SWEAT IS THE BODY'S TEARS
(Be advised that Jena retains all copyrights to the following poetry.
Respectfully, your webmaster, Springy B.)
(Jenanote: Springy B? Respectful? Cor! NB! NB! <g>)
Away from the Pulpit
This man who knows
The meaning of integrity,
Does he see how these things
In our world are spurious?
In most they come and go –
Go and come;
But this one is steadfast.
This is why this man –
He once was a wino
Long ago, before he went through
His fire –
Is not ordinary.
And now as she walks,
Always she’s looking
Looking over her shoulder
At Gerry Jampolski:
This humble little doctor
Far away in America
Who saves people others leave for dead.
The man who believes
He and all men are brothers –
Our souls are identical.
This beautiful man
This one she’s always watching
Looking back at for the rest of her days
Is the one human being:
The only one who could show her -
Not by writing, not by talking,
By nothing but doing
By being what he himself has learned to be –
That all humanity is my brother,
I will never be its keeper.
I wanted to keep it:
Wanted it to keep me.
I’ve been there now,
Through hell and high water.
Love is letting go of fear.
That is not trite.
That is not ordinary.
That is steadfast.
"Life" here, for me, meaning the presumption that
every human spirit should be able to soar...
Furthermore, that in doing so,
we are responsible to the earth
and to further generations of our kind.'
`The world needs great love'
O love who points the swallow home
And scarves the russet at his throat
Dreaming in the needle’s eye,
Guide him through the maze of glass
Where the obdurate cannot pass,
With your silent clarity.
There where blood and sap are one
Thrush’s heart and daisy’s root
Keep the measure of our love’s dance,
Though within their cage of bone
Griefs and tigers stalk alarm
Locked in private arrogance.
Lay the shadow of his fears
With the brilliance of your light
Naked we can meet the storm,
Travellers who journeyed far
To find you at our own doors,
O love who points the swallow home:
Point him far across the sea
Point him home, back home to me.
Spring it was, and all was there
A fit culmination in its beginning:
The world itself sang of all creation
Even the willows smiled as
Father duck beamed at Mother duck,
Their babies waddled behind
An orderly line, perfectly schooled.
No wonder the koalas laughed
And the kookaburra fell out of his tree.
Spring it is: the mire.
Freesias swaying but how?
Up to my knees now
Dimorphotheca's smiling but
What? Oh how?
Dragging my thighs
The forget-me-knots whisper `Remember: be still.
Sucking, sucking hard at my pelvis
The songbird warbles dense in the foliage,
Tight on my chest
You asking, but what?
Oh call on the birds, seduce them out of the branches
Dazzle the green ones, you know that you can.
Eros adores you, the planet's on your side.
Use it. Be liberal.
Up to my neck now.
I most entirely forgot you
No effortless child in a child's eden.
Thinking you most entirely splendid
(Eros was on your side -
The planet adored you)
I, entwined in your million billion stars blinking
An innocence that no evil spell could cross,
Thus entirely entranced most entirely forgot
You a seasoned moon gazer.
False tongues mark all passings
Your ear lost its origin
Swallowed up like a wound
No word but its own could mend.
I endowed you with a clarity of form
Most entirely forgetting
That all that can perish falls apart
Long before it must die.
And you as long cast out of Eden
Forever lost for me, as to you.
I forgot that all who walk in the sun
Cast a shadow.
I forgot. I most entirely forgot.
So now I will learn the ancient art
Since time immemorial
Of strangers stargazing on that in which
They no longer most entirely believe.
This world of unmeasured shadows:
You lighting your small corner.
I caught in a landscape too dark for us to see
Will take my light from this:
I can cast no shadow.
Bite at it!
Bite at the core of pain and crunching down
Find the world's true sweetness in the savage tang of citrus.
Good as love sometimes, drawing love's orbit through the mind:
Through darkness is light revealed.
To beyond love. Better than love. What name for this?
Through eclipse the fountain of peace -
Search out relentlessly mercy's echo through pain
That pain hunts down fear.
I stare at nothing and everything until they break into quadrants of truth.
My bone-bare stark endurance strikes alien on the terror of fools,
But to the wise my winter-landscape chords proclaim
Life's last and death's first parable:
No commitment is here – no balance - no song but to endure.
To look into the face of barren truth – look squarely on, don't duck,
And endure is all. In the core of pain will you find mercy's echo.
You were brave. Therein the fountain of peace: just desserts.
Who would call his primal state a blessing
who would not bite the fruit, and bear the change?
How could the heart in an unprepossessing coma
of innocence have shown its range?
Who in full manhood would remain a child
in a child's Eden, and as dumb?
And who on earth would sing, if song were merely
an effortless warbling until Kingdom come?
At your triumphs won, and still to win
I'll stand rejoicing, though I cannot say
What I owe, what I would not pay
this man so many light years away.
I grapple my own night-watches with self-doubt
Unable to see where I am wrong
Suffer my own torments waiting for a phrase to heal grief
that can only be resolved in healing song.
Accept here my praise for your own true fables
your wide open spaces for hearts celebrating
Youthful happiness in human love;
but most for the elected spirit recreating
From dream and darkness through your authentic images
the wing-flash of a joy that is no dream:
Dragon-fly light, a moment motionless,
sometimes brighter than daylight on the blazing stream.
Rawhide and lace
Rawhide and lace
Dappled sun on my face
You rasp at my throat I
You bring me to this
I’ll go under.
You who brought me to this
Must free me.
Sun on my face
Rawhide no lace
The fire at my flesh
Will consume me
Pick up and ride now
Drive with the gods now
Rawhide no lace
Heat hammers my face
You riding my bones
Before I die.
Does earth's beauty mend all miseries of time
Or do all human miseries in the end take their toll
Of Gaia's bounty, it seemed without end?
In deepest solitude, may I reach another?
A man walking, some density of being marked him
Bearing in gross darkness some mortal loss.
All days end. The world will end.
But for this hour, in deepest solitude, may I reach another?
As light enters a room, nothing is asked, so may mind and eye together
See authentic clarity of form, and fresh from rest may a heart
Now embrace the stuff of which Gaia was always made?
In deepest solitude, may I reach another?
If I relearn my heart, a poem, though words can never
Contain, as music, unsayable grace undefined
Perhaps, like light, it might leap from mind to mind?
In deepest solitude, may I reach another?
In quiet the earth may seem to urge me on, thoughts moving in visions
Love answering in the faces that I love and pleading, issuing their theme:
Let mind put off its cloudy care.
In deepest solitude perhaps I may reach another?
In the plain texture of truth its peace is found
Clear as a landscape filled with light
Under this firmament of Gaia's will.
In her solitude I may reach another.
(O, learn to read what silent love hath writ?
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit)
(The Bard: 23).......
Gaia. Random and harsh as any carrion
Tearing at mortified animal remains.
Random and sweet as exalting human flesh,
Yet mortal in this too –
From that instant of piercing victory humbled
All we seek in a loved other's hollows
Remains unrevealed; returns to otherness -
Impetuous man penetrates the womb but
None stumbles on enduring grace.
And so from willing, stormy flesh
o recalcitrant shrouded brain...
Ah but I must be absent from myself,
Must learn to praise love's every waking face,
Raise this unleavened heart, and sever
From my effective life these ignorant sorrows:
They rest on no Truth, mere truths and more truths.
Gross darkness cherishes more than all plenitude
The hunger that drives the spirit.
But what of a spirit does a mind ever know
That has no eye?
Put off mind's cloudy care...
Yes, in the dusky shifting shrouds of postmodernism
Perhaps the light, my love, we may wake to praise
Beats darkness to a dust of gold?
You can lie you down in my arms:
I will comfort you with soft kisses
You so shell-shocked tonight.
And not quite the man I thought you -
We came from the earth not your ribs,
And perhaps came before.
