Creatrix 10 Poetry

September 2010

 

Selectors/Editors: Peter Jeffery, Chris Palazollo and Sally Clarke
Administration: Sally Clarke

Contributors:

Kevin Gillam

the golden mean
the anaesthetist’s share

David Barnes

Bypass
in the path of a Perth night

Jan Napier

The Dream Maker
A Dream of Fire

Christopher Konrad

Inverted Cities
Endless

Paula Jones

Grandragon
The Woman Who Brought In The Moths

Rose Van Son

Home Late

Ron Okely

Pumping Petrol

Julie Watts

Nursing home

Liana Joy Christensen

Panic
Frida Downunder

Rod Tinniswood

Green Wheelbarrow

Gail Robinson

Les in the flesh

Elio Novello

Pillow Talk

John Ryan

Quabbin Reservoir, Nearing Spring
Agrophobia in the Garden State

Flora Smith

Addiction

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Spaces Together
How?

Amanda Joy

Song
All The Way Home

Sue Clennell

Photo Album

Annamaria Weldon

The Guardian Tree
Seamless

Janet Jackson

another

Mardi May

Shakuhachi
Coffee at Einsteins –

Max Merckenschlager

Easy In The Sun
A Letter To Sallie

Laurel Lamperd

Persephone’s Girls  

John McMullan

The Salaryman

Peter Rondel

Summer romance
Chairs on the green

Kate King

DFO Carpark

Sally Clarke

Stolen First Line
Romany

Dean Meredith

Stray Cat Café
Hooked

Virginia O’Keeffe

On the death of young Joe
Ritual

Derek Fenton

Les Murray reading at the Midland City Hall

Rachel Petridis

Most Fathers

Coral Carter

Household Blessings
evening view, bold hill.

Paul Harrison

entwined in dissolution
exegesis

Colleen O’Grady

Mount Tom Price

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the golden mean 

my father, eighty years ago, at the age of –
my guess – seven – was driven

with classmates in a bus on a
stifling hot February day to a Wagin salt lake,

marched to jetty end, and thrown in.
my father never talked about the ease of floating,

how their bodies formed spoons on the surface in the
spangled light, how tepid brine burned

at lips and scabbed knees, never told us
how a girl screamed when her foot found a sheep’s skull,

how three ducks watched from near the reeds, how the absence
of showers left them all with hair like dolls.

he did talk about the golden mean, ratio of weight to air,
that day, his first lesson in flight

Kevin Gillam

the anaesthetist’s shar

am breathing in sunshine, in silence,
in an afternoon still as regret.

you’re not with me, off and not,
on the tongue, all that’s unsaid.

we are vespers, we are all sung,
we have been out here, bush-fired sunsets,

cinders of betweens. and there is you,
ghost limb, collection bowl, a throb,

a guilt, a staining, as if am
moth-wing fingered, as if have been

mouthing hymns, forgetting, like
losing North, surrendering the

anaesthetist’s share. but am breathing out
fret and make-believe to this

smashed up sky, to twigs on doorsills,
am setting traps.

but, turning left, moving right,
with the hum of wires, this seagull heart,

words long as notes, not yet
at the crossing of leaving/longing,

in the could of did. this smeltered now,
blood and time and water,

or, perhaps, the weight of silence,
bar lines through hours unplayed.

perhaps bark has ceased book-ending.
where are the small deities

for frail thinking, the lakes for intincting?
where sits the drum of scalded leaves,

your gun-powdered maps and creeds?

 

Kevin Gillam

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Bypass
for Andrew Burke

When faced
with a rocky road ahead
and we are uncertain;
a spark is within every mind.

One day,
we reach- forth to hold it.
“No man or woman lives
without  the inner light of Hope.”
Invariably, it is with hope
we go forth renewed;
ascend, to live,
with life.

David Barnes

 

 

in the path of a Perth night

______ a windstorm strikes
its strength unabated      untamed
i feel the roots  of the house move
__ walls tremble,   weatherboards-groan
____ crack, like bones
____________ displaced

i check for damage
floorboards creak on
____________ my way outside in a lull

retuning to my desk pen-in-hand
i write for fulfillment contentment
is it my passion    that i jot down words
in the    midst of tempest

____________ if so
_____________ to what purpose

leaves whip round gyrating in the air
wild creepers up   unkempt trees
clasp tight; so much
____________ overgrown

____________ so wild;
_____________ is the backyard-attuned

another violent surge
walls vibrate
____________  i felt the shudder   of the roof
_____________  will it    be visiting another’s
______________ back-garden

tomorrow’s headlines

It’s 4:30 am

and all i know
is a doorway in to the dark
____________ on a wild Perth night.

