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, Stonehenge. The Arabs knew of the ‘frame effect’, perhaps through Beach optics. Carnac, and the rest of the atlas from Africa to China — our history is myopic, paratactic, an un-Aliced burrow. Intimately social, We look but do not touch. Cradled the dead fade in their shifting cemeteries, the sea long buries the sand,
the bourdon rarely rumbles to the rocking coastline of a hand, sphincter of morning opens, bald waves play cancer kids, bold pipis march like soldier crabs, a loose clinker dinghy powered by Hovis® bread, bounds along a beach like a dropkicked brooch you walk and i run in the sandbitten sun time is a clothesline on a hand bitten, bitten my hand your hand
in duneland Holiday. The sky of rum intoxicates The clouds are temple blocks A wind bores through eternity Into my faltering heart world: Two bright breasts of birchbark A picture deep as the sheen Of lacquered roof-tiles (From the topmost I spy from far inland A gold lash of sea A mirrored heaven). I am here, at last The black and white kaleidoscope Has turned and begun
again A wave is a rolling mirror — As the ant marches past with its wooden rifle As the magpies’ dead is three this summer, and I must get a birdbath for them As I smell the wood of the 19th century carpenter, stolid, solid, plain As the flowers simplify my existence and I grow old in the palm of suburbia By the gold wood of weeping for joy hanging in the empty Calvary patients’ room — On this rosemary beach Holiday, and I cannot relax, Only remember: … every willow-pond a
dace-school beside it and myself in a Samsonite-school-caseand-black-tights In Ormulu showers moiré-ing by a fence-slat of peony On the outskirts of the inner land city. Honeyskin, the breeze envelops With the double waft of a -mandolin The banjo triplets, Irish as death (Joyce, ‘An Irishman’s home is his coffin’) As the (s)lime river rambles under my hand reassembling gems of the inland sheer stockings of sky in a spinney a ridge of white hairs on a dancer’s raised shin
umber within a cataract of millet mullet mallet shavings and sly is the conker that smashes the other and sky is the conker that smashes the soul the magpie piping from the treetop the limpid starlings on the wire of 1957 grave galahs gravid sparrows and peachbloom-wind the glowering faces at the ebony banister the epiphantasy of a leering windmill fan distributing an Arabic dusk dry javelins and dustcovers desert gloam-gold ravens no no nevermore plumes of tomorrow flayed odours and bright
icicles on a standpoint of newfletched arrows — the lusting ruffians have gone — and green gingham light at evening recalling Frances Ethel Gumm1 sleeping foetal with gnarled wombats marled horizons of forgotten plenty in the feckless hope of immortality and it … three six-symmetries of discrete infinity away … is noon: On some old washingblue Monday As the banks coriolize.
The symmetry, the cemetery, the shimmering rims of the carriages of the dead Of some shiny precious material Dug out of Africa. None of this will do I ache for you, heart’s friend, But you were never there. The next two decades May be my last — O stalwart optimist — Till I am the husk of my past On ultimate holiday on the longest beach The silver decades, roiling in fast.
Agapé αγαπε agapé summer slender sail spears spindrift satori, pressed petals, bamboo globe Madeira border tumbled pebbles in sand, no apple in sight talking to branchlets in prime numbers green and pleasant land of prime shopkeepers drowned like a goldfish in air el pebble unido jamas sera vencido pondering the nature of the atheist’s God tikkun olam Unitarian witchhunts tsunami as the ricefields burned beached
on my thinking bench where my father rested; where do we go from here? i don’t want the nausea any more whoever’s wrong, love’s greater round revolutionary homeostasis spiralling toward forever like a capital ellipsis as the aerobats, earboats drone overhead Merimbula Lake
To the late K.S.
