Creatrix 42 Poetry

September 2018

 

Selectors: Peter Jeffery and Mike Greenacre

Contributors:

Kaye Brand

Library At Sea
Where Are You?

Peter Burges

Body Surfing: Winter
Of Poets And Poems

Graeme Butler

Stinking Mutt

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Good Fences
Pools Of Light

Nicoletta Dimas

My Mother’s Face

Natalie D-Napoleon

The Peppermint Tree

Derek Fenton

Bombing Raid
Walking On Water

Wendy Fleming

Train Tract

Sally Gaunt

Baby

Kevin Gillam

six es and sev ens

Candy Gordon

Mending

Mike Greenacre

A Last Song
Nature’s Page

Dilantha Gunawardanal

Cliteracy
Mandela’s Ashtray

Ann Harrison

An Ancient Karri

Glen Hunting

Dominion
Memorial

Pat Johnson

Gum-leaf
The Night Shift

Nada Kesic

Sad Self Deception

Veronica Lake

Mary’s Grace
No Man’s Land

A.R. Levett

The Outsider

Meryl Manoy

Full Circle

Mardi May

Imprint

Glad McGough

Cruel Spirit White

Max Merckenschlager

Slip On The Paddle

Jan Napier

Against Glass

Tony O’Donnell

Objector!

Virginia O’Keeffe

I Just Thought
Sporting Chances

Allan Padgett

Dreaming
For Geoff

Joyce Parkes

Shivering For Shelter

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

From Above They Come, Descending
The Pause

Yvonne G Patterson

Living Threads

Mike Pedrana

A Gift From Broken Shadows

Glen Phillips

Clothed And Shod
On Swollen Cheeks

Norma Schwind

Remembering Morrie

Don Smith

Casuarinas

Flora Smith

Of Wine And Peacocks

Laurie Smith

Desert Campanologist

Rita Tognini

Port Arthur’s Visitors, 1993

Mimma Tornatora

Majesty

Maggie Van Putten

Another Birthday

Gail Willems

Pendulum Coffee Lounge 1964


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Library at Sea

The mood is placid and quiet
In this library on the Baltic Sea
Where timbered casements protect
Their authors expressive wealth

The words seemed tucked in slumber
Until travellers on this sea voyage
Choose titles of matching inclination

The floor here is carpeted in roses
Reds and oranges backgrounded in black
Rustic leather armchairs with foot rests
Wordlessly invite readers to succumb

The drapes are rusty tasselled peacocks

Polished gold based bulbous lamps
Spill light nurturing my quiet mood

The art work portrays leather bound books
Hanging authoritatively above the fire place
Blue ceramic bowls balance living irises
While clocks stop to slow down time

The quiet tones of conversation filter
As an adjunct to this creative space
Outside the ocean gathers and chatters

While within my words are forming waves

 Kaye Brand

Where Are You?

She sits numb, suspended.
The light of his life now les
than a shimmer….
He is gone
Are you now the light of daybreak?
Are you renewing connections
wandering lanes of past lives?

Are you the air, heat of the day,
roar of tides, brittle earth
or breath for another Ophelia?

Are you the camellia bud, her bloom,
a gaze from moulded clouds,
the sound of a newborn?

Sympathy claws through my daily posts
recalling your exquisite being.
You who blended my soul to earth,
my raison d’être.

Seasons continue to roll and fade
depicting metaphoric images of you.
While open diaries clad your desk

my hand is open, wanting, waiting.

Where are you?

Kaye Brand

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Body Surfing: Winter

Swanbourne, deserted,
grey-and-black striped,
a leviathan roaring thunderclaps,
dumpers,

and me, mid-teens, stipple-skinned after an early morning run,
sprinting, leaping, diving, swimming through leaden schawoompening,
pedalling where the waves wrestle each other to be first for the shoreward run,

until there’s one, hunched and mean, sucking me high over backwash,
curling me in its fist of kelp and grit, punching through raucous whistling,
spitting me onto hard-packed sand, falling on me biting chewing pounding tumbling
over and over until there’s just roaring tinnitus burning lungs hot-sloughing terror
exploding into white

black

slow-imploding greys

beauty in an empty shell close-up

a warm-inchoate flood puppetting me, naked, priapic,
before Her sly, beckoning dare to come, surf with Her again.

Peter Burges

Of Poets and Poems

So. What of Poets?
Well, yes, yes, of course, masters of song … some.

But, what of the rest of us?

Are we mere long-eared Bottoms, crook-backed, nectar-drunk,
hawing befuddled wisdoms to paper-thin, day-time moons,
then sleeping nights cushioned in vacuous vowels, sucking our thumbs,
spooned, too awfully content, about our most beloved plaints?

Or, as silken ladies and knights, dressed plain or in paisley,
or dominators and dominatrixes wielding consonants’ restraints,
do we merely swan about on stages—preferably late at night, or, at least, after lunch—
out of it on uppers, weed, coke, waving flags of tafetta concerns,
until, supple as grass, we surrender our spines to Winter?

And, what of our poems?

These songs we sing to forlorn waves, thirsty sands, winds in empty fields?
To blurs of hungry faces in dark back and upstairs rooms?
Quick meets in bistros while loose-tongued on meanly apportioned wines,
the price of which belies our raggy habiliments?

