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States of Poetry ACT Poems

The colour of eyes

For Banduk Marika, Aboriginal artist

1. After your story of the funeral, August 1991

Black, Banduk, is the colour of eyes
like night shrunk
when grandma tidies after grief.
Perhaps she could not spill
to stain the room.

Black, Banduk,
this quaver fisted
in her throat –
it has no moon,
it ache ...

Lucy afloat

After the scattering of ashes
Pulpit Rock, 26 November 2014

And then the light
on these layers of grief,
grit, glow
that make a rock.

From blinding white
to ochre soft, then rust
and pink
running into each other —
who knows which colour came first
or if the glow came
before the grit

An argument in glass

For Jenni Kemarre Martiniello,
Aboriginal glassmaker

As you hold me,
you think your fingers know
I’m glass magic,
this slip and slide on cool satin,
then suddenly I’m water
and an eternity of greens —
O song of sea flowers,
you make drowning
Or so you say.

But what of other ...

After Reming

Super typhoon 2006

Unlike any that I’ve seen,’
Mother says.
‘Behind an iron gate
beside an immense hole
on the ground,
but no house.’

She pauses,
and I’m suddenly
beside the purple
behind the gate
in the hole
in the house,
led by the definite article,
thus defini ...

kangaroo grass


ramayana puppet
                     angled, spare

you gesture with sharp fingers
                    beckoning insistent

eloqu ...

Amongst discarded data, twigs,
plastic containers, fingernails –
'The unconscious, at all events,
knows no time limit' –
the shape of an ear, marginal facts
blown about by a northerly,
washed by stiffening rain – something
like symptoms, clues, bird spit,
possum fur, leaf miner, blood and bone,
a story or many of what passes
through here d ...

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 ...

Your kind friend sent a condolence card
and in the envelope a small white feather
which, she said, seemed to come from nowhere.
Angel's wings obviously, I wrote in my reply.
And for days after everywhere I went
I found small replicas, as if some tiny
feathered thing had scattered its moulting
on urban pavements, in shops and unlikely
bathrooms, a ...

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 ...

Some months after the funeral,
checking emails from the other hemisphere,
there's one from Pauline; subject: Hell.
It's not promising. My mind traverses
the last five years, their litany of loss –
a son, two friends and mentors,
then you, lovely sister, and like some grim
comedic postscript even Frankie
the cat succumbed. Suffice to say
I ...