such words

          such words

some words
are prayers
in themselves
no need of a
long breath to
know their song
vesper

evening

star

such words
are worked in
gold in grief
in shadow of
the fallen day
in sky found
of morning
ocean

mountain

star

some words
we take into
dreaming enfold
with love’s heavy
cloth embroidered
in the silver of
a first kiss the
salt of a last
vesper

evening

star

such words
are rain in a
fit of wind
driven across
the glass
the loosening
into dusk
the measured
lay of dawn
ocean

mountain

star

november 2014
cockle bay, meadowlands

tianjin

         tianjin

from the deck
you saw the wild blue.
knew the full wind
of an open sea
the city astern
lying fast
in the haze.
saw the blue
unable to rid that haze
open the heart-to-shit street
of days to the blown
clearness above.

saw a swallow
hit the gusts
off the waves
a flight you know
of a low sun in your lover’s eyes
her touch across the back of
the night
a sky that takes
in all your breadth
a dusk that takes in
all your stars.

i was close
to someone grew through
journeys with her
i broke with her
for all the
skies we slept under
the wound of her kiss
in my mouth
salt at the edge of
any joy i’ve known since.
yet
knowing a second birth
in your hands lydia of the kingdom
i am in your debt
as debted to that sky
that stands us out
on the open deck.
let someone take our
picture at the railing
the roiling waves
our backdrop
the swallow your glancing touch
within.

beijing
circa 1994/1995

The Little Donkey

Some here cry when the donkey comes,

clopping on the seal, rangy hills at his back.

Each year he does this; by day he is Seamus,

at bugle’s call, he is Simpson’s steed,

to remember the man, the deeds.

He is led by boys in khaki, over-size

trousers buckling at the ankle, and

he has a red cross about his neck:

red for salvation, for the blood spilled.

When last they stood here, a boy fell

in the heat and the donkey’s eyes lit and his

head went up, and people rushed to

the boy’s aid: they opened his shirt,

gave him water, rubbed his pale cheek;

succour in the field in a heat shimmer.

And that was it – the boy who led the

donkey had fallen at his post, and

no one – no one – wanted to look

disinter

I

I’m sick with

emptiness;

excess;

an ambivalence

I can’t express,

ever; one day

some fine/blade

may sever

that vein/for me

to tell, until then

listen well if you

will.

 

II

Some…nameless one

remains: an inner eye;

living corpse, half-

hid in the

undergrowth; enemy

within, who knows

what I think, I thought

was stilled in his bed.

Do you turn

now to face that grave

fear? My bones

know there is no

end; some knot of

consciousness, a worm,

remains; a paradisal

vision; or, equivocal

figures quivering

the abstruse air of

evening.

 

III

The first Woman cursed us with shame.

Even today, children know this

ubiquity that spies them

with their flies down,

fingering fruit.  In 2 days

my little one turns 1,

untainted still, and beautiful.

I can’t begin to unpick

the abstract love, which is

immanent.

 

Lucifer too is the victim

of an older tradition;

a Promethean who lost,

ignominiously shoved

head first in the ditch;

dead to me now.

 

Evil! how is all this

possible?

Mysterious, the hatred,

the wanton infliction

or accident of pain.

 

Nietzsche lost his mind to grief;

wept, his arms around that

cloven beast whipped on a street

in Turin.

I understand this.

 

And even this is

nothing in the so-called

scheme of things ,

and the hatred,

the laboring, back-

breaking; for acclaim

or money  is vain.

 

Francis

knew this; threw his

last crust to the wind

and birds;

 

I prefer

to drag my heels,

head bowed by the weight

of a cross I can’t bear,

to lay aside.

 

It’s madness. But,

Brothers and Sisters,

are you with me?

 

4 August 2015

(from) detachments – 1 & 2

  1. Cut

 

Bless my suffering

cut short, shorn

like lawn on long

summer days.

 

Tedious heaven.

 

These hours of suffering

are swathed

 

by an eternity

of days:

 

was, will be.

Bliss.

 

There’s no death

but how to tell it?

 

Last night was all one to me –

 

Whitman off his tree

gathering daisies

from the grave, I lay

there

 

with the voices, my own

mostly, whispering

the mind, random

happenings like

nothing I know;

a Padre Nostro;

word for word,

a Michelangelo;

no reason, you know.

 

I got up at 1 o’clock,

cut 3 lines on my arm,

and went to work.

 

desert, sea

 

One day I quit.

 

I’m sick of bodily demands –

having to eat

and go to the toilet.

The drudge of the supermarket

on a Thursday

and the radio

 

blows, always

the hum-drum tins

of beans on toast.

I’m not cynical.

Government is.

Advertising, radio:

the real world. The way our lives

are organized. I’m nothing

now,

but myself – the real me.

 

One day I quit

for the desert, sea,

wood; live long

for the mountains and the trees;

love, and soft

pillows, under one

a gun. Rain sun

rustic wheels,

animals; a boy

and girl. I’m not cynical.

Government is.

The real world.

May 2015

Road Trip

On days such as this the road is a black mirror,

rolling out hard and long into the distance,

ridges bars of bouncing light, the tyres hot,

thrumming on coarse chip and the birds

weaving in the high thin air against the sky;

the hot air a brush on your face and

teasing your thoughts until they melt in your mind,

flick out into the rushing air to spill into the world.