David Barnes

 

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The Dream Maker

His hands are slender, as delicate as rain in Venice,
as love’s last tendrils, as deer’s breath.
He tweaks the sleepscapes, braids the scraps and tatters
of our yesterdays: the tangoes, stirrups, howdoyas, fizz,
and crepe now as rusty as escape abandoned.
He tucks each into a skein of minty yawns, bang nails,
goatskins of ghost surf.
Slowly, oh so slowly, his nimble digits waltz with snakes,
digitalia, the bacon and thinness of it all;
stretch like racked prisoners, a reflux of Mondays,
hot coffee splutters.
He delves through each sleeper’s kaleidoscope:
the eerie nots of morality, thickets of hot glass, thorns;
wrings their warp into mirrors of lost and scaly natures.
Tanned by too much starshine, too much granite,
too much electroslip, yet as arrogant and fine as dragon flight,
or birth, or even shrines, the dream maker’s fingers
strum the skystrings, pluck dark’s peaches.

Jan Napier

A Dream of Fire

It bushfires the eyes,
sucks at them like a Saharan summer,
chars them to catblack.

This SV6 ignites the air,
bleeds flames as sleek as love’s promise,
slick as a cardsharp,
carmine as a conscience
still fretted by falsehoods.

The beast itself
is a crisis of red, a birthday of red,
an adventure of red.
The ruby of November bonfires,
of true hearts,           of Mars.

Abyssed within panels of ferric gloss,
a bust of skyrockets,    a snap of Tabasco,
a shout of poppies,    a bang of balloons,
an incandescence of chillies,
all ferris wheel within unfingered duco.

Bright as innocence,   as star melt,   as a shriek,
quartz halogen headlights torpedo the dark,
scuttle its mystery,    solve night.

Sharp arced as Saladin’s scimitars
mag wheels cut and slash.

This car sears the senses,
scalds beds,
explodes marriages.

Jan Napier

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Inverted Cities

There are cities down there in the sea of the marrow
in every hello and goodbye
in trellis and barrow: down there is plotted the course over
the vaguest horizons from morning through night
‘cross plains into the delta. They plot my fatherhood, marriage and tide
where to bury the dead
where to raise children
there under every sinew where heart’s the engine of
those immense steel and glass columns reflecting each other
across streets pitch wet  in the rain
a second world unfathomed, built upon
second guesses, superstitions, fairy tales
the maps of which have long been scripted or lived by
every writer drinking their cafe pages, revealing secret thoughts.

In the cities above lines are well defined such that rustic dwellers will say
‘Thank God I don’t live there’ there in the niche worlds of rarefied mind but
it is amongst the wrecked transom of the beneath world that the treasure
lies, disgorged and scattered. It is the dead that build cities above and
it is in inverted cities that we find ourselves at last.

Christopher Konrad

Endless

She waited

I had lost time out there in the wood
things of men distracted me
I succumbed to the weather, to heat and cold
my skin not yet hardened to the draw of temptations aplenty

And yet she waited

Great ships took me through night currents
took me to distant places from where I thought I would never return
we docked in strange ports where strange tongues wagered my life
imprisoned and hopeless I forgot days and nights

When waiting ends

Great birds of the sea weave, circle like carrion
leading me home again
I  return from unknown horrors and endless days
blistered hands, scorched back
I do not expect soft times or forgiveness
you have given these many times over
weather has ravaged my face and leathered my heart
at the port where waiting ends

Christopher Konrad

 

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Grandragon

curled around your easy chair
watching the ancient rise
and fall of your stretched ribs
your thick knuckles and outdoor arms
the graying scales of your speckled skin
tracing the curve of thick spine
the soft crackle of vanilla breath
sending smoky tufts
a hint of angled teeth
the tarnish of your aging
smile
and are you dreaming of
great wings beating
as you chip at the brittle shell
to find your mother’s
eager eye?

Paula Jones

 

 

The Woman Who Brought In The Moths

It seemed such a small thing
unlocking the moon
unhinging the sky|
pushing the glass of heaven out windows.

It was such a short word with the dead
with the eyes and ears of stars
with things that have already ended
and yet speak to us still.

The earth fell to its bare knees at the sound
the breaking glass of sorrow
and no one noticed the darkening
when the sea caught breath and began again.

Somewhere in the wide of it
in the great open ocean of the sky
a cricket heard and talked
all through the night.

In the morning
two moths, ghostly and quivering
cling to the rough skin of the calico curtain
unsure of which way
to fly.

Paula Jones

 

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Home Late

In the dark, firefly light
spans the sheath we know as river

the pearl of a canoe swings again
like sleeve across the beach

drawn to lie
on grass in front of gate

as parrots finished with play
bed for the night

all we hear is the tap-tap
wood of chopping.

In the breeze of your sharing
a mellow wind side-sweeps your hair

loose strings from a vine
snake to veranda posts

your scent stands still in frieze
allows time to distil.

Rose van Son

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Pumping Petrol

You’ve found your voice
_______ Yes
Where was it, under the counter?

