Poem

For months Mozart has been so crucial I haven’t played him.
The winds, filibustering the house, have heard
the chimney crackle and the paint strain
while the old obsessions went ignored. What was the point?

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Bairnsdale
The sky is starling-filled granite, this open country
veneered with estates sudden as dark water rising. Main Street

clusters with pensioners

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I had just walked out of the reeds at the confluence
of two rivers. Brown frogs stuck in my hair like gouts
of flung mud, my skin was whip-stitched, lacerated
with leeches. I was walking a path hazardous

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As when the governess
Clutched to her bosom the damp head of Miles,
Who squirmed, unseeing, frantic for a hint,
Not able yet to guess
What she appeared to see in the haunted pane
Besides the backlit sky: the shape of Quint
Trying to find his way past her denial’s
Hard stare, not quite in vain.

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I am in Louisiana with the dogs,
my lost generations of dogs.
How I got there, what budget tour I’m on,
whether my papers are in order,
my visa credible, is a total mystery.

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Taken as Required

by Ynes Sanz

An age ago, ill-matched,
ignorant but willing,
we set the rules.
‘Step by Step’, we said. ‘No Bullshit.’
Today, thinking of something else
I stumbled across the grey metal bracelet
you looped over that stick of a wrist
where your thin blood stained the skin
to resemble an antique map or a bad tattoo
(like the one they inked on for that photo shoot in the ’50s).

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So much activity outside
where sunlight spills across the snow
like cream –

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      Rain bubble-wrapping the windows. Rain
falling as though someone ran a blade down the spines
   of fish setting those tiny backbones free. Rain
            with its squinting glance, rain

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To be alone in the wide room
in the house’s crooked elbow, turning point
for extensions as the family grew
and grew – and grew – to be alone in the one room
nobody needed now, though it might be resumed
like land, for guests or blow-ins, at any moment,
without notice (and that was part of
the appeal, the very tenuous feel of the place) to play the ...

Not since I was four or five at most
and in the first of many striped tee-shirts
have I been this close to the flavour of safety.
I’m walking into town again, the child of hills.
You bought me fish and chips for lunch, my own
adult portion because I asked for it, in Evans’s
tiled restaurant, the Alhambra of takeaways.

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