Creatrix 5 Poetry

June 2009

Selectors/Editors: Peter Jeffery and Chris Palazzolo


Peter Rondel

An old chair

Flora Smith

Why he left

Christopher Konrad


Annamaria Weldon

Angles of severance

Kevin Gillam

when Good Friday comes

Janet Jackson

How the fuck would you feel?

Jacqui Stewart

Biology Lesson
Summer Visitor

Paula Jones

My father collected hats

Tony O’Donnell


Jan Napier and Sue Clennell

Dark Tunes

Sue Clennell

Lost Heroes

Derek Fenton


Joyce Parkes

Hold on Hope (II)

Liana Christensen

21st Century Ariadne

Sally Clarke

Drawing Class

Paul Harrison

some advice for aspiring poets
against forgetting

David Barnes


John Ryan

Three Peaks

Meryl Manoy


Rose van Son

Meeting Basho

Maureen Sexton

The Problem with Lentils


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An old chair

So many dreams were born
between those threadbare arms.
Fanciful hopes in faded floral
A moquette worn smooth.
Still free to rock my destiny
as lazy afternoons begin to melt.

Khaki days when solitude found heaven
and the sound of insanity
surrendered to a violin
while the woman sang of love –
to quell the storm.

Mine now, the chair speaks
on a quiet evening
to the distant sounds of another time
drawing pictures in my mind —
images of an old lady who sat here
while she unravelled the tangled memories
of an Alzheimer’s afternoon.

I shall keep the chair and read its history
in the disengaged threads
and the head worn hollows
of a thousand dreams.

Peter Rondel
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Why he left

When he returned to the island
it was the walls that spoke to him,
gold as honeycomb spread on the hills.

Imagine, he told me, no graffiti,
no tattered rags of last year’s notices,
not even posters for the Opera House.

Yes, great to be back. Again and again
they filled his cup with sharp red wine
and he drank in each village courtyard.

The walls were backdrop to his play,
chameleon with the dance of light;
pale cream to amber. Ancient. Beautiful.

Departure time: his mother’s tears
heavy as a suitcase. Walls watching
as the ferry left the docks.

Came the punch of memory;
he’d known the walls could suffocate,
could feel again the whisper

of silken pillows at his back,
taste his own hard fear
of a soft falling into sleep.

It was why I left, he said, why I left,
and he shivered in the high sun,
the bright safety of a Perth morning.

Flora Smith
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I read my ancestors
their blood like Celtic tea leaves
I read their poems
my own language
I trace my lineage through this dry land
through their snow
through the light in my mouth
_______ with these globes for eyeballs

as I read ‘Austrian Poetry for Today’ I notice
_______ they missed out my favourite poet, Trakl

but through their veins
these dark writers
I trace myself back to him to
_______ his self death

I trace, as if over corpse Braille
the geography of the many self deaths of
these people of the mountains and
of the upper and lower flatlands
I almost started counting them
these disappearances: almost
Trakl foremost in my history
I felt with my fingers
that hard, raised print outlining so much self obsession
so much preoccupation with the
end of life
I look to their archetype
to these old Celts and
I notice he is the most missing from these pages

                        Christopher Konrad



_______ myth end
____morning rises
morning that knows itself like
the next wave or
wind that forms from an imagination

myth tumbles my mind
_______ leaving resonances we call memory
written into my skin, my eyes, my mouth
to be uttered on a different day
become another story
_______ to rise
another myth end

Christopher Konrad
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Angles of severance

Between this dock where I stand, a slight child
lost in bollards and ropes, holding mum’s hand
and the deck where gran waves back from high rails
only the gangway’s cold, steel sentence spans
the space. It is a day for gestures. Words
not dared. They are coming to me now, re-
tracing the dumb ache distance shaped inside.

Don’t go! Unbraved, futile cry, wind stopped, sliced
by a scimitar bow. Southampton sky,
slate waters and my tongue cut to angles
of severance. Blood red gleams low under
the Plimsoll line then grey wake churns dull swell.
In bleak light the ship looms, under way. White
funnel, streamers frame my last glimpse of her.

Annamaria Weldon
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when Good Friday comes

mine is a fly-in, fly-out Christ,
sandals off in first class, no hard hat
on site, always home at Christmas

mine is a Festival Director Jesus,
putting lab. rats on stage for a
slice of corporate sponsorship pie

mine is a bored-again Saviour,
levitating during power-point presentations,
feeding Nice biscuits to ants at morning tea

mine is a shock-jock Son,
devil’s advocate for the right cash offer,
delay button when Good Friday comes

Kevin Gillam
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How the fuck would you feel?

