Monday, December 19, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Director's Resurrection by Jennifer Compton

The Director’s Resurrection


My grandfather, the coal carter, started a new business
in the house where his wife and nine children lived.

When he died, after an illness, his two sons
took over the business,

a wooden box factory, can you imagine?
My father, the younger, the Company Director.

My uncle, the elder, the Managing Director.
The family no longer lived on the premises.

My father took his ticket to be a saw doctor. And yes,
I’ve heard all the jokes about the saw doctor’s daughter.

He’d come home of an evening, scattering sawdust,
with talk of pinus radiata and a queer sort of tree –

forbeetoo. Say it quite slowly.
He’d spent the day with his head bent to the

incandescent shrieking of band saws and circular saws,
and his brother above him. Always above him.

I knew on the early starts when he was the only
one there, he threw crumbs for a mouse

that he swore was the same one, year after year.
I don’t think so.

But of what did he think as he bent to the work
his wife and children had sentenced him to?

One night he came home from The Box Factory, reached for
the bottle marked Drink Me – turned to me with a sweet smile.

You like books – he said – and I thought of a good one.
You could write it you know, for I don’t have the gift.

The band saw jammed, like they often do. As I crouched
down to clear it I saw I’d left the safety off, and sweat!

That was nearly me! And I thought of a thriller
where two brothers run a business.

The older one grinds the younger down so he plots to behead him.
Then he’s called away because, say, his wife is having a baby.

He sees his chance, leaves the safety off.
His brother has to cover but he hasn’t got his ticket

so when the saw jams, and they’re buggers for that,
the band saw bites down and kills him quite quickly

but no one thinks anything and after the funeral
the younger brother runs the business all on his own.

The Director’s Resurrection!” What do you think?
It’s good – I said – It’s good. One day I’ll write it.

I have run out of other poet's poems to put up - I'm working on that, reading intensively and emailing out calling in favours. So as Poetry Tuesday is in abeyance for a while I will pull out some old stuff of mine and see how it stands up. This poem is in my book Parker & Quink published by Ginninderra Press. I thought of it because I am answering some questions for the Cordite/Prairie Schooner collaboration about work, so I went back to look at this poem.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tuesday Poem - In the Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre by Jennifer Compton

In the Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre

I hate it when they usher you straight through to the Room.
I’ve never been in the Room but I always knew I would hate it.

I hate the box of tissues waiting for your tears.
I have seen that box of tissues before.

I asked a security guard what the Room was called.
I felt such a need to write an accurate poem.

He told me it was called the Grievance Room.
I looked askance, although I had a grievance.

He offered me the use of their Spirituality Centre.
I declined. But made sure of their Smoke Zone.

A pagoda arrangement out by the helipad.
A birdbath filled with sand for centrepiece.

My daughter’s injury is not time critical.
She will arrive by chopper in an hour, or two.

It’s too early for the fighting drunks.
But the legless, weeping girls are arriving.

I hate the way I have to write this poem
to send it off into the future where

time doesn’t move by fits and starts as
my silly old heart thumps and leaps.

Into the future, all smoothed, (like this moment,
perhaps, like this dull, exquisite, ordinary moment.

And someone else is getting it in the neck.
Someone else is on fire as if they were alive.)

I hate the way my tragedy walks in through their doors
20, 30, 40 times a day.

I hate the way I strike up conversations with people
seeking comfort, like a needy needy needy person.

I hate these magazines. Famous faces who have
already split getting married on a beach, barefoot.

An ICU nurse on lunchbreak in the middle of the night
confesses it is called the Distressed Relative’s Room.

I have the name. (Of it.)
I am safe. (From it.)

If I was a much nicer person I would
go down to the Spirituality Centre.

There is a book and people write poems in it.
Messages, wishes. The things that they feel.

I hate the way it should console me
but I will start criticising, I know I will.

Picky picky picky. Bathos, slop and bilge, tripe.
Already I am planning to edit, tweak, spell check.

