Creatrix 18 Poetry

September 2012

Poetry Editors: Peter Jeffery and Sue Clennell
Working Publications Manager: Gary De Piazzi
Webmaster: Mark Isaacson

Contributors:

Carolyn Abbs

Still Life

Tash Adams

Lovers

Anil

Phantasm
Relationships

Liana Joy Christensen

Here and There

Sally Clarke

Thought

Judy Corcoran

Waiting for the Doctor

Cuttlewoman

From the oubliette

Geraldine Day

CARNIVALESQUE

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Beyond You and Us
Wordless

Terry Farrell

The Great Hunger

Derek Fenton

Ectoplasm

Keren Gila Raiter

Autobiography of a Plant Killer

Kevin Gillam

and leave

Fran Graham

            Chinese Translation

Ken Hudson

IMPOSSIBLE SKIN
MY FATHER’S ROSES

Janet Jackson

shot
Liller

Ross Jackson

INTIMATE APPAREL

Veronica Lake

Enchantress Circe

Laurel Lamperd

Battlefields

Jennifer Langley-Kemp

WINDOWS
TIME SLIP

Meryl Manoy

HOMECOMING

Mardi May

BETRAYAL

Glad McGoug

Requiem

Jacqui Merckenschlager

A Devil of a Goat

Max Merckenschlager

Easy in the Sun

Colin Montford

BOB HOPE AND BING

Jan Napier

SO FAR FROM GOD

Colleen O’Grady

FRIENDS

Allan Padgett

A living without end
Close to the end of time

Chris Palazzolo

Not even nothing

Joyce Parkes

Antilogy’s Apercu
Watching Clouds

Kelly Pilgim-Byrn

For those who came before
Doves

John Ryan

Scything Grass at a Canadian Homestead

Flora Smith

Indonesia (the verse ‘there are always gifts’ to be left out)

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

anti-boson

Rose van Son

inevitability

Gail Willems

STONE WALLS AND FORGOTTEN SPACES

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Still Life  

The window is frosted
with feathered patterns of ice

Green glass jars stand on the ledge
like party guests in floor-length robes

Catkins in a vase    trail
shadows of pencilled hair

An aroma of mulled wine
invites you to step in    take a sip

Slip off your shoes put on this party-
frock    how nice it is    a perfect fit   

You mingle with the guests    smile
at strangers    attempt conversation

tap one on the shoulder    flirt a little
try butterfly kisses    even lift a hem

or two    to see if they wear shoes
Catkin-buds burst with fireworks

shower you with stars    prickle
your arms    top of your head

your mouth is yawning sparks!
You scratch at the window-ice

dart along the walls
cannot find the door

You turn around as mute as glass
your floor-length party frock
________ a sheen of emerald green.

Carolyn Abbs 

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Lovers 

Entwined on the sand like barbed
wire, a wave crashing over them
can’t quench their desire. Wet
clothes cling. A hand brushes a nipple.

The sea whispers her incantations.
They profess their summer lust.
Like steel and salt, she will bond
them with rust and recycle their love.

Natasha Adams

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Phantasm, man’s path

________ ANAGRAM POEM by Anil

Relationships
This lone pair’s
Heart-loss I nip,
Spirits heal on
Alone-ship stir
Into lips-share.
Then I spiral so,
Spin heart’s oil.
I rot less in happiness’ hot lair.

Anil

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Here and There
________
for K.O.

Stretch the skin
for kindred
inhabit my life
like a restless tide
like sugar in my veins

The glitter of the unknown
full moon
the clink of drinks
a place with scarlet dresses
saxophones

At home again
in the glistening
dark ocean of sleep
I fly on those dreamstrings
exploring space
return again
to that unknown nirvana
a better place

Liana Joy Christensen

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Thought

Schubert never owned a piano,
except in his musical head,
keyboard laid out, notes side by side
to tempt his ever-ready, agile fingers.

The Trout, dear song expanded,
beloved piece destined for years ahead,
he composed on his parents’ instrument.
Imagine them hearing it

for the first time, simple intricacy
filling their apartment, perfectly contoured silver fish
leaping joyful upstream in the torrent,
rooms flooding with unstoppable sound.

Dismissive critics, unable to make their own leap,
dubbed the treasure ‘un-Beethovian’
making one consider the critics’ role,
long-term value of such opinion.