On a street of dead lawns, security grilles
bricks through windows
where St Vincent de Paul’s have moved out
because of crime

I’m thinking about soldiers and guards.
Fire stakes, nine-tails,
gas chambers, rape camps,
Detention centres.
Deaths in custody.
Cell suicide. Paddywagon murder.

Along the footpath a young woman
pushes a stroller.
A little boy toddles behind her.
He strays too close to the road
as two-year-olds will.
She grabs his ear and drags him back.

Another few driveways, he strays again.
She picks him up by the hair
and the other ear,
lifts him through the air,
dumps him next to the stroller,
walks on, staring at the horizon.
I can hear him howling all the way up the street
as he toddles bewildered after her.

I want to cross the street and get in her face with
‘Oi! How the fuck would you feel
if someone did that to you?’

but I suspect
she already knows.

 Janet Jackson


Lay down your laptop
Turn off your phone
Let’s have no more text messages
no more emails
and no more goddamn Facebook!

Let’s touch.
I said,
Let’s touch.
And I don’t mean lintpicking.
I want to mess your hair and stroke your face and
grab you.

Let’s turn off the city lights
and let the dark be really dark,
not this yellow half-dark
Let’s watch the Milky Way sprawl across the black
in all its nuclear-fusion mystery

Wear your best suit
See a sharp barber
Polish your extremities
I’ll wear a black velvet dress tailored to my shape
A bow around my neck
Bare feet and a diamond anklet
And I’ll have my hair done, sparing no expense

We’ll steal a big stretch limo
with leather seats
— a black one, not a pimpy white one —
or maybe a horse-drawn carriage.
This time we drink all of the tequila or vodka
or whatever you’ve got.

This is not broadband.
I’ll show you broadband!

On the coldwarm leather
in the back of the limo

Among soft new grass
at the foot of a gravestone

On damp sand
in the black satin dark
with the ocean sighing beside us

if that’s
what it takes

Janet Jackson
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Biology Lesson

Remember that summer
the night heavy with moths
stumbling against invisible glass?

On fragile wicker chairs
we sat and creaked,
argued about those wars in Ancient Rome
and whether my eyes were brown
or black like a witch

the better to explain
your hand’s sigh upon my breast
And as your lips
windsoft, wondering
brushed cheek and eyes
I watched a moth
hungry for the light,
and sympathised.

Jacqui Stewart
_______ (previously published in ‘Famous Reporter’ issue 34.)

Summer Visitor

The little green frog that is my friend
has returned.
His coming marks the days
when the cold tap is never cold.

At first I thought him a piece of jade
from a bracelet.
Elegantly moulded, he looked at me
with inquiring eyes,
gravely alert
as if by my stillness he sensed
his welcome.

Perhaps he recalled a time
when the clear water of his gaze
was clouded,
as a technicolour shape flushed
him away in fright.

I peered at him
as he sat in his pool,
the faint pulse beneath his chin
I’d passed some kind of test.

I shut the lid
left him to rest, leisurely inspect
his summer residence.

To name him
would be to attempt ownership.
Simply his presence honours our house.

Jacqui Stewart
 _______ (previously published by ‘Studio Magazine’, 2008.
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I am so tired
the knot of my bones
the seep of my skin
my bed-sheet thinning under my arms
the white of the ceiling speckled with shadow
I am worn

I feel so weary
hair remains on my pillow
my skull stretches itself shut
blood has thickened in my veins
my hands grow larger on my slim frame
I am withered

I am simply dying
outside children call
under crepe myrtle shade
their song lifts me from my bed
carries me to the limestone-cliff coast
I am falling

 Paula Jones

My father collected hats

In his later years
my father collected hats
he’d hang them on nails
punched into his wardrobe
funny, I only remember him
wearing the dark grey one.

In his twilight, he began
to play the double bass
called her Shirley and
stored her in the living room
beside the television
where he could watch
her chestnut curves.

In his retirement, my father
got a gig as a local d-j

he played big-band, jazz
and classical tunes
for a deaf man he had
a great ear for music.

Once he rode a cream-coloured vespa
Once he worked in a brewery
Once he had thick black hair
Once he was a soldier
Once he was young
and dreamed
of flying.

Paula Jones
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Like a breath of fresh air you came into my life, suddenly!
And were gone. Leaving me …. refreshed,
knowing you would return.
_______ And you did!

This time, I felt the longer stronger gust of your presence;
saw the clouds scud away before you; heard the high cry
of a wild bird, and smelled and tasted the sweet salt
_______ of your ocean’s race.

A wind from the sea you cooled my soul,
blowing it clean and clear of the dead leaves of lost loves,
_______ the debris of past lives.

