Issue #37 Poetry

Selectors: Peter Jeffrey OAM and Chris Palazzolo

Submissions Manager: Wendy Beach

Contributors

Wendy Beach

Pedestal
The Peacock

Kaye Brand

James Taylor – The Singing Poet
Tattoo

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

At the Short End
In Mate

Christine Della Vedova

AIDS in the 80s
Farewell Letter to my English Teacher

Frances Faith

Eucalypt Nation

Derek Fenton

Loss of Composure on Westminster Bridge, March 2017

Margaret Ferrell

Blue

Steve Flulcher

Smashed

Kevin Gillam

Gifts for Cloud
Hieroglyphics of Now?

Mike Greenacre

Trapped in Language

Ross Jackson

Belmont Boys
This Old Bloke in East Fremantle

Christopher Konrad

Child’s Heart
Cows on White Hill Road

Jacqui Merckenschlager

Taiz Market Bombing

Max Merckenschlager

Christmas Kings
Ten Dollar Bush Café

Dean Meredith

Looking Good
Miss Sulphur

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Dick Pic
Resistance Through Freestyle

Jan Napier

Blurring Down the White
Silkie

Julian O’Dea

Bookmarks
Naturally Happy

Virginia O’Keeffe

Filling the Vases
In Passing we met

Allan Padgett

Not Too Late for Crying
Tetched

Joyce Parkes

Eve and Eileen
Thyme, Rue and Sage

Neil J (BRiLO) Pattinson

Tozer ‘z Block

Mike Pedrana

Richo The Knee-Capper

Barry Sanbrook

Fromelles
The Trees of Messine

Rita Tognini

Dinosaurs in the Garden
Fearsome Four

Gail Willems

Inspiration at 3am
No Body Home

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Pedestal

(In response to R. Baines, 1995, artwork ‘Transaction’)

i am smooth
floating for a time
over metal pedestal
in the amphitheatre,
thinking, ‘I love you’
until the drama begins

silver backed dial
under side of the seat
reflecting random flowers
tucked in the grass
but you never did care about
the small stuff — no

just keep me high
on that pedestal
‘til the only options
are the hard fall
or to slip away softly

Wendy Beach

The Peacock

The night is the spellbound bliss time that births
   New stars, sparks of light over moons and earths
And there within the cosmic horizon
   Venus shines lustrous on the two rising
   Who meet embodied with lucid wishful souls
In woods where lemon-scented wind unrolls
Fitful gum leaves from high tree-tops above
   For night is the best time to fall in love.

There, one moment gives pause for wonderment
   At soft spoken words of sweet compliment.
It stirs deep from his heart, slips and rushes
   With each whispered refrain in stronger gushes
   To flow from his flushed lips with pure intent
‘Til a creature cries, and woods fall silent.
There, with trembling flesh, eyes wide in alarm
   She leaps closer in fright and grips his arm.

Perhaps to prove chivalry is not dead
   He guides her to the glade and points ahead
Where in moonlight she sees a lost peacock
   With tail dragged low in a lonely night walk
   Beside splayed ferns, as ancient as creation
As old as love formed from narration...
Now, at night these lovers do not part
   They embrace the stars, and each other's heart.

Wendy Beach

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James Taylor – The Singing Poet

Night closed over expectations
Packing the air like boxed chocolates
Gowns stitched eskys cold
Kookaburras silenced and poised

And then he was there
Quietly bereted and centre staged
This poet began to sing

When a poet’s heart speaks
We have nowhere to go
Enchanted with gentleness of words
His music crevicing our souls

With the moon resuming her nightly role
We patterned her light with movement
Replenishing our humanity with refrains

Momentums have resumed this morning
Sun filtering the native peppermints
We return soon to our diarised lives
Enchanted and changed again by his songs

Kaye Brand

 

Tattoo

Marked
For me for them
For him for her?
Separate from his markings
Or as one?
From one artists engraving tool
To the poet’s pen – an exposition

Hayden
His Mother’s son inked and dyed
Modified from birthing form
Ink honouring paying tribute
Story telling in its creation
Dye overcoming obstacles
A body showing casing talent

Images
Showing instructions to breed
Under Madonna’s form
Leaves cradling open winged birds
Rimmed glasses doubling the reflection
Vision clearing from embroidered neck
While octopus’s tentacles stretch below

Hayden
On his train to somewhere
Happy in his skin

Kaye Brand

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At the Short End

Straining at the galvanized clamour
of slow motion agonies with a fist for a heart.
Age pins its insecurities and its inevitability
on the stoic and vulnerable, nibbles
at memories fraying as today’s breakfast
can’t be recalled in conversation.

