Tuesday, 25 October 2011 04:11

'Feel Free', a new poem by John Ashbery

Our competing lifestyles lost us the Australian double
that semester. And couldn’t we then arrange
to do the other, and was the desert that limitless,
and why not say so? You see, griping comes naturally
to me and to all mankind. Once, when shut up
at the bottom of a shaft of some kind, I
assumed that the world would just trickle naturally
around whatever feet I was wearing, and increased
morbid curiosity would result. Hold on there!
No, I meant it, plangently, like small waves rubbing
against a reef, or the sighing of mice behind a grill.
This is yours to manipulate, they said,
yours to live on. That’s only what they said.
I’m guessing that she told you the same,
and idlers copied it to their remotest constituency
and to a whole lot of other things, belike.


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    Our competing lifestyles lost us the Australian double
    that semester. And couldn’t we then arrange
    to do the other, and was the desert that limitless,
    and why not say so? You see, griping comes naturally

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 00:25

'Least Said', a new poem by John Tranter

 

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    The ice-cream headache has you seeing double
    as Goody Twoshoes calls by your table to arrange
    some kind of smooth-talk conference full of limitless
    possibilities, lots of cocktails, two naked men and naturally

A Context for Intensity

Clive James

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    Much as I loved you in the snow and ice,
    Side-slipping down the chute below Spinale –
    It’s twenty years now since we saw Madonna
    (Di Campiglio, not Ciconne)

Morandi and the Hard Problem

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  • Custom Article Title 'Morandi and the Hard Problem', a new poem by Stephen Edgar
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    And once again that field of neutral light,
    Those same few vessels subtly rearranged
    Across the surface of a table,
    The pots and bottles, vases, with a slight

Camaldulensis

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  • Custom Article Title 'Camaldulensis', a new poem by Chris Wallace-Crabbe
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    Apart from those
    occasional wrinkled socks
    you are aristocratically pallid

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  • Custom Article Title 'Osip Mandelstam and Rosemary Dobson: A translation', a new poem by Rosemary Dobson
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After Pintauro

 

And on my travels I came across
a boy holding his purple heart
in his hands like a broken cup. I touched
the handle – it turned into a bluebird
and tottered away on unsteady
feet. The boy unfolded
himself into a crane and tucked
his head under a wilted wing. His leg, a post
from which a flag flew red, blue and white.
I lowered the flapping thing onto the ground

and it spread out like ink. It was the cold
of the black-and-white tiles of my mother’s kitchen
seeping through my bare feet. I was
a knight. The morning sun laid
its hard hand across the breakfast toast
in stripes. The cat sneezed fairies
as it washed the plates with its whiskers. I asked
for a map. It was lowered on a glistening line
through a searing heart-shaped hole
in the sky. God loves you. I traced

my travels with tendrils of thyme.
When I got to where I was
my hands were helium and I was floating …
The air was cotton candy and kissed me
stickily. Then I spied you waiting
on the broad bank, cradling a rainbow.
I let the air escape my hands
and landed in the middle
of the bedroom you’d unfolded
like a rusty accordion. We curled

up in the soft sheets like stoats
in the dark. Now we sleep
to dream of life. In the morning
cabbages will shed their leaves
like jackets, trousers, petticoats.
You’ll simmer a cauldron
of silver stars and I, I will weave
you stories from gossamer
and dew. Wait now – the cat’s
coughed an elf. Wake now.

 

 

CONTENTS: DECEMBER 2010–JANUARY 2011

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  • Custom Article Title 'After Pintauro', a new poem by Eileen Chong
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    And on my travels I came across
    a boy holding his purple heart
    in his hands like a broken cup. I touched
    the handle – it turned into a bluebird

Wednesday, 08 June 2011 15:21

'100,000,000 ad', a new poem by Will Eaves

100,000,000 ad

 

The Captain’s keen to explore, go deeper,
Take core samples, measure astronomical tilt.
He says the clues are down there and the truth;
Our forebears, numerously well-preserved,
Point to the paradox of their success: death
Learnt from them and wore a cunning face.

We throng the younger layers of sediment,
Lie curled in the embrace of great forests
That overran new land, perished, grew back.
And lower down we’re much in evidence, too,
Across the globe, a race undrowned and diligent.
We were much smaller then. We cowered and hid.

The mystery is in the interval, the Captain says,
Where nothing but the same poor pollen remains.
No larger predators, no catlike cometary snarl,
Only a grin composed of mystery’s missing teeth.
The Captain works so hard he barely eats his kids.
What happened, what happened?’, he squeaks.

 

 

CONTENTS: DECEMBER 2010–JANUARY 2011

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    The Captain’s keen to explore, go deeper,
    Take core samples, measure astronomical tilt.
    He says the clues are down there and the truth;
    Our forebears, numerously well-preserved,

The Sublime

at 86 and 91 they are still together
more or less
and greet me at the door
as if I am the punchline to a joke
they were just recalling

my mother staggers sideways in the drive
my father reaches out for a wall, a rail, an arm
with the urgency telephones demand

they know what it is now
and do their best to hide this knowledge from us
agreeing to be forgetful and ever more frail
they can’t help grinning at the picture they must make

they expect to be driven to appointments
they say are medical or therapeutic

my mother toys with the idea of a new knee
my father trembles to the tiny drum machine
beneath his ribs

and their eyes go cloudy, their ears a solid silent blue,
their mouths half open to let out the unspoken
because they know what it is
and now they want it more than this old world

the small days come, flowers in the garden,
drugs delivered to the door, postcards in the box outside

she has a sturdy stick to hold down against this earth
tapping as if to wake someone down there

a warning they are coming

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  • Custom Article Title 'The Sublime', a new poem by Kevin Brophy
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    at 86 and 91 they are still together
    more or less
    and greet me at the door
    as if I am the punchline to a joke
    they were just recalling

Philip Hodgins – A Dream

 

I walk toward a paddock bordered by cypress trees.
Philip Hodgins is on a tractor harrowing forty acres.
I can’t see his face but I know it is him
methodically going about his business,
navigating the terrain, driving into a diminishing
square, like the farmer in Dispossessed mowing lucerne,
driving rabbits and snakes into a disappearing centre.
Except here, windrows of dirt pile up in lines
behind the tractor, a symmetry of harrowed soil,
not unlike a Buddhist mandala, rippling out toward
the boundary fence in waves one to two feet high.
He gives the tractor some throttle. The windrows of dirt
are stopping me from entering the paddock.
I want to ask him about his lines
yet sense that I will never get close to him.
He seems to be on a mission to work the paddock
to its own manic rhythm. I measure my distance,
windrows of dirt brush against me.

In another dream he is holding a shotgun at me
pointing it between my eyes. He is looking down the barrel.
He seems tired, resigned yet determined.
This is about the time I am writing my thesis
on his poetry. His rhythmic lines intersecting in my head,
his untimely death, direct nature of his address –
there’s nothing in these dying days
consumes me and I live in two worlds,
grappling for an argument like a rock-climber
who has lost his footing, arms and legs flailing
for a ledge. He is looking down the barrel at me
pointing the gun between my eyes –
now it is up to you, to do this work
which confounds me. I am not up to
such direct statement, one of those moments
in a dream where I feel myself sweat,
wake soon after. A dream to burden the day –
his words, that stare down the barrel.

 

 

CONTENTS: FEBRUARY 2011

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  • Custom Article Title 'Philip Hodgins – A Dream', a new poem by Brendan Ryan
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    I walk toward a paddock bordered by cypress trees.
    Philip Hodgins is on a tractor harrowing forty acres.
    I can’t see his face but I know it is him
    methodically going about his business,