And this time when you went, you left me …. renewed,
and certain that the calm I could feel
was more a measure of your Presence, than a mark
_______ of your departure.

I now know when seared by desert’s sun,
oppressed by humid storm,
when sleep ignores the hot night’s call
there will always be You
_______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ …. Always the wind!

Tony O’Donnell
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Dark Tunes

Lovers squeeze out blood
with their cappuccino lies.
Find the chink in their champagne symmetry,
shake out the trade winds of bluster.
Meet horror head on
in a child’s carousel of nightmares.
This old song litters the Nullarbor
with a gibber of souls.

Jan Napier and Sue Clennell
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Lost Heroes

We talk over the tomb of Atreus
and of how Atreus fed Thyestes his own children.
The guide speaks of a sister-in-law
who hates her so much
she would not reveal that her brother was dying.
“See,” she says, “we still feud,
feed our children to each other.”
Poppies still bleed for lost heroes
up through snow capped mountains,
and the Judas trees
pink and preen around Olympia.

Sue Clennell
 (previously published in Speedpoets)
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Is that the baobab which shaded him
thirty five years ago as he prised
landmines and booby traps from lethal lairs
knowing that every second could be his last.

Is that a descendant of the baboon
who mocked him, an unbeliever, as he
crossed himself ironically back then
and took the go away bird literally

staying away from the land of his birth.
Until now; a bible not an F.N.
to protect him: a weapon to convert
people whose parents and grandparents
once wanted him dead.

Later that night, lying on his back
gazing at a dazzling sky, convinced
of the existence of a caring God,
he feels at home again thanking
his training for allowing him eternal life.

In the dishevelled cemetery nearby
a comrade’s bones are chewed by ants
as they have been for centuries.

The baobab’s deformed arms tickle tinkling stars
bohowing baboons breed boisterously
and platoons of ants march in time to the cemetery.

Derek Fenton
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Hold on Hope (II)

(For a writer whose narrator walked without
the mercy of hope, and for a narrator whose
writer walked with the audacity of hope.)

When her story and history go for a walk,
do they always walk together? When they
decide to unite, will they hope for a relation-

ship with or without children and would they
adopt the names of Hibiscus and Eucalyptus
Hope? If the Hopes fell into a ditch during

their cross-country walk, would they call on
work, learning, luck, help or all four to proceed?
When they encounter a change of pace would

they move to hasten their journey or reconsider
the spell of speed — since halting for a siesta,
a sojourn, could be sweet. Has hope a mind

or two, and do the Hopes plan to run with celerity
or elect to ponder on the charge of change or both?
Is hope futile or free to be a flower or a tree?

Joyce Parkes
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21st Century Ariadne

I got lost in the labyrinth
out the back
of Tropicana Café
one day took a wrong turn
and spun into a pole
dancing class

How 21st century
You have to admire
the slick economy
monster and
initiate’s mystery dance
twisted into a single
burlesque shtick

Liana Christensen
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Drawing Class

Eyes turned skywards,
we contemplate
placing on paper
the expansive, drifting,
nature of clouds.

Layer upon layer,
sunbright-white against
thunderous build-up,
woolly sheep and dragon heads
evading capture,
lost in stratospheric movement.

Awash in watercolour,
we follow vapour trails,
wallow in space,
tumble into blue holes,
struggling to define edges,
admit solidity.

Sally Clarke
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(after Michael Dransfield)

i was flying
over Perth
in a giant black dog
then Tokyo
like a firebomb
a child
in a paper plane
things starting
to look really bad

Paul Harrison

some advice for aspiring poets

ride around the wrong way lights off with a bottle of scotch, a loaded gun in your lap, safety off, singing Peat Bog Soldiers and of course if you don’t know the words and the peelers are whooping behind you

even better

cultivate a daily regime of derangement and despair. if you have a shower use it wisely. ignore your dreams. god has just spilled another jigsaw. now pick up the pieces. there is no collective unconscious. and of course if you can Walk the line and get back in your car singing Happy days are here again

even better

or maybe you can stand around a trivia machine with a real poet who reads his thoughts in converted cathedrals and provincial towns singing Hallelujah, i’m a bum, and of course if he’s the published bi-polar Asperger type

even better

or maybe get sexy tender with a hippy chick and fuck your beautiful brains out forever then watch it all slip away as easy as you entered and as hard as you fell. obviously this defining ecstasy must be repeated, over and over, and of course if you’re incompatible,

even better

and another thing never worry about what is never achieved or started or finished or really important things like money. stand around with the alkies and buckfast listening to the sparrows get torn asunder, God’s smile gracing the vast grey sky, and of course if they piss on your shoes