Last week when I bought my petrol
She handed me a note
_______ I’ve lost my voice
_______ If you want a receipt
_______ Please tell me

I didn’t need a receipt

Today
Her swept back jet black hair
Eyes alive and sparkling
I just couldn’t help it
I said
You look lovely today

Silly old fool
Why would someone half your age
_ need a compliment from you

She smiled a warm appreciative smile
_______ Thankyou  she said
and handed me a receipt
even though I hadn’t asked for it
and really didn’t need it

Clutching the receipt I left the shop

Sometimes it’s good
_ To be a silly old fool

Ron Okely

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Nursing home

On a wheel bed by the aviary

she lies like a half curled bird

fingers   slivers of bone
curved into claws

she is treeless
nothing in her hands but air

her legs        pale stalks
seized at the knee

her daughter bares them to the early spring sun

talks to her constantly
soft grey coos

pops pinches of shredded bread and cake
into her dropped mouth

holds a baby cup
to beaked lips to be sucked.

The canaries are full-bellied and lusty
and trill for love

and her clipped body
limp as a shelled chick

quivers
with the thrill of it.

Julie Watts

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Panic

Ah, old god, why is it so hard
to recognise you?
No longer wise I blunder on
until you are mucked in fear
bleached in the backwash of cortisol
Let me make amends
carry you down to the reeds
and wash the sick smell from your hooves
Let me compose myself
and in stillness listen
to your wild twilight piping
Let me breathe deeply
the river’s dampness and catch again
the goaty odour of freedom

Liana Joy Christensen

Frida Downunder
for T.W.

A strange twin I’ve picked
you might think:
the diminutive Mexican artist
and you, yet though it’s true
her eyes were brown and
yours are blue with a hint of green
in them something like Frida’s
fiery beauty can be seen
and the same kind of strong soul
Neither denying – nor
being confined to –
the box ticked ‘disability’
your unlikely sister and
you simply spill over
the categories with fierce delight
and undiminished appetite
for sensuous and artistic life

Liana Joy Christensen

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Green Wheelbarrow

Brunswick Green’s good for a barrow
Not faded red to an inappropriate tint
nor grey stained timber discarded by weather
Brunswick Green is right for the barrow

Pitiful neglect after heat and hard work
Investment rusted by indifferent rain
Long months endured after a season’s passion
Brunswick Green will be good for a barrow

Clouds clear slowly and it all comes to life
Soon there’ll be work and I’ll need it again
Look at it waiting, hungry for projects
Brunswick Green goes well with the barrow

Webs dispersed by the spring-clean brush
Anti-rust seeps into scars after sanding
Tighten the bolts: re-align its dignity
Brunswick Green makes good for the barrow

First coat, second coat, already it’s better
Turn it over – treat the inside the same
Ready to roll now we’re set for summer
Brunswick Green gives new life to the barrow

Rod Tinniswood

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Les in the flesh

At the bottom of the hall with gold-lined walls
beanied boffins circle a lily-pad buffet
croak cleverisms and compete to share
air with the man who spawns words
and might win a Nobel prize, yet
with all those months of preparation
with all the anticipation of his arrival
with all his greatness as a poet
with all his effort to teeter
up onto the stage in his
coma recovery state
you’d think
someone
would have
remembered to
check…one…two

Unless they just weren’t that into him at the council
just knew he was famous in that vague way

school kids and truck drivers have heard his name
might have mixed him up with the other one
could have listened to the commentator
for almost half of Margaret Throsby
before realising he talked more
about football than poetry

Les laughed when I told him about that
at the Sunday morning tea where I hogged him
for myself and we talked about architecture, media and his wife
who may or may not have been dead, my research imperfect
I offered her up tentatively alive, hoping he wasn’t offended
by ignorance, but then I’m not sure he’d say if he was
because Les is polite, would tolerate a person
who could bore the dust off a skeleton.

Gail Robinson
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Pillow Talk

Cried myself to sleep last night.
Hugged my pillow as if it was me.
Embraced it in foetal repose,
compressed its foam,
expelled its breath,
fully wet its case
till my eyes ran dry,

then I continued to cry
deep inside
with hidden tears
of remembered joy and love,
and seemingly
deep dark despair…

Hugged my pillow
as if it was me,
and the pillow said
Hold me

Hold me
Hold me

Elio Novello
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Quabbin Reservoir, Nearing Spring
Petersham, Massachusetts, USA

i.

spring spurs the yellow spotted salamander
from their burrows and overland to spawn
in vernal pools where they conjoin a squirming
mass, the raccoons drawn to feast as well

we gather torches subdued in red cellophane
to not disturb them and plastic buckets into
which we flop their rubbery bodies and carry
unscathed to the other side, deflecting motorists

lest they squash the sidling creatures, yellow
dots on top of glistening ebony undercoats
our breath fuming in the nearly midnight new
moon, we are more than voyeurs to the calvalcade

that hastens en lascivious masse with the warm
hesitant rain turning bitumen to a throbbing.