The speckled net curtains Mimic rain, or rising smoke I go out Leavin g the Bl ack Dolphin’s dull carpet
And dark, op shop furniture Frustrated by the jigsaw view And that I must pay for it Merimbula Lake Spreading under a dry sky Is gunmetal grey, but peaceful; Oyster-staked And ringed by down-atheel Coastal scrub. A trawler sits, untouched, By the main street, And I hear kids Playing cricket On the beachside oval, Far to the south Of all troubled lands I stroll round to the lake’s rivermouth Past strange houses
(gone now) Almost overgrown with creepers Which with the gums Mask the thumping of the surf. On the way back I watch the joy-flight planes Skim the motel roof, Roaring, roaring, As though in battle: Meekly airsick, I imagine I Am in Fallujah Or Baghdad. Wind i want to buy a sailing boat to sail round and round like clothes on the Hills Hoist a clinker-built vessel
floating like a grey penny at the bottom of a wishing well i am bright as a penny in acid as a kite in a thundershower string floating high over red rooves ants ants on a low concrete wall are bubbles in water about to boil — i who am so sick of life begin momentarily to love it once again and the clouds are steam (but what is steam) i have shaved my white british legs for no one but these ants are not
melancholy frothing on their artificial rockface loving anthood or knowing no better as the ancient windchimes of my parents sing and the clouds steam overhead … Nine Wonders
new age, now old age
The sun and me and an icicle Sit by a twisting stream The icicle melts The sun wilts As I dream. The moon and me and a banister Sit on a twisting stair The banister tilts
The moon pelts Dreams at my hair. The cosmos and me and an orchestra Sit near a twisting tree The orchestra swells The cosmos wills And dreams me. Starlings Starlings on the line are always friends of mine they live in both the lands I’ve known They forecast the weather better than any weather house. They know that bacon frying in 1957 still fries, like fire in Hellas and Sparta;
laverbread gathered then on a stony Welsh beach still teases the tongue; and a dead whippet lives. As they watch the amber moon leaps into mute air and leaves the jersey amazed. So I must love such ‘pests’ as they tilt their heads and drain the sweet yellow cream which collects in my sunwell. Far South Coast motoring toward tathra unconnected climbing to 120 the beaten copper road diving into a long valley
blinking at the horizon the sea everywhere out of sight some of these bends creep up on you all i want to do is dive the salty wave in my mouth the morning cloud helterskelter chiselled overhead the car is my temple i have come to take analogue photos but have forgotten to buy film and tomorrow i shall go to candelo Anzac Day at Tuross
things we can’t quite recall … north of Coila lake grey clouds mirror the low range the surf comes in like a country train king parrots land on the bird-feeder like the arrival of the beebox in this paragon of coastal development Tuross, mate and I missed the Dawn Service suddenly the sun explodes an orange US-Bomb over the sea we’re from inland nowhere near Hiroshima the comely clouds pink,
then cottony the planet spins another profitable day begins … how many comrades died here and dreamed 213 years ago? *
long harp of sky glissando of genocide the busker at the shops makes me cry
The World We Knew The world we knew Was described by right Utopia the high green border We glimpsed when young Which our sun rose over Like the Alomogordo
bomb So bright Even the blind girl saw it The pact with the devil, while We turned away, haunted And middled with age Wide-eyed and hunted Till the visionless Of our generation Extinguished our sight. Tuross 2000
To Lee and Nick
fish dance like flat stones across Coila lake … after fish after fish after fish … Mojo the dog is working in the shallows
