Monday, April 25, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Love In The Suburbs by Peter Lach-Newinsky

1. Georges River, August. Her Poem
  • ‘Put the poet watching........’

grey trees
glint and tingle
among the plastic
caught in the mangroves
the river trudges by,
thickly. Brown.
It is going to the sea.

Magpies stukkato
the hat- or stickless.

Two women are sitting on a carpark log.
Afternoon. Balance
cuppas struck by long orange light. She leans
over to the other, confides:

George isn’t very deep Flo
a bit sooperfishl. Reely. Sips.

A powerboat big-bangs it all.
The plastic shudders.
Winter doesn’t even try.

2. Lawn, Pool, TV, January. His Poem
  • tries to see them.....’


In plastic lemonade bottles
dreaming on forlorn lawns
reclining totems
against shitting dogs.

For reasons unknown. Just trim ‘em
till you bleed
diggers of suburbia,
fiddle and blast and weed
(as tides turn
and things stir
under the silt
of the heart)
that true blue concrete-and-grass
Arcadia : (o what a lark
in the old Manor park
heigh ho
as we poached after dark
heigh ho
and were most cru-el-ly
transported !) make it

a short-back-and-sides and Decency Returned
with a vengeance, a power mower
and some agent orange
under a quite indifferent
big gun-of-a-sun. Yes dear
no dear pass the certainly
dear would you like please or
else love we can (I bloodywell hope
the scone sticks
in your throat
like a sardine can
down a pelican
righto righto righto
and your bloody girdle
as you bend down
at bowls
o yeah) but I
did remember the special
on pool chlorine at Franklin’s.

O yes, love.
Maggie love. For reasons unknown. The crack.
under the back door. The screen
flickers. The sand
from the mudflats is blown a little higher.
Brown sand. Stealthy.


3. Watching. The Poet’s Poem.
  • It is all going to the sea.....’

Put the poet watching

at the riverside carpark.
His poem of this Maggie the Magpie’s husband,
their suburban life cut up
at the top of each of their poems.

Tries to see them
tries to hear them
from within objects and personae
named like the plastic bottle totem the magpie
the other lady on the log or the log or the jerk
in the powerboat God maybe the shitting dog
the sluggish old river, naturally the river

and especially their TV set
having a secret affair with Maggie
while we see or hear their phantasy lives
in the phantasy life of the poet
who is a phantasy like George
the RSL dragonslayer (imagine he said and
the curtains weren’t even drawn I want he said
I want to stick and he only had his sweaty old
singlet on my lance in you and me
in me girdle you dragon he called me I spose
that’s sposed to be a turn-on and from behind
coming at me like a lawnmower he’s not
in the army now you know how you go
through the motions just to keep ‘em quiet
and the other night imagine Flo I dreamt
this huge great dune yeah dune just came
all over the lino I always told him to
put something under there
but the sand was brown or black and yes
full of eyes). In fact

there may be as sense of ancient things
surfacing like weeds or sandbanks
up through their suburban lives the totems
only partly buried under the obsessive lawns
returned again the sifting sands, quietly
built up by the brown wind (slow, tidal)
from the river the mudflats as they have afternoon tea
and telly (i see
i reflect them watching me as i watch them
as i throb with lurid phantasies
that flicker furiously and blare on the surface
of my glassy brain for hours it’s exhausting tho
that finger soft and stiff that pushes into me
at seven is always always exciting exciting again
as the energy surges thru the sky
and thru me me me and cataracts of wordimages
race in my veins my cells yes o yes
how lovingly she wipes me clean of that
traffic and mangrove dust on Saturdays then
even his put-put his put-put his put-put
powermower can’t come between us) and, yet

he snarled to leap at the heart of the real,
the sinews within the skin of satire, the real
slouching away along trimmed surfaces, howling
silently at cosy violence, to the ebb and flow
of caring and tortoise desperation.

