Category Archives: Poetry

Rob Walker

I’ve seen Rob’s poems in many places in recent years, wondering if he was the Rob Walker I’d once taught with in South Gippsland. He doesn’t appear to be, his hair’s not long, black and curly (or not anymore). I made contact with Rob when I read his terrific poem ‘termites’ which you can read here. I’d written a poem with the same title, not unusual, but our language and observations are uncannily close and his is the better poem. Rob has just enjoyed the successful launch of his new book ‘tropeland’ published by the prestigious Five Islands Press. I find Rob’s poetry full of energy, it’s often funny, oozing with his love of language and general pissed-offness with the current government and injustice in general. He doesn’t hold back. I bring you Rob Walker…

RobWalkerByMartinChristmas

Photo by Martin Christmas

Bio
Rob walker has always been fascinated by language and its multiplicity of forms. In between his time as an educator in Performing Arts around Adelaide and teaching English to Junior and Senior High students and  adults in Japan, he has also found time to write a children’s musical, essays, short stories, poetry reviews, co-edit a poetry anthology and produce three  poetry books. With hundreds of poems being published online and in journals and anthologies in the UK, US and Australia, Rob also enjoys collaborating with other artists. He currently divides his time between grandchildren, a small farm in the Adelaide Hills, travelling and writing.

tropeland

Tropeland.

In the Land of Trope
boxes of matches spontane combustiously,
self-ignite like passion.
Vampire bats appear as garbags snagged on barbed-wire fences
Butterflies float skyward like liberation

In the Land of Trope street lights go through the phases of the moon
while the real moon waits for the traffic lights to change.
Deep serene ponds resemble your eyes and babies’ cheeks are gardenias

In the Land of Trope ears roar like the ocean
when you hold them up to your shell
cellos are the waists and childbearing hips of country girls

In the Land of Trope cotton wool confined
to bathroom cabinets thinks it’s a cloud
forming over the ranges
the day sky tries to be as blue as the child’s pencil
while the night leaves itself deliberately empty
for the distant sound of a lone dog

In the Land of Trope sweat from armpits impersonates
cinnamon bark and vanilla pods
Similes assimilate later as comparative as a comparison

In the Land of Trope dark sky splits white lightning apart
and all poetry is black except for the pink bits

In the Land of Trope nothing is like anything else
It’s as fat as a fat thing or as like as an as.
It’s as different as everything and like nothing else.

In the Land of Trope pine forests are as fresh as toilet disinfectant,
lemons smell as clean as dishwashing detergent.
Silver coins look like rain-filled sheep hoofprints

In the Land of Trope 2 a.m. clocks tut-tut that you’re not asleep.
Mountain scenes are almost as realistic as paintings.
Surreal estate.
leaves fall in love every autumn and
drums beat like a
heart.

In the Land of Trope dogs feel as sick as a man
wheels are as silly as eccentric children
and tacks never feel flat.

In the Land of Trope rainbows come blank
so you can colour them in yourself
from ultra-yellow to infra-green

In the Land of Trope pins are as neat as houses,
rabbits breed like the poor. A whip
is as smart as a sadomasochist

In the Land of Trope
money is mute and
humility talks.

In Tropeland
it’s better for you
and metaphor me

termites

we are the tectonic organic architects.
fixed action patterns, no masterplan
predisposed destruction
genetic construction.
we are the wrecking ball
and the engineers.

bees are greek geometers,
bodies as rulers, hexagons in their heads.
we the pallid homewreckers
with magnets instead. north of capricorn

use our clay skyscrapers
as compasses
but we will destroy your home
to build our own.
we are Vishnu and Shiva,
no arms, six legs.
world-best-practice fungus
farmers
we’ve thrown away the plans.
each buttressed edifice with aircon, heating,
unique.
form is function,

function, form.            hyperbolic paraboloid,
hyperboloid, helicoid
straight lines are anathema
the shortest span between two points is
follow the guy ahead.
we know no Pythagoras nor Euclid,
give a passing nod to the Bauhaus
and gaudy Gaudi who plagiarized
our best.

