Thursday, January 1, 2009

THE MERRI CREEK #8, 2008/09 : POEMS & PIECES

SAM BYFIELD


AUTUMN PORTRAIT


Sunset, I step outside and catch
the west's last luminous seconds, the sky
evolving through its leafy spectrum,

before stars and the high pitched rhetoric
of crickets. Currawongs call in their alien
tongue, bring to mind the gentle language

of seduction, how it plays itself again
in dreams. Every evening this week
I watched the sun threading away,

into the ranges and desert belly
of this country, and I've imagined it
reaching you, setting into the Indian

Ocean, hoped that you would soon be
watching it, wishing that Winter
would hurry, so that I might return.



*


RETURNING TO LA NINA


A lizard's curiousity in the verandah's arched shade.
The smell of farms, a profusion of living after
the monotony of droughts. The garden overflows

and pulses like rainforest, spiders as big as fists
my mother tells me and I'm glad I wasn't here
to see them. Frangipanis hang like eggs, broken

and suspended. The birds are restless and the leaves
are restless. The wind and the heat. Sun's dapple
fascination. Feather pattern on the horizon.



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CLIVE FAUST



MAXIMS, MINIMS, SQUIBS AND ESSAYETTES


1. I didn't know that Phil Whalen had lived next door to Cid in Kyoto, nor about the regular meetings in San Francisco when young. "... and we used to solve the world's problems together." Yes, I know that scene, and it's very attractive. Wouldn't particularly want to re-hear the conversations (in my case, with Ian Watson, say) all these years later; but that's mainly so those two young men could stay free of second thoughts , and continue being young. Besides, part of the correction would be to the hope they had; and I don't like sniffing out hope --even past hope.

2. Whenever they concoct a new antibiotic for golden staph, the bacteria evolve into strains resistant to it. The micro-organisms are not stupid.

3. People come in and out of our lives casually and accidentally, as if our train were late, and we had to ask a stranger if he knew whether they'd rescheduled it, or whether this one was still meant to be departing on time.

4. I like the sound of a stamp --and on an ink pad too.

5. And real materialists, like Hume, who deny the supernatural, will usually pull some very unlikely deity out of the hat --like the "invisible hand of the market" he invoked for his friend Adam Smith. A lot of obeisance to that Deity round the bourse cathedrals of the world.

6. Blackberries hidden in prickles.

7. "Everything will be forgotten in the days to come." But only if there are days to come. And if there are no days to come, will everything still be forgotten?

8. In age you are treated as a walking ghost well before you die. And you see the world like one too, with its distant affairs of not much interest to you.

9. All alone one New Year's Eve, so I recalled friends, and had my Auld Lang Syne with the dead.

10. Losses of people. I don't really know how to cope. Oddly enough, the ordinary consolation that it is inevitable and universal, is more desolation than consolation for me: the idea of so much absence, and the dwindling in meaning of any one particular absence in the light/dark of that thought, of that truth in fact, is pretty much unbearable. I think how little now deaths of a hundred years ago mean, or fifty, or from one's earlier life. And how blase was one's own attitude to the death of grandparents, as being inevitable with such old people? And it was --but ... .

11. What happens after After is in the lap of the Gods.



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ROBERT JORDAN


PHILOSOPHICAL THINGS


1


sharing
the tight lipped
outside the world we love
shines attraction more crushing than
ourselves

packets
of compassion
visualise oasis
demons season and spring whisk soups
real zest

welfare
and thorny styles
imbues testy postures
detailing people gives notice
on pride

concerns
of give and take
are parlous excuses
calm moods texture reverie as
armour

full hopes
immerse on trains
while forks cut unawares
with nearly all things quiet and
trafficked


2


Judas
was double crossed
blamed on my ticklish sleeve
as delusion and faults forfeit
friendship

shiners
and leather shoes
fail to impress folklore
open myths verify jackets
tailored

bonfires
not gaiety
are love variances
heaviness radiates roaming
murmurs

umpires
and exchanges
pitch result for losers
a transplant injury mounts new
heart pumps

counsels
rouse my lament
and indict defences
what's the exposed image of lone
wedge tails?


3

lovers
and lapsed rhythms
sour most ardent courses
single mercies cherish pacing
dance steps

rackets
and landing strips
out of nowhere alight
details inflate my wanting to
crash land

milkshakes
lime and raspberry
salute a boy's penchant
while gritty dynamics secure
favours

reviews
and articles
riddle my excitement
incumbent chargers fiddle gripe
lambaste

the soul
cautiously let
have you been here that long?
Godot might ask, are you looking
at me?


