you and your skin
against skin against
skin against
skin.

 

¯

rob walker

The Mouth

 

From the barrages we pad the dunes    crunch underfoot cockles on ancient middens

through teatree towards a distant roar. rollers dumping and foaming.                                     salt spray soft-focussing the scene so only the centre where you stand is sharp,           the edges shrouded.

A permapine line of pickets stakes a fort to keep the 4wds                           beyond the pale.

 

 

 

A world of white and shades of grey on this overcast day            Walk towards the River Murray Mouth and see no one else in three hours,    swallowed  as sandgrains in the vastness.

Beached sandcrabs, chalk bone of cuttlefish soaked in its own ink, kelp, oystershells worn to blackness and flat smooth palmsized stones for skimming         all in muted monochrome                          

 

 

Then the detritus of colour.

Shreds of polyrope in fluoro orange, blue, green. A manmade gaudiness of excess. Lids from shampoo bottles, a rubber ball, trash from passing ships. The disposable.

Always the                                        rumbling roar                                                           of wind and sea.

 

 

towards the Mouth, the wasteland. A string of orange pennants to mark soft edges. Expanse of sameness. A desert of bulldozed sand, homogenous, devoid of weed, pebbles, shells, ripples.                                                       Spinifex flashing curved needles of light in the wind The great black serpent of the dredge pipe                                          snaking over the dunes

 

 

The pipesnake shudders and heaves, throbs and pulses Press an ear to the peristalsis

and it whispers the word

silk

as black sludge passes through itself.

 

 

At the end the snake regurgitates black bilge and spews it swirling to the southern ocean, eroding away                                                                                                                               the last dune

The new Mouth of the mighty Murray             renamed 

Discharge Location A

 

 

(originally published in micromacro, Seaview Press, 2006)

 

 

 

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¯¯¯

 

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AUSTRALIAN POETRY
COLLABORATION

#16

ORANGE, COBAR, BROKEN HILL 
& MELBOURNE 
 

 

PREVIOUS ISSUES

 

NEED TO KNOW…

Sponsored by:

Countrylink, ArtsNSW, Broken Hill City Council, Broken Hill Regional Writers’ Centre, Cobar Shire Council,

Central West Libraries & Words Out West

 

 

 

 

FEATURING

from

OVERLOAD POETRY FESTIVAL MELBOURNE

Eddy Burger, Paulie Dada, Mekhala Dass, Helen Hagemann, Ahmed Hashim, jeltje, Sjaak de Jong, Michelle Leber, Debbie Lustig,

Kimberley Mann, Tasha Joy Miller, Graham Nunn, Lewis Scott, fee sievers & Jenny Toune

 

 

 

 

from

ORANGE, COBAR & BROKEN HILL

Diana Brooks, George Cole, Kim Core, Barbara De Franceschi, Kristene Smith, Marvis Sofield,

Jasmine Vidler & Ramon Ware

 

 

¯

¯¯¯

MELBOURNE

 

 

Eddy Burger

The people who yell from a long way away

 

 

 

single distant yeller:                                                                                                  Hello.

                                                  Hello.

                                                  I am a representative of the people who yell from a long way away.

                                                  [aside] Isn’t that right?

 

many distant yellers:        Yes.

 

single distant yeller:        And if you think I’m yelling now, listen to this:

                                                  [yelling louder] Now I’m really yelling, but I can’t yell this loud for very long because it takes too much energy.

                                                  [aside {normal yell}]      Isn’t that right?

 

many distant yellers:        Yes.

 

single distant yeller:        And now, the people who yell from a long way away would like to address you.

 

many distant yellers:        We, the people who yell from a long way away, are yelling from a long way away.

 

single distant yeller:        [aside] Thankyou.

                                                  And now, I’d like to introduce you to a representative of the people who whisper from very close by.

 

single close whisperer:    Hello.

                                                  Hello.

                                                  I am a representative of the people who whisper from very close by.

 

 

 

Previous publication: appeared as AV recording on Straight From The Tank DVD, by Red Lobster, Melbourne 2006.

