Creatrix 16 Poetry

March 2012

 

Poetry Editors: Peter Jeffery and Anne Dyson

Publications Manager: Karen Murphy

Webmaster: Aleesha Lowry

Contributors:

David E Barnes

in diverse realities

Sally Clarke

amber necklace
in translation
what will you take?

Sue Clennell

Untitled 

Cuttlewoman

2007, Year of the Boob

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Caught in the Race
Cracks and Gaps
Hidden Between the Lines

Derek Fenton

Batting Without A Box
Christmas Decorations

Kevin Gillam

‘bleak’
seeing all fish
the eve you came

Kenneth Hudson

Suspicion

Janet Jackson

My lover’s hair
to a certain extent

Tricia Kelly

Her Terra

Laurel Lamperd

Waiting Women

Jennifer Langley Kemp

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage

Meryl Manoy

Drop-outs

Mardi May

Jogger

Glad McGough

Sacrament to Spring

Jacqui Merkenschlager

the riddle of her sadness

Max Merkenschlager

Pit Ponies Of The Port 

Carol Milner

Planet Kitchen

Colin Montford

Beyond The Fence
Security, Chris Wilson And Me

Jan Napier

Interim 

Ron Okely

Why don’t they just shut up and go home

Allan Padgett

Love In a Rainbow
Love Is What Love Is

Chris Palazzolo

Celibate
Peninsula Flats

Renee Petit-Schipp

In Praise of Worn Sneakers

Glen Phillips

Gift Horse
Leather Fetish
Seven Years Hitch

Zan Ross

The Art of Watering
Mao as a Central Philosophy

Flora Smith

Hunkering at 42 degrees

Traudl Tan

Sea Breeze is a cool woman

Rose van Son

Camouflage

Julie Watts

first flights ready to send
I saw a tree on the side of the road

Gail Willems

Time Lines

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in diverse realities

we dream dreams
whilst we sleep; drift blissfully
off, in to other worlds
within;

superficially aware
in a virtual-reality, a diverse new life;
our grey-white-matter, commands the mysteries;
unknown personas, created, during the
vision of sleep;

“Wouldn’t
be interesting,” 

if only we
could remember, the role, roles
played, so compellingly, within slumber;
the times, when we have had no desire,
to awaken;

when awake
we wonder at times, who,
who were those other people, voice, voices
during our depiction, emergence in the theatre
of an inexplicable night;

the inner diverse
people; we performed with in the mist
of poignant roles played; scenes that were active, alive
flickering behind eyelids;

ever asked yourself,
who are the puppet masters?
ever wondered, who holds the strings
to our life;

the fragmented
bits and pieces, of a night’s dream;
Did that really happen; did we …. have we
live before.

David Barnes

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amber necklace

primitivism attracts; calfskin-brown milkiness,
five large beads interspersed with smaller,
sixteen more each end for length.

days crossing the Indian Ocean,
seamless horizons, flying fish,
Aden a strange landfall, next the Red Sea, Suez Canal, Port Said.
coloured maps at the back of a school bible,
Arabia’s giant boot, names absorbed in childhood.

I tell you, it’s real.
the Melbourne jeweller rubs a bead against her sleeve,
amber’s magnetism lifts a tissue scrap; Greeks named it elektron.

the Arab trader sits cross-legged on deck, curios display
d haphazard on a dhoti cloth.
he takes my two ₤1 notes, wraps the necklace in creased tissue paper.

I am fastened to the day.

forty-five years later, I rethread the beads, maintain their order,
insert a new clasp, the original always tentative—
consider who might own the necklace next,
to whom this story will belong.

Sally Clarke

what will you take?

fire comes dancing along the ridge
can-can of red skirts, flaming hair
yesterday’s assurance somewhat hollow

prepare to leave

you remember
a friend’s priorities
her children
black lace cami-knickers
bottle of French perfume
1967, leaving Beirut
cosmetics discarded in the washbasin
your sons’ precious dinky toys
your daughter’s abandoned bride doll
Coventry’s bombed-out evacuees’
battered suitcases
streaming up a country lane
begging to be taken in
wartime newsreels, displaced persons
clogged European roads
carts, bundled possessions,
that naked Asian child

we come with nothing…
papers in order
last week, you made your will
all those photographs
occasion mementoes…good clothes
small car limitation
grab what you can.
you always said you’d
like to offload, start again   smaller.

you remember
an aunt, having disposed of dead relatives’ possessions,
moved into a tiny apartment…one of everything
visitors needing to take
their own cups.