Are they mere fodder intended for slow-chewing ruminants,
or, cut and baled, to be stored online, rot in fusty libraries?
Or, as the wild-haired seedings of horny Pucks
and queenly muses high on self-absorption after copulating with emptiness,
are they left to dry and fall, blow into amnesiac dams?
Become recidivists dossing wind-bleached under bridges, upon benches
along the wet-glistering streets of imagination,
there to lie glitter-eyed, torqued of purpose until thin-boned as graffiti?

Ah, well. What matter! For what’s a posy of words,
or, indeed, a poet, when, as luscious-under-moonlight Juliet
said to hard-boned Romeo:
“What’s in a name when those we call toes,
by any other name still smell as feet!”

Peter Burges

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Stinking Mutt

Happily I stink
Some smelly wool
Fell down wet
From where the rousie left it
To dry.
Unfortunately for him
It rained
It blew
It fell on guess who?
Yum!
Lovely dags
Oh joy
To roll in!

Graeme Butler

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Good Fences

A man navigating points
mends the hem of what is fence.
Stitches the old creeper
back into the fold and clips
branches gone too far.

His straight back and level eyes
angle along the manicured edge.
Note the precision, the long horizontal
the short vertical.

Solid to stop cans rolling
newspapers and lolly wrappers blowing,
it becomes protection from all that leers.
A statement against the surge of foreign.

A place where eucalypts and daffodils
grow green and gold.
Where the plaster gnome holds court
against the corrupt influence
of wind and storm.

Where the perpendicular path
is an incursion framed
by the wrought iron gate
that squeals its protest opening.

A hopscotch type of morning
where tea can be sipped
as magpies visit, while beyond
cars and people are running.
Rush with swish and push.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

 

Pools of Light

The honeyed light of lamps along the beach
knit pockets against the roll of waves.
Beads of light follow the curve of the bay.
Hold each segment against the dark
as if tip toeing one by one.

Past midnight, there is nothing but
light and waves tied to the salt tang.

This aloneness, this void
that scratches at the heart
struggling to match the beat
of waves.

It is only the illuminated spaces
that hold something close to reality.
How definite everything seems
and yet, wavered by the wind,
there is fragility.

A sense that everything can fade
everything can crumble
and it is only the light that holds
it together.

Some nights, walking from pool to pool
it’s as if I step out of myself,
find and lose myself in a world
where I am the only insomniac.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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My Mother’s Face

My mother’s face is a map.
I can take my finger and follow,
The lines-
Down her cheeks,
The waterfalls, salty,
the crows by the ponds, sipping blue.

A landscape of a lifetime:
Roads that stretch across a desert;
I find hollows of loss
and cross bridges of stone.

I sleep in the crevices, warm.
I wade through the fields
and float in her wells deep
of timeless green.
Her love ripples through
the shade of her branches,
reflected above.

Though I pinch and pull and plead,
my hands slip-
down the cliffs turned to clay
and the trees shining grey-

I land, always, in her smile.
My mother’s face shows me the way.

Nicoletta Dimas

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The Peppermint Tree

When I was a child how I loved, how I loved, how I loved a tree,
I sang my troubles to her and she hummed her leaf-buzz tune in return.
A peppermint, catching the breeze in a skirt of finger leaves,
Swishing and rustling, songs stuck like feathers to a berm.
Irresistible, to reach and crush and inhale one spear-leaf’s biting scent,
Stabbing into my jeans, like a lock of hair slipped into a lover’s pocket,
An elixir of sorts, a language of the senses, knowing but never meant.
“What about me?” I sang, and you gave more than I put in that pocket.
Surprise-attack seeds thrown like pellets of laughter between siblings,
A place to hide away from my mother’s raised voice, the red un-friend,
At the foot of your trunk, nursed back to life, a fledgling,
Feeding me minced meat by hand, ‘til I found my strength again.
You were a mother’s dress for a child to hide underneath,
While I took from you a handful of seeds and a leaf, a leaf, a leaf.

Natalie D-Napoleon

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Bombing Raid

A row of trees planted parallel
to a line  the Wall once occupied
is home to a festival of birds
who sing joyously each evening
oblivious to the horrendous history
their line once represented.
It stops on Willemstrasse where
the British and Russian embassies
face off against one another.
Only a grove of police vehicles
continue the line; popping up
haphazardly when the need arises.
The two embassies hardly flex muscles-
the Cold War has melted and only posturing remains.
The birds serenade and rarely challenge
one another except to poop on bollards
which keep cars and terrorists out!

Derek Fenton

Walking on Water

On the edge of the Danube in Budapest
a pathetic phalanx  of discarded  shoes
stands on parade like lemmings about to leap.
Petrified now in bronze, petrified then
by bullets ripping into ragged bodies:
Jewish men, women and children.
At night do their ghosts return
to hold hands and jump ecstatically
into the ancient waters, reincarnating
in the place they were born? 

Derek Fenton

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Train Tract  

On the train I sneeze
drip and cough, weep
swipe, wipe, squeeze
onto the seat for the feeble
A young woman as she leaves
turns, passes me a piece of paper
white, smaller than a needs list
‘How sweet’, I think
expecting at least one tissue
It’s not. Instead it’s a note
handwritten in blue:
The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not want.
God loves you, Jesus does
How to respond? she’s gone
In my fever I plead,
Dear Jesus, I am wanting
extremely wanting of a tissue
I want tissues by thousands
but a few would do. No response
No choice, back into my handbag
grab wet crumpled tissues,
run over the raw tracks nostril to lip
What to do with the tract?
Someone more wanting?
As I leave stepping over the gap
Should I pass it on? Or should I wait
find someone sniffing and sneezing?