I sit with Lee and talk about her Dad and how the house was built Tuross Heads never been here before but the fish are at home (and not in butcher’s paper) or maybe leaving quietly … Fishpen Boat Merimbula Hire,
we sat on the blue bench outside Fishpen Boat Hire watching the lake and the children a boy was making sandcastles with a special mould crenellated towers, a
work of art the little one pushed two towers down his brother pushed him over and he cried and cried and cried the parents made parental noises and did nothing and I pushed over and I making sandcastles and I the sandcastle was not the parents not even the father who, too late, as I thought, cradled him in his arms. on airplay radio plays in the south22
pointing car unfinished pinhole photograph cheap, not nasty grey whey words brown sugar music sandy sounds of symmetry upended no yellow eyes yet morning walks just after dawn doddering, fat and fifty given up smoking after 35 years walking on wine no yellow eyes yet saving heaps almost like a payrise in paradise how glad not to be in Fallujah this
day handcuffed face-down bleeding on a police station floor though the police have deserted in a minute for the revolution against King George how glad not to be homeless though stretching painfully like a spayed cat. Two:Spirit::Magic:…
magic potions washed down with witch’s milk striking thirteen once more in the corn-waving corridor of mirrors of my bathroom
feel i should wear fishnets menarche of the glen my first bra at 51 knitting nancys for a glory box stop laughing, this is serious the sun roils with rage and bounces from the other side of the bus as we cross the bridge a mushroom cloud has been there all day as they ‘burn off’ the west two suns like Alomogordo like learning to write your name on a Fibonacci spiral of unknowing o i am emily when i see the houseless washed into the road
— i feel like a sleeping kitten whose pink paws may be seared by a cigarette o i am emily — in her house on the median strip of America in the dumpsters of America o i am emily — and i am felicity or doom in the nuclear shelter of America built to shelter from itself o i am emily — a discalced person in the road a suicide bomb for a new Haditha in her house the house of emily
emily emily emily emily emily a strange name now ‘faith’ is a strange invention imperialism too but on the dark side it is prudent emily to forget you. Tuross Revisited … and in summer, where Tuross lake meets the sea in sandy hollows that sink under your feet like quicksand, with children — where only one swimmer throws his life to the surf …I without glasses
am dizzied by the wildeyed waves, and the sea to Aotearoa and unable to see my way back to the hot dry sand the hue of anthrax powder that squeaks in a million accents, a million thongprints, a million words for sand, awaiting a tidal wave hundreds and thousands of grains raucous at a children’s party in the background watch Italian bees suck the virginia creeper as the broad beans die in the heat of January while the whole world smells of tomato leaves but I am wandering as I spin round a plastic
teaset in 1948 seeing the world through green cellophane still and cry for my childhood and the million years before I was born I steal shells and sand wanting to vomit falling from the shoulders of giants I cannot cry enough without melting into the earth and the beach is a printing press not yet banned and the fish never come to the hook where the lake meets the sea both feel embarrassed … To the D.A.R. Who’ll aid
Americans If you must fight on your Homeland’s beaches? Will you decry yourselves as ‘terrorists’, to die like seaweed under endless steel heels? Do you not hope that, when the Ozymandiac point is reached, and your oceanic Empire falls, It will be to no Empire of China / Russia / Europe, Or God-fearing Iran, Hanging separately, but the Revolutionary World Republic? griefs of another for K.M.-B.