My stupendous, finely wrought, butterfly.
So before you go back to your wars,
You’ll lie in my arms tonight:
I will comfort you with soft kisses
And come the dawn
You will spread your splendid man-of-war wings
My mighty warrior!
I remember the overpainted cheeks of the Madonna
The stations of the cross and the bumbling
Good nature of the old priest -
The essential kindness in the mass and my
Devout and faithful mother-in-law's tongue protruding for the wafer
- This is the Body of Christ
Who takes away the sins of the world -
Gingerly, so scrupulous, avoiding the bodies of The Body's Bungs...
So many Wops at mass!
(This is the Body of Christ...)
I remember the ocean licking at the lonely piers
Salt tang of the spray astringent and balm
To my angry wounds
All grace till her son bleated -
Scratching all the while at his balls.
I can remember the faces of fathers, mother, my sister;
With no tears.
I can remember all the places that are not home.
And the tears.
They have taken their briefs
Their griefs and their faces
It's the end of the day
And the President's dick
Has retired. Bent:
Beaten and withered.
They have gone in the rain
With their talk in high places,
Their missiles, their fast flying salvos.
Their cares and despairs
And their confident phrases
Their compulsion to explain the inexplicable.
They have gone like the wind
With their griefs and nondistinctions
Gone like a leaf
Or the voice of the news.
Like death on the air
With a rustle of paper:
These arch hegemonists of all time.
And so I am to go there
Where I never may breathe there
Twill be only to die daily in your arms
In the rustle of sheets
Buried in the scent of my man there
Never will I come up for air:
This delicate thief
Of love and distinction
In the hegemon of all worlds and all time.
Body and Soul
Do I give myself to you utterly,
Body and no body, flesh and no flesh?
Not as a fugitive - blind no more,
Obdurately committed to chartered terrain
- known peaks, negotiated valleys -
But as a child might,
Blindly, with no other wish
Than to smile and say,
Ah then shall I bear you down my estuary
Carry you up and over the waves
Down under the oceans for you to
Soar and slumber there in that dumb chamber.
Beat with my blood's beat,
Hear my heart move
Blindly with your bones
Riding my flesh
Dissolved and bedded
Through sightless waves of the sea's Dreaming
To daylight. Where you rest.
There you smile:
Oh how you'll smile to say
In the time before the time before
When sunlight fell like cream
The days crept on through summer haze
To a golden autumn dream...
The hours were ours and the play was play
And the days went on and on
And the shadows fled from our laughing steps
And returned when our steps were gone.
And the green was green, and the smells were rich
And the warm air hummed and sang
And we thought we'd stay forever
But the garden gate went clang.
Now the grass is merely a carpet
And we cannot hear the bees
And the sun's too hot to lie in
And spiders drop from trees.
And soil gets under fingertips
And webs catch in our hair
And we can't see those creeping things
From five feet in the air.
The only game now is hide and seek
And we've broken all the rules.
And we won't find our way back in
While we're shambling grown up fools...
On His Frustration...
Is there such a thing as
Despair in moderation?
As well demand I
Mute the music.
And not finish this poem...
The Ferris Wheel
If he could stretch his hand
Through the mists of cyberland
He might touch my face
Staring from this alien place…
I fulfilled: he so wan
May not find a common tongue.
Strangers on the ground we stay,
Waiting the judgment day.
If could stretch my hand
Through barren cyberland
I might touch his face
Staring from its narrow place...
He fulfilled: I so wan
May not find a common tongue.
Strangers on the ground we stay,
Waiting execution day?
Let me be caged.
And so unalone, I.
The camaraderie of steel,
The walls, the roof of sky,
A keeper for my friend,
The people to pass by –
Cage me with alien beasts,
So much more alien, I.
The koodoo and the grebe,
The aodad, the kite,
Each knows beyond the pit
A comrade out of sight.
The single animal
Fears fading light.
Cage me against love,
The hunter in the night
Savaging my raging womb
From so impossibly far away.
Let me be caged.
This Summer – A Story of My Love’s Sometimes Waking Face
How shall I keep
Confronting the same face in the mirror?
Such intolerable self-doubt,
Hysterical and without decency
Impossible joining such a face,
That eats up other people.
I do not want to be this sort of cripple
In the world any longer
Not for any of my excuses for being…
Not for any of my possibilities.
I do not want to be what I have been.
I ‘m woken here,
I would like simply to fly away.
And live without saying that I live
As the filament, the grains, the sedimentary content,
The matter to be taken into account.
And continue, but without this continuing;
Certainly, not to remain defender of such a proposition
Which, every next moment, life is going to contradict,
And with the back of its hand,
And with its fist.
When you are suffering
And you want to be free
Of that which torments you,
It is not greed,
This is something more fundamental than that.
More basic than
The calculations of thought.
And this is why I’ve felt
To elude the mind,
Whose confusion has continued
For too long.
The summer might almost be gone.
The Tao universe is self-existent,
In which all particular things
The Christian god is barren –
If Heaven had produced its creatures on purpose
It would have made them to love
And not to prey upon each other.
All things have come about through Transformation
Because they are one.You do not find anything superior to things.
The Tao fire consumes the fire, undiminished.
How could Heaven have pity for that fate
Its nature brings about?
Through all is destruction and regeneration at once
There is tranquillity in this revolution:
Tranquillity in disturbance is called Perfection.
There may be ten thousand thousand thousand things being transformed,
And the sage is transformed along with them
Without difference, without end.
Therefore, his movements are effortless as water,
His stillness deep, deep as the ocean bed, as to a mirror
His response, the echo.
His rarefied condition makes him seem to disappear.
He accepts his body with pleasure,
Forgetting life and death, dismissing the turbulence of trivia.
To him, there is nothing in the world that is greater
Than the tip of a hair
That grows in spring.
When something comes into existence
It is because of conditions that are favouring –
All that is, being interdependent,
Combines to call it forth – combines to
Call forth its answer: recognition.
Thus is nature good to man,
Or at the very least,
First man of my world,
More favourable than against him.
It is only weeping, please weep, my love,
Which can make us ever glad.
There is no transformation for you to fear, no
Nirvana to achieve.
Just respond to all things
While never being caught –
Don’t even hold on to your non-seeking as right:
There is no other wisdom to attain.
Be still and be fluid as you wait.
Count every breath, hear every song
Beat every beating heartbeat as you still, fluid,
On the land older than time
Sandstone and lime
The universe and I
The First Woman seeing
The first light liquefy the leaves
On every leaning tree;
As thoughts of you
The First Man
Liquefy my bones, my womb,
The land before time
Trembles beneath my feet and
We, the secret cohort
- Me, sandstone and lime -
Riven with the wonder of you
Who are everything elemental to me
That is here
And not here.
Trembling I gather myself
And along the grass I go
Singing a song that life may now be
Young and new in this land older than time
With these bodies of ours -
Older with time.
And I scorn the mortal strain
Of impudent lambs gambolling:
They would tell me my song is conceit -
I would you were here,
My First Man,
To give them the finger.
Sing me our song.
Such early hills, the snow-gum tree
Does it suck its spare blossom from the stone?
From stone the everlasting daisy does it
Look back in silence at the moon?
In the flowering gum tree the songbird does she
Ponder this human theme
From one moment motionless
Planted, now swelling in my head?
And I, oh I, perhaps the First Woman!
Bird, tree, and hill with rioting chains of
Flowers sing in my embrace.
Closing my eyes I hold you there in my arms
As in my womb the river leaps and I drown,
And in your face, the face I see thrown back
As if to outrace the sun, shines
The First Wonder of the dawn.
I take my pen in hand
There was a paddock
Beyond the wood, beside sandstone
Limestone, the creek, behind a day spread out
Green at the edges, dank at the heart
The dust lifted a little, a finger’s breadth
The word of the songbird travelled slow
A slow, dead pace behind the tick of time.