Sally Clarke

in translation,
–––– certitudes imaginaires,
––––––––––––––––––
Jerome Lafond

I want to steal your French poem
mingle your language with mine
grieve alongside you pour l’oiseau mort.

l’oiseau mort, not the dead bird,
see how your words gather pity for that
poor scrap lying on the lamplit pathway

wing-wide last attempt at flight.
next day come with you, retrace steps
the lifeless body still there, lift it gently

dans les mains, move au nord to find
le bel et bien abre
rooted in the ground heureusement,

l’oiseau retourner sur sa branche.
how long to last, time, windblown
back onto the ground.

my dictionary prosaic, I lack your nuance,
your French poem touches mon coeur,
I must have it, will acknowledge you.

Sally Clarke

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Untitled

It was a Clint Eastwood kind of day,
cowboy snipers hiding on rooftops,
cattle kicking dust in your eyes, throat,
cattle in elevators, shop counters, at traffic lights.

It was a Clint Eastwood kind of day.
You expect the worst at high noon,
a lick of whip, a gouge of spur, a cigarette
stubbed out on your arm.

Only the music will tell you when to expect
the unexpected, when a climax is near,
when the audience will applaud or jeer
and the villain doesn’t always wear black.

On a Clint Eastwood kind of day
you see them hammering and shaping
the pine coffins, you fervently hope
that bullet with your name on it, isn’t for right now,
that you can walk back smiling to Rita Hayworth or Grace Kelly.

Sue Clennell

Published by Unusual Work

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2007, Year of the Boob

Boobs. A mover
bubble boobable feast.
Itsy bitsy bikini boobs.
Slung up holsterneck high,
with nipples closer to earholes
than Christ to heaven. Shopper boobs
thrust well forward and incorporating
extra spurt power to rocket boost ricochet
the unsuspicious male into surreptitious
soft-passing rubby tackle, intersecting
shopping trolleys clanging. Office
boobs – pointy starey metal plated
under mohair twinsuity. These
officially boobs enunciating,
‘No walking on the moist
soft feast below.’
Un-bra boobs.
Touchy feely
floating freely.
Trippy hippy
hanging handy
dangling plum
ready boobs.

Cuttlewoman

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Cracks and Gaps

She is mercury and active as boiling water.
Nothing can hold her and nothing can stop her
in the floating, moving dance of what we have become.

There is subtlety that I cannot understand.
It has grown into her features, into her face
to glove her movements.

She flickers through my life
sweeps the sting of her touch across my heart
only to settle indifferent in our bed.

We converse as strangers with movements
that rarely mesh on paths occasionally crossing.
Bound by threads that refuse to break.

Her touch is elusive but I cannot walk away.
There is too much history, too many connections
and the fault is difficult to track.

This metronome life moves us back and forth
to a tempo that is strange, each breath
as essential as the next, as impossible to ignore.

There are cracks in both of us
that ointments won’t relieve and some days
are too wide to bridge

but I still long to hold her, dance together
and shout away the fears in this crazy life
of tacks and gaps that we have become.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Hidden Between the Lines

Words, pilfered in the night
drawn from texts and coerced
by new masters to bright new tasks.

Dressed up in metaphor and simile
to skip across the page in extravagance
and ease into the mind of the excitable.

Build and compound beyond
to create associations above the congestion
of traffic in the slow crawl to work.

And in the pot of empty spaces
implications and innuendo stew
and simmer to new flavours, new thoughts.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Caught in the Race

We are not afraid
and the next day collapses into nothing.
with all of our dreams
and the air thins to thicken

with the smile of lives wasted.
In the gawk and gasp of yesterday
strings hold firm to the heart
and eventually
there is nothing to remember.

Tomorrow and yesterday
flip in the haze of morning traffic
and the slow crawl of blood
and tequila from the night before
wets the surface to escape.
But there is no escape.

Tomorrow never comes
and yesterday never leaves
and we are caught in the race
from one to the other
without ever taking the time
to breathe, to see.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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Batting Without A Box*

My mother used to tell me how, the Queen,
when she was still Princess Elizabeth,
visiting our home town, Bulawayo,
patted me on the head complimenting
me on being such a beautiful child.

I have had no reason to doubt this tale,
and still have memories of photographs
of the occasion, with some containing her.
They all featured the rectangular prism
of my inordinately large head.

