Issue #34 Poetry

Poetry selectors: Chris Arnold and Peter Jeffery

Submissions editor: Jan Napier

 

Contents List

debarnes

Beyond The Walls

In Still Places

A Jaded Sun

 

Kaye Brand

The Scottish Brave

 

Stephen Chor

Fully Functioning Heart

 

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

By The Lake’s Edge

Finding The Fit

 

 

Frances Faith

Dear Future

Shh

 

Derek Fenton

Septuagenarian Sonnet

 

Margaret Ferrell

Guy Grey-Smith Torbay

 

Sally Gaunt

Wattle

Counting Out Medicine

 

Kevin Gillam

‘73

Exact Coinage

Mike Greenacre

Chasing A Poem

The Hunger Beneath

 

Daniel Hunter

A Winter’s Day

 

Jackson

Dadda

Man With A Gun

 

Ross Jackson

Book Club Instruction

The Miracle Of Sydney Jackson

 

 

Danijela Kambaskovic-Swartz

Foregrounding The Back

For Those Who Know How To Tell

 

Nada Kesic

Remembered…

 

Chris Konrad

Valhalla With Thelma And Louise

Parched

The Big Book Of Jerome Rothenburg And God

Mardi May

Killing The Rooster

 

Glad McGough

The Ring Of The Axe

The Woman

 

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Blue

 

Jan Napier

Snake Pit

The Martini Bride

 

Julian O’Dea

Ourobos

In The Sand

 

Colleen O’ Grady

The Home Front

 

Allan Padgett

Was Driving On The Gravel

Did I Ever Tell You…

 

Chris Palozzolo

Househusband Meteorology

 

Tim Parkin

Alexithymia

Unmedicated

 

 

 

Beyond The Walls

 

Here on the inside

where our walls isolate

create boundaries, our barriers;

 

twin orbed suns angled downwards

splay shadows, seen unseen

across flaking layers of dust

and jaded paint;

 

randomly

on the ceilings, inactive

cobwebs cling,

graffiti.

 

Though I am quiet

the deep deep quiet – lingers;

I never knew that silence

could ache.

 

Over coffee I dream

I hear the murmur of angels,

the beating of hearts

of loves which once slept

beside me;

 

somewhere

the air is alive with words,

whispers of the night, beautiful eyes

skin on skin.

 

I never thought

I could ever feel emotion

 

again.

 

            David E Barnes – debarnes

 

 

In Still Places

 

On Friday

I said I would be there

but the cobwebs of my mind

burned through the

night

 

I flew elsewhere

down indistinct fissures;

away from consuming claws

into the longed-for

prolonged state of

profound unconsciousness

 

I was neither here

nor there,

although my friends

knew where

I was.

 

WA Poets spoken words, words flowing

verse’  winging  from parchment,

across the skies of

Kalamunda

though the blustery

weather then rain

which I did not

hear.

 

Strange’

 

In the elusiveness

of  a comatose

mind,

a swift phrase flickered by.

 

Hey crow – things are as they are.*

 

            David E Barnes – debarnes

            *from-  Mike William’ 2001-

 

 

A Jaded Sun

 

Eventide rises to a fading moon

and the fisherman walks on stagnant waters

unable to cast his net…

fishing for lost souls.

should I be surprised?

 

Why- do I weep for you?

Why do I care?

I carry my own sins

I carry my own remorse- burdens,

burdens- caste aside in aversion

 

I was taught that expressing

my feelings and my needs

were socially unacceptable,

and my youth rebelled

 

in the shadows- of a jaded sun

 

My self-

a sun once swallowed

in the ocean of humanity…

 

I rose like the phoenix

in awareness,

watched the clowns juggle

our universal island

in misguided belief…

they are- as gods:

 

with the spit of bullets

men women and children fall,

departed life meaninglessly

they were innocence, victims’

they were decent

they held their head up high.

And god…

in his belief

 

is he traumatized as man?

 

men unable to alter,

unable to restrain

shackle the nature of the beast

within.

 

Now our world lives in turmoil.

while lovers arrange

prenuptial agreements

preparing

for the end

at the beginning

 

Such beautiful eyes

and I was young

innocence

in the back seat

as I fumbled in the darkness.

oblivious.