ii.

the farmers who come to collect maple sap
no longer use metal buckets and spiles
but a lattice-work of yellow, red, and blue
plastic tubes netting trees to fifty-five gallon

barrels, in the bright barren late winter sun
the saccharin water drip-drops like soft puckers
and through the nights, the flowing forth from
phloem, fermentation, then the sealing off

maple, sweet maple simmering in sugar shacks
a single drop, the juice of primordial seduction.

iii.

over thirty now and idle, I walk a battered track
to a curve at a delta of frost-singed grass
and backfill, the church bell dlungg-dlungg
across the valley, in these northern towns

you sometimes think limpid days never come,
that you live in a forgotten freeze frame of corn-
snow, porcupines gnawing at bark in the pallor
of short light, that you might always dwell in drafty

rooms with sodden firewood for a hearth of stone,
counting shadows at the tattered edge of fecundity.

John Ryan

Agrophobia in the Garden State
For New Jersey

these woods are not open
but hemmed in with all manner
of tree and brush and herbs,
oaken trunks are wishbones
slowly straining at the crotch,
a gash in a pitch pine exposes
tawny-brown flesh sealed in
a rosary of golden sap—
its untalking lips closed and
I gouged it there years back
wounding the pitted bark
with a meat cleaver;
lady slipper orchids will come
if I wait for the veiny pink
testes to emerge and droop
and—in truth—ivory lantern
bunches of wild blueberries
will call rhomboidal light to the
duff, showering hard inedible fruits
upon strata of decaying things:
samara, rhizome, flung sepals;
one morning, crouching among
convolvulus, I will decide
to kiss the dryads
on their ruddy cheeks
board the plane to Sydney,
upchuck my guts into the sea.

John Ryan
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Addiction 

I remember we were sea people.
Sea seekers together;
reef waders, fishers and sailors.

I was a reader of rock pools, gleaner
of treasure from seaweed and storm-wrack.

Our speech was sea-sound,
a soft swish and sigh   swish and sigh.

Our love all the rhythms of sea,
advance and retreat, breaking and thunder.

He would have his days as storm-maker
when I knew to take to the cliff paths alone.

That day, his voice all great black boomers,
my high sea-bird cry, piping and piping.

I came home, sea-calmed from the cliffs:
heard only the rasping of my shoes on shell
as I tried to claim his torso from the tide.

But I do not remember weeping.

Flora Smith
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Spaces Together

Take my hand from here and there
place it to your heart, feel hearts quicken
tear-rimmed eyes swim in joy.
Gently trace  sensuous lips parting
imperceptibly. An invitation.

_______ waves lap sandy beach
_______ a caress to soothe the soul
_______ white walled cathedral beckons

From here and there take my hand
into you, feel love flow familiarity
as eyes turn to smile promises.
Flushed cheeks reflect eager lips
in longing beyond the physical.

_______ ancient altar hewn white marble
_______ her unclasped tunic reveals naked
_______ offerings to appease

My hand from here and there take
you to me, an embrace to meld into one.
Lips that hunger, devour each other.
World rushes in torrential waves
pursued by pounding hearts
to shake off reality.

_______ in gentle repose
_______ sun white buildings crowd
_______ around an azure sea

 

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

How?

How do you know when
you have written your last line?
How do you know when there are
no pages left?
Looked into your lover’s eye the last time
caressed her with the ultimate touch.

How do you know there are no more hours?
Turned the hourglass the final time
seen eternity approach.
No more tomorrows.

Life is fleeting and free
yet minds spin webs
create intricacies and intrigue
to confound and complicate.
Create disappointments and distress

to chill the strongest heart
spend todays in tomorrow
when today is all that exists.
This now.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi
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Song

(i)

This peninsula
where the river enters
where the earth disappears
where moths and fish gather at
the light, where we swim
into each other, braced
in the sea cradle
in the rock

where the song breaks, here
the rolling lull of tongue,
where the water curves back
into itself       and again
the salted liquid
_______________ draws
and sprays, so unlike
____________________ silence
where we sink in
where we make room

(ii)

Where there is
always a chance of being
misheard, like all things driven
through air          by wind
whole words might not reach
_______________ their destination

Washed, still, dry and done with
our bodies, against
_______________ the width of air
_______________ alone with
our bodies, where

_______________ Enclosed within,
our breath, to not
blow out candles
or feed fires

Amanda Joy

All The Way Home

i

Beginnings deteriorate
Even the second knock sounds
an imitation

The scraping of shoes on the mat
the soil trapped in the tread
The space once travelled
which then feels known
arches back like a snare

There is a particular silence
only found under the feet
of a traveller at rest

As windows of hotels sing back
at the motors of aeroplanes

ii

To stretch your arms
around both sides of his body
Pull him close to your chest
rock the squalling flesh
into a curved hush like
a horizon

iii

These soft annunciations
breathed into frontiers
of hard flesh

dewclaw words coiling
beside a tangle of legs
agape in silence
at the look of things

