Issue # 35 Poetry

Selectors: Peter Jeffery OAM and Jan Napier

Submissions Manager: Wendy Beach

 

CONTENTS

debarnes

Picasso And Time

Reminiscence

 

Wendy Beach

Sea Widow’s Sonnet

 

Lana Bella

Dear Suki: Number Twenty-Four

Tourniquet

 

Kaye Brand

Together

 

Mar Bucknell

Untitled

 

Sue Clennell

In Defense Of Lies

When I Am dead

 

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Recycled

 

Margaret Ferrell

Winter

 

Kevin Gillam

And Still

Dust Bowl Days

 

Mike Greenacre

AFL Dogs Grand Final

The Caning

 

Jackson

The Dust-Encrusted Crush

Wet Vacuum

 

Ross Jackson

Questions For The Nosy Evangelist

To A Former Student

 

Daniel Hunter

Before Harvest

 

Nada Kesic

Lost Voice On The Rhine

 

Christopher Konrad

Oslo, December 10, 2010

 

  1. R. Levett

Feeding Time

Illusion

 

I H M Lowe

Christmas Card Envy

 

Glad McGough

A Namatjira Canvas

 

Julian O’Dea

Fossil Fish Dreaming

The Young Orchard

 

Virginia O’Keeffe

I Never Did

 

Allan Padgett

Heatwave

 

Mike Pedrana

The Town Pool

 

Barry Sanbrook

Come Over

 

Flora Smith

Waiting

 

Rita Tognini

Hansel And Gretel In Australia

Louche Sonnet

 

Gail Willems

Calliope Lost

I Am W.A.

 

 

Picasso And Time

 

Picassos hang on museum walls

he had his time his time

a time of multi-coloured madness

his tormented short-lived mind so alive

paintings unrivalled over time.

scholarly academics

publish copious papers and books

as if they were Sigmund Freud

trying to dissect him –

he strolled though the countryside of his friend

stopped to paint lilies in the field.

 

His old Parisian world

of stained ceilings tarnished windowpanes

lipstick smears on dead-end butts

ashtrays spilling over

blood-red wine stains and leftover

bread crumbs on tables.

A clock ticks and ticks telling time

the night’s discussions and revellers depart

the door closes for another night

another time in time.

 

outside they walk past the drunk

sprawled in the sidewalk gutter

paper bottle still held in his hand

water spilling round past him down the drain

is it his time – time is irrelevant

there is no time, at this point in time.

 

Picasso hangs ageless

like this World.

 

debarnes

 

 

Reminiscence

 

Another autumn —

I drive down Mount’s Bay Road

along the Swan;

trees that only a week ago were summer-green,

have suddenly become a symphony

of rusts and yellows.

 

As a child

and as a man, autumn was always

my favourite;

a season of colour, a warm sonata treasured.

Yet now it seems to me

the saddest of times:

a prelude to the inevitable.

 

I drive through traffic, interspersed

Matilda Bay, and the boatshed subsist, tied

to the elements, reflections stilted,

shadowy.

 

A few

resilient swimmers

are at Cottesloe Beach.

I sit on the grass, my back to the wall

watching seagulls

soaring overhead on wings,

that sweep through endless seasons.

 

It’s Saturday, tomorrow, and then

Sunday again;

it fills me with reminiscence,

 

a windswept sorrow – –

 

 debarnes

____________________________________________

 

 

Sea Widow’s Sonnet

 

Too far this pale gown of my grief does trail

Too close upon my flesh the stained veil clings

Too high the waves, low the seas that prevail

And bay, and call, like grim-faced, walrus kings.

Too soon this bouquet is a drowning wreath

Too late this gold ring, mooring my sorrows

Strands me, a wreck on an uncrowned reef

Left in the cold for all my tomorrows.

Let those who linger on the distant shore

Waste not their borrowed time in tears of woe

But keep in mind my love forevermore

On a tall ship sailing in dawn’s first glow.

For in death my love shall be as in life

Wed to the teal sea, and not to his wife.