 

            David E Barnes – debarnes

 

 

Your Scottish Brave

 

 

I sit by the fire of rock and flame

the beat of New York in my surround

Far away his life lies balanced

As the precarious rocks of this glow.

 

The mood here is gentle, dim lights

with folks quietly recalling their day

I sit alone and think of you

My Rachel, I think of Dan and you

 

He may not wrap his arms around you

or be intimately expressive anymore

Seizured neurones, lost connections

But a Scottish Brave forevermore

 

He will never leave your soul

His Rachel, his lover, his friend

In the moments of this New York lounge

I know these things somehow my friend

 

Life balances creates and dissects

Are we really the deciders of our way?

You my friend have loved and grieved

And grieved and loved and grieved again.

 

A lost child mourned but never left

A betrayal shadowed by a silver glow

New life held in your daughter’s arms

Then a Scotsman with that soccer smile

 

I sit still by the flames in New York

I see your face etched by fire here

Know my friend soon he will be gone

But forever here because of the now

 

            Kaye Brand

 

 

Fully Functioning Heart

 

the most resilient muscle in the human anatomy is the heart

it beats for both our friends and our enemies

gives us energy when faced with adversity

having a broken heart is a sign that the heart itself, actually works

but no matter how shattered one’s heart may be at any point in time

it is capable of fixing itself and picking up the shattered pieces

having said that, even a partially functioning heart can work wonders

it can reach out to struggling strangers in their moment of need

it can feel for the victims who are starving as a result of others’ greed

in fact, it is so powerful, that it can even sow seeds

which have the capacity to blossom into love and compassion

action, reaction: one must give love in order to receive love

never underestimate the strength of a bleeding heart

for it beats for all of existence and all of eternity

 

            Stephen Chor

 

 

By The Lake’s Edge

 

Held by a summer gone too long,

the tongue aches for rain.

Plies the dry mouth

unable to shape words.

 

There are days the sun

loses it’s fire

when reeds compose music

and rocks have a percussive air.

 

Days shaped by the cool breeze

and the autumn look

when the old is shed

and deciduous trees

lean to winter.

 

Days of acceptance

for the inevitable sunrise/sunset.

The yin/yang of black and white

where what is

is shaped by what was

and channelled by what will be.

 

Days forged by the dawn chorus

as nights’ movement

fades.

 

            Gary Colombo De Piazzi

 

 

Finding the Fit

 

Standing shoulder deep in a lake

breathing each ripple as it stretches to shore.

Finger the gentle bump to the butt of sand.

 

Silence wends beyond flesh.

Bawls into craven ears

as if quiet is a perversity

against the intensity of wind

and salt scent tendrils

through each echo.

 

There is a hunger

in the slate of captured clouds.

And in the crave for blue sky

the clarity of water reaches

further than the horizon.

 

Raises the essence of floating

and each morsel

that can be labelled ‘plain’

shines new.

 

Where family is beyond boundary

and breath and water and blood

is the same.

 

                     Gary Colombo De Piazzi

 

 

Dear Future Lover

 

I’m waiting for you

like I’m waiting for the train

that was supposed to come,

trying not to resent the

lives you must traverse

before you come to mine.

 

My eyes await your landscape.

 

I don’t want promises

of things to be

or confessions of a ragged past,

just Now, here, this moment

with nothing but skin.

 

There are atoms I no longer need

which you will inhale

breathing out your own gift to me.

 

I dream of browsing the volume of your mind,

selecting passages to explore.

 

The platform is cold

the noise of the crowd growls in the distance.

Faces emerge

their questions blustering,

hands prodding my body.

I am alone in clothes that no longer fit.

I would warm myself

by the glow of your soul.

 

            Frances Faith

 

 

Shh

 

we are so polite,

geishas with our lips red

with the marks of teeth,

our faces whitened until they reflect.

your words cover the mouth like a fan

hiding shy smiles

fluttering beneath ebony eyes.

you me

telephone.

our lack goes beyond minimal

to Spartan lengths of emptiness.

silence cushions the soft blows,

your pursed lips breathe them out

like formless petals,

they fall to carpet my breathlessness.

under the gown

is the knife,

long and noble and waiting

should honour fall.

 

            Frances Faith

 

 

Septagenarian  Sonnet

 

A fortnight into my seventieth year

and absolutely nothing has changed-

an arbitrary number, nothing to fear

nothing has needed to be rearranged.

