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Anyway, you are not here.

You are –

It doesn’t matter –


I could have told you, for the umpteenth time,

About my thoughts (such as they are)

And how they centre on you.

Or us. As we were.

There was a time, before our eyes dimmed

When we thought each other handsome.

I know it is true of you.

I pray you do not look at me.

Pictures even.

Because I am not that person.

I am adrift, now.

And that makes a difference.

Had you been here, you would know


We descend, then, to a place of greater pain.

Here darkness reigns, lit by the long hum

of afternoon; fluorescent tubes, monologues

at the dinner table; a bedside lamp,

in daylight a spent moon. Men hate their jobs,

wives, their bastard children; and women,

themselves, spouses, long impotent

with rage.


For a time we stared, said nothing; then at last

I said: “Master, who are these people?

Why are they here, and what have they done

to merit such suffering?” And the Master:

“They squandered their prime; fell in love, suffered,

married young; had children, mortgages:

securities, shelter. Men receded, turned in –

became reticent; abstract, lost

in the mirror; trod the carpet of the living room,

paced the hall in the muffled hours

of midnight, week-day afternoons; and women,

not loved, bitter; silent, blowing bubbles

beneath the surface, eye-deep in dishwater.


No sin has condemned them,

but their circumstances; and now they wander,

dead Shades across the endless

quarter acre, Sunday mowers; sprinklers,

blooming flowers, the rustling song

of cicada.


Each soul is cloistered, censured; beaten down.

And no-one hears the howls but their own, far away

like a shell to the ear”.


And I thundered: “Where is God’s love!” “Son”,

replied the Master, calm yourself. This is but

the second Round! There are hells

much worse, speaking of which…

Take my hand: for further down the road

I will show you the misery of those that hunger.”


And we went on down the road.



  *Chieko’s sky

i saw a film about her once, Chieko,
married to the famous japanese sculptor
a poet too who could write strong things
in the worst of times, i don’t know
if Chieko could.
she was mad     mad the way the mad are
who have to do too much living in
one head one heart     her name alone was
enough for me to love.
she had a line, someone read the poem
on the sound track and there was sky
in that shot a scratchy blue
and Chieko laughing on a hill
with her husband.
she wrote ‘the sky over Tokyo
is not the real sky.’
it took me nineteen years to understand
that less than simple fact,
i lived in that city for two years
that would have froze her blood today
if she saw how empty those faces were
in trains dead drunk lost under the moon
that goes on and off.
i knew of course her real sky
was the one over her home
a village i can’t imagine, let me,
thatched rooves you couldn’t even make out
the houses from the hill at first but
then you heard the water in a
stream all stones
and that sky was a place
she always wanted to play in
but never could.
i began to think of my own sky,
that sky where everything was
the sun shining the garden back
at you in a wind blowing colours
off the flowers, the moon that
slipped down drops of rain,
the edge of stars breaking like frost,
the high clouds long as your dreams
over a depth of blue.
i knew her sky was my own sky
no matter how far apart we were
in fact, in sense, in sex
that sky over Tokyo wasn’t real
her song of the sky was real,
Chieko, let me sing you
a memory of my sky:

i felt the stars touch me
i was not in exile
i felt the stars draw me up
over the falling away
of dream.

a star would reach down
deep into my hope
i’d stand in its lightness
nothing of this earth
could fill.

the stars would give
full measure to time
i could find the darkness
on which they turned
old merry-go-round

of horse-head

like an earthquake that sky
taps       inside the head
can fall       i’m afraid
can fall a sunspot blown up
on a paper screen
a leaf rent with autumn.

harris park, sydney
september 1998.

*’Chikeo’ refers to Chieko Naganuma, a Japanese poetess and painter. Wikipedia notes: ‘.. she married Kōtarō Takamura in February 1914, a sculptor and poet, whom she met soon after he had returned (to Japan) from France.
Following the breakup of her family home in 1929, she was diagnosed in 1931 with symptoms of schizophrenia – she was hospitalized for that disease in 1935, and remained there until her death from tuberculosis in 1938.
Kōtarō’s book of poems about her, “Chieko’s Sky” (智恵子抄 ‘Chiekosho’), is still widely admired and read today.’  The specific poem, which, I understood from the film, Chieko wrote, was in fact written by her husband based on her remark on the Tokyo sky. In order to close the circle here, so to speak, I append a translation of it by a Mr. Paul Archer, a fine poet and translator. In searching for the poem online I found Paul’s website, and he graciously allowed me to include it in its entirety here below:

            Talking Like A Child
Chieko says there’s no sky in Tokyo,
I want to see the real sky, she says.
Surprised, I look up at the sky.
Among the cherry tree leaves
Is the kind of clear sky
I remember from my childhood.
The leaden horizon tinged
By the moist pink of morning.
Chieko looks far off –
Every day there’s a blue sky
High above Mount Atatara,
That’s what I call the real sky, she says.
She’s like a child when she talks about the sky.