Wendy Fleming

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Baby

Love set you in motion,
like a spring in a clock,
Tic Toc, Tic Toc.

Pink sugar mouse in a spun,
Sugar House,
Domestic trap.

Bleary eyed mother in the shop,
no sleep for weeks,
no time for her needs, no time
to answer a call of nature.
“Here”, say I “Take the key
to the outhouse (“against the rules”)
She leaves the perambulated baby.
“Why trust me?” I could be
a wicked witch.

No, you are safe baby,
with an old lady in a dry month.

Sleep sweet baby
mushrooming into your parent’s lives
like an atomic bomb.

Sally Gaunt

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six es and sev ens

you are asked have you, can you, will you
for give your self? frac ture back when –
that is what you are asked to learn

write it out, un pick, weep and bleed
but you’re all at six es and sev ens
when asked will you, can you, have you?

‘cos tongue has licked at ac cept,
tast ed it, baked in its six
and that is what you’ve learned

while mind has for give on its man tel,

all sev ened and out of reach
as you are asked have you, will you, can you?

it’s a quest ion of em brace, match ing
jig saw piec es of matt and cross hatch ing
and that is what you must learn

and in the room of one bulb on string and
three chairs and too man y quest ions
that is what he asks you to learn –
to for give – have you, can you, will you?

Kevin Gillam

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Mending

I unstitch your ripped shirt;
it is fragile, unstable.
I remove two buttons, smooth and re-pin,
bringing raw edges together.
Forced to follow a new direction,
I resew.

I have done the same with our relationship,
taken it apart,
realigned.

The mend is achieved;

slightly imperfect,
untested as yet,
I hope it will hold.

Candy Gordon

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A Last Song

And while you were lying there
propped up in your
hospital bed   as if for a
matinee performance   it must
have been a sudden memory
or something one of us said
that brought it rushing
to your lips:

‘Where did you get that hat?’
you were mouthing the
words I knew so well
from my Uni days Musical –
‘Victoriana’, a song from
the 1930s inside your childhood,
infiltrating your growing years.

I remember how we’d practice
the song – dad on piano
and you joining in
from the kitchen or suddenly
beside us – turning back
the clock, re-living those
East End of London times.

Chris and I performed in the
theatre group at Murdoch
Uni, then as part of a busload
of  travelling entertainers skipping
down to country towns like
wandering minstrels to
Kojonup, to as far as Albany,
joining locals in community
halls and reeling in old timers’
friendship, singing and applause.

And while you were quietly
mouthing those words,
I wish I’d grabbed that
moment and joined you
like so many times
for one last chorus   before
that impenetrable dawn.

Mike Greenacre  

 

 

Nature’s Page 

A bird   a raven   silently
stalking in the tree above
at the W.A.Writer’s Week

just crapped on my page…
no kidding, a direct hit,
something I didn’t
at first think was shit.

How many times walking
have I steered my life
between these excretions
and never been grazed or
cornered by fallout?

But here I’ve been hit
and now I can’t settle without
a cursive eye skyward, keep
moving my chair to ‘dodge’
the shadow above.

From above, there is no
redemption   just a suggestion
that it’s time to move on.
Some birds can pick you out
like a sniper they say,
as we search our program
and ring the writer we aim for.

Mike Greenacre

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Cliteracy

A clitoria flower blooms,
Below a little patch of weeds,
Every finger, tongue and whisker,
The grammar that lets her
Free vowels to the sky, like eloping kites.
How Cliteracy, is not about Mensa scores
Or egghead candidacy, its
Only how Sappho would exonerate
Poems, to a tiny morsel of a pinkie,
That is a haiku in size, perhaps a limerick,
Which turns out to be an epic, longer than
Homer’s odyssey, and like
The church, what Eliot calls the hippopotamus,
Cliteracy, is a talent, for the budding linguists,
A cathedral for the craft of one’s tongue,
A pick axe, mining the ore of bliss.
There are no cunning foxes among
The language faithful, only women
With a thin pink strip, that is bigger
Than any pink ribbon, on Breast Cancer Awareness Day,
Who now know, that back then, in the movement
Of female suffrage, they marched,
Rotating bras in the air, like helicopters,
And came home, to a finger in the bathtub,
Eureka was just simplifying it.
How there is no illiteracy or dyslexia,
When the grammarian of the house,
Gives a lesson in classical English.
Its all about, how, just like Sappho,
A boy will, one distant day, realize,
French kisses are for sissies.

Dilantha Gunawardana

Mandela’s Ashtray 

How l lapse, like everyone else,
As a rolled cigarette. My years pressed
On an ashtray, Sri Lanka, the residue
Of tobacco leaves succumbing
At the burning end, while
Finally, I will turn to a cigarette butt.
An old man, crouched, wasting away,
Curling from the spine, the brain
Shrinking, a bout of Alzheimer’s,
And a marriage bed, of
Diminishing returns, knowing
That the urn, which like the
Floral-shaped ashtrays, will
Be emptied soon.