Sally Clarke

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Waiting for the Doctor

Surrounded by red desert and blue ocean,
the city realises, and suffers
the magnified full impact
of the sweltering southern afternoon sun’s
harsh, reflective rays.

While I seek the illusive comfort of shade,
sitting simmering in sweaty stickiness,
a vibration, a long reverberating thrum from within, rises,
unites with the oppressive weight of extrinsic heat
and wends its way into the very expanse of reality,
insidiously dulling my senses,
rhythmically sounding, echoing through my being.

Eyelids, too heavy, droop, flicker, close.
Slow-witted, head leaden
I veer towards the edge of sleep unconsciousness.
Floating in warm, lethargic air,
gently tumbling through a sea of pulsating energy,
drifting through space and time…

… lazing, sprawled on her front veranda steps,
breathing in the thick, sweet scent of my grandfather’s roses,
while the sticky buzzing of a blowfly drones
in rhythm to the distant sound of the occasional tone of traffic
from the highway, half a mile away.

I smell long-forgotten grandma scent – apple pie and lavender.
I hear her murmuring, slowly, softly,
‘Won’t you buy my pretty flowers?’
to the cadence of gentle, soothing, clinking,
as she lackadaisically, with straw, stirs
lemon and ice cubes
in a tall glass of gin and tonic
(for purely medicinal purpose)
and, as if from the base of a deep, dense fog, I dimly hear her say,
“Well, here he is. He’s early today.”
And Fremantle’s own Doctor of renown breezes in,
this great physician’s breath bringing
cooling ointment from the Antarctic…

… to caress my thirsty skin
and rouse me from my illusion,
as I open my eyes and wake to today,
where she is not.

Judy Corcoran 

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From the oubliette

I am old, and the wrong things
I have done no longer rattle.
Yet, I learn more about
why the shadows, about
how the shadows.
A new voice
will be mine, in time,
reclaimed from the slime,
frothy with stench.
After all, from this situation,
only a voice can arise.

Cuttlewoman

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CARNIVALESQUE

Thunder unrolls like side-show alley
the wide, loud colours of us.
Our game of emotional dodgem cars
grinds corners with shrapnel,
blue voices spew wreckage
of three wheeled dreams.
Lies bounce hard as hailstones.
Forgiveness is not an option.
Your fist floats like glass
fingers grasp muddied truths
extract breathless confessions.
Squeeze colour into black and white.

Geraldine Day

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Between You and Us 

If I were to immerse my mess of startled meanings
into the flow of truth and grinding grammar
until some semblance of sanity and conversation returns.
Then I would no longer need to inquire of you.

If I were to drown my bag of rounded feelings
in the ocean of desire and dashing waves.
Allow them to sink and settle to the bottom
until the pain seeps into the ocean floor.
Then I would be beyond the reach of you.

If I were to toss my days of memories
and joyful imaginings to the vanishing blue sky
and hide-me clouds and watch them drift away
on the silent wind as your face fades
and phases out of my thoughts.
Then I would be free of you.

Trapped by words combined
and rearranged with the events of you.
Presented as if on parade with their barbed
threads that refuse to break.
Embedded in my heart, lingering
after the scent of you .

Confined by Judas eyes and contrary hands
I push you away only to draw you close.
Crucify myself in the adoration
repulsion of you, racing away
in the closeness and pining of distance.

This bittersweet torture I grow
not knowing where my heart sits.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Wordless 

Tight fists clench against eyes
as a mill churns gut and jellies
arms and legs to useless.

Rendered wasted in bed where words
find themselves strangers.
Strike out in desperation to grab
something, anything in the void
and silence of night.

The slow breath, the stomach rumble
the only companions in the empty
retreat this life has retreated to.

This momentary slice of grief waiting
for inspiration as the night wracks
cold with anticipation.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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The Great Hunger

This hunger
that the wind cannot carry
nor the sun’s rays warm
nor the ocean’s  depth cool
yet, it blows upon us, through us, in us
yet, it numbs us, leaving us stiff, as if frozen
yet, it burns in us, amongst us, to ashes returns us

Leningrad winter 1942
as the blue-white snow pack devours the city
brightly coloured cloth and paper spheres,
100,000 for every month, appear
glowing below its translucent surface
shrouds for deceased loved ones
as ocean beacons, they signal to the body removers