Pigment darkens
as skin covets its own
articulation

iv

In summer
made pretty by smell
of frangipanis

There are these mornings
where heat deadens everything
where
you don’t remember your own name
until you hear it

What if you lay with a stranger?
What if you fell asleep and woke
beside him?
Recognised your shape in the sheets
your colour against the white

Could you coyly
become a sound?

v

Geometric alphabet
with its sharp edges
offers no security for the memory
It cannot keep the devout
gushing of the mouth

greedily taking in what it can
hold of the voice
what it can retain of what was seen
bristling in the water

This point
which can’t be reached
can be called separation
no matter the distance

Amanda Joy

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Photo Album

I flit through the moons of faces
Grocer    milliner     tailor,
guests of last century,
study them as they are fobwatched
into a steady position,
their background lined with the wallpaper
of waterfalls and church windows.
For them the moon was still a silver virgin,
and death haphazardly zoned in
on the young, shuffled and
dealt Jessie the ace of spades
at thirty-five years       was euchred
by cardsharp Frank who lasted another seventy.
Wool was pulled over teetotaller Thomas’s eyes
as he was led around Williamstown,
musing at ship horns and motor vehicles,
tasting the fruit of new industry,
swishing it from side to side
of his mouth to consider,
worried for his heirs.
And of Thomas
just the chair and the chest of drawers,
and of Jessie
a pair of candlesticks and a gold bangle,
and of Frank
another shopkeeper and two scribes.
And when we are all gone,
there will still be moons and virgin worlds.
Previously Published by Unusual Work.

Sue Clennell
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The Guardian Tree

says it slant, sinuous
pale limbs sky-flung
haloed in winter sun

prays it windward
from peeling scrolls
that whisper wind’s breviary

leans into the shaping light
reveals shade’s mercy
stands its ground

old roots held
by salt-bound earth
at lake’s threshold

where the paperbark
grows, radiant
as a sage

the trees say nothing
Merton wrote, but this one
speaks to me.

Annamaria Weldon

 

 

Seamless

If sound is the last sense to leave me
let it be like this evening

under spent storm clouds
seams of sky opened by calm light

long threads of black swans
flying closer, wings low on the lake.

Coming home from the south
they passed me with necks outstretched

like dark stitches dusk pulled to the far shore
where they became needlepoint

in the distance above dunes,
darning sky’s torn hem

invisibly mending the night.
Let it be like that interval

before the stars arrived
when everything was lost from sight

only the calls of the swans still reached me
crying out as they left a seamless world behind.

Annamaria Weldon
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another

Waking on his narrow temporary bed,
surprised without his face,
he looks at
me
with unshuttered tenderness.
I make us breakfast
and we each continue
with our
work.
Soon he shall be out there somewhere
chasing some fresh
and pretty
girl
He shall nuzzle into her, mouth and mind
Outgrow her, chase another
Or be outgrown and
left
And I will miss him in soma and aura, earth and space,
satellites and colonies of duplicitous language
and occasional casual
notes

Janet Jackson
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Shakuhachi*

Bamboo embraces
resonance of music
savours the sound like
wine on the tongue
tasting mellowness

weighs texture of
breath in its wood
the thinness and purity
of snow-crisp air
a bird trill note
of lilting clarity

breath of sex
a tonal dive into
hollow caverns deep
in the belly of earth
a symbolic music
of primal yearning

bamboo speaks
an ancient language
floats melodic syllables
on a flow-slow river
mapping patience

notes like poetry
words whispered
with so little breathing
laden with secrets
and timeless truth.

Mardi May
*ancient Japanese musical instrument

 

Coffee at Einsteins –

a brilliant cappuccino
its brimming foam
rich chocolate-dusted,
full-spooned like cream
and caffeine powered,
a thinking man’s brew
of darkly roasted beans.

On the wall,
the creased and
deeply worried
portrait of a genius,
staking his reputation
on one fragrant cup.

He watches the relativity
of waitress and patron,
measures infinitesimal
degrees of variation in
his formula for cappuccino.

Mardi May

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Easy In The Sun

Old Man Collins lights his pipe to advertise the day’s begun.
Drawing on its blackened stem while resting easy in the sun,
he contemplates a cottage neat across the lane (between the plumes
of smoke) from which the master’s gone. His paintin’ neighbour, he assumes,
was long away to catch the rays of breakin’ dawn at sparrer fart,
and probably till close of day he’ll harvest sunlight with his art.

Old Man Collins ruminates on coins that jingle in his coat,
the payment for his modellin’ – an easy take at Billygoat!
“Just walk him up and down the lane,” he says to me and so I do,
while him as asked me pencils fast to catch the mood and movements true.
“I’ll model for you’s anytime,” says I to Hans and, ‘taint no joke,
he pays me more to strike a match and light me pipe and have a smoke!