 

Wendy Beach

 

(Sea Widow’s Sonnet was Highly Commended in the 2016 Talus Prize for poetry)

____________________________________________

 

 

Dear Suki: Number Twenty-Four

 

Dear Suki: North Carolina, May 3rd,

slippery motes of a memory effaced

your monarch flight into my waking

hours, where I remembered us ever

and always like this, insomniac with

you fluting over me, auspicious and

green. At some point, tiers of sunlight

sewed up the champagne sky, surren-

dering to a rockfest of unapologetic

swallows. Even as the world grew side-

ways while we grew life with curtains

on window panes and porcelain tiles

over bathroom floor, I arched toward

you for refuge, hand stripped malachite

off the mountains, slopes from rising

grounds, and lakes that freeze at winter.

 

Lana Bella                                                                                       

 

 

Tourniquet

 

December wind coasts

parallel to the girl below it.

Above, a lattice of night sky

stirs open with heaven’s ateliers,

like a bed of reeds hosting

well-fed drove of birds.

When the world is reduced to

wet risk of starling and folk tales,

she walks the blue of water

with rear-length starless hair,

speech becomes lips and tongue

on the ladder of erstwhile air.

In her scavenged dream,

the lay is always a tourniquet

sealed with iodine, homeopathic

myrrh, granting her violent joy

a crossing—like a breath

withheld until gasped.

 

Lana Bella           

____________________________________________

 

 

Together

 

Together we live

Nurturing clarity and colour

 

Together we grow

Colouring grey and gold

 

Together we create

Unifying despite differences

 

With our nemesis

Wondrous images of light

 

            Kaye Brand

____________________________________________

 

 

Untitled

 

1965

Warlpiri country

sixteen-year-old Julari

tells the first white man she meets

that her favourite food

is pussycat

 

Mar Bucknell

____________________________________________

 

 

In Defense Of Lies

 

You go through the playground

with a giant fib as a shield,

maybe about parents not divorced,

maybe about what you have

for tea in a poor house,

maybe to tell the teacher

you’ve had breakfast.

Fibs to yourself,

that your father came home last night.

Sometimes fibs are the most

powerful weapons

in a child’s battle to be normal.

 

Sue Clennell

 

 

When I Am Dead

 

When I am dead

like dust from Africa

blows over Greece,

so my soul will soar over yours

and I will laugh

because I now know the secrets

of the universe.

I will ask Douglas Adams or Galileo,

and  they, of course,

will want to show off their newly

gained knowledge,

old gossips that they are.

I will ask JFK did Marilyn

die a natural death, and

Henry VIII if he has any regrets?

Was Elizabeth Ist really a virgin?

And what does Napoleon think

of always being called short?

I’ll go right back to Eve

and boy, will I ask a few things there.

I guess I’ll find out that men are not

really so different to women.

All this, and more, I will know

when I am dead.

 

Sue Clennell

____________________________________________

 

 

Recycled

 

Wasteland of abandoned chairs

and coffee tables sunk into sublime

cupboards and old bed ends

where recycled dresses up abandoned.

 

Fossicking fingers sift

burnished and grubbed remnants

of those too quick to discard.

Aunty Joan’s anonymous relic

 

with the Chinese rip off

and Uncle Tom’s tools

blunt and dinged, pale against

thin chromed cheap imports.

 

And out back, an abattoir

of white goods, stripped, chopped

bundled for scrap in the slow turn

from new to beyond repair.

 

Nothing lasts and young couples

expect the latest, the fastest.

Never making do as recycle

is thrust by ad men

 

to save the planet,

stave off global warming.

 

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

____________________________________________

 

 

Winter

 

north

 

A cloud of white breath

bruises ice on the window.

Frost stiffens grass

yet snowdrops shelter mosses.

Slip of sunlight,

a melt of frozen puddles.

Trees bare, waiting;

grey space weaves between branches.

Temperature rises

brings snowflakes, slow and large –

drifting a white silence.

 

south

 

A storm growls in

from the Indian Ocean.

Wind wails, rain whips

windows, but next day a high

tears clouds to show blue,

lucent sky. Surfers tower

waves, pavements sprout

café tables, owners serve

lattes,  tagliatelle and smiles

Air crackles with chatter

as sun warms.