Objectively, I suppose I was sweet
and far from ugly, with a landing strip
of a chin and a freckle splattered nose.
Thanks to this tale, and the love of parents
I emerged with healthy self esteem.

Though it wasn’t called that in the fifties,
it remained intact until, at thirteen,
a geography teacher I worshipped,
who’d opened the batting for Rhodesia
and stared down Ian Craig’s Aussie bowlers

responded to my shy knock on the door
mockingly, “Come in Humpty, come on in!”
Those years of self esteem drained out of me
under the weight of cruel fifth form guffaws
and my hero’s sharp, searing sarcasm.

I was never able to look into
those brave, steely blue eyes, that defied
Keith Miller and his tough Aussies, again.
The class’s laughter pushed me out the door
and the once comforting coo of a dove
on a rubber hedge**, mocked me mercilessly!

Derek Fenton

*A groin protector used by a batsman in cricket.
**A bush whose sap is very harmful to the eyes

Christmas Decorations

Here, for a quarter of a century:
our back garden, very low maintenance,
paved throughout, with only a few succulents
in pots, hardy and needing little water.

Every year at Christmas time
three clumps of flame lilies* push their way out
at the edge of the paving through blue metal
and demand to be nourished,

as if to say,” we are still here, we will not die,
remember where we come from!”
We refuse to water them, and they survive
on drips from the fountain and retic.

Sometimes they flower on Christmas Day
and sometimes later, but always before New Year.
Like our hardy investments, they lie dormant all year
and then bloom proudly in January.

We ignore them for eleven months until
in their yellow and red Christmas hats,
they clink glasses with us
here, so far away from home!

Derek Fenton

*The national flower of Zimbabwe.

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 ‘bleak’

once danced with a stone called Stop
and though the dance was quite still
she showed me the steps for ‘bleak’

now ‘bleak’ is best done as one
when, tide of mind gone out, the
weeds leave paths for moon to trek

and ‘bleak’ needs no band, no beat,
just seat and room and mood and ,
strange dance this, no need for feet

and so ‘bleak’, when you swim but
don’t move, a hymn with no tune,
is my dance, my fix, my creed

‘bleak’, this dance of now through cloud
and sleet, gift from stone called Stop

Kevin Gillam

seeing all fish

if Jesus was
a swimmer he’d
be you, blue flip-
pers for sandals,
sinewed torso,
arrowing the
surf, bearded lips
sucking at now,
at one in the
sea’s wilderness,
smoothing the thrill
and ripple, you,
seeing all fish,
dreaming of loaves

Kevin Gillam

the eve you came

the dark maw of words, the
eve you came to thieve my angst,
my fret, your need. the flecked
frame did speak, said glide through

and you did, to thieve my angst,
slake your need. the sheets were
waves, slinked up and ‘round, pulled

by swirl of dream, and in you
slid to steal my fret, whet
your toil. and at the back of
maw I felt and knew, brushed

and smelt, did not wake, filled
space where my angst was took,
where you dark did nest then flame

Kevin Gillam

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Suspicion

As soon as we could walk and talk
we found that language could lie and mislead.
Words could disguise our real thoughts.
Make us misperceive.
Such a tool could make others fools.
So suspect what you hear and read.
You don’t know where those words have been.
You don’t know if they mean what they seem.

Kenneth Hudson

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My lover’s hair

My lover’s hair breathes sunshine, shampoo,
smoke. It rings me
a secret peal. Under my hand
it’s tangled-trick and smooth-slick,
cat, otter, always
slipping away. The wind is in it
even when it’s still.

Janet Jackson

to a certain extent
__ John Daniel’s workshop, August 2011

that might
be fine
for two
pages
but could you write ten books some
of these phrases we have a bear dancing
it seems to be about a y’know in oil
and gas piled in sorta like Bob
Dylan
I know,
I know,
but ideas
from all over the place it goes
back to worked off, off, this element
of jumping irrationally seems to me
it crystal clear he actually uses
punctuation
where
do you
turn?
do you need anything? capitals?
sees himself as anti- but I
dunno that’s one tradition at any
rate a number of these people
not quite
as
extreme
of course
American to a certain extent the old
long line and then sometimes
or Piers but it’s also lyrical what’s
the repetition all those terms
you
might like
to
read

Janet Jackson

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Her Terra

The feminine side of the world
Is in dispute with itself
The masculine looks on in amusement.
Have I said too much?

