Creatrix 13 Poetry

June 2011

 

Selectors: Peter Jeffrey and Flora Smith
Managing Editor: Sally Clarke
WebMaster: Chris Arnold

Contributors:

Elio Novello

Religious Observance

John Ryan

Oscillations

Kevin Gillam

what my father taught me
all quite gainful

Virginia O’Keeffe

The Orchardist
The Countryman

Paula Jones

I am a Noun
Woman Weaves

Ron Okely

Flying Home to Christchurch

Carolyn Abbs

A Photographic Portrait

Sue Clennell

Since the Darkness

Geoff Stevens

Surviving the Dark

Max Merckenschlager

Skeletons In the Closet

Rose van Son

Lost Tide

Allan Padgett

It Was Far Too Easy

Gail Robinson

Nomad

Peter Rondel

Shadows of Neruda

Derek Fenton

Saintly Sonnet
A Slaughterhouse Sonnet

Dean Meredith

Us

David Barnes

The Finger of Fate

Josephine Clarke

Psalm to Autumn
The Seville Orange Tango

Meryl Manoy

Prayers

Cuttlewoman

The poet berates her ex-lover on utilitarian grounds

Jan Napier

Sour Note

Renee Pettitt-Schipp

Parting Glass

Chris Palazzolo

Australian Decades
Unfurnished

Mardi May

The Man Who Read Skies

Liana Christensen

Prenatal Class
Moving Instructions

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Snow White

Shey Marque

A Pastiche Past

Chris Arnold

One of Us Is a Predator
Unloading
Wetlands

Sally Clarke

figs
yearning for Constantinople
caught in the web


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Religious Observance

On a Sunday morning walk
through coastal bushland
near Trigg Beach,
we descend into a swale
treed either side with majestic Tuart,
and wonder if we should genuflect,
or at least show reverence
by bowing our heads
when we enter this holy place.

Dappled sunlight filters through
the vaulted canopy of this Tuart tree cathedral.
The only clergy present are reverend magpies
who piebald swoop from ceiling to floor,
back up to ceiling; like playful bell-ringers
pulling imaginary ropes
that peal sounds of early morning
summoning all to church,
while their bird song chorus from choir loft
beckons those who believe
in surfboard, towel and thongs
to worship sun and surf

Elio Novello

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Oscillations

at the end of the driest
summer, the acorn banksia
sway citronella flowers
on ingrown branches,
wind-rough knuckles buckled
down over dun robes
along the Reid at dawn.

on the Mitchell Freeway
where the bush glows,
frenetic wipers
absolve pangs of rain
and perverse sun flare;
within fifteen minutes
everything has slowed
to an apocalyptic beauty
of no sound, of breaking
cresting colour and light.

the brooding midday globus
deposes the long limpid
reign of blue time
which is summer here;
gums thwart diagonally
each febrile pulse of wind;
lightning obtrudes
the urban cirrus above CBD,
hail thrashes Barbagallo.

the city arteries
rupture with schlerophyll
anatomies and ice pustules
Scarborough Beach Road herniates
frigid water into ersatz lairs
Mediterranean gazes spellbound—
oscillations of cobalt crimson
the inverted sense of freezing
wet heat on the skin.

Nuytsia fire flowered
through the surfeit
of heat, I searched
your contours burned
through the clothes
the quiet stir between us
drunken with sun
at the instance of surging
the power cut in the neighborhood.

we foraged mutedly
for a candle in the dark
recesses of spindly cupboards
aware of our breathing presence,
groping for a waxen mandril,
a fibrous wick to light the gaps
we navigated by feeling,
our bodies
barometrically between.

John Ryan

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

what my father taught me

was to eat an apple and its core and
find
infinity in the home and walk,
walk it

out and abbreviate, to say, ‘well, April’s
nearly over’ on the 20
th
of the month and sing Gregorian
chant

in falsetto while vacuuming,
to rub the bark of tuart, to sweep,
pack away, put away, waste not, want not,
not drink.
but, in later years, to enjoy

a glass of Merlot, make music
in the absence
of light and score, confuse watering
and being, sip
from sky and silence

Kevin Gillam

all quite gainful
_________
“the poet should have a day job not connected with literature” James McAuley

maybe sweeper of the moon’s ne’er seen side or collector of second hand incense storeman in the warehouse of misplaced angst or firefighter on days too hot for ants shepherd of meteorites and space junk keeper and feeder of one-legged gulls apprentice to window cleaner of dreams or conductor of the paper and combs?