 

Margaret Ferrell

____________________________________________

 

And Still

 

if we sleep. sleep forward. sleep back. back

to some bruised now. and if word and

dream don’t meet. don’t fit. like jig and

 

saw. and if we wake. wake spooned. spooned

and two. two but in haunt. haunt of

each. and yes, call it ash. call it

 

fugue. yes, we may be mooned. may be

burnt. may be broke. but then we sky.

 

rob a cloud. sense when. and if we

give. give to rouse of swell. then we

are tugged. tugged and flung. and if we’re

 

wind. then salt. and swept. and if we

are found. one palm cupped. cupped and held.

and if we’re curled. then we’re shell. and still

 

            Kevin Gillam

 

 

Dust Bowl Days

 

it was in April I believe,

on a Sunday. Frankie was

 

on the veranda, chewing

has ‘baco, spitting and

 

staring, staring into nothing.

“see how spotty that wheat is

 

out there?” my eyes take in

swathes of rippling stubble.

 

“well that short stuff shouldn’t be

brindled like that.” “Drought turns 18”.

 

that was the header of the

weekly rag. our eyes meet.

 

“these are dust bowl days”. a gob

of his spit folds in gravel

 

Kevin Gillam

____________________________________________

 

 

AFL Dogs Grand Final

 

Leaving wasn’t easy.

A piece of my heart will stay

with her all our days.

 

Once back from the Game

trivialities of life

hound my every move.

 

If it’s not weeding

it’s vacuuming. My resolve:

Every dog has his day.

 

            Mike Greenacre

 

 

The Caning

 

I remember that cane

whistling down on the outstretched hand

like a sniper’s bullet   suddenly there

to greet the moments of pain.

 

One, two before I knew

it’s intention clear

as the flesh bleeds

from the crack of more.

 

The next time   the sound was gone

no outstretched hand or evil-eyed

Satan powering over me,

as I stood back  and said ‘no’.

 

‘Good on you!’ my brother grinned

from more than forty years on,

at the time I wasn’t to know

this act would be my final blow.

 

Leaving I was good at

words can’t hold back teenage verve,

but I still remember that cane

and the power we shared.

 

Mike Greenacre

____________________________________________

 

 

The Dust-Encrusted Crush

 

Unlike you, kid,

she says,

he never did anything —

just kicked balls

and chased rabbits

 

At 12 I watched him, 15,

tossing hay off the flatbed —

tanned deltoids,

torn singlet,

low-slung jeans,

calling to the cows

 

I never got to touch

his dull white scars

or hear his

baby cry

 

His was the cry of the power tool —

the diamond saw dividing a brick,

the rotating driveshaft sticking out of the back

of the tractor, the three-point linkage

 

I wrote him imaginary letters,

the dull white voice of the paper

flickering in my hands

 

Last time I saw him

I was 29 and married

The dust-encrusted crush

shook itself off,

rose and swirled in my head

like a ghost violin,

but there was nothing

we could talk about

Like she said

he’d kicked balls

and chased tails

 

The door with its old brass hook

where once I’d hung

my cowy heart

stayed shut.

 

            Jackson

 

 

Wet Vacuum

 

Did you ever dream

you were suckling?

I did, once.

 

A mouth filled

with the breast —

not my mother,

not Gillian:

the breast

 

A mouth filled,

inner skin

lined with skin,

a mouth, an I,

I, an I,

space filled

with a firm cushion

sealed in by my

wet vacuum,

moulded, changed by my

action

 

They weaned me at nine

months

Onto a cup

No more wet vacuum

No more

changed by my action

No more

inner skin lined with skin

 

What a good girl

Look how grown-up our

girl is

 

After that I sucked my own

thumb

It has a hard centre

It gives no milk

 

 Jackson

____________________________________________

 

 

Questions For The Nosy Evangelist

 

when I die

after I’ve been born again

may I still visit old bookshops

will there be little corners of paradise

where I may sit and read, or just be propped like an angel

against barely stable shelves, slowly becoming more perfect whilst smelling books

but taking up little space in that place at the top of a wooden ladder, my unfortunate prior life

a story only for God to discover, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Ross Jackson

 

 

To A Former Student

 

The tender coincidence. Both of us being there

at that launch, of all places.