This locomotive of progression
that forges through lives.
Drags inconsequential remarks
on repeat, like the clack of tracks,
until they become anchors.

The familiar, in a world failing.
The glimmer of youth that sparks
a glint in the retelling, to stave off
the forgotten, the confusion
of standing and not knowing where

as frustration forms into incarceration
and light fades as days flick
without distinction.

We flit in and out
of his life,
hold onto what scraps
we gather with the guilt,
the confusion, of what to do.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

In Mate

Accompanied by a death that seems to rise
from the bed with its boot soled ridges
pressed into his shoulder, he seems a shadow.
Squared against brickwork and a small mirror
resisting the badge of useless, he fits.

Finds ways to count out the hours, the weeks,
years to become familiar with every creak
every groan as feet and wheels trundle above.
It is only in the dark hours where he can step
into a false freedom, steel his head to the stars

test the strength in his legs,
if only for a short time, for men in night blue
with neighbour eyes watch from corners.
He breathes the night as if to penetrate into day
carries the memory of open spaces
to settle again, into survival.

This world, where a whim branded him traitor, enemy
when for 20 years he was tailor, neighbour, Jew.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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AIDS in the 80’s

Do you remember AIDS in the 80’s?
When you could be stung by your ignorance
When you could catch AIDS from a toilet seat
and bowling balls of death could crush you
any
second
now …

Peru had AIDS like in the 80’s
So here’s the tale of two men
living close and yet far apart

The first one’s got no name, just sickness
and the State declares for this man
that contact’s forbidden with his
so-called orphaned son

As friends then family turn from him,
this man of the sandy streets
is trying to maintain his hygiene
So AIDS won’t grow from HIV

Up next is a boy, not a real man
his parents are policy makers
his white skin shouts wealth in silence
as his class takes a plane to their ball

He floats through a nebulous world
lower classes are blotted from view
three house maids, the parties, pop music
cannot fill his wide empty spaces

Have you heard? The students all whisper
with all the parents are protesting
that teacher that came from Australia
wants HIV visiting this school

It’s that boy’s third last day of school now
short breaths as he sits in a circle
for the boy risks a contagion
in the form of a thin dark man

And man, that man he is talking!
the boy is forced to listen
the boy must now release hidden
puzzle pieces he’s been hoarding

That man, he stops talking and looks up
the boy’s eyes meet his front-on
their eyes are like twin mirrors shining
reflecting what’s inside their soul

Christine Della Vedova

 

 

Farewell Letter to my English Teacher

From Global Junior English Institute
South Korea
January 16th, 2003

 

Dear Teacher,
See…initially the foreign person
came from fields of fire,
carrying across
the language well.

Together we motioned
through an intimate cold region
quite long.
Declaration,
it does like that.

Isn’t my grammar
incorrect plentifully?
But please,
until end read.

Initially, the
foreign nation exercises
were casual
to the point of being strange.
But in the Teacher,
the many help,
language was used to
walk first
and has informed widely
the people.

You tae kwon do
martial artist
it does not forget.
Roll up!
The Teacher,
Us, it does not forget.
I am insufficient in sentence,
but when the recently
Teacher leaves,
the Teacher will remain
for a while inside
memory store.

The country where
Korea is,
it does not forget.

Soon, the good point
can be distinguished
from an
Airplane place.

The truth of Korea is…
Isn’t it beautiful?

Throw away and
against Korea
only good reminisces store.

Now that which it leaves
towards,
it will go
and from it,
will be happy.

Us, it will meet some day again,
strange and joyful.
It is like that.

Bye bye Teacher.*

* Dedicated to and inspired by two South Korean students named Hyemi and Hwan Ahn.

