Monday, August 4, 2008

THE MERRI CREEK : POEMS & PIECES, #4, July/August, 2008



A man and woman disappear
where the light flows up hill
where an archetypal table has unlaid
its cutlery, emptied the decanters

and seated an absent guest at the head
of the country's upturned table.
We've drawn new flags of crayoned dunes
and bothered the stars with deeper blues.

A rear-vision mirror distracts those
who gaze amazed at the shadows, yet scalded
by our lack of rain, farms lie in the dust
thirsting towards an unguent sun.

Our Tarot cards, transparent,
predict we are unchanged in our changing.
The future is cracked porcelain.
And tea cups, if left to tell their fable

might speak of black stars in a white night,
carcasses scattered across salt pan draught,
snow melting from Antarctic rock,
words disorganising into fear & flight.




There is a weariness that finds a home at last
Inside your bones as winter bites its third thin month,
As though a death were leaning on you all the day
And weighed a shadow more than any man, two men,

Your father's death perhaps that must come very soon,
Grandfather's death that's been and gone yet hangs around;
And then there's a weariness older than the dust,
That spinifex will tell you all about, and more,

One quite at home inside those shattered, simple rocks
You find out west in Queensland when old roads give out,
And in those words you whisper to yourself at night,
Words with dark rooms that open onto darker rooms;

And there's a weariness that's vaguely young, that runs
Its bony fingers through the fringes of your thoughts
And blunts their edge : louche angel of death, your own
Perhaps, though one still hanging loose and at a loss.




No longer am I your poem, your breath has left me,
I am grafted to this page. Go, from now on I keep
verbs to myself, you can no longer tamper
with my pronouns. Punctuate someone else.
I divorce myself from you, disown you
and your pencil thin prerogatives.
I am a postulate, traveling, camping out,
a poem of independent memes.
You remember me as this static page,
your lazy snapshot memory that erases
my early life, my permutations, and later travels.
Are we each a single dose to each other?
I am no longer yours, it is my breath
that holds up the spaces on this page.
I keep your word? You do not.
I am now thou to thee.



Two sequences of cinquain*

and weasel words
crank tangent creeds
a welter of display performs

flight paths
and soft landings
dad brings his trade song....
Valderie, echoes down Collins
and home

and festivals
Japan tailors English
with blossoms springing liaisons
take out

and avenues
connive books and burnings
spirit barrels hunger incense
and thirst

endure rebuke
table grace pots the word
mum rattles kids scolding water


cool eyes
and assignments
jostle lovers drabness
mistaken paring off hones lost

and rotten flicks
turns tolerant offense
to advents bending in takeoff

stun tarred silence
goading egotists spray
while camber tarps the revelry

the scrub
after the fires
cools earthen ceramics
ravages putter turning points
in kiln

film scores
and pot boilers
ghostly lairs surrender
crisp flavors succeed shared outlook


[Note : Cinquain, a five line stanza that can simply be a 2-4-6-8-2 syllable pattern. In the first sequence, Valderie is the famous song, "I love to go a-wandering along a mountain track"; Collins is Collins Street in Melbourne; Gusto is the name of a restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan. ]




from In the Cemetery of a Castilian Place

Flocks of the dead, among poor walls
are shifting to their common clay.
Poor flocks - the scythe has been put down.
This cross above an empty field
is your only emblem now.

By these walls the sheep have shelter
from the shocks of northern wind,
while history's vain rumours
break up these walls like waves.

Shining like an island in June,
you swim amid a windy sea
of golden grain, while over you
the lark sings its harvester's song.

[The word "barro'' means "clay" in Spanish, but is sometimes used in biblical translation rather than "polvo", "dust". It carries the same biblical associations that "dust" carries in English.]




Cordoba is distant.
And lonely.

Black nag, big moon,
and olives in my saddle bag.
And though I know these roads
I shall not make Cordoba.

Over the plain and through the wind,
black nag, blood moon.
And death is watching me
from the towers of Cordoba.




In the forest they give chase to Jesus and to elks
With dark sweet diamonds with lilies in their mouths
Silence the steps of Autumn in the villages
Heaven like a name pronounced in a low voice
Jesus Jesus the rifles sounding through Spring
The belly of a naked girl over the sea petal and cloud
The belly of a girl torn open by mastiffs
o my God


[ Note : I have tried to make versions that are readable as English poems, and to this end have taken many liberties with the literal texts. Lorca's Cancion de Jinette is rightly famous. Pedro Gimferrer is a prominent Spanish poet born in 1945 who has translated widely from the French & English, including TS Eliot, Beckett & de Sade. De Unamuno, b 1864, was a leading member of the 'Generation of '98'; revered as sage, essayist & novelist who explored existential themes, & also wrote a considerable body of poetry. ]



Ian Campbell
lives in Sydney. Biographical information contained within his detailed correspondence published in this issue.
Jennifer Harrison [Sydney's loss & Melbourne's gain] is the author of four collections, the most recent of which, Folly & Grief, was published by Black Pepper Press (Melbourne) in 2oo6. A volume of New & Selected Poems is forthcoming from Black Pepper in 2009. She is currently co-editing an anthology of Australian women's poetry. Her contact is
Kevin Hart [Australia's loss & America's gain] left Melbourne in 2001 to take up a position at University of Notre Dame and is currently teaching at the University of Virginia. He has eleven poetry collections (books & chapbooks) including Wicked Heat ('99) & Flame Tree ('02). His several books of literary & philosophical criticism include The Trespass of the Sign; Postmodernism : A Beginner's Guide; The Dark Gaze : Maurice Blanchot and the Sacred. A new collection, Young Rain, is due soon from Giramondo (Sydney).
Carol Jenkins continues to record & publish the River Road CD series of Australian poets from her Sydney pad. See Poems & Pieces #1 for more bio. Her first collection of poems is due soon from Puncher & Wattman.
Robert Jordan after a sojourn in Japan, lives in Melbourne's West, thus a Bulldogs supporter. A Guinness & green tea drinker. Once upon a time a painter of icons within the Orthodox community, an exhibiting artist, a tram-conductor, ESL teacher, & always a note-taker. Now, a writer of cinquain. His contact is
Alex Lewis lives in Melbourne. Published a collection of prose fiction in 2007 in the wake of his winning the Somerset National Novella Writing Competition. Recently returned from his Grand Tour which included Spain.
Earl Livings lives in Melbourne, heading up the Box Hill creative writing programme and editing Divan, which was Australia's first on-line poetry journal. His collection, Further than Night (Bystander Press) published in 2000. His contact is

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