Australian

Poetry Collaboration

#33

 

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

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from Meuse Press –

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

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Henry Briffa

Rapunzel

 

you project

through your tower

 

a voice

 

but you’re beyond reach

your structure

 

betrays a history

that hangs like a carcass

 

mother traded you

for grass

 

you’re uptight

mad

 

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

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Kristen de Kline

Tailslap

 

it's never

enough:

staying alive

 

black rain beats

into rusted buckets

down the front windows

muddy water on the patio

 

I know you’re listening

 

all your words

flail about

in the wrong places

 

don’t pretend you can’t hear me

 

on a laconic television

Australian Open

players collapse

 

a rogue tide

little fish flounder

tails slap

against the breeze

when the storm breaks

will we fuck

in the moonlight

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Jennie Fraine

Art on the Riverbank, Nathalia

 

Among islands of shade

at birds’ resting time

secateurs snap.

Each bamboo rod

surrenders green tassels

to sharp blades.

 

While we construct ungainly eagles

wind flutters river’s

milk-coffee current.

 

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.

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Colleen Keating

A Day of mourning

 

although everything is a mess, all is well    Charlotte Joko Beck

 

the mess of now

silence textured into stone

falls like lagan into the sea of my mind

 

i remember when i didn’t know the truth

 

when i was nine

i was taken to Farm Cove

to a re-enactment of the first fleet

with a sense of childlike pride

an open mind fresh as a shucked oyster

the Union Jack was raised

we sang God save the Queen

 

I wrote up the story for Social Studies

excited at our country’s progress and prosperity

and my comfortable place in it

 

years later

i learnt the story was inaccurate

with a sense of shame I heard

the men who did the re-enactment

feet stamping the blooded sand

were bused in    as locals had refused

 

only later i imagined

their eyes were empty 

as dry dams on the dusty plain

 

i remember when i didn’t want to know the truth

 

today after my ocean swim

i walk the tidal line 

crowded now mid-morning

my usually lonely beach

basks in hundreds of family groups

children dig castles and canals 

chase waves   waves chase them

every sun tent exudes

smells and sounds of sizzling foods

mingled with a buzz of languages

 

I remember when i knew the truth

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Kate Lumley

Anarchy

 

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.

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Cecilia Morris

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

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Nicole Rain Sellers

                               sunflower nocturne

                               

                                   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

 

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Ellen Shelley

Discovery

 

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.

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Sarah St Vincent Welch

Anju’s hair

 

is burnt

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

for luck

 

Anju’s hair is growing back

acer leaves pressed against glass

imagine Anju

simply walking away

I watch the green shadows from my bed

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Alice Wanderer

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

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Mathew Wenham

For a moment

all history was compressed

into the rusty shark

bolted

to the awning above

the fish ‘n’ chips shop.

 

All engineering, all power

of representation, silent

persuasion, stillness

centred

for that floating moment

on the iron shark

 

and for that moment

the shark swam

in the open sea of experience

free

like the birds that perched

on its bent dorsal fin.

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Ron Wilkins

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.

 

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MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.

 

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