An accident waiting to happen

purposeless and alienated, a coexisting anomie and ennui
a concatenation of the unrelated    i lurk on street corners
planning the intersection of vehicles.

delayed by traffic light whim or
leaving home moments earlier you leave    yourself
vulnerable to my coordinate points.

I am the haybale awaiting synchronicity
of temperature                   and humidity
to interrupt            a firefighter’s dinner.

I am the thrown match which may peter out
or destroy the entire national park,
the oily rag in the shed.

I am the outdated nuclear reactor
behind the low seawall
waiting for the plates to move.

I am the occasional freight train,
the unsignalled crossing,
the sleepy motorist.

I am the barely submerged snag in the murky river
the sharemarket software trigger
programmed to sell  sell   sell.

I am the one flake of snow
that begins the avalanche.

I am unstring theory.
I am tired of waiting.   So tired…

(all poems from tropeland)

Rob blogs here:      http://www.robwalkerpoet.com/

Five Islands Press, June 2015
PO Box 4429 University of Melbourne
Parkville
Vic. 3052

http://www.fiveislandspress.com
ISBN: 978-0-7340-5026-7

Available here. https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#q=rob+walker+tropeland&tbm=shop

Jane Clarke

Jane165HiRes

I spent a week with Jane on a residency in 2013. She impressed me, not only as someone with strong convictions, but also as a sensitive  and beautiful writer. When she shared her poems with us I could feel her passion for the natural and political world of her native Ireland, and her love and respect for her father and for people of the soil.

At the time Jane had been widely published in journals but seemed frustrated that she hadn’t had a full collection accepted. How exciting it was then to hear, two years on, that her poems had found a very good home indeed. Bloodaxe Books has published Jane’s debut collection which will be launched in various locations from June this year. Please go to her website for dates.

janeclarketheriversmaller

The River

What surprises me now is not that you’re gone
but how I go on without you, as if I’d lost
no more than a finger. My hand still strong,

perhaps stronger, can do what it must,
like carving your name on a branch from the beech
by the Suck, letting the river take you,

so I can call myself free. Only sometimes,
like yesterday or the day before, last night or this morning,
the river flows backwards, uphill to my door.

 First published in the Irish Independent, 2012

Every tree

I didn’t take the walnut oil,
linseed oil,

the tins of wax
or my lathe and plane

when I closed
the workshop door.

I left the grip of poverty
on the bench

beside my mallet,
whittling knife

and fishtail chisel
with its shallow sweep.

I quit the craft
my father had carved into me

when I was pliable
as fiddleback grain,

left all at the threshold,
except for the scent of wood,

a different scent
for every tree.

First published in the Irish Times, 2015

On the Boat

On the boat we were mostly virgins,
we talked about who we were going to be –
waitresses, seamstresses, nurses,
we didn’t talk about why we had to leave.

We talked about where we were going to be,
the wooden frame house with a picket fence,
but we didn’t talk about why we had to leave
as we touched the lockets around our necks.

The wooden frame house with a picket fence
led to talk of lost villages, lost streets
as we touched the lockets around our necks.
We didn’t foresee tenements that grew thick as trees

when we talked of lost villages, lost streets
and the diligent men we were going to marry.
We didn’t foresee tenements that grew thick as trees,
the suitcase of memories we would have to carry

to the diligent men we were going to marry
when we were waitresses, seamstresses, nurses
nor the suitcase of memories we would have to carry
from the boat, where we were mostly virgins.

First published in the Irish Times, 2013

Biography
Roscommon-born, Wicklow resident, Jane combines writing with her work as a management consultant. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin and an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales. She won the Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Collection Prize (2014), the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition (2014), Poems for Patience (2013), iYeats (2010) and Listowel Writers Week (2007). Her poems have been published widely, including The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Rialto, The North, Agenda, Southword, The Stinging Fly, The Shop, Cyphers. Her first collection, The River, is published by Bloodaxe Books.

www.janeclarkepoetry.ie

http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/titlepage.asp?isbn=1780372531

http://andotherpoems.wordpress

www.dromineerliteraryfestival.ie

Ivy Alvarez

It’s hard to pin down someone with the name Ivy. Just when I thought I’d found her, first in Oz, then in Wales of all places, she pops up in New Zealand where she’s  taken root for now. I’m always a little envious of global souls, like Ivy. It seems like one of life’s greatest freedoms and pleasures, getting to know new cultures and peoples.