An empty ash tray
Retires, to a world, while a soul,
Will escape to tumble through
Samsara, until caught by another soul seeker.
Aren’t we all retiring ashtrays at the end,
21 grams lighter, a receptacle storing
The charred tobacco leaves,
The dust we become, the trace
Metals that scatter on a tray,
Knowing it’s not how short or long
The remaining butt is, only how much of “nicotine”,
You brought to a world, where
Only the extra-strong cigarettes,
Will remain as legacies.

30 mg of nicotine, like inside,
The Nelson Mandela cigarette, celebrated
On the 18th of July, a man, who
Came out, to a country that cheered him on arrival,
From a long incarceration. A place
Where Jacaranda flowers fall,
On young men walking around Pretoria,
While the wind blows tiny ashes off
Off a once ashtray – Mandela’s prison cell for 18 years –
Where he stood, inside bars, looking
At songbirds who perch, and the fire flies with lanterns,
And came out one day, a wave of his hand,
And a most forgiving heart.

While, citizens of a nation,
White and black, young and old,
Afrikaner people, descendants from Bihar,
And the many mosaic mixes, sniff,
Gushes of one man’s nicotine,
Blowing off an ashtray, an island in Table bay,
Floating like tiny pollen in the nascent wind,
Pollinating dreams in Soweto.
The long road home for a young nation,
Made of millions of cigarettes, of varying
Sizes, colors, flavors, and nicotine levels;
Touches of beautiful Ubuntu,
Dreaming of the watershed hour,
They all become custodians,
Of a colorblind Xanadu.

Dilantha Gunawardana

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An Ancient Karri  

An ancient Karri
stands tall
protecting the land in its armour of bark.
We speak
something arboreal.
It is a library
a repository of stories and yarns
to children a giant in their imaginings
a citadel against their fears; a refuge.
its limbs hold and nurture; grandparent of the bush.
Then darkness.
Shadow of death looms
an axe swings
again and again
flesh torn wide.
a bloody circle forms its girth.
sap flows
shadows move and disperse
silence is loud
Screaming.
A primordial life beaten into
Extinction

Ann Harrison  NSC

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Memorial

A husband and wife buy a house on a slope,
a moment of brazen Becoming.
A bravura sanctuary, an achievement of care
before her own temple contorts and consumes.

Now seated before the documentary camera,
the bird bones click in his face near to cracking.
The husband gives thanks for the unplanned memorial:
the project they wanted to share.

I don’t know which need
(or maybe I do)
compels me to imagine this sequence –
a message I want her to have given him:

“I cannot remain.
Unknowing will swallow me whole in time
but still – I was here. We were.
Ephemeral life burns brighter
with your continuance,
for as long as you can.”

Such precepts one conjures,

which no-one can prove or disprove,
to soften or leaven the way
with their own limitation.
It’s her shoulder-slung smile from the family album
that enshrines, then scatters her, for me.

Glen Hunting

Dominion

Four years old,
a benevolent dictator.
The grass was yours,
recumbent and welcoming.
Each blade and bloom
assessed and acknowledged
without gesture or numbers or words.
Just familiar wonder, tumbled together,
surging and settling with the liminal ether
that blessed every footfall you made.
Such was your dominion, borne of proximity,
and a genetic lordliness that was yet to acquire
its senior jealousy, its tainted inflammation.

Glen Hunting

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Gumleaf

like a graceful Chinese maiden
the gum leaf drifts
through air made soft by rain
long and slender
the gray green of a celadon jar
joined to her sisters by
trunk’s bark     wiry branches

the maiden sways as the wind takes her
rustles gently
or
in violent alarm she rotates against her sisters until they rattle like seeds in a gourd

then silence
only the scent of eucalyptus
rain drops caught in scarlet fingers
under a cloud sky

the leaf spins        just as captive
as the beautiful Chinese maiden
whose bound feet
mean she cannot get away

Pat Johnson

 

The Night Shift

vats of liquid plastic
toxic fumes mingled with cigarette smoke
dead dreams streaming from the
bleak eyes and calloused hearts around him

he longs to lie with his wife in his arms
kids in the next room
instead of mixing colours
pouring poison into moulds

gagging his way though the night shift
he promises himself     that
tomorrow he’ll put
his toes in the grass

Pat Johnson

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Sad Self Deception
(at the foot of a Chinese mountain)

She told us with pride
“I live at the foot of the mountain
where the air is fresh and clean”.
Her face shines she is excited or is it joy
in the belief that the thick grey smog that surrounds us
does not enter her home, that she exists in a pollution free bubble
where she and her family are exempt from the truth of what is outside their door.

Aleks and I exchange a look, incredulous,
at this unexpected deception. We look
toward the mountain quite beautiful in
its majesty but barely visible and
we try to envisage a space at its base
that is as she describes.
It is not possible.
It is sad.

Maybe the mountain covered with
layers of grey dusted vegetation
expels more than the oxygen
and the air she breathes
is fresher, cleaner
and what she portrays
is not so much a lie
but a half
or a minute
much
needed
truth.

Nada Kesic

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Mary’s Grace

“A cup of tea love?”
She says it all the time.
It’s her mantra,
over and over,
solving all problems,
soothing all hurts,
her cure, her panacea for everything.

“I’ll just pop the kettle on shall I?”
Precludes the whole performance;
begins the practised ritual.
No tea bags for her!
Instead, there is the rinsing of the pot,
the warming, before adding the sacred flakes,
the allowed time for steeping.