Today amongst the warmth of a Perth’s winters day
I pick up my son from the airport
he’s a FIFO driller in the mines
and has not been well this shift, a feverish flu forcing him to bed
the relentless thump and shudder of the drill taking its toll
so the rig lay idle as he slept for 18hours straight

He tells me the big companies
are laying off workers and halting projects
in protest over the mining super-tax
in our silence following this discussion
I hope that the great hunger is benevolent to him
And his children, and their children, all children

By late winter
the buckled shells of the dead
slumped in houses like withering furniture
as those, still clinging to life,
moved about them, no longer seeing them,
still the great hunger was not appeased
it raged within and without, as survivors,
like poor accountants
dutifully kept its books

Terry Farrell

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ECTOPLASM

She never liked it at all-
back then it was accepted
and, despite the discomfort,
she put up with it, for him.
Even up until the end,
she allowed him to do it,
and when he first went away
she was greatly relieved.
Now, whenever she thinks of him,
she remembers the aroma
which always surrounded him.
When other people do it,
she can’t stand it at all,
but sometimes she is tempted
to light up a cigarette
and let his ghost share the smell.

Derek Fenton. 

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Autobiography of a Plant Killer

They first found me rotting away in a cinnamon tree,
And I am a malaise of modern, mobile, society.
Virile, though sexless,
I am newcomer to these age old rocks.
And I am a detail by which technology killed the world.

I am small, almost microscopic, my translucent whiskers are shapely, charming, miniature versions of the coral reefs that lie stretched out beneath the oceans.
And like the reefs, I am huge too, my coralline whiskers have slithered, swum, and hitched from Sumatra all around the world, to the ancient woods of Tasmania, the famous proteas of southern Africa…
I slither
________ Imperceptib-ly,
________ Subterranean-ly,
________ Relentless-ly,
________ n the mud on the tyres of your four-wheel-drive-ly.
I stowed away in soil on ships and I now ravage the tall hardwoods of the Americas, andthe great wildlands of southern Australia, where every peak in the landscape is a story from creation; and now the bush foods of the local ones are becoming less, and less, and less.

The old Noongar, she talks about the bush tucker.
She tells of the honey from the banksias, a good healing tonic.
Dead banksias now.
________ She calls me Drastic
________ They call me Insidious. Tragic. Deadly.
________ They call me Phytopathogenic Pseudofungus.
________ They call me Biological Bulldozer.
________ they call me Phytophthora cinnamomi.
________ They call me Worse Than Salinity.

And I ignore signs. I ignore boundaries.
I ignore laws that say ‘no taking of native flora’; ‘no destruction in a national park’. I destroy the hillsides, I destroy the valleys. And those plants; I take half.
I take half and leave their skeletons, grey and dead.
They call me dieback. But I am a front. And I am in front.
And somehow it comes to be that my unconscious, mouldy evolution has outsmarted all the power and knowledge and gadgets of the human race, and all they can do is watch me do my work, try to grapple with my epidemiology, and hope to live longer than my victims and tell their story.

“Gotta speak good story”, they say.
I ain’t no good story.
I love the rotting of the living.
I scour the roots with which the windswept trees grip the ancient soil, as they turn red with silent, underground rage at their doom.

You see, I believe in simplifying the world. Just what clarity is there in a biodiversity that stretches from here to the moon? Why worry with those
________ Proteaceae
________ Epacridaceae
________ all them that are Myrtaceous
________ Fabeaceous
________ Papilionaceous
________ Xanthhoreaceaous
(words that your common physicist couldn’t even spell)
when you can so easily manage
________ sedge, after sedge, after sedge.

I creep underbark, through vessels built for water and food and all things good. I creep leaving lesions scarring up tall, strong trees that withstand wind and rain and the turning of centuries, but cannot resist my deathwish.

Parched, thirsty roots dying silently.
Cells without integrity once I’ve been through.
and so, even before full-scale industrialisation,
________________________________ commercialisation,
________________________________ post-modernisation,
________ I took advantage of exponentialization.

While young male patriots ran up and down the wild magnificent mountains, learning how not to fall over,
And pioneer farmers with high hopes cleared land for their woolly herds,
________ And roads were built,
________ And gravel was spilt,
________ I, without guilt,
________ flagged a ride on their shoes.