grey hubcap moon tree crowns shadow redcapped hydrants first stars dim streetlamps upside-down I a bat in the plum tree try to share unsayable griefs for a lover sister son and waiting for my own birds are blown this way and that like pedestrians in a gale skirts and coats flying in wet harmonic air
and no one is listening … mortal shuffle to K.M.-B. my grieving friend doesn’t want long life: with each death our own grows thinner, like an over-whetted knife — yet still we wonder what’s for dinner. Who Speaks Here? the Kabbalists says the radio voice saw words as things ‘windows into reality’ or out of it (no friends of po-mo semiotics) if you speak the sand on a Chladni diaphragm
will form the letters of the Hebrew alphabet — marvelling at such gullibility recalling my socialist youth reborn in a new puberty I look out the window at the clouds droplets massed, each formed like pearls around its dust-grain and wonder who speaks here? Nostalgic Lover When I think Of you now I recall White violets In a flower-press, Peeled tomatoes In a tub of olive oil,
Or drying on the vine; Purple Chevrolets In ‘50s streets like Cuba, Safe for a child And driven by People like My parents; A lane of rose-hips, Ashes that glitter Like vermiculite, Old trowels, And figs which grow Their flowers inside. I see Willows blowing Back like dresses And walk by the lakeshore Alone. 1972-2005 R.I.P. )(as the wine cradles my mind and the rock records scratch at oblivion
… close my eyes to see me on my me on my me … a bluebell a red weeping in a lone bower)( dole at 51 my city has a great postal service unsigned letters threatening you with destitution computer-generated death threats from some twenty-yearold kid from a private school hard at work in the only Government agency to get more complaints than the Police … better to sleep on the beach and dream of
freedom dole at 51 now 52 and in a house i love at last in the insecure public system in the suburb i was baptised in better to sleep on a bench and dream of freedom but it’d kill me in a week almost a relief to nearly die last year and get on the disability pension 50% of my liver no longer works either better to sleep in a trench and dream of freedom but i am afraid and lonely as i was when i was five
better to live like a leach and write of freedom split infinity and all better still to write back Still
for Linda M. and agoraphobia
follows me round like a shadow thirteen years of idleness of void of listlessness of lethargy of wistfulness of hopelessness and helplessness of child-dreams in the wilderness of holidays of happiness of vacant land in paradise of the sweeping into endlessness of the clean streets of sorrow … returned to the white womb for thirteen years
hateful emptiness carried around for a soul stilled by the wasteland’s waste of heartbeats, snug in my marble misery, wrapping the arctic sheets of the years tightly round me, twisted, in a caul, unborn, never wishing to be born, still embedded in the nebula, still drift: rescue me. Wait for me! Hazel sky Polished like the pupil Of a glass eye. Unravelling a rainbow, The chameleon skitters Up the guy-rope of a sunshower.
Here’s the lane That shuns the earth for brambles; Its hyacinth wind Drifts up to an early ceiling And leaves marks on the washing, And loosens the snow dunes Piled round our working class chimneys, Waiting for the rain, And corners the cats And rattles the gutter And powders the face. It feels like lace. The knife bleeds. Here’s me, open-eyed, Sawing the chimneys off In a furrow of grey shadow.
I wait for them: Between my toes The eternal dead. Third Peep over the Fan The glazed heron’s eyes Stir in the reeds of the last river, and my ankles jingle. The checquered veil wafts, the curtained face sees itself — A third peep over the fan Tells me it is time. I drown age, like a kitten, with the photo of my poppet youth, as the minute hand creeps in a thin shadow —
Impala-shy it leaps away like a springbok or a sparrow. I feel the last gilded wind and the dry drone of summer. It is 1954: dark as a film noir dinner party for ’role-playing’ lesbians — The Revolution has been tamed And put to work The cotton bud invented; The shaman pierced by the numen hears nothing but the hobby horses rocket over the horizon. The niche is empty The nest abandoned
The athletic girls march in sensible shorts. It is Year Zero of my life. Into velvet my white body sinks, a dead tree in a black river; one by one the stars come in to chase me round the room. Red Lake
to Anne Frank
red lake red lake deep as the lacquer on an Asian roof a back-beat in the air and somewhere a rock concert out of control red and poison edge crushing crescented blue leaves in its palm
lustrous, dead under the daytime moon’s first quarter. fenced by gum saplings tinselled by a windy sunshower a flurry of lights on a blanched afternoon the drums the drums operation rolling thunder phoenix desert storm Iraqi freedom and the red bells ring forever Iris our granular darkness is a daub of soft shadow in a pinhole camera under
the cupped hand’s eyelidclosing of a Chinese elm in dark wind upreach wild limbs, rake the lightening sky into crisp ruffles of melaleuca like the new light green paint in our hall as fresh as carnation when we met on opposite sides of the mirror the ruched hills seemed breasts in darkness today I met the paraphernalia of my youth in a museum so smile wry horizon time is an iris in darkness I am not worried now Western Backwater
locked horizon my house locked against me surround my house surround me with the pit of night wherein I sit emotionless like the shadow of smoke on a page safe in a bramble utopia safe from the child without hands safe from the land mines of life safe as the blind pits of obedience little pits dig big pits whoso diggeth a pit falleth therein my soul has been disappeared by your absent love bravely I hug my cowardice
like a pillow joy is sadder than death and dies sooner Red Glass garden in a handkerchief moss sprouting moonlight in the corner under red glass and holly censorship lifts words fall apart we accept the deviants they’re the same as us! love’s the answer the question is how? till then dwell in a world bonzai’d to perfection. Turning Return to the twiggy yellow field
And talk under the stars About things to rely on: The acorn of polished word The winter morning of tracing paper The greenock’s depth The thicket of moonlight in your hair Chinchilla ashen mornings Chains silent as spiderthread woven into the haze On the meadow the size of a child’s room Sly golden valleys like cupped hands Wherein the cat sits washing under a bluebell; The world is theirs: the universe is ours. Inside the rosebush the red suns set. Over the hills the blush rises.