¯

Paulie Dada

The Psychonaut.

He drinks of the chalice

To quench himself,

All that resides in the mind

Is in drought.

He imbibes to analyse

The actions of men.

As he empties his own libation

He plunges the depths

To fathom:

The essential questions.

Rumination and articulation

Help him to reveal

The true self.

The walls offer no riposte

And he has consumed

The only ear.

He swims in the epiphanies

That he owns.

He pontificates in the temple,

Discarding his consciousness

To the stream.

On the path to revelation

He is overloaded by wisdom.

Swallowed by the morass

He drowns in the solution.                                                         

¯

  Mekhala Dass

 

Helpless Witness

                      1

The moments even now pass by

Smiling sad farewells as they flitter downstream

And into the past

 

And though gently lamenting all the while

They mutely pull away from my naïve grasp

 

The clock plays on its relentless song

And the last languid cricket calls

 

Time has come wielding chains

And deaf to all shall not pause

For no soul can tame her

 

               11

 

I fail for one fathomless second to persuade

The dear moments to stay

 

I can only witness as they wane and fade

And hope the next to be as lenient

 

For the ways of Time are bitter and twisted

 

Intent

 

She carries her prisoners away

¯

Helen Hagemann

Fitzroy High School


The day after your arrival
is a high school reading.
We agree as poets it’s been a long time
between classes. Our eyes are pressed
in outward glances at closed doors,
the headmaster's office, a walk in the past.
Fear means we’ve survived school days,
a hijacked front seat, the less kind
at assembly, sports-day in F-team.
Yet here, school bags and lunch boxes
are full of tomorrow. It’s spring and everyone
is a new leaseholder in this estate. Waves
of purple-grey-cobalt assuage otherwise old red brick.
In the front office, a ceramic bowl, toilet paper

flowers, lighthearted verse; an assemblage
of nature prints as if this is an animal ready
to breakthrough from the past.

In the corridor there is friendly chatter,
boys swaying in sync, jovial song,
a guitar thrumming the air with every step.
Now we enter the sphere of year 8’s writing
prose, Year 10’s, pens on the Beats. Thank you −
Mr. Ginsberg − they hear your Howl.
Applause comes after our spill of words.
We wrestle the page in an attempt to hold them
in fierce syllables; gather enough faith
when James from Overload has them
in a rhythm of fountain pens. We uphill
shoulders, expiring breath from a ribcage
of doubt. ‘Is the struggle over to keep awake?’
‘Is poetry boring?’ Hands diminish in the count.
We pack up and go.
Unanswered questions remain.
At least, we concur, poetry has imprinted two hours
on young writers’ minds.

¯

Ahmed Hashim

Mouths

 

Homeless mouth

Asks for a volcano

to light his cigarette . 

 

Poet’s mouth

Said something at the stage

no one knows

where it’s gone .

 

Thief’s mouth

Said all

the truth …… upside down .

 

The truth’s mouth

Without

teeth . 

 

Killer’s mouth

I should have done that

a long time ago .

 

Victim’s mouth

You should have done that

a long time ago .

 

Girlfriend’s mouth

Honey

until

wedding

day .

 

 

Wife’s mouth
without it

the headache tablet factories

would shut down .

 

Boyfriend’s mouth

Promises beautiful lies

exactly

as life does .

 

Husband’s mouth

Concrete wall

after sex .

 

Baby’s mouth

Dad

Mum

what you have done .

 

Orphan’s mouth

Say nothing

the truth is clear

through his eyes

 

like a flood .

 

poor mouth

Thousands of idea in my pocket

to feed

world’s hungry .

 

War’s mouth

I am only an idea

came out of  a

leader’s head .

 

God’s mouth

Mankind waiting

…….

…….

…….

we can’t except
 all that silent .                                                  

¯

jeltje

She's going with the boys...

 

 

She's going with the boys, somewhere,

With the boys,

She's out there, somewhere, with the boys

Out there,

She's where the boys are: out there,

Somewhere, she's out there...

 

Picture me, with my sunglasses on:

Hi! How are you?