Keren Gila Raiter

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and leave

leave bowls of water for the moon,
take the river’s truth and gift it,
see all sides of wet things,
catch the rain and wind in separate hands

leave bowls of wind for the hands,
catch the moon’s truth and wet it,
see all gifts in rain things,
take the river and water to separate sides

weave water and moon,
slake the river of gifts,
seed the truth with rain,
shake the river of separate lands

sleeve the moon,
wake the river,
sift rain,hatch and leave

Kevin Gillam

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Chinese Translation
________
Previously published in On a Hook Behind the Door

Far away from football
and a focus on the weather,
my schedule is tight with
English classes for senior students
whose lives are leavened
by dreams of superstardom
and the promises of pop music.
Inside this oriental cocoon
their sights shift and sway
as tensions slap the sides of a culture
so old it slurs its speech.
In this garden of slim pickings
they embrace belief
and trust that a chance alchemy
will thrust them onto the path
of a ticket out
or an avalanche of opportunities
dense with distinction and exotic fruits,
subtle as background music,
thick with certainty
and, unmistakably,
playing their song.

Fran Graham

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IMPOSSIBLE SKIN
________ for Rosalind

Touch is a window into the soul.
We peer in when skin touches skin.
Finger-talking like liquid smoke.
Tactile words soft as raindrops.
Opening ourself letting Otherness in.
Such a difficult thing
but the only true words in our world.

Skin naturally clings to skin
seeking some impossible thing
that Other skin is unable to give.
But we keep trying again and again.
Hoping each time for that hopeless thing.

Kenneth Hudson

MY FATHER’S ROSES

My Father’s lost childhood left him thinking
life wasn’t meant for pleasure.
But in his own home and garden he found roses.
Something he could treasure.

In memory they’re forever blooming.
Oranges. Crimsons. Pinks. Yellows.
Petals softer than skin.
Perfumes almost too lush too much.

He pruned and I gathered clippings.
Like him their leaves hid long tough thorns
leaving me scratched bleeding and torn.
Son shedding blood for father
while I tried to see their future beauty.

As I grew older I started to see
his pleasure was looking at those roses.
Not looking at me.

Kenneth Hudson

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shot

a candid shot
of the military dictator
the burnt child
in his eyes

Janet Jackson

Liller

Now he can toddle
we call him Godzilla
‘Liller!’ he echoes,
as cute as a curl

In the peace of his nap
with blocks and toy people
we lay out a city
complete with a mall

But here comes Godzilla,
arisen from slumber,
lumbering in
to liller it all

Janet Jackson

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INTIMATE APPAREL

Strange garment
the conscience-
common as a tattoo;
figuratively for some,
a hair shirt,
for others
merely a wrap against the cold,
or a fascinator
when in some green shade.

The right fit’s
impossible of course;
either chafing,
or your arse on display.

Whatever-
it’s easily thrown off,
should fashions
change.

Ross Jackson

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Enchantress Circe

In solitude I wait,
weaving my incantations, calling…
Great beasts prowl my forests,
bending their heads to my hand.
Lion of gold, silent panther, wolf;
All walk together in peace,
in this, my secret place.

Odysseus…
a name for conjuring,
a name to whisper on the wind.
Odysseus;
travelling with his band of men,
on a journey already the stuff of legends.
They came to pillage;
running through my sacred forest,
driven by greed, bent on destruction,
sins of the flesh their guiding light.

My pearls I do not cast before swine.
I reveal men for what they are
snouting and grunting their way through life.
Their inherent nature betrayed them
Nothing I did changed anything.
Desire, lust, depravity
were running through their veins.
What came to be was always there:
bestial by nature, bestial by name.

Why pigs, you ask?
Somehow porcine form was appropriate.
See for yourself.
Watch them wallow,
rolling replete in the mud.
They are perfectly happy.

Odysseus,
I whispered your name,
lured you to my side,
out of place, out of time;
I never made you stay…

Veronica Lake

 

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Battlefields
________
London Calls

Years of training
Tears. Grief
The defeated vanished
Exhilaration
From the chosen
Planes boarded
Laughter. Farewells
The world glued to radios
Television, mobile phones, e-pads.

From Aleppo
Lost in hurrahs for gold
Come cries of people
Save our children, our babies
Our lives.

