BRIGHTON & BEROWRA
A selection of work arising from workshops in 2021
FEATURING: Henry Briffa, Kristen de Kline,
Jennie Fraine, Colleen Keating, Kate Lumley,
Cecilia Morris, Nicole Rain Sellers, Ellen Shelley,
Sarah St Vincent Welch, Alice Wanderer,
Mathew Wenham & Ron Wilkins
Archived in Pandora
from Meuse Press –
through your tower
but you’re beyond reach
betrays a history
that hangs like a carcass
mother traded you
unable to let down your hair
(if you try there’s trouble)
ghost claws back
won’t go away
what’s behind you
climbs that ladder
sold for a song
early trauma shatters
a love that cures is
difficult to find
having not known trust
it could blow your mind
Kristen de Kline
black rain beats
into rusted buckets
down the front windows
muddy water on the patio
I know you’re listening
all your words
in the wrong places
don’t pretend you can’t hear me
on a laconic television
a rogue tide
little fish flounder
when the storm breaks
will we fuck
in the moonlight
Art on the Riverbank, Nathalia
Among islands of shade
at birds’ resting time
Each bamboo rod
surrenders green tassels
to sharp blades.
While we construct ungainly eagles
wind flutters river’s
A pair of imported geese float
beneath Broken Creek’s bridge
creating new reflections.
The limping one is glad
to rest aching joints,
paint water with ripples.
I brush flies away
as the quiet work
of cane-and-paper art continues,
write poems for children
about all-seeing eagles that soar
above shadows and dry light.
Ill with a summer ‘flu merciless as ivy, I shun the beach
and read Antigone. Sophocles’ trope of pride and its wages,
of statecraft becalmed, reminds me of Trump
so I muse on the Athenians who watched the play
(were they only men?) and what they made of the war
of wills between an old ruler and a girl. He wants to punish.
The king proclaims her brother, slain as he stormed the city,
a traitor and denies him burial. Antigone is defiant.
Under a grave sky, she performs grief’s work. Beyond
the city’s gates, she pours earth on his body left
for carrion birds and dogs. She pays with her life. Did this
entertain or was it a code to goad rebellion against irrational laws?
Would they have the girl’s pluck and conscience?
The Chorus sings that when we are old,
we learn wisdom. The play ends. The king,
stepping over corpses, slouches off to play golf.
Brush and Pen
to draw the outline of a naked woman
or follow the shape of sails on a boat
the dagger brush drops vermillion
that creeps between cotton paper
then blooms in wet areas
a curved back draped in velvet robe
backlit by a window catching sunlight
violet and blue for shadows
transparency glows in the final glaze
to make a full moon punch
from behind dark clouds
make light drift with intimacy.
my face is bruised with colour
Nicole Rain Sellers
helianthus rotate lush satellite dishes
nod neon arcs bioactive phalanx
effloresce midnight bonneted moon angels
hum wormhole music starfield sonar cones
tilt bullseye auras infrared antennas
glow fractal seed lurid-petaled vacuums
analyse space junk frilly data helmets
scan sunrise curve planetary heralds
excavate silence geocentric probes
The shriek of a bird hitches to the wind at my back.
The waterfront shimmers orange, green then blue;
a coloured globe turns in an ornamental moon.
I look back to a time friends spoke a strange language:
university, moving out, the new car —
a centrifugal force except I was the only one unslung.
The haunted path serenades like an aimless tune.
It sticks to the remains of a nearly gone sunset
like the roof of my mouth or an idea of a thing;
that fake flickering, a bird in the wind I can’t see,
until I can. That time I stood still or the other way around.
Uncertainty was not like any song I knew, so I left
with nothing at my back. An intersection of home
and truths, narrowed towards the natural phrase
of a place, I was glad to know the words to.
Sarah St Vincent Welch
she is an anime character
of my childhood the girl
in The Littlest Warrior
the sacrificial sister
almost married off
to her tormentor
transcending to crane
she is now my maple tree
next in a lineage of symbolic plants
the dead azalea for a failed marriage
a withered and nipped jade plant
Anju’s hair is growing back
acer leaves pressed against glass
simply walking away
I watch the green shadows from my bed
RIPPLES IN A MIRROR
A clearing. And there it is. Pond-like but rock rather than water… until people appearing near the edge break the illusion and it becomes a wall of boulders barely up to their knees. Then, as the approach brings me to slightly higher ground, concentric barriers and paths.
A group of kids burst into the space. They climb, balance, jump or sprint around the pathway. Come on. You’ll lose. A boy goes all out, using a stiff restraining arm to overtake his older sister. I am the king of the maze!
As someone who wants to drum, to make them sing, I resent the do not touch signs by the sculptures. The labyrinth, though, insists on interaction. No nautilus shell, no bobbin’s rapid climbing and descending thread, it teases, tantalizes. I’m taken almost to the goal, then thrown back out towards its edge. Travel clockwise, anticlockwise. Repeat, repeat.
Once I have reached the heart, the whole course lies before me in reverse. Seven hundred steps. Three score and ten.
her circle skirt…
oh to be Mirka Mora
when I grow up
For a moment
all history was compressed
into the rusty shark
to the awning above
the fish ‘n’ chips shop.
All engineering, all power
of representation, silent
for that floating moment
on the iron shark
and for that moment
the shark swam
in the open sea of experience
like the birds that perched
on its bent dorsal fin.
What’s in a name?
I recollect the old dry watercourse
where I was seated, splitting shale, each hammer blow
revealing yet another fragment of the sea floor
from 400 million years ago.
And suddenly in the rock, against all odds,
the clean cast of an unknown fossil with some crinoids, brachiopods,
the common fauna from its marine source.
The paleo-biologists were swift
to ascertain this fossil was a new carpoid
and as Victoriacystis wilkinsi they linked this creature to my name,
whereby I can’t avoid
the thought that I am one with it, and it
with me, yet it could never know how our relationship would fit
the vagaries of continental drift.
How can we comprehend a form of life
its line extinct, with nothing like it living now?
A flattened sack of calcite plates that differ front and back, two
openings—an anus, mouth, we can allow—
but we have no idea which is which,
a stalk perhaps to fix the creature to its chosen sea floor niche,
or with a prod propel it out of strife.
The last V. wilkinsi did not outgrow
Silurian time; what object then lays proper claim
to the binomial appellation, posthumously conferred? Should a
figment of imagination hold my name?
Or is the cast sarcophagus the last
repository; one side facing sedimentary layers past,
the other a future it would never know.
MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.
All work © the authors.