Creatrix 29 Poetry

June 2015

Poetry Selectors: Peter Jeffrey OAM and Flora Smith
Submissions Manager: Jan Napier
Web Layout: Gary De Piazzi

Contributors:
D Barnes

Life is a moment in time

Rosie Barter

Grinning
cradle moon
Grandma Phoebe

Kaye Brand

Sonnet For Maurice

Coral Carter

I was told words are my friends

Sue Clennell

Under Martin Sharpe’s Wing

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Beating Back The Memories

Derek Fenton

The Font Of All Wisdom
The Commuter

Margaret Ferrell

Retrospective

Rosalind Franklin

Dawn Service

Kevin Gillam

and then Nana
gifts for cloud

G. McGough

Pharmakon

Mike Greenacre

Between My Teeth
Fast Food Wrappers

Julia Gross

Three Divers
White Bones

Ruari Jack Hughes

Townsend

Ross Jackson

Citrine
6AM

Tricia Kelly

Finding Face

A.R. Levett

Ode To An Era Of Blue Skies
Coloured

Rosemary Longhurst

Age

Meryl Manoy

Olden Days

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

makeup on midland line

Jan Napier

Accessory The Facts
Poets And Strays

Kitty Niemann

Gifts

Francis Richardson

Things
Empty Church

Flora Smith

the lost language of rain

Laurie Smith

The Connoisseur

Traudl Tan

not just yet

Gail Willems

Dementia Of The Housewife
Pelican

Helen Doran-Wu

Industrial Tomatoes

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Book Review by Kevin Gillam

The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop by Danny Gunzburg

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Life is a moment in time

fisherman –

entreat the universe
you whirl her ebb
dance her tune, like the fish

spinning on your line

surging silver in sapphire seas
twists flying, a life/death battle

hooked on a line pivots

an electrified game fish, unyielding

for the battle for existence

you, fisherman

you are like quicksilver that melts

flows to lie quiescent

the sea is your combatant’s veil

the bored deckhand

checks his watch; just over five hours

and the mêlée

is over

time is life

nothing lives forever

murmurs a youthful deckhand

Ask the electrified game fish
arched, glazed-eyed, dying

Nothing stays forever
save time eternal

D. Barnes

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Grinning

Me? Still a girl. 

Though in the gilt-framed oval mirror
someone slack-jawed and cracked
looks back.
Do you see me as I do?
Or is your heart as blind
as mine is enduring
in its ambivalence.

We do not speak of our past.
I have put up the gate.
Keep it locked.
Admit you like a short-term guest
into the neat parlour of my heart’s mansion.
You’ve been tidied away.
Letters in a shoebox from hip strangers.
Black and white photos from Delphi,
Cairo, Barcelona, Jaipur, Tehran.
Dried roses.
Wishbone.
The ring. 

Better to forget me I say,
deaf as I am to your knocking.
But you insist on persisting, grinning,
yellow-toothed through the key-hole.

Rosie Barter

cradle moon

fine lick of moon
a boat
a grin
a cradle for my lust
it was September then
that same new moon
when you flew to her in Vienna 

left me on the edge
in love with honey and lies
and that memory of you
a blond-haired boy
in a black-tarred schoolyard
who cared one humid day
when a softball cracked my head
as I drank from the tap
laid your cool hand on my temple
asked are you alright?
left your imprint in memory
like some kind of saint 

forty years on when we met as lovers
you warned me of your lies

 long sentences of silence came
before the postcard of Klimt’s Kiss
mailed in Vienna with her
too gentle to disappoint
longer still between the telling
of absentee truths 

it took an age to let go
to see that cradle moon
and not you

Rosie Barter

Grandma Phoebe: 1915 Bunbury

She hovers,
half-turned away behind the privet,
caught flitting
by the slow old Kodak shutter.
Even blurred she’s a pretty ghost,
trim waist, neat ankles, henna curls. 