Unrecognisable after 30 years,

a married name, so I’d not have guessed.

 

Might have kept your identity to yourself,

not mentioned your regrets.

Most surprising

your ready contrition.

My easy forgiveness, almost a grace.

 

A month later,

dinner table TV documentary,

bitchy schoolgirls

darting their wretched teacher.

An impotent bull bleeding.

Memories. Ah.

 

You, 15, even then

the ice cliff of your intellect.

Steel tipped darts of sarcasm.

My reddening back.

Knife and fork in hand, I might

have opened up your face.

 

Ross Jackson

____________________________________________

 

 

Before Harvest

 

little brown birds squabble over the veneer of vegetation left clinging

to fence lines and tracks

a crow caws perched on a strainer post

whilst a brown falcon sits on a lone stag observing

 

machines with bowed axels and oversized bodies

begin to lumber up the road seeking new fields to devour

vehicles grudgingly trail behind weaving back and forth

like a bulls tail swishing flies away on a hot summers day

drivers waiting impatiently for a chance to pass the slow moving beast

 

snakes in shiny new suits bask on the side of the track

absorbing heat muscles stiff and bellies hollow from winter

reptilian love obvious as bobtails chasing each other across gravel roads

the bond self evident with surviving bobtails pining near skittled partners

 

a collection of weary round granite boulders sit on a hill

though not quite a hill more of a hump

emerging through a carpet of not quite green

but not yet wheat fields

no hint of the ochre suppressed beneath

 

the carpet becomes overwhelming as the eye travels from

horizon to horizon only interrupted by other lonely collections

of weary boulders on humps

and the veneer following tracks and fence lines

 

Daniel Hunter

____________________________________________

 

 

Lost Voice On The Rhine

 

Fragments

of language

lyrical

clipped

some harsh

unknown.

 

None my own.

 

Fragments

of emotions

caught in mid-stream

in contemplation.

 

A moment

of elation bound in joy.

 

Fragments

surround me

my head spins

I’m in overload

moving into lanes

between nations

lost

with no sound

of my own.

 

Nada Kesic

____________________________________________

 

 

Oslo, December 10, 2010

 

Empty chair: all of a sudden     empty chair in Oslo

Disappears from the Net

Disappears like Lidice

Disappears like Liu Xiaobo     empty seat

Lidice too        erased in one night

Street names    villages                        in honour named: Lidice

 

Yet how full an empty chair can be

Millions of party officials dying to crown it king/emperor/Chairman

How full an erased town

 

When I have learnt this then the chair is not empty

Is not     is I        am it         am not           am

This empty chair

 

Christopher Konrad

____________________________________________

 

 

Feeding Time

 

Webbed feet patter

across canvas umbrellas

ringed eyes fixate

on dishes piled

with crispy golden slivers.

A table clears

swarms of white and grey

feathers flutter,

red beaks screech for

crusts, crumbs, morsels.

The swiftest few

fly to lofty perches

beaks clutching treasure,

others arch their backs

squawk indignation.

 

  1. R. Levett

 

 

Illusion

 

A sparkling merry-go-round

horses bobbing up and down

sunshine music jingles

fairy-floss and ice-cream all.

Her loving words

suggest a bond

but my shy approach

is met with wrinkled nose.

Paint peels from the carousel

horses’ reins hang limp

each spin emits a rusted squeak

the music crackles.

 

  1. R. Levett

____________________________________________

 

 

Christmas Card Envy

 

These people with dozens of cards strung across their living room,

pegged on tinsel in the hall like washing

strung in the windows row upon row.

And me with my five cards, three from real estate agents.

 

Because I didn’t keep in touch with everyone I ever knew

with a one liner greeting per year.

 

Because I pushed too many unions to the edge

or squeezed them to oblivion.

 

The air spoilt, it was too late to be polite.

And who sends yuletide greetings to the honest?

 

            I H M Lowe

____________________________________________

 

 

A Namatjira Canvas

 

Brushstrokes

smooth as nested egg

paints in the pale-blue sky

 

hyperbole of colour dipped

from Van Gogh’s emoting art wrought palette

brush in the blood-red, barren ancient land

 

a sentinel – feet studded in the ground,

–          once a vibrant living tree

now, paralysed by time –

 

is now a stark-white spectre

with brittle arms awry

its gnarled, clawing fingers, clutching at the sky . . .

