Poetry

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Image detail ‘In Blue IV’ by Michelle Kershaw

Below you will discover a small selection of poems that have recently been published in various print and online journals.

Souvenir

What do we take from a place?
I stand behind you in the mirror.
Golden flecks of mica and silicon,
sand carried home, spill from
the black and white cup of your
swimmers and crumb the lino.
You smile. The gap in your teeth
exposed like a binary code for laughter,
as we uncover tokens of seaweed
secreted under a breast. Other
souvenirs fret the mantelpiece,
talismans and pocket geographies
of where we’ve been: a vase,
the bubbled city, a shell. Strange
and feeble extractions gathered
to mask that sucked-out kind
of emptiness; the slow-mouthed
‘O’ that hollows us once the sense
of wonder subsides. And all these
trinkets? Our curious ruins.

APoems 2013  ed. Jessica Friedmann, Dennis Haskell and Chris Wallace-Crabb


 ‘One more feather and I’ll fly’

Cocky Bennett was a sulphur-crested Cockatoo who lived to the ripe old age of 119 years. After a life of seafaring he came to live at the Seabreeze Hotel at Tom Ugly’s Point, Sydney – where he died in May 1916. The bird had been featherless for much of its life due to suspected Psittacine disease. Cocky was stuffed by taxidermists ‘Tost & Rohu’ and now resides with the Kogarah Historical Society.

A sentence of one hundred and nineteen years
reveals a portrait of the bird as a pirate.
A claw-beaked sailor of dark brews and beers,

purveyor of bawdy discourse, bar-room brawler.
He circumnavigates the wiry longitudes of his cage,
pale and puckered, scant feathers whorl

and stub pink cockatoo skin as if the cook
had left mid-pluck. The drinkers gather,
they offer profanities as plumage and gawk

at his status as living kitsch, ‘One at a time,
gentlemen, please! Let me think!
As a centenarian, Cocky’s earned his shrine

in the cabinet of quirk and circumstance.
Now he’s dead they’ve glassed him in.
One hundred and nineteen years. A sentence

twice caged –  in life and in death,
tethering freedom in case a bird might fly,
or explore a feather’s breadth.

Guest ed. Gig Ryan in Cordite 2013 #42 No Theme II


Billet-doux

Catalogue of New South Wales Exhibits: World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893.
 
#1419 Collarette and Muff – Swansdown, Australian Black Swan. Specimen of Australian fur prepared, sewn, and lined by Mrs. Ada Jane Rohu of Tost & Rohu, William St, Sydney
 
Black swans siphon this silted estuary
for algae and nodes of weed.

A cob settles on his clutch of eggs,
a coarse mound of nest pocketed

on the fringe. Cygnus atratus,
a negative inversion of light,

absorbs the spectrum of broadening sky
until she is a shadow. Her wings,

limbs of soft down, transform
like Grimm tales into fingers of night;

a woman travelling a lake of darkness –
her delicate fingers warmed by feathers,

her buoyant grace a romance
with this strange, unknown continent.

ed. Donna Ward, Sotto Sept 2013


Elegy for Lost Goats

In Rockhampton in the 1870s there was a goat plague.
Goats were routinely rounded up, destroyed and used as
fertiliser in the Botanic Gardens – jocularly known then
as the ‘Rockhampton Goat Cemetery’.

Tethered close in case they strayed,
goats chewed and romped and rutted
in Capricornian paradise, abundant
nurturers of wild children who sucked
and supped on sweet milky teats,
milk sweeter than the Yeppen
silt foul mud lagoon they praised
as crystal drink. The goats, they grazed
on common land and at times
(in twos & threes and threes & fours)
Cashmere, Angora, Capra Hircus –
a bearded, horny circus parade
of nannies, bucks and kids – danced
polkas, two-step and quadrille.

Like Hameln, though not pied, nor piping,
the Inspector of Nuisances led
a midnight paddock raid
to rid the town of Puck and slit their throats,
he shed the blood of four hundred goats.
Poor city’s children –
no pets, no races, no milk, nor meat.
Echoes, traces, buried – as through the night
they burned, and once set alight
corpses slowly turned
to pale and glowing embers
that scattered like stars when shovelled.
Powdered, ashen bone – gentle limbs
held in soil’s foetid harness.

ed. Bronwyn Lea(2013) Australian Poetry Journal 3:1 2013


Lofty’s Lament

The man in the street
waits outside and listens for the
drifting notes of Melba’s operetta.
For time is poverty, when
the worker’s hour is worth only
the price of bread, and the hours
are too many, and the worker
near dead. The man laments
lost Saturdays, the sepia-toned
idylls of races, family picnics
and cricket; the workers’
freedoms atrophy
like wasting muscle.
Melba’s aria ends, while
the ghosts of the working man
loiter in the wealthy city buildings
in rigid planks of darkness,
and the old gather in the streets
waiting for pension day,
and the floodtide to steep
away the long hours of struggle.

from Trace (Creative Capricorn 2013)

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