Off to one side, a spry man,
twirled moustache, shorter than her,
in waistcoat, cravat, gold fob.
Much older, he prays
for this Irish seamstress
to become his bride, God willing,
he being Greek and unworthy,
alien to this drab, savage land. 

He waits. He hopes. He watches.
He does not know
that in her belly
my father already ripens.

Rosie Barter

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Sonnet For Maurice

Perpetuity of love and motion
Not unlike the perennial roses
Not unlike endless perfumed lotion
Today this unique occasion poses

The rose, symbol of adoration, love
So reflects your quiet nurturing calm
A colourful old world and well-worn glove
Spreading joy, ease, comfort and soulful balm
But you can also be the thorny rose
Bewitching, exquisite shape, climbing high

The wind of destiny changes and blows
Yet always your optimism is nigh
Rose oils blended, captured over time
Unite our lives and love in fragrant rhyme

Kaye Brand

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I was told words are my friends. Just let them come down as a shower or pour thin, spin from somewhere high and crawl through the brain, down muscle, tissue, tendons and bones to wriggle out of my hand into marks before becoming a howl across my tongue through my stretched wide lips in cold globs or hot metal sprays.

from above to within to without

It is what I must do having been given the gift. I must write down what I am given.

Unleash. Unfetter. Unknot.

Lately, I feel someone behind me and it could be they are not kind, could be they want to hurt the caged. The words are supposed to open gateways, expose tiny doors, like praying hands together, then open like a book. They are supposed to move around and play with me, play with each other.

Can you see this? Do you see? See it, damn you! See it!

But the lock remains and all that is said is not here, something else calls, a little bit of dark in all of the light. It looks comforting, arms of glass, glint, crack to splinters, my spin has stopped and the beep goes on without me. The flowers are sharp and dry and hard, dust does not remember.

So where are you words from the word playground?
My address is still the same —
backyard
listening

Coral Carter

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Under Martin Sharp’s Wing

TT.O. is the last pop artist
left over from when art blew out
like bubble gum,
hair was feral,
and purple dated pink.
He nests in numbers.
Was murdered in a former life
scratching an equation on the path
instead of heeding the soldier.
Doesn’t really belong to square root Melbourne,
more Luna Park,
more cocky on shoulder.

Light on his feet,
all the king’s horses
won’t take the jazz
from his cello.

Sue Clennell

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Beating Back Memories

A little girl beating the ground
fills echoes with rhythm.
The clash of one on one
where triumph is unknown
and ache sits deep.

A tear shaped too easily
by memories that butt against a wall
finger the finest crack until
the held builds beyond retention.
Dumps its weight
with an exhalation of anger
to transform ghosts into pumped arms
and clenched fists.

Find vent in the transferred rise and fall
to expend another ragged breath.
And as the dedication of each beat wanes
there is a sensibility that finds favour
in the softening of her shoulders
to release the shudder in each blow.

Shift the set of her features to dainty
and smother the demon with seductive tones.
Swaps the black garbed winter for summer
until the etched memory loses its jagged edge
and the world rotates once more
foreign to a little girl
beating the ground.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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The Font Of All Wisdom

I hang around the water fountain
and I’m so, so, too cool for school!
Don’t ask me to climb a Maths mountain.
I hang around the water fountain
and I don’t like all this countin’
and dunno why some say I’m a fool.
I hang around the water fountain
and I’m so, so, too school for school!

Derek Fenton

The Commuter

If I should die think only this of me;
_______ that there’s some corner of the Underground
that’ll be forever charge and ticket free.
_______ In that rich earth, a gentle rumbling sound,
a dust, which London Transport made of me;
_______ suited, I thought, to ease of getting around
with the Telegraph resting on my knee
_______ and an idyllic journey homeward bound.
And think this heart, all worry shed away
instead of too many passengers, less,
_______ where to everyone a seat is given
no matter what the time of night or day,
_______ and laughter, learnt of friends, and gentleness
_______ in hearts, at peace, under a London heaven.