Ivy and I came together on Clare Carlin’s elegant blog Pieced Work but I have long admired Ivy’s poetry for its muscle and mischief. Full of the Christmas spirit and remembering the joy of decorating the mantelpiece with ivy in a northern clime, I bring you the ultimate pop-up poet, Ivy Alvarez who tells us how Michael Jackson danced into her latest collection. Merry Christmas!

Ivy                                   Photograph by Rachael Duncan

a memory of breasts

I show my mother a book of breasts. At first, she’s shocked and pulls away. But then, she returns to them and looks at the pictures on the cover. She points to one. The breasts are creamy and voluptuous, arms gloved to the elbows, crossed in front. ‘I like these ones,’ she says. ‘They are elegant.’

(from Mortal)


dumb

baby brother brings me booty
booty I do not want
blood out of squirrels’ mouths
blooms from a badger’s back
broke spine splinter bones
blown wide apart
belly open of a fine snout fox
bleached fur stiff fuzz
better not show baby brother
briny pinpoint pupils’ glaze

brings me his killing jar
bees, spiders, hornets and wasps
brave his fingertips’ acetone smell
dumb husks in a glass shell

(from Disturbance)


The School of Physics

the kiss that does not exist will exist next door
in a house that houses the kiss, most likely in a vase
exuding a scent in passing
as if from the unlikeliest, shyest woman in the room
forcing me to ask, Is that your perfume
she smiles, eyes downcast, and hands me my change

you and I will sit in a green sofa and admire the kiss
its shapeliness, how it wrings
inadvertent sighs just from listening to it grow
into its fullest power
a tiny nova of desire compacting in on itself
pulling us towards its center


And could you comment on who or what influences your practice, Ivy?

While putting together the final incarnation of Disturbance, I kept thinking about Michael Jackson’s album Thriller, how every song released from it found its audience. I always keep that in mind. I find it helps me trim the dead wood from a manuscript.

For poetry, Sylvia Plath is my foundation stone, as are Dorothy Porter and Ai. I will continue to build and create because of what I’ve learnt from them, and from the future influences I hope to still discover.

 Ivy

disturbance

Bio
:

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (2006) and Disturbance (Seren Books, 2013). Both Literature Wales and the Australia Council for the Arts awarded her grants towards the writing of Disturbance.

She is both a MacDowell and Hawthornden Fellow, whose poems appear in anthologies and journals in many countries and online, including Alquimia del Fuego (Spain, 2014), Best Australian Poems (2013), and A Face to Meet the Faces (USA, 2012). Several of her poems have been translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.

In the past few years, she has received invitations to speak at the Oxford Literary Festival, the Dylan Thomas Festival (UK), and the Seoul International Writers Festival (Korea).

Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she spent time in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, before settling in Auckland, New Zealand in 2014.

Links:
Website: http://ivyalvarez.com/
Disturbance: http://www.serenbooks.com/book/disturbance/9781781720875

Terry Quinn

oldbury1 (2)

In June 2013,Terry and I met for the first time at Digbeth Bus Station, Birmingham, as joint winners of the Geoff Stevens Poetry Prize (Indigo Dreams) and on the eve of launching our big collections.

I’d come from Melbourne, Australia. He’d come from Preston, Lancs, although he told me later he was born in Brum, a few streets away from out launch pad. I’d been at teachers’ college with a recent honorary degree from Brum Uni so all a bit of an uncanny coincidence. I hated Brum in my youth-a shithole of a city, all concrete and horrible accent.The day Terry showed me the new Brum I was brought to my knees. I loved it.

We’d been emailing our hopes and fears for months organising out joint launch at the Oldbury Rep. By the time we met I felt like I’d known Terry all my life. We met again in Bristol, my home town, in June this year, the day after Banksy’s latest was posted in Bristol Museum. We had a great day when I got to appreciate and love my city for the very first time. Terry is the kindest and funniest poet at a time when humour is at a premium in the poetry world. On the eve of launching my second collection and remembering our joint win of the Geoff Stevens prize, I am very happy indeed to bring you the wit and wonderful whimsy of Terry, friend and co-poet.