Christine Della Vedova

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Eucalypt Nation

the sound of growing
hangs in desiccated air
perfumed with biting oil
eucalypt sweat
clinging to the underside of
leather leaves

pendulous appendages
too heavy for subtle breezes
shoved by the groaning wind
sensual bark
blushing in peach
the envy of flames

burgeoning blossoms
without petal
garishly bright delicacies
in gnarled paws
tossed to the ground
to make way for swelling seeds

nation of many races
slender, pale, dwarfed, rugged, giant
all hard hearted
as granite and frugal
for the currency of water
slips stealthily beneath

Frances Faith

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Loss of Composure on Westminster Bridge, March 2017

With apologies to William Wordsworth.

 

Earth has not anything to show less fair.
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
a sight so horrible and not cry.
The city now doth like a garment wear
the horror of the morning; silent, bare.
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
under a dull and lachrymose sky,
all dark and dour in the polluted air.
Never did sky have more reason to weep-
at pale sun’s first peep at valley, rock or hill.
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a dread so deep.
The river glideth at his own sad will.
Dear God, the very taxis seemed to weep.
That terrible heart, lying, dying still!

Derek Fenton

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Blue

 

colour celestial:
Madonna’s robe
in Renaissance Italy
ultramarine from first yield
of powdered lapis lazuli
rich violet blue

antipodean summer sky
lucence of the dome
at the western edge
of our continent on
a thirty-five degree day

leschenaultia
plumbago
native hibiscus –
echoes
of sky and sea

eyes of a grandson
undimmed
centre of paperweight –
deep midnight velvet
Monet’s cornflowers
hazy bloom on blueberries

and yet
we talk of feeling blue

Margaret Ferrell

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Smashed

The loudest recycling bin in the street
Is how I describe this brutal Aussie heat
And that loudest recycling bin in the street
Is why these are rooms not neat
Cuz the lines run zagged
And the feet step staggered

I tell ya it’s the heaviest wheely bin in all these streets
Cuz it’s full of cold glass teats
The six pack on its’ side
Is how the sow supplied, I tell ya
It is again, the heaviest wheely bin in so
So many streets
And it’s why history repeats

Steve Fulcher

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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

* appeared in the most recent edition of Meanjin.

 Kevin Gillam

 

 

Hieroglyphics of Now?

people,
there’s a wide sky and untrammelled footpath out here
while you’re in there on small stools crocheting stories.
people

used to
trim the bottoms off flowers, change the water, re-
arrange the stems to conjure randomness/order.
used to.

could you?
pull yourself back, smudge under and shimmy into
the scribbles of cirrus, hieroglyphics of now?
could you

stay close to the thrum of us, bang it on your knee,
bleed true?

Kevin Gillam

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Trapped in Language

 

Writing poems is like wagging
school, racing ambitions
around another corner,
uncertain of destinations
or who or what you’ll meet.

Like any experiment the timing
must be sheered in-between
subjects or before school, some-
times recess or lunch would
provide the best human shield.

While our lives were pedestrian
we’d creep like second thoughts
around humpies on Wireless Hill:
“She roots like a rattler!” we’d
hear of conquests, no defeats.

Once minds revved behind
bonnets reaching over 1000ccs,
words raced ahead with
girlfriends   trapped in language
driving ambitions full-speed.

Writing poems is like wagging
school, escaping from life’s
curriculum   to reflect
like a rear-view mirror
anticipating what’s already been.

Mike Greenacre

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Belmont Boys

 

If you’ll take my advice there’s nothing so nice

as messing about on the river*

old canoe, old collapsible canoe
when perished rubber
ended the term of your flotation
seeing there was not to be
a salt water cure, they dragged you
up the banks at Ascot and slit
your canvas throat

a homeless man has stuffed
his clothes in your container bag
snagged amongst the fly blown reeds
bloated or floating near the casino
or beached rough
beneath the bridges of the tireless Swan
who knows what else?