Derek Fenton

With apologies to Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier”.

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Retrospective
_______
After visiting the Jack Vettriano Retrospective at
_______ Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow,
_______
Scotland December 2013

Your eyes first take in colour, crisp and clean-edged.
As you stop to look, the mind is engaged,

mood created.  Questions come to the surface.
This is narrative realism, but not all is revealed.

Paintings here evoke the sinister, erotic, joyful and more.
He tells stories.  Look closer, stories within stories.

Confesses to stealing from the masters:  discover a nod
to Cadell; the honesty of Caravaggio and Courbet;

perhaps Toulouse-Lautrec’s bold simplicity. Light
and shade make figures more real and tangible.

Mystery still before you, puzzles which might
be solved:  imagine these figures coming to life

for there is a cinematic quality about the work,
reminiscent of Hollywood and its perfect people.

The paintings are on loan from private collectors
around the world; several famous names appear.

On video, listen to the artist, speaking with new
confidence, touched and honoured by this retrospective.

Whatever detractors say, the exhibition attracts thousands.
Take a last look at vitality, emotion and the intrigue of stories.

Artists have disturbed and baffled over centuries.
This one has held on to belief in himself.

He dances to a different rhythm. 

Margaret Ferrell

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Dawn Service

Standing in silence in the dark
Crowds of people young and old
Silence Dark Silence

A child’s cry a bird warbles
Echoing through the still silent air
Silence Standing Staring

Sentinel towering tall over all
Standing in wreaths of remembrance
Silence Stooping Silence

Sunlight glows on the crowd
Brings colour to the people
Shapes Standing silent

The Last Post at dawn
A prayer for soldiers fallen
Silent voices calling Silence

Rosalind Franklin

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 _______ and then Nana

its Jaffas that pull me back, aged three,
taken to Victoria Quay, Fremantle Harbour,

on a cloudless April day to meet Nana
off the boat, Nana from England on the

Oriana, Nana just a word, not breath or
flesh or scent yet, younger brother in

monkey straps for fear of falling into water,
older brother and I in Sunday best,

the great hulk of ship berthing, ropes being flung,
horn sounding, streamers, and Mum crying out

and pointing “there’s Nana!”, me staring into the sea
of faces lining the deck, gangplank into place

and then inside, in the great Hall, squeals of delight,
tears and kisses, camera flashes, and Nana

in pill-box hat, short Nana, perfumed Nana
reaching down to me, lifting me, and then Nana

with a box of Jaffas, one each of us three,
me intoxicated on just the scent

Kevin Gillam

           

_______ gifts for cloud

somewhere beyond lights are on                       lights are going off
where road and thought conspire    moon and Blackwood seeping
between a kitchen chair and unbreathing                           don’t go
yonder, no, but you do, off amongst tuarts                                 are
lights replaced by creed?             you, book fallen, sit where lights
are not needed for word                                       laminex table, on,
on, letters not scrawled now, skin chilled and clammy              are
lights swaddling you? the kindling stacked, though heat and lights
are but gifts for cloud                         medals, marches, all beyond,
gone to where the Blackwood eddies and pools                    not be-
ing, not even that                           last call for fluorescence, where
off-going are lights                on aren’t lights, beyond where-some

Kevin Gillam

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Pharmakon

This is no longer mine
To hide, secret, ignore.
The written word I’m told
The inner me explores . . .
And since the words are written
Do they forever make me whole?
Or, by confession driven
Berate my very soul –
For someone else must
Bear my cross
So still I can’t be free
Unless my sin I must confess
To One who loves yet me.

G. McGough 

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Between My Teeth

Dentist visits as a child
were always tinged with fear –
the foot-long needle you’d
feel from across the room,
the gangster masks they’d wear
and the electrified instruments that
turned your mouth into a
construction site with ‘no escape’.