I’ve picked up my first point on the charts’ score

and statistics start to work against me.

I’ll ignore prevailing medical lore;

being an outlier is the way to be.

 

There may be something around the corner

which probability couldn’t fortell

malevolently waiting to donner*

me, cruelly condemning me to hell.

In spite of this, I aim to reach a ton

enjoying the coming years, every last one!

 

            Derek Fenton

            * Beat up.

 

 

Guy Grey-Smith   Torbay 1957

 

After the rain – balm to a stand of karri –

air shimmers like butterfly wings,

sunrise on this southern coast

caresses eucalypts, their droplets

myriad points of light.

The artist reaches for his palette.

 

Paintbrush, exuberant, dances landscape.

Blocks and swathes of pigment inhabit

canvas with a nod to Cézanne,

hint of Matisse.  Structural forms

in their boldness dominate imagination.

 

Rocks deepen to coral, white sand fringes

emerald water. It’s Spring – sand bar

breached, river flowing – colour stains earth,

sky, water.  Foliage reshapes,

intensifies.

 

            Margaret Ferrell

 

 

Wattle

 

The Queen of trees

the Wattle now

is hung with gold

along the bough

and silvery green

the petals grow

while puff balls

in their shadows show.

While bees seek nectar

in showy masses,

sunlight steals among golden tresses.

A stout trunk,

the growth of ages,

reckless colour

the hope of sages.

Proud and tall,

gold clad bride,

Treasured tree

Australia’s pride.

 

            Sally Gaunt

 

 

Counting Out Medicine

 

Let’s get real,

cut the bull.

These purple, white and green tablets

Are what’s best for me.

No need to hang my head,

secretly swallow in restaurant toilet with gulp of water,

My life is better for them !

Although the end result is not certain,

I am grateful not to live in the Congo

or Bellarusse nor to be a

peasant farmer in Guadacanal

without the wherewithall to buy medicine.

Pretty earrings are one thing

a trip to see the Eiffel Tower

but I am glad I have my medicine

Man needs warmth, food, Art : so many things

but high up on the list is Medicine

 

Thank You, Father Lord

 

            Sally Gaunt

 

 

‘73

 

they’re off to a

progressive dinner,

mother in crocheted poncho,

father in safari suit,

complete with dish of apricot chicken,

box of splades and

bottle of Ben Ean moselle.

 

me?

I’m at home in my

flares watching

H.R. Pufnstuf –

the economic

rationalists are yet

to be born

 

            Kevin Gillam

 

 

Exact Coinage

 

we’re lined up (as you do)

on a Saturday,

each with our handful of

sixpack or Cabernet Merlot promise,

mind’s full of justify

(it is Saturday, not thinking,

of course, about the

Escher-logic required

for the morrow)

 

she’s in front of me

clutching 2 cans of Export,

cheeks ruddy and corrugated,

puppet eyelids,

then, at the counter,

a slurry of lips, words, sense

but she’s got exact coinage for

her booze and pack of

Winnie Golds, she’s got

her night sorted

 

            Kevin Gillam

 

 

Chasing A Poem

 

Re-working old poems is like

driving your car between

two posts – the closer

you get to one idea, the

further you go from the rest.

 

I look at the little bits

of verse on separate sheets

across the years and

realise time can dislocate

as well as heal.

 

Flipping eagerly through

my file, hoping there is

one dressed near complete,

I find I have to re-model

more than save.

 

Maybe I need to stand back

from the edge and

throw in a line hoping

to catch a verse,

but there’s too much of me

lying as dead-weight

for imagination to bear.

 

‘I should be writing!’ I call

out to the night, watching

me flit from journal

to facebook or any trail that

can turn into something else,

might lead me there.

 

            Mike Greenacre

 

 

The Hunger Beneath

 

Nets lay as ghosts

fishing below the waves,

seizing up to three times

the capacity of

what the ocean can sustain

 

then wrap themselves

like outdated policies around

reefs and marine mammals –

seals, whales and dolphins –

as serial killers for decades.

 

Death comes to others as an elixir

of oil and liquid spills

from fishing vessels,

until our final net is thrown

and captures a hungry world.