Old Man Collins cocks an eye and squints to block the brilliant light
while studying his neighbour’s art. “You’ve caught that mob of woollies right,”
says he to Heysen, “dwarfed by gums, I’d say your paintin’s like a po’m.”
The canvas Sallie knew she’d lose, yet named in hope ‘The Coming Home’,
Old Collins loved – he knew not why. Perhaps it was the Hahndorf hills
that Heysen, in his mystic way, had captured with his wondrous skills.

Old Man Collins taps his pipe against a leg of Sonntag’s chair.
A wrinkled nose applauds the kuchen – heaven wafting on the air,
as Village folk discuss his neighbour, float their widely canvassed view
that ‘Heysen idles with his brushes, when the work is there to do.
Could a father feed his children, painting others while they toil?
Old Man Collins puffs an answer, “This one might, our prince of oil.”

Alfred (“Old Man”) Collins was Sir Hans Heysen’s neighbour in Billygoat Lane (now Collins St) Hahndorf, South Australia.
“Sallie” is the affectionate name that friends gave Hans’ wife Selma (Lady Selma Heysen). She regarded her husband’s paintings like ‘children’ and hated parting with them.
Sonntag’s Bakery was located in Main Street Hahndorf. “Kuchen” is the German word for “cake”.

Max Merckenschlager

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A Letter To Sallie

You knew it would not be easy,
didn’t you, playing second fiddle
to those mystic morns?
When love was new, you told him
how you mourned each parting picture
as though he’d sold a child.

Romantic? Yes, your dreams and letters
made him smile, so sparkling
and original their style.
“Well,” you said, “I don’t want anyone’s
whole love and attention … but,”
you warned him, “should you neglect me
I would surely forget to cook your dinner.”

A generous rival, you waited, worked and planned
as he fought to capture that special glow,
that atmosphere, the weight or heat of the moment,
the ethereal quality of each new day.

You honoured him, organized the humble artist,
loved him, brought eight lively children
into his Hahndorf paradise,
but tempered their exuberance and joy,
ensuring his work and passion
were rarely compromised.

Did he talk of nature’s perfection
when he painted you,
calm and confident at your sewing table,
bathed in morning light,
caressed by dappled shadows of a gentle day?
Did he whisper, “I must sketch you now,
before the truth of this moment vanishes,
before the mundane destroys the magic.”
And did he tell you that he loved you
more each passing day?

I hope he did,
if not on that perfect morning
then as your evening embers glowed red gold,
when he knew that far too soon
he would be missing you,
his partner in his Heaven.

Jacqui Merckenschlager
Addressed to “Sallie” (Lady Selma Heysen), wife of acclaimed S.A. artist Sir Hans Heysen. It refers to Heysen’s oil painting Sewing (the artist’s wife), 1913.

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Persephone’s Girls  

Long legs vanish into tight skirts
shoulder length hair
swings in unison
with pert shoulder bags.

High wedge sling backs
________ click clack
along the street
stop at the tan coloured
Holden Commodore parked outside
the icecream shop.

Shirts undone to the waist
peak caps swiveled backwards
lush lips shine
young men from Broome call
come with us
________ to the Shinju Matsuri.

Persephone’s girls giggle
________ and long legs prancing
leap into the Commodore
and head to the Stairway of the Moon
________ leaving mothers wailing.

Laurel Lamperd
Previously published in The Japanese Grandmother 2010

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The Salaryman

Their ancestor
reputation is ferocious
the kamikaze menace
the piercing Bonsai scream

Their icons are distinctive
the Sumo, the Geisha
the Fuji and Zen
and slaughter of whales

Their life style is minimal
the house and family
garden and art
the sex motel

They swarm to the station
to ride in a state
of sedated acceptance
of a subservient fate

Their uniform conforms
the shoes gleam black
the cuff-links expensive
the silk-tie matches the shirt

They work in a prison
one hour from home
with a chain gang of
men in their suits

With Samurai discipline
and impeccable manners
they collect information
for the salaryman team

Their loyalty is embedded
they are born in a country
of Kanji and clan
and animist lore

Their industrial war
is waged overseas
a rising sun goal
to conquer the world

The Shinto early life
and Buddhist hereafter
ancient rituals
to honour the spirit

the bow of the head
the inscrutable face
_______________ the Salaryman’s ultimate guise

John McMullan

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Summer romance

The sun dies slowly on this final day
Shadows long and soft lay sleeping –
ghosts of yesterday.
She cast her dreams to an evening breeze,
hopes and promises floating like angels.
She watches them drift towards tomorrow
like a cloud of butterflies.
Each season has a secret soul –
mermaids and leprechauns,
creatures that live in the minds of dreamers,
and as the day loses its colour,
she thinks of him.