I read this older poem for the first time recently at the Collingwood Gallery and it went down quite well. People laughed, although I assured them it was not funny. It is in my book Barefoot published by Picaro Press.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tuesday Poem - wimmera roadsong by Eric Beach

wimmera roadsong

on th left hand side

we have th left hand side

& on th right
we have th right hand side
& a silo     straight ahead
flat roads lead to friday night
they rolled their car & are dead
th wheatfields they are young & green
th donald farmer shakes his head
th racecourse is brown in warracknabeal
hopetoun streets are red
th lake's dry out of rainbow
& th cockies

(that's th birds, not th farmers)

look well fed
on th left hand side
we have th left hand side
& on th right
we have th right hand side

& a silo     straight ahead
th barber's sweeping main street

lest we forget avenue

now th second barber's sweeping main street
butcher shops like marble too

yesterday's marked down at th bakery

& th river looks like stew

on th left hand side

we have the left hand side

& on th right

we have th right hand side

& a silo     straight ahead

two kids share one ice-cream

another brief lick at th drought
when th dirt blows there's no fence
that will keep th dirt out

only stars hang in th window

roos, moving south

I heard Eric Beach read this poem in a Collingwood gallery a few weeks back and was just blown away by it. What a performer he is. He lives in Minyip now (about four hours away from Melbourne) so we just don't get to hear him as much as we would like. This poem comes from his book – Weeping For Lost Babylon which was published by Angus & Robertson in association with Paper Bark Press 1996.

For more about Eric have a look at this site.

If you would like to read other Tuesday Poems click the quill icon above.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Silence by Carol Millner


Last Sunday morning our house was silent.

Even the fork on top of two plates on top of a bowl
on top of the stainless steel bench couldn't stop it.

It was silent at our house.

Two Daddy-long-legs waved their limbs at each other
across the vast white ceiling of our bedroom and tried to speak
but they couldn't bring themselves to do it.

Even the baby was silent.

I curled myself around her, and you curled yourself around me
and you two slept on curving together in the bed like
the perfect interlocutions of the baby's ear.

Only I was so excited that I wanted to shout out loud -

It's silent at our house!

Carol Millner was born in New Zealand but now lives in Perth. I met her there while I was over in WA for the poetry festival, and found we had quite a bit in common. Both born in NZ, both with a background in theatre. I like the 'domestic sublime' of this poem.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Fire With Fire by John Foulcher

(January 1994)

After the fires, a wind
dripping cinders
drew me back to Sydney,

where I was born.
At the city's shrivelled edges
houses and hills

were faint watercolours,
drained, diffuse.
That rich, fermented smell

of things that had been burned
rolling across the roads
to my brother's house in Ryde. Here

the bushfires had sent letters:
he showed me a bowl
of leaves plucked from the lawn,

each the exact shape
that had hung coloured
and lithe, now blackened to an artform,

dry and eternal.
And the soot, everywhere, as if churned
from factories. In the dusk

we sat outside
while the kids tugged fun
from the television. And we watched

with a few beers
the tired, safe world. That night
I slept in the room

that had been my parents'
when, close on a decade,
I was told

of my father's death.
All so different,
in a different bed. I dreamed I was caught

in some grim country town.
I gathered the kids
and waded quiet streets

to a rotting house
rimmed with stillness. In the dark
two men shaved

by a dead light,
the dark one below
speaking as softly

as a touch of wind
on your hands. Please, I said,
let me make a phone-call. This man

who was talking,
who was in charge,
leaned into the stain of lamplight

and said, pointing
to the other, His mouth burns
and heals, when he kisses

me. Then I saw his friend,
pocked, fat, staring
at me, his withered mouth

barely closed, barely open. Please,
I said again. Yes -
the word scuttled

from his lips -
Yes, but let me have
the children. I tell you I was shocked

and would have left,
but agreed. It was for their sake,
the children, curled and feline

at my feet. I woke
then, and the bedroom
became nothing

I knew, again. Outside, the wind
herding clouds
rubbed against the sky,

a few smudges
of leftover smoke. Crisp January leaves,
whetted on the glass.

Going back to Canberra,
I trailed along roads
burning with traffic

under a sky scoured
raw. I had to make
one stop more:

the national park,
clumped at the edge
of Maianbar, where I'd decided

about marriage and family.
But there was nothing
to remember here, nothing

green any more. Time
had been razed. The orange flesh
of the angophoras, their paper

leaves clattering in the wind,
their branches cracking
canvas ridges. Black-fingered banksias

along the scorched road.
A thin black stream
beneath a bridge,

glistening like an eel
among the grey rocks. And the roadsigns,
melted, Dali,

twisted, limp.
When I stopped the car and got out
the ground pouted

ash. Sounds evaporated
in the birdless air.
It was all strange,

this known land
hidden by growth
in the familiar years, in the time

I'd grown, not knowing
contours, undulations.
I felt like a man

who sees an old friend
drunk, and turns away
in embarrassment. In the end

I left, on a road
as cool as the earth,
a highway slung

through pasture and forest,
a land still to burn.
Home held its perfect rooms, its bed