 Going

And she’s gone.
I can’t tell you where
or when she’ll be back.
But here’s a few clues.
Here’s her ski boots,
there’s her woollen sweater,
here’s the scarf I bought in Prague
and there’s the ballgown
I’ve to take to the cleaners,
precise instructions attached.
Well you don’t need a ballgown
when you’re off to fight in the wars.
Not that she’s fighting.
She’s there for the wounded,
she’ll strip the bloody clothing
from any bloody skin
and stripping an assault rifle
was taught as a precaution.
A precaution against what?
I know against what.
All those jerks finding themselves,
shooting into manhood,
those guys know what they want
and it’s not TLC from a blonde.
I wandered into the kitchen
getting a feel for emptiness,
putting her mug away,
it’s only a few months.
Finding themselves for god’s sake,
and then finding her,
ten quid in a tin hat lottery,
she just won’t get it.
And then I found the envelope,
under the phone,
the last Will and Testament,
left when I left her alone.

 

Getting the Point

It’s getting to the point
of a small rearrangement
in how things were.
Not exactly a lie,
I did have a girlfriend,
she was called Eileen,
and she did, does, live in Hammersmith.
But she didn’t,
as far as I know,
drive a Ferrari
into the lake at Kew Gardens
after an argument
about a duel I’d fought
with Simon Armitage
about her honour
or the placing of a comma
in the Dead Sea Poems.
One or the other,
it doesn’t matter.
The point is that these days
you need an edge,
a little something
that’s hard to find
in another poem
about finding your Father’s pipe
or a lost letter from a lost love
about snow falling on Blackburn
or a night spent talking
about that Al Gore film.

 

Accountants

2 sheep plus
3 goats plus
1 bushel of wheat
equals what?
I don’t know,
I don’t even know what a bushel is
and neither did these guys in Uruk
who had a bit of a problem
explaining that one of their goats
had already been sold
to a bloke from Lagash
and they only had enough tokens left
for three jars of oil
and this stupid sod from Kish
still didn’t get it
till they pressed them down
on a bit of clay
which seemed to help
so they did it again
just to show off
to their mates in the pub
and would you believe it
it caught on
and the next thing is
they’re selling the farm
doing whole tablets of the stuff
so their neighbours
could count whatever
while they charged a fortune
then putting in security
after the not so stupid
son of the sod from Kish
scraped a sheep shape
off the waxy surface
which they couldn’t prove
so they baked them
which stopped that nonsense
and then got a bit cocky
adding symbols they made up
for this girl in Umma
they both fancied
till her Dad replied
using even clearer signs
that he’d also made up
so they made some more
and before you know it
there’s scrabble and lawyers
and Carol Ann Duffy.

Terry Quinn born in Birmingham and is now living in Preston, UK, has travelled widely through the UK, Europe and the Middle East. A former engineer he is the author of ‘Away’ and ‘The Amen of Knowledge’ (published as joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize; Indigo Dreams). In 2014 he was one of the winning entrants to the Royal Academy’s Ekphrasis poetry competition, the Guernsey International Poetry Festival competition and the BBC Proms Poetry Competition. He co-presents the Arts Scene Show on Preston fm. He follows Birmingham City Football Club.

Anne M Carson

Whenever I see Anne’s name in a poetry journal I know I am in for a treat. Her poetry is elegant and edible, sparse and thoughtful. I always enjoy the human perspective in her observations of the natural world. She paints with words which isn’t surprising since she’s an accomplished visual artist.