Peter Rondel

Chairs on the green

The sun is so obliging today
but they sit below umbrellas
and try to deny it exists.
Afraid of freckles,
afraid of sunburn
they are just afraid.
Teapots with cosies
bone china cups
and chairs on the green.
Lives unraveled
like a skein of wool
tangled and forgotten.
They sip their tea
and wipe the crumbs
from their laps –
it would never do
to seem untidy
though they have forgotten why.
Somewhere in the distance
a bell rings the song of noon
and heads turn, uncertain.
Where did their minds go
after youth and middle age
leaving behind those empty eyes
History written in the veins
on the backs of hands
hold many secrets

Peter Rondel
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DFO Carpark

Beware the intersecting vehicle
as you circle like a shark,
round and round
and round and round
the DFO car park.
Sniff out your prey, then
Fasten to the parcel-laden shopper,
as she hobbles to her car.
Blink, blink,
wait patiently
as she
unlocks,
unloads,
climbs in,
belts up,
backs out,
All with elaborate care.
A queen dispensing favours
as her craven subjects stare.
Dive in the space released.
Cheer your victory
in the DFO car park

Kate King
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Stolen First Line
_____ From Dancing In Odessa
__________________________ Ilya Kaminsky

Akhmatova and I
were standing together when:

I asked her what it had been like,
the need to compress words
on scraps of paper, burn them

in her candle flame: so much to say,
audience hidden in bleak landscapes,
loved ones likely to suffer;

the more than good friend
memorising every line,
how large a gesture,

gentle kindness like
falling snow, soft white
comforting her soul’s darkness:

interminable waiting
outside her son’s prison,
promising to write the agony

and, after the persecution,
to be hailed
as one of Russia’s most famous?

Sally Clarke

Romany 

Cold winter afternoon,
door opens to tentative knock
weather-brown face, dark eyes,
oiled plaits, ragged great coat.

Clutched in fine hands,
bunched chrysanthemums,
her craft,
whittled sticks
cut from hedgerows,
pared, peeled into curving petals
tinted earth colours
peddled at back doors.

Fearing a gypsy’s curse,
the wife crosses her palm
with silver,
places the wooden flowers
in a vase on her oak dresser,
accepts Romany spirit—

secret pathways
overhung with briar, elderberry,
country magic
feeding childhood fantasy.

Sally Clarke
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Stray Cat Café

On a dreary day too poor for a name,
He dragged himself down to the little café,
Flat white and a paper, always the same,
He fumbled for coins and something to say,
His hand struck silver, but his mind no gold,
The coffee machine frothed a mocking hiss,
His soft fingers touched the counter so cold,
And there she was, a sunny shining miss,
All glowing with life and lighter than air,
Pink lemonade cheeks and strawberry lips,
A chef’s hat hiding her blonde wistful hair,
Uniform jealously guarding her hips,
As soon as she smiled, his fears departed,
And that praise God was how it all started.

Dean Meredith

Hooked

I’ve been lurking down here deep
In cold constant night
Sometimes I swim up
And spy the surface shapes
Their silhouettes beneath the light
I don’t get too close
I heed the warnings
Of the old and gone
And tales of terror
Of monsters from land
But when I saw that shining dancing hook
It was all I could see
And a strange hypnotic hunger
Had its way with me
I gobbled your pearl – shell and all
In one almighty piercing bite
And darting pain through bleeding gum
Soon replaced my dreamy delight
And quick as all my wits awoke
I dove and dove with no look back
And swam and swam
And felt the tearing steel on mouth
And pull of line so long unending
Barb in flesh with tightness bending
And gills all gasping open gaping
Fins so sore from mad descending
Cheek all sliced from constant pulling
I feel my struggle slowly ending
Nervous bloody pulses sending
Slipping back I think not knowing
Dragging drifting redness flowing
Sudden surges send me thrashing
Lashing out at fears of going
Off to die and then be eaten
Tender mercilessly beaten
Hung up high with eyes all popping
Dripping dry in wind sails flapping
Pecking birds squawking clapping
Licking beaks ready for feasting
Humans hurriedly steer returning
To silent towns softly sleeping
But I’m awake and still in water
While you’re celebrating laughing
One last surge I’m not done yet
With all the crazy strength left in me
I zip and zing like liquid lightning
Snapping line too taught from tightening
I’m free I’m free and fleeing swiftly
Feeling lightness now upon me
I wear my body piercing proudly
And pray one day to find you paddling
So I may turn the tide my captor
And tear the page from your last chapter

Dean Meredith

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On the death of young Joe

Last night the rubber fishtailed
despairing graffiti.
The young men sat around the
tank stand, drinking.
Their Blundstones crushed
tinnies underfoot.
Fingers denuded the oval
where squatting on haunches they muttered and mourned
and howled like dingoes,
shattering the glassy silence
of grief with bewildered memories.