I was in my eighteenth year when
the dentist announced that my
wisdom teeth should be plucked
from me as forbidden fruit, but
rebellious itchings arched my mind
for battle – having discarded guidance
on smoking, drinking & sex, this
was another ploy to disarm me.

With father-like regret, he warned
I’d have difficulty pronouncing
some words in later years, so I assured
him ‘I’d see about it then’, feeling
I’d beaten the bastard – everyone knows
how dentists throw out lines to reel you
in to extract those expensive monsters,
to see you approach manhood, incomplete!

And now I wonder, if he, in old age
remembers the crowding of growing years
and the cocky style I watched my front
teeth bend inwards, leaving me to blow a
hybrid ‘s’ through my side teeth…
and if, in The End, he’ll be waiting for me
with a well rehearsed grin: “Open wide,
ya little bastard, or I’ll punch them in!”

Mike Greenacre

Fast Food Wrappers

The first one south of the Swan
was Kentucky Fried, a
king Neon sign standing
as a statement that
a New Age Eatery had
come to town, almost
a mental barrier
to our normal lives –
tradition a constant silencer
of young desires,
like a forbidden word.

It’s Finger Lickin’ Good’
suddenly became a catch-cry
of childhood interaction
at school and on the
playing field – ‘with 16 Herbs
and Spices’
you knew you
were getting the best deal.

Hungry Jacks in Melville
was a new teenage adventure-
-land of American Burgers
and young girls waiting
for a stranger with a whopper
to take them with the fries
that jingle running wildly
through our minds: “It takes
two hands, to han-dle a
whopper!” …

Sounds good, but it was
never an easy play, long hair
and jeans an expected dialogue
that more-times than not, came
unstuck between the jokes and
kisses and unzippings in-between

Mike Greenacre

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Three Divers

The sea shines black this morning
no sun rays penetrate the deep
where predators lurk

Three divers, out beyond the reef
hunting in a pack
safety in numbers

A dark fin breaks the surface

Julia Gross

White Bones

White bones rise up to the surface
on a dry dusty track
piled in a stupa
a seven storey stack
white bones, refuse
dumped in a ditch
white bones
_______ beneath our feet
_______ procession of tourists
_______ tramping across the killing field

Julia Gross

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Townsend

The town swelters.
______________ Out on the edge, wind is lifting.
_______ In the town heat wraps around everything;
_______ the sense of waiting is palpable.
_______ Untethered longings are held in cloying stasis.
______________ The wind is twitching, uncertain.
_______ A window crashes down in its slats;
_______ a car splutters into movement and elbows down the street.
_______ The heat oozes from pavement and walls of buildings.
______________ The wind gathers its skirts.
_______ There are no billboards in this town;
_______ surreal in the strangeness of unadorned walls.
_______ Streets numbered rather than named.
______________ Scurries of dust lift uncertainly, collapse.
The bus enters.
______________ The town can’t be bothered.
_______ Staggering down the street like a drunk reaching home;
_______ gives up in front of the low-roofed pale-faced motel.
_______ Motley passengers alight to appalling fever of air.
______________ The town is comatose, abeyanced.
_______ They wade through the viscous atmosphere;
_______ spill through the door into the air-conditioned foyer.
_______ Arrival declares exhaustion, no guarantee of survival.
______________ Loitering, the town sits on its haunches.
_______ The grinding of arthritic gears states the bus’s intention;
_______ leaving without regret, definite about the going.
_______ They’re marooned, stranded in each other’s company.
______________ Silence calls downright from the town.
The people are alone.
______________ Somewhere animals cry as animals must.
_______ They sit on their beds, walk to the window and stare;
_______ the space beyond the room answers in emptiness.
_______ Together and apart, all thought cascades inwards.
______________ Moonlight mills around, diffusing/confusing.
_______ They’ve hauled their lives up the crater walls;
_______ carried hopes and ambitions to the cauldron’s base.
_______ Fallen in a heap of cobbled unease and hesitance.
______________ Contradiction pounds softly at the door.
_______ Tomorrow is a plan for reconnection, a time for promises;
_______ it should be all that’s needed to reassure bindings.
_______ But tonight’s needs reach out to blank desire.
Townsend resonates in stilly silence.

