In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, J.P. Quinton reads his poem 'Reading the Landscape' which features in the 2016 WA anthology.

Reading the Landscape

To read a landscape by another landscape;
Valley cloud reveals altitude.

To read the landscape visits the ego
That prevents a proper reading.

To this landscape, the circular fireplace
And a straight trunk – xanthorrhoeas present.

To read this landscape to the tune of other words,
As moisture moves us, is us, drowns us.

To read the landscape like a book
Means to think like a border

Like the roos who still jump
Where the fences have been removed.

J.P. Quinton

'Reading the Landscape' appears in States of Poetry - WA. You can learn more about States of Poetry and read the full anthologies here

Read J.P. Quinton's biography in 'States of Poetry - WA'

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    In this episode of Australian Book Review's States of Poetry podcast, J.P. Quinton reads his poem 'Reading the Landscape' which features in the 2016 WA anthology.

The river has always
sat in front of me,
mud between toes
shooting down grassy
hills on cardboard. My
brother dragged a sheep
behind a canoe
to the other side,
and painted a warning
on his rose canvas
when my sister drowned.
She was throwing rocks
when swallowed.

Dog barks heard from the kitchen.

Mum ran screaming up
the hill, a limpid wet body
in her arms, almost
like the canaries
the dogs killed
lying at the bottom of their cage.
A nurse heard cries
from five houses away
and saved her.

For a long time
I wasn't allowed near the river
and cursed it.
Its myriad voices, silent.

 

J.P. Quinton

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  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Dog Barks Heard from the Kitchen’ by J.P. Quinton
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

To read a landscape by another landscape;
Valley cloud reveals altitude.

To read the landscape visits the ego
That prevents a proper reading.

To this landscape, the circular fireplace
And a straight trunk – xanthorrhoeas present.

To read this landscape to the tune of other words,
As moisture moves us, is us, drowns us.

To read the landscape like a book
Means to think like a border

Like the roos who still jump
Where the fences have been removed.

 

J.P. Quinton


Recording

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Part of the river begins here, car carcasses
Filter run-off, houses fenced off
A two foot foam toy stealth bomber
Discarded in the buffalo – 'the F27C
Striker Brushless' neglected, ignored.

Broken winged, landlocked like concrete islands.
Part of the river begins here,
Sweet mud smell, the hill you slide down
On tin, the old man keen to shoot to shoo
You, his house as far as his scope.

To kill the grass they've killed the liquidambar
And the clean fill sand will absorb the poison
Near the salt bush tagged pink, ready for pruning
Bark crunching, parrots munching
Near the netball ring bolted to the fence.

A train, a truck, an aeroplane.
A fence, a concrete path
And day old dog shit scraped to the side
Below a clear blue sky hazy at the horizon.
With a video camera I imagine walking

Straight through the swamp, shoes squelching
A document, not now – not the right time, never the right time.
The DC266 Evinrude outboard dingy
Its fishermen, shiners of the torch
Throw cigarette butts in the water: 6:35pm.

The bridge monument – maximum load
Three hundred kilograms
Hugs the bank like Michelangelo's staircase
In the last of the sunlight, duck tracks
And great Egrets picking at the rushes.

They mistake feed for a chip wrapper
As salty as the day purchased
At the supermarket,
The Great Egret Supermarket.
I jump off the bridge, I'm heading home

And find a walkie talkie, possibly from the stealth bomber:
You used to be able to see the river floor, over.
Surprised at the amount of water in here
For this time of year, over. No frog noises though,
Over. Still, plenty of mozzies and guppies, over.

Copy, over. Now it dawns on me – the camps
We used to see, the piles of rubbish,
Blankets, buckets, remnants of small fires,
Fishing tackle, they were aboriginal camps, middens
Right under noses, right here, over.

'Fucking hell' spray painting blue on a sheoak
The Hades totem forces a walk through puddles
Car wrecks half way up the drain, tip islands at high tide,
Oil slicks, rusting ruins in clay sediment
And oxidised metal mixing, they don't make 'em like they used to.
'

Slowly leaking into the creek —
Follies of the future
The high water mark
A white horizon line made of phosphate.
Part of the river begins here, car carcasses.