We met over coffee when she was poet in residence in Kew, a suburb familiar to us both. We talked about many things; of her life rich in teaching, writing, art and collaborations and of the pain over the loss of her life partner which would later galvanize her beautiful and well-received first collection, Removing the Kimono. Anne is my guest for October.


anne

Mother-stone is womb
i.m. EK, remembering a friend, Lake Mungo (Willandra Lakes), NSW

Ankle-deep in history, following your receding, check-
shirted back. Landscape scraped and gouged out of the
rock of the planet – long-dry lake-bed, lunettes pitting
the terrain with moon-shaped hollows. Heat makes it
harsh, rises in blurry waves. The sun has flayed the pelt
right off the land, leaving it leather-like; baked and cured

with patches of spilling sand. Trees have no foothold –
there’s no shade to shelter under. All I can see is pristine
nature – nothing tells me a human story. Each time I lever
a buried foot free I peel back another decade, another
century, another contested millennium – to you too
short an estimate. Part park-ranger, part hierophant, you

turn and say: our technology, swinging your arms in an
inclusive 360 arc, it’s all around us! Your words conjure
modernity, electronica, bamboozling what I think I know.
Underfoot the sand slips again. You’re already squatting
ready to give the next lesson. You pick up a hand-sized
rock, point to a mound shaped like the heel of the thumb

on a palm. Bulb of percussion you say proudly, triumphantly,
anointing the bulb with its true technical name. So much
force, you say, and precision to flake a chip the shape and
fineness you want. You’re introducing me to an Aboriginal
Rosetta – text notched and nuanced by human hand, ancient
translation tool. Portal to the long-gone past. You hold

out a handful of flakes, show me how convex fits into
concave, as if mother-stone is womb to flake, containing
it all in nuce. Now I see pieces of worked stone all around
us, stone dedicated to specific uses – knives, points, axes,
blades. This a kind of awl for piercing, this a blade for
scraping and this would be tied and glued to a spear!

What I took to be sand dune and random rock has turned
into a quarry with work-stations and knappers plying their
trade, like a cartoon – while I watch it comes to life, morphing
into three dimensions, gaining depth of field, veracity.

This poem was long-listed in the inaugural Canberra University, Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize

Two green parrots

Two green parrots wing across a granite sky.
Grief and hope together again, as close as
fingers on a hand, feathers on a wing.
They don’t fly straight as arrows do into
a standing target, they are not ammunition
fired out of the sky’s dark mouth. They dip
and rise, weaving sinew and delight into
strands of effortless grace, calling as they go.
What do humans know of the calls of birds?
But it sounds like liquid pleasure, it sounds
like they laugh and make merry against
the backdrop of the approaching storm.

First published in Plumwood Mountain

The marmalade fox

The fur on the marmalade fox is as bright as the jam
sent back to Paris from the orange groves of Marrakesh.
The globes of thousands of Moroccan suns squeezed
into jars. All that compressed bitterness and sweetness
casbahs the colour. Hold a jar up to the light, see pith
swimming in amber transluscence.
So much life still in him, dead and maggoty
by the side of the road. Wind riffles his fur, sun combs his
marmalade coat.

 

Kimono

Anne M Carson is a Melbourne writer and visual artist whose first full-length collection of poems, Removing the Kimono, was published by Hybrid Publishers in 2013. She has won and been commended in numerous poetry prizes including most recently being long-listed in the inaugural Canberra University, Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize. In 2014 she established the SecondBite Poetry Prize.  She has curated two programmes for Radio National’s PoeticA and hosted a series of poetry and music soirees, most recently the River Soiree on Herring Island which raised funds for the Melbourne River Keepers.   As a Creative Writing Therapist she has edited and facilitated the group process which has resulted in the publication of three books. She teaches Poetry Writing and Appreciation to adults.

Her visual art is based on photography and botanical specimens.  Her photographs and art panels have been exhibited in galleries and florist shops and used as greeting cards, a literary journal cover and book-mark.

Removing the Kimono is available from Amazon US and her website: www.annemcarson.com

Reviews of Removing the Kimono available at: http://cordite.org.au/?s=anne+m+carson

http://plumwoodmountain.com/marissa-ker-reviews-removing-the-kimono/

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.

____________________________________________________

Pascale Petit

Les Murray says, No other British poet I am aware of can match the powerful mythic imagination of Pascale Petit, and a comment that particularly resonates with me is from David Morley, Magma when he writes, ..her poetry never behaves itself or betrays itself….

