Below Howarth Cross, tussocky fields
still wait for dead builders; 'Pick your plot now.'
Mice dart away through clover and thistles
dodging oil drums, chip wrappers, surprised
by the impossible song of lost looms.
Under Cobbled Bridge, off Belfield Lane
the stones erode along their grain, as lain.
On the underside, immortalised, 'Kipper Lips'
and 'Tina too much too young.'

Past cyclists, fisherman and fern-clad locks
two men on a scaffold are bricking-up
the last of nine great eyeless mills.
The sun-stone rolls over Blackstone Edge,
heavy, heavy. On Smalley Street, each drainage
grate is still in place. Doris hasn't moved
the old meat slicer, yet doesn't even know
me, as she squints over change, saying,
'You're better off than you realised, love.'

From the church, scrawled on the garage
my brothers' names, then the gentle rise
of Heywood Road dipping and winding
narrowly between dark hawthorn trees,
cobbled patches still breaking through,
hints at something we called 'country'
heading out one Sunday morning
blindfold toward the Heywood spire
with no thought of returning.

 

Graham Kershaw

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘The Heywood Spire’ by Graham Kershaw
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

This morning I read of the nightwell,
filling mysteriously in our sleep,
disappearing by day, and it brought
to mind the gifts of Christmas, of starlight,
the open dark eyes of the children of Aleppo
on television the night before.

I dreamt of a family escaping through pines,
over the crest of a forest, young and old
struggling down to the shore of a great cold lake,
their only hope of escape; no boat was there,
but the strong might try to carry the old,
at least, if they cared enough

and it made me want to simply run away,
to escape the brain-ache of not doing
what we are best made to do, even knowing
our good fortune, knowing no gratitude
or peace of mind, no resting place for
a harried and haunted, half-buried mind

and then I read of the nightwell,
how it was said to fill mysteriously while we sleep,
then disappear by day, and it brought to mind
the gifts of Christmas, of starlight,
the children of Aleppo,
a family escaping ...

 

Graham Kershaw

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘The Children of Aleppo’ by Graham Kershaw
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

Riding back from Heathrow, after Rome,
everything felt dark, sad, dirty, grim.
Only on the train did the old redemption come:
soft green fields, open loose-leafed canopies,
water tipped from shivering layers of leaf,
through clouds of shadow; all those rich depths
under bridges, in the ditches, between one hedge
and another; deep pools of shadow, pierced
by stars of wet light; mysteries gathering,
flooding, oozing into the failing day,
overwhelming the apparent and the assumed;
dark riches of numberless greens and greys,
too many, too fast to paint or say; immense poetry,
in fact, down amongst the fag-ends.

A private, dumb hoarding all our own, all this;
the debris of besieged beasts, hoarded trash
of dead philosophies, waiting every time
we fly in under that stifling blanket,
to something smaller than earth and sky,
the night crashing in, buses bearing up,
trains making do, faces turning
from the darkness and the light equally.
Me with my white paper hat melting
in my hand, you with your red scarf,
all the eyes of Surrey half-wondering,
half-wishing for less to wonder on,
if it might keep them from the telly.
Me a vicar, banished from Rome;
you a gypsy, banished to the road;
both fallen from the sky once more,
to be made real, this Monday evening.

 

Graham Kershaw

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘The Vicar & the Gypsy’ by Graham Kershaw
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

'Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly...'
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

I un-wake to damage.
Light-bulb stutters, frantic
once off, once on, illuminates
imagined city
skyline.

Inside my bedroom it rains
for days. The head
full of synaptic hauntings
shudders. Old-milk sky
dimming.

I tell myself there is
a world outside
the world. Stay still
completely
still & gather dust.
             & watch the fretful halls.

Walls convulse,
contract & close. The filament
at the bulb's chest flickers. Lethe
is half
dream-drowned in me.
There is a sickness not worth
surfacing. Better
to sink. To listen: soft light, soft
light & the pressure
the pressure of doorways.

 

Kia Groom

Recording

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Alice at Last’ by Kia Groom
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

Itch in the vein, the road hot still
from sun, an asphalt stream
bisecting unlit houses. Slip of an alley
cat through a spittle of starlight.

Last cigarette, the way Em curls
her yellow fingers into small mouthed
sweater sleeves.

Clock tower bites light through the empty
parking lot. Gates we broke apart last summer, same
time I lost the laces from the leather
punctures in my too-small shoes, loom.

I taste penance, mouth wanting ash-dry and Em
ribs through rails, ducks under gate chain. I become
the sum of all my touches.

Here, the darkened grotto.
Here, stone-eyed Mary with her marble palms.

Under the Virgin's feet, Em's hips like Hail Marys.
Under my itch the scratch I cannot trespass.

Hail last of the cheap champagne,
Hail damp hair,
Hail sprinkler cycles,
Hail the scent of sulfide.

Flash of cop lights from the hill's dark lip,
and Em's hands nudging the dawn
down the bed of the sky, asking

one strike more. Just one
more toll of the hollow bell, before we lattice

fingers, streak through the blistered night.

 

Kia Groom

Recording

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Catholic Education’ by Kia Groom
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

Invasion Day

 

My thighs are cold in the crevice
where the Coke can rested
as I drove. By the mailboxes
the ginger guy is                                                     staring                     again
his back against
my box, meat-pie
eyes, fixed
                                                                                  upon the middle distance
             not looking
at me, like I expect.

I disembark and seek out shadow,
walking in my skin-shoes where the pavement
is the darkest, where
my flesh won't burn. I'm white,
white, white – invisible
as ghost – the sidewalk of my hips
untrodden by their fingertips. A sunburned
country, empty.

I know summer from the sticky
pools of ice-cream melting in the eyes
of children, from the stink of burning
flesh on barbeques.