To tell you I am well and thinking the best things about you
And of the walk through the paddocks, and of another walk
Along the pristine piled ruin of the city
Under a pale heaven barren of all but death
And rain, the lake, stagnant beside.
It was a day too long, no news. I have no news.
I put my head between my hands and hope my heart will choke me
I put out my hand to touch you
And touch empty air. I turn to sleep
And find only hollowness and fear. Despair.
And by the way, still no news now.
A long, long day’s journey into night
Because you have nothing to say, nothing at all
Not even to record your emptiness
Or guess what’s to become of you, without love.
I know that you have cares
Ashes to shovel, broken glass to mend
And a tapestry to patch before the sunset.
Write to me soon and tell me how you are
If you still tremble, sweat and still stretch
A hand for me at dusk, play me the tune
Show me the leaves, shake your branches, drop me your apples.
Because I always need to hear of you.
And feel my heart swell and the blood run out at the
Syllables of your name said through the scent of the snow-gum
The river’s waves of symphomy, the murmuring night...
I will end this letter now. I am yours with love.
Always with love. With love.
(On reading Graves...)
On evenings such as this, night close furled
Above the cities and summer a breath away
In thin white shift ethereal dreams I whispered
Against my lover so far far away as he lay:
Conceived to crown love with wreathes of myrtle…
Ethereal still, in my black shift, and not bitter
But only wondering at she floating so light
Unable now even to remember the face of that lover
The one who clasped her so close, from so far far away
As the world spun outward on the edge of dawn.
Be still, wait, he urges, still so far, far away
It will come again:
To crown love with wreathes of lilies?
Ah, man, lilies that fester smell so far far worse than weeds…
Perhaps we should stick to myrtle.
Today, self-interred, a spring day I
Autumned myself into a winter grave.
I don't know if I waited on the coming of a fit word;
A right smile.
Summarily deaf: recalcitrantly blind
I took to the paddocks
Buried myself in red earth
Kicked with sullen pleasure at dried dung
Odourless. This too had no guts.
I yearned I believe for some passion
|omething to resurrect -
Lady Macbeth perhaps.
Out! Out! Damned...
Some vigour, something right,
Clear enough to fight for.
Energy. A life.
An equal heart and mind...
A bird, I didn't recognise her variant but her call was clear,
Singing to her three green eggs
Having misread the time? Or Love?
But in her joyful enterprise,
Guilt faltered and forgot her phrase.
Grief drowned in her own cadenza.
Lichen filled in the red rock's lies.
My dank head, freed, took up the songbird's praise –
And the quick heart, from fear and time
Released, soared to coach me in this rhyme:
The rhythm of my love.
The rhyme of time for my Love.
The paean of the Equal heart and mind.
A black hole of grief
Leaking pain, raw regret, self-contempt
As the end of summer when a brilliant feather lies
Ragged, sodden in the grass.
And the songbird has flown.
Of such is the kingdom of hell.
Torture, a shuddering in the bones and yet
Last night the pure moon floated like a leaf
Moist, pale, and patterned in her familiar way
Between her stars and clouds, the candid moon
Still anchored where always
She was supposed to be.
No mark of the insolent dagger on her cheek,
No crimson kiss or tears to show my wounds
She passed on her dark acres to the deep
Green dank Gulf of Day.
Oh would with her passing my grief, this contempt,
Into some sort of cave of some sort of sleep.
Oh would with dawn’s coming
Some raiment of artifice
Those spurious feathers that now ruffle then settle.
Though I had lost my love,
The paddocks could calm me.
Deep in the applegum grove
No loss could harm me.
But when I went into town,
And saw around me
Lovers pass up and down –
Then sorrow drowned me.
Me and You
I made a heaven for you filled with stars,
Each star a song
Meant to give happy music to your ear,
Day and night long.
But in your workshop you are closed away
From my night sky.
Deafened by earth until you cannot hear
My stars that sigh.
And when night comes your sleepy eyes are blind
To heaven’s deepest blue,
That was a foolish toy, my sweetest dear,
I made for you.
Beauty doesn’t walk through lovely days.
Beauty walks with horror in her hair.
Down long centuries of pleasant ways
Men have found the terrible most fair.
Youth is lovelier in death than in life,
Beauty mightier in pain than in joy.
Doubly splendid burn the fires of strife,
Brighter in the shinings they destroy.
My Love’s Treason
Had I had four white horses
Had I had four sturdy friends,
I’d have sold them into slavery
Would that have gained your ends.
I’d have sold them into slavery,
Had you so willed.
Thus my heart’s blood of the world
By your treason spilled.
Me and Him
My raison d’etre to
Rapture rekindle, deepen
Beauty by turning them
Into a song.
A song of liberty!
Not bound not by his rules:
No marble meaning’s mine
Fixed for a school.
My singing ecstacy
Winged for the flight.
He will hear differently.
But will he hear aright?
The Me to his You
Perhaps each year should bring
Little fresh songs
Like flowers in spring.
Now and then to deck the hours
For a brief while
And die like flowers
Flower like content to be
A mere sharer in man’s
Sometimes I think the happiest of love’s moments
Are the blessed moments of release from loving.
The world once more is all one’s own to model
Upon purely one’s own – nary another’s pattern.
Now each poor heart imprisoned by the other’s
Is instantly set free for splendid action!
For no two lovers are a single person
And lovers’ union means a soul’s suppression.
Oh, happy then the moment of love’s shutdown
When those strong souls we sought to slay recover!
On The Boy.
He looks in my heart and the image there
Is himself, himself, and than himself more fair.
And he thinks of my heart as a mirror clear,
To reflect the image I hold so very most dear.
But my heart is made much more like a stream, I think
Where my lover may come when he needs to drink.
And my heart is a stream that can seem asleep
But the sometimes tranquil waters run strong and deep:
They reflect the image that seems most fair
But their meaning and purpose sometimes otherwhere.
He may come, My Boy, and lie on the brink
And gaze at his image and smile and drink
While the hidden waters run strong and free,
Unheeded, unguessed at: the soul of me.
Me and Him
(Love is not love which alters...(Sonnet 116)
St.Paul (1 Corinthians) : Love... never fails)
When I was a child
I thought my Love would be
Noble, truthful, brave,
And very kind to me.
Then all the novels said
That if my lover prove
No such man as this
He had to forfeit love.
Now I know life holds
Harder tasks in store.
If my Lover fail
I must love him more.
Should he prove unkind
What am I, that he
Squander soul and strength
Smoothing life for me?
Weak or false or cruel
Love must still be strong.
All my life I will learn
How to love as long.
A huge, creeping spider
Thrust suddenly into stardom
By the flick of a light switch.
I shuddered, repeated the hectoring of myself
As always at these times -
`He has a right to be here Jena.`
Oh God but he's doing it on me.
Twas totally by accident,
But he was crushed by the wholly inadvertent dropping
Of the Oxford Dictionary.
And he never even knew
He was an Arachnid.
If you're content,
Watch out for people who want to drop wisdom on you.
We humans are such gregarious souls
The proof is so elementary.
Though distrusting others all our lives
We cohabit forever in the cemetary.
But we must wait till we die –
Pursed lips force the lie?
(Sulphur is gaseous non grata.)
No. For we are also at base alimentary souls,
Our idees fixed one end, (usually t’other)
Be it to produce or excrete, to love or erupt,
We’ll head straight for up - or downunder.
So come on boys, let it rip, don’t be coy, let it blast
We have a principle here to uphold.
Pass the buck? Claim your butt!
(On this one there’s gold in being bold.)
Remember the rubbish bins of the effete British rich
Smell far worse than their counterpart poor;
For the waste of the dinners on embassy row
Is shoved so daintily out the back door
For the hungry, the dero, to scavenge and ravish
A coq in the debris of vin?