Ruari Jack Hughes

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Citrine

Glitter freckles the riverside,
summer gushing uncorked champagne.
A purring launch scatters the stars.

Choppy water slaps a refrain;
sun a topaz on the tide as
glitter freckles the riverside.

From a yellow ochre villa
a European car descends,
the purring launch scatters the stars.

Lemon light sheen on surface,
spars of trees sighing on the bends.
glitter freckling the riverside.

Plunging darkness, the water tars,
heightens the lustre of glimmer,
a purring launch scattering stars.

Somewhere else blows your golden hair
a gilded garden growing there,
a purring launch scatters the stars
glitter freckling the riverside.

Ross Jackson

 

 

Six A.M.

in shadow
the top half of a tattoo shop
the bottom half in sun

glinting on the front step
a bee on the lip
of an empty can of cider

a woman passed out
beside spilt chips, seagulls
flying in from a long way off

Ross Jackson

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Finding Face

Flavour Face
Rapid changing  proliferating
One needs to know
Is it yes or go

She blinks an eye
Wets her lip
Turns askance
And I, and I

I mellow
I melt into tallow
It was just a face
Just a face

Never again to land upon my heart
Where rainbows lie gathering dust
Just, yes just
A face gone late

Saturated to the point of knowing
Never slowing, always glowing
The mirror looking, lens so small
A quiet, dreaded wonderland

Tricia  Kelly

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Ode To An Era Of Blue Skies

In childhood
we peddled heli-cycles through block worlds
raced hedgehogs through pixelated landscapes
beat goons through hate-filled streets.

During our teens
we mastered martial artists’ combos
powerslid Hornets around fossil-filled canyons
rode genetically engineered dragons to destroy towers.

Throughout our twenties
we sailed ships across pirate-filled skies
sped passengers around billboard-laden cityscapes
reported news in rhythmic dance steps.

But in our thirties digital amusement requires
repetitive quests through drab environments
gunning down hyper-realistic enemies
fucking then killing prostitutes.

This adult entertainment
makes us reach for yellowing computers
our modern entertainment systems
becoming dusty mausoleums.

A. R. Levett

Coloured 

A worn colouring book
pages tattered and torn
shades scrawled beyond
outlined figures and places.

When she means so much
it’s hard not to let her scribbles
caked as they are
colour my thoughts and feelings.

A. R. Levett

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Age
_______
a sonnet

How do I hate age? Let me count the ways:
It adds lines and limitations, repays
With interest the debts of youth (with fees)
So energy’s o’erdrawn, all assets seized.
The glow of youthful skin is gone these days
Tresses of chestnut hair now whites and greys
Aids needed now for eyes, ears, hips and knees
And each limb aches which once moved free, with ease.
The rolling years have added sags of flesh
Which fall and flab and fold in gross excess.
Memories hang heavy, tasting of regret
For deeds not done, while errors linger yet.
Firmness of form and purpose, both are lost
Yet I remain, racked, wrecked, to count the cost.

Rosemary Longhurst

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Olden Days

Too heavy to lift single handed
old tall uncrystalline glass
with frothy delicious milkshake
redolent of the days past.

In those days a milkman delivered
with horse and cart he would come
clip –clop you would hear him so early
as to your back door he’d run.

A billy you left with a note
to tell him how many pints
he’d ladle it out of his churn
then off next door he would sprint.

Another clip-clop some hours later
the baker came with fresh bread –
the newly baked loaves – what aroma –
not sliced but crusty instead.

The fishmonger also would call
with basket full of his catch
he’d fillet them in the wash-house
dhu-fish or mackerel or sprats.

Our poultry man weekly delivered
a fowl plucked ready to roast
for our Sunday dinner as usual
before we drove to the coast.