Portraiat PP

When I read The Wounded Deer I was hooked. And as soon as I heard about Pascale’s residential in Ventenac I rushed to book my spot in 2013 with a room overlooking the Canal du Midi. Bliss. This was in the same week that my first collection was being published so I was in a state of high anxiety and not at my best, but it was Pascale in one of our one – to – one sessions who put me at ease me with her tranquil mien and who taught me a vital lesson when she wisely and gently posed the question of one of my poems, What are you trying to say? I have never forgotten it.

I never tire of reading and revisiting Pascale’s dazzling and heartbreaking poems. She invests so much of herself in each work.This recent radio broadcast, Poetica, highlights her depth of spirit, humanity and artistry. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/poetica/images-as-strong-as-sculptures3a-the-poetry-of-pascal-petit/4896370

Pascale is the most generous and indefatigable poet I know. She tutors regularly and intensively, often posting sessions from the Tate on her blog. There is a series of workshops on the Mslexia website. She has a punishing schedule on the reading circuit yet still finds the time to keep up with social media and, most surprisingly, finds the mental space and energy to write. In Ventenac I was pleased to see that she enjoys a glass of vin du pays between stanzas and that must help.

I’m very excited to bring you four poems that appear in Fauverie, published early September by Seren. My copy is winging its way and I can’t wait. And what another unforgettable front cover by Dragana Nikolic.

Welcome! Pascale Petit.

pascale Fauverie front

 

Arrival of the Electric Eel

Each time I open it I feel like a Matsés girl
handed a parcel at the end of her seclusion,
my face pierced by jaguar whiskers
to make me brave.
I know what’s inside – that I must
unwrap the envelope of leaves
until all that’s left
squirming in my hands
is an electric eel.
The positive head, the negative tail,
the rows of batteries under the skin,
the small, almost blind eyes.
The day turns murky again,
I’m wading through the bottom of my life
when my father’s letter arrives. And keeps on arriving.
The charged fibres of paper
against my shaking fingers,
the thin electroplates of ink.
The messenger drags me up to the surface
to gulp air then flicks its anal fin.
Never before has a letter been so heavy,
growing to two metres in my room,
the address, the phone number, then the numbness –
I know you must be surprised, it says,
but I will die soon and want to make contact.

Black Jaguar at Twilight

He seems to have sucked
the whole Amazon
into his being, the storm-

clouds of rosettes
through a bronze dusk.
I’ve been there, sheltered

under the buttress
of a giant, felt
the air around me –

its muscles tense,
stalking me
as I stumbled

through dense fur,
my father’s tongue
wet on my neck

as I fell into a gulch,
the blackout of his mouth.
And when I woke

I thought I heard
the jungle cough – this jungle,
the jaguar safe

behind bars. I lean over
and touch his cage – his glance
grazes me like an arrow.

aramis

Sleeping Black Jaguar

1.
A solar eclipse – his fur
seems to veil light,
the smoulder

of black rosettes
a zoo of sub-atoms
I try to tame –

tritium, lepton, anti-proton.
They collide
as if smashed inside

a particle accelerator.
But it’s just Aramis sleeping,
twitching himself back

to the jungle, where he leaps
into the pool of a spiral
galaxy, to catch a fish.

2.
Later, the keeper tells me
Aramis has had surgery
for swallowing

a hose–head
where his hank of beef
was lodged. But

what vet could take
a scalpel to this
dreaming universe?

What hand could shave
that pelt, to probe
the organs

of dark matter, untwist
time’s intestines
and stitch

night’s belly
together again, only
to return him to a cage?

 A Tray of Frozen Songbirds

For our last meal together
my father takes out of the freezer
a tray of frozen songbirds.
He’s saved them up, these delicacies
with ice crystals in their beaks,
wings stuck to ribcages.
There are skylarks, blackbirds, doves.
He tells me how some were plucked
while still alive,
about the mist net at dawn,
how one nightingale was thrust
into a sack of discarded heads
and cried, then the poacher licked
the sticky lime from its plumes
tenderly, before slitting its throat.
He pours champagne as if it’s
the river of life.
We eat like two drunks
woken from dreams of flying,
me on his lap, singing the song
I’ve just learnt at school – Alouette,
gentille alouette, alouette je te plumerai.