“Here you are then, lovely and hot.”
And she fusses while preparing the rattling china.
The liquid is milky and weak,
Earl Grey at its palest.
Numbly we hold out our hands
to receive absolution,
delivered by our reverent hostess.

Veronica Lake

No Man’s Land

The security of familiar trenches is all relative:
noxious gases, foot-rot and the odd sniper taking pot shots
mark one’s vulnerability quite clearly.
One singing bullet slipping by an ear tends to make you wary.
You’re a bit tense and camaraderie is stretched thin.
Still, going over the top is fraught.
Suddenly, you are out there totally exposed.
There’s sludge sucking at your feet, pulling you back.
In this stumbling, bumbling situation all you can do is trudge onward.
You know you’re the target.
Everybody is aiming at you, trying to gun you down.
In no man’s land there is no cover, no protection, no hiding place.
Without a thought they’ll take you out.
Blow you away, given half a chance.
Deliberately will they bring you to your knees,
let you fall face down in the mud,
leave you there while they trample your soul.
Those trenches seem an impossible haven from out here,
even though you know there is no going back.

Veronica Lake

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The Outsider

The lone wolf stands
outside the circle
always awaiting his cue.

He bides his time
unwilling to abandon
the safety of shadows.

Aiding the pack’s hunt
he earns a place amongst them,
warming his hollow heart.

Cast as an omega
he clings to approval,
remedy for his loneliness.

One day he snaps,
encounters gnashing fangs
and razor-sharp claws.

Banished, he hunts alone
knowing in solitude
the only one he can hurt

is the one he knows best.

A.R. Levett

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Full Circle

Long before bottled or cartooned milk
milk used to come right to your home
measured into a billy on your doorstep.

In the early hours you would hear clip-clop
of the milkman’s horse carrying milk churns.
A note said how many “pints” or “quarts” you needed.

Another clip-clop some hours later –
the baker’s cart, as he ran in
with his basket of freshly baked loaves.

What a great choice – no sliced and wrapped
but real crunchy bread – its very smell
announced its wholesomeness!

The fishmonger also called.
He would fillet the fish
outside on the laundry table.

The poultry man delivered
fowls plucked and dressed
ready for Sunday roast.

When my parents said my pet bantums
had been sold, would we by chance
be eating one of them?

Greengrocers displayed fresh produce
on the back of their trucks
complete with scales in “pounds” and “stones”.

This was all in the “olden days”.
Phone your order to the corner grocer –
delivery assured the next day.

Now door to door delivery
via the internet –
Full Circle.

Meryl Manoy

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Imprint

I remember
the sharp sting of my mother’s hand,
the slap of words across my ears.
I don’t remember
the soothing touch on my bruises,
a swell of pride in her voice.

I remember
my father’s smile spilling into laughter,
his proud arm tight across my shoulders.
I don’t remember
a hand knuckled in anger,
the quick palm flattened on skin.

I remember
those hands of my childhood,
their ways of shaping a life.

Mardi May

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Cruel Spirit White

Achromatic, yet on the universe impacts:
White, as white, eternity –
opposite to that the blind man see.
If all were blind, would colour fade?
White, as white, as white can be;
would all adopt the same facade?
To fit the mould, would all be made?
By tongue we then our brother know?
Would hate, suspicion clear the air? Would we therewith,
each other own, and end our greed, our hate, our fear?

White as snow – great mountain range,
smashed in chasms made by man.
White: begrimed, befouled, be damned –
slashed and gashed mans’ monstrous rage
against each other, on this earth, covetous of another’s land.
White discoloured, destroyed, discharged:
Nothing new on history’s page, cultured to a lesson learned?
When will history’s page be spurned
for love to pervade throughout the land,
No failure of the mortal man, in apathy, goodwill upstage?

White a background on a flag – a sanctuary crossed with red,
for displaced mortals tossed aside:
beaten, defeated, damaged: disowned – no home!
Human remnants of conflagration;
victims of war’s wanton ravage:
torn apart no safety zone
Duped by brutal deluded minds
create their own destructive death
depraved to sleep in paradise
And leave their legacy of paying price.

White the foam of the wrathful sea
vehemently, violently venting anger
Prancing waves, as tall as houses,
leave their wind-whipped spume behind
The ship that rides to anchored in
Safely beyond the reef’s white foaming trim
No longer with its cargo floats
Sinking now beneath the waves
Strew refugees to liquescent graves.

Glad McGough

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Slip On The Paddle

So dark they were, these savages in black
and their canoe. The two had taken tukeri
in maiden bark. Moorundi men
who hailed our vessel,“hark!”
They paddled swift as winging swans
of fire and smoke, with woman
brought along to cook and choke herself
to feed their flame, alive and glowing.
Tukeri for two, and maybe save
some bony fillets for herself?
No knowing what the catch might do!

“My kilowis!” they greeted us
for hopeful aid, as paddle-blade
was swamped beneath our stern
and churn of river met their craft.
Our sailors laughed at frantic hope
to disembark their boat. And its crew
all three and their canoe,
were swallowed, gobbled in the dark
their native red gum float
of rope and gum and bark.

Then up our side like feral cats they came
and who’s to blame the woman
scrambling behind? But, do you mind?
the men soon kicked her back
screaming, those savages in black.
Of course, we offered to attend her
to defend her right.

But in her plight, that lady
struck out gamely for the shore.
She made it clear
the end was near for their
new bark canoe!