 

Carking crows fly high

defiant of their fate – the same as that

they rest upon, the living shall be dead.

 

The fierce furnace of the sun

reflect the end of living things

ensures a private gallery

 

So here’s a place I often come

in mind’s eye to take a rest

A memory from passing,

on a trip to east from west.

 

Glad McGough

____________________________________________

 

 

Fossil Fish Dreaming

 

The rain wets the outcrops

darker grey and fills the gullies

with silty water rushing past

where fossil fish lie dreaming

deep in the rocks of being

finned and loosed again in

waters older than the land.

 

Julian O’Dea

 

 

The Young Orchard

 

The wind blows hard through

the young orchard of his life;

he sets his face against it

and wrinkles begin to wither

the smoothness of the face

we gave him, etching lines

he will take through life, long

after we are gone.

 

            Julian O’Dea

____________________________________________

 

 

I Never Did

 

you never laid a finger on my skin

but you told me that i wasn’t good enough

you told me that i didn’t quite fit in

and that other girls were prettier, more buff

but you never laid a finger on my skin

funny how those words cut down to my bones

sharp as pointed knives slicing home

and you told me, and you told me

to stop being me

but you never laid a finger on my skin.

You told me that i needed to lose weight

you told me that my hair should be straight

you told me not to wear this dress or that

and you told me that i sang off key but hey

you never laid a finger on my skin

funny how i have scars all over me

that my heart is bruised

my eyes can barely see

and i wear these burdens like a broken thing

but you never laid a finger on my skin.

no you never laid a finger on my skin.

 

Virginia O’Keeffe

____________________________________________

 

 

Heatwave

 

It hurts my head

that light travels at 300,000

kilometres per second.

It hurts my head

to imagine being at both

the starting post

and the finishing line

of such a bolt.

 

Meanwhile, a beam of light

arrives from the sun,

a mere 150 million kilometres to our west

or east or north or south.

Whatever, it is a long way

but a photon discharged from its blistering surface

rockets through the vacuum

that binds us

in eight minutes and twenty seconds.

It is here before we know it –

and as it lands on my arm I feel

it with my eyes.

 

The temperature of the sun’s photosphere

is around 5,500 degrees celcius

in the chromosphere only 4,300

and in the plasma-stream spitting

corona –

in the order of two million degrees.

It hurts my head.

 

It is only 9 am in Perth

on 16 January 2016

and already 32 degrees Celsius –

but it feels like 110.

 

I am itching all over as waves of photons

hit my twitching skin.

Meanwhile, I think it’s time for a corona

followed by a bex and a good lie down.

It’s just too much, far too much.

 

            Allan Padgett

____________________________________________

 

 

The Town Pool

 

saturdays are built for children.

we would meet with our $2 smiles

and group under the shade of the gum trees at the town

pool.

animated with immaturity and coated in skinny legs and shove and push

hearts we bonded away from the grey corridors of a sheepish school.

the black kids are doing backflips and chasing each other

in frenzy,

ignoring the adults who a like cadavers or tourist white seals.

all except mr bauer,

who runs the pool without expression as we

give him our 5 cent piles for candy.

Behind the toilet block

we cup our parents cigarettes from him,

coughing into our towels from its disaster as the sentinel

flanked on the pavement

motions to hush the give away noise.

we become fools to the tiny breasts of classmates

who ignore us in their red carpet saunter.

ganged together like an orgy of gallant octopi ,

we army soldier our boyish

dare and

push each other into the

citadel of their snobbery,

the youth of our smudged ice-cream faces

walled from the insult of turned backs.

the country heat herds us into the

cool diamond depth of the town pool,

and we,

splash happy and teasing,

too lazy to urinate anywhere else.

sometimes the wind goosebumps the

flesh that stands at height above the water and

so we tread within it,

our shinny heads all apple bobbed

and sun blotched.

exhausted,

and confectionary spent,

we spread our meatless bodies onto the hot concrete

that burns an almost cruel heat.

heads rested on folded arms

and bellies red but lizard dry.

we all agree its time to

go home to our empty houses.

as we rise,

the wet shape of our bodies are left outlined

on the concrete.

slowly the outline of it

is drunken up by the radiant heat,

we stand in silence as we watch it disappear,

all fading away without control,

like the childhood

we never thought

we would lose.