When it’s eggs and beans, cabbage, cheese and a beer
He needs for the thrill – not elan! –
Of that epicentral roll
Let’s face it – it’s a fart!
Come on all you Yanks, lift your leg, and break wind
(Then do one more for the poor British man.)
Above in response to the following circulated on the net:
1. The formal word for farts is "flatulate." While the word fart can serve as a noun or a verb, flatulate is a verb only. 2. Farts are a concoction of air, methane gas and other gases. Because methane is odorless, it is these other gases that provide aroma. 3. The unpleasant odor associated with flatulence comes from foods containing chemicals such as sulfur. Some of the more notorious suspects would include eggs, beans, cabbage, cheese and beer. 4. Men average approximately 13.63 expulsions of gas per day. Women (supposedly) average 3.28. 5. The legendary "Blue Flame": 12% of men admit to having ignited their own farts. 6. "Passing" the buck: 52% of men and women admit to having blamed others for their own flatulence, suggesting that may be one of humankind's oldest lies is also one of its most widespread. 7. When posed the question, "How long do you have to be 'going out' with someone before you'll fart in their presence?".... the average of responses came out to 92.77 days -- 62.98 for men and 149.82 for women. 8. Etiquette tip: If you clench your sphincter while passing gas, tremendous noise will be generated. Relaxing this muscle will result in a smooth, silent release. 9. Common terms for flatulation: poot, blow, cut the cheese, rip/cut one, float an air biscuit, blast, break wind, and lift a leg. 10. Some not-so-common terms for flatulation: crepitate, eructate, kwatz, carpet creeper, spider bark.
Springy B and the Secrets of the Sea
I smiled as I bobbed in the rolling sea,
For I had the strangest notion
Just how many ancient, long-dead souls
Had piddled in the Pacific Ocean?
I looked about me, sneaked a leak,
Giggling privately at the thought
That they’d all done what I just did
Yet not one of us was caught!
Presidents, First Ladies, remote and aloof
Had blessed the brine with dignified pee,
The fish piss in it all the time,
Like the Water Board… and me.
In the shallows I stood and watched the waves
My face alive with glee
And my new knowledge of the origins
Of the froth in the foaming green sea…
When you see behind the eyes,
Under the voices and clear through the smiles,
Far over the horizon and beyond the evening sky.
When you thrill, when you hurt,
And others don’t,
Then you must write before you die.
I’d like, just once,
To fall over and all over in love
With you again.
Lilting through spring
Laughing on the terrace.
New mown grass,
Ripples of diving ducks in the Yarra,
Sun leaping off the oil of the Nicolais
The quicksilver dance had always been there
But unfledged, unwitting me?
Feathers now so new, so unfamiliar
You so very brand new
And yet strangely familiar.
Kisses, kisses – I soared on gossamer wings,
You trembling like a schoolboy
Clinging to the ground under your feet.
I marvelling that I had any power at all
Let alone such
And laughed and laughed.
Oh how I would like
Just once more
To be contemplating that bridge of ours
- the byways, shyways of love -
Before we let the full fury if it
Come striding through.
Never such Fun
Glancing across the room I stopped and took you in.
Nice. Very nice.
(The English are addicted to understatement.)
Laughed to myself, out of my league I assumed,
And carried on eye-roving.
Why did I look back?
I have no idea – fate is a notion for less precision oriented brains than mine.
But I looked back.
Eyes collided, I felt a prickling and
As I watched yours came alive –
You positively crackled.
Then tilted your head in due homage.
Oh how I liked that. I felt renovated, redecorated.
Then your eyes – oh God –
Subtle? So slow the inventory.
Down and up, down again and -
My ankles! They tingled.
Oh god how much longer could you be looking at my damned
Ankles? How could ankles be self-conscious?
I don’t know, but I’d swear they were blushing.
Then slowly - so slo-owly up again.
My toes curled. Those eyes again
I couldn’t miss it –
`Come on sweetheart, come on.`
I smiled. Shook my head - infinitesimally.
One eyebrow lifted, then you chewed on your lip.
Rolled your eyes: I couldn’t miss it
`We can’t forego the pantomime?`
`You’re going to put me through the hoops?`
Nodded. `You bet you, sonny!`
I laughed – couldn’t help it.
I laugh now just to think of it.
All this across a crowded room.
No, it wasn’t love at first sight -
But by God it was hot, heady stuff.
Oh and then you really smiled.
My belly - a new law of gravity -
A crazy, lurching, plummet to never neverland.
I can honestly say I had never before and have never since
Been so excited in my life.
My whole world reduced to a crackle!
God you were fun.
And so damned beautiful.
I would like to say that I know precisely when
Laughing and crackle transformed into falling in love
And when that crazy, special
Dance the light fantastic became such standing with love
As I came to understand
How intricately you understood me.
As I came to know that you would choose to spend the rest of your life
Counting every grain of sand on the beach
Than one single tear rolling down this face.
But I can’t. And I don’t really care.
I do know we were friends that very first night:
Friends at first sight.
Out there you show me
All the cities of the sky.
The moon shimmers its pathway over the lake.
You lay the silver universe at my feet.
I red and gold
A’flame for where you’ll take me
Starburst with the sky.
Wherever you turn,
Shops, the park, swinging across campus -
Girls, girls, girls.
Girls, girls - blonde, brunette, copperknobs
Dewy blue eyes - melting brown, the odd
Emerald sparkler, soft toffee...
The world is a lollyshop for men -
Jellybabies spilling out of the jars
Boobs, boobs, boobs –
Rolling over the counter
Insouciant some - others lush and bouncing
- (succulent) -
Some tilting sweetly.
(If I were a man I think those are the ones I'd go for.)
Long strong legs pathways to eternity
Sly knowing glances pushing open the door
(Heaven is accessible)
The bell jingles heralding the juiciest,
Tastiest little parcels
– (male mouths water) -
Heaven is here and now.
And my God – bargain basement prices nowadays -
Some are even giving it away on spec!
So lovely all those girls
Swinging along there.
How, why - every day I think it –
Did you ever choose me?
Slip-sliding on the tropic of your chest.
`Sweat is the body's tears - weeping for love, `
I mused, not knowing I'd said it out loud.
`You with all your vast experience, ` you teased,
`What do you know about that?` and tickled me.
Oh I knew about that -
I learned it the first time you kissed me.
Your heart hammering its way out of your ribcage
And my heart broke into ten pulses
Thudding in the pad of each fingertip
And broke again with the next
Slash of the surf into ten more -
Thrumming through each toe.
Lungs crashed with the pulsing pieces of my story,
An outrage of pleading between my thighs.
I trembled with the first rivulet
Springing down my spine.
And knew I was gone.
Had no idea what would take my place.
Perhaps nothing ever did.
But all over the world there they all are
Still slip-sliding away.
Sweat is the body's tears - weeping for love.
`You enjoying this?`
Unthinkable to say -
I smiled and endeavoured to look enraptured.
`You’re a pathetic liar, Marigold,` you laughed.
`We could have a game of poker -
You like poker.`
I liked you.
I doubt now if I would venture with anyone else.
Love it seems comes only with the
Blind practice of familiarised fingers
On an uncertain keyboard,
Suddenly it sings because it’s known.
But what happened when you first hoped I’d
Soar like Katchen on your Emperor?
And we crashed on my A flat.
I’d rather smile and remember
Your base enjoyment in the ridiculous -
Me fumbling around on your rondo:
You laughing all the while.
Perhaps that’s why your arpeggio
Blew out all my strings?
Gluteus Maxima - A `Lady's` Downfall
`Take care,` you said and
Dropped a kiss on my forehead.
Innocently I smiled, casually lingered,
Watching as you began your stride down Elizabeth Street,
Loose-limbed, a natural elan.