I'm somewhere, out there,

With my sunglasses on, the boys

Are always out there, somewhere,

Out there is somewhere,

 

I'm out there, somewhere at last!

 

We're altogether now, somewhere else,

Without a home to go to,

With the boys, with my sunglasses on,

Out here, with the boys,

We're really somewhere else!

 

Am I nowhere without the boys

At home, without her, somewhere

Out there without me, she's out there,

I'm here, she's there, she's out there,

Somewhere with the boys

Without a home to go to, I'm here,

I'm at home, here, without the boys,

In the home, without her.

¯

Sjaak de Jong

Samalanglied

Kalast mara  keeks rats
kella kella biram
Hakka stakka schiets beits
Stela zuips zwieram

Kalast mara  keeks rats
kella kella biram
Heida zeena liege meida
Kussa dansa gloram

Kalast mara  keeks rats
kella kella biram
Hiepa kada treela pada
zuipa hopsa gloram

Kalast mara  keeks rats
kella kella biram
zuipa  dansa zoona schranza
Russie carbonade

Kalast mara  keeks rats
kella kella biram
hopsa heiss gallop pada
oerang oerang oeta

Toesta flinka heeradama
Gama langa hiha
Steta glaza hiepa kada
hessa springa basta

Fratkas klaraskeeka rata
kola kola saram
Kieza knopta snorka dama
Lippa dronka oetang

Klassa riepa snorka dama
Kela hiepa kada
Hoora knoota siepa sepa
trouwa deeka basta !!!!

¯

Michelle Leber

LOVE−SLITHERS

You are alluvium; even the river desires you.                         

 

 How many ladders? The heart wants to know.                    

 

Love confession.  Fire alarm.  In that order.

 

The mistress.  A bird nest in her throat.                         

 

 Tenterhook dock. The way his voice ends a poem.

 

 

 

¯

Debbie Lustig

Work

 

No words only our breathing – two people

in a garage. Workbenched, love-bolted.

Quiet flits like wood dust. Rough surfaces

catch small sounds. My father and me,

constructing memories. He glues,

mixing resins with medical art. I carve

aluminium, butter-soft, young.

My vice holds a Chinese pictogram

with a promise of luck. I urge my fretsaw

carefully through the maze.

 

The tools are a language

he will teach me to speak:

screwdriver-hammer-longnosepliers

unused like spices, twinned

to the wall, shadowing themselves.

 

I coast on a lull, the air sawdust-spattered.

Soon, I will lose the Chinese pendant

and he will finish building a boat.

He will leave me with a brass fob-watch that

has stopped then

turn his attention to a project with no name.

¯

 

Kimberley Mann

Monday

 

I see

 

the butcher

switch on the flouro in his

red & silver room,

 

the baker

open the door for the smell

to be released

 

the fruit & veg man

push up his roller door

& stretch

 

On the bus

a woman wiggles off her wedding

ring & smiles

as she stares out of the window

¯

 

Tasha Joy Miller

Fernweh

 

He yearns to be free

He desires

To get out his boots

Tie the laces tight

 

Wrap wool scarf

Around thick neck

Step surely out the gate

And into the night

 

He knows not where he goes

Only that he must

Move through the extensive world

And travel

 

He aches in his chest

He feels, but he knows not what he feels

There is a word

He thinks

 

It hovers above him

Just out of reach

With the toe of his boot

He scuffs the dirt…

¯

Graham Nunn

Ocean Hearted

 

the house you live in
is built on tidal plain and farmer's field
flat as the world before civilisation

 

the land you walk is
below sea level, all oyster shell and mangrove root
patient fingers of wood holding their breath

 

you fix the horizon's shape
in your mind, its shimmering possibility
held between seagull and midday

 

the hot sting of sun on your neck
like a blade lifting skin
you're all blonde hair and blisters

 

you stop and clouds swim
like mullet into your pupil
for a moment you wonder why you are here

 

you left the house and walked towards the water
eyes shut, pulling away from shore
you heard the call