 

J.P. Quinton

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  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | 'Site Visit: Ashfield Flats’ by J.P. Quinton
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

grasses sweep grooves in sand, the way streams forge sweeps in earth;
their soft brown tips dangle, like me, the narcissist,
searching for recognition, the call and response
the topographic certainty, the black and white pinions.
cloud gaps are light patch are sunglasses on.
loose rock and lost watch – the alpine flowers dry,
the travelling snow is sliced by skis or sun or boot tread
with spring their tracks melt, before i can revisit.
i love the steep incline, the shared gradient and shrub steps
with black blocks cracked and blue blue sky.

ants block the waterfall path, they bite skin and scale
you won't see them then your feet are black, bitten.
you will run and they leave peaks peaks.
after four hours the marsh fly breaks the black spider web.
tangled in white glue there's no direct flight, earth folds.

the tangled fly is caught in another web, fangs suck blood slow.
the carcass pulled to darkness, the green head splinters.
all eight legs, she watches from a crevice. all blood used
to bring what once buzzed to her. the door is closed,
the wings merely frames. all eight legs.

red paint on glass, a construction mishap. the dried paint drips
become scratched name marks, he always slept on the verandah
all seasons, all eight legs. water crashes into water,
pools like candle-wax. lizards eat everything but the head.
the pane cleaned with a dirty cloth, streaks over the hare.

as if the last light means nothing, he munches the tops off,
doesn't react to window knocks.

 

J.P. Quinton

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  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘the red hut’ by J.P. Quinton
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

I walk to the river,
I am searching,
I am searching for a jar of leeches.
In the distance I see something flashing
so I head toward it.

As I come closer I see
it's a mirror dangling from a tree,
and beneath it, a table with six sealed jars.

I open a jar, stick my finger inside
pull it out –
blood slides down my arm.

I feel the sharp clutch of a hand on my shoulder,
I turn and see a woman's
face covered in mud,
she points across the water
and says if I want my own leeches
I have to swim
to the opposite bank.

I strip my body of clothes
– pause for a moment –
enter the water, and swim.

In the murk I stop,
put my head up, I'm half way
the water is colder at my feet,
I can sense the muddy floor beneath
my arms ache, my head is numb,
I look back and see the mirror flicker
there is no one to complain,
I see my face on the surface
the river rocks and I wonder why I'm here.

 

J.P. Quinton

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  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘There is No One to Complain’ by J.P. Quinton
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J.P. QuintonJ.P. Quinton

J.P. Quinton lives in Fremantle, Western Australia. He is an adventurer and writer. In 2011 he became inspired by the story of Bon Scott while cycling around the U.K. The novel Bad Boy Boogie: the Adventures of Bon Scott is the result of four years research and interviews with friends of Scott.

Quinton has also written multiple books of poetry. New Poets is available through Fremantle Press.

He is now researching his next novel about bushwalking. Over the next few years he will be walking the Australian Alps Walking Track, The Shikuko Island Temple walk, The Heysen trail, the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand and the Pacific Crest Trail. When he returns to Western Australia he aims to walk the Bibbulmun track in thirteen days.

States of Poetry

'Dog Barks Heard from the Kitchen'

'There is No One to Complain'

'Site Visit: Ashfield Flats'

'Reading the Landscape'

'the red hut'

Recordings

#39 States of Poetry WA Podcast | 'Reading the Landscape' by J.P. Quinton

Further reading and links

J.P. Quinton's website

Bad Boy Boogie: the Adventures of Bon Scott by J.P. Quinton, published in December 2015

'Interview with J.P. Quinton' published by Fremantle Press on 20 July 2015

'Seven Years, to the Day' by J.P. Quinton, published on 1 February 2015 in Cordite Poetry Review

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  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | About J.P. Quinton
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poets