 

            Mike Greenacre

 

 

Winters Day

 

In the park rain drops cling to the leaves and grass

cloud masks the sun and the atmosphere is chilly

school is out and the kids play half hearted

without the usual gusto laughs and giggles are

muffled in the crisp still air

 

the small flock of galahs diligently picking

over spent grain their usual gaiety and banter

replaced by light squabbles for the remaining

leftovers though even these lack heat

 

a single crow caws without conviction

and without answer the willywag tails

don’t harass their mortal enemy

as it’s apparent he lacks intention this day

 

two doves snuggle together in a marri branch

feathers fluffed up one with its head under its

wing the other determined to provided some

comfort

 

the sun comes out from behind the cloud

highlighting the galahs who attempt a quick

game of leap frog but momentum is lost

as is the sun

 

its as if the rain drops absorb the sounds of joy

rather than reflecting or amplifying

unlike the summertime sun where mischief

and merriment shine

 

            Daniel Hunter

 

 

Dadda

At Cottesloe Beach, 2015

 

Dadda! Dadda! a toddler screams

Dadda! Dadda! Dadda! Dadda! Dadda! Dadda!

 

Dadda is chiselled, hard-bodied, striding up the beach

in rash top, mid-thigh shorts, expensive, tight

Under his right arm like a rugby ball

he carts a little girl

held horizontal, facing the ground

wriggling and kicking against his grip

screaming what she thinks is his name

 

By the shower he dumps her

She lands on her feet with a visible thud

He pulls her dress off over her head

yanks down her pink suit

with its frill around the hips

Having gotten her naked

he turns on the cold shower

shoves her under

She flinches, clings to his legs

He brushes water over her

with flat swipes of his palm

 

All this time she is screaming

All this time he says nothing

and his face does not move

 

A group of tourists stare

Even some of the locals look

 

He turns off the water

pulls a white and brown striped towel

off his shoulder

 

At last he will wrap and embrace her

I tell myself

 

He wrestles the towel around her

twists it into a knot

hoists her under his arm again

 

            Jackson

 

 

Man With A Gun

In the queue in the chemist this afternoon

I stood behind a man with a gun

An armed guard from the ATM money truck

 

The gun was in a holster on his right hip

I wondered whether it

was loaded

 

I thought about the barrel

the trigger

the bullet at ease

in its little room

 

The gun had a wooden handle

smooth, honey-blonde

warm-looking

I tried to imagine

the man drawing the gun and shooting it

He aimed for the leg

I saw a suburb

a woman

a baby

I tried to imagine him

shooting to kill

The terror, the blood-rage

The eyes

afterwards

blown to bits

 

I have halved with a kitchen knife a small snake

beheaded with a hatchet a chicken for soup

clubbed with a log a cat-ruined mouse

but I haven’t fired a gun

Not yet

 

My father had a butcher’s knife for sheep

an axe for chooks and ducks

a shotgun for birds

a rifle for steers and cancer-ridden cats

I saw how he worked the knife and the axe

but he didn’t teach me the guns

 

The man in the queue was no more than 30

He had short wavy hair and a pale neck

He asked for strong headache pills

Pulled out his wallet

 

Jackson

 

 

Book Club Instructions

 

sometime after 7.30, having walked down the path

between the roses with the book

you will be met at the leadlight door

by the host

 

before, during and after the coffee

and the Tim Tams

you will confer with your fellows

and respectfully defer to them

of course

 

since you agree with me

about how little you know

you will very, very rarely demur

 

around 9.30, like a character from

one of Chekhov’s plays

your imperfect signature

will be appended

to our frail and meandering conversation

and you may go home

 

the circled date, the address of our next host

another book

of four hundred pages

and not a little gossip

the very least you’ll take away

 

            Ross Jackson

 

 

The Miracle Of Sydney Jackson*

 

More cultured, elegant

more beautiful even

than the Barry Cable drop kick

that length of the field run

 

which had full grown men

tackling nothing

stumblers by comparison

concrete mixers matched

 

against ornate, fleet feet

weaving for the goals

whilst awe-fully paralysed

the sun over Perth Oval.

 

Commentators these days

would call it foot candy

but it was a miracle

and I still dream it.

 

            Ross Jackson

            * Sydney Jackson- an Australian Rules footballer of the 60’s and 70’s.