Kevin Gillam

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Orchardist

The bite of winter lies hard in the shed
relieved by a single globe,
the old man waves slowly and nods his head,
shuffles off to the radiator  glow.
Pears roll along the conveyor belt,
tumble down in threes and fours
to the whirr and clack and steady thump
of fruit as it hits the sorting boards.
We stamp our boots on the concrete below
tuck fists under arms and blow,
and watch while our breath hangs white in the shed,
‘No need for freezers today, Georgio.’
The son rolls a half case of Packhams,
dull green and flecked in black
and we chat about prices and footy and frosts
while his father sits quietly on his packing case.
His season’s done now, he’s a windfall,
sap sucked thin by winters like this,
but his seeds have been struck
and planted over these hills.
And as his fruits tractor back to the shed
they are stored away in the dark, like him.
An old Latin gnome in a woolly cap
calmly waiting his turn to be crated in.

Virginia O’Keeffe

The Countryman

He wasn’t that old,
I wonder what took him out?
Last time I saw him
with his dogs in the ute
and a couple of dried
kangaroo legs in the tray,
‘Keeps ‘em happy,’ he said,
we’d been in the paddock
where the bulls are kept.
‘Saw you moving fast.’
The drawl and lopsided smile.
‘The bracken’s a bugger to get through.’
He kept his dogs working
or tied to a chain
and locked gates behind him
like he locked his thoughts
to country ways, taciturn, oblique.
Guess the dogs’ll miss him too.

Virginia O’Keeffe

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am a Noun

I am a noun.
I am sure of it.
Like orange or chair
or perfection.
(maybe not perfection)
I am as much a noun
as the Narrow’s Bridge or
Geraldton Wax or riverstone.

If I were a verb
I would like to be falling,
fleeting, flowing, fumbling.
If I were a verb
I would be quickliquid,
unable to hold
impossible to cup.

But I am a noun.
a countable noun
a concrete noun
a possessive noun

If I were an adjective
I would be
unforgettable.

Paula Jones
––––––––– 2nd in the Eaglehawk Dahlia 2011 Poetry Awards

Woman Weaves

I am worn thin as husk
thin as the cream-cotton sheet
on the east lean of the bed
where my body-shroud lingers
long after the wash

I am brittle as doll’s skin,
porcelain, painted red
and browed black
plumped and pursed
but always awake

I am invisible as
the slow leak of age
transparent as a stream
stray grey hair collects
in the closed heart of the sink

I should sew a new skin
a hard tapestry of
storylines and talismen
weave a new woman
from wicker and pine

Swing her from the trees
by the dry creek bed
as a warning to the crows
sign to the murmuring worms
I am not yet dead

Paula Jones

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Flying home to Christchurch

She was going home anyway
been planning it for months
Seats booked
––––––––– Fares paid
–––––––––––––––––– Big surprise for family
–––––––––––––––––– Celebrating Wedding Anniversary

Horror of horrors
Christchurch in chaos
Her family mostly OK
if living without water
––––– without electricity
––––––––– without sewerage
and if the ooze of liquification spewing up from deep deep down
––––– spreading its foulness overall
––––––––– can ever be OK

In the fruit and veg department of the supermarket
she spends her working day
––––– filling other people’s orders
Knows where the best stuff is
––––– and gladly shares her knowledge

No flash work attire
Black pants, blue top, like everyone else
On her feet all day
––––– in stout working shoes

Not a giant in stature
Glasses complimenting
––––– dark wavy hair
Her impish smile lights up her face
exuding warmth that can only be experienced
Treats old people like they were real

We talk about the power of the ordinary
While she keeps on packing potatoes

Go by all means
Enjoy your family
Tell them we know about the earthquake
even if we are too far away
to be of much practical help

But hurry back please
you’re needed here
You brighten our day.

Ron Okely

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Photographic Portrait
–––––
Lauren  (Eyes closed) – Petrina Hicks 2003

you are as quiet as a headstone a choreograph of stillness your fine-chiselled bones a sculpted masterpiece your skin is pure poured- cream from the milk your hair is vanilla-pale & as straight as wax tapers your eyebrows are powdered expressionless white as a wig your eyelids are sealed with bleach-feathered lashes your ear – a synthetic shell – mourns for the sound of the sea your lips are naked with the sorrow you are stillborn you are a doll muffled with melancholy you are ivory you are stolen oh where where are you Lauren – how long have you been locked in this blank asylum?

