Category Archives: Poetry

Girl with Ears and a Tale

 carroll lewis alices 012341
‘It is better to be feared than loved.’—Lewis Carroll,
Alice’s Adventures Under Ground

 

In a Somerset cave she scoops up silence in a jar.
There’s a faint drop of h2o in the distance,
a kerosene lamp lighting her back to lessons where multi-headed
hydra (good preparation for a life subterranean) and paramecia are dodgem cars under the microscope bouncing off each other like she now finds difficult in a crowded street.

Minuscule hairs in her ears indicate presence of the other.
She prefers to keep hers still
but thunderclouds continue to mass from the north full of possibility.
Bikies glass a whispering junkie, Alligator mississipiensis
has a mating call hard to resist and the scorpion
she keeps in a tank on the dining room table tracks her vibration when she’s out for a walk. What attracts her to one above all?
Goon, cannibal, child-killer on Death Row?
A solitary cell attracts her the most.
And now she’s here, her hair grows long.

 

First published in Rabbit, 2016
Lips that Did, chapbook, 2017
Text and illustration -Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground held by The British Library Add MS 46700

 

 

 

 

 

41 North 50 West

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This is the imprecise location
where Titanic was strafed
by an AK-47 in 1912
and slumped
where at 4.15pm on an ocean liner
bound for an empire
I looked out from the balcony
for a sign of Rose and Jack Dawson
and in leapt two dolphins
one for each eye.

/They circled with other motes
gathering like great whites
to witness my reaction to the tragedy/

I double checked the radar for icebergs.
It was spring. They were splintering south
but the sea was empty that day
while my eyes were alive with cheery
mammals nudging me to tears so they could
slip out to try the buffet          European cheeses—
Rocquefort and Brie.

Precisely one century later a Bengal tiger
called Richard Parker            jumped right into my lap
in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi
3D so terrifying my eye dolphins
seemed like they’d come for a play.

Dolphins and whales confounded Aristotle
when they beached themselves in 350 BC
glittering pelts drying to black along the shores
of Greek islands like Kos
like the sunburst skins of fugitive children today.

 

‘Best poem’ of 2016 fourW anthology.  Booranga Writers Centre 

Cool Bird

images

A bar-headed goose
and her ten goslings
nest in a belt of superlatives

Himalayas rifted with granites
and acid volcanoes

She would prefer glacial rivers
away from ramparts

of thin air and a tough life
but old habits

At quiet times
she’s disturbed by novice monks
honking their silly horns

Herons make a racket
trumpeting the secret of long life

and when there is a sky burial
saffron robes climb a revered peak

eyed by snow leopard
hungry as China’s sorrow

When the urge comes
beaks become missiles

gearing south in an arrow
as cold brings new smells
to the mountain

 
First published in Under the Radar, 2016

Corpse Paint

Goldau_1841

I love the void
of a Turner
Lagoon of Venice
Eternal nothingness

I love paintings that show the divide
between heaven and earth in a clean unbroken line
Water from the waters

Master of emptiness
he sculpts with light      where all is cosmic
crepuscular

I  love the simplicity
of an egg in a stark space

The way Freud placed something
womb-like, perfect and unexpected
next to flawed skin on a broken couch

Colour in a vacuum makes me
want to know what I come from

Where will I go?
Redness can be wetness and death

When colour behaves
it sucks you into a vortex
a mirroredness, transformation
Rothko style
Hand and eye collide
to make a deep picture plain

There is beauty in death
Hirst knows it
Vincent saw so much poetry

in stars he became one
Even Rembrandt painted
a moody carcass
Sacrifice in a tender cluster
of virgins

How we work the queer chapters
of our lives
Warm-blood Caravaggios
Cold-blood Picassos
that we are

 

First appeared in The Journal, UK, 2015

Image ‘Goldau’ JMW Turner

 

Port Campbell near the Cave that Echoes

 

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The cove is a crumble at the far end
Fragile I say      You say I’m wrong
It’s always been this way     Everything nibbling
to the core    or is it just some shifting
to another space    I think of that clearing
on the clifftop     The ocean disappearing
eastward       Current forever chasing,
rejoining itself

We found a half drunk Lindeman’s Merlot,
a plastic water bottle cut in half for a glass
mini bell jar holding secrets, a memory
Forgotten hair clasp like ribs of a small
marsupial come undone  Skeleton home
for a Valentine beetle, if there is such a thing

I think of your ship in a bottle on the Ercol
sideboard    The diorama of the Somerset fox
with the funny eye,  dusty partridge in its jaw
I love souvenirs     Not the Kiss me Quicks
(the sort that pull the world apart)     but a rock,
a shell, driftwood in the shape of a seal
They fix things like nothing else I can think of

 

Published in Orbis, UK. ‘When I Saw Jimi’ Indigo Dreams, 2013

Art of Dying

hans

They do death good
Walk among phantoms

with a spring in the step
Take kids in royal prams

for a picnic   Light candles
for night strolls when the snow

falls in duck down   Etch
a rock, snip a hedge into

a green armchair   Profiles
of Nan and Pa  face-to-face

in an almost-kiss.
Even the Angel of Death,

fat cherub, grins from a shingled
roof.  Hans Christian looks on

from a plain brown stone,
clipped and smart.

They make it art,
not like Sylvia, but good.
They make it sing.

Flamingo

flamingo
After Maya Angelou

It’s the way she’s bent
into a bird

Right knee tucked
into shoulder

She’s making a sculpture
as if in a ballet class
for a painter

Her toes, painted red
make a feathery tail

It’s the beak that looks
wrong

as if someone has taken
the wet rag mouth and twisted it

into a shape that can’t speak
Lips, mouth and cheeks

gone into the knee
He’s painted a line

down her fine china leg
First blood of a girl turning woman

One ear is open – human
Not of a bird It is listening

First published in John Murphy’s The Lake, July 2014.

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