 

* From the lyrics of Messing about on the River by Tony Hatch and Les Reed

Ross Jackson

 

 

This Old Bloke in East Fremantle

 

departs The Quarterdeck deli after a squall
checks his wits are not left behind, pats glasses case

steps around footpath lakes, careful not to interrupt
reflections of blooming clouds

arrives home, where always alone in his swaying garden
tends borders, almost flush with time

startled each night when the future stares in
through misted windows

but would rather wait to splash his face
in a bowl of morning sun

Ross Jackson

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Child’s Heart

 

Did lead fall from the sky like molten drops of rain, cut through the week
of our days and cross roads when we were kids raising kids; decades of our
mornings festoon the scroll of memories long-forgotten recall at slip of secret codeword
opened and the door to then when kith and kin around the hearth, candles and cake –
birth, death, gathering; dragon-breath mornings rugged up or summer evening basketball
and tears, triumph or loss; didn’t lead drop when a child’s heart scattered like so much regolith
and like so much sand through a sensory sieve, water-bridge        no, bird coop but the sun
like a lance breaks through blanket-cloud eventually and those days – cake and icing.

Christopher Konrad

 

 

Cows on White Hill Road

 

Around the bend on White Hill Road, on the way back from Flinders,
cattle grazing in a field winter-lush; the sun, slanted low, catches their backs,
haloes them with gold-silver and they appear as holy beings. The young
curiously eye me as I try to capture their image for some misbegotten posterity
at the bottom of my photo drawer or lodged in the back of my skull
(which they’ll have to excavate one day) along with all the other thousand images
stored there, for what, who? But now will do – this edge along the road slope;
my wife gets out of the car and is equally beguiled        if nothing else
we remain the last two witnesses on earth to our animal sentience.

Christopher Konrad

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Taiz Market Bombing

Remember the colourful sacks of aromatic spices
Displayed beside lightly toasted locusts, gourmet baskets?
Smell the sizzling hot pitta bread, golden honey drizzled
Or sprinkled with amber sultanas, while women
Barter for a better deal. Their children play a game
‘Now you see me …now you don’t’ beneath voluminous
Silk of mother’s black chador.

And I recall when, smashing bottles in the square,
Local police, boys amused by their game,
Demonstrated that illegal dealing would be punished.
I wonder what became of the perpetrators.
Accepting this as normal, we walked on
Selecting paw paw and bananas, beans and corn
From our favourite market vendors.

That was 1990. Not so long ago and yet
There was a hint of volatility, a sniff of insecurity.
And we thought, ‘What if?’
But yesterday news splashed across our screens.
Mums and children, weary shoppers and my favourite vendors
Smashed like bottles of forbidden brew,
Life flowing like syrup down the drains.

Jacqui Merckenschlager

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Christmas Kings

 

We were olive-skinned Christmas kings,
faraway bearers of ovoid gifts
from Aunty May to Grandma.

On naked eggshell soles we blister-skipped
summer’s corrugated forges,
from shade to island shade.

Occasional spills became our excuses
for crucifix cake-mix accidents
of yolk and sand,
scooped to feed passing perenties.

Horizons of Warrigal Farm
stretched a child’s Dreaming,
as shimmering sky on stubble
sucked land through straws of winnowed wheat.

Country town siren calls
encouraged pilgrims to the Greek cafe
and Peter’s cone in a double.
We’d race against the drip
to lick and eat.

Inland nights hushed magic;
sleep-out stars tracked past
the muscle pillow arms of Uncle George.

Each twenty fifth fulfilled its prophecy
delivering summer scorchers
as cousins came in locust swarms.

Ginger beer bedded in sodden sawdust
toasted the ritual carve and crackle
of Christmas that Grandma toiled and roasted
and feasting kings genuflected
at bush fly bandits
or plundered her puddings
of buried thru’pences.

 

Max Merckenschlager

 

 

Ten Dollar Bush Café

At ten dollars overnight
campsite six on blistered floodplains
of Katarapko Creek looks perfect, love.

Ignore its endless blue-washed ceilings
its carved reed-riddled islands
and larking troops of corellas;
just banter and kitchen clatter
from eucalyptus-screened staff.

Sit here and reflect with me
as the cappuccino current
swills and elegantly swoons,
a summer campsite billabong
ebbing to marry the swollen Murray.