Anthems resound around the world
Flags raised. Medals brandished
Drowning sounds of tanks and gunships
From Aleppo

Laurel Lamperd

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WINDOWS

________________ painted on silk
________________  framed by the window
________________  Japanese prints

a twisted tree
overhangs the green lake
shapes the fountain
laces small rain into a net
throws it over ducks as they
glide towards the shore 

________________ dozing kangaroos
________________ tapestry of brown among  pines
________________ magpies carol above  picnic tables
________________ a moorhen guides her brood
________________ to water

________________________ from this window
________________________ you would never know it was there
________________________ only when work becomes tedious
________________________ when you lift your eyes above the trees
________________________ are you aware of a  paddock
________________________ cool and green, floating in the glass

________________________ honey bees above
________________________ dew drenched gold centred  daisies
________________________ divers at the pool

Jennifer Langley-Kemp 

 

TIME SLIP

Catching the school bus
I am a child again
a different road but familiar
market gardens
lemon scented gums,
banksias at the turn off

Noise builds
motion sickness takes hold

I clench my teeth
fix eyes on the horizon
The past is too close
Under skin time melts, runs
is caught in the lurch, the judder
of this later bus

Jennifer Langley-Kemp

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HOMECOMING

Grahame had not been home thirty years or more
since he settled on antipodean shores.
Brother Eric lived in Brighton by the sea
in U.K. he hosted my daughter and me.
Driving up to Heathrow I found quite a strain –
roundabouts were tricky, finding the right lane.
Grahame was all smiles – we had a cup of tea –
porter with his case was waiting patiently.
Grahame thought the porter I had hired for him
really was decrepit – whiskers on his chin,
stooped and unintelligible, mumbling low –
at the car park Grahame said, “just let him go.”

I said he could help put luggage in the car,
hubby said he doubted he could walk that far!
“Goin’ to Bright’n are yers?” mumbling through his beard,
we confirmed, as noisily his throat he cleared.
“Gatwick’s on the way t’  Bright’n” he declared –
next, the question he’d so craftily prepared –
“I’m on Gatwick duty later on t’day –
reckon yers could drop me off? It’s on yer way”.
Grahame was dumbfounded, he could only stare –
what a hide – he likely didn’t have the fare!
I made the decision – back seat, the two chaps,
needing daughter next to me to study maps.

Grahame tried conversing with this uncouth bloke,
we in front were thinking this is quite a joke.
Reminiscing Grahame found the porter had
lived in suburbs where he’d grown up as a lad.
When we got to Gatwick I said “It’s time to go.”
His last words to Grahame, “I want yer to know
brother Basil’s not best actor in the crew.”
Grahame was aghast – “And who the hell are you?”
Porter pulled off whiskers, stuffing from his cheeks,
brother Eric sat there –(we’d planned this for weeks!)
“BASTARD!” exclaimed Grahame as they both embraced –
after thirty years he hadn’t known his face!

Meryl Manoy

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BETRAYAL

Heart
once steady engine

you betray me
with this flighty tick

your tricky beat

caught red handed
on a beeping screen

The now familiar

skip     and      flutter

electronically revealed
Traitor that you are

you trace a
________ random
course

defiant as a drunk
and far removed

________________ from love.

Mardi May

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Requiem
Written to Handel’s Largo on the death of my mother

Rhythm sustained in gentle harmony
softly sweeps the heart
to comfort agony of grief.
Soothing, sustaining notes,
anguish to assuage –
an opiate for those who softly weep
motionless and undisturbed,
re-birthed in silent rain.
Symphony in tender supplication,
subdues the pain endured,
as endure one must
of one loved and of one’s love lost –
tranquility decreeing

Softly dulcet tones
still the aching heart to even beat,
enfolds in gentle stillness
serenity that sheathes the soul.
A milieu of pulsating peacefulness
to celebrate lost life.
Death transcending
Spirits shared,
attuned in restfulness:
reality descending.

Virtuoso,
a slow and solemn panacea composed,
aesthetically amplified
to doleful mood opposed,
breathes stillness of the spirit,
misery deposed.

Glad McGough

 

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 A DEVIL OF A GOAT

I grew a climbing rose,
_ a fragrant arch     a sensual delight
a blessing of one hundred pink clusters
_ welcoming each friend who called.

Well trained,    no thorns strayed close
_ to catch unwary visitors,
its meaner side exposed to rain and sun
_ threw tendrils merrily into the wind.

Then Lulu joined our family.
Satan black with yellow eyes
_ which summed me up    as fooled
not worth a second thought.

It didn’t matter what we tried
_ a yard was just a puzzle
___ a game to keep her mind amused
a challenge to her wickedness.

In my ninth month, near full blown,
_ she sensed my vulnerability
___ and slipped the peg   neatly from her gate
gazed defiantly through the glass
___ and boldly ate my perfect rose.

Jacqui Merckenschlager

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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 well away to catch the rays of breakin’ dawn at sparrer fart
and probably till close of day he’ll capture 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 sketches 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 y’ paintin’s like a po’m.”
The canvas Sallie knew she’d lose but 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 Sonnemann’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, sketching others while they toil?
Old Man Collins puffs an answer, “Heysen might, our prince of oil.” 

Max Merckenschlager

Footnotes

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

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BOB HOPE AND BING

that night sitting in a sydney bar
paradox and time
rallied together
with a medley of nondescripts
accordingly dispersed
and meshed
under riddled incandescence

leaning back
in a pit stop oasis
the stark evolution
of ten thousand saturdays
diluting the taste of the day

time the eclipser
softened like camembert
baked under coloured lights

dreary shades of pavement grey
and frayed graffiti angst
dissolved in a swallow
as reflections bounced
off ice and glass
to glaze complicit eyes
in that infamous tradition
the flash and the flux of it
stretching communion’s timely curve

on the road in a sydney bar
with apologies to kerouac
bob hope and bing

Colin Montford

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SO FAR FROM GOD

I am so far from God that only rats
and rent boys see me fight my demons
in knuckle and beer reek alleys.
I offer up my cheek grizzled and filthy
to smug forgiveness   say “ put ‘er there”
hold out my hand     “got a dollar?”
hitch a grin at the shrink and step back.
“We’ll save ya,” cry the Salvos
but it’s too many lickspittle lovers later.
Too many nights of trashed moonbeams
squats perilous as Lucifer’s minions
bladders of chateau cardboard
cops     “move it along there mate.”
I ‘d rather chew on windfalls
wormy as graveflesh than gulp soup
flavored with your piety.
I swap censer smoke for Marlboros
or on a good day   mull    trade the latin
for a curse   replace the odour of sanctity
with that of opprobrium.
I am so far from God that only Chagall’s angels
strange naked creatures that they are
bother to mark my passing.

Jan Napier

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FRIENDS

We’ve been friends a long time you and I,
What – nine years? Ten! My, time does fly!
We give and take,
Share our troubles,
And settle squabbles over tea and pie.

You’ve moved again? But we’re still together,
Paying visits no matter what the weather.
We give and take,
Share our troubles,
When we’re at the end of our tether!

Your cow’s gone dry? Ours has calved!
My hens don’t lay, so your eggs are halved.
We give and take,
Share our troubles,
Laughed when broke, but never starved!

Thanks for the cabbage! Here! Have a caulie!
Here come the children, aren’t they jolly?
We give and take,
Share our troubles,
And have a lot of fun by golly!

The years have passed by. My, how they’ve flown!
Just look at those children! Haven’t they grown?
We give and take,
Share our troubles,
That’s how true friendship has been shown!

Colleen O’Grady

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A Living Without End

Beyond a bursting black-laced sky
burnished by turbulence,
a white owl pegged itself
to a gnarling lichened bough –
and trembled in the deepening wetness.

Claws curved in studied grip to suspend a fall,
mind engraved to see it all –
a raucous burst of honeyed amber light
pouring forth between ferocious slats of steel grey
tumbling cloud.  Owl wonders at the depth

of drought, feels the stricken woodland
open its dust-clogged pores
to dumping sky-born cleansing wetting particles
that streak earthward and hiss and slam,
pelting desperate dusted ground, blasting
a decade-long emptiness with a promise
to restore life and purpose
where these were thought to have been
forever lost.  Such was the ferocity, the tangible pain,
of nature’s desiccating fortunes.

Owl observes green bent stems at prayer,
lupins emerging from sodden soil,
bearing vibrant cotyledons
and hope and faith aloft and skyward,
recklessly absorbing after such time of absence,
molecules of wetness, tying these to penetrating sunbeams
in row upon row of palisade and spongy mesophyll –

as a chemical dance negates despair and
rivers of sugar and good fortune run again.

Owl drops swiftly to and upon
a frantic scurrying mouse to end
its local drought of bloodied sustenance, to soak its
drought-scarred insides with blood and flesh.

Mouse in turn barely nourished by scarce seeds
gulped in haste and ingested between fits
of mounting despair –
as its babies died of hunger and remorse.

And that freshly-minted energy which flowed
toward all life as that scintillating
dance of water and sunlight launched
a new-found confidence, and watered
a parched and desperate landscape
with hope and longing,
gave owl a new beginning –
another cycle leapt into being.

Another generation of seeing and believing,
crept upon the shattered woodland
and gently placed a tumbler of meaning
and a dash of merciful gratitude
into their daily living.

A living without end, punctuated by spikes
of despair and then, with little notice –
embraced joyously by life’s good fortunes
in a rhapsody of light, warmth and falling water.

Allan Padgett

 

 

Close To the End of Time

At the beginning of the day you were close to the end of time,
and at the end of that fevered day you were closing in on me,
teeth bared tongue lashing lips curling.

For the first time, I saw the wolf in you,
I felt the hot breath of a wilderness.

Your lupine attitude took me by surprise,
your quadrupedal gait made my hair stand on end.

I looked into those hot brown eyes, lashes flashing
your deep black pupils beyond reach, stretching back
into a long distant past, where hunting for prey was the norm
and being caught meant ingestion, meant being turned
and churned into wolf flesh, and extruded in liquid form
to a cluster of hungry whelps, desperate to suckle wolf milk
and ready to eat one another –
if they had to, so as to stay alive.

Well, these days, I have to admit, I feel far less wolfy
than before, it is the effort of running all day to catch a feed,
running all night to fulfill a need,
running through hostile terrain to avoid the gun –
the ricocheting bullets just one short reach away
from chowdering my animal brain,
one way I guess, to avoid the pain –

of living like a four-legged feral urban escapee,
determined to enjoy the night while it lasted
and the steppes while they remained unblasted,
all too easily blown to pieces as the wild parts disappear
under heated tarmacs of tar, under millions of car treads,
beneath thundering road trains, and curdling amnesia.

Allan Padgett

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NOT EVEN NOTHING

I dreamed you
I dreamed you collapsing
melting as in your poem –
the flesh bones and organs
liquefying in acid tears
pooling around my feet –
I awoke to plups of vitreous
jelly and blood squirting
the last of you

You’re all over me
this poem you sprayed over me
like a squid spurting ink –
I’m covered with it
stained disgraced and abominable

What vengeance!
I can’t even say I’m nothing
for look what I did to you
and even worse look
what you are now
The Poet
and me not even nothing

Chris Palazzolo

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Antilogy’s Aperçu
_____
With thanks to W.B.

A French writer wrote
that he would have loved
to have created a cliché,
where Francine feels

drift and direction — the
choices made, the dream
obeyed — matters too,
recalling another writer

who wrote: you will have
a free hand, of course,
as
Francine was about to cross
the field of fiction with

a walking stick, adding:
nevertheless. More stick
to lean on, or an attempt to
hold a free hand in progress?

Joyce Parkes

 

 

Watching Clouds
____
With thanks to P.O’B, M.M. and J.D. 

What do you do? A new neighbour asked
casting a line of literals into the Helena

River a distance away from our respective
sites. With the echo of netting rolling on

Ripple replied: about what — and
for how long? Making for the Swan River,

Ripple recalled the swell of concern over
the rise of density in sections of the river’s

fluidity, tempting her to splash at anglers
who’ll only respond to tugs of false or true

in lieu of a river’s story. So Ripple leapt
over the river bank where, finding a garden

of content, she sought a corner of quiet to
inhabit, watching clouds guiding gazes.

Joyce Parkes

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For those who came before

I feel as if I have let you down
scrubbed out all your hard earned
physical hand-me-downs
broken the chain—a thousand years
of pox on me.

Nanna’s eyes will never be seen again
nor will any child inherit Pop’s nobbly knuckles,
their spark is gone and the buck stops with me
and my failure to pass on any genetic fingerprints.

Yet here’s an intriguing thing about families

—similarities are not all hard-wired
and in our daughter we see facial expressions,
overexcitement, or the flourish of a hand gesture
that have been gifted from you by me to her
a precious package of inheritance.

Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne

Doves

Sodden little fellows
sitting silent as molluscs
on the overhead wire.
Eyes half-shut against
the persistent rain
on what should have been
the first day of glorious Spring.
Perhaps they were caught out
by this imposter?
By the time they thought
to move to shelter
their feathers were clumped with drizzle
and all they could do was sit,
heavy-bodied under the darkened skies
on the electrical wire, cautiously watching
me under my rainbow umbrella.

Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne

 

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Scything Grass at a Canadian Homestead
____
recalled through a Sidney Nolan painting

In this image of six blades
that clasp the air
with a coordinated arc,
they are there: a mother & daughter
scything canary grass for straw—

the Restigouche River
glistening its adder’s tongue
between Quebec & New Brunswick

the tongue & the painting & the blades
all quicksilver edges, all slicing through
impositions of sound, through the vibrating
force of flight on flesh, carving out lucent
forms of terranean being in forearm swoops,
graceful, elongated, unadulterated

the mother had long grey hair
that fell to one side with Tai Chi-like
articulations of the scythe over grass
& walked 24 miles every month on
bitumen (or hitchhiked) to town to bring
back everything her family couldn’t grow
or churn or sing to life,

________ sheep’s tongue pâté
was the best & her daughter trampled
a peace sign in pillows of field snow
for Cessnas to regard below, laughing

____________________________________  I see
them, prayerful over their earth, reaping
fodder to feed their sheep.

John Ryan

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Indonesia 

1.

Why do you go, he asked, why do you go?
________ It made no sense to him that I am ill again.

Because I must. I said.
________ Because things border on the mystic there.

The pre-dawn dark intense.
A din of shouting from the guides running alongside
our ponies, their lanterns swinging in eerie circles;
________ discomfort at the fast-paced bounce and jog and a sense
________________ of dread at all this sudden tumult.

Once over the sand desert, up concrete steps
and onto the narrow crater’s rim, we saw the sun rise
________ over such thick mist that all the things of our known world
________________ were hidden, leaving us wondering
if it was like this at the birth of time?

*

I have seen young men drunk on grief and arak
in the hinterland of Sulawesi, young men climbing high
________ on swaying bamboo ladders, chanting while they hoist
________________ the dead to family crypts. They never fall
because they cannot die while honouring the dead.

2.

Driving with friends one night in Central Java:
tropical dark had not fallen with habitual swiftness because
________ the cloud cover had thinned: instead a whole sky
________________ was transmuted orange. Farmers trudging home
________________________ with buffaloes were black cut-outs from a shadow play,
and I knew if we stopped and got out of the car, I would walk away
________ with them into that glimmering orange world

________________________________________ and simply disappear.

*

I am so spelled I keep returning, I tell him.
It is not a choice: it is a destiny.

Flora Smith

 

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anti-boson

we chatter. we talk dark
matter: how best to theft
a god particle; whether
cow tipping would cause
an overture in a boson’s
integer spin; if physics
could be more fun made
up of words forged from
dumb. we despise science
& all the answers it finds
for us without even trying
: once poets were just as
popular, thinking physics
through meter & stanza
. we scatter plots like
meteors unlock trajectories
in comets. we pitter patter
like white dwarves tiptoe
the cosmos. we flatter the
earth into 4our corners
again, making it easier to
fold into ignorant pocket
-fuls so we can scatter the
universe with magic &
lore & myths that once
were: gods had more fun
.

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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Inevitability

overnight-
the lake is a stream

the verandah washed clean
my reflection in puddles

fixed with the stare
you left with and I hear

your walk echoing thunder
the corners of the kitchen

no longer warm, the fire lit
& newspaper charred

but edges once straight
like skirts or seams

now crimple
storm at the grate

Rose van Son

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STONE WALLS AND FORGOTTEN SPACES
(Fremantle Arts Centre)

glossed by ambient light we reach out
stroke our pens and sculpt stories from the gaps
between terrors and watchers in this stone

clouded walls hide the bones
of shuttered minds and shattered lives

the wooden spine echoes the phantom feet
that shuffled bound in a deeper dark

leafless trees hang words against the window
sounds of shadows reach in spikes and claws

minds creak crack and bellow  fingers crawl
scratch at links of chain on illusory walls

symbols take shape  revolve
string sunken forgotten spaces

ghosts of words rub together  whisper secrets
sit in lost corners  smudge with their madness

Gail Willems

(Fremantle Arts Centre was once a female lunatic asylum)

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