One day gonna conquer all
Then we’ll eat cake
And get fat alone.
Shiny things are not always useful.

The feminine self
Obliges, Loves, Acquiesces
Loses it, Chooses it
Lies down to see another day.

Not allowing the vector of disease
To penetrate the household’s health
She uses the fly swat
She kills the fly, OK?

No, say the Buddhists
We should respect all life forms
That’s the easy way out.
OK, so she’s tired.

Let’s leave it at that, shall we?
But of course she keeps reading
The Buddhist Text.
What do you expect?

And out of it distills
A faint hope for salvation
That’s the feminine side
The glue, the salve.

Rotate away
And you will come back again
Look away
And the light will clear the shadows.

One pancake away
From self-imposed tyranny
Digital masculinity
Precise codes for imprecise feelings.

Songs ride the air
Pacifiers and still igniters
Of Change.
Feel the World Rock.

Sometimes it is said
That not all and yet some of it
Has to start somewhere
Feminine, Other, not here, not there.

Tricia Kelly

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Waiting Women  

She saw the young woman
Seated next to a lamp.
A painting by Harunobu.
And knew it was her
waiting for her lover.

In her case
He was her boss.
He didn’t say
he would divorce his wife
but she hoped he would.

Sometimes she saw a news item
About him and his wife
at the ballet or opera
and once at a political dinner.
She smoked non-stop
With a bottle of Chardonnay
at her elbow
listening for his steps
waiting for him
looking like the young woman
waiting next to the lamp.

Laurel Lamperd

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The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage

Grandma came by horse and cart
to this apron of rock over looking the Sound
searching for small garnet- studded stones,
with the lighthouse keeper’s little girls,
the men and older boys
lugging down bags of flour and sugar
long awaited mail
keeper’s wife hustling together tea and scones.

She remembers chickens scuttling for cover
a hawk patterning the hard surface of their run.
Once she almost stepped on a snake
and always the steady circling of gulls,
chitter of small birds in the undergrowth,
steady roar of the sea.

Retracing her steps we make our way down
through scrub to the remaining shell –
so small a dwelling for so large a family.
The lighthouse has long gone
rubble of stones marking where it stood
warning of treacherous water.

We watch a tug guide in a containership
Leeuwin in full sail etch across the sky
a hawk, talons heavy with prey
rise from the undergrowth.

Jennifer Langley-Kemp

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Drop-outs

Mother and baby pine cone
lived on the ground by the tree
feeling out of favour
with the whole family.
They didn’t want to shed their seeds
at the appointed time
so cut off their relatives
rather than pay a fine.

They now keep home by themselves
on a needle bed
and fraternise with drop-outs
who fall from overhead.
These friendly fellow-travellers
among the sticks and stones
will help them found a commune
for disgruntled pine cones. 

Meryl Manoy

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Jogger

The tight lycra mother
jogs by the roadside,
head full of music,
stroller fast-wheeling.

Her child, wide eyed
and raised on speed,
watches sunlight strobe
through flicking leaves;

thrumming in his ears,
the maternal heartbeat
sound of running feet,
his primal metronome.

Mardi May

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Sacrament of Spring

The breeze wrinkled the mirror of the pool
And trees grew old reflected in the water.
Flowers nodded, basked in early spring sun
as their scent wafted in tune with caroling birds.
White, white, silky fur humped as she stretched sensuously,
her tiny petal pink mouth poised to languidly lick her paw
in daily toilette ritual.

Glad McCough

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The Riddle Of Her Sadness                 

I write her story, read it to her
watch her face.
Does she hear my words
or do they trigger something lost,
a ghost of who she could have been?

The little pictures in my mind of Mum
speak softly of the fun we had,
when anxious eyes weren’t watching,
of jungle climbing in the vines
or hiding in the hedge,
of hot nights, lulled to sleep
by lullabies, minuets
as nimble fingers kissed the keys, spilled her love
and played the riddle of her sadness.

Does she see her children pirouette
in fete day costumes of colourful crepe
or does she see the shadows cast
by fantasies, sweet paperbacks
which fed her passions fires,
preserved her discontent,
beckoned the black dog?

Does she forget the music in her life?
It’s not all black and white.
Today with fingers robbed of feeling, cold and feeble,

she tremble touches keys of black and white
and feels the minor notes within her soul,
but hears a jangled joke, a flapping fish,
a stumbling fool.
No music.