Drift outside. Flick away dozens
of demanding March-flies welding your skin
and hunker here in the hollowed shade
of gum-crazed lips.

Twin pelicans parade
throbbing home patiently,
trudging against the syrupy-slow current
on rhythmic rubbery blades.

Max Merckenschlager

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Looking Good

She was death brightened up
With interest
White beyond the pale
Red lipstick
A soul I could only imagine
Glorious
In its unfathomable depths
Dark
As a contrast dye
Her lure
Central to our swim around
Beguiled
Even the sharks hesitate
Denying
Their million year twitch
Unknowable
Her frenzied passion attack
Relentless promise
Hell imagined, probably untrue
Nonetheless
Clichés remain unreal
Oh to die
In her ghostly clutch

 

Dean Meredith

 

 

Miss Sulphur

I liked the irony
Of her mind body politic
The self-exploitation
Flirting with our souls

I liked the seeming contradictions
Of her force field fluff
Dancing through the landmines
Too fast for serious damage

I liked the inconsistencies
Of her pussy-power thoughts
And the shrapnel spray
That came with it

She was big-bang theory
In Pandora’s Box
She was a mini A-bomb
Searching for a trigger

She was Redhead Matches
Looking for a fuse
For her, size was only matter
And everything was relative

For me, what I saw
And what I heard
Were two of the same?
It was all energy and light

She was an atom
Splitting apart
A blinding flash
Of nuclear art

Dean Meredith

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Dick Pic

 

he sends me a dick pic
& i’m all is that it….

some things are small
but even in the right
hands the tiny can be
-come a mighty weapon

but when there is more
fuzz than flesh you have
to wonder if some men
have ever heard of the
word clippers

he sends me a dick pic
& i’m like oh dear god

 if this man were a
neanderthal then this
would be his club
: deformed isn’t even
a word you could use
to describe it

& like fools i bet they
both drool when he
talks about tools or the
footy or cars or the
presumed space such a
man perceives to be the
other’s place

he send me a dick pic
& all i can do : shake
my head

it leans to the left
, pointing, as if to
say I’M WITH
STUPID & my
mind races with
the physics you
must employ to
muster such a
kink in your toy

i imagine him going to a
tailor with his pants &
asking if they can let
out the seam on the
left leg

he sends me a dick pic
& words escape me

but just as i begin to
salivate he does what
most men who are hung
tend to do : he becomes
a misogynistic pig

words like stretch & choke
spill freely from this bloke
as he objectifies me as some
-thing to rape : fuck that mate

his intentions are as
clear as my disgust
at his rampant lust

he sends me a dick pic
& it’s a picture of him

waving

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Resistance Through Freestyle

the struggle is feel & feeling
reeling at dealing death blows
how they follow, dog the hole
dig boundaries back to widen
soul’s most unconscionable
act of acting out, to abyss night

keep a diary, they said, tally those
days of the dead & wishing to be
them, see if there is pattern, see what
might happen if you can rein in this
deathly delight, bring it into the light

so i do & what emerges is a terror
new : how the days wage on the
length of insane, how inside my
brain there must be faulty wiring
some frightening disconnect that
makes alluring sakes out of the
razor rake or rope of snake to
bring blue to the face as if the
sky is shifting into shade, lilac

two months in days scattered as days
flung far apart these thoughts have
not occurred & this is terrifying to
behold : the pattern is not when it
occurs but rather how absence shoots
like absinthe, a fairy to chase through
the streets with bohemians & mad
french poets & the rim bodes us all
to lighten our feet & leap into it

but i don’t : my feet are lead, have led
me to rise from this sickened bed, to
be fed on hope & other farcical tropes
that the world is alright, everything is
alright, do not take the matches from
your pocket to ignite, do not take flight
& even though, unlike icarus, you
can swim, remember that the ocean
is still there for the swallowing, how
the waves brim, stone you to stow
below, dip cargo in brine divine
pushing through the fabric of how
lung’s line breath into effortlessness

struggle with this. struggle. resist

repeat pattern until the days add up
in the opposite direction : you have
voice – give this infection a need to
be lured into cure. grant freedom in
inflection. speak this. write. resist

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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Blurring Down the White

A pen leaks, blue appaloosas fingers,
tips splotched as the rumps of Indian fillies,
smearing letters, blurring down the white,
nib scripting reverie into grass and salt.