So that the poet too can be seen (as he sees,
watching, by the watching river) to be
all that. Helpless in metaphor
and more than the smartfart voyeur
lawnmowing and opinionating as it is all going
to the sea and love and poetry
no overwhelming and obvious
constant cataract of passion,
for the tide is deep
and a wonderfully slow, perhaps,
brown, old

Peter lives in Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands of NSW, quite close to where I used to live in Wingello. When I was running Bundanoon Poets In The Pub he was a regular and I came to know his work quite well. And to admire it. In recent years he has been featuring on the poetry prize lists quite prominently He and his wife, Barbara, run a 20 acre permaculture farm and his new work is deeply informed by this committment. Love In The Suburbs is an older poem which I have liked for a long time and is in his book The Post Man Letters published by Picaro Press.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Winding Up at the Bootmaker's by Les Murray

The widow handing out
her husband's last repair jobs,
each already newsprint-wrapped

sits meanwhile in their unlit shop
hands open on her lap.
Bitter grief has nearly smoothed her skin.

Kneeling up in Mediterranean black,
reaching down the numbered parcels
as if returning all their wedding gifts.

I was very pleased when Les said it was okay to put up this poem, which is the last poem in his most recent book - Taller When Prone - published by Black Inc in Melbourne. Les is a wonderful poet, I love his work.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Tank by Vivienne Plumb

The Tank

I hum and write, I hum under
my breath and keep writing.
A good bit about the goldfish
in the tank at Bats. The tank
sits on one of the Bats booth
tables. There are three fish.
Two look like ordinary gold
fish, but the third has really
black rings on its eyes, like
it’s been bashed by the others.
And Victor remarks: Heidi says
if you tap the tank like this,
you could give them a heart
attack. And he taps the tank.
And I guess that’s what it is
we can feel sometimes,
it’s Victor’s big fat finger
tapping the tank.

*References to ‘Bats’ – Bats Theatre, Wellington, N.Z.

I can hardly find a thing to say about this poem because the first time I read it it went straight into me and on subsequent readings it still has that same swift, sharp effect. It works and it's straight. An extra bonus for me is that I know Bats. When it was Unity Theatre that was where me and my husband-to-be played in a production of Richard III.

Vivienne Plumb was born in Australia and now lives in Auckland. I joke to her about how I was born in Wellington and now live in Australia. I tell her we keep the balance by never living in the same country. But that doesn't always work out. Sometimes we live in the same country. Her newest book is called Crumple and is put out by Helen Rickerby's Seraph Press.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Indian Summer by Ross Gillett



I wanted a wigwam
My Father Christmas father
found me one.

He pitched it at night,
pushing pegs
into the dark grass,

lacing the flap shut.
He made my dream tent
tight as a drum.


From inside,
the red stencilled chief
glowed on the calico.

He kept me company,
but I saw the gaps
holding him together.

The feathers he wore
were flames
staying away from him.


I loved the slant
of my father’s shadow
sloping over the walls

as he prowled around me.
He was my enemy tribe.

he crept backwards,
his weightless shape
sliding off.


I didn’t come out.
He couldn’t fit in,
but he bent double

to talk treaties,
his face filling the entrance
upside down.

He spoke with a stern grunt.
He knew
the no smiling rule.


There were days
when the wind pulled
at my thin home

and I sat in a flapping
that loosened everything.
In winter, it lived

lightly under my bed,
a big rag
waiting for summer.


I think of that frail
shelter, the door
no one could knock on,

with the faded chief
and, I imagine,
the faint shape

of my father’s shadow.
All folded up
and put away for ever.

Ross Gillett lives in Ballarat. I came upon him when I was judging the Broadway Prize for the Poets Union in Sydney with Peter Bishop, quite a few years back now, and suddenly, out of the hundreds and hundreds of poems submitted, this poem floated up and made its presence felt. It's a quiet poem, but it's strong. I was curious as to the author, and well pleased to meet Ross, someone new to me and such a nice guy. He had been around for a bit but I just hadn't noticed him. He hadn't made his presence felt. He tells me he is on the boil at the moment and I am loving his new work. He reads his work with such precision and clarity with that extra bit of … well I don't know what it is. Maybe it is magic.

And a very very happy clappy birthday to Tuesday Poem which is now one year old!