The green-grocer’s truck displayed produce
the season’s vegies and fruit
a set of old scales with some weights –
he used his head to compute!

Before all our houses had fridges
we used ice-chests in their stead
the iceman would put a large block in
the top which was lined with lead.

The grocer’s shop stood on the corner
you’d phone your order – he’d say
“ and when would you like it delivered?”
He’d come the very next day.

Well now it has gone the full circle
these changes suit us just fine
delivery still door to door but
you have to order on line.

 Meryl Manoy

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makeup on midland line

she is a matisse, monet
in the way she dabs her
face to make up a mask
representing how she
feels

. train wheels squeal in
to motion & lotion is
applied to hide ravages
time enshrines: age in
lines

. she smooths grooves
to deflect & invoke an
illusion of youth, even
though she is young her
-self

. skull as parchment she
writes a poem upon her
face, stroking into place
phrasing so eloquently
traced

. an iPhone mirrors back
what her brushes attack
, lacquer a factor in her
arrangement of attractor
: self-portraiture

is a craft that arcs her
eyelashes as her eyes
spark, admiring the art
of self construction she
imparts

Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM)

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Accessory – The Facts

Ode to an old bag

I was her favourite
_______ she always kept me close.
We went everywhere together.
My lady couldn’t keep her hands off me
_______ adored the feel of  my soft golden skin
touted my elegance  and class
to all of her envious friends.
Oh I was high maintenance alright
_______ much admired and sought after
but well worth it.

In me she had everything she needed
_______ I was open when she needed me to be
but shut up at a touch.
Alas     age has undone me
_______ another has taken my place by her side.
I am empty     discarded       no longer desired.
Left hanging around a door knob
_______ I am coming apart at the seams.

Jan Napier

Poets And Strays

On unsigned crossroads poets and strays
long in black   too far alone
garnish winter with cayenne
swig the blue wines of Serbia
recoil from luminous scorpions
ginger up stanzas savoured in cellars
stuff them in burlap and hawk them
on streets afire with  join the dots tail lights.
Nobody buys so the tumbleweed speakers
drift underground pens held like carving knives
at Christmas tables      ready to dissect    strip
bare rebuffs       relish their  hunger.

Jan Napier

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“Gifts”

I shall seek the snow white beach
for shells the sea has kept from reach
And place those treasures from the sea
next to a photograph of thee

The snow upon the ground is pure
But I, the cool north pole, endure
To seek the softest snow on high
To cool your brow, as tired you lie

And early stars that light the night
I shall steal and place them bright
About you as an aura glows
That lights the darkest place you go

‘Forget-me-knots’ in pink and pale
Shadows cream, of love’s detail
Will be laid down – on where you sleep
To dream sweet dreams of ME, my sweet

Kitty Niemann

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Things: March 19th

William Carlos Williams said
poetry is about things:
those trees out there
waiting for the sunset
to silhouette them

about the decal
swinging from a red ribbon
of three so different cats
stirring slightly
although there is no breeze

about the pen-ink drawing
of my hero Ibsen
__ whose March birthday
__ is tomorrow
watching me

It is about
my next faceless woman
emerging from grey clay
looking down
at what may be a child

and Updike words
which say: watch this
I am showing you
in this book: these
battered wondrous things 

Frances Richardson

 

Empty Church

In an autumnal country town
stepping from an annual fair
to clean mustiness; a glow of polished wood

Here again, this time
there will be that old feeling
This time, here again

Cathedrals, churches, minsters
bend ancient styles in stone
Only Dioceses and roads have different names

Always the expected pleasure
elusive hope – as usual
This time, this time

The same savoured chill
that breathing silence
hymns seeping from stone walls

Images of saints
whose colours alter – slightly
raise similar scars for inspection

Straight-laced footsteps echo
from familiar tiles
to a pew, the provided hassock

sometimes a long raised plank.
One sits with silent sigh
That one day, this time

Frances Richardson

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the lost language of rain 

We had forgotten rain,

spoken so long
the language of drought
and dams run dry
that words are gone;
damp, sodden, soaked
all we have left in that dialect.