And sometimes the words come easily as clouds
or rain or silver gulls, and like families
picnicking, arrange themselves comfortably
among green stanzas.

Often they roll on and on, sonorous
as evening thunder, or Waikiki’s cannonade
of waves, smash apathy, undercurrents tugging
at attention, emphasis on what’s unsaid
surprising the reader, refusing to succumb.

Some are hesitant, hard to find, curl quiet
in lexicons heirloomed, unused, but when found,
endure the scrutiny of critics, a mere trembling
of dipthong or cedilla accenting any tension.

The best words, the ones that share mysteries,
reel us closer like a spider winching in
its victims, whisper that they’re not keyboarded
into being, but instead scribed by digits smudged
as love’s borders.

Jan Napier

Silkie

My husband loves me, snugs me close as a clove hitch,
loops and folds around me, makes fast, and I,
brassy as cringles on clipper ships, wink and flash

under hot blue eyes. We writhe lithe as eels,
almost ophidian, porpoise to surface
breath spicy with salt and musk, crash and sink

into slumber’s lull. But when northerlies ruffle
shot silk, and aquamarine slides violet
into slate, my silkie self insists on the slink

of wild water stroking skin, so on nights
nacreous and impossible to peel, I wriggle,
untangle, kiss a bristly chin, plunge to grottoes

adrift with jellyfish like clear moons, match tales
with kin, let the sea keep me. On thundery dawns
I wade breakers trailing weed like torn black lace,

half turn to murmur farewells, wince as knives flash
voltage into soles rasped pink, step my penance,
the bargain struck, the knot tied.

 

Jan Napier

*Cringle: a brass eyelet on the edge of a sail.

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Bookmarks

 

It must seem to be
a clever marketing idea,
to put an advertisement
on a bookmark,
to be tucked inside
a favourite book,
snug and near at hand.

But how often instead
will it mark the spot
where the reader gave
up, and sit imprisoned
on a shelf, forgotten
for ten years; to fall out
only then and puzzle
the browser, like an
unfashionable suit?

Julian O’Dea

 

Naturally Happy

I know that my dog was
naturally happy then,
when she slipped away
that time and became
aquatic for an hour.

I circled the large pond
(or small lake) with my son
but it was useless to yell.
She was in another world,
chasing waterfowl.

All I could do was stare
and hope and wait like a
patient hunter/gatherer.
(Perhaps she felt she
was getting us dinner.)

The law seemed gone,
and we become primaeval.
A dog. A boy. A man.
And the kangaroos near
the water. Elemental.
Instinctive. For a while.

How many times do you
get off the leash in life?
How many hours over
the long years?
Have you thought of that?
When she came back,
luckily without a duck,
I gave her a rough pat.

Julian O’Dea

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Filling the Vases

We have picked the dahlias from grandpa’s garden,
their colours so vivid, their petals so velvety.
I like the way they curve ever so slightly
like half opened claws of softness or hollow balls
that  cant be bounced but bend with gentle weight.
You lay them on the kitchen bench on butcher’s paper
while I fetched the vase of milky white,
their final home within our house.
You reached for the jug and filled it up, too much.
My hand could not hold, the water spilled
and lay in rippling pools drenching the petals
heavier than rain. You did not scold
and we started again with wet flowers.

Virginia O’Keeffe

In Passing We Met

I bent to gather the last of the sticks, fallen from cracking gums,
the heat of day was pricking my eyelids and trickling my thighs
when it moved beneath my outstretched arms… how long death
lay at my feet, sent jolts of fear and dried my tongue of speech?

We stilled an age of time, years passed in pumping heart and then,
as if of one united mind, we flowed beyond summer’s past,
it in a singular path of olive ripples along the sharpened grass
and me to the white shard of drive, and suddenly my voice alive
croaked snake, and with more force, Snake.

Then the world burst forth with bodies, calling, curious
as it and I kept pace. It made no dash or deviation but headed
in its elegant motion over leaf and weed toward the bank
and I as though attached by some immutable force, stepped
with it yet.