Carolyn Abbs

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since the darkness

Since the darkness I have been on the wrong
side,                 the listing side of the ship.

There are always new arrivals
who wait with me to watch the moon suck us in.
Balancing,                                        balancing.
Scared of the flick knives of cold Januarys.
Scared of the barbed kisses of fished out Mondays.

On shore,                  beefy voices tell us to sing,
commend a new glue for this crew of scraped knees,
sigh navigator-wise at our silent impasse.

Sue Clennell

Previously published by Metior Murdoch University

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Surviving the Dark

Tired you said
but I knew that
all night walking around
in my head
like you did
a head full of dark clouds
and twinkling stars
of moonlight shining on an estuary
and you travelling
to I don’t know where
except that I’d put a night light on
a boat out there
and you were wading into the black sea
until you were gone.
It was only when you phoned
that I knew you’d swum safely
and been picked up
hauled aboard
that I poured myself a hot coffee
and pictured you
naked, wrapped in blankets
drinking yours.

Geoff Stevens

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Skeletons In the Closet
–––––
in memory of Yasser & Ariel

The Palestine extremists have withdrawn their deadly pall;
is the region on collision course for peace?
No longer does Knesset have excuse to build their wall,
there’s a wailing now that work on it must cease.
Though smiling head-robed Chairman’s throwing kisses to the crowd
like times before, his manner’s more subdued;
a tone of reconciling in his speeches is allowed –
there’s a new enlightened Arafat on view!
His enemy communicates, is desperate to know
‘What caused this change of face, this change of heart?
Perhaps the sword of Ariel might be refashioned too …
is possible? Is not too late to start?’

The answer shocks – ’twas surgery the Yasser aides confess;
a bone removed from his anatomy!
The Israeli Prime Minister can do with one bone less …
Which bone,’ he begs, ‘might they remove from me?
Oh, did they take his clavicle, the rib he gave his wife;
perhaps it was the jawbone of an ass?’
The Chairman’s grin has twinkles ‘Tell Sharon to get a life;
those days are gone when he can anger Yass!’
A diplomatic flurry, and his answer is revealed;
‘That special bone reserved for just we two.
Removing it was simple and the wound has quickly healed;
they took the bone I had to pick with you!’

Max Merckenschlager

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lost tide

just near the surface
an underwater current
eclipses sand

patterns stories
weaves tall boats
anchored by tide

children with buckets
fall out of dinghies               run
barefoot  slide pocket sand

just below the surface
water collects
brittle sticks spin to touch

this motif already stilled
an easterly  fills pockets
pulls together kindling when dry

afternoon light
captures windblown
yellowing sails

always on time
the tide  autumn’s soft  cover
mirrors sea

like Orpheus
twilight rushes in  lifts moon
settling on Swan

mirror flattens the tide
doubles the cusp
earth’s tendrils pulled close

whispering
lapping tide swings
sonnets heard in closed eyes

Rose van Son

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It Was Far Too Easy

It was easier and far too much fun,
shagging you on the back
seat of my brother’s FJ at
the drive-in, than it was to hold you inside
my heart, later, when

desire faded, and vows were eclipsed,
when marriage made a fool of
me and you walked off
into the gathering dark of
the rest of your life, and
as you took a him and
yet another him into your
new found freedom and then into
your heart quickly, jostling for space
alongside the others, and then
rapidly and oh so rapidly, took
him and him and him and him …………
deeper and then deeper, into your mouth
and into your hot wet
desperate self, where lust bred like rabbits and multiplied with viral manners,
and where need and self were only partly sated,
for that short while, and love abated,
for that shorter while,
once you had his cock.  And then, as
the cold hard light of dawn came
and you turned on his and your
cold wetness,

then you paused, and only then—

lonely wondered:

did my husband feed me
more than that, or
was he, too, just another fuck.

Allan Padgett

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Nomad

She packs her teeth
for Melbourne
to chatter when
the temperature slips
under her blanket
and the wind slices
her ankles
also essential
for jumping
into knitting
socks and storage
to boot

Gail Robinson

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Shadows of Neruda

Spring was kind
and we shared
the sweetness of honey
but Autumn stole away
the perfume of jasmine.
If I should wish
with all my heart,
will that springtime
come again?