And out of nowhere, hypnotised,
The ripples had me -
Oh, how they had me.
There was never any question that I didn't notice,
Hadn't always itched to crawl all over
It was the third thing I noticed.
(That, believe me, is an accolade -
Usually it's the first.)
But this was lunchtime
We both had to work -
And I should have been used to it by now.
(I'd considered it exclusively mine a fair while -
My own personal, beloved architecture non-pareil.)
And I was supposed to be satiated:
You most certainly were.
But it had me -
Oh how it had me.
So clearly could I envisage,
So immediately recall those
Fantastic bloody maxima
Pounding me into the mattress
Rock hard and
Banging me into such obsessive, helpless erotica.
And I was instantly drowning in lust there on Elizabeth Street.
And you turned.
Why did you turn just then?
You really had to turn, just then?
I clenched, crossed my legs and
Instantly uncrossed them, shuffled from
One foot to the other.
Thanked the powers that be I wasn't a man -
How do they manage it?
At least, with luck, you wouldn't be able to pick it -
If I played my part very, very well.
And you came back, smiling quizzically.
I loved you
- Doted on you secretly -
And wished you a thousand miles away.
My beautiful, funny man:
Such a gentleman you were -
...Out of bed.
`You look flushed. You all right?`
Sarah Bernhardt take a bow.
Still smiling innocently – me on your pedestal –
How much longer could I stay up there?
Those cossetted, rarefied heights -
Your little Anglaise.
I saw her so vividly then -
My mother, the Dowager,
That eyebrow lifting, informing me
So drily, I was to be a
Lady at all times
...Out of bed.
And now look what they'd reduced me to,
Those damned gluteus maxima -
Drowning in lust on Elizabeth Street
At 3 on a Thursday afternoon in November.
At the going down of the sun …
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
They said that.
They said it again and again
And they're still saying it even though they've
Forgotten because they're still doing it
Again and again and again.
Leaving the cemetery - thousands of small white wooden crosses
I was appalled by the crunching of my heels, gross heathens on the sad
Dead gravel of those mothers' desecrated boys.
Your arm tightened around me.
I saw it then as a bright, blazing miracle
- a great shout for the true believers –
That we two with no innocence yet deeply clean eyes
Had forged love on this hard internecine earth.
I knew it when you said have my children
And have them soon. I knew straight away – but said fiercely, but
Not sons. Don't ever ask me to give you sons.
Your arm tightened again.
You understood. I'd come home:
My true believer.
You were to me
Everything elemental that is not here
It’s been something of a muddle you know.
When they brought me the news I discovered while
Pain may well be coloured blue,
Agony is a raging red inferno.
It took too long but the
Rising of the sun and
Setting of the sun gradually did its work,
Monotony set in, the maelstrom faded, and
I was coloured beige.
The Priest, avuncular to the end, had suggested
I should bear in mind that you were watching over me.
(Heaven, you know.)
It’s been rather wonderful many times -
My higher court of appeal.
I could slip in and out – private discussions -
`What do you think?` I’d ask,
And a moment later know to smile,
Perhaps decide, `That’s not bad` or
To raise a quizzical eyebrow and, sometimes,
Just get out of there.
It hasn’t always been comfortable though.
You’d sneak in uninvited.
I’d feel you wince - and I’d cringe.
I think often of Jesus
-`Suffer the little children` -
And, thinking of them all,
The battered children, the starving waifs
Huge brown eyes and bloated bellies,
I know, if this is a viable proposition
- this heaven and this watching -
Not a day goes by that He doesn’t weep.
If you’re there too,
Have you been weeping?
Your little Anglaise.
I can live with that.
It’s the notion of your cringing
That I can cope with not at all.
They say there’s a pot of gold to be found
Where the sunlight and the rain clasp in alchemy.
The river glinting, plunging,
Foam streamed down in white water frenzy;
And the kookaburra there in the Nicolai raised his head, cackled
Long, loud and raucous.
He knew it all and you my all knowing guru
You lifted me off the sand burning into my soles,
Swung me round and around,
Inscribing your crazy circles in the air,
My skirt lifting and whirling.
Laughing with him what did you think?
To make your lover so giddy with love she’d say it?
`Your thighs,` you said. `Surely a girl
With thighs like yours should believe she can own the world?`
Thighs, thighs… My teeth gritted.
`Say it,` you laughed. `Say "I… love… you…"
Say it slowly. Practice. You can say it and you’ll survive.
The earth will not cave in.`
The sand burned again under my soles
Sinking, caving in as
Laughing again, you set me down, held me away and said
All certitude still, I remember as though it were yesterday,
`When you are old and grey, wrinkled and gnarled, my Marigold
With eyes so blue, your heart so true
Your head such a crazy cobweb mess,
Then when I’ve been loving you what will seem all your life,
Then do you think you might say it?`
You smiled. Pointed to the rainbow arcing over the bridge.
You hugged me – fierce suddenly - then said
I had no need of crystal alchemy, you would be all my gold.
It should have been as we first set sail,
Hurtling down the stream of your quiet endurance,
Gliding over your rainbow.
Love of my heart around the years.
Friend of my head down into forever.
My beautiful, my so funny man.
I said it: the lone marigold looked odd, out of place on the coffin.
Not lovely. Swamped.
But I said it then.
My head is still a crazy cobweb mess.
Alone and dross without you.
Kisses taste the sweetest
Where the fruit still clings to the vine.
Lips come redolent with honey
As the keeper refrains from the hive.
Never doubt the feast’s true glory
Nor think him to love in vain,
But the dew dries fast on the bud once cut -
The sheen of innocence will not come again.
And there be times when the winds blow hard and cold,
Worse, may blow dust, come arid;
Such times draw their toll, a man feels so old,
He needs memories of days that were avid.
And nostalgia loses some flavour,
If courting’s not paid its full due:
For he loses the beauty of the river,
Who sees it with but a pilot’s view.
(With thanks to the Marks – Kaminski and Twain)
Images of Love
She, shy now,
Stepping from the shower, hurriedly
Swathes to the nose in thick blue towel:
She, undone in sudden notions of modesty.
Is she cowed by perfected variations on the theme?
Embedded images of hackneyed celluloid
Have they forever spoiled her for all that is
Here and now and true?
Does she shame the fruition of her body
Hiding behind this large, damp blue towel?
He with no more than the royal images of love
She drew in his mind.
Young as a child almost,
Yet old with despair
From a love she could not declare
I saw her naked in the swift waters
Sitting on my rock there
In the most private of all
My proud sanctuaries.
Outraged - their betrayal compounded now -
I saw the same fish nibble at her toes
And the same butterflies preen at her shoulder;
She reached out and a shaking finger plucked at my pebbles,
I saw now the desperation as well as the lies.
And as he joined her –
My good friend’s husband - I saw
What courage dared this other one here,
Heart in her hand.
Saw too the tenderness in his fingers
Winding through her hair.
Love would have its hour in my clean rapid waters
I gave them that -
But yet defiled them, courage, tenderness or no.
Ours had left no other bodies in its wake.
I melted into the bushes and would not go back.
I see the warnings all
I hear the whispering grow
To a roar: a shout to drown every sound
But the chant that echoes `No!`
It taunts, it mocks, it delights to jeer
At this old, familiar play:
It splits its sides to see me here
Retracing the same steps on the way.
The rivers of Venus overflow tonight
With the blood of lovers rejected:
Stained crimson, the old eternal blight
On the dreamers who once elected
To give it a whirl, give love its day
They thought they'd reep blessing on earth;
Delving deep into hearts, they'd look and they'd say -
Repeat the old hackneyed words.
She believing she meant it, he convinced he did too.
By God I think none there were lying;
But girl, sooner or later, one of them would rue
That such love could turn faithless, dying...
And does it now seem that I am returning
To this well-known, much rehearsed play?
Am I to be open, fair game for a spurning?
My God, you'll regret it some day, my girl,
Oh God, I'll regret it one day.
And it seems an eternity has been and long gone
'Ere those days that I thought me immune;
Where I thought me that love was a far away song
That I'd sung for the last time in those dunes.
For the lessons I'd learned then were galling and bitter
I thought them I'd never forget;
Lodged deep in a heart that would ration and filter
To keep me unwavering yet.
I did all the things that those lessons had taught me
Scrubbed my floors and tended my brood:
Swept side with impatience the gifts new men brought me
- entirely mistaking my mood -
Where I measured my heart in the voices of children
Who'd run to me for lemonade:
Then smile at me shyly, throats cooling, bellies filled
And run back to the wattle's shade.
But I am a woman and at that not a cold one
That long drought it did take its toll;
I grew restless and chafing, did fret 'neath the sun
Knew me too young to be living so old.
Then he happened by and I knew 'twas all over
My heart broke its chains and flew free:
Right out of my chest to the sky there to hover
And wait while I wondered how long it would take him
To know that he wanted me.
It took him a while - he seemed not to notice -
A shy man, from the chase he'd retired
So I schemed and I plotted, I flirted - then courageous -
Knew I'd lose nothing of me with my pride.
Ah, but little did I know then what it was I was doing -
I'd been in the shadows so long;
I'd forgotten the glory, the sweetness in wooing
Oh so badly I had this song wrong.
For I thought me my heart now a canny creature -
A frugal hoarder it seemed;
I thought I could take and indulge in some pleasure
Spending but a little of what it had gleaned.
But love is a rare one - it won't pass lightly over -
The heart soars with each day, with each hour;
With each smile and each look, with each soft, fleeting gesture
Love engulfs even a miser most sour.
And I was never a stingy person,
I gave all or nothing at all.
Which is why for so long I stayed locked up in the garden
And refused to go over the wall.
And he is a rare one, the fruit in the orchard,
The flower in the overrun weeds;
And I love him well for I find him quite awkward,
No polished, nor scattering his seed.
And the rustling of the creatures down there in the gully,
The gleam of the sun on the dew;
All joined soft to whisper that I was at home here,
I could breathe as I felt me so new.
For I sat 'neath the tree at his feet and I rested
My head at home on his knee;
And I knew it quite safe for such love to be vested
In this man who would take care with me.
I could relinquish all need for avowal - no chart
I could follow him then without a care;
For the cynic went out of my troubled heart
With the touch of his hand on my hair.
Every whisper gives the story:
Like to the Songbird’s morning glory -
As to the eucalypts’ glisten and shimmer,
So she now gazes with pride and with laughter in the
original mirror of Spring.
That has left behind the mediocre
Which reflected that state - not one iota
Of joy or question or thought for the future,
Just that dull, dank pall that sets in in winter,
Now renewed, there is life, there is vigour -
Old forgotten questions spring alive with new rigour,
Demanding response to shine silver with truth
Answers come clearer with the cavities of youth
This Spring has such warmth now, it enfolds her and calls her
To bask and to ripen like corn for the reaper,
This time is a gift to cherish - to treasure,
To give to this man - with all the love and the pleasure
In the world.
Sweet and sour my guru finds me
With the emphasis resting on sour?
The news continues to haunt me –
This was not my finest hour.
Lust unbecoming in a woman.
The sow tramples on Dresden yet again?
She lumbers around now – heavy, coarse and ungainly
Her reflections all rendered vain.
The conflict that’s left is a shambles – a pigsty –
She is dirty, she is lewd, she is crude?
And for such a boor she is curiously frightened
The pain in her head now too rude
To be ignored. It is persistent and growing,
It is stripping the meat from the bones
Laying bare – well that is the question
Why the gifts that she offers turn to stones?
Enough! (Or, Not Enough)
Get you gone, old man!
Be out of my bed, away
I’ve had enough of this dull pall
My set is not for ennui.
The man for me will be laughing, warm -
Droll, a wicked gleam in his eye;
He’ll not think a lay
A hedon waste of a day
He’ll come to my bed with but one intention -
To pound me to glory, to drive me to freedom,
He’ll not get up to run round the mountain:
He’ll be up to be jogging me!
The Family of Man
You tell me sex is not important to love
Get you gone, man, get you gone!
You tell me I’m young still,
I’ll get where you are
In another dried out decade.
I plant another tree.
Its roots are avid:
As too are mine,
These burgeoning gifts of the earth.
Fruits of the vine, food for the spirit,
Seeds of the flesh, lush to the core.
O alive, alive is to be!
Ripen is what I will.
I’ll take life and comrades, lovers, dance,
My children will thank me one day.
Life is for the living, loving, laughing
Deep bellied, full-bodied:
The generous way.
I shall have a man’s hand cup my breast
This is a fine, a necessary sculpture, yes,
This is a thing of beauty.
I shall have a man’s shoulder to lay my head down
To give me my rest
To lend me his succour.
It can be a cold, hard world out there.
I shall have a man’s hand to my belly,
Know the shiver of truth in the fire,
As he traces my thigh, moving up, moving in
To the deep of time and dream.
And I shall give to this man every gift that he asks
I will lie down only his to please;
I will deplete all my strength in his secret places
And no place will be forbidden to me.
I will drink deep of his wine,
Immersed in his musk,
And his sweat will be a river in which I drown
As I lie down only his to serve.
I will honour this man.
I will yield to my man
As he burns his way through my womb to say
Woman, you are and I, we are Alive.
We are a part of this earth
And its fruits
And in this flame we are renewed.
Again we are made whole.
And I say to every man in this family of man
Now stand up and be proud to say out loud
I am a Man.
A man of the earth.
A man of flesh, muscle and bone.
A man of salt, of sweat, I shed tears, I know joy,
I labour, I rest,
I feed my own.
I am a man of my time, a man for all seasons
I dream dreams -
I know when to let go.
But this one I hold.
I hold fast to my mind, I hold under my arm,
I keep close to my breast, this Woman,
My dove, my own.
She is my gateway to the soul.
You say to me sex is not important to love,
I say to you man, still your tongue.
Think again, look around,
Think on it now and know.
Man doth not live by the spirit alone,
Tis the flesh, not the music, feeds love.
And whosoever would not have an honoured body to hold
Is a denial of all things cherished on earth.
Whosoever does not have a loving body to hand,
Stands betrayed by the family of man.
Get you gone, man, Get you gone!
Carpets of spring,
Oh you needed
Or so you thought
Laughing low in the sky suns
Convolvulus spilling down the walls
Sollya springing out of the cracks
And so you rained all my summer,
And now yearn for my autumn.
I never promised you my marigolds.
But I picked some daisies for you and
You grasped them with hot greedy hands
And proceeded to strip them
Petal by petal
Did you not?
Sucked my stems,
Prevaricated, and then
Spat out yesterday’s compost and
Didn’t like the smell.
Yet you’d give away every springly seed in your garden
To bask in my autumn would you not?
Man, horticulture is not your forte.
Letter to my Daughters
Resign yourselves, yes, but don’t ever
Entirely give up on the world shaping vision of your youth.
And to all those who will undoubtedly try to tell you the
Whole love shebang thing is myth:
Know that this is the myth of the walking wounded.
But know too to smile and tread gently,
Such scar tissue is likely thin -
(Probing can have old warriors ablaze with pain and
It is a whole world easier to do hurt than to undo it.)
And whatever you do never dissipate your giving -
You are not Jesus.
You cannot feed the five thousand and come out of it whole.
Take it from me – I am your mother – I know
The love affair to unhinge continents is around the next molehill,
But the thing is you need a whole mountain of grace
To be able to reach it.
And most men are two-sided coins:
One woman’s knight is truly another’s monster –
I’ve seen it time and time again.
Know that the grace of a woman is a non-renewable resource:
Of her initial endowment, with every eviction from a monster’s bed,
It seems she leaves a good ten per cent behind.
I love you –
And down through the years given freely to your nurture
I’ve had your voices ringing in my ears:
`Love you, mum.`
If it was true, then of that love,
There’s only one thing I’d ask of you –
Take all the care in the world with yours.
And then show this letter to your daughters.
Some things, I know, will never change.
Letter to a Friend
Age to age and youth to youth
Have a certain fit I envy.
The one honed mellow.
The other blissful ignorance of an issue.
Whichever - whatever -
They both yet have that
Certain fit I envy.
Nowhere’s a lonely place it seems.
The head knows the calm
And looks back with a smile
As though that time were all over.
But the rest still watches the
Young ones swing
And in spite of the head
Wants to copy.
And watches her one
Who seems more of the one
And wonders where it is
Is it there? To be found?
That certain fit I envy.
My Malua Boy
Those airless nights -
Deep fetid pall,
Southern Cross vanquished.
These dead nights lie empty -
As we two.
The old girl downstairs
Never bangs on the ceiling.
The cicadas committed suicide last week.
Dead heart of the world,
The moon's left her station -
Brown scorched earth:
Our bodies arid.
Sweat tells no story the neighbours
Could never share.
Ah, but Malua -
Malua Bay, my boy,
Do you remember that night?
And Orion in ecstacy
But Venus -
Cowering in shame:
For your surge with the foam
Set the sharks to flight that night.
The dolphins in awe
Performed triple somersaults!
The minnows took fright -
Trembling as one for my bones.
The salt on the tide -
The musk of our ardour
The lamps from the harbour
Shone on never such lust
As we two:
Oh, with Love we tore the planets out,
With kisses drowned the sea.
And struck jealous moon clean out of the sky
You old devil -
My Malua boy.
We lay in the long grass,
And even this close,
The shell-pocked villages of my love excited me.
I lapped around his funny tower,
The leaning Tower of my very own Pisa
Limp and plain tuckered out.
And loved him
And laughed and laughed -
Buried my face in his hay
Fuzzy and warm,
The Welcome Inn of my Lord.
But I trembled with the ferocity of it
And was astonished that he couldn’t glory
In my high soaring vision,
That I had roamed and seen
Top to bottom of him.
I wish now I’d sung it -
True and clear as all the bells of heaven
Over the Dandenongs.
But so new was I, so sure
That the tune of my idolatry of his flesh,
The notes of my infatuation with his bones
And the low vibrato of his laughter for my pleasure were food enough:
So replete was I, so sure
That, his woman tucked under his arm,
The sun, the heat and the rustles of tiny creatures in the grass
Could fill his mind with anything he’d ever desired
If I couldn’t.
And you - barren and lost in your rich man’s citadel -
You poor old mercenary:
You’ll go blind, man, digging into your arsenal
Blundering around my cottage
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Miserere nobis -
My candles shed no light in your citadel -
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona nobis pacem.
The Lamb of God didn’t approve?
He was secretly jealous
Of my earthy revelry in my love’s villages?
Give it up, man.
Always, always I’m out there
Singing my song -
The bells of all heaven:
Perhaps the Virgin sees,
Sees only never such love:
Now that she can approve. She smiles and lends her woman’s breath
To my candles and
With the Holy Mother beating the winds
Whipping up the skies
I can indulge my light fancy
That my song can
Carry to the Dandenongs.
There’s nobody home, man.
I’m out there in the fields -
The other one’s marigold.
Perhaps he still remembers the first time they kissed.
The first time she hung frightened
On the edge of it all
Hoping his lips were stepping stones
To the kind of centre she wanted to be in.
Perhaps that’s why he can still
Bring himself to try.
(For Peter Shull)
The icon of the post war 20th century:
Guaranteed politically correct.
But when mediocrity rules
Excellence is not fixed in a high place
Nor even defined,
But juggled about, dropped,
And trodden upon by the great, celebrated majority who
Look only straight ahead,
In the vague, spinning spiral of aspiration
Hope is converted to contempt,
Faith becomes a musty, quaint ideal
That fades into a nervous fantasy,
And trust is a word that has rusted.
Raucous voices echo around the spiral
As the lone silver splinters off lone men and women’s dreams
And spins off into the dreadful oblivion
Of lone men and women’s brief eternity.
While floating in the spiral
Are the individuals whom mediocrity consumes
With bureacratic banality.
Safe from the spiral are the rich, who smirk,
The LA famous who pose and prattle of Love
(Of which they know sweet bugger all)
The insane, who laugh as they dream on,
And the dead, who sleep, in defeat.
Never call it love
I am the universe's lost child abjured.
Swallowed whole my own unique creation
In Lucy's mutated mitochondria.
Yesterday's vision the dead
Grey ash of yesterweek's dreams
Dead stories of what it was to be me, me, I
Shrouding these hunter-gatherer bones.
Yesteryear's fragments importuned
Lovers, oceans, symphonies, poets
A clamouring vessel of nothing to give, nought to take, save
Yesterday's atavistic propulsion
No dream now...
Eros bow down
Shake you never so hard each and every rosy apple
The bough trembled in no garden.
As new wise men give fantasy shape
To old illusions the light dims around us
In the zoological jungle
Does mind not beat on necessity?
Will being unborn learn to bear?
What then the rapture?
How now the savouring, sucking surrender
Breaking the cavern of mortal song
Into haunted cadence, shattered slivers,
No dying cries of pain -
No shining to be summoned from unfathomable darkness:
No renewal here to rock classical harmony
Into loving primal sleep?
Lovers who beat to creation's dance
Logical sinew pumping out Darwinian mathematics
No metaphysical ballet, no unique form, nor original feature
Mere A, C, G and T:
No question, no call, no answer -
Never call it love!
Nucleotides... no cone of light shimmers on the sea
Only the deep, dark Stygian depths
Of nihilism for all but the gene.
Nibble at space you will never taste stardust
Your image is deformed.
Waxing has made, waning will end
And if darkness is generous the most granted can be
Another Lucy look-alike
To dry your womanish tears
For what is found not to be lost
It was never found -
Not in greedy flesh, not in yearning souls,
Flesh, flesh, flesh and
Heart, heart, heart
Still, tomorrow and tomorrow is but
We can never call it love!
Art may call forth the phantom –
Music may speak with gathering energy, falling grief
And the poets answer with passion and refinement
The fire will never cleanse.
Towering spirits caught in elegance and wit
May streak and hunt the moonlit shore:
Race the rapids, grab at the firmaments -
Yet with calm and indolent judgment
All this the man of science knows
And knows but this:
Gaze on the starfields all you will
The changing face of truth is the mockery mask
Of A, C, G and T.
The joke is on us.
Listen and you will hear all the jungle laughing.
Our minds may beat and beat
On necessity, yet we may
This side of eternity
Call it love?
For Love of Stew
`Tell me what you like.`
The skin on the nape of my neck
Screamed alive in protest,
My face flamed and I looked away quickly -
Such a fool -
Desperately envying the wall its anaemic anonymity.
Undeterred he grabbed my jaw and yanked it back around.
I swallowed, had no choice but to meet his eyes -
Smiling he was – questioningly –
Somehow subtly I managed to retrieve possession of my face.
I discovered a new fascination with the ceiling.
`Well? Tell me what you like.`
I swallowed again, took a deep breath -
I yearned to be home.
Oh God! Three hundred kilometres away.
Speechless, my body stained
Crimson - the waratah on the hotel bureau -
A dull thing by comparison.
Words. Words. I smiled brilliantly.
Somehow I found some - ` Why
Don't we just do what you like?` -
I nodded hopefully - `I'd like that.`
Nodded again, enthusiastically,
Inexpressibly relieved. A solution.