Some nights in dreams of dread and awe I see it still
or when I tread the dusty road beyond the bank I seek it out
and wonder does it lie supine under the tangles of blackberries there
or when sipping at dead fox’s eyes where the billabong has dried
it ever thinks of me?

Virginia O’Keeffe

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Not Too Late for Crying

A straw-necked ibis
rises on swirling
summer thermals. A wind
at my face
a tongue in your mouth
probing for words. Rivers
can look alive
on the surface
– light sparkling crescent-
shaped wavelets. A southerly bluster
undressing bending casuarina
stems. A boat pulled whining
from its native aqua,
chained then winched to
land. Like a salmon landed
it gasps in grief
it yearns for water.

Axolotls make good pets
apparently, gills feathered like
birds – so long as
the excited new owner

of this ancient life form
stays excited, and learns
to ignore their desperate
pleadings for return.
Set inside a grim visage

mounted on a comic face
pressed hard against
the slippery walls
of a glassy cage,
each one of them yearns for freedom.

Too late for metamorphosis, it
is fated to remain juvenile.
A hint of modern times.

The river runs, the river flows
owners tip pets past
their use-by date into stream
a mutant assembly bogs
down in the shallows
snapping at heels
evading capture.

Then it has come past
time for caring.
But not too late for crying.

Allan Padgett

Tetched

It is not that I am curmudgeonly,
rather, that my ageing days are often dented
by a spate of bad-tempered behaviour
displays of crabbiness
a cantankerous rising before the bitter dawn.

Grouchy become me
and grumpy if not.

Then, as afternoon light begins to fade
and the piercing needles of night
inject my gloom –
I swerve toward cranky
become increasingly irritable
sometimes rather tetchy
often somewhat testy
begin to mumble grumbly
assume a mask of irascibility
turn toward a late-evening peevishness.

And settle into bed
in a rather moody blue.

On the other hand
when the next sun rises
it is rare to find me
other than mildly pleasant.

Allan Padgett

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Eve and Eileen

In memory of Eileen Gervas

In a room of her own, Eve would
stamp her foot when she could

not read – without a magnifying
glass – the fine print in one

of her insurance policies until
she visited Eileen* (95) who,

though well cared for in a home
for the physically frail, can

no longer write a letter, send or
receive a text, watch her son

sail past on the river alongside
her former home, see her

daughter play tennis, or note
the hues in her visitors’ eyes

Joyce Parkes

Thyme, Rue and Sag

Books filled with poems beckon
on the right side of her bed.
A lamp, a glass of water, a landline

and a smart phone is on her left,
pencil and paper hold her hand.
There is more. There is less. She

has asked Plaque to cease blocking
the blood vessels in her heart; go
on, consume smaller portions,

recalling Matisse and his writ, to
take away is to add. Asking painters
to assess their canvas, asking writers

to interpret sprigs of thyme perhaps;
rue and sage, draw country
on the canvas of options and colloquy.

Joyce Parkes

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Tozer ‘z Block

that Mallee country
its suicidal, it’s not
that we wan’ta
Do OurSelves
In, intentionally,
It’s Just what
We’re told & we
don’t Know
anyOther way, &
We Just Keep at
it till we slide off
handle of Shovel,
EXPiRED…
Splinters in
Palms of Hands

Neil J (BRiLO) Pattinson

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Richo The Knee-Capper

for xmas st nick gave him a bottle of pills
with a bottle of rum
after a dear john letter took him to appetite
from inside the new silence of his children less cold house.
all except some scattered toys and
smashed picture frames
splashed on fresh dusty floors
where furniture once shaped
and now
smudged from the rush of medics footprints,
but still and empty,
like an echo.
he doesn’t talk about it,
tough men don’t.
he presses for a nurse, the drips needle sits
uncomfortable inside him.
he eyes down her uniform when she stoops over to assist
and winks to me gingerly, wrinkles map his prison- scarred face.
I scruff his prickly lumpy head and call him a stupid bastard.
but there is no lecture,
the thickness of bricks cannot absorb sympathies whisper.
the nurse bottoms away and he instructs me to whip out the amphetamines
he had me collect from the booby-trap of his paranoid secret location.
he rolls a borrowed twenty note into a make shift straw
and snorts a line on tomorrows breakfast menu,
swallowing it in and sculpturing an invincible shape
that colours the dim of his eyes as he
shakes his prickly dented head from electric delirium.
then with a serious intention,
he props himself up and asks me to help him write a letter to his 5 year old daughter.
awkwardly blurting he cannot read or write
but tell any one

and he’ll kill me.

