reading

The four week visit

Last night I dreamed

She turned from the window

And smiled.

The sun touched lips, the sun drenched hair,

And she spoke to me, softly,

I could not hear the words

But I could see her lips moving.

The morning came and I went to the window I dreamed of,

I looked out at the garden and the ocean beyond.

White waves on a blue ocean.

When she was here with me,

I would walk all day

And make up stories to tell her at night.

One day she told me she didn’t like the story I had told,

The woman in the story was too beautiful

And that made her sad.

She was gone the next day.

She had tied a red scarf to the apple tree by the gate,

It whipped in the wind

Like the bloody standard of a defeated army.

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The lunatic sings the truth

 

 

She came along with a dirty dress hanging around her like a curtain

Torn from a derelict house.

Her hair was dirty and her face was beaten

By time and God knows who.

She noticed me and screamed

That I must work hard to be good,

Love Jesus and look after my loved ones.

She stopped and looked me square in the eye and repeated:

“Be good to your family.”

Then she walked on.

She stank and the air was fouled by her presence.

My publisher sat next to me and watched her go.

“She gave me a manuscript once, years ago.” he said.

“It was well written, the grammar was perfect,

But it was so boring. The characters, the events were so boring.”

“I would have bought her lunch,” I said. “if I knew she was a writer.”

We laughed, but deep down I knew

She had spoken the truth and given good advice.

The young poet

In a small house on Rumber Lane,

a boy lived with his mother and sister.

This boy spent his time in books

And dreamed of composing lines of glory.

 

The young poet, standing in the hall with the last shadows of day,

Watched the beetles make their way across the stone floor.

Looking up as the trees turned gold in the last rays,

He saw the neighbour coming home from work.

 

The neighbour, a big man, carried his bag on his shoulder

And smiled arrogantly at the women passing by.

The young poet watched how the man moved,

 With the wide heavy motions he made.

 

The neighbour’s daughter would meet the boys by the river

On Sunday afternoons

And raise her dress for them.

She wore no underwear.

 

The young poet was never invited, but

By hiding in the trees

He had seen her reveal herself,

Her body golden, shining like embers.

 

He had only a few friends, one boy,

With a sour breath, smelled of piss.

This boy would wet himself in class.

Deep down the young poet despised him.

 

The night grown dark,

The young poet turns to his book and reads.

Writing down words of interest,

And reciting lines that appealed to him.

Death of Chad Jones

When Chad Jones died

From an asthma attack while climbing Red Hill,

His father, Doctor Jones,

went into Chad’s room and gathered up all the belongings.

He picked up the trophies, books

He carried out the table and chair, computer, bed and the sheets

And threw all these things into the backyard.

Dr. Jones returned for Chad’s clothes and in great piles,

Laid the clothes out.

Chad’s mother pleaded with her husband not to do what he was doing,

But he continued, working hard

Until all the boy’s things were lying in the afternoon

Like a pyramid pointing to the sky.

Dr Jones then struck a match and lit some paper

And the things began to burn.

Black smoke filled the neighbourhood

The fire brigade arrived to see the mountain of melted plastic and wood

Raging in the backyard.

Doctor Jones’ daughter,

Who some years before, had watched the bonfire from her bedroom

Grew to 17

And left her town and father.

She worked in a bar on Foveaux Street

And filled her personal hours with dreams and men,

Until the fire caught up with her.

She died on a Tuesday night

By leaping off the wet Harbour Bridge.

What gives life, also takes it.

What gives life also kills it.

The waves of the ocean breaking on black rocks,

The swift bird settling on a pink flower,

The moon, heavy as good luck,

Sitting on an old, grey-bearded cloud.

 

These beautiful things give life to poetry,

But if you forget to catch them,

These things also kill the words.

Like an animal in the night,

The words flee into the forest and are lost.

 

That woman, my wife, full of life

Moving softly on the sand,

The water filling the prints she leaves,

Her smile and happy eyes

Give birth to the words.

 

Grasp the work when it is there,

Wait for it quietly and encourage it with good thoughts.

Nothing is guaranteed.

The man whose job it is to cut the wood in winter,

Must cart water in summer.

The Lady’s garden.

Through the day garden walked the knight.

He looked at the beds, heavy with flowers

then glancing up as one might at a bird,

his eyes land on her window.

 

What softer bed behind those curtains,

what pleasures a visitor to her room might see;

might experience.

The mail-heavy arm against the silk curtains, hard flesh on gossamer skin.

 

He has seen war

and knows what war brings,

the faithful and faithless both scream when pinned down with steel.

Men, both brown and white, crying in terror at the onrushing machine.

 

He stops a while beside a lily and considers the soft opening of the blue flower

he sees a bee, heavy with baggage climbing down the flower’s throat.

From habit, his hand grips his sword handle.

He imagines a time when this garden might be his as well as hers.

A disease

She broke a stick on the ground

and held it up to me.

‘See there, where it broke? A weakness, there’s a knot.’

She’s always pointing out people’s weaknesses.

Nobody has strength like her,

no one has intelligence as fine as she does.

But instead of being humble and kind in her greatness,

she wants to break people down all the time.

 

Last month she was told she has cancer.

She shrugged her shoulders and said

‘It happens to people all the time, why shouldn’t it happen to me?’

I said nothing.

She asked me over to her house yesterday

and when I came in, I could see she had been crying.

‘Why me?’ she asked.

I held her hand. It was cold as if she were already dead.

 

My place.

See the growth of gum tree huge,

watch the running of the river.

There I saw a blue wren dance

there I saw a bearded dragon quiver.

 

Along the path the wattle grows

The heat is hard, and the wind blows broad,

blue flowers mixed with black seed go far

and the smoke of fire rises like a god.

 

The blue dream runs on forever

and the city lights up the sky

this is the land we work and fight for,

this is where I hope to die.

All in this moment

 

Coming through the city street,

I see a gutter flowing with brown water, the drain clogged with rubbish.

The flow reminds me of a year ago and purer waters,

when I walked Flowerpot Mountain.

 

The trees were green and heavy with leaves,

yellow flowers grew brightly on the dark forest floor,

animals darted about between cover

and birds haunted my ears with their song.

 

Around me now the smell of diesel,

and opinion after opinion,

I see the selfish thought and act.

Standing for a moment, I remember sunset over Shenandoah Valley.

 

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Support my writing by buying The Bomber, on sale here.

On asking an old man directions to the nearest men’s toilet.

 

To Bob Dylan and the person who wanted me to be more accurate with my titles.

 

Standing outside the supermarket

An old man reflected on this part of town.

“The one in the park is good,

They’ve recently put some money into it,

But the toilets by the railway station are not to be trusted.

They stink, the drug users hang out there,

Men blow each other and all the depraved shit in the world goes on there.”

The old man bit his lips as he spoke and went a little red in the face.

He folded his arms and sat down on a bench. The timber slats creaked under his weight.

I looked around the streets

It was quiet; a few cars moved about in the distance,

But here, where we were, no one moved.

 Being still early in the morning,

The sidewalk was wet from where the shopkeeper hosed it.

The old man looked as if he had just crawled out of bed,

His clothes were stained and crumpled and a warm smell

Of sweat and urine radiated from his body.

He was settled in his place now as if he intended

To be there all day.

“I used to sit here with Jack,”

The old man went on and then spat into the gutter.

“But he died last year.

We used to be close friends but now I don’t have anyone to talk to,

It’s changed my day a lot; I do so much more thinking now.

And I don’t come here as much,

Only three days a week,

I go to the library instead.”

I thanked him for his advice on the toilets

And I headed across the street to the park.

In the men’s block, I find a young man collapsed on the floor.

A brown bag underneath him

As if he is hugging it to him on those cold tiles.

He wears a hood over his blond hair, and his face is pale and marked with acne.

I talk to him, but he doesn’t move, I nudge him with my foot,

I wonder if it’s drugs.

I call the ambulance, but don’t wait,

I leave those toilets and go back to my car.

Looking back to the supermarket, I see the old man,

and wonder what he’ll make of the excitement to come.

 

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