Jacqui Merckenschlager

winning  poem Scribbligums “Gumblossoms” competition 2011

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Pit Ponies Of The Port

Dull, shabby-coated teams of them,
barrel-chested and stubby,
have worked their way into our hearts.
Possessors of a sixth sense, it seems,
nudging and stalling,
tugging and wedging,
backing off or bullying their burdens
almost without command.

Their coal-seam counterparts
were cunning beasts,
snatching crib from coats they passed
and swallowing it in stride,
smiling and beguiling,
keeping to the beat.
We swore at, but loved them still.

And when Steam Tug ‘Fearless’
dredging Brisbane River channels
passed her prime,
ready to retire or scrap,
a dollar said more than eloquent speeches.
When push came to shove,
it was payment enough

The dollar was floated,
funnel-painted, a proud symbol
of respect for that faithful,
ageing pit pony of The Port.

Volunteers sailed her from Brisbane
down the eastern seaboard
and interested crowds came out
to wave and watch her pass.

Now she lies at rest near Birkenhead,
loved by a southern State Government
she once so loyally served,
and the dollar has again changed hands.

The dollar says more than any eloquent speech.

Max Merckenschlager

footnote: ‘The Port’ refers to Port Adelaide, South Australia. 

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Planet Kitchen

the season
has changed

since yesterday
a new curve

has entered
the room –

from out this
old and papery

mouth a smile
comes –

who am I to cut off
this tender young shoot?

small fraction
of a garlic bulb

this planet’s
crowded, nothing

lives for long
but tonight

I will select your
smaller, slower brother

splay him under my knife

and begin
dinner again.

Carol Millner

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Beyond The Fence

I’m living in my own space now
beyond the fence
sheltered from the main block
by curtains I can close at will
weathered convolutions
and blistered verve
are outside my window

enclosed inside
alone and dark
between definitions
between perception’s touch and go
in nano time
reflex tugs the curtain cord
to test my dedication

and as time gets crusty outside
stale faith
can soften now and then
somewhat like a thirsty sponge
when spring ripples speculate
and trickle out of consequence
to interlace
with latent inspiration

and anything I might have said yesterday
is maybe not the truth I see today

Colin Montfort

Security, Chris Wilson And Me

Security means nothing
when you’re travelling through time…
I roll along on outback tracks
to Chris Wilson wailing
“…I left my ugg boots by a tree
they’ve been sitting there since Sunbury ’73…”

Security undressed me once
and wrapped me in
a prickly green blanket

…it was 1969…
home was safe enough to leave alone
so some of us kids were raffled off
to fight somebody’s war.

Somewhere in Phuoc Tuy
under cover of darkness
I lost my bearings
in an armour plated time machine
confused
I came back home to feed the dog
soldierly intrepid when they told me
he’d been dead since last September.

I kept in step with habit
like an addict
on parade inside a church…
loved ones sensing discord
offered time and safe asylum.

But security means nothing
in a time warped withdrawal…
so off I fled again to foreign places…
missing
the Sunbury concerts…
missing
my home
and missing the irony
that forty years on
I still can’t settle
in the place I’m missed the most.

“…I am a refugee from favour
Give me a straight blade to cut Jesus from my back…”
[that was Chris Wilson again…
I know that pain…..
but could never sing it like that]

and though I’m aging rhythmically
security means nothing
to a rambler
rolling out of town.

Colin Montfort

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Interim

Today I am foreign to everything
squinch down inside my thoughts
see them scorch   burn    die.
The Farmer’s Almanac in the kitchen
recounts February     there’s a red
heart around the fourteenth.
My health professional argues
for September.
Jack’s favourite parka still lives
behind the door     smells of the mints
he always chewed.
The sun has cooled to Baltic amber.
Goosepimply in a sundress
I pull my cardigan closer
score a minus for awareness.
Rain is crystal spicules
my heart a cindery black thing
that when you find it after the inferno
crunches like kindling underfoot.
His rubber boots have perished too.
I climbed the mountain
found it flaky and brittle at the edges
couldn’t keep a hold    slipped back.
It is dark yet in my valley
but the world has fast forwarded
to clover and new calves.
The rain begins again. I get wet.
Even umbrellas are interim.