Paul welcomes anyone to view the entire sequence, which he has translated, on his website at:
The movie I say many a year ago is titled ‘Chieko-sho (Portrait of Chieko’) of which Wikipedia notes: ‘Portrait of Chieko (Japanese : 智恵子抄 / Chieko-sho) is a 1967 Japanese film directed by Noboru Nakamura and based on a poem by the Japanese poet and sculptor Kōtarō Takamura. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.’

Last Days in The Sun

The cricketer in autumn;

Deliveries so many leaves

Falling, trailing where once

They spun and dipped;

When he cocked the wrist

Venom flicked from upturned hand;

Parabolas of slow death

Rolling out, shining.

So long ago, when the sun

Loosened the fingers, when

He bounced in on his toes

And knew. Just knew.

That each ball was loaded,

Cocked for the slow kill

in entering

caution: contains erotic content

a lovely little mouth
she wouldn’t take her top off
her apple-small breasts,
dormant in middle school
if you were to guess
had swelled with milk and feed
her children, then flattened
like two bits of quilted doona.

she’d shared the seat, behind
me on the bus, with another
from the library, we’d discussed
the subjects strangers probing do.
I presented her a blindfold.

I found, from when my hair
was long, the unused ties
I’d kept, as I expected
to mane again, eventually
…at first we kept her clothes
on, everything, skirt
shoes, but then
and shhh she purred
knotting the tie behind my head
we’ll get to that
here’s the glass and placed
my hand to where the ashtray
would catch the bottom
of the glass

and I squeezed and milked
her little oven
mitts, her ankle socks
through the lacy silk
as she rode, my rock
and tunnel, tuck and untuck
stick afloat
in the deep canal. a log, or leg,
lost from an amputee
as the tide released resistance
to the river
and the backlog beings
made of water make loosened
as emotion constipates we take
our fall, our summers, fallow
restive periods…

and soon, it wasn’t long,
a spilt cup, a never mind, a
line or two about the bind
secure, with her trust-established
roots, she let me rope their once
adroit erogenous firmness
in Time’s sensitivity to fairness
in a light, and un-filmed bondage
to a balloon-tight rubescent
bubble of strangled flesh
and I walked around the room
with her around my hips
the blindfold off, my neck
arterie throbbing in her lips.
as I bounced her on the spot
six inches up and down
around and round inside
the bones to hold the frame
a mating rubric after menopause


I came to exhale

as a tree will; lay

in aspirated whys;

suck a trembling air.


Eye will limp in

daunting sky;

at roof top now,

in awe with these


our stars, whom use

the bruise of night

to yawn – in time,

as I in breathless


ardour, burn.


for love

for love

when my aunty
heard the news
her grandson
her ‘boy
she’d say
killed head-on
just starting
to fit the frame
of a grown man
she stopped
dead in her tracks
two days on.

she had lived
though years
of rationing,
long silences
out on the farm
moving to a
small town
with a park on
the edge of a
pine forest the
state highway
tore by
everything a
marriage did
and didn’t bring
could take it all
yet couldn’t
take this.

she died
for love.

september 2011

from Sandy Rooms #3


I was woken on the book-wide bench
in the less-used changing rooms
nearby the zoo
by the light of a recording instrument
three teenage boys and a girl
I knew
the scenario safe and stayed
still pretending
to be asleep
so they could film
and µpload I hoped for proof
of the artist’s backstory the
bearded hobo
with his head on some anthology
I lay waiting as their snuffled
giggles quietened then moved
suddenly tiger swift roared
hands concocting volcano
as the blanket leapt up to
flutter featherful to the sandy
floor and my laughter was
not captured
because their screams
above the phone
muffled my mirth.


I think the story
slows in winter
the Light taking Time
aside comparing…
It is late Autumn
and the city wintering
early is in gloves
with the tips cut off a
half centimetre
the cold and hard
brightness of White
in winter black lines
black edge black bright
white centre…
I’ve found a quality
scarf an Icebreaker
merino in the sanitation
bin of the paraplegic
toilet I’m guessing
it was spoiled on or slid
off the shoulders of the last
owner like a snake
from a tree into
the water I have washed
it blow-dried it
and the faint perfume
from the previous
wearer is changing
my bearing
in ‘mine’.