and clean sheets,
all night. Tonight,
though, my daughter is sick:

she shivers on the lounge
in a leak of light,
twitching and vomiting,

throws back her head
simmering with sweat,
her hair lined

with saliva. Sleep
comes in bursts.
Again, the spasms of the body,

all thought of friends
or toys gone,
as she knows

in her blood and bowels
that her dreams don't matter,
that the only thing

is to wake
the next morning, and forget
all that has happened in the night.

John Foulcher used to live in Canberra but he has recently shifted to Melbourne and he is a very welcome addition to the scene. This poem is from his book – What On Earth Possessed You published by Halstead Press in 2008.

I like the way this poem takes its own subtle time and roams here and there. It's a road poem for sure, and it ends up at home.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Avalanche by Vivienne Plumb


There was a war on TV,
the snow, the people lying on plastic
in the snow, death arriving
with his suitcase full of tools,
the delivery out of this world
offers such a dazzling
variety, and the snow, forever this
white tableau becomes forged
with the recollections of your last
oncology visit
and the people lying on the plastic
in the snow.

At the doctor's I sat with
my tiny hands held in my lap the way
I've been taught, two lovebirds,
but the flesh was as cold as sheet ice
I was up to my elbows
in frostbite and snow.

There were stories on the news
each day and in the morning paper,
death can happen overnight, may
be in your house if you don't move
fast enough, in a trench, or
the dreadful football-stadium one,
under the trees in a dark
wood, against a hedge, or even lying
on plastic in the snow.

Such soft subdued footfalls,
but a goodly advance
over a long stretch of time.

Others shift their seats away from me
leaving a pencil
thin cavity, a subtle margin,
but you and I are crouched
together in the snow reading the
avalanche instructions;
they are torn and dirty, tacked to
the cobwebbed wall of some
wild and woody mountain hut:
Construct earthen fortifications
behind your village. In the case
of serious exposure it is
best to wait for rescue dogs.
We must read the instructions
we must read the instructions
but there are no instructions.
I believe there are no instructions.

This poem is from Vivienne's book Scarab, published in a hand bound edition of 250 by Seraph Press. I lucked out at Unity Books in Wellington and got copy 211. It is the first time I have cried reading a book of poetry since I read High Windows by Larkin. Scarab is a very powerful and poignant read. The cumulative effect of poem after poem about her son Willy's progress towards death knocks you about a bit. But Vivienne is a consummate artist and her strength is her light touch, her wit, her wry angles, so one can just about take it.

Vivienne has a couple of new books out from Seraph Press, Crumple and The Cheese and Onion Sanwich and Other New Zealand Icons, so check them out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Songs for Paul by Ian McBryde

Songs for Paul

Beware the fury of a patient man.
John Dryden


Handsome as Adam in your car mirror,
leaves from the clearing still stuck
to the back of your jacket.


That got your nose open didn’t it?
Her scratches on your back. The sweet
rank pussy smell on you as you swagger
into the café, looking around, head held high.


You dream of nipples, music. What is it she likes,
Mozart, Beethoven? Something like that.


The highway. All those radio songs written
too late to help you. Illinois, Virginia,
the Carolinas. That skinny blonde
who stole your wallet afterwards.


Late May.
Guess she’s had the kid by now.
Little bastard.


Whiskey helps. Another bottle helps even more.


Onscreen at the drive-in there’s always some girl
who falls and twists her ankle. She’ll be scared, pausing
on unlit stairs as your new date wipes her mouth and
zips you up. The car reeks of popcorn, beer, semen.


You dream of an empty theatre, you alone in the seats
waiting for you to come onstage.


The boys at the factory will love it. You can tell them
you were at it all night, and how she wept when you left.


One day you will stare into another cheap motel mirror
at the face of an out-of-breath, fat stranger.


She never did come back.


It is already too late for the magic you once laughed at.


No cheating now. Spell rescue. Don’t look.
Spell ruin. Spell empty well. Spell memory.