And then you accelerate, reckless, and think;

nothing and everything; feel the power;

think of road trips you never had; continents, islands;

with people you trust and distrust; hand in hand,

grinning and wheeling across the hot dry land,

laughter maniacal and peeling out into a passing world:

and you are lost, subsumed, in a race all your own

At The Beach

Sagging kapok beds, sea’s wash and moan,

sun yellowing papers, streaming over our lives,

wishing for nothing more, no will to move;

anglers in works gumboots, white and stolen

crossing a shingled shore to whip high rods at sun.

We watched lazily, the lazy,

as kahawai died bled  in the sun.

Something to do. On a Saturday.

Lettuces leaned in the wind:

a garden for all in silty soil;

Formica tables and chairs,

stick-on flowers on the cupboards,

ratty carpet on creaking floor –

our comforts – our place.

All gone, save the beach,

reaching down for its kiss-curl waves

Tea and Poems

A high ceiling in spring,

white with a filigree border

and genteel conversation

floats over earl grey

and the waitress’s apron

rises and falls with her light step;

tea and cakes, spilling cream,

a man with a silly hat and

ill-fitting hand-knit jersey

trying to impress his mother –

or his maiden aunt.

The traffic sings in the street,

rising and dipping to the port,

and the guests sip water heavy

with cinnamon and mint.

Books of poems, Mr Betjeman,

on an old wooden shelf, and

Mr Tuwhare , too,

resting above the creaking floor,

waiting for a gentle hand

to let the words out:

time, gentlemen, for tea

first meeting

first meeting*
based on Reiner Stach’s description of Franz Kafka’s first meeting with Felice Bauer (see page 100, ‘Kafka The Decisive Year’s by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch)

only a few words
yet enough to
put you out
to sea
silly boy
you liked her
to the ‘point
of sighing’
you spilled out
to others there
and jammed yourself
into the revolving
door along side
her to keep
up with
her in
laughter

silly boy
you were out
to sea in a
boat of
pail and
shovel
sailing to
jerusalem

silly boy
with the finest
machinery of all
in that head
of yours

silly boy
a sigh is
never a
map
silly boy

nelson st, howick
4 october 2014

 

Franz

white cross on sea

          white cross on sea*

για ο,τι μου δόθηκε απο την καρδιά αυτο του λαού,
απο τον ήλιο τους, άσπρη
  καρδιά της θάλασσας
for what was given to me by the heart of this people,
by their sun, white heart of the sea

they
had it hard
as any land’s lot
ever was
forced to mouth
an unaccepted peace
for centuries under
another’s sword
the ottoman yoke
to fight hand-to-hand
scuffling in snow
with mussolini’s merry
men ‘blood brothers’
he said of the olive
and grape*
when any hatred had
frozen hard and spent
as emptied cartridges
dropping away down
the goat-steps of
winter mountains
the killing just a job
known to the ancients
that had to be done
signed now to the
brutalist enemy of all
under strict agreement
and empty purse*
yet the worn heart of
any one man or woman
of them will show you
a sun that can split
marble histories
apart and
their church
of wine and island
flower a flag
that shall ever
be white cross
on sea
white cross
on summer
sea

ware place, pakuranga heights
20 september 2015
*the greek flag
*the Italian invasion of Greece via Albania; w
hat Mussolini actually said was “Una faccia, una razza”, meaning ‘one face, one people’, a saying in Italy that expresses the shared origin of the mediterannean peoples
*reference to the german dictated agreement to the so-called economic ‘bail-out’

 

      dancing crazy

in the supermarket
carpark he had the
radio up to the roof
the car door open
and was dancing
hasapiko, zembekiko,
tsifteteli* beside
the car whatever
the greek rhythm was
the staggered beat
he danced to that
in the dusk cooling
off like a stone
in a westerly sydney
suburb he danced like
this was the earth of
his possession to
stamp upon to
stamp his heel
mark upon the
gazes of the shoppers
fluttered toward
him like grey
moths around a
summer evening
bulb yet their bodies
never budged
an inch from
their trundlers to
tip the everyday
garbage out
shove it
and
dance
to the
glowing
sky

20 may 2015

*various types of greek dance

        on andros

            to Keith & Rachel, let the retsina flow in honour
            of good meetings on the road

on andros
a village
of the basics
coffee burnt meat
and cross
stakes it out
on the hill
stakes it all
on the hill
turning its back
to that long fall
to the sea
that long fall
of wind of
low walls of
stone dividing
stones into
grazing fields
for stones
the wind
the white towers
the doves swing
around in flight
the sea is always
taking a piece
of the view
wherever
you stand
silently afar
in storm
paved in
moonlight
dashed in
sun scoured
under the wind
there except
when closed off
in the valleys of
night the leaves
of the olive
freezing the
air in silver
drifts
the sea
a hard pillow
of dream
we’ve
yet to lay
our heads
upon

november, 2014

 

the girl on the swing

The girl skipped off the swing

and walked away.

 

That swing is moving still;

caught, I thought at first,

by a slow wind.

 

But its twin, the swing

next to it, is dead still.

 

I think that I’m lost

in the sky, the leavings

of a butterfly;

 

eyes upon the ghost

that once was a girl.

 

4-5 September 2015

The Road West

The road here slants west,

carving to the hill,

past the tender tumble down homes,

past the crouching thatched cottage

in its frozen secret place;

beyond the flinty corner whose face bends the wind.

It is a place of endless shadow, prickled frost.

Time has put an edge on this land – hardened it

and let it spread and spread until it beggars the eye.

Few pass this way: the lizard, wary eye circling,

the trudging trudging sheep, the woman

who looked at the sweeping blue sky and who

turned and turned until her mind shut down

and little cries caught in her throat.

Then the birds rose and called and flew west,

past the point where the road bled into the dun earth