I’m in love with my health
the happiness
of nowhere else to be
my flat stomach
in cold shower
and the freedom
nowhere aching
bright ceramic tiles
shine on stainless
clothing hangers
in love with who they
think they filmed
and all day breathing
compiling a list
of the World’s woes
where what is wrong
is offered in repose
and calm Lego building
in a toddler’s daycare
you’ve wondered
why under
City winter skies
I research the menstrual
of a private
public toilet
to the finding of
the item
now around my neck?

very well

abstract body art

The face is an abstract noun

but her eyes, for instance,

rose in the half-

light, describe


& the lips

O, & tongue; roll:

my girl, vowels

are the curves, except


I, which is mine. verbs

spur the hands &

consonants, the prick



tenderness, remorse;

your face lit with

concrete particulars;




How Was Your Day?

Caution: contains erotic content

I didn’t know if she could
see me, the woman, in her 50’s,
a sport shape in the shoulders, squash
or tennis I’d guess, but now with
the belly fat of feasting; blond
-assisted, cut nicely short; her breasts
were not much bigger than softballs
and sat up separated by the seatbelt,
and her hem had ridden high
to her groin and she had no underwear
on and pubic stubble like four day growth.

We were stopped at a red light
and two fingers on her right hand
were lightly applying for employment.
I’d erected fully in the few seconds
it took to adjust myself in my pants
she turned left and I changed lanes
and I followed her small modern vehicle
into the shopping centre
where she drove to the far corner
by the pet store. Taking a map book
from under the seat of the van I walked
towards her and asked if she could help
me. I was at the window —the moment
the addict is satisfied: I could be shot
with venom or hit in the face with failure,
or welcomed silently in
the neutral trust of strangers
aligned; and as I rested the free arm
on the door I said I wonder if you
could…open …your legs …a little
wider? And I put my hand on her right
knee and her legs parted and her heart
was like a foot drum as I followed the soft
warm thigh under the now or never moment
of her complacent, compliant skirt and I touched
her between her short places…She lowered
and moved back the seat and raised the
left foot onto the centre column,
by the gear stick, and rested her head back
and groaned lowly out of her jaw
as she moved her buttocks
to the edge of the seat
and lit a cigarette.

That girl, From The Party After The play

Caution: contains erotic content

someone I didn’t know slept
on next to me,
I didn’t wake her, when I rose,
sickened, to medicate
from the cool frigates
moored in the harbours of the mind
and any apprehension
left me as I lit the first enrolment form
and moved the blanket covering
a long spine, cellulite, a few pimples
to who I had to slowly piece together
as I sat beside the heavy old compewta
and watched her
and smelt her and couldn’t
remember what
we’d been doing.

I smelt myself. I bubbled
a cone and drained the bladder
for a pint of the last merlot,
I lifted the insects out and felt Forever
on the exhalation
as a place I wouldn’t want to leave,
smoky partial rays of summer, light
fragrance of the night, beeswax
blobs of a forgotten candle. I opened the book
cover of her buttocks, her two pages.
I read low, obsessed for her
story…hmmm she said, dhaa.
and I was blind, like a radar
but I didn’t have the narrative
and soon she asked, throwing back
the lighter, if I’d like to fight her,
beat the panels dented in the landing,
and the hot city magnified the heat,
and light lit the curtains like the perspex
box at the studio by the telephone
/fax I used to view the Hasselblad
transparencies on. I was in my Dream,
no mistake, I wasn’t just looking
at the negatives. go one further
she said, grab my throat, don’t leave a
mark though, and cracks began
appearing in her breathing, and I took
it to her roughly, to the hanger, I said,
to the reaches of our large human minds.
I’m paraphrasing, amalgamating
mornings, it was both of us filming
by creating, these were the fantasies assembled
in our childhood, every party, every bender,
every carbon-copy send-off,
every contact sheet from the Nikon
I was getting older— into place, but further
from the resolute original. I pinned her
arms to the floor, forcing my origin all
between her hips, her knees, expertly
parted I thought, on top of the first thought,
running the stoned tip of my hard looks
around her lips, waiting for a numbness
to truly penetrate, before the right to celebrate
her ended, nearly every morning
was cork to the bottle of the previous
day, ideas were being quickly reimagined
in the do-nothing smoke, fungal
hallucinations, abysmal diet, socks,
a hefner robe, a guccione scrambling
in the failure to repack
for online content. I photographed the
yellow green light of tennis balls, in the
curtains, then left them
open for some neighbours in the flats above
are things done just done to try it. and my balls
she said I
love it they were stroking her
low hole hanging in the Tuesday

Yes No