 

            Mike Pedrana

____________________________________________

 

 

Come Over

(After viewing Francis Bacon Study for a Self Portrait, 1976)

 

The distorted spirals of me

with contorted limbs

melt into the floor

as though resin had melted

and I seep away

drained and exhausted.

I sit precariously,

boxed in,

my grey world

surrounding me

as I watch

looking at reflections of myself

through eyes half closed.

I gaze in horror at my image

a twisted aberration

of a portrait of a man

after his melt down.

My friend, the black dog licks at me,

he is close, far too close,

I try to push him away

but he returns with his urgent message

his consoling whimpers

begging me to go over.

 

            Barry Sanbrook

____________________________________________

 

 

Waiting

 

My neighbour

is wellness, well-rounded.

 

A woman waiting

soft, slow moving

knowing readiness.

 

Removed from us,

she knows the day

and the day’s business

 

are taken care of

by her gentle husband

wise-woman mother.

 

They attend to the world

while she awaits a call

smiling, shining

 

the great life inside

lighting her world

from within.

 

She and the new life

are whole and at peace

each with the other

 

and all she need do

is to wait.

 

            Flora Smith

____________________________________________

 

 

Hansel And Gretel In Australia

 

There was no rehearsal

as in the old tale.

Father took us straight to the witch

left us in the school room

decorated with words

enticing as gingerbread.

 

Not speaking our tongue

she fed us her language.

Hungry for meaning

we gorged that lexicon

grew fat on her vernacular.

 

Then she let us out to play

sure we would not stray

to the forest

see the bones

of our discarded speech

shining in moonlight

follow them

back to the house

 

of our mother

 

tongue.

 

            Rita Tognini

 

(This poem was commended in the Peter Cowan Writers Centre 2015 Glen Phillips Poetry Prize Competition.)

 

 

Louche Sonnet

 

For Julie

 

This is a sonnet without stays,

one of unlaced corsets, crumpled, half-discarded

underskirts, black stockings in disarray

on floors.  Of half-sipped absinthe in glasses

near the bed.  This is a sonnet

that recalls the wild bohemian days

of fin de siècle Paris, when Renoir and Monet

danced Seine-side with muses young and gay,

and Degas spied, sketched and painted

his little dancing girls (he couldn’t do that now

and keep his genius and career untainted);

or in top hat, frock coat, necktie and sans Frau

frequented ballet and Bois  with friend Lautrec,

promenaded courtesans and horses, did what the heck.

 

Rita Tognini

 

  1. Bois de Boulogne – large public park in Paris, which was a popular meeting and promenading place for people of all classes in the late 19th century and contains Paris’ main horse race track, the Hippodrome de Longchamp.

____________________________________________

 

 

Calliope Lost 

 

I’ve lost the sound

held down and choked

by static

 

light bleeds music

marches over flames tempered

too cold to contemplate

 

other times I’m stranded by the silences

as exemplastic imagination

flattens into full stops

 

but worse is the white space

an uncoiling labyrinth

twisting writhing

 

a mad geometrical complexity

the Castiliam spring

deletes the carved wrinkles

of my Calliope

 

            Gail Willems

 

 

I Am W.A.

 

I read the scents of air like spars of sun

that swing in light and shadow on the wind

banksias flirt parrots skim cut and run

Swan river bends, edges grassed and sequined.

Benzene perfume sniffed across the highway

unseen it bleeds a darkness on the land

a spectre of the future where once lay

wild silence braced against the wind blown sand.

Waltzing up the incline of dry cheekbones

I unstitch night and loosen all the stars

untie the tides, their curl and crash long known

as night music, hums deep through traffic scars.

 

Long ago this Land stored power in daydreams

now Spirit woman mourns earths wounded streams.

 

            Gail Willems

____________________________________________