 

 

Foregrounding The Back

written to Harald Vike Perth Roofs

 

It takes a sharp eye indeed

to foreground the back—

 

to catch the hung washing

fluttering its mended wings,

 

or the old brickwork

when it performs its daily soar.

 

 

It takes a sharp eye indeed

to foreground the back—

 

to note the precise moment

when workaday verticals

 

come together

into a polygon of beauty.

 

            Danijela Kambaskovic-Schwartz

 

 

For Those Who Know How To Tell

written to Paddy Jaminji: Kimberley Landscape

 

We live our lives in patches—

sharply divided,

like gravesites, churchyards;

 

we walk from one sharp-angled home ground to another, unknowing,

never the twain shall meet.

 

 

We grow seeded trees:

In time, our tips grow round and heavy with juice,

then burst thickly

and scatter the riches to the ground.

 

Seen from above

we must seem like stick-figures

with all our dancing,

avid, blind to the colour of our dance.

 

Our paths grow rich with promise

Curve like breasts, then drip with milk

for those who know how to tell

 

boomerangs from the constellations of black stars

winged huts from ant-hills

 

Foraging trees from the boab trees

growing upside down.

 

            Danijela Kambaskovic-Schwartz

 

 

Remembered…

 

Rose on moonbeams,

past the orb’s white face

into the ink jet night

where I begin anew.

 

The past seems so long ago so quickly does it fade.

 

Adrift, meld into time’s limitless pace and

dance the melody of time lost, past, passed.

I wait for time’s strike to begin anew.

 

Till then drift

shed the past

the old

the tears

fears

joys

a  tinkle of laughter

not yet lost.

It bubbles

escapes to

light the sky.

 

Fading memories of life lost, fading, slipping,

gently lost almost gone.

Hold on before I’m gone

all trace lost.

 

Now I’m mist on moonlit nights

the sigh on a gentle breeze

a whisper of memories in someone’s ear.

 

“I’m sure” she says, “I felt her near.

Whispered my name and touched me dear”.

Gentle tear falls for the loss of me.

No, more, a tender remembered caress,

love’s eternal caress.

Not lost…remembered…

 

            Nada Kesic

 

 

Valhalla With Thelma And Louise

 

From this house to that and there’s a cliff with my name on it: there are lies, forgive me, but someone needs to say it – there are monsters in the air. She puts glass in her hair and eyes on her makeup. Is she crying? Instead it’s another day in Scandinavia and the North Sea flows with the trifle of life. When the Nazis got there, the place was impounded and there was no way home.

 

A frightened summer , a shot of  blister-bay here on the wharf; let it go, let it go – but the sound of pitter-patter on the veranda – endless , dry winters and conjunctions of  desperation. Fly in the face of it – run run run run run and echoes for a shoe-tip down to the river and out to the sea – the wind and the rain as if that’s when my profanities fell like tears on the skin of ice – playing Chopin on cold dark nights as we spill over the edge like entering Valhalla with Thelma and Louise.

 

            Chris Konrad

 

Parched Desert Train (Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz 1651 – 1695)

 

There, between the roofline and caught up in her substantial and significant mind – Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz – the dusk of the irrevocable and he wants it so and she cannot stomach one more stone in her gall which they retrieved with a suction device and started on her other gynaecology. She forgave them and retraced her genealogy, no father, absent mother and all the games of lineage, somewhere, there in the realms of forgiveness imperfectly glimpsed. Or, she could have been discovered by Marquise de Mancera and brought to the Court in Mexico City, a prodigy, there to write Neptuno Alegorico or First Dream. Her courtly games, her loves – Leonor and Maria de Lara. The clouds were bricks that day and the ground a wonderland of perfect pitch, the dust, a kind of Chevrolet Blue. Her libraries, treatises and poetic tracts given over to sandstorms that left her a parched desert train never resting – wild, unknown, destructive and spreading like a wasteland. Why did they not let her settle, why did they rip her gall out – her spleen? Why did she have to get to a nunnery, the San José Convent of the Descalced Carmelites, just to strut her stuff?

 

            Chris Konrad

 

 

The Big Book Of Jerome Rothenberg And God

            For Shane Mac

 

There, on the door step, he sits. Bent forward, his head between his hands, elbows resting on his knees. He sits in the middle, on one side sits Yaweh – on his left side in fact. On the other side sits Paul Celan. Both Yaweh and Celan were whispering into the man’s ears. A young girl walked past them, along the footpath. She just sees God and Paul but cannot see the man sitting between them, trying to block his ears.