Max Merckenschlager

tukeri = pronounced “took-er-ee” (bony bream)
kilowi = pronounced “kill-o-wee” (brother)

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Against Glass

Waking to a silver world,

_______________________ drizzle screen printing trees a cleaner green,

first droplets tip tipping tin quicken, till Westerly freshens,

_______________________  and rain flung like handfuls of phantom grit, splatters glass.

My French window’s celluloid, flickery images of white gums,

_______________________  grass, a birdbath.

Through bedroom panes melted plastic pedestrians drip and run.

_______________________  Observed from balcony, the sea a child’s painting, smeary, unsure;

gull tumbling across overcast, a rag discarded.

_______________________  The cottage is ocular, a lens, detailing this larger hydrology,

water sluices perceptions, there is a loosening, a lacrimal brimming,

_______________________  then softly as the sky, I am uncontained.

Jan Napier

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Objector!

No medal shining on his chest
No marching in his Sunday best
Nor cheers for he who stands alone
Who would not fight to save his own.

Those who killed without a thought

With slogans and with silver bought
Mean more than he, though in the grave
It’s said they died the world to save.

Of war there never is a pause

So still they die for this same cause
And, at an enormous cost
The world is bought, the world is lost.

But the hope is in one voice
Mildly advocating choice
Singing an insistent song –
“Never do, but suffer wrong!”

Better swallow mocking pill
Best to die instead of kill
Until the hero is the norm
For none will don the uniform.

None will give an order curt
None will raise an arm to hurt
None be buried underneath
Where none will lay an empty wreath.

Honoured then the peace protector
Conscientious war objector.

Tony O’Donnell

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I Just Thought

Just finished the porridge it glues around my hips
and the weight is like loving, a sticky burden
nourishing mess, needs a grand cleansing at the sink
where we wash away our tears and hands that have
hauled the jasmine without gloves to protect them
stained now with what the open earth offered as
binding of dead leaves and fallen kindling – damp
cant start a blaze with that, suitable only for slugs
and fungi, maybe the startling white of death caps
or the glorious riot of punk, orange curlicues on dying
branches. Family aside there are only so many twigs and
and offshoots, see the tree meticulously stitched crossly
on the wall, framed in silky oak, eyes bouncing off the glass

earthing us down the ages, back into other lands
sending out shoots – are you interested? not really
and if we don’t write them or sew them they will disappear.
Good memory only holds for so long, is eaten away like
rotting wood, no-one listens anymore until it is too late
at the funeral and I wish I’d asked that or been given
one more day they wanted to say but we are busy
shopping to buy, jobs to get on with, breakfasts to make.
The porridge sits heavy around my hips.

Virginia O’Keeffe

Sporting Chances

They have narrow faces, eyes squinted up against the sun
so no light of any source comes sneaking in.
Hard faces, lips so thinned like winnowed rows of wire
rarely twisted into a smile, begrudging if it came.
In the club house at the bar, know all the blokes
on first name terms, the kids that run about are theirs.
Since knee high they have played on asphalt courts and
lumpy pitches, moving cows off, shinning skin and never crying.
Who’s a sissy? Baby blubber, play harder, longer, no quarter
given, we play to win. You’re goal defence, can’t damage there.
And should a stranger happen in theirs is a silence so deafening
that all heads will turn and fingers tauten on their Bundeys.
It takes a cool hand to order red wines at the counter.

Virginia O’Keeffe

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Dreaming

the first day of autumn he spends being saltily
chlorinated, as seismic ripples rumble
through sand and tiles from passing trucks
while in syria, kids keep being bombed
and vapourised to memories and hope

this same good sun
which circles his world and ours
each solar day, would shine a beam
of forever, if only it was enabled. but
all controls are set to hell and back,
and apart from warming souls
and synthesising fields of green,
it is perpetual witness to humanity’s gift
to rip and batter
to rape and burn
to destroy and hate –
that worries his brow from head to grave

he cannot see the why, as pomegranates
bulb and bluster, crimson in the skin
and deeper still as sparkling gems within,
filled with bleeding juice and faith,
a hint that room exists for future days
where life and coexistence bloom
like summer sunflowers, as autumn
arrives with an edge of hope and empathy
in the shape of end-of-lifetime leaves
flaming orange through red to purple,

then falling softly
to earth under tug of breeze –

to ferment and drive his forest of
desire, dreams and foreverness

Allan Padgett

 

For Geoff

Steal me from a place called home
rip me from family I didn’t
grow time to know
tear me from a mother’s arms I hardly felt
ship me fearful to sunstruck
bastard shores of a foreign land
11,232 nautical miles from home
fingerprint me
shove me in back of a truck –
hand me to them.
O, the oranges and sunshine are unbearable.

Nine years young and wide-eyed.  Strange men,
these, the ones that thrash me first –
then rub and suck.
Faith was grounded before the crashing
men were paid to do the bashing.
We hid like mice in rows of oats –
swelling, fertile. Pluckable.

A child migrant with no known dad
guardians absque misericordia
labelled orphan, defenceless,
chewed over by men with power
and spat out like trash
to limp along alone and sorrowed –
seeking any answer as to the why.

What torture I suffer because of your touch,
your savage otherness –
your penetrating divinity.
The more we hoped –
the more we lost.
The more we prayed –
the more your body fell into mine.