Tonight the only sound is
wind in the high gums
and the muted growl of
a V8 way off in the valley.
Even the sky has drawn its sheet
in sorrow, the moon is in hiding
and it’s left to the street lights,
bouncing off garbage bins,
to usher Death out of the neighbourhood.

Virginia O’Keeffe

Ritual

The woman surveyed the wood heap
Splintered    and wet    and red.
The woman stared at the sky
sullen and drawn in lead.
She drank in the rain
overlain with orange blossom sweetness
and heady jasmines on the fence.
Clutching the teapot tightly
in the predawn gleam,
she flung its leaves
_____ black offering
into her domain,
turned in her slippers
and marched back to the house again.

Virginia O’Keeffe
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Les Murray reading at the Midland City Hall

 

In Midland, he is on the prowl.
A Grisly bear without the growl:
wandering through a field of verse
jolly shaman without a curse.

Unflappable and kindly owl
he’s planting poems with a trowel
for us to peck at like a fowl
their sonorous seeds to disperse
in Midland.

Scattering consonant and vowel;
smiling face and shuddering  jowl
plucking wisdom from his purse
questioning a universe
that is both fair and foul
in Midland.

Derek Fenton
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Most Fathers

Most fathers had sheds.
They built or plumbed or carved
their collected joinery, their finest wirings
in quiet corners of Sunday hours.

My father had a wooden table—
weighted with heavy bolts of fine woollens.
Worsteds, melanges, ladder-stacked
a mount of pin-stripes and plains.
He moved his hands back and forth
like a comfortable loom,
unrolling silver greys, charcoals and midnight blacks.

He opened his order book,
noted the mathematics
of a client’s shoulders, arms and legs.
Set his T square and ruler,
placed a precise pin and tack
in the turned cuff, in the silk linings,
his long fingers stretching his sculptor’s eye.

Most fathers preferred a shed to a kitchen.
My father washed dishes, laundered clothes,
walked to the picture theatre and said
I was his special star.

I learned the smell of him,
the endearing smokiness of his cigarettes,
the feel of his soft caress
gloved in a tailor’s finest texture.

My father measured the world with a smile,
and tipped his homburg hat.

Rachael Petridis

Acknowledgements: Night, Most Fathers  published in my collection “Sundecked” by the Australian Poetry Centre 2010.
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Household Blessings

Bless you my beloved machine
Bless your splish, your splash your splosh
Bless every dish you wash

Bless you my beloved machine
Bless your tumbling drum of fire
Bless all the clothes you make drier

Bless you my beloved back yard
Bless all that grows in my garden
Bless the rose as it softens my heart
Bless the snail which makes it harden

Bless you my beloved fridge
Bless your cavern of cold and ice
Bless you once in winter
In summer bless you thrice

Bless you my well stocked pantry
Bless the jars of rice and flour
Bless all the provisions
For dinner in half an hour

Coral Carter

evening view, bold hill.

evening fills with
pink for baby girls
gold for curls
close my eyes to
black for warships
ocean grey gloom
open for kookaburra sunset
tree trunks
one hundred years strong
bury my toes in sand
and cling on.

Coral Carter

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entwined in dissolution

that night we shared secrets
and histories and being
and i remember how
after
you wept from a place
of rare and beautiful freedom
and how i held you
before the muted freeway roar
drew me back to earth
and how you rose to part
the heavy drapes
describing dust motes
drift and rise and form
like constellations
in the loaded shafts of sunlight
and how it felt to me
then and now
the beginning
or end of time
so dependent
on who you were
and what i know
was never mine.

Paul Harrison

exegesis

sometimes i can’t remember
if Judas flung himself into the flames
or hung beside you as the cock crowed over
a market place pushing this hand into the page

Paul Harrison

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Mount Tom Price

Pilbara land is old, ageless,
With red soil, rocky scarps.
Man’s hand seen on mountain tops
and open cuts, towns buried
in the dust.

Towns disappear at mining’s end.
Some into deep, dark holes!
Can’t see where its been!
An air of impermanence pervades.
Rip it out and let’s go!

Elsewhere among the gum trees
houses moved at will.
It only takes a semi
to move them to another place,
perhaps more congenial.

Mountains suffer the onslaught,
reduced to massive dumps.
Beside an empty crater,
Once were mountain
Mount Tom Price had disappeared.

Colleen O’Grady

 

 

Fire

Scenario: Cue!
Men, fronting up
To the bar
Elbows bent
Tongues wagging
Thirst not spent.

A wife waits
With little ones
Outside
In the heat
On street wide.

Rig roars
To a standstill
Driver with thirst
Slams door
Weather cursed.

Action: Smoke
All in the bar.
Wife listens.
‘Sizzle!’
‘Spit’ and ‘crackle!’
‘Fizzle!’

“Fire!”
She cries.
Men erupt
Faster than flies
Bar empty,
Rig afire.

Men dash
To and fro
One only
walks slow.
Rig driver,
With extinguisher!

Colleen O’Grady

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