Mike Pedrana

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Fromelles

time has stopped
only my heart beats
I can hear it
thump, thump,
as loud as the shells
that fly
and pock the ground

now
it is three minutes
two
we are ready
waiting on our ladders
our bayonets fixed
one

now the wait is in seconds
the bombardment ceases
an eerie semi silence descends

ten
nine
eight

my heart has stopped I think

three
two
one

the whistle blows
go, go, go
the shouted order
up and over

we begin to die
my friend from Albany
my cousin from Perth
our officers
everyone

I trip and fall
unaware of the bullet
that has entered me

I will never know where it lodged
for I too am dead

I have done my duty
pointless though it seems
I am dead
but that is better than life
here in the hell hole
they call Fromelles

Barry Sanbrook

 

The Trees of Messine

The trees of Messine obliterated
Poplars
that now after one hundred years
return
stark in their winter nakedness
lining
the cratered ridges
watching
as a ghost like parade
remembering
the saplings of their forebears
and the Australians
that met their fate below

The trees of Messine wait
immobile
they cannot charge across the fields
or tunnel like moles beneath
the shells that shattered them
silent now
as they reflect upon the hideous noises
that blasted their place
the dirt
the home of their kin
blown high
with remnants of the Rising Sun

Barry Sanbrook

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Dinosaurs in the Garden

The current scientific consensus is that birds are living dinosaurs.

                                                            John Pickrell, Editor, National Geographic Australia

Tyrannosaurus Brontosaurus
Apatosaurus    Anchiornis
Conchorpator              Xiaotingia
Zanabazar
so many more
and all declared extinct

Archaeopteryx
ancient wing                etched
in late Jurassic rock
Urvogel           first bird
with delicate skeleton
hollow bones   toothed beak
shadowy feathered tail
captured in flight
to evolution…

now before me
silvereyes making heart-

stopping flight manoeuvres
from branch to branch
honeyeaters     wings
beating the air
beaks poised
before nectar cups
magpies patrolling their patch
with kamikaze swoops
willywagtails dipping
pert derriéres in birdbath
before theatrical splash
of full immersion
cockatoos        descending
in black platoons to strip
the almond tree
and ibis            black headed
pacing lawns with cautious tread
sickle beak foraging
with forensic perfection

plumed pulsing
with warm blood and memory
of dinosaur DNA
dinosaurs all
here in my garden.

Rita Tognini

 

 

Fearsome Four

In Mandarin four sounds
like death         must not
be written or seen
in lift or skyscraper
floor    cables might fray
on arrival and cabin
fail to levitate to
next floor         and instead
of resisting gravity yield
to its inexorable pull
gather speed in shaft
slam to final rest
in basement.  Sì.  Ssuh.
No!  Shhh shhhh shhhh.

Rita Tognini

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Inspiration at 3AM

(after Nadine Sabra Meyer)

roused from sleep she stands
naked before the paper
which    also naked    stares back
she wields the pen as if a knife
to slash across the blankness

her skin as pale as the paper
stacked tidily    dead centre
except where light through a window
draws dark pupils on her genitals
her nipples alert under moon pooled skin

holding aloft the pen she begins coaxing into being
the thought that drew her to this place
rejecting the slackness of the mirrors apparition

Gail Willems

 

No Body Home

wings ghost over a surface / webs and cracks
like the work of a spider on Benzedrine
heat phantoms shimmer bright / on the corner
a speckling / of black and white
the lone house / wrecked
suffers its desert pillow

This foreign sun squints on a bed / not mine
a wasteland wind whistles / nobody’s home
between awake and asleep / too many intake valves

open in the soul
I’m no stranger
just someone who doesn’t live here any more
eggshell thin skin / peeled clean in the wind

Gail Willems

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