Accountable for nought,
you guaranteed I would be weeping still
some seventy years later,
blazing memories burned
into my whole being
as brands are seared
into the melting skin of bulls.

Sky clouded over, a cumulus
of sexual feasting and brother-fed brutality
in the rape-scalped horrors
of the shivering night.

Thank you soldiers of the cross
for your hammering
stammering
ejaculating
indifference.

Thread me gently to the promised land.

Allan Padgett

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Shivering for Shelter    

Could poetry be seen
as an oasis
in an ocean of sand,
beckoning the parched
and their friends,

as a bridge over the river
write perhaps,
linking aspects of story
and song, as well as
a plea to provide

shelter for the ones
experiencing
homelessness; having to
sleep in the open,
in all manner of weather

even when
temperatures descend
to eight degrees
Celsius, or less.
The homeless shiver

for shelter with access
to a shower, a bed,
a blanket or two, and
a chair supporting
writers past fair.

Joyce Parkes

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From Above They Come, Descending

down low it is all cloud: the engine tells them so

ideas lick the length of wings: up higher is how they
stick to things, gliss stringed for plucking, ward
flocks of aviaries from going north, if indeed it is
that time, of
course

up here, unconscious dreams collect their thoughts,
write reports. on you & i they
spy, give gold stars
for effort, meteorites
to enable wish fulfilment
or the end of planets. en masse, evensong is given
to everyone: hum along, the words will come,
reigning

for now, there is no descent, until there is descent:
heaven spent, all time ends, even that in the company
of a cabin, tiny bottled spirits, the thrombosis of
flying

from below, we look above, scour for immortal love,
that something will rain down on us: in clouds, ideas
belong, arrival a descending song, how a plain of
thought can churn & turbine. imagine waiting at a
gate with a sign that says “you, poem, you belong
here”. the page fills up, just like an airport

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

The Pause

pollination pushes yellow into the
conversation. stamen’s speak
loudest when seeds give
sentence, structure

wind grapholect from the dust of
blossom. drip nectar, deeding dirt
with roots: pstyxis to petaldom
follow the sun

sneezing is a most fragrant flower
song. sing pollen throng undone

in spring, become something sprung,

a space between the nose tickling &
the explosion

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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Living Threads

Stretched out by sun-kissed granite rock,
a blanket lightly presses down
on strong dry alpine grass,
_____ edges dancing                            lifted up,
by wisps of crisp thin mountain air,
cooling down where hips have left
the blanket’s warm caress.
Hip-hollowed bed, now smoothing out,
by grasses pressing from beneath.

Far down, in pearl white, twisting shoreline mists,
roads perch on sharply rising mountain cliffs,
tires graze the narrow gravelled sides:
imprints of many travellers, rushing swiftly by.

Love came easily in youthful times,
_____  infinite futures                           questing minds.
Friends, like leaves, washed in the wakes
of lake-bound ferries.
Taking trips with me at certain times,
then by currents pulled aside.

Alpine air tends tapestries of living threads:
microscopic roots of lichen, moss and liverwort
hold granite rocks in tight caress,
where nature weaves its artistry,
stretching out it’s biomes, for human lives
that briefly flame                     in looms of depthless time.

Yvonne G Patterson

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A Gift From Broken Shadows

these childhood streets are scented with a thick odour of poverty.
a kidnapping of littered stains and loitering decay.
colourless houses, dented and thin, teeth
broken fences
as angry dogs bark at their existence.
here,
amid the squeaking and slamming door echo of address,
the unguiding dissolved knots of family
collect.
all the out-of-work fathers
are drunk on food money
and the
mothers,
sagging in bruised silences where
baby hide hungry.

the children with skinny shadows and after-school sag
are
scooping up day dreams inside swing-less parks
home.
the drunks circle in a smudge of slur and nostalgia under its leafless trees.
the boys chase and
the girls finger sand shapes,
kneeling in a pony tail shadow.

the truant teenagers are all baggy and bling from m.t.v,
tangling together in a pollution of shop lifting smolder on glass bottled
empty corners,
smoking.

not young girls but angry mothers,
unwashed in loose singlets and stomp,
forcing fatherless prams to agencies for donations and formula.
waiting rooms dim and dank like a wounded dream.

the ones who can beat their drunken fathers have now become men.
running from law or past;
dizzy In their street addictions and
the night life’s
balaclava-tip-toeing theft for want.
their new born babies
a torn photo
inside their empty wallet.

but in here,
also,
amongst the broken shards of poverty street,
begins a small miracle.
sometimes you can hear its repetitive sounds birthing from empty garage.
they are their now,
a thumping of fury and a singing of rope whirring into rhythms whistle.
a young boy in hood and hand wrap,
is catching breath.
in minds eye,
he raises arms,
like one who surrenders,
in his victory;
where mothers tears
are of happiness
and the grey sharp hate outside the violent walls of his childhood
are all silent to the announcers call for the ‘blue corner!’
he has won the fight!
a gift from the broken shadows,
___________________________________ another boxer is born.

Mike Pedrana

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Clothed And Shod

With pride, aged nine, we first wore overcoats
and full lace-up leather footwear for puddles.
Warm we were for winter, hands thrust deep
in our pockets, rain hats on, boots like boats.
Wondered how Ballardongs1 naked but for skin
of possums draped over shoulders could survive
freezing winters of west winds. But they’d warmth
of fire-sticks held close and shared amongst kin.