This poem comes from Ian McBryde's recent book The Adoption Order published by 5 Islands Press.
I love Ian's work and he is such a powerful performer. He's from Canada but he has adopted Melbourne and Melbourne has adopted him.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tuesday Poem - After The Wake by Jennifer Compton

After The Wake

Just us left
some were in the kitchen washing dishes
someone swept
tables were stacked
chairs chocked into teetering towers
the baked meats wrapped
the rubbish bagged
all set square
then someone said
a photo of you four
the children
and what a lucky mother to die
before any of us
we took hands
stood like a palisade
one of us quipped
we know what this photo is for
how we laughed
the one who had scanned the family album
for the funeral slide show had complained
how there were shocking gaps
no photo of her with this one or that
so now whichever of us went first
there would be a pic of all of us
holding on to each other's hands.

This brand new poem was dragged out of me by the editor of Qualm
who begged for a poem, and I had nothing. But my mother has just died and the death of a parent is always good for a poem or two so I managed to squeeze out After The Wake. Since then I have also written The Shock, but I haven't managed to pull the central poem of the experience into shape yet. That is going to take some time and some distance I think.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Some lingering questions by Emilie Collyer

Some lingering questions

why does a piano played slowly
in the high register sound scary?

why do red bricks remind me
of smashed teeth and rusting water coolers?

what about her cracked lips
meant she was nothing but trouble?

why was I so scared to
say people's names out loud?

why wasn't I good at foursquare
or skipping or elastics or monkey bars?

why did I run after his car
calling out his name?

why are recordings of children laughing
used so often in soundscapes?

why is an antique tea set exquisite
but a dead person's coffee cup just stained?

why did grandpa's pipe smell sweet
but dad's cigarettes choke me?

why did they never fight, was it the
same reason they never kissed?

This poem is from Emilie Collyer's new book called Your Looking Eyes which came out of the Cafe Poet Program run by Australian Poetry. Only Emilie wasn't ensconced in a cafe but in an art gallery called C3 at The Nunnery in Abbotsford in Melbourne. The book is embellished by beautiful art works by Eirian Chapman.

For more about Emilie check out her blog Between The Cracks

If you want to see more Tuesday Poems click on the quill icon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Empty Stop by Matt Hetherington

Empty Stop

the woman lights a cigarette
the man takes out a paper
their masks are making them thirsty

they stare through grey air
to find friends as easily hallucinated
as arrival on the horizon

she dreams of sand as pale and soft
as the skin of a beloved
he of the constellations
in the bottom of a glass

there is no early or late now
there is no reason to stand up
home is waiting like a bed

deadlock your heart
pull down the blinds on your eyes
it’s not as if it really matters

I have made a lot of good friends in Melbourne and Matt is one of them. A fine poet. A fine friend. I like his sensibility very much. 
This poem was previously published in Second Sight.

To read the other Tuesday Poems click on the quill icon.

Matt Hetherington is a writer and musician living in Melbourne.  He has published over 300 poems during the last 20 years throughout Australia, Europe, and America, and his most recent collection is I Think We Have’ (Small Change Press, 2007).  He is one of the initiators of the Moving Galleries Project, and is also on the board of the Australian Haiku Society  Some current inspirations are: Miles Davis, Sawako Nakayasu, and plain old sunshine.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Blue Dressing Gown by Ross Donlon

The Blue Dressing Gown

It hung in my boy's wardrobe
an army regulation item
no one could throw out.

And it would be hard, wouldn't it,
to discard the only thing left
in something like the shape of him.

It hung on a wire hanger,
skeleton of his shoulder
cutting across collar bone,

the drape of it swinging side to side
if nudged into a shy dance,
or if asked up by a breeze.

I used to wear it, with no sense
of feeling weird or spooky,
alternating with practical flannel,

yet at night sometimes woke
frightened by its doorway shadow,
a man hanging on the moon's hook.

I never realised I'd outgrown him
walking tall through one summer
while his shoulders rode my back.

The tassels swung like incense
as I walked in his shape
trying to sense the being inside him.

This is Ross Donlon's famous blue dressing gown poem, that won the Arvon International Poetry Competition (Wenlock Festival Award) judged by Carol Ann Duffy. It has just been published in Ross's new book – The Blue Dressing Gown & Other Poems by Profile Poetry.

Ross lives in Castlemaine, where he runs a wonderful reading with poets invited from all over the country, at the Guildford Pub. The open mic takes the form of a slam with poets competing for the Castlemaine Cup – which is always a superbly inappropriate egg cup.

