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.