States of Poetry ACT
For John and Bini Malcolm
Just when you think it’s all coming together
And you could take a bit more of this partnership,
Time coughs and observes, it’s been forty years now, more than average,
And maybe it’s time to sum up.
In the road to the planets and stars
The step from the croft to the town was the harshest
Then – for a Scot ...
What he overhears
is the tumble of dried fruit – cherries, currants, raisins, sultanas – and the rest is imagined: cinnamon, the grated rind of an orange, sifted flour … then there’s a crack – ‘never mind, let’s try another!’ – and he pictures the smashed yolk wiped from the floor before the comic repeat, but he forges on with his own task, and later ...
(after William Shakespeare, Richard III Act 1, Scene 1)
this winter of our discontent
dead leaves scutter on roads
sad! no one is sadder than me
the sun reports winter as
summer – fake news!
winds carry chill of snow
I won some victories
made crowns of branches
bruised arms stripped bare
fool trees ask the sky for care
I set out one morning to return a book and five years later I have not returned; face
pressed into the dirty skin of the Earth. In the bushes I stare from scrubby branches skin
angry with red rashes trace paths travelled. I remember two of the things I left behind –
a copy of The Brothers Karamazov and a poem I wrote in Mexico. Tears catch in my eyes
at sunset ...
What happened to me
What did I do to deserve that?
I don’t want to be old person.
I’m buggered now, poor fulla me, done, old, like dust.
I should go to doctor, and ask him a question.
He said, ‘Only thing worse than getting old, is not.’
Wise man, Doctor. He’s like light. His eyes know. They see into me ...
Isi Unikowski reads his poems ‘Grammar Lesson’, ‘You never said it’s a race, dad!’, and ‘Still Life’ for ABR's ACT States of Poetry anthology.