States of Poetry 2017 - ACT | 'Judgement' by Geoff Page


If all we’re told is right
how wearisome He’ll find it;
all those fine gradations,

those mitigating factors.
Psychopaths are easy
but who are we to say?

The virtuous are harder,
their sin of subtle pride,
their svelte self-satisfaction.

The normal are the worst,
one day a fine donation,
next day a little nip,

a joke that cuts too deep,
some small misuse of power.
And then, just one day on,

an act almost heroic,
a plunge with coat and tie
and no great poolside skills

to save a splashing baby.
There could be sub-committees
but it’s no six-day labour.

So long the pressure’s built.
Was this a good idea?
And, yes, temptation too –

the ‘Dammit, you can all
go hand-in-hand to hell’
or ‘Form your two-by-twos;

step neatly through the gate.’
But how is it with me?
you find you’re thinking now

at ‘three score years and ten’
Those minor decencies?
That half-arsed paltriness?

The times you walked by on your own
and when you stopped to help?
Your case is so mundane and yet

impossibly unique.
You’ll look at Him and say,
‘You should have always known.’

Geoff Page

‘Judgement’ reflects not only my sicty-year-old agnosticism about God and his works but also a strange admiration for real-life sentencing judges who manage to balance so many contradictory pressures to come up with an appropriate punishment. Of course, egregious errors are made. Probably by God too. – Geoff Page

Geoff Page

Geoff Page

Geoff Page is based in Canberra and has published twenty-three collections of poetry as well as two novels and five verse novels. His recent books include 1953 (UQP 2013), Improving the News (Pitt Street Poetry 2013), New Selected Poems (Puncher & Wattmann 2013), Aficionado: A Jazz Memoir (Picaro Press 2014), Gods and Uncles (Pitt Street Poetry 2015), Hard Horizons (Pitt Street Poetry 2017) and PLEVNA: A Verse Biography (UWA Publishing 2016). He also edited The Best Australian Poems 2014 and The Best Australian Poems 2015 (Black Inc). His Elegy for Emily: a verse biography is due out shortly from Puncher & Wattmann.