even better

stand up for the little guy. the disinherited, the disembodied, the disenchanted. stand up for yourself. stand up with nothing to say and say it anyway, everyone else does and of course if you know all the words and your fly is undone and you’re slurring your words,

even better

finally, before standing up in a car going 120 down the freeway and adjusting your poem read Jack and Bob and all the beautiful, talented east and west coast lesbian poets. they started this thing. then when your poem is sufficiently adjusted pull up your fly and sing. sing it man. like the fat lady sings, and of course if the judges and cops dig your stuff

even better

and remember all this really happened. poets going from strength to strength. bed to bed. bar to bar. getting lost, getting punched, crashing cars. weeping. cradle to grave. asylums and jails. advice to page. and of course if you know the words for To the Barricades

and can’t even read or write or sing

even better

Paul Harrison

against forgetting

i read their verse and weep
the ones who loved and fought and struggled on
the ones who were disappeared often; forever
who suffocated in the cattle trucks
licking parchment tears from splintered planks
who wrote poems in their own blood and faeces
or if they were lucky on soap and tobacco leaves
smuggled out to dawn
who wrote completed works in the libraries
of their soul to recite in camps and gulags
for blackest dread and ghosts
who even wrote for future’s hope on paper scraps
folded in the pockets of a corpse
unearthed on judgement day
from massive graves of insane death
who wrote against forgetting and the dying of the light
who wrote for life and truth as napalm and ordinance
scorched and shook the screaming earth
who declaimed behind the barricades
the check points and walls
who were arrested at gunpoint in monstrous swoops
beaten senseless and interned
then dangled by their heels off colonial roofs
words falling like pennies
_______ _______ _______ from their silent screams
who still sang their poems of home and freedom
in the desert camps lips stitched and torn and mute
who witnessed and resisted with all their words and soul
who were expelled and exiled
for expressing conscience and critical faculty
in the blinding light
who wrote by candlelight in the cellars and ghettos
of Palestine. and Poland. emaciated
the barrios, the townships and slums
who sang from the jungles, the tunnels and ruins
of death by Capital and fascist lies-
indomitable poets all; of life, revolt and love
uncensored and unrepentant and not forgotten now.

Paul Harrison
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there is no one,
no one to impress, no need anymore;
what does it matter? I’m an old man

who has lived to see the past, pass like seasons-

a remote observer
wandering city streets,
wearing clothes to match
the changing divisions of the year;

a misshapen
Modernistic sculpture
rises in front of me
an agony to my eyesight.

“What is it supposed to symbolize I wonder.”

if only
a soaring eucalyptus tree
with leaves that give off a pungent scent
grew here in its place, sculpted by nature itself.

ahead of me, a streetwalker
dressed in faded denims and dirt
with matted hair,
harvests empty cans.

his needs not met
his stomach unfilled, he has no one to impress either.
as I walk by, I observe

blue and white-collar workers pass– disgust written on faces

i whisper an old adage,

_______ _______ _______ Status.

David Barnes
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Three Peaks

mt. trio in the morning
sore calves and a calling
of several unknown birds
to the north, tires reeling
supersonic spinning of wheels,
I shift from rock to rock,
mountains irrupt out of the grazing
land like boils

on the back of the sheep plain.
Hume peak holds the
western-most corner.
the plant takes the word
cells diffract
asexual new words:
a nouveau lingua, rising like a belly
and adipose ripples under
a shallow sea.

like plants:
clover-like  (triangulate)
sweetfern-like (toothed edge)
& hemp-like, bay laurel-like,
ginkgo-like leaves
sprout from the stem
highly unusual ephedra-like
(whorls of spikes).

huddled in below gustline
we talk our trade: animalia-plantae.
we have history, we make ranges,
we brood & surveil, we are emblems
(there are guidebooks to us)
beside cairns up here,
we duck the wind and
the aster-like bursts of angst.

before the names, ancient associations.
the present is now defined:
an anonymous convocation of
palm-like fingers holding
a coarse line
of air.

John Ryan
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Eyes strained to penetrate the distant blue
Whence those mighty rollers swell
While patiently I wait on the sand bank
Placing myself for – who can tell?
A dumper or a perfect wave to surf
Shaping now before my eyes
I feel the drag of undertow around me
Building up to crest and rise.
Now, body taut I spring upon the wave
Timing it before it breaks;
Its mighty force propels me to the shore –
Holding breath is what it takes.
With body stiff, head down and arms outstretched,
Lungs are bursting as I beach
In front of paddling children – one wide eyed
Asks me whether I could teach
Him how to surf like that, and is it hard?
“Stiff like a surf board is the way”
I tell him as I turn towards the bank.
Such perfect breaks, no dumpers here today.
The next wave lands me right beside the boy –
“Just how do you get so far?”
Imagine you’re a surf board, that’s the trick –
Now he calls me SURF BOARD GRANDMA!