[NOTES:
Judas Iscariot (died April, AD 29-33) was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve apostles, and was apparently designated to keep account of the 'money bag' but is traditionally known for his betrayal of Jesus Christ.
Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett, in which the characters wait for a man (Godot) who never arrives.]


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ANNE KIRKER


READING


Academically
She insists
The book is about
Needing to
Observe and extend
Freud's political
Unconscious

When Graffito
Rubs against
the Holy Mary

But he quietly
Counters that
It is merely
And wholly
About Love
Memory paths
Ingrained

The grips of grief
And desires
Thwarted

And so
The Weekend
Begins


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



ANN SHENFIELD


LIKE SPIROGRAPH


Does it help that billions of miles away
planets spin in patterns drawn from spirographs?

Swirls within swirls, fractionally rotating
in invisible patterns, like the way a lily

won't open before your eyes, or how
you might even be that lily, if you don't

concern yourself with the parasite inside;
But that lily I mean, the one you didn't notice,

it's all brown petal now, so make sure you don't step on it,
instead watch your child grow taller, and allow her to lean

away, toward a parallel orbit, accept you are peripheral
and though you might have walked around here for days

and months and years, thinking you must be moving
toward something, each day was simply busy

with its own rewriting of grander patterns,
where you fit, only as a swirl, tracing another

swirl, within another swirl,
that's within another swirl.



*


THREE GOOD THINGS


On any day it might all come down
to three good things, or the way
kindness can return unpredictably

Not everyone believes these things
but today I repeat them as a mantra,
my own song that lifts up and banks

out of the littered street,
the plastic bags whose
contemporary beauty

only serves to remind me
everyone is either buying
or selling, then discarding

These words are too weak,
a breath or two might blow
them out, as a child blows

at candles on a cake.
Three good things
candles, cake, a child.


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CONTRIBUTORS' NOTES

SAM BYFIELD, born in 1981, grew up in Newcastle and after stints in Canberra & China now lives in Melbourne. He has published one chapbook, From the Middle Kingdom, and his first full-length collection, Borderlands, is forthcoming from Puncher & Wattmann (Sydney). He has been published in Australia & overseas, most recently in Heat, Famous Reporter, Meridian & The Asia Literary Review.
CLIVE FAUST lives in Bendigo to where he returned in the early '70s after several years in Kyoto. Contributed to The Ear in a Wheatfield in the '70s, featured in the 4th series of Cid Corman's Origin magazine in 1978, included in John Tranter's New Australian Poetry (Makar Press) in 1979, and has published 5 chapbooks (3 with Origin Press) and a selected poems, Cold's Determination (University of Salzburg Press). His review of John Phillips' Language Is appears in Jacket #32 ('07).
ROBERT JORDAN, see note in Poems & Pieces #4
ANNE KIRKER, see note in Poems & Pieces #1
ANN SHENFIELD, see note in Poems & Pieces #2

[Compiled November/December, '08 and typed up this 1st day of January, 2009
Kris Hemensley]

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3 comments:

david lumsden said...

Great issue ... some quick first comments here

collectedworks said...

Dear David, I've been reading & writing & snoozing in back-yard & front-room library, shook myself out of it finally and logged on to find your comment here! What can I say? Brilliant & spontaneous! I mean, we all read but you are one of those special people who dont only retain the gist but are able to quote verbatim,like blowing huge bubble-gum balloons! Thank you then for granting Clive Faust's walking ghost its siblings via Herrick, Todhunter & Yeats..."walking ghostly in the dew"...Actually, the previous line, "And still I dream he treads the lawn..." has me right back with the Hardy I've been playing with past week or so (--playing? i mean jousting with!),the last line of the last poem of a set of seven 14-liners, each line 12 syllables, and entitled After 'Afterwards' (--the other 6 poems dont relate to Hardy): remember Hardy's hedgehog that "travels furtively across the lawn"? Well, I finally got it, and it is uncanny given this particular conversation, but my closing is : "(...)Now here I am --out of line at last-- / ringed by the true meaning of Hardy's holy ghost." How's that?! Best wishes, Kris

david lumsden said...

Hardy's 'Afterwards' is well worth the joust ... that last stanza with its bell and crossing resonates for me with Tennyson's 'Crossing the bar' .... 'Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark.' And the hedgehog keeps popping up, doesn't he ... one appeared in our back garden in Poland one day .... he's in Spenser, and Shakespeare with his "thorny hedgehogs" ... Burns tells us "The priest and hedgehog in their robes, are snug" & in Wordsworth someone's dog "unearths" a hedgehog and barks at his "coiled-up prey" ... which sparks across to Plath's "balled hedgehog / small and cross" ... but I've skipped Auden's "hedgehog's gradual foot" & then of course there's Larkin's nasty accident with a lawn mower, mauling the creature's "unobtrusive world".