To read the other Tuesday Poems click on the quill icon up on the right.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Launch Poem by Anna Fern

first time I met Jennifer, a supreme court judge's wig of crimped grey curls
she said she was wondering when some clever girl would snap up The Maurice
her blessing
but why had I not had any children; it was a weakness of character
she vivisected my regret, there on the polished parquetry floor
a blessing can also be a wound
but her fierceness made me laugh, helpless

I didn't snap him up, it was a laborious beginning
arm in arm, a wooden dolly and a teddy bear struggling  up the paddock
dry grass and dust, still radiating
the heat of the day at Montsalvat, the poets and the wine and all the carry-on
he leaned across the car, over the gearstick, talking excitedly the whole way home as
we wound along the cool river flats. I tried to reply and drive safely and listen and
change gears, him and the electricity pylons buzzing into the night air

back at the bachelor flat, he sat me on a kitchen chair, cooked me an omelette
cheese and tomato - I thought of that when Jennifer said how mothering he was -
and he told me about this literary lioness, performed plays around Australia
who relished the whole shambolic love-in that was Overload
her all clipped and controlled - knocked out the quaint New Zealand vowels and
went her own way, even though she was frightened of flying, and of being driven
but fearless on the back of a galloping horse

now she wears a cap of ringlets wound tight
declares she is old and invisible
but those imperious cheekbones are still there
and that steady gaze, seeing everything, our pathetic ephemera
buttons and razor blades, their eloquence and mystery

she said I wasn't there yet, my poems needed to take more risks
she wanted to see blood on the floor
I don't want to show myself unravelling
but she already knows
knits me a shawl of encouragement
fierce poetry mother

I couldn't resist posting the poem Anna Fern wrote for the Melbourne launch of my book This City - she and Maurice McNamara did the honours on the night and, as I had hoped, they were fresh and surprising and amusing and just generally fantabuloso. I am pretty sure a good time was had by all at Red Wheelbarrow in Lygon Street. I know I had to make two runs to the bottle shop next door!
Just one thing though - I am not fearless on the back of a galloping horse. I don't think I have ever been fearless on the back of a galloping horse, and these days, what with one thing and another, I just don't climb up onto a horse, that is another thing that is all over for me. Ah, so sad LOL.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Found Poem by John Daniel

Found Poem

I found a poem.

I will tell you how I found it.
I was walking along the beach
when I saw a stone with a bump
I brought it home and stood it on the mantelpiece
where it immediately turned into
a Work of Art.

If I can find a Work of Art on the beach I thought
I can find poems on fire extinguishers, in recipe books,
insurance policies, telephone directories,
the index to The Oxford Book of English Verse,
my grandfather's diary.

I read out the Smiths, A.J.
from the London telephone directory
and was attacked by a lady in the Lamb and Flag
screaming This isn't poetry!

I found a poem
by Jeremy Bentham, the philosopher of Utilitarianism
The Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number
who had written a will stating that he was to be wheeled out
at university committee meetings
and whose head had just fallen off.

This was the end of the Found Poem.
There is only so much you can do with a headless Utilitarian,
wills and insurance policies.
I returned the poem to its beach
laying it carefully among 10,000 others
where it immediately forgot it was a Work of Art
and changed back into a pebble.

Sometimes I go for a walk
listening to the great pebble-polisher
dragging the poems off the earth
hurling them forward and back
the tug-of-war between the moon and the beach.

And sometimes I pick
up an odd-shaped pebble
but I never take it back to the mantelpiece.
That would be ecologically irresponsible.
Instead I lie hearing the rumble
of unfound poems
and the artless crash of the waves
on the beach.

John Daniel isn't a Perth poet, he lives in England, but I met him in Perth where he was a guest at the WA Poetry Festival. Quite a find, I thought. I hadn't known his work at all. I invested in two of his books - Pushing 100, and Missing the Boat - which was published by Etruscan Books in 2007. Found Poem is in Missing the Boat. His work is often hilarious, always thoughtful, wistful, retro, charming, and sometimes just a bit nuts. Love it!

