Sunday, May 22, 2011






history teaches us
to walk to paris on a fishing boat
with mercury retrograde

recipes for ice so rarely include
a detailed analysis of the advantages
to miniscule machines in bike path gridlock
or descriptions of that hill
where morning is first measured
& any linkage to rachmaninovs recent status
is to our minds self evidently spurious

we suggest a working party
a petition
an online survey
at very least a stern letter to the editor

perhaps a new chef

perhaps sunset over the oasis

idols revelling in the luxuriant garlands
of arrested early childhood development


local or general

we will always have the irreducible complexity
of weddings on a paddle steamer
the interminable wait for a new suit
beneath the glistening slate roof of the fossilised house

the ironing

the unclaimed spliff in the breast pocket of a blue shirt

discussion of bourgeois economics insinuating itself into a gleaming
aluminium egg
a sculpture partially eclipsed by snow from a mind known for its disinterest
not only in central european but also & perhaps particularly
alpine democracy

we will always have the emergent properties
of one day cricket in a convent
the rush of late wickets
the terror of a lost limb
the night out that ends with poetry
our backs toward the ocean in a hermit kingdom

little red riding hood botoxed for the mysterious woodsman

enthusiasts trusting a high school crush on the girl who can tie herself
through a wall with her own golden tresses
is based at least in part on the benevolent fallacy her blue echo
arrives last monday


another day on earth

venture with us to a land of sunshine
behind the waterfalls sparkling curtain

a simple rope trick
& we leave that sheepish mask
at the bottom of the stairs
in a drear grotto
with as much time as we need
to find that bowl
of very specific
if unspecified shape

in some quarters this is known as keeping a lid on things

in others two chairs
or mountains mountains mountains

before the space race
it was not uncommon to flit from one thing to the other
scanners riled parlours & dinner parties
with their erudite contributions






Talking about the immense scope of the universe
And the length and depth of the world
Of the lifespan of huge trees,
And typically apologising profusely -
I told Virginia about the ants by the freeway
She had seen the dying bees
And how the ants were acknowledged
As being , as entities
Rare living things
Beautiful cosmos
She agreed
And said , write a poem , we'll talk about it.

It was Christmas time and everyone was thinking deeply
The weather was warm and people were celebrating
Virginia was playing the temptress in a passion play
In front of 3000 people
And taking counselling, sorting out experiences.
Virginia , tall as the sky
Unique , bold and valiant
Infinitely worldly and wise
A modern day Saint with long brown hair and jeans
On a personal quest
Dealing with contradictions
Guided by the deep impulse of light
Steadfast in her pursuit of well being
Who does not suffer fools , let alone me
And she passionately strums her guitar
Singing songs of hope and inspiration
Let it be better , in the future
It can only get better , once the plan is in place.

In the city somewhere , Lee was sleeping on cardboard
Barefoot with rags over her head
Drinking cheap wine and thinking sad stories
With 20 dollars in her pocket , a gift from a friend
Whom she hugged and kissed in desperation.

I confirmed Alex's deep strong aura
Almost an overpowering silent presence
And likened hers to sea currents

I was concerned for all , hoping for individual success en masse
In a determined attempt for psychic alignment
For a better domination and overall effect
Where emotions are thoughts
And atomic molecules can be volitionally directed
When white matter expands and flowers
With wishful evolving neuroplasticity
Aiming for holistic geometrical harmony
Against all odds , trauma and despair
Without losing any sleep
Where some parts of the world were collapsing
While in others there was hope
And some special places were mysteriously shining
With an inspired contentment aglow with warm brilliance and peace

My legs were stronger but I was going in for the chop
Another one of those guided near death experiences
"You're shouting into the phone...", Virginia said quietly , wary of my excess
I tried to control my nervous volume
And gulped for breath.



On Christmas Eve , the gargoyle busker acting like a stone sculpture
Entranced a crowd with his antics on Swanston Street.
I rolled by and caught his still eye and tipped my hat
He acknowledged with a wry smile and salute.
On Christmas Day
Mum found a small brown bird in the yard
Its leg was injured , and couldn't fly
Others birds were picking at it.
She took it in and fed it porridge
Put it in a basket to rest
And later put it outside again,
But it kept coming to her,
From around the front
Onto her shoulder.
Mum saved it
She said , "I am its mother."



On the day before New Year's Eve
When it was bright and hot
I got off the bus
With a rolled up film poster of Enter The Void in my bag
And went by the path next to the freeway.
A large, scrawny , scraggly rat
Came out of the long grass and followed the footpath
At a leisurely pace in front of me
To the ramp road
It waited for traffic to pass
Then crossed onto a grassy patch on a traffic island.
I followed , on my way home.
The rat was wobbling sideways but kept up pace
I followed it around the grass
then it impatiently crossed the busy wide road
I was concerned for this wily rat
As it made its way across three lanes of tarmac
But in the last dreadful lane
Got clipped by the spinning wheel of an accelerating car
And lay there writhing , tail flickering
This was the worst I could imagine
I was helpless
then another car suddenly squashed it completely
that was the end of the adventurous grey rat
Who had travelled so far
Where was it going?
There was still another four lanes of traffic to go
And beyond that more concrete.
I was sad for this unlikely little creature
Though bush rats in the city are out of favour

I considered an untimely fatal accident
Of one of the smaller things
And the terrible road

What a way to see out the end of the year
With a poor squashed rodent
Amongst the merciless turning
Relentless charging noisy traffic

An unforeseen death one day before New Year
The word rat in Greek is arooraeo





Three Poems


yellow pollen edges the spring pools
enjoying the interval
unravelling theandric threads

the universe's great joke;
hey you!
can you hold this for a minute?

ah the poignancy of failure
a bitter little dessert
with a twist of Rumi

but to linger a while longer
in your fine company
o press me closer

to your voice
to hear again
your rippling arpeggios

and relieve this hard rock
that weighs on my tongue


snaking home

the well chronicled
minutiae of addiction
in the usual font

dream hands reach out
but my attentive heart advises
you've been gone now
a tidy week

across the doona
a harvest moon
drapes its casual arm
tomorrow you'll be here
avoiding heart-spaces
our life slipping
with every relocation.

under a black hill
the future leans
precariously skyward
plunged deep in arrhythmia

I lurch around this broken mind
another skulking fox night to endure
wide awake imagining your headlights
snaking through the pines.


the tangled orchard

coffee-pot, pain-cracked enamel
shadows dance the river stones

in the tangled orchard
a woman scatters grain

the hens scratch and scrabble
stepping backward for a look

worlds fall from her skin
a twinkle still in the ashen sky

knowing attachment
will inevitably bring loss

storm birds rise -- wheeling south
over Black Hill.


[these poems are from the collection New Skin (Greendoor Publishing), 2010]



PAUL HARPER's poems appeared in Poems & Pieces # 21
PHILLIP KANLIDIS is a visual artist & filmmaker, lives in Melbourne.
FRASER MACKAY lives in Central Victoria; a music/spoken-word performer. Link to See Published by Deakin Literary Society, Going Down Swinging.

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