Jan Napier

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Why don’t they just shut up and go home

What are they saying
these crowds in every city
lying in the streets
sleeping in the public squares
how come they have massed
in each capital
Is it a warning

The captains have vowed
to move them on
nonplussed   they order the water cannons
Of what could they be afraid
What do they have to fear

Years ago

when the circus caught fire
they sent the clowns out
to warn the people the fire might spread
Being clowns
they did not talk
They just performed  their best tricks
hand stands, somersaults, cartwheels
calling out odd words of warning

The people thought it was part of the act
They clapped and cheered loudly
The circus burned.
They considered that
Because the message came this way
It could be safely disregarded

Perhaps our captains feel
That because the warning comes this way today
With non violent protest
Even song and dance
It can be safely disregarded

They say
Why don’t they just shut up and go home

Perhaps
Unlike the masses they don’t believe
that the circus is burning

Ron Okely

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Love In a Rainbow

The miles pass by my aching eyes and my creaking jaw
like tableaus of delayed gratification, of unspoken hunger
and insatiable appetite, each signposted: 13 M to Utopia.
No distance to dystopia, it is here now and you can have it, it is all yours.

The trip is a grind, I can feel my teeth passing Babylon, gardens cascading
down my shining salted cheeks, bacterial efflorescences growing in the dusk
and glowing with indifference, soaking up attention like a row of privates
at Puckapunyal, all fall into line, backs straight, march now.  Stop now.

The light is mutating as the miles gather pace, it was cool gray blue
and now it’s greening and now it’s orange and now it’s purple, so I pull the blanket
off my head and watch the rainbows stroll by, splotting their multi-hued haustoria
to the barren earth in need of moisture, nutriment, attachment. Love.

Love in a rainbow is violet, tangerine, crimson, jade, sapphire – no ordinary hues
here, it just wouldn’t do to both of us what these more striking, less familiar names evoke
as we unravel that great distance between us, as those separating miles close down
to the here and now, and we are as one again.

It has been quite a ride. I don’t know you now.

Allan Padgett

Love Is What Love Is

Your aroma wraps around my soul
ties my waning resistance
in tight rubber knots
spills from crowded jeans –
life is more than it seems.

You wrap your soul around my heart,
and beg my entry into your life.

I write to you and set out my case –
stumbling over words strewn as boulders
as I clasp your shoulders:

love is what love is –
some fleeting effervescence
a palpating heart
a tumbling doubt
a soundless waterfall of tears
a need beyond description
a snake in the grass
a tumult in the pass.

Do not release your grip,
hold me tight now,
I’m coming around
to your silken touch, the soft
brush of your sweet lips on mine.

Now is the time, today is the day
when you beg me: stay.

I stay, and the earth’s axis tilts
the polar caps melt
the heaving oceans rise
above, beyond the skies.

Can love be thus, does it change
earth’s functions, is it here to stay:
flooding, shuddering, ecstatic bumbling,
gasping as you probe my words
pulsating as you plant your intentions
germinate your seeds
fumigate my needs
spell the end of caution –

map the rainbow to its ends,
make amends:

I love you.

Allan Padgett

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Celibate

Embers of summer
smoulder in the night –

pale blue slats of streetlight
on my bedroom walls,

my skin glistening
with sweat. These are

solitude’s textures,
mise-en-scene to

private habits repeated
each night unchecked by

another’s eyes, reprovals
or examples of more

correct behaviours.
No. When I go to bed

its sheet covers only one
body. When I light up

a cigarette in the darkness
it is not a post-coital

smoko, reward
for discharged duties,

but merely testimony
to sleep’s midsummer

resistance, when Plato’s
spume or Aristotle’s chess

lose their cool, fleshless
alure. Only the heat

can keep us celibates awake.
Lying on my bed

awake…
Bored!

Chris Palazollo

Peninsula Flats

Strange the rhythms of my contact
with the other tenants here. I was sure the couple
next door were going to split up,
but she got pregnant instead and does her washing
in the laundry barefoot. I’ve seen her a lot
recently, her belly starting to distend,
and as always she smiles at me nicely
when we greet each other
from our doorsteps. I haven’t seen him for weeks.

The little Maltese gentleman on the top floor
has disappeared as well. He’d spend all day
during the summer leaning on the railing
with a glass of red wine,
the full sun on his bald head, greeting me
and everyone passing
with a cheery familiarity which I often
found annoying, but to tell the truth
I miss now. The garden in the vacant flat next door
is watered everyday I get home from work
so he must be still around.

