States of Poetry 2016
Woman in Bath
after Brett Whiteley’s Woman in Bath (1964)
There was fog on the windows,
inside and out.
She wound her hair into a bun
and eased into the shallow water.
I stood in the doorway, squinting.
Reply from the Women of Tangier
after Brett Whiteley’s The Majestic Hotel, Tangier (1967)
So secretly together do we wear
our separateness, we’re so complete
he gives us the white stare.
Easy to see decay and disrepair
in the spittle and hashish-ruined streets.
But secretly together we all wear
Green Mountain (Fiji)
after Brett Whiteley’s The Green Mountain (Fiji) (1969)
The skyward pitch of the hill in its green glory
rising heavy and indolent as the knee of a woman
sunbathing in a sarong,
and the thigh that leads from this knee,
an emerald downswelling syncline,
end where the womb’s elasti ...
What is the mind that would invent the lock?
What are the pathways of the brain
that must be followed with no ball of string
to arrive at a device
which excludes? Why would you start?
If this slab of the earth
was where you had always been,
there would be no entry point,
no threshold of distrust, only the base
Note the passive voice in that last line,
the denial implied. ‘People were shipped out.’
The agent with a conscious brain linked
to a hand with a pen or a gun felt his own grip
all along the neural pathways.
Some noises we can sleep through
but even the softest can be an alarm.
Sailboats in the calmest water are still not ...
The maps that teased my childhood were silent.
The imagination they cosseted
was of no use. Instead of song
there was a flatness, a sheet of pastel shades.
I could find Peru, but not food.
And these maps were my inheritance.
Maps can be owned. Land is something else.
Maps can be stolen. When the atlas claps shut
those who ...
On the Mountain
Here where clouds soothe rocks, high above commerce,
I could catalogue the sharper images
of evil but to what use? City tabloids
and browsers will unroll bandages
enough to wrap communal wounds.
The bardic robe sits ill. The mist suggests
the insubstantiality of wish.
Summon a future like some old romantic,
And it is the act, the will
channeled through fibre to impact;
this is history as king hit.
Imagine your own bedroom as nullius,
adding extra dizziness to any fall.
If pain, as is said, cannot be remembered,
only the having been hurt,
then where does the pain belong
that comes out of the blue ocean
into a v ...
you gesture with sharp fingers