 

‘Who are you talking to?’ she asks them.

 

‘Go away little girl. Can’t you see we’re busy?’

 

She shakes her head. She knows there is someone between them, a third person, and stares hard at the steps as if simply staring long enough would conjure up this magical being who she thinks exists, but who probably does not.

 

            Chris Konrad

 

 

Killing The Rooster

 

My father was good with an axe;

splitting mill ends for winter wood,

our Christmas tree – scent of pine,

the sharp cry of metal through bark,

sticky gel of sap on our fingers.

 

And, the Sunday rooster,

the one who never learned to crow,

practised his strangled cry all night,

but never got it right by dawn;

a gender confusion, but he was

as plump as any oven-ready hen.

 

I hid and watched my father –

The Axe Murderer –

swing him around and lay

him on the execution block.

One clean arc; blade buried in wood

and the headless rooster

flapped around the yard.

 

Mother hung him on the clothesline

by the foot like a dripping sock.

The choking smell of wet feathers,

his innards spilled on newspaper,

my sister and I arranging them

on the table like an anatomy lesson.

Wheat in his crop – last meal.

What a waste!

His sheeny giblets,

tiny heart, still warm.

 

I don’t think he ever had a name,

but his flesh never passed my lips.

 

            Mardi May

 

 

The Ring Of The Axe

 

The rhythmic ring of the axe echoes

through silent giant trees

disturbs the quiet,

birds take wing.

filtered sun and not the slightest breeze.

 

The axe’s cruel and measured swing,

mercilessly resounds

its ruthless strokes,

hardened to its slaughter

it knows no moral flagging.

 

In death-knell the giant groans, and sways

and totters with a creak,

and in the hush, I hear its soul

breathe out an agonising sigh

my heart takes up its beat.

 

It hesitates, then with dying moan

it crashes to its doom

Green, graceful branches twist and writhe,

to mark its wretched fate

for David wants Goliath, and its cry reverberates.

 

            Glad. McGough 

 

 

The Woman

 

The jangling bunch hung heavy on the metal ring

inserted rudely, roughly in, to shriek in pain

the key, iconoclastic in its contrary mood.

resentful to unlock the door

exposing vulnerability within

 

I am not her, the woman he defends

 

In the dark vapour of the swirling vortex,

in the shadowy mist of missing  mind

who can tell who is good and who is bad?

‘Is that you? The good one?’ Answer please.

‘Why, in my anguish, must you torment me!’

 

I am not her, the woman he defends

 

There is no rest from taunting torture wreaked

You will not let me sleep

You never leave me even though in ranting raves

I throw things at you in despair

obscene lexes spewing from my mouth.

 

I am not her, the woman he defends

 

In anguish I would kill the bad of two

I see within my head

‘Is that you? The good one?’ answer me!

Severance will be my liberation.

No key then, will need to scrape upon the lock

 

I will be me, the woman that once I used to be.

 

            Glad. McGough.

 

 

Blue

 

i’ll offer you my mouth

my silent abject mouth

this awaiting state of

penetration         this

disempowerment we

carry out daily like a

state of consensual

rape

 

everything comes down

to a mouth & saying yes

, you may progress, you

may take me elsewhere

if you can excuse the

mess

 

push past & through

to my cold hard blue

 

receptive

i cannot speak

as you lift my belly

& thrust & burn

inside of me

 

¿ what is that sound

in the distance that

warns me not to be ?

 

here, you lick my back

, the nape of my neck

, reach to kiss my lips

but find my ear instead

 

i hear no language between

us, only sound: a muted TV

screen chills us into a static

silhouette as you carry out

your soliloquy of sex

 

i am blue

with you

inside of

me

 

i am uncertain of what this

will bring, how everything

comes down to a mouth &

3HREE letters, the plus &

the negative: life is just a

mathematical equation

 

alone in an indigo sky of

my own despise i wait for

this to end

 

oh richard of york, is there

now a battle in veins as we

wait, afterward, to find out

if you were a big mistake

 

push past & through

, cause me to bruise

 

i am blue

with you

inside of

me

 

            Scott-Patrick Mitchell

 

 

Snakepit

 

Beach belles squeal and swirl to Rock Around The Clock,

boys Brylcreem slick, ( so cool that curl of quiff),

spinning them across a frantic dance floor,

onlookers spilling over sidelines like froth

on milkshakes, clapping their favourites and stamping

black winklepickers to the beat, Don’s new jukebox

clicking through disc after disc.

