In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, A. Frances Johnson reads three poems from 'The Book of Interdictions' which features in the 2016 Victorian anthology.
Lo, the cell phone sleeps in its cell.
The raven deactivates the horizon.
There is water for everyone,
but not the kind you can drink.
The interdiction crews bring slabs
of plastic bottles and one-syllable words
deployed with biblical clarity:
no, tow, flow, go, foe.
Lo, watch the oil on the water
shimmer, a miracle of evidence.
Wounded iridescent rainbows
leak from under the hull. For two days,
the hawk drone has shadowed
its nest of wood, dreaming of
the time after rain, flowers appearing
on the earth, the singing
of birds, the time come.
Wire was once a useful thing.
Piano wire brought song,
made the piannola in the desert
unspool melodies to support
a soldier's farmblock optimism.
Wire brushes cleaned the mud
from workboots, penned animals
inside their stalls. Fine gauge
fixed the porcelain fuse so a light
globe shone over air-conditioned
Bethlehem. And here, razor wire
taught children what to expect.
He avoids dining out
on his award-winning photograph;
its forced correspondence nags;
the camp's hall of mirrors looks
nothing like his shaving mirror.
He has seen this room before,
filed many versions of the same shot.
He knows how the poem goes
before the poet has written it:
war, movement, hunger, displacement,
incarceration, hopelessness, suicide, image.
He will not dine out on it; on the one of many.
But the next night he books a restaurant,
a good one, eating past life.
When a little death on a plate
arrives, he cuts the image
away like an army surgeon.
A. Frances Johnson
Read A. Frances Johnson's biography in 'States of Poetry - VIC'