A guy walks past with a fresh
tattoo:                                                                    the Southern Cross all slick
                                                                                with blood and fluid,
packed
in Glad Wrap
like a lump
of steak.

I salivate. I sink
my teeth into his arm.

I am so hungry.

 

Kia Groom

Recording

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Inferno I : Invasion Day’ by Kia Groom
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

Dot by dot, the backs
of eyelids. Draw it slowly,
shape of sentimental spine.
You curve that way.

I breathe the countdown
& the world falls, air by air.

In the white room you cloud
over bedsheets,
unsettled weather, & no electric
light will dare illuminate.

Your skin tastes clean sky,
polished gray. That clarity,
sharp on the tongue.
I snap off the hallway,
let shadows nip like kittens.

You are so still you shimmer.
So still you gutter out.

My ribcage phantoms. The rain
pretends to know your name,
but at the window only nail taps.
I watch your eyelids lightning.
I watch the static gather.

My chest is a wet sheet tattered.
Your shape embossed in the folds &
at my center black mold.

The light cracks, depressed
switch of the thumb-pad &
I see the vacancy,
the pale stretch of my own skin.

You are gone so thoroughly.

I lie in the damp & listen
to my wanting thunder, thunder.

 

Kia Groom

Recording

;

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Phantasmagoria’ by Kia Groom
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

from the Tibetan meaning 'to build' or 'to construct'

I.

In 1992, Alice made a Tulpa.

Carry an amulet. Kiss its three sharp corners. Shine.

It began subjective, but with practice could be seen: imagined ghost that flickered in the physical world, a sort of self-
induced hallucination.

Recall the chalk clouds. Recall the scent of symbols scratched on motel walls. Remember rising damp, the face in the mildew who told you

             do not be
                                   afraid.

In time the vision grew – Alice talked to Tulpa, Tulpa started

                              talking back.

 

II.

On the bedspread, summon your sixteenth birthday. Snuff candles, ask. Re-write time & split unopened jacket, tied with coils of braided hair.

Look at it – wish artifact. Wish perfect. Wish this skin, unbroken.

& suddenly, she'd see it summoned
against her will & bathed in fire
light, or else at foot of bed, this figure
staring, formless mouth
with words all of its own.

To make a Tulpa, carry books to bed. Lie on your mattress & dictate your woes to furniture. Lie & map imaginary houses.

 

III.
Friends began to ask
                                           – who is the stranger in the house?
                                            – the man with amber eyes who slender slips into your room?

Map topography of bodies. Think: how will his paper limbs assemble into flesh? How will it feel with one half of the bed depressed?

The brittle shell of conscious conjuring had changed.

Hollow your head and light the neon Vacancy.

And with her will, Miss Alice made a monster.

 

IV.
Consider the shape of your hand as you teach yourself falling. Curl two fingers: beckon / closer.

A Tulpa is a phantom.
He is insubstantial.

Crown yourself with polished trauma. Balance amulet between your eyes & watch the dark soak through the floorboard cracks.

Students who succumb to fiction fail –

Kiss split plaster. Tongue holes in sacred symbols. Braid yourself, your ropes of follicles – restrain inside imagined houses.

they spend their lives in waking-dream, in half-hallucination.

Wait for tenants,
for an occupation.

 

Kia Groom

Tulpa

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Tulpa’ by Kia Groom
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

'It hurts to go through walls, it makes you sick,
but it's necessary.' − Tomas Tranströmer

I'd expected a labyrinth of small dark rooms, yet
the house was lit marigold         scooped out like a pumpkin for Halloween
Flames flickered and spat in a wide fireplace
         a seaweedy stench had swept in       brushed walls with sea mist
Oak beams as broad as shoulders      seemed safe
                           the floor dipped like a ship

There was a tavern of voices outside
             laughter        bickering     sniggering
gossip in the street        lingering Victorian morals
                          Crash of sea over rocks            din of death bells
                                                                                                It was 1917

I was through that door      that painting       that wall to god knows where

A Woman in Blue Reading a Letter
                            
a crinkly unfolding of paper sound
a letter that never came               after the Somme

Her sigh       swish of skirt
            I turned        she passed the mirror        a silvery blur
                         a light crunch of shoe on wooden board
            I saw the horror of her unwed shame     in my own face
                         the same mirror that once held her

O to curl into the stillness of that blue velvet chair
                          its painterly stopping of time
Walls giddied me         terrified me         the emptiness of that room
            She was banished
                            He grew as his grandma's thirteenth child

                                        *    *     *

I went through silence         a room bathed with pale sunlight
            It was late afternoon in winter
From a window         across a meadow towards the sea
I saw him walking away
He carried the burden of those walls
on his dark days          dark, dark, days
            Shoulders hunched
            he went towards the sea
                                       the openness of the sea
                                                                                 the sea...

 

Carolyn Abbs

'At the house where my father was born' was published in Axon: Creative Explorations, issue 9, vol. 5.2, 2015.


Recordings

'At the house where my father was born' begins at 2:35

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘At the house where my father was born’ by Carolyn Abbs
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

(found in rubble beneath a church — New Norcia)

Distempered walls crowd in cold at the old
schoolroom, resonant with the chant of times
tables, scrape of chalk on slate; a nun might
have leant over a child, white dust on her cuff.

This afternoon, light from a slit window catches
a silver crucifix and reflects onto the dome
of glass cabinet, like sunlight over water.
The exhibit: a small suede boot, without laces.

I sense the vitality of a diminutive foot −
slip my hand into dusty suede and press
tips of my fingers into indents of toes.
I want so much to believe
the child's foot pulled from the trapped shoe
                                              and ran and ran...

 

Carolyn Abbs

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Orphan’s Boot’ by Carolyn Abbs
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems