death

A memory

I remember walking through the streets of Temora

Going home one night after a party.

And Darren stopping and pointing out the stars,

Telling me about the constellations and planets

That are visible each night.

These planets, out of reach, make each night unique.

 

He told me:

There was an Indigenous people,

Who believed

That each star was a hole

Torn in the night

By a spear thrown

And each shooting star

Was an spear falling.

 

His love of knowledge,

His kindness, his dreams.

His fiery ambitions toward politics,

And his ability to debate,

Made up a good life.

All stories come to an end,

And he is now out of reach.

But the happiness he brought to those who liked or loved him

Make his life unique.

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Poetry

She told me she could write poetry

And she could.

She told me Penguin were publishing it.

She showed me pages of her writing.

“I wrote this,” she said

“After dinner at my parents.

We just sat there, no one spoke.

All I could hear was the silver scratching on the fine china

And the neighbour’s kids playing outside.

I gave birth to this after that terrible night.”

She held the pages up and shook them.

I nodded. It was well written.

But poetry isn’t only written over silent dinners.

It’s also written over lonely nights in cheap apartments

when no one is going to visit you, or cares if you are alive.

It’s written when a woman screams abuse at you on the street

Or someone jumps you for your phone in a park

as you walk home minding your own business.

Poetry is written when you know she doesn’t love you

So you can’t get it hard

And you look at it in the bathroom and think about ways to leave

Without saying goodbye.

Poetry is written when you are standing on a city street

And you see a man hit by a bus

And he drags himself off the road

With a leg twisted behind him.

It’s written at 2 am

If it’s written well it burns out the top of your head

And you know you earned those lines.

 

 

Ghost Story

 

After his wife died

Robert lived alone

And spent his nights painting.

His colours were directly plucked from nature

Or so he thought

And he toiled for hours to get the images just right.

He would take them to art shows

And once won first prize

But never made it outside of the smaller events in the country towns.

When he died, his children came and buried him

No one was too sad.

A local woman named Edith announced one morning

That she had been visited by the ghost of Robert Martin,

She described the scene

That it was him, she recognised him,

he appeared before her as she lay in bed alone.

It was his face, but it had shrunken, and the skin had pulled back against the skull,

Dirt fell from his mouth

And his eyes were gone.

He held out his fingers toward her,

The bones had pushed through the skin

And she could see the rib bones through his torn and ruined shirt.

The worst thing was that he glowed like moonlight.

The women listened to Edith speak

And never again did she have any respect in town.

A grown woman telling a story like that, they said.

Death and Roses

“We’re all going to die,” she said softly.

“It all ends so soon, just like our days off from work,

Sunday never lasts long enough.”

She would often say things like this and become sad.

“We’re all going to die, and there’s nothing we can do,

No matter how much fun we have, it all ends and ends terribly.”

I would never say anything to her when she became like this,

It was best to let her become quiet and sit in the dark

Like someone mourning every loss, and only the shadows give comfort-

But that comfort is nothing at all. Like eating ice for hunger.

Her friends were there once when she said this and they became angry.

“Why do you have to say that?” they wailed,

“We know we are going to die, what good does talking about it do?

Life isn’t just sadness; you’ll never be happy when you get like this.”

I watched her face become darker still as they responded.

When they left, she turned to me “They don’t really understand

How things change.” I listened to her quietly again, as I always did,

Like someone listens to the sea.

“They don’t think about things properly.

You aren’t you, what you were at six is not you at thirty,

That six-year-old is dead.”
“But it’s still you,” I answered.

She shook her head, “No, that is gone.”

I did not see her friends again for a long time,

We are all on the same path,

But for her to be reminded of death

Was to ensure she made special effort

To look at things carefully and truly love.