Creatrix 22 Poetry

September 2013

Selectors: Chris Arnold and Peter Jeffery OAM

Contributors:

Carolyn Abbs

Elegy to a Cabbage White?
The Shadow

debarnes

Cottesloe breakwater Perth

Sue Clennell

Laurel
The alchemy of bees
Thisbe

Geraldine Day

Melting Clocks

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

As Before, So It Shall Be Again
Staying the Black Dog

Larraine Duncan

War and the Unknown

Frances Faith

Berlin Tourist 2013
Watching

Derek Fenton

triad of triolets:
_________ Recycled Rudd
_________
Julia’s Lament
_________ Kevin O Kevin

Margaret Ferrell

Falling Leaves 

Rosalind Franklin

The Lemon Scented Gum

Kevin Gillam

something unclocked

Mike Greenacre

A Gathering of Words 

Kenneth Hudson

Old Man          

Jackson

closed
out

Ross Jackson

Anyone’s Guide To Kings Park           

Meryl Manoy

Ballad Of Young Harry                                          

Mardi May

Theft 

Dean Meredith

The Stains

Jan Napier

Stars In The Sea

Colleen O’Grady

Fire!           

Allan Padgett

Hold On Tight
I Gently Steer My Bewildered Gaze

Joyce Parkes

Octobering        

Caroline Sambridge

Bullet Holes in My Face 

Faye Teale-Clavi

Time

Rose van Son

Plum and cinnamon

Joanna Wakefield

Mastectomy I
Riot – London 2011 

Mags Webster

Different Skin

Gail Willems

My Enemy
Nameless                                            

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________________________________________ 

Elegy to a Cabbage White

you hopped on at the lights     mistook
a parking ticket for a flower −
fairy wings wavered
prettily      on the windscreen −
I drove slowly for you little passenger
you clung to the wiper

but when we stopped
you rocketed up      in shock
———— then dropped
__________________ in freefall
a parachutist’s silk
_________ draped across tarmac

            Carolyn Abbs

The Shadow

I’d been hoovering      and paused      to open a window
bees were on the roses     breeze      quivered the blind
and something came in

autumn sun      slanted      across the floor
and in the dimness of a far corner      a shape      appeared on the wall −
the shadow of a small wooden chair
________________ found in a curio shop      the day before

***

irresistible:      wooden slats on the back      worn smooth
________ as if      touched      time      after time      again …
I’d squeezed it in the car      amongst groceries      snug as a puzzle

***

the shadow      lifted      ghost-like      unearthly…
________ I tried to shrug off      this childish thought
but a gossamer presence      followed      swayed with me
________________________________________ as I moved      about the house

I crept back to the room −
the shadow      already      back on the wall
________________________________________    tilted
________________________________________________ a shy invitation

just right      I thought      sitting in the chair
________________________________  (not meaning to sound like Goldilocks)
the ceiling fan      flickered      silver in the mirror −

I raised my hand         made a puppet-shadow      on the wall

________________ laughter…
________________________________ I swear      a child stood      very near

then I heard woman’s voice      sibilate      like a prayer whisper
________________________________          and the door      clicked      shut

            Carolyn Abbs

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________________________________________

Cottesloe breakwater Perth

With finger entwined
I once walked along the Cottesloe groin
In the rough windswept hours of darkness 

with my lover
“raging seas raging pounded the rock wall

her hand slipped from mine
she looked back grinning”

 seas clash, only to rise, fall,
creating a remarkable harmony; 

its echo’ encircling all.
with outstretched arms, she swirls round in circles
in unrestrained joy

“rich auburn hair, plastered
matted, across her face, and she, she was laughing
at the craw of mer”

it stands
forever within me;
this inherent, uniqueness that lies 

Within us all.

            debarnes

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________________________________________

Laurel

I have you forever
with your poems of skulls,
women dabbing each other
with sponges, words written
on stones.
Country born, you could have
versed about fly-blown sheep,
the fox that took your guinea fowl
a snake that haunted the WC
and ate your frogs,
the rusting john deere in the fields.
But you chose to write of women
waiting by red lamps, graffitied
bus stops, the dreams in ballads.

Your wooden box lowered out of sight,
but I have you forever.

            Sue Clennell

The alchemy of bees

Know that the stars are giant hives,
and to drink the elixir of love
you must summon the goddess of bees
to fertilise your flounderings.
Know that the honey from the moon
of her breasts, also holds tears, anise
and cinnamon,
cools to your mortal body’s temperature,
and waits for a dark place
to ferment what has gone before.

            Sue Clennell

Thisbe

Pyramus, talking to you
is like talking to a brick wall.
If I’ve told you once,
I’ve told you 365 times,
‘I’ll meet you by the Mulberry tree.’
And now look what you’ve done,
you’ve stained the snow white fruit
with your blood and everyone who
plucks it thereafter.
Erk, Pyramus, erk!
Furthermore, that copycat, Shakespeare,
has stolen our story and made us
a prime example of star crossed lovers,
when all I wanted was a house of my own
and a ready, steady husband.

            Sue Clennell

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________________________________________

Melting Clocks

When tomorrow went
student skeletons
had sung earthy songs
nailed ragged claws into starving artists
sledgehammered shock waves to deflect colour.

When yesterday comes
burning wizards
will uncover lost shadows
bargain for the bodies of souless musicians
use water maps to nurture vision.

But today
_________________ theft of time
litters a city with loose seams
and dark rumbles of texture
urge a lightweight eruption of poetry.

            Geraldine Day

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________________________________________ 

As Before, So It Shall Be Again

I am full-blooded, flat earth empty farms.
Undiluted essence of nature sprawled wide
and complete with the taste of salt
on the brush of wind.

I claim the remnants of man’s greed
his failures and inconsideration’s
that leave the land bleeding, dying.

I hold the delicate beat with its succour
in day rise, day set rhythm
breathing in, breathing out.

Confounded by the confusion of seasons
fallen from notice, from reliable prediction
disregarding cause and effect.

The ache of loneliness when no one cares
battles to reassert life in the barren
retreat of what remains..

And in the expulsion, the land exhales
slowly inhales a reprieve coming back
in small steps, reclaiming, revegetating.

Birdsong finds its niche and marsupials
carefully explore and weave their soft pads
to caress life into soil again.

The repose where elements of what is
return to what was.

                          Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Staying the Black Dog

Like fine, old fashioned bones
she resists the wear of time.
Drifts through the callous movement
of envious eyes and sets her hands
to the daily chores.

Finds herself swamped in wash suds
rising, clinging, suffocating
unable to shift the stain
that blackens her mood.

An undefinable smudge
with its persistent odour of decay
that gnaws at the glimmer
in her eye.

Duty bound to care and nourish
she falls into the path of others
discards her treasures, her hopes
her desires and settles
into trance movements.

Movements that steal the colour
from her hair as she packs lunches
stirs the pot and shops endless
aisles as days sweep away.

Left with a hollow where once
there wasn’t enough moments,
hands fumble in useless idle
shift to wring what was
and find a lack of self.

In the rearrangement, search
for who she was, who she is
before the black dog
devours her heart.

                   Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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________________________________________

War and the Unknown

He smiles back at me from the photo
Cap on and uniform neat.
A familiar face –
my father in his World War 2  uniform.
He was a navy man, a sailor boy.
He served on three ships altogether
One the HMAS Norman, and one the HMAS Swan,
the other one unknown to me.
I have a photo of him in the mess on the HMAS Swan
all the boys are smiling
at a camera taken by a sailor unknown.
a word synonymous with war.
What would happen to them when they signed up was unknown
What the act of war was like was unknown
Where they were going was unknown
How they would end up was unknown
What state they would be in when they came back was unknown.
Where some of them now rest is unknown………………

My father came back a different man
He would not talk about the war
Except in terms of where he had been.
But once,  just once he told us that he had seen his best friend blown up
And then I understood why he used to stop driving – suddenly!
He was having one of’ his blackouts’, as my mother called them.
I think he used to go back to the horror –
The pain that was his – that he couldn’t let us see.
They went into an unknown horror and returned unknown to their former selves.

They go, now,   into a known horror – well documented for us to see –
The daily feedback from the media of
Shooting, killing, bombs, and watching families die.
Do they still come back – unknown to their former selves?
Unknown to the family that waits for their return
Or is it better for them now?
People have a greater understanding of how war works
That some get killed
As a part of the collateral –
And some return without a limb or two……………………..
All is known now –
except why after years of loss, grief, horror and towns destroyed
Families torn apart, children maimed or orphaned –
we still do not know why war is waged……………………..

            Larraine Duncan

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________________________________________

Berlin Tourist 2013

The streets of Berlin,
scattered now with the first leaves of fall,
rumble low with the rattle of passing trams,
remembering the deep long ago notes of Marlene under her lamp-post.
They are diligently swept, holes patched,
new stones cobbling where once rubble made mountains.
The scratching of brooms over pavement continues to brush
away the memory of broken glass and shrapnel scraps.
Dark blood turned to dust now stains
only the corridors of shadowy museums.
What is left of the dividing wall stands like the last bones of a saurus
covered in a leprosy of dried gum.
Curious cameras record the peeling art splashed
so passionately on its westward skin,
ignoring the invisible mural etched by twenty-eight years of desperate stares
on the other side.
No more remains peep from hurriedly closed graves.
No more polished boots march across these reunited roads.
Berlin is bright with new neon,
architectural excellence continues to rise up from concrete ash
marble and steel in the place of crumbling facades.
The wings of old angels caught in mid flight promise eternity
this time.
I walk through the Gate like Willhelm in Napoleon’s footsteps,
mine pattering with the tourist clatter jostling
for space among the ghosts.
The Linden trees sigh and toss their first leaves
to swirl between our feet.

            Frances Faith

Watching

There is a small man hunched
On the arm of a pew inside
The great stone cathedral.
His forehead shines with
The sweat of a mass of hands.
Polished bald and taut
Still his face wears a frown.
Neither whispered prayers nor
Fervent mutterings move that man;
Nothing shakes his staunch position.
He glowers in rosy oak
Smoother than vespers
Mute under each touch that
Grasps for support.
Lone witness to a shamed youth’s
Confession he bore that
White-knuckled hold.
Pregnant with worry a wisp
Of a girl lent him
The brush of her fingers.
He heard the pleas of the worn woman
Who hid her shrunken faith
Under a grey-black shawl.
My wide-eyed supplications
Also passed him by
On their way through the stained glass.
Not the choir’s sweetest song
Nor the organ’s richest swell
Will reach his wooden heart.

            Frances Faith

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triad of triolets:

 

Recycled Rudd

He kept the knife in his back on ice
knowing that he would use it again,
knowing that he might use it more than twice!
He kept the knife in his back on ice
which prevented him from feeling pain
although he would enjoy the coming slice.
He kept the knife in his back on ice
certain that he would use it again.

Julia’s Lament

What’s that sharp pain I feel in my back?
The handle has a familiar feel.
I don’t know if I can take the flack
with the sharp pain I feel in my back,
perhaps it will teach me not to steal
Kevin’s cue from off of the rack.
What’s that sharp pain I feel in my back
and the handle with its familiar feel?

Kevin O Kevin

Kevin oh Kevin, just what did you do,
have you been on the road to Damascus?
We believed that what you believed then, was true.
Kevin oh Kevin just what did you do?
Forgive us if we think you a bit sus
asking us to believe the new, true you!
Kevin oh Kevin just what did you do,
try showing us the road to Damascus.

            Derek Fenton

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________________________________________

Falling Leaves

You were the one who
made us laugh:  getting lost
in New York, being left
on the Underground
unable to be understood
by Londoners, willing the
car up inclines with
loud sustained hum as you learned
to drive.

Of the three, you leapt
over fences too high
for us.  You didn’t care
if landing was a
disappointment . . . turned it all
into a humorous story.

Now you watch others

in the park across the road:
gatherings      lone walkers
dogs at play       changing seasons.

It’s Autumn where you are
and you can see the leaves
________________________      begin to fall.

            Margaret Ferrell  

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________________________________________

The Lemon Scented Gum

Ah! The lemon scented gum
Beauty of the Australian bush.

Tall and majestic are you with your aromatic foliage.
People run their hands down the smooth bark of your towering trunk.
Your graceful twisted limbs dance against the delicate blue sky
Shaking your fingers of slim pointed leaves at the drifting clouds.
So delicate are your fragile branches when the strong winds tear through
Twisting and twirling them until they come crashing to the earth below.
But even in their dying days your leaves send forth a mixed aroma
Eucalypt and lemon fragrance tantalising passers by.

Ah! Yes the lemon scented gum
An artists delight – an unforgettable perfume lingering on.

            Rosalind Franklin

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________________________________________

something unclocked

cut and swathed by salt and fret –
run your hands across this place
and something unclocked

feel it’s stubbly truth,
get blisters from history,
cut and swathed by salt and fret

pool table smooth in parts,
then scraggly as grandma’s chin
and something unclocked

a sort of relief map
and yes, palms bleeding,
swathed and cut by salt and fret

but this land won’t know,
won’t remember your touch
or the unclocked

will furl back the way it came,
slink back to it’s shagpile
and something unclocked,
cut and swathed by salt and fret

            Kevin Gillam

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________________________________________

A Gathering of Words

            for ‘a friend’

An arranged meeting –

our cyber-friendship

to be made real,

‘poetry readings’

as a place   not just

an inter-active page.

My eyes raced

through the Perth

Cultural Market stalls,

hoping they would

stop and unlock

a returning smile.

The chirp of belonging

reached through the

shelter of Morton Bay

Fig and Flame trees

bursting forth

on the heels of Spring

as I watched the

faces stand naked

from crowd    their

voices pushing words

towards the Art

Gallery   while

human traffic

revolved behind

as a steady back-

beat to the squawk

and sudden flight

of images released.

Still no you, as I

imagined you to be,

our cyber words

hold us as strangers,

face to face in the

gathering of words.

            Mike Greenacre

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Old Man

Where are you going to old man ?

Alone     shuffling     gray head bowed

ragged clothes           unlaced      shoes

home in plastic shopping bags

dangling from your hands.

What destination drives your feet

down concrete streets of glass and steel

 where no birds sing ?

I am not going to but coming from.

Moving is a meditation on forgetfulness.

My only destination is to move to my next breath.

My  bags hold what I’ve lost.

What Experience has cost me

in this wintery place

 where no birds sing.

I was granted glances into those rare places

where we cannot live

except for instants.

“Humanity cannot bear too much Reality”.

Heaven is only seen thru the Gates of Hell

so I am a husk                      a hollow shell

blown     down     the     rocky     roads

of this sunless city

 where no birds sing.

I sense others trying to avoid me

but I am devoid of feeling.

I am pure motion

invisible in this people ocean.

They can’t allow themselves to see

so they blind their eyes to me.

Another lie they use

to go on living

in this place

where Nature’s died.

Where no birds sing.

            Kenneth Hudson

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________________________________________

closed

At the river park there are geese
and ducks and parrots, all talking
their morning talk, and an owl
with a round white face.
Its exquisite flecked and patterned wings
are a spread fringe of white and brown.
Quietly it lies on the grass,
its modest beak closed,
with a tall tree above it,
a trail of ants beside it,
and a black blob for an eye.

            Jackson

 

out

between the road and the kerb
in a cramped tarmac crack, a weed
finds itself

reaches its dark leaves out (not up)

throws yellow petals at
the trucks

    Jackson

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Anyone’s Guide To Kings Park

from this lip of tended reservation, anyone
may view glowing volumes of a growing city
beside a placid river’s sparkling estate

and turning inwards from the bluff,
favoured eyes might cherish the propriety of birds
enlarging the aloneness of lawns. then follow

colour ways, at the Acacia Steps unravelling
fluttering walls of Springtime gold. everywhere
telling titles botanical- Pink Pokers, Grass Tree,

Harsh Hakea, Prickly Toothbrush, Flame Grevillea;
alluring names –Dowerin Rose, Qualup Bells. And snaky
tricks, such as Granite Kunzea netted with blazing puffs.

beneath our Australian Cedar the scarp sheering and a voice
imperative rising from the river to the calyx of your ear, as
eight trained oars plough the sluggish river under.

            Ross Jackson

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Ballad Of Young Harry

Young Harry is a lively lad
he’s always on the run
my neighbour is his god-mother
he lives next door but one.
He comes each day to visit her –
it’s time for them to play
he makes up games for both of them
and demonstrates the way.

“Now you stand here behind the tree
and I look everywhere
but then I’ll run around this way
and find you hiding there.”
The next game involves aeroplanes
a-winging round the yard
with arms outstretched and engine noise
young Harry runs so hard.

My neighbour’s looking all puffed out
but Harry’s in top gear
the “vroom vroom” of his aeroplane
all down the street can hear.
Then Harry crashes to the ground
his playmate does the same
she takes the time to catch her breath
and hopes he’ll end this game.

It’s time to kick the ball around
but Harry can’t kick straight
so both of them run after it
before it’s through the gate.
He tries to catch it when it’s thrown
it falls right through his hands
he throws himself on top of it
then rolls there in the sand.

Young Harry is a cheery lad
he brightens up her day
his god-mother who lives alone
looks forward to this play.
But when at last he’s gone back home
she hobbles to the door
her hand upon her lower back –
I think she’s feeling sore!
She loves to have the boy around
he’s such a happy child,
but wishes he would make up games
that weren’t so rough and wild.

            Meryl Manoy

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Theft

I am a writer.
I steal moments.

Today on the train,
I stole a conversation
between two girls
in short shorts
with thunderous
thighs and voices:

I’m like – So!
and he’s like – So what!
and I’m like – I’m blond,
but I’m not THAT dumb.

Beside the fleshy thighs,
two saffron monks
with mobile phones
in touch with humanity.

I stole
the man with the burger,
his open-mouthed
mix of ingredients,
the slurp of Coke,
back of the hand wipe
across a spilling mouth.

And I stole from
the man in a wheelchair,
the smell of stale urine,
old socks and regret.

The woman opposite
caught me stealing
and as I left the train,

I stole her knowing smile
and made my theft worthwhile.

            Mardi May

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________________________________________

 

 

The Stains

Her stains
Have become mine
And I needed them
Like I needed her
Not to keep her
But to remember
The stains
And know
How it feels

            Dean Meredith

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Stars In The Sea

You’re alone with your body
smile curled and shrivelled
a blackened banana
and that ache so deep inside
that no one can reach it
heaves the stones in your stomach
engines the tremors that blur stillness.
Blueness rises up and pours from you
some sort of invisible mist.
You see too clearly with no lights.
Find believing is not the same as knowing.
It hits cold   hard. It’s happening    to you.

This is not a nightmare
there will be no awakening.
There will be pain    drugs
maybe time to cry    but not much more.
Soon less and less of the now that’s you
what’s left quenched like stars in the sea.
While you still have the truth to yourself
while you still can    while you’re still you
hug yourself     howl for  Anna and Susie
their sloppy six year old kisses
Jack’s  chilli mussels    jacarandas in summer.
Dry your eyes     rock       wait for the light.

            Jan Napier

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Fire!

scenario: Cue!
men, fronting up
to the bar
elbows bent
tongues wagging
thirst not spent.

a wife waits
with little ones
outside
in the heat
on street wide.

rig roars
to a standstill
driver with thirst
slams door
weather cursed.

action: smoke
all in the bar.
wife listens.
‘sizzle!’
‘spit’ and ‘crackle!’
‘fizzle!’

“fire!”
she cries.
men erupt
faster than flies
bar empty,
rig afire.

men dash
to and fro
one only
walks slow.
rig driver,
with extinguisher!

            Colleen O’Grady

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Hold On Tight

She lay still,
panting.

Eyes moist, thighs
inundated.

A cacophony of zestful
marmalade scented
afternoon rested,
passion-making.

Hold on tight, our
time has come.

            Allan Padgett

I Gently Steer My Bewildered Gaze

I sit alone and wait as
the waning moon crawls above
the tree-riddled black horizon,

as it clings with no shame to the clefts, as
it touches without blushing, that deep divide, that
silken deep dark down,

down beside the tyre marks, along-
side the not-so-subtle screech of my
desperately seeking fingernails, bound
by our foaming glue.

I stumble sweetly smiling, among the
twisted trunks and boulders of
your life, your forested reserves.

I weep in silence on your softly softly
moss-like belly, my mucal relations
emerging in spurts into
a bitter world of wasted
time, of deep regret, of salted tears.  The clocks tick
over, the belltower of your
mind chimes without mercy,

the burning red and manic blue of
digital time markers track my fever, expose
another entry to a new born delight
streaming along an umbilicus
of deeply connected joy
and rhapsodic release

all my blood is pulsing
all my blood is pulsing
all my blood is pulsing

as I gently steer my
bewildered gaze your
way, and lay in patient
wait for the dots to join.

Allan Padgett

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________________________________________

 

Octobering
______
(01 October, International Day of the Elderly)

Louisa wanted to die she told an acquaintance
who knew Louisa’s spouse died six weeks ago.
Octobering to cope with the loss of her partner,
their jaunts, jousts, jokes, Louisa saw two of
their children move in with all their furniture
and three canine friends, shooing away Louisa
and her beloved dog from their corners and ken.

Watching the minutes on the clock of concern,
making space for her children’s habits and be-
longings, Louisa placed her tables and chairs,
books and book shelves, folders and files, under
a tarpaulin in the back garden. Three months
later Louisa died. The tail of her best friend
kept tapping for long the tarpaulin of try.

            Joyce Parkes

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Bullet Holes in My Face

I’ve got some bullet holes in my face,
I’ve just been to the piercing place.
No I haven’t been shot by an M16
I just wanted to foin the Emo* scene.
Me, I think I look real cool,
some others think I look a fool.
To get the holes they used a gun.
It hurts a bit – it wasn’t much fun.
It cost one hundred dollars or more,
now it’s feeling rather sore.
But forget about all the pain,
it’s coolness and friends that I can gain.
The metal studs glitter in the sun,
and now I’m having so much fun.
Now I can join the Emo scene,
and pretend that I’m really only nineteen.
I’ve got some bullet holes in my face,
I’m glad I went to the piercing place.

            Caroline Sambridge

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Time

Time has passed
as I journey down to the sea
snow white sand greets my feet
imprints trail endlessly.

Ocean rolls in and out
like my breath deep and slow
foam capped waves thunder against the shore
vibration felt through my bones.

Clouds dance across the horizon as
shadows stamp their images on the earth
it’s been long, since I secured quiet time
to observe how the world could be.

The clocks tempo ticks on
my body twitches with fatigue.
I feel all existence melt away
as I allow all to pass me by.

I surrender to life’s encounter
foster an intimate connection
relax experience the harmony
allowed permission to dream and restore.

            Faye Teale-Clavi

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Plum and cinnamon

that baking day
so long ago, you remember chocolate
spread with cream, warmed oven door

the wood fire stacked
temperature revved for other treats
delights for me to read, my tongue
shallow-tied, hallowed cream

we begin with plum varieties
not known then but now Angeleno
Amber, Teagan Blue, that tinge of light

from oven door steam escapes
those pieces, dough like doll
pressed in, sliced through

the cinnamon sprinkles
at the end         not chocolate
yet the taste is you

            Rose van Son

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________________________________________

Mastectomy I

350 grams
That’s all it was
Taken, sliced, spliced, examined
and incinerated somewhere.
Blood pressure falling,
Tilt the bed, tilt the bed!
Hallucinations pouring
In and out of my eyes.

My favourite breast
(I favour the right side of my body)
Gone – leaving a crater in my side and soul.
I’ve learned a new language,
Sentinel  node, necrosis, hookwire, Herceptin
and how to assimilate this language
without shredding my sanity.

I’ve learned not to troll the internet,
For frightening statistics and alarming facts,
Self diagnosis of the anxious mind.
I’ve learned
to sing
and laugh lots more instead,
to praise each glorious morning
and not take life so seriously.
strangers become friends
and  friends become strangers.

The grey fog of chemo clamps my head
Vices awareness into a tomb of desperate clawing.
Night walks around the block, slothly, slowly
Round to the dark side of the moon.
Endless days of TV shows and sickness,
Bleeding ulcers
Game shows, Oprah,
I wonder if she’s even interviewed a woman with a mastectomy?
How many days can I endure this?

Waking in the night, wondering who cares,
Talking to the cat,
“Cat, oh cat” I wail.

For a year I mourn the things I love,
Swimming , the beach, sculpting  — my breast.
Put it in a little velvety box and say goodbye.

As the external part of me is hacked off
I dig deeper internally,
Finding a treasure of strength,
A treasure at the bottom of my soul,
To face those annual mammograms
To forgive those who deserted
And discovering the bliss of life
Time to say hello to my new breast,
swelling like a smooth pebble,
Shredding the rose tinted glasses
Awaiting new rose nipple.

            Joanna Wakefield

Riot – London 2011

Low paid workers
Kettled between bollards
In thick city streets of metaphors.
They abhor their reasoning
Nudging their masculinity
Shoddy in their station,
looking for Caligulas,
looking for a gap
in the fence of finance.
Dynamos waiting for charge,
Calypso songs are long gone
We’re mean now
We come out of our hideouts
Young and wild as the flames
They throw from their hooded identity.

            Joanna Wakefield

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Different Skin

i
here, at the rim
of a city, poached in smog,
rice paper screen of sky

coastlines are bespoke,
land rephrased,
post scriptum

the tides sculpt runes
of abandoned shoes,
rope ampersands
and plastic cups

spider-jointed
trawlers drag
the bays, scrape
absence from
their depths

ii.
here, where the cloud
emulsifies the sun

my lungs hoist
slackened flags,

make languid fans
for my heart’s
dull coal, its shiver
of ash in rib-grate

iii.
here, I wear a different
skin, a humid lucence
sweats from pores

I’m steamed har gau,
an oyster tipped
from the slipper
of its shell,

glazed with the moist
veneer of heat
I understand what
mouthfeel means

as the famished air
digests me

iv.
here, in the shadow
of Lo Fu Tau
I try to open
the hand of thought

to winnow
the good grain
from the salt

I am the tree
where birds don’t rest,
my roots unsure
how to grip this soil

v
two kites coast white
space overhead, make
xíngshū  with their wings

I have built a hide
of lotus leaf, wrapped
myself in hay

here, I must learn to erase
old scripts, sift new
words from the shoreline

            Mags Webster

this poem appeared in Halfway Home III, published by the City University of Hong Kong, 2013

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My Enemy

I watch the blood that drips and drips
I wear gloves that fit too long
They seem to gather at the tips
Rub skin that feels all wrong

I wear gloves that fit too long
I can’t hold the needle fast
Rub skin that feels all wrong
I curse and pray it will not last

I can’t hold the needle fast
And yet he doesn’t complain
I curse and pray it will not last
He must still feel the pain

And yet he doesn’t complain
With no one still to help me
He must still feel the pain
But his tears I just can’t see

With no one still to help me
They seem to gather at the tips
And fast become my enemy
I watch the blood that drips and drips

            Gail Willems

Nameless

Coldness strikes the skin with a sharp musical note
dances the bones
the handwriting of pain etches the face
angular and graceless
______________ he seems assembled from a pile of dry sticks

Dead leaves scurry in packs down streets
that hang between day and darkness
buildings leaned back out of the street
black central    stalled night gives back nothing
hugging his overcoat closer
he leans upon a filthy pane

            Gail Willems

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