States of Poetry ACT Poems
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
Stories, whispery voice
Warning sign, stampede horse.
Water spout ... sounds like petrol on fire –
Don’t cross there! Mooda-Gutta
Don’t say it aloud,
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 ...
Whitefullas got no cult-charr!
– Only me
With my arm fulla tatts, up my sleeve.
– Only Us Mob!
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 will be
Colonisation i ...
I see you stand with your back to me
at the French window as you did last March
looking at early flowers
yellow and crimson, pansy and primrose
peeping from their crust of snow and
above them the steel-sculpted angel
rearing from a wooden plinth: guardian
of the courtyard. In those bleak days I knew
you were reading the cemetery metaphor
of your blig ...
Without bucket or spade we build
the sandcastle, dragging and gathering
piling and patting our little Camelot.
I excavate a moat, shape a drawbridge,
a sloping road leading to the keep,
while you look for shells to decorate
the edifice, or so I thought, the way we'd
done last holiday some months ago.
But this time you have another purpose:
instead of ...
(For my grand-daughter)
Coming in with stones from the garden
your first impulse is to make them shine.
Washing rocks, you call it, and give them
full treatment, soap and flannel and rinse,
your three year old hands and eyes intent,
absorbed, and this not a one-off game;
it becomes a favourite as if
to establish your own ritual
I mother a scorching fence
I mother a child against a fence
and the cry
here come the shellshocked to arm the day
here come collectors for the shells
in decades past a series of dykes was known as the venice
of the floods themselves, with a sweet sap
once the prey has entered the trap
the leaf closes, and within about 30 seconds
a senior minister has touched
two or three trigger hairs,
bristles on the distinction between
private beliefs and public morality,
about two weeks ...
This black dress
is also a painting –
it hangs on a wall
where light holds it close.
It's a doorway to places
no-one quite knows;
that bloom and rain
with extravagant vistas.
We've sometimes entered
into the painting
dipping dark hats,
riding down lanes