Close, but with no question or desire to share.
I have my cave to potter and sleep in,
my kettle boiling for a cup of tea. The comings
and goings of others can stay safely a mystery
of only momentary interest to me,
enough, perhaps, to provide a subject
of these jottings once the door is closed, the tea
is poured, and the sound of evening news
floats down from the flat above.

Chris Palazollo

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In Praise of Worn Sneakers

Yesterday I did not know how to begin
but this morning    sitting on some
thin edge of bed I followed a line of lace
to my shoe   and knew

You see how it owns its purpose
this thing of sole and synthesis
how it slides over my foot
with a memory of our touching
imprinted with history shared
how it’s given to nothing but this

Its invitation is too tangible
to refuse and so the shoe and I
return to those places from before
and it holds me, firms my
one foot before the other
so I may begin my journey
again.

Renee Pettitt-Schipp

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Gift Horse 

Haven’t you wondered what they look to see,
those who dare to gaze into the horse’s mouth?
A gift is a gift, we say. Yes, probably.
Think: who in his right mind would want then
to walk away from children so betrayed?
He shuts his face to his once loved woman—
she brought their kin into the wide world
to pass his lineage on, only to be deceived.

But you recall backward glances, as kids bear
away burdens—gifts, favourite pillows,
board games, schoolbags. Their real burden here
is that house they’re re-entering, empty now
of your presence. Hence hand on the driver’s
door, puzzlement in the eyes, frowning brow
at this transformed world of shifting sands
that used to feel unshatterable as rock.

Parting’s deadweight—can it be withstood?
In severed worlds love must flourish again;
for such wounds heal even if scars could
remain life-long. The force which drives through
the green fuse that miracle of flowers,
as the poet said, is never known to
the crowd reaching down for stones to cast.
No, not to young cynics nor the grimly old!

Glen Phillips

Leather Fetish

My nightshirt open in the heat
the faint wafting of warm air
from the window. Then I saw
it, a small brown native bat
flutter clumsily across the sill
and drop on to my pillow.
Without a pause it crawled
purposefully over my shoulder
and lightly prickled my bare chest.
It looked up at me with, I thought,
a shy smile and made its first bite,
an incision, rather. Those long
teeth were sharp as a laser
and barely tickled lancing in.
Blood spurted but, eyeing me
again, he or she licked it up.
Layered flesh laid aside, the bat
worked in until, rib bones whitely
bared, it cracked them easily,
nosing them aside until, it seemed,
with a small sigh he/she spread
those leathery wings and closed
them lovingly around my heart.

Glen Phillips

Seven Years Hitch

History shows a woman hitches up
her britches every seven years or so
and looks for a better husband than he
whom fate has (for better or worse) thrust
her way those years before. As she sets out
resolute, her spoken or unspoken
words still hanging in the air, like the line
of aligned laundry, the fully loaded sink:
‘I’ve packed my bags and leave you lot
still in your unkempt beds, lazing over
the papers, the damn lawns still unmowed!’

Out in the street, make-up hastily pasted
on cheeks and lips, hat jammed on head,
our mother would stride as far as the shop
on the next corner. Here a few words
with the good listening shop lady took
a half hour.  Her sails furled she would tack
back with shopping bags filled well enough
for the another seven days or more.

Glen Phillips

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The Art of Watering        

Already cicadas tick this fall of vine, passionfruit laden
morning, not so much a pebbled slip of step as waking to
reticulated dog, eight AM fur frisk salivation lick
of bemusement … but November clarifies unleavened,
wishful jalapeno hours between nine and two
choosing … repast preparation, when/where to … stop alarm
… soles stick tarragonation ridges worn Doc Martens –
must replace heels before going bush … the right, the left –
adventuring errands this breakneck week; constant reminder:
hymnal-odour loungeroom – tithes preserved for
Our Lady of Perpetual Dust: mea culpa – abandoning
bottlebrush to the art of watering: faulty flora malfeasance piping,
my watering can runneth … bonsai sough gardenias dried beyond
redemption … Speculation for hammock and hoe, rows
straightened for inspection: poppies, ranunculus, squash blossom
bees and dandelion angels toeing sweat-streaked flesh –
circumlocution of duty, hausfrau pride: magpie, swallow,
cicada, wren chorus – hardly Greek, but with a sufficiency of
alarm … Northeast wind and a spread of dove feathers …

Zan Ross 

Mao as a Central Philosophy

I pay for the Mao poster:
Chair-man sitting pretty
your skin — cherry blossom,
water lily scent.