 

it sounded like ocean
you hear it now
swim harder, it says, swim harder

first published in Remark (USA)

¯

Lewis Scott

NOVEMBER 4, 2008 – THIS DAY IN HISTORY

 

I thought of family I had never met

I thought of family graves I had never knelt by or prayed over

I thought of family jumping into the Atlantic Ocean, sensing an even greater death at the end of the slave ship’s journey

I thought of “the door of no return” in the slave forts of Ghana

I thought of Little Rock Baptist Church, whose seed began under a pine tree and whose walls reverberate with the voices of call and response

I thought of Billie Holiday’s tree of Strange Fruit

I thought of Dr. King’s death in exchange for

“I have a dream”

I thought of the escaped slave Harriet Tubman: “you run with me or you die here”

I thought of cotton fields, with bent Black backs hauling sacks full of dreams

I thought of my father’s father and his father, who swallowed the word “boy” all their lives and saw the world through red eyes

I thought of my mother’s mother and her mother, whose washboard hands knew the dirt of humankind

I thought of the cutting knives in the word “nigger” when Black backs stood unbent

I thought of the hushed voices in the slave cabins: “you just keep on living, freedom goin’ come”

I thought of dead bones holding on to that belief

I thought of Black fingers quilting our stories

I thought of the Negro National Anthem,

“Lift Every Voice and Sing”

I thought of Black music creating our sounds of piercing defiance

I thought of family who woke this day, dressed in the skin of Barack Hussein Obama

I heard this morning the slave song:

“you run until you find freedom”

¯

fee sievers

 

Audrey

 

She enters the room all frills

And cheap lace in a rush

Of excitement and flurry of hair

Air catching her skirt

 

Long before she arrives

The smell of mischief seeps

Through walls as he waits for 

Her to makes her appearance

 

The click of her heels on hard

Wood floors give her away

Every time but she feigns

Surprise at his surprise

 

To see her in the doorway

Every Friday night without fail

Same wine same smile

Same tick of the clock

 

Ah… Friday nights

The kids sleep at Grandmas

Audrey takes off all her hats

And finds herself again

¯

Jenny Toune

I think

 

about you with her              think

through nights tumbled over flesh

whipped by this persistent affliction

think with my guts 

churning some bizarre fantasy and

fantasise about not

thinking

think shallow pernicious

rumblings fed by misguided platitudes from friends

and lovers

 

how long will

/ are you still

/ it won't last

 

so I run with sex and anarchy - we're

looking for faith

but can only find disbelief

                                                             mounting fear

we try to cut in

but it's a cold party - fear

                                                             an icy lay

 

I watch anarchy and stoned love flirting

with consummation -  but they can't

                                                             keep it up

 

and nor could you - my love

 

my thinking is marred by my thoughts

I think

 

 

¯¯¯

BROKEN HILL

COBAR

ORANGE

¯

Diana Brooks

When love is like a fish

How difficult

the uneasy rub of egos.

I looked for her in the crowd, but

she vanished

like a fish

swimming along

the bottom of a pond.

 

Background of indigo and black.

The full moon in the car park;

powerlines

intersect and divide it,

connect and catch it.

 

My mind the moon,

caught in wires.

How difficult the uneasy

rub of moods and egos. 

It's easy not to flow: to push

at the wrong moment,

Mis-collide the spurs of meeting.

 

¯

George Cole

Thackaringa Breezes

As you meander through the ghostly Silver Town’s remains,

With its crumbling walls, pot holed roads and stunted trees.

Waterless bores, low grade ore, piled beside deserted claims,

With a lonely hotel door still open, with shingle swinging in the breeze.

Stately churches no longer preach and pray in holy hope.

As they play host to a master class from the Eastern suburbs,

Armed with brushes, pallets and oils, to create a kaleidoscope,

Of baker’s and butcher’s and shanty town pubs.

Beside the skeletal wall of German Charlie’s store,

There’s an ancient eerie gaol, with rusting broken locks,

Tumbledown sandstone blocks, and iron clad doors,

With rusted cuffs, and fractured wooden stocks.