We remember these:

a huge lusting after rubber boots,
the wickedness in puddles,
coming home in rain,
clothes smelling like draggled cats.
Mum cross. Rubbing us down.
That and the hot cocoa.

Now memory does not serve.

We fight umbrellas,
morphed from furled familiars,
open them against the wind.
Exhausted birds
flung from migration’s mind map,
they flap ungainly on landfall.

This rain is another language.

Flora Smith

First published in the anthology Amber Contains the Sun 2008, by Quintessence.

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The Connoisseur

I knew exactly what he sought
in those convoluted corridors
when he asked: Where on earth is SHE?
Where among the scores of pale virgins and scarlet whores
and other saints and sinners the world ignores
as they head for that enigmatic smile everyone adores?
Where could he find the Mona Lisa by da Vinci?
I knew exactly what he sought
in those convoluted corridors
when he asked: Where on earth is SHE?

Laurie Smith

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not just yet

this retired citizens’ choir
has members not exactly young
mostly women, fewer men
all either white or grey on top

faces life-lined and age wrinkled
one even in a wheelchair
so totally courageous!
all singing Greensleeves – happily

cautiously I peer around
my goodness! I should not have come
not a place to have some fun
these people are all old !

embarrassed I try to look polite
hoping no-one would suspect
such disparaging thoughts
crackling in my head

would they not think
the same of me
that I look old
while they feel young

to dye one’s hair as many do
is only part of the taboo
of hiding or disguising a reality
some of us don’t wish to see

just yet

Traudl Tan

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Dementia Of The Housewife   

The everyday has swallowed the chance
to walk through murals cut thin with sunlight

at the crossroads wind music grabs at elbows
steers duty to duty    blocks of time fall    stick
disintegrate    leave a bag overburdened with home

freedom has picked her up    plays for a time
she has evidence in colours and a tangle of voices
hooked in flesh and dreams
staring into her thoughts she slips away

Gail Willems

Pelican

a string puppet charting space
_________________________________ in ocean spanning flight
dip and weft of wing
_________________________________ as sunlight slips the western sky
graceful galleon on ocean air
_________________________________ deaf angel in a celestial game
in your beat and strum of wings you rig the sky
_________________________________ fill the void    feed quiet hunger
show the world that here for a moment is harmony

Gail Willems

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Industrial Tomatoes

At work
Everyone sits
I sit
You sit
All day
Everyday
Ill defined threat
In chairs that encase our very being
Posture correct
Emotions taut
Bright and glamorous in our frocks and lipstick
We spit out our work
And are spat out at the end of the day
Untouched
Unloved by human hands
Raw and rotten on the inside
Picked and plucked till we fall
In pain
To the physio, the pub, the pills

But the holidays
Oh, the holidays
Sitting with wine
By the beach
Breathe slowly
Deeply
Sigh
Toes wriggling in the sand
Fingers caressing rocks
Aqua blue waves cresting
Majestic
Smashing waves
White foam rushing
Frothing on the sand
Sinking
Wind in my hair
Smell of salt
Secret passages in my mind
Awakening
Moving
Living
Alive

Helen Doran-Wu

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Kevin Gillam’s Launch Speech  

“The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop”

by Danny Gunzburg  

 

Danny Gunzburg is a master of rhythm. He’s also fairly adept at spinning a pretty wild simile or zany metaphor. And additionally, he possesses a particular knack for empowering a series of lines with emotion, be it frivolous love or deep felt yearning or joyous bouquets of hope. Put these three elements together – strong rhythm, punchy imagery and deep-felt emotion and you have, of course, song lyrics. And its no accident that Danny’s initials DG rhyme perfectly with BD, those of Bob Dylan.

This afternoon I’d like to take you on a bit of a journey, a small wander if you will, a tasting plate, a serving of poetic tapas as I dip into “The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop” and share with you some of its wonderful moments.