Even at the Emperor’s
Forbidden City
ivory incised organs, artists
oppress
green clay epidermal mask
.
Afterwards,
we survey   The Great Wall
greater
and lesser  than we expect.
My fingertips bloodied braille on
stone, I    read expectation in:
clay warrior, jade armour —
one emperor.

After dark I listen to your breath
rising through the room.
You are  jasmine blossom,
bruised from touch, sleeping
delicate nipples of
cherry
I  eat
each one slowly.
This is the same as my
every thought of mastication/
expectorants — desire

slides granite to bamboo shoots,
Please: No red lacquer!

Do not refuse proposition:
rice paddy/paper/cracker
transmigrated, my body/skin
chaffed between palms,
dragon breath or back,
Mist over Beijing
Exquisite site of mutable
orchid,  oriole jutting over
silk organza muskrat —
scent releases
opulent satisfaction.
I sever anticipation:
veins, arteries part,
flushed across camphor.

Zan Ross 

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Hunkering at 42 degrees

She gropes along hallways
her house too dark for morning.

She is willing down the day’s heat
daring it    staring it down.

Relief will come within the month
she has ordered    paid    for coolness.

Now she reviews dimmed rooms
ever wary of an enemy advance

through one cracked shutter
a curtain left open    a tear in a blind.

Her family away    she and her house
have closed ranks

and they’re holding out.

Flora Smith

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Sea Breeze is a cool woman

noon just strolled past –
the sun now hits
like a sledge hammer
wham – red hot steel band
burns your face
in this stillness
nothing moves
and you realise
early easterly winds
dropped from exhaustion
and the sea breeze
may not  be far away

there – now
from the sun-down side
first hint of  coolness
delicately she tip-toes
in soft silky flowing gowns
to gently touch your face
with cool, tender, salty lips

shimmering heat haze
over land soon trembles
begins to wobble
and quiver
holds its breath uncertainly
until a bird stirs
slight tentative flutter
now another chirps briefly
as if to let us know
“you’re right,
the lovely Sea Breeze
really is on the way”

before long
the eucalypts

begin to whisper
tall bamboo
shakes hotness
off green slender tips
– then we all wait
for the next breath
of cool air to reach us
to fan and caress us
trees, birds, plants
the dog and me

at last she rushes in
with one almighty
wooshshshshshsh
in billowing wraps of
whirling wind
she sweeps away
forty six degrees
of a hot hot day
instantly forgotten
in the cool passion
of Sea Breeze woman

Traudl Tan

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Camouflage

When Hansel and Gretel
left their cottage in the bush
they took with them
pebbles sometimes stones
left behind them a trail
signposted
each stone a word
a colour
for eyes, blue
for discovery, brown
for murky darkness
green to match wings
singing soprano in trees
and as they turned the corner on their return
they saw eyes the colour of honey
for love

Rose van Son

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First flights

1.

The fork in the gum tree
is a triangled window
through which I see

young parrots
strengthening wings in play.
They are too far away to hear

but I can see their crimson heads
nodding rubies
lime green wings        flashes of jade.

In the olive leaves
their plump young bodies         yellow plums
on bouncing branches

and I don’t need to hear
to recognize their romping joy
cocky banter         the pause

as they push themselves forward
into unknown thermals
the rush           flushing out each wing.

2.

He has packed his bags and kisses me
steps off the driveway with his raucous friends

and they fall into the updraft
with much whooping.

Julie Watts

I saw a tree on the side of the road

I saw a tree on the side of the road
a scratchy gum      amongst other gums
that threw themselves skywards
olive green tall         and sure as joy

but this gum       was yoked
by its own trendrills
long stringy tendons
holding swags of last year’s shredded
bits of itself

twig     leaf     and broken branch
snagged and swaying –

this gum        this fine start
stunted    by the heaviness
of its hoarding.

Julie Watts

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Time Lines
___
After Pessoa

Between you and me
and the me of you
the tidal stream of time
ebbs and flows to the sea.

It sits full at my door
and if by chance
I launch a boat
take up my sleep by oar

muse on liquid bends
where this river flows strong
and pass the links of sleep
how do I make amends?

And if crying I wake
and bring with me the links
would I be bound always
by that stream to wait?

Gail Willems

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