 

Cuties in summer frocks and pony tails giggle

together at the milk bar, josh their fellers

into parting with sixpence for a granita,

ask for two straws, or share a two bob burger

lusty with onion and rude red sauce. Kerbside,

angle parked  Holdens (those bench seats so romantic),

wait, reliable and familiar as fathers

counting house bound hours, or the ocean’s endless blues.

 

            Jan Napier

 

 

The Martini Bride

 

Smooth tones of Oolong soothe lips cracked as granite

outcrops, lips more used to whistling red clouds

around merinos, or cursing the tractor’s lack

of torque, than gossip and cream cakes.

 

In his rocking silence, morning saunters towards

the meridian in its usual green, ponies

doze loose hoofed in pools of almost noon, and

paperbarks in beggar’s rags huddle along

the creek, incline to soak away their years.

 

Frowning at flowery paper, her writing

spiky as double gees, a lie he can touch;

recalls the martini bride come unwilling

to flystrike and foot rot, shouting, shouting,

shouting, a shy tongue dumb.

 

Selfish, no fun, fool, batter at him anew, hail

on a tin roof, unkernel hurts he thought interred.

Blue beneath today’s date, please, didn’t mean.

Bitch. The pup thumps her tail. Wet faced, and

in fading light, he props the gate open;

 

awaits the arrival of trains, and questions.

 

            Jan Napier

 

 

Ouroboros

 

What is it doing there? I remember

that silver snake belt from thirty

years ago, circling the waist of your

black taffeta dress, biting its tail like

the ouroboros demanding reflection

on the relentless cycle of time, binding

me to you and the grinding

wheel of generation.

 

            Julian O’Dea

 

 

In The Sand

 

Kneeling in the sand, glistening

from the sea,

you bent your anemone

mouth to kiss my sun-warmed heart

like a big ruby in a treasure chest,

and then I had you squat

by me like a shivering

urchin near a fire,

and asked you to marry me,

knowing your answer.

 

            Julian O’Dea

 

 

The Home Front

 

Debts, debts, debts, how they do accrue

And blasted well frustrating when they don’t belong to you!

Well not in the general sense that I must admit

But here they come in the post and many overdue!

 

Just what are these debts, debts, debts,

That is causing me to have all these flamin’ frets

Leaving me with no money in me mitt

And going bananas in one’s mind sets?

 

Amongst the debts is Christmas, well you know

Lovely tree, cards, decorations, presents, mistletoe.

One is really tempted to try and forget it.

Well, with loved ones it’s not the ‘done thing’ you know!

 

Okay! First we have utilities for sure,

You know electricity for lights and air cooler more,

With the phone bill that could soon bring a writ

Because sickness in the family it’s used much more.

 

Of course we have the rent, a must to have shelter

Away from weather conditions gone helter skelter.

Troublesome is the water bill, am dancing like a twit

For that air cooler whirrs for the day’s a real melter

 

And blow me down, the worst has taken place

My poor little Mazda has become a disgrace!

It sits lone and forlorn, for the stubborn engine called it ‘quits!

It’s cluttering up the lawn and taking up space!

 

Debts, debts, debts, what on earth shall I do?

There isn’t enough dough to even see me through!

I’m fair moving towards having several fits!

So troubled I shop. I really feel the need for something new.

 

            Colleen O’Grady

 

 

Was Driving On The Gravel

 

Was driving on the gravel, sun bright above

a Toodyay sun-filled green-scaped

verdant, wheat and oaten fertility day,

the STOP sign approaching, braking gravel

strewn back country road, you squatting there mid-field, grey,

more than slightly feathered,

but not yet fledgable.

Even at a distance, I knew who you were.

 

I skidded left onto gravel verge,

leapt out, wonderfilled,

scampered back to you.