Peter Rondel

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Saintly Sonnet

I’ll never be a performance poet
drawing rapturous applause from a crowd.
I’ll never be up to it, I know it
for me, it’s the quiet which speaks most loud.
I don’t pepper my verse with ‘fs’ and ‘cs’,
I’m not prone to post modern outpouring.
I don’t bring an audience to its knees
and my fastidious form seems boring.

Some say that I am a poetic snob,
a dead decasyllabic dinosaur,
not fit to commune with a modern mob.
While some say sod off through the nearest door
or, preferably, through the pearly gates
to party with dead white male poet mates!

Derek Fenton

A Slaughterhouse Sonnet

As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods:
they kill us for their sport.
William Shakespeare

Tomorrow, Easter Friday, I’ll do it.
I will finally go out to my shed
and choose the instrument to get through it.
To make sure, once and for all, that they are dead.
I am not normally the murdering kind
but now I’m at the end of my tether.
Their tormenting has made me lose my mind.
I’m so distraught that I don’t know whether

to do it slowly and make them suffer
the cruel way they have tortured me,
or a short sharp blow being tougher
executed with considerable glee.
It is time now for action not rants,
time to exterminate those goddamn ants!

Derek Fenton

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Us

Once there was just us
The little miss and I
Then along came you
And it was us
Including you
Then you left
And it was just me
And little miss again
I am me
And you are you
And she is she
And we are as we are
And as we think
We’re meant to be

Dean Meredith

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The Finger of Fate

It is unavoidable,
inevitable,
I accept without question
his authority…

‘The Finger of Fate’

His forefinger points to the road,
the one, curving
to form the circle of life
where I have walked before …

I walk
his road … without regret.
Each time, I have known
it to be a little different;

and I shall
reach out like the sapling
Spreading its limbs,
branches
that shall never ‘wilt’

Shall another be enveloped?
Within soft autumn leaves,
Caressing constellations
‘Engulfed within.

The sea’s of my universe…
are inescapable.

To have tasted the fruits, a soul,
in one life…
my tree shall not wither!
Nor shall the sun
ever set
on the mature oak of my being.

Yea, though I live,
live for a hundred years,
‘or should I die tomorrow’.
I have known contentment,
immersed within
the very core of ‘Her being’….

David Barnes

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Psalm to Autumn

The lime is laden with bright green globes
–– they fall and gather on the drive.
The lemon tree is swollen like a breast engorged
–– beside the gingko’s vacant twigs.
While quinces are stuffing their yellowing cheeks,
–– elder leaves shuffle across the lawn,
and the virginia creeper is running naked
–– wrenching out her wine red hair.

Josephine Clarke

The Seville Orange Tango

every winter
they come like alien ships
suspended in deep winter green
an armada of fat orange

mostly they crash land

he collects them
sits them by the bin
and on the wall
like trophies

unexpectedly she returns with the shopping
or from her aunts
to find the kitchen full of steam
citrus curdling in the pot

behind a gauze of disinterest
she admires the muslin bag

and then the jars
all sticky and unlabelled    silent
sit on the window sill for weeks

until a setting point is reached

she relents
wipes them clean
writes bright stripes
gives them as gifts
praising

out of his hearing

ole!

Josephine Clarke

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prayers

At home we pray every morning
that Uncle Athol dies.
Devoutly we pray every evening
saying our last farewells
hoping he may slip away
not to endure another day.

He is a living vegetable—
no, that is not quite true—
he sees and hears, he tastes and feels
but he can’t move or speak.
Death please make a visitation—
to put an end to his frustration.

A pall of utter futility
has overtaken all.
We tend the body here
‘Athletic Athol’ once renowned
hurdler and sprinter winning Gold
what stories of his feats he told!

of international competitions
of hormones on prescription,
of false starts and disqualifications,
drug rehabilitation.
All these now are in the past –
we pray this ordeal doesn’t last.

Meryl Manoy

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The poet berates her ex-lover on utilitarian grounds

More people
Are made happy
Because we are split
And repaired strangely.
This may be
Terrifically egalitarian.
Even so, I feel that
The utility
Would have been greater
Had the shuffle
Never been made.