If you want to read the other Tuesday Poems click on the quill icon up on the right.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Woodwoman by Coral Carter


The woodwoman and her helpers stack sawn jarrah sleepers against the back fence. One hundred and twenty dollars for a six by four. They had no change. Our first transaction and I wasn’t feeling generous about a thirty dollar tip. So Macca and Animal sped up the lane, with malice I thought, the trailer swaying in a spray of stones and dust. Hannah, the woodwoman, stayed and talked about the ugliness of palms. Stupid trees long and naked with no shade potential. The people who planted them didn’t realise what mess makers they were. A hangover from the eighties when everyone was mad for them, but this desert town is no place for a tropical palm. She hoped it didn’t rain as the red mud was ferocious. Glued itself to boots and shoes and didn’t budge except onto any indoor surface. She reckoned her kids believed she was created to clean mud off stuff. She was in a hurry and had to go to work making pizzas for hungry bastards. The men came back from getting the change. Tried to break the land speed record down the back lane.

Someone is drilling.
A kid is in trouble.
My shadow chases my pen.
Cabbage moths love dance across the sky.
Crouching clouds begin to creep.
A leaf hobbles across the pavers.
I prop the gate open.
Look at the new neat woodpile.
The sawn red ends of wood.
I photograph the wood and the stupid palms.
My cup is empty.
Incense burns low.
As I preview the photographs,
I see my reflection in the camera screen.
Wrinkled and white.
That’s me now,
I say to myself,
Get used to it.

I met Coral at the WA Poetry Festival and loved her work. She is a dynamic reader and the kind of gutsy person who starts up a press (Mulla Mulla) to publish poetry. But she is an all-rounder, she does lots of stuff.
"Coral Carter is attracted to doing things which begin with P, poet, photographer and publisher.

Coral lives in Kalgoorlie Western Australia walking daily on the country she was born in." 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tuesday Poem - A Day In The Life by Andrew Burke

A Day In The Life

My chest clenches
and I fumble in my pocket
for the Nitrolingual spray.

I'm walking
my damaged heart and dog
through tall gums.

You can watch so much
television, you can nap
just so many hours

then you itch
to do things, simple things
like stretch your legs

and walk.
I stand under a tree
to catch its breath.

A Nitrolingual mist
is working its way
through dank slums

to open the way ahead.
Zimmy sits at my feet, tongue
hanging like

a flag at half mast.
'Come on,' I say,
'let's go.'

I had the honour of launching Andrew Burke's new book Qwerty at the Bodhi Tree cafe during the WA Poetry Festival. It was published by Mullamulla Press which is an initiative of the irrepressible Coral Carter. I made a few jokes about launching and lunching and chapbooks being cheap books but of course, as Coral adamantly asserted, she doesn't publish chapbooks, she publishes slim volumes.

If you want to check out the other Tuesday Poems click on the quill icon above. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tuesday Poem - thin by Janet Jackson


His piss in the toilet,
his siren sweat in the air:
gone, in the light.

In the sink, a glass, his lick
dried on it

In the open bin, on the tissues and the plastic,
two knotted condoms, 3am, 4am.
He wouldn't stay till morning, add a third.
He wouldn't sleep
beside me.

Naked in my purple bathrobe
I kneel on the vinyl beside the bin,
pick out the condoms, hold
them in my fingers, his come,
no longer white, now cloudy-clear and thin,
his sperm dying.

He was so hot.
From the drawer by the sink
I get the big scissors and, not knowing
what will happen, make a small cut
near the end of one condom. His come rushes
onto my hand, cool, amniotic,
albumen-clingy, thin, slightly
distasteful. I wouldn't lick it

The kitchen is chill, silent, scentless.
I raise my skin, inhale:
clean cut grass and musk
tainted with latex.
I can't smell him, only
an abstraction.

The danger I couldn't touch
runs over my hand into the bin.

Before I can do anything
I have to wash it off me.

I've just got back home from the Perth Poetry Festival and heard so much poetry! It was very full on. I heard so much poetry and met so many poets that I will be posting poems from over the other side of Australia for a while. It is great to draw a much bigger Venn diagram. My idea of poetry includes so much more now. Going to a festival will do that for you. I am too tired now to write much more so I shall just say - First up, JANET JACKSON!

thin was published on the author's site Proximity.

Below find the link to Janet's site where you can read her poems, find out more about her, buy her books and find the dates of her gigs.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Leaving Home by Andy Kissane

Leaving Home

The oven door was permanently ajar,
hanging by its last hinge, when my mother
crossed the kitchen and planted a kiss
on my father’s bristly cheek, just below

his grey-flecked, neatly squared sideburn.
She didn’t say anything or look back
as the wire door slammed shut. Striding
calmly towards the oak tree, my mother

glanced at the clothes line spinning idly
in the breeze, smiled at the garden gnome
lounging by the pond, his fishing rod poised
above the lily pads. Free from the ache

of varicose veins, she climbed the tree.
“At last,” she said to herself, “I have managed
to get my priorities right” — and with that
the feathers sprouted from her scapula

and her dentures dropped, orphan-like,
from her lips. High now, dangerously high,
she stretched out her supple wings
until they were as flat as an ironing board.