Under the world the springs bounce. Upon the lake the shadows are reeled in. In my soul a child is lost. Horizon-bound the winds flame. In the eaves the sparrows are reborn. We are urchins sobbing for the north wind That has been taken from us. Justice is what is returned. The circle of our world is an iris; Return eternally The new departure. growing up Fuck me dead she said yelled it into the hushed
vestibule of the art gallery we giggled three big kids or three and a half (she was six months pregnant) the owner wouldn’t surely wouldn’t rouse on someone in that condition Fuck off said the girl on the crossing wrapped in hot defiance her voice a blow too soft to stun the hipless girl with the miniskirt and the funny walk Show us your dick, love they’d yelled whooping from the sacred site of their growling car
They wouldn’t surely wouldn’t they were pissed probably, and all mouth and trousers There’s Abos in there said the cop the slovenly uniformed, reasonable slob, pointing at the scrub near Prince Henry he didn’t need to yell there was no need to reply hippies everywhere flowers dying in their hair In Little Bay we sat uneasily embarrassed by freedom Turn that bloody radio down said the beer-sponge
on the gate we were all invigilators then examining each other for blemishes There was a shrub green as flaring salt between the hospital and the jail; we expected Moses to make an appearance but he didn’t. Little Bay had not wrapped in cold cutting plastic by Christo. Responsible Management It’s sad really —
she’s made this error just too often But don’t ever tell her she’ll just argue she’s good at arguing She’s bored with us she says she just doesn’t fit in some sort of artist No good at teamwork, just dreamwork — ha ha She just performs the less complex duties So easy just like housework … Just whinges all the time — she’s a Sapphist, tee hee, isn’t she? looks like one Phrase-mouthing
groupthink is all you get from them just big kids who won’t take on family responsibilities Better to expect less of her just let her concentrate on this one simple thing Ern Malley Poem
Ern has recently contacted me from beyond the grave (email@example.com) and inspired the following effusion. (I take no responsibility for it whatever.)