In our day, of course, they worked on farms
and wore in winter our old army greatcoats—
cast-offs of World Wars. Sometimes a wheatbag
to hood heads against rain. If what warms
lifts us out of poverty of pain, might small
childhood memories teach this to us all?

Glen Phillips

1Ballardong tribe of Aborigines from the Wheatbelt of Western Australia

On Swollen Cheeks

On swollen cheeks from weeping eyes
the tears run, one on one. Human sighs
are tears’ distillations of hurt or shame,
loss or lust; tears rise in grief’s own name
to swarm over flesh to search anew in
these creased tracks down lips and chin.
There to be smudged by shaking hands;
and this has happened in countless lands.

So when you came to me, head bowed,
face flushed, your fingers knotted close,
I should have sensed the storm, I suppose.
You tried then to stem what later flowed,
those tempests of salt tears that burned
with fires of injustice—and love spurned.

Glen Phillips

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Remembering Morrie

Morrie was a funny kid
________ not  bad      just a shilling
short of a quid kid

we joked about him sometimes

________ never to his face though
no hurt intended

used to lope around
________ sometimes on his bike
always on his own

never spoke
________ one way or the other
just a sort of grin       sometimes

about 14 or so

________ Morrie up and left school
got himself a job

general dogsbody job it was
________ down at the soap factory
in North Fremantle

we read it in the Daily News
________ big banner headlines
terrible tragedy the paper said

slipped into a vat of lye
________ fished him out quick
as best they could

just a bag of bones was all
________ poor Morrie
sad to see him go like that

Norma Schwind

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Casuarinas

Back in the really wild days,
in this colonial outpost
(now a mid-size expensive city)
as mud and stone houses went up
and Noongar folk looked on bewildered and confused,
so much was said by poets and others
about the wind in the Casuarinas.
As if that wind were sent to spook us.
Spindly trees with skinny leaves
all along the banks of the Swan
is all they are.
Their real name Kweela.
And the wind is surely just a wind?
Or perhaps there’s more:
Those skinny leaves make a soft and constant sound,
no ululation, no change in pitch,
just a long whisper, almost like a distant jet,
whooshing through our ears
reminding us of way way back
before we left our mark, and what a mark we left!
And now we’ve named a prison after those skinny trees
and fill it with more bewildered and confused …

Don Smith

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Of Wine And Peacocks        

That summer
she wore the drab of illness
chose to walk where no crowds come.

But one by one
friends came to her door.

First the poet
who taught dancing and kept peacocks
bringing wine and a purple elephant tea cosy.

The gracious Javanese
whose energy and laughter lit up
the house, cleared the dark rooms of pain.

A friend from decades back
loud and thirsting for adventure
in red desert sands
under nights of blazing stars.

The letter from Tasmania
second cousins back from Paris
an email from grey nomad friends
still wandering on beaches.

Last the publisher
needing someone to check proofs.
Take your time, he’d said
knowing it would take months
and point to possibilities she hadn’t seen.

But for now
she looked around and saw
the black dog gone from the verandah.

Flora Smith

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Desert Campanologist

I am the Bell Bird
the desert ventriloquist
plaintive, pulsating
rhythmic Panpanpalala
my call cloaks everything.

A sideshow clown’s head
swivels left, right
flings forth my coda
constant Panpanpalala.

My campanile a Desert Oak
belfry sighing greenery
I hide, sing
Panpanpalala. 

Heat depresses, trees gasp,
bark buckles, leaves rattle.
On and on
My Panpanpalala soaks the air.

Laurie Smith

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Port Arthur’s Visitors, 1993

We came by car, stopping for sights:
Eaglehawk Neck, Pirate’s Bay,
Tasman’s Arch, the tessellated shore,
scarred like a convict’s back.

Transported by sea, confined in irons,
you could not pace the deck,
be braced by gales, lean over the taffrail,
glimpse whales nuzzling their calves.

We crossed fields of flowering trees
to the penitentiary and dark waters
of the bay; restorations and ruins,
sites for correction and atonement.

Your barque rounded the cape.
Through basalt portals
you entered an unknown landscape,
a new and unforgiving world.

Homeward, we visited an animal park.
Seals dove from fake rocks.
Pelicans flexed clipped wings–
trundled
____________ again and again

towards flight.

Rita Tognini

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Majesty

Today I gave my soul to the majestic
ocean      lost all inhibitions
and made love on the warm sand.

The waves pounded on the rocks
and with each heart beat
I continued loving the other

until his existence had succumbed
to the beauty of the
ocean’s chorus and melody.

Mimma Tornatora

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Another Birthday

Now with more time behind than ahead,
ahead of me looms the last unknown.
Unknown, as once was this Great South land –
land of my rebirth, where I travelled far,
far enough to return at last, home.

Maggie Van Putten

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Pendulum  Coffee  Lounge 1964

Syncopated underground notes
grind rhythms from the street
to a smoke haunted room
__________________________ and jazz
sax and trumpet bleed
bass and bongos a double beat
ghosts playing notes unheard
hang from hooks hooked into
__________________________ tangled melancholy jazz
and soul keeps kicking it’s way
in a stirring hunger stabbing a chest of bones
a sinew of string in a ragged circle of fifths
__________________________ jazz
rips the heart of discord
drops into the mind
__________________________ jazz

Gail Willems            

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