Back cover PP

Pascale’s mini biography
I’m a French/Welsh poet living in London, UK. My latest collection is Fauverie (Seren, 2014). A portfolio of poems from the book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize and the manuscript won an Arts Council England award. My fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, published in 2010 by Seren, 2011 by Black Lawrence Press, US, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year. I tutor poetry courses in the galleries at Tate Modern and for The Poetry School. Two previous books, The Zoo Father and The Huntress, were also shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and my books have been books of the year in the TLS, Independent and Observer. Literary SupplementIndependent and Observer. She tutors courses at Tate Modern and for The Poetry School.

Links
http://www.pascalepetit.co.uk/
http://pascalepetit.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.serenbooks.com/author/pascale-petit
http://www.mslexia.co.uk/magazine/workshops/workshop1_pcomp12.php

Andy Jackson

Andy was one of the first people to give me the encouragement to keep writing when he judged one of my poems in a competition in 2010. Since then I’ve tracked his career as a poet and it’s clear that it continues to be a rich and full one. It’s exciting to see that his next collection will be published by Whitmore Press and it is a beautiful book to hold and to read and savour. The poems featured here give you a sneak preview of the works in The Thin Bridge which gives you an insight into how it is to love and live with a rare physical condition that informs a whole being and creative life.

As winner of the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize, The Thin Bridge will be launched by Dr Kevin Brophy – poet, writer, academic, on Friday 5 September at Collected Works, First Floor, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne. 6 for 6.30pm. Andy’s blog is at http://amongtheregulars.wordpress.com/

Two portraits, no black rectangle

In a basement – Relax, he says, so I
hide the tension somewhere in the stomach.

Move your hands away from your sides, thanks.
This isn’t about aesthetics, but diagnosis.

Can you move your boxers down just a little?
What does it matter what I felt?

Lift your chin up.  That’s it.  Just one more.
There were plenty more, but who’d prefer

the truth to relief?  Years later,
my file arrives with a thump on the mat.

I’d remembered a black rectangle that wasn’t there.
In the photo, my face is visible and a touch out of focus.

~

Hugo Williams wrote, Given that poems themselves are metaphors,
I find overt metaphors more and more embarrassing in poems,

                        which is interesting because it seems to
he’s also talking about photography,

clocks, chairs, a green lake somewhere, memory
and association, the unstoppable neural flares and leaps –

the white space
of the mind which can never be empty.

~

This is different, singular
or trying its best to be – lenses facing off

at close range.  Camera-sound,
an automatic sprinkler.  I squint into

a brilliant sun that loves
and ignores us.  One of the garden’s pigeons

tilts her quizzical silver head.
In the beds, the fresh stink of fertiliser.

I remember now the continual labour.
Lines dug into soil.  This face

that looks back at the world that is making it.
The background is a blur.

 First appeared in Land Before Lines (photographic portraits of poets by Nicholas Walton-Healey, 2014)

Fact and resistance

The monthly open mic begins with two bearded men
wheeling Clancy of the Overflow through the room,
the audience mostly chairs.  In the Lancefield Mercury,
I read how Dennis Edwards plans to return to Nui Dat.

In ’69, kept awake by heat and detonations, they build
playground equipment for the local orphanages.  Later,
teachers and nuns are raped and killed by the Viet Cong.
Horse with No Name.  Dirty Old Town.  A song I don’t know.

The guitarists swap mics.  A cough-induced stumbled chord,
their laughter fills the room.  Elderly parents settle
the restless hands of their two disabled adult daughters.
All day, the tables are cleared and wiped clean.

Outside town, small herds of cattle feast on drought grass.
Stones and boulders sit arranged on nearby hillsides
as if miraculous, but what isn’t a collision of fact
and resistance?  Even home, even breath.

First appeared in Unusual Work, (PiO) 2012

Bio

Andy Jackson’s collection Among the regulars (papertiger media 2010) was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award. His new collection the thin bridge won the 2013 Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize and has just been released. He has performed at literary events and arts festivals in Australia, India, USA and Ireland, and his poetry has been featured on Radio Australia, 3CR, 3RRR-FM, Radio National’s Poetica, and at the Melbourne Museum. Andy and Rachael Guy won the Most Innovative Work award at the 2009 Overload Poetry Festival for their poetry-puppetry collaboration Ambiguous Mirrors. He is currently working on a series of portrait poems of other people with Marfan Syndrome. amongtheregulars.wordpress.com

Alexis Rhone Fancher

“I want to write poems that people want to roll around in, get dirty, and come out the other end tarnished, spent, and a little less alone.”