A hempen rope with a grisly hangman’s knot,

Dangling from the stained and bloodied gibbet crop.

The gaping trapdoor the convict’s sorry lot,

Before the dreaded final six-foot drop.

A sagging stable roof, with doors ajar, on twisted hinge,

Iron horseshoes, curled and bent, with rusty nails still lay

Besides a blacksmith bellows, blackened, cracked and singed.

With ghostly remounts, saddled and cinched, ready for the fray.

If you listen to the lonely winds gently sighing,

Floating through the ghost gums with golden wattle weeping.

When you leave this ghostly town of broken buildings lying,

You’ll hear the whisper of the Thackaringa breezes softly begging.

“Please come back again.”

¯

Kim Core

Hate's Harvest's Habits

 
And he had the hide to say
we will
instead of
he will
 
decide
who will come into our
country
 
and we
the original boat people
kicked out and/or on the run
since time begun
 
and this world in this age
a motherless ship
with only the promise of talent in the
killing field
 
the curtain's drawn
O tear the veil in two
there's always a feast to feed
a few hungry few
 
and still the hunger
to see anything
 
to see a something
he never will
 
the only cross we cannot bear
is the one we cannot give up
 
we were made in His image
He made Himself in ours
 
teaching us how to belong
 
the first Master of Rhetoric
was the Serpent
in the Garden
 
he not only did it so well
he got away with it

 

 

¯

Barbara De Franceschi

Shadow Dancers

 

black on liquid white

movement in a sliding scale

sensuality/ obscure invitation

projections seen on the other side

entertain sleeping-pill feet

out for a good time

a climb

onto chairs

a slither

down a pole

safe from the gropers

the hot breaths

hormones hidden in a silhouette

gyrating into barroom poses

a working class wife

transvestite Chiquita

if tits are hard and bellies flat

they shoot the drifts

twist in suspenders

pleat inside themselves

to burn out their skint neighbourhoods

forget fat men picking their teeth

the moon that licks bare arse at midnight

and the stew

every day

for dinner

from “Strands” (Island, 2009)

 

¯

Kristene Smith

Life’s Struggle

 

I sit here alone

 and survey with disgust,

My life time’s work

now turned to dust.

 

It seems all evils

took their spite

on this weakened land,

leaving me in this plight.

 

Mice and locusts

ravaged the fields,

Then the rains failed to come

– my fate was sealed.

 

Temperatures rose, then  searing heat

saw bushfires next engulf the land.

All that stood within their paths

now lie black – a lifeless brand.

 

Once it seemed

that Mother Nature and I

could work as a team.

 The truth I see is far from that dream.

 

¯

Marvis Sofield

I am a sea creature

connections learned

under the weight of ocean

mirrored in the depth of sky

taught to swim

in salt water.

 

In my youth

the surfer boys

liked the black eyed

slink of me 

thick seaweed hair

drew them on.

 

In my fluid world

there was only

camouflage

and enticement

nothing languid

about the chase.

 

They thought me prey.

I let them.

 

 

I rise on dry land now

stamped by red dust

shake  ropes of air

that whip my gritty skin.

 

Under the weight of

other’s country

I pull myself to

my skull

a muddied widow’s cap

out here.

 

 

Again I stand

to swim. 

 

¯

 

Jasmine Vidler

A night out? No problem

 

Climb over eskies

feel for a bus seat

within a dark cabin polite introductions to all

we move into Highway traffic

pull in a friend’s head from an open window

 

singing begins

What do you do with a drunken sailor?”

no one, no one knows all the words

a token lap of the main

on the way to a performance

 

we find a long driveway to a farm, silence

lights glowing from distant city streets, luminous

sentinel trees grant us brief sanctuary, peace

 

one bloke pees, then another

 

finally arrive at the hall for country musical

eat, drink, laugh, sing, talk, gossip

the heckling begins;  a heave;  smell of vomit

others red with embarrassment

“Nah, there’s no problem officer”

 

“What do you do with a drunken sailor?”

take him home, the night is over

 

¯

Ramon Ware