States of Poetry ACT Poems

The violin

perched, slack-strung,
on the dark wooden sideboard
of your Palermitan apartment
opposite the cathedral,
a gift you didn’t yet know
how to tune, let alone play.

Your guests ignored it,
heading straight for the plates
of cheese, olives, bread,
and wine in plastic flagons
from the market, music
flow ...

Stories, whispery voice
Mooda-Gutta!
Warning sign, stampede horse.
Mooda-Gutta!
Water spout ... sounds like petrol on fire –
Don’t cross there! Mooda-Gutta
Don’t say it aloud,
Whisper ‘Mooda-Gutta’.

Paul Collis

...

(for Satendra)

 

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 ...

Yo!

Whitefullas got no cult-charr!
– Only me
With my arm fulla tatts, up my sleeve.

– Only Us Mob!
Only us
Got cult-charr.

Don’t tell me! I lived it, man. Us bruvas, we live it –
Everyday man. We fuken live it.
Blak and Proud. Deadly, un’a?

Always was
Always will be
ABORIGINAL LAND.

Colonisation i ...

Upper Heights And Lower Depths

 

What heights remain beyond our reach
When dog whistle and tuning fork,
Straining to listen though we may,

Sound notes pitched too high for our ear,
Deserting us yearning to rise,
Freed from the confines of our lives?

Nor can we hear how far below
The scales a crow's cawing might go,
Summoning t ...

Avila

 

(1)

 The badly wounded and the poor
Move round the city with the sun
And little else to keep them warm,

While time softens cathedral stone,
Plucks eagles bald and breaks the wings
Of St Teresa's doves in flight.

 

(2)

 A fine day shows up broken teeth,
Club feet, ten thumbs and squinti ...

On World Heart Day

I notice your scars more than usual -
life-saving stuck zippers.

I want to plant kisses
like votives along each one:

along the delicate ribbon of light
between your extroverted nipples,

along the scythe shaped slash
de-freckling your right calf.

Hospital flowers bloomed, petals fell
in the sterile-fresh air th ...

Part of the main

 

is what Donne wrote when he wrote about men
not being islands and what I’d been thinking
when my friend posted the photo.

Our Lady Help of Christians, Grade 1 -
thirty five six year olds in pigeon grey
with a hint of ascension blue.

Those faces exactly as I remember them -
crushed or beaming, self contained, ap ...

Swallowing the sky

What can I say about this
spring day but that the leaping
dog cloud has stolen my attention
away from all earthly blooms.
Such fine points of ears,
legs built for speed, for the hunt,
tail set to thump nothing into being,
open jawed, tasting life on the hop.
Yet even as this poem takes shape,
its inevitable dissolve has b ...

The insistence of now

 

An almost-noir chill day in the cemetery.

A service just finishing, no one I knew.
I walk the line - observer/interloper,
drawn to incongruities, ambiguities.

The way graveside life teems - regardless,
causal. A priest walks by swinging
his thurible, black robes, black puffer jacket.

A child forages tidbi ...