Let’s begin with rhythm. Listen to these first two stanzas from ‘Her Name’:

She came to me in mirrors,
the silence of her skin,
I gave my heart to doctors,
to stop the rot within.

I gave my heart to windows,
I gave my heart to pales,
I sold my soul to boat men,
who fly without sails.

The very sense and combination of “mirrors” and “windows” and “skin” creates its own bounce, but here the rhythm and drive of the lines invites us on the journey, beckons us to jump aboard. And Danny’s use of repetition, here in the lines “I gave”,

“I gave” also generates this rhythmic mantra. And in ‘Song to Her/Song to Him’, listen to the fourth stanza:

She takes you where the vision sings
of caterpillars, birds and kings,
and if she sees you one more time,
you’ll write a poem made of wine.

Again the heart-like thump within each line is so very palpable. Not to mention the linking up of caterpillars, birds and kings. Wonderful! And a third rhythmic example,
From ‘My Love’:

So if you want to tell her
that loving is a sin,
and nothing made of whispers
can ever hope to win,

then write her twenty letters
but post them in the rain,
then turn away forever
and watch her love again.

This and many other poems in the collection demonstrate a real attention to the prose-like pull of poetry and the potential that rhythm has in leading the reader along each line.

But for me, the truly stand out singular feature of Danny’s writing is these fantastic similes and metaphors! Who would have the audacity to think up and combine such disparate elements? Here, from ‘Stephanie Poem’:

Stephanie, I do believe you are a gentle witch and you
stumble across your spells like a Persian cat would fall into a vat
of lemonade.

I had coffee and a doughnut with you but our conversation
was so sparkling that (even) the doughnut took third place.
Stephanie I’m sure your voice is softer than an aeroplane made entirely
from wool……

And in ‘Rainbow Poem’, a veritable cornucopia of descriptions of love:

Love is an ancient God that looks slowly in the
mirror, wise and sacred….

Love is an ancient God who walks on carpet
and leases a flat, a 70’s shag-pile bonanza beauty….

Love is a ball-park figure with high interest rates and low
premiums, an ice-cream pudding in a kindergarten side-show.

Love is a petal in an 18 wheel fork truck…..

Sometimes these images aren’t so driven and are more the opposite – very sly and oh so subversive. In ‘To Claire’ we close with the following lines:

Take me once again in the armchair of your smile.

You are the princess of the golden harmonica.

When you wink, the earth slides into holy rapture.

I’ve come here to be closer to prayer.

No one saw you dancing,
but I saw you dancing.

This combining of seemingly unconnected events, items, customs and ways of thinking has such an up-lifting effect upon the writing, startling the reader, beckoning us to read each line again.

There is throughout, also, a deep emotional tug to the writing, a weight, a gravitas of feeling that creates grounding and intensity. The final poem in the volume, ‘The Small Dark Hallway’, is imbued with some very succinct, supple and subtle thoughts.

The small dark hallway
of my mind is lit only
by a shy candle.
Small in that she
speaks to no one.
Dark in that only
the sky can know.

Of course, not all poems have such a degree of ponder. The final section of ‘And On A Moonlit Stage’ is an excellent example, where the intent is more playful:

We took our love to suns that burn a million fires,
that run where madness runs and satisfies desires,
and to a lake-less hill where destiny runs crazed
we took our modest fill of loving most amazed
and on a sunlit stage where attitudes run brief,
we saw our bodies rage, we took our mad relief.

And all of these emotions are very much linked with the now, the moment, the very stuff of what we all live in and live for and share. These two lines, from ‘I Walked’:

But winter made me silent,
and summer made me crave,

amply demonstrate the undeniable link between the cerebral and the scenic.

“The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop” is a real tour-de-force in lyricism and rapture. This is a heartfelt and well crafted body of writing. And so , it is with great pleasure that I declare “The Life Isn’t Easy Pillow Shop” launched.
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