 

Seeing that you were whole, yet dangerously sited,

I ran to the boot of my car and grabbed a jacket:

all the better to hold you with,

your jaws gaping, errrrgggghhhhaaa’, ….

errrrrrgggghhhhhaaaaa, ….

 

I draped the softness over you,

not wanting to feel the crunch of your fear,

took you quietly, held you gently,

walked you slowly to forked tree by road,

whereon I sat you, asking are you OK,

would you like a drink, where’s

your mother, is that white glucking on the roadside

a sign that they sat on bough high above,

watching as you grew from hatchling

to toddler, nestling alongside feathering siblings,

desperately scrarking as beaks poked life-building

nutriment into your parched and desperate throats.

Where then are your sisters, your brothers?

 

Then: why is it that you are left

helplessly alone and waiting and awake,

in the middle of the road, when daytime for nocturnals

is for sleeping? Why is it that you are not only awake under a bright sun,

but gaping with anxiety in the middle of a springtiming

wheatbelt afternoon, alone and crying. My heart

is breaking as I give you one last farewell look,

desperate in the hope that you will be found

as night arrives, and fed and loved

as all such birds should be.

 

And as I drive away, slow, and with guilt and fear, I ask:

Do fence posts hatch, at night, unbeknown to us,

into Tawny Frogmouths?

 

            Allan Padgett

 

 

Did I Ever Tell You

 

Did I ever tell you

how much of a mess

of tracks and emptiness

those proto-butterflies

are making of my kohl rabi

 

Or did I ever remind you

of the downward casting look

the local owl gave me from above

as it perched, ashen-faced,

on the curving branch of our cork oak tree

on a summer’s evening

 

And did I ever tell you

how much your eyes moisten

when my words reach softly

into the warming clefts

of your gentling thoughts

or even, the sky, as it turns

an evening cast of pinking blue

edged with a hint of celestial green.  Just like your eyes.

 

O, did I ever tell you

that when I view my vibrant grandsons

with youthful hands against

the tumblingdown wetted rush

of the waterwall in St Kilda Road,

that my heart spills over

and I know and will forever know:

the power of love.

 

            Allan Padgett

 

 

Househusband Meteorology

 

Evening chores are a stormfront –

Pascal’s salient bearing in – sheer

on the kitchen where all my labours

are bent – another trough

around the tv where the kids jump and scrap

and loudly protest routines. My wife

handles the squalls – baths and beds.

 

Late morning is my favourite pattern,

shopping time – past the balustrade, onto

the driveway, into the sunlight bub and I –

it’s a high pressure gradient

which broadens and thins

and when we’re on the footpath

we’re in a different system altogether.

 

                                                     Chris Palazzolo

 

 

Alexithymia

 

Sometimes the worst feeling is no feeling at all

Five days past sad

Staring at walls

Struck numb and dumb by the awfulness of it all

A desperate infinite fall

Empty of all passion

Far from compassion

Reamed out shell like an insect exoskeleton

Full of nothing

Void of love

Vegetable man

Hollow, hollow

Without purpose

Dead inside and desolate

No meaning can be formed from a mass of contradictory sensations

No drive or energy

Like a fucked up old shell of a car

Can’t get out of bed

And when a friend asks how I’m doing

I stare into the vast panoply of human suffering

And can only answer

‘I don’t know’

 

            Tim Parkin

 

 

Unmedicated

 

Always madness knocking at the door

Unmedicated schizophrenics sucking up my time

Rambling to themselves while staring in the mirror

Muttering inflammatory rhetoric and racism

Denying that they have any mental illness

Telling me that the CIA and the NBN are reading their brainwaves

Telling me that there are messages for them in the ads in X-presss

Telling me that the whole planet is being monitored and controlled by the Masons

Convinced that their medication is poison

 

But these are God’s children

And we must love them no matter how annoying they may be

In tribal societies they would be shaman

With one foot in the realm of Spirit and one foot in reality

Hearing voices of the dead and the immortal and interpreting them for the tribe

Going on mystic journeys accompanied by spirit animals

Speaking in poetry

Mystifying and incandescent

 

We used to fill them full of anti-psychotics and sit them in corner

Increasingly now they roam free

Sometimes mystifying and inspiring, sometimes annoying and repetitive

Sometimes even dangerous to themselves or others

But they definitely make the world a more interesting place

 

            Tim Parkin

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