Monday, June 20, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Strangers by Laurice Gilbert


Inge said
I have no family

Aah! we said,
how wonderful

No, she said
think about it

If I never send another Christmas card
no-one will complain

and I have no obligation ever
to write another letter

Sounds delicious we said
how can we achieve this?

No, think about it she said
I travel the world alone

Yes? we said
so far so good

And no-one to inform if my plane should crash
or I should get lost at sea

or I should have a heart attack
in a cheap hotel of my own choosing

Sounds liberating we said
how free you are

No, she said

I noticed this acerbic, and charming, poem when it was published in Bravado after being awarded
second prize in their competition. It's like a paper cut, you feel a little sting and then suddenly you
are gushing blood. It's a little bit of perfect. I love the judicious use of punctuation, especially the
final lack of it. It makes the poem zoom out.

Laurice Gilbert lives in Wellington and is the President of the NZ Poetry Society.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Apologising to Unicorns by Peter Boyle

                          Apologising to Unicorns

Apologising to unicorns is problematic. They rarely understand our purposes. Tenderness will often be seen as the manipulative gestures of a fear that seeks death – for itself and others. Unicorns sleep most comfortably in heavy traffic where the hum of self-absorbed commuters leaves them invisible. To find a unicorn in a forest is like falling asleep in English and waking up fluent in Pashtun. Someone may well have done it. Unicorns sense above all our uncertainty of ourselves, our not belonging, our poor talent for letting the miraculous be. Stripped back to primal desecration, our hearts still yearn for unicorns. We trail our mirrors in the waters of sky-stretched ponds. Although they will never look to us for food or shelter unicorns are reluctant to abandon their legend of our existence. Our one virginity is that we are not yet born.

Peter Boyle's latest book - Apocrypha - published by Vagabond Press, won two of the big prizes in 2010 here in Australia.

I noticed his work when his first book – Coming Home From The World – published by Five Islands Press in 1994, won the NSW Premier's Prize in 1995. So he has been at it for a while, writing wonderful poetry and scooping up the prizes. More power to his elbow.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Metamorphosis by Susan Fealy


         for Franz Kafka, 1883-1924

Cathedral-bird cawdaw jackerdaw,*
a dark plumaged passerine bird.
A jackdaw is kavka in Czech.

The genus of crows and ravens,
it calls in a metallic chyak chyak.
Cathedral-bird cawdaw jackerdaw.

Jackdaws are harbingers of rain,
their under-wings are wire grey,
and kavka means jackdaw in Czech.

His sisters Elli, Valli and Ottla
died in forty-one, two and three.
Cathedral-bird cawdaw jackerdaw.

Greeks tell that a jackdaw falls
seeking his kin in a dish of oil.
A jackdaw is kavka in Czech.

His beak and throat are clattering:
he calls in a metallic chyak chyak.
Cathedral-bird cawdaw jackerdaw.
A jackdaw is kavka in Czech.

*some obsolete names for jackdaw

I heard Susan read this poem at a gathering at Collected Works Bookshop here in  Melbourne and was very taken with it. But I seem to always be very taken with her work. She seems to be able to make the crystal ring with no sense of strain, her words hover and fly. It's almost alchemical. It is a kind of magic.