La Belle Ram Sans Percy I have In drear parks dead at night Made ribald interventions
In the spangled pallor Of the umbelliferous sky, Clutched intemperately at the promised finger Of Dawn, Early as the iron raven which pecks sweetly At my horn-lidded window. I heap concupiscence upon myself, Lugubriously quickening the suburb’s reef Of dark symphonic pain. Notions of diurnal deglutition Hamper my oystered mind As matinally, I ingest my milk-bathed Gifts of Ceres, And sip the jaffa’s ichor. These grave chalices of grief Praetertransubstantiation -alistically squeak
Like the gates of Hell slowly Parted like a cunning maiden’s thighs, While iridescent whiskers of Vaughnian light Tickle my Fancy’s burnished dross And fall, like the buttocks’ Glacial downward creep. Inland Sea the sun runs with light a crumpet buttering clifftops the size of Switzerland at the lip the gold rill dares the chasm i hear the wail of wind in a windless place
in perennial shadow droplets dimple the inland sea. the new burning babe red kite in a red sky the string burns your thumb time is a kitten by the fire turning and stretching when you are young and the cities blaze far away you are tugged painfully from the moaning hill reliving the news picture of the child like you burning Going to Wee Jasper dancing on the slopes of autumn
winding through the green, green northern ACT where I have never been Narnian country my life has been one long yearning for El Dorado mountain ranges in my head that can’t be climbed — there is no progress without barriers — now the car’s a toy … And you … ? Stylish steenless stale mugs for sale, by Spooner! In the corner-shop of my desire Hard by the ingle Cloudshade racing ahead
A fire-engine bell and brass bubble cars Whisk by the schoollibrary Where Miss Creole Crinkle stacks book-dust And counts the raindrops In base three In the glare of the skylight Jealous of Julia’s reservation of the Amstrad The law ambles corpulently, and life is marmalade sun And sequestered white sweetshops. The cobbler breaks wind over his knee. Lavender frills crumple beneath golden curls The baily berith the bell away. Julia will not get up this
morning. This is the church and This the steeple Open the door In the city For three days And three nights The smart bombs fall AgSilverfish 2001 silverfish I rescue from the dry bath with a square of toilet paper in the room my father died as I did as a child as now in the cemetery
again — missing an interview — by the grave with the colour wheel spinning not quite managing to bring all the colours to white … while little planted wooden birds whirl clipped wings over the children’s skeletons so deep in the soil as never to smell or cry up out of the ground on a hard bench I write a year nearer fifty with my father’s concrete headstone in the distance its new flowers birdtongue-red against the couch grass
he hated twenty-four hours after Remembrance Day and more than a minute of silence since I saw the blueness beneath his ear before they screwed down the coffin I wonder why I am thinking instead of the war of terror where the daisy-cutters bury more than the boxcutters and of the silverfish that will chew up this poem — how shall I go and explain it to the Job Network?
I remember my Manx father talking of a man in the R.A.F. who from a great height flew his Spitfire into the tarmac and buried it up to the tail. I see no silverfish here just the far mountain wind screaming full throttle over vanished lives. the homeless holiday cold, simple stories told as we hitch laughing witch-like down dark highway ravines
to the wealthy of Merimbula
hewn into the heartwood of the land; hush! in the moonlit valley, we huddle at midnight, gazing back, each of us ragged as an old broom; chiselled out of mist, the brooding range, perched on a dust-mote of eternity, walls us up; we shamble via Candelo for the coast to spin out on Merimbula beach, that magic crescent button fastening earth and sea, glittering under the gibbous moon, half a k down from the cliffside mansions, dreaming and cold
as we pass — the small girl is bullied, by the deep water into which she is frightened to jump: fierce, familiar fire licks at my heart they do not know you, precious stranger nor our road to the false dawn empty as the dole, to the New Jerusalem then it is morning tiaras of light in a tall sky a racing rustle in the coast-scrub, snake or possum or fugitive; smoking, coughing, nibbling at seaweed, we retell our stories like superannuated socialists as the sun bloodies the sea: the wind casts Lilliputian
volleys, the tide licks our toes, may yet baptise our long, dry shadows on the moulting sandhills; beneath the crown-ofthorns cloudmass, stories weave breath into shelter round a faltering fire of driftwood, stories cold and simple that dwell like angels, within ourselves, alone — like wave-wash, like surfhiss, like justice … first contact blade of jagged sword becomes edge of continent silver lure skims sand pilots have five ears each
make us all stand in our bikinis and steal our earrings Epiphantasy stars attract me they’re the nearest i get to god and the moon in its cradle of cloud naked on the balcony staring up from my bassinet at stars and spinning inside
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