Meryl Manoy
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Fisherman folds his net
combs knots like mother’s hair
folds layers
squared foreground of his mind
petal flowers his mother wore
in respect for his father
on the day he slid
to earth like fish
caught in

Rose van Son

Meeting Basho

I found you in a Liberia
a bookstore in the north
a country far from here
your three lines
mesmerising view
a time of year
a season stamped
in words
best lines
a maze that leads
to you

Rose van Son
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The Problem with Lentils

He used to cook me curries
real curries from
Charmaine Solomon cookbooks
multi-cultural curries.
He made his own curry powder
from coriander, cummin, turmeric
and his own garam masala.
And then there was the coconut,
through the dish –
bananas, cucumber and
yoghurt to cool the mouth.

Aaah! Sometimes he tasted
of curry and coconut
his sweat marinading his body
making him tasty and succulent.

But it was his lentil and
carrot loaf that
began the problems.

I hadn’t minded
the dahl that
usually accompanied his dishes.
But when he began making lentil
fitters and lentil soup,
well, it was more than
a girl could handle.
Have you ever tried
licking lentils?

Maureen Sexton 


Will I plant potatoes today?
Friday, a lucky day for some
but not for those in Ireland,
Bloody Friday 1972 –
bombs in Belfast,
or the people of Victoria –
Black Friday bushfires 1939.

Potatoes and Ireland go hand
in hand, yet potatoes caused
even more deaths than bombs.
Some call it famine, some
call it genocide but
one thing’s for sure
millions of people died.

Yet they say it’s a good
day for planting potatoes.
Must be Venus’ doing
Goddess of love and
fertility, and the brightest
planet of all –

Is it she who will heal
the wounds, bring love
to the people?

Maureen Sexton
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In line with WAPI policy of rotating editors Chris Palazzolo and Peter Jeffery addressed the 47 poems submitted and in due discussion selected two thirds for CREATRIX 5.

We noted that the entries were of a very solid standard which shows that most poets exercised due diligence and one wonders if this has come about because of the creative writing classes and the readings that are a solid feature of West Australian poetry.

That said, the judges were hoping to find the exceptional rather than the competent and pleasantly conventional and here and there felt that some of the poems approached that level.

Contributors used the rules of CREATRIX to the full and many submitted the quota of three poems, naturally hoping for all to be selected.

One of us was reminded of Griff Watkins, an earlier West Australian poet, who used what was a ‘scattershot’ strategy of sending in up to twelve poems at a time on the basis that the editor might like at least one of them. He also thought all editors were mad and idiosyncratic, so such a safeguard of maximum contribution was necessary. The other judge remembered Philip Roth’s GOOD AS GOLD in which two young competitive Jewish boys sent in a batch of poems to a journal on different occasions. The first had several accepted, so the second boy sent in some twenty poems and got forty poems returned. Perhaps then we were a little stringent but such hurdles are meant to be jumped and with redrafting some may get there next time.

One contributor with a proper reading of the rules and with correct acknowledgement sent in three already published poems and two have been selected this time round. The publication and re-publication of poems is a useful step for further circulation to often a wider and a different audience, and gives a chance for the poem to ‘take’ in regard to the public memory, as can be seen in the fact of anthologies and thematic collections, which will eventually lead to a book of selected and collected verse.

Obviously one must always acknowledge prior publication, and usually this puts the bar of acceptance much higher, but a good poem is a good poem and should be given every opportunity to circulate as with our WAPI rules.

Now that we have moved into the area of rap and rant quite a few poems featured a ‘catalogue’ approach in which a particular quality was called up from our multifarious world and its countless expressions in different domains, in an obvious attempt to prove ‘universality’ or on the ‘scattershot’ principle hoping for at least one of the examples to bite in with considerable force and/or recognition. The judges were very wary about such poems arguing that all the items or examples should be of equal merit, and would advise that one should discard any verses that didn’t come up to the strength or accessibility of the others.

We also welcomed a poem that was a collaboration between two poets, but suggest that if one moves that way, one should be careful that the language and examples are not too private in its understandings, in that shared experience still needs to be clearly articulated from the two to the community of readers.

All in all we felt that there are many good poems here and that our issues of CREATRIX move from strength to strength. Roll on CREATRIX 6.
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