Sensing the far-off salty air, she hesitated
for a moment, then leapt into the wind. She circled
the house once, gliding over the FOR SALE sign
in the front yard as if she might just perch

there, before rising up again. My mother
felt her heart beat with wonder at the way
the rolling air held her aloft. Her nomadic eyes
scanned the darkening north and she flew away.

Andy Kissane was born in Melbourne but now he lives in Sydney. This poem is from his latest book 'Out To Lunch' published by Puncher & Wattmann.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Toppled Head by Les Murray

The Toppled Head

The big bald head is asleep
like Lenin on a pavement.
Tipping backwards, it starts
a great mouth-breathing snore
throttling as stormwater
loud as a hangar door
     running on rails
but his companion gently
reshapes his pillow, till his
position's once more foetal,
breathing towards his feet.
His timbre goes silent, and
the glottal dies in a gulp.

Something amusing from Les, just to keep the pot boiling.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuesday Poem - I Came Home With The Shopping by Jennifer Compton

I Came Home with the Shopping

And I said to him as he opened the front door -
Do you remember what day it is tomorrow?
And he said - No. What day is it?

Then I said - Do you remember who you married?
Yes - he said. Yes. I do remember her.
And then we both said – How many years is it?

Should we do something? - he said. No - I said.
Let's just do what we always do. I like doing that.

I feel quite stunned at the moment because while I was in New Zealand trying to do my Brilliant Book Tour for This City my mother dropped off the twig. Her timing was exquisite, as was her triumphant reconciliation with me in the corridor of Wellington Hospital. I never thought she would be able to find the right thing to say, but she did. So, I ended up going to her funeral in St Judes Lyall Bay the day before I was booked to fly back to Australia. St Judes was the church where Matt and I got married in 1971 on 31st July. So her timing wasn't quite consummate, because her funeral was on August 2nd. Anyway, I just went and forgot our wedding anniversary because I was in the thick of it, so tonight I am posting one of the few poems I have written for my precious husband Matthew. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Musical Buildings by Jennifer Compton

Musical Buildings

You have been playing musical buildings while I
have been away, visiting the world. And you have

been laying landmines, subtle, fragrant explosions
hoisting me, as I walk your streets, into an original

thought - it is a cunning city. Not what it was, yet
nothing is forgotten. As a tree dies, another grows.

My library in Lyall Bay is given over to private use
but the magic door up to the free books is still there.   

The Bank of New Zealand, opposite James Smiths,
is now a Burger King. James Smiths has absconded.

Wellington Central Library is the City Gallery, ok?
It's the Botanic Garden, not the Botanical Gardens.

It never has been the Botanical Gardens. That's just
what the locals like to call it in their whimsical way.

The National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum
are part of the Massey campus, I would swear they

had kept the linoleum if it wasn't so patently new.
It squeaks underfoot with an eerie Proustian effect.

Wellington District Ambulance is now a wine bar.
The Public Trust houses Creative New Zealand.

Athletic Park has gone. So have the dangerous
playgrounds with their battering rams with which

we tried to kill each other and, mostly, didn't succeed.
There was always one kid who would throw up though

if you kept on pushing higher while he screamed - Stop! 
And there is the building still decked out as E. Morris Jnr

where I viewed my father's bedizened body in his coffin
which now trades in coffee and cake as Strawberry Fare.

I wouldn't normally post one of my own poems but I am just about to fly home to Wellington for the launch of my book – This City – which won the Kathleen Grattan Award judged by Vincent O'Sullivan, and is being published by Otago University Press, which is a very welcome part of the prize. So here is a poem about Wellington, the city where I was born. When I returned, after so many years away, to spend six months in residence at Randell Cottage, I found that we had not forgotten one another. 

This City is being launched by Mary McCallum at the Thistle Inn on Monday July 18th at 6pm  - and in Palmerston North by Johanna Aitchison at the Bruce McKenzie Bookshop on Tuesday July 19th at 6pm.
All welcome.