Cuttlewoman

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Sour Note

They’re not coming of course.
She says my music makes her sick.
He says that it makes his ears bleed.
They shout a bit about the cost
laugh    clink glasses.
Jack looks me up and down
the way a dingo stares at a snared rabbit.
‘Get to your room’, mum yells.
I bite my lip on the inside where no one can see.

The key clicks in the lock.
I hug Teddles. Daddy gave him to me.
‘A friend for when I’m gone’, he said.
Daddy always came to watch me.
I miss his scratchy beard    his stinky cigars
his terrible jokes.
Car doors slam    it’s Karaoke night at the pub.
I hide Ted in my violin case    climb out the window.

Rosin stars stick to my fingers    smear my jeans.
I’ve been practicing a new piece down by the creek.
‘The cows don’t care and we can’t hear’, Jack says.
Sometimes in winter my fingers go purple.
The judge tells me, ‘try harder and turn up in clean clothes’.
Never mind    Teddles still loves me.
I hope Daddy heard.

Jan Napier

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Parting Glass

The aeroplane’s slow engine
rattles in the night sky.
A million people shut their eyes
believing in the new day,
surrendering to the night.
Those of us still
with eyes wide open
throw off our blankets
and wrestle with the dawn.

In the dark I find it;
to say goodbye, release
the string of one white balloon,
let it drift,
let it drift.

You and I were like two kids
at a birthday party
sitting in our frocks under
a high summer sky.
And I forgive you for what
you cannot give,
and I forgive you for clinging
so tightly to your sash.

Clouds merge and separate in the darkness,
form, disperse, dynamic.
Still, I am sad to see you go

though

I cannot be half
to make it easier.
I will not be
watered down.

So fill your cup with someone new
and see, I will fill mine too,
a parting glass
let go the strings,
let us drift.

Renee Pettitt- Schipp

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Australian Decades

Still. Midday. Air—scorched tyre-rubber,
baking bitumen, exhaust pipes. Prospect—
a gauze smudge of cloud above the rooves
of the northern suburbs: orange rooves
lookout flats, east pointing coigns
of far silver office, blur to blue-sea haze,
shimmering orange tile under coma-blue sky.

I’ve seen this somewhere before:
in the film Walkabout, which I connect
with the face of John Meillon.
John Meillon before the drink took him.
He plays the white-collar drunk
who take his two kids out to the bush
and tries to shoot them. They escape
and he shoots himself.
A suburban loser’s madness in the bush.
An Australian city under
a nineteen-sixties summer.
Call a ghost face from the shades the sun doesn’t mark decades.

Where I work money and things change hands.
Perennial transience of hands.
Even when I am not there I can see them,
the not-watching watchful salesmen
under the office eaves—pulling cuffs,
fingering white collars, puffing Winnie Reds,
scanning through sunglasses.
I see the yards reflected in their sunglasses.

Where I live the nineteen-sixties houses
on their Menzian blocks
disintegrate in the night. The Federation
miniatures which pop up in their places
like red poppies on graves
simulate a centenary anxiety
(nostalgic cathexis of millenarian terror)
dissimulate shelters for a feral workforce,
absent by shuttered day,
shadows and noises behind
the cathode-blue security screens of night.

Chris Palazzolo

Unfurnished

A notice to vacate this unit finally sent,
but the membrane of home is already split and starting to peel.
I can feel the tender etiolated corners
to be exposed when we start to pack. I can sense that time
has taken here, eating away at this terminal space
like rust in guttering. Soon we will be vagrants
in vacant rooms, echoes off alien walls.

Too look at us right now you would never guess
we are loosening like poorly glued bathroom tiles
or lifting like cheap parquetry. The imminent dismantling
of our domestic organon has only begun
to shadow our minds. Our routines continue throughout the day
and following days, but we are already ghosts
already translucent. In my mind the shadow will assume
its formless form, for I can now see the chaos of boxes,
random cuboid objects tumbling in disoccupied space.

Chris Palazzolo

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Man Who Read Skies

My father read skies
daily deciphering
the message of clouds,
plotting the fickle
journey of weather
like a traveller, map open.

He searched for clues
hidden in the spheres,
atmo, tropo, and strato,
he knew their names
like old friends and family.

‘Clouds are for artists,’
he said, brush in hand
above a sky-washed canvas,
then billowed clouds
like spinnakers on windy seas.