My smile relaxed, I breathed again and
Men are easily pleased are they not?
That should work. Shouldn't it?
But, no, he didn't like that idea.
What a hero. The patience:
`Jena, how am I to know what you like if you won't tell me?`
They flashed before me in technicolour -
Purple prose - or pristine clinical - whichever,
Me white now, the bagged stone walls doubtless looked positively
Lurid by comparison.
My mouth was so dry.
I gazed, speechless,
My heart was beating so fast
I could actually hear it drumming in my ears.
Dizzily I confronted my own foolishness
Reflecting with such clarity in his eyes.
I wilted –
Entirely forgetting what my gut knew all along
All those words so raw -
Stripped bare of affection.
(I challenge you to write down every one
And find a single loving character.)
Meanwhile all I had was mortification stripping every bone to its
Whatever happened to tenderness?
Bloody geography -
Got to know where you're going,
Only one possible destination here.
South a bit, west a little
When it should have been
North and east?
Got to have good directions in your pursuit of the Big O.
I resigned myself to following the dedicated trail of the
Small O - what a thrill -
Thinking privately even that would take a
Huge miracle now.
Perhaps the ceiling took pity on me?
Inspiration. Such a relief!
It came out as a squeak - but
Still wasn't any good.
All women, I was informed, are different.
Bleakly I hoped all men were too -
Please let this one be unique?
He was still waiting.
Well, I ventured, I probably wasn't
Oh God. He thought I was a freak?
Suddenly I wanted to laugh.
Surely there must be
Something, I thought wildly. Just anything
That could be sufficiently within this
Expert technocrat's efficient repertoire that could
Get us through till morning?
Of them all why had he chosen me?
And why had I ever thought it a wonderful idea
To be the chosen one of this one?
He was American.
He'd read all the manuals.
I closed my eyes. Wondered sadly if that
Goliath of Reconstruction had entirely given up on Twain:
`He loses the beauty of the river
Who sees it with but a pilot's view...`
And perhaps they don't go much for stew in America.
You have this specific mass of flesh.
You roll it around in seasoned flour -
Who cares how much flour, for God's sake?
(Excess will just fall off:
Doesn't do any harm, after all)
First time you throw in some basil,
Maybe a bay leaf. A few peppercorns.
Some vegetables – carrots, onions, whatever you have.
Then you cook the thing
A fair while. (Got to break down
That connective tissue.)
Doesn't taste bad. But you think -
Next time I might add a touch of oregano.
A couple of cloves might be good too -
And maybe an extra half hour could have
Had it positively melting in the mouth..
So - pretty good, yes.
But - a bottle of claret
Would have surely given it a lift.
Right. Plus a spoonful of tomato puree would
Probably top it off - and a sprinkling of sugar...
By God. Fourth, fifth time around
That's a pretty bloody good stew!
But then I'm just an enthusiastic consumer,
Not a purist.
One day I experimented with cinnamon.
Don't know what made me think of that
- Just a whim -
Fucking inspired it was!
(But I love stew)
Phoenix - or, Taking Care
If my thoughts of you were mistaken,
This last tilt for grace mere self-deception,
Where then will I be down the road?
What then is this balm?
This innocent healing,
This helpless affection that,
Resisting all contenders, keeps its vigil
Despite the cold winds of reason
They blow, blow, icy and lucid,
Blow, blow, back and persistent,
Buffetting love away with the tides
Clean off the edge of the sea.
Don’t ask to know.
I dream you soft,
Would clothe you with tenderness:
The mauves of the heather under the dew of September
In the Highlands, the cool lands, the ethereal dawning -
The Lakes through soft gauze, Windermere, misty,
You filtered on my mind.
The clear rippling view of the river and the backdrop
Rising mountains, lofty and still:
Contained in their grandeur as the trampling, the guns,
The dogs and the beaters fade now for the drums -
Your fingers begin the play:
The thudding beat of your rhyme.
Inflame the other loving, not quiet now, compulsive,
Steaming out of the pores,
Streaming down the raw nerve ends
Riding clear off the planet,
To crash on the precipice of being.
Skin sliding on sweat.
Salt vanishing old scars.
Plenitude: the sweetest gift of the act.
Our bed draws you kind on my mind.
Still, the gifts you are offered will turn to stones.
Your tongue the whiplash on my heart;
This heart, the survivor,
One obdurate contender,
My heart lying full, with the helpless affection
That called you back:
One more time.
Oh man, tis as well I am some kind of strong,
They transplanted me these many moons ago.
Oh man, you get at me where I live.
But these natives have nothing on me:
You singe, you can burn,
You do roast me alive.
My story, my own, will fly off to the wattle
To grieve, perhaps ever unsung?
But then again, a new dawning -
Sun laughing mightily -
A morning chorus to riven the sky
As I rise from the ashes:
Emerald plumage exalting and crowning
The sapling that it is to be me.
So if you could translate this morse of mine,
If you could rise to my story,
Reflected in the love of our daughter perhaps,
Shining in the eyes of the baby.
My pleasure, my treasure - my life and my lands -
All there in the fingertips tracing your bones,
For I’m thinking the very last time.
A smile goes such a very long way, man,
Just one smile lights a whole day, do you see?
I could carry you away then up over the sky
Up over the gums and the kookaburra’s joy would
Ring in your ears
His laugh full bore as he sees:
That at last
You understand -
That this woman at your hand
Even as the land
Is yours in borrowed time.
No more no less than the soil am I.
As with the land all over the world -
A good woman is much as a good plot of earth:
You’ve got to look after it.
The Paris Tunnel
I fall in love too easily
I fall in love too fast
Fat moon in her virtue
Sweet tendrils of fidelity
Clothing men all velvet of tenderness
Women stripped of their hubris.
Oh yes I fall in love too easily
Just a turn, just a catch of a phrase:
A waif with huge eyes
The wheel of a swallow
Scent of the lavender
Crowning all now with all glory
And I drowning in love again.
Oh I see the mire too easily
The locusts swarming the lies
Mars flames the planet
The jackals, the carrion
Rivers of betrayal
Just a sneer, just a slick-oiled phrase
And the humming, the buzzing
The great orgiastic frenzy I
Sunk in the mire again.
But I'll still fall in love just as easily
The only way I know to make it come:
The day all say they dream of,
The dawning some of us yearn for
The day we can rewrite the song:
Only the bad die young
To Henry Thoreaux
One who lives drawn by his own skill
Has the whole world in the palm of his hand
All there for the grasping.
Detached or entwined,
Remote or engaged,
He can ride it, walk round it,
Glide under or through it,
It will bend and accommodate his will;
Or so it seems.
Not that it matters.
If it snaps he’ll create another to his liking:
His inner resources sure guide.
To be envied he is this inimitable draughtsman.
His horizons are generous and clever.
(Though knowing and frugal
He has none to squander)
He husbands while other men fritter and worry
Their allotted portion away.
Buffetted and tossed in a maelstrom of trivia
Swept up with the tide of some chance fleeting grandeur
Unable to distinguish the one from the other,
Washed up on the rocks of their own inner chaos
They erode: they diminish
And lose what they yearn for -
The whole world just a whisper away
From the reaching palm of their hand.
Those Fields I Left Behind Me
(For Peter Shull)
I suppose the alfalfa still springs
Fresh, violet faces each year
In the fields I left behind me;
And I suppose the same children
Slide like furry mice down the stalks
Of those long stemmed autumn sunsets,
Stealing a last quick run before
Dark and, oh God, I suppose that
Same fat balloon hauls up the same
Moony crew of star-eyed lovers
On their nightly trip to ever...
And I suppose its still the same
Big sell it always used to be -
In the fields I left behind me.
© Jena Hamilton 1999
<updated in November>