Image -Alexis

Alexis is another exciting poet I met via social media.  It was over an American GI we both ‘unfriended’ the instant we sniffed a scam. We started talking poetry and I found her bold and sassy style refreshing. At the same time I discovered her photography and passion for the arts. There’s a great interview and photos here where I learned a lot more about Alexis, including what we have in common; we both saw Hendrix live on stage in the Sixties and acknowledge how much music and art informs our writing.
http://blues.gr/profiles/blogs/la-poet-photographer-alexis-rhone-fancher-talks-about-the
And speaking of the man, Alexis was the first person in the US to buy my collection, When I Saw Jimi, and she generously featured my work in Cultural Weekly soon after.

Congratulations are in order right now because her first collection, Losing my Virginity to Michael Cohen is about to hit the world, and I know it will arrive with blood and heart. Alexis has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. If you want to know who Michael Cohen is, just ask.

virginity picon

I WANT LOUBOUTIN HEELS

I want Louboutin
heels with those trademark red soles,
I want them sexy, I want them high.
I want them slingback and peep-toed
so I can flash the purple polish
on my tootsies.

I want to wear them out of the store, just
you try and stop me.
I want to wow them on
Washington, saunter past C&O Trattoria
and Nick’s Liquor Mart, those bottles of Stoli
stacked in the window, calling my name, past the
summer-clad tourists in December, shivering,
barefoot, like LA has no winter.

In those shoes I’m hot,
stop-a-truck hot, prettiest
girl in school hot, and this
time, I know it.

Flaunt it. Hell, I own it. In those shoes I can
pick and choose, not settle for some loser.
Not drink away regrets, pound back Stoli at
Chez Jay’s, flash their scarlet bottoms when I kneel.

I’ll wear them like my own flesh,
like hooves, like sin.
I’ll keep their secrets, won’t spill
where they’ve been.

Better those shoes with their lurid soles
than you with yours.

first appeared in BoySlut, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, 2013

OVER IT

Now the splinter-sized dagger that jabs at my heart has
lodged itself in my aorta, I can’t worry it
anymore. I liked the pain, the
dig of remembering, the way, if I
moved the dagger just so, I could
see his face, jiggle the hilt and hear his voice
clearly, a kind of music played on my bones
and memory, complete with the hip-hop beat
of his defunct heart. Now what am I
supposed to do? I am dis-
inclined toward rehab. Prefer the steady
jab jab jab that reminds me I’m still
living. Two weeks after he died,
a friend asked if I was “over it.”

As if my son’s death was something to get
through, like the flu. Now it’s past
the five year slot. Maybe I’m okay that he isn’t anymore,
maybe not. These days,
I am an open wound. Cry easily.
Need an arm to lean on. You know what I want?
I want to ask my friend how her only daughter
is doing. And for one moment, I want her to tell me she’s
dead so I can ask my friend if she’s over it yet.
I really want to know.

first appeared in RATTLE

BIO

Alexis Rhone Fancher’s work can (or soon will) be found in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Carnival Literary Magazine, Fjords Review, Cliterature, The Chiron Review, Good Men Project, Deep Water Literary Journal, Broadzine!, Poeticdiversity, This Is Poetry: Women of the Small Presses, Gutter Eloquence, Slipstream, The Mas Tequila Review, H_NGM_N, and elsewhereIn Australia, her poems have been published in several anthologies put out by Blank Ruin Press, as well as in Fierce Invalids, A Tribute to Arthur Rimbaud, published by Blind Dog Press, and she’s been a repeat guest at Little Raven. Alexis’s photographs have been published worldwide. In 2013 she was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. She is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.

Links    www.alexisrhonefancher.com
                www.culturalweekly.com    click on “poetry.”

BAZ took that hot shot of Alexis.