A fisherman at heart,
he liked nothing better
than a mackerel sky,
a mottled, scaly fish skin sky
swimming with imagination,
the big one that got away.

He carried a coat
when nimbus piled
anvil-sharp warnings
on his comfort of cumulus,
and when the racing wind rode high,
his mares’ tails streaked across the sky.

Mardi May

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prenatal Class

Don’t believe a word
you’ve heard about birth
Nothing prepares you
for the agony

You will cry out as
the engines of earth rumble
tectonic plates grind and part
pain pours through your belly
like molten lava until the gates
of heaven open and
you are delivered at last

In that instant when your baby
and your world are newly born
you will cry again
Nothing prepares you
for the ecstasy

Liana Christensen

Moving Instructions

Pay up front in the small change
of sweat and ache and time
then keep going until you
intersect with this
licit bliss
on the downhill run
wheels spinning
in the dance studio leaping
meeting the ocean at dawn
or the river at dusk
like a secret lover
pleasure enough for
any animal on earth

Liana Christensen

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Snow White

Hunched in an overcoat
with shoulders crouched
shuffling snow against the wind
fire filled eyes peering
through the cold
beyond the white
rebelling against the hand
determined to cast
everyone and everything
the same.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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A Pastiche Past
–– –– 
An ekphrastic poem from The Wine Drinkers by William Dobell

A voice like darkness damps the air
forgotten promise saunters by
submerged the ancient child recalls
parched lips you numb to wear the mood

Forgotten promise saunters by
you thought him deaf yet hope he hears
parched lips you numb to wear the mood
lean close indulge a pastiche past

You thought him deaf yet hope he hears
inside that room where dreams are locked
lean close indulge a pastiche past
two bare left feet retrace your steps

Inside that room where dreams are locked
recline off key let down your guard
two bare left feet retrace your steps
walk beside your evening shadow

Recline off key let down your guard
submerged the ancient child recalls
walk beside your evening shadow
a voice like darkness damps the air

Shey Marque

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of us is a predator

one of us
is a predator
but I can sit
unafraid
even when
jaws close
on my hand

Chris Arnold

Unloading

he displaces much of the air in the alley.

his tattooed tuart limb
felled by some neural lightning storm
could crush a truck,

and yet
big fingers prowl the pallet
as if cats’ heads lifted to sniff the wind,
carefully nip cardboard coats at the neck;
clutch cases like kittens.

Chris Arnold

Wetlands

The gap between my molars
must be a cozy cottage;
the worst house on the best street:

not much to look at, but
warm,
safe,
plenty to eat and drink.

Painful as it is,
it’s comforting to know
that there’s something
alive in us all.

Chris Arnold

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

figs
––
for patricia

come march
generosity moves her
to climb the tree

stretching among leaves,
fingers groping
to test ripeness

reaching beyond reach
intimate softness
plundered

this year’s abundance
luscious boxful
at our door

green/white
secret pockets
ruby-wrapped seeds

poached with honey
a feast for Gods
breakfast on Olympus

Sally Clarke

yearning for Constantinople

when you came back from Stambul
‘city of the world’s desire’

like a sultan returning to his harem
you brought oriental gifts.

one silver Bedouin bracelet
heavy shackle for a slender ankle.

silver-hearted filigree brooch
turquoise scarab trapped in its web.

the red copper platter, intricately inscribed
inscrutable Arabic calligraphy.

two pale alabaster vases
smooth to touch, cool as death.

I remember how you presented the treasures
one-by-one, taking a whole day

held still in their mysterious origins
reliving that cacophonous souk,

how I wished I’d been with you, not left behind
veiled sultana locked in the seraglio.

Sally Clarke

caught in the web

hip-hop poets’ words quickly,
oh, so quickly, slickly pulled together;
toe-tapping, head-banging, today, immediate.

some dismiss them
for Wordsworth, Keats, and where stand
T.S. et al, alongside, above, below?

surely, a place for all, putting words together
no mean feat, quickly, slickly or considered.
skills needed to express emotion, commotion.

an elder poet mewling on the sidelines
calling for disciplined syllable count
declines immediacy, misses the point

pushes away creativity, new technology
resists change, language as living entity
moving on, unable to hold back.

irresistible tides flooding the plain
recede with time, foundations newly revealed,
shaken, yet remaining.

underpinnings solid, evident,
pages still there
waiting to be turned.

Sally Clarke

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