States of Poetry
Life, like climbing, is best
accomplished if you don't look
down. Pressed up against the rock,
rock-face to face, one is safest.
Hands like to be busy, little nest-
builders, hunting for hand-
holds in the crevices and creases,
they work best in the dark,
by feel; creatures of tactility.
Feet too, like to work unhindered
by the he ...
And the people became afraid.
a dwarf in a petrified forest,
watching them dance the ancient dance —
No one is going to come and save you.
And because of this you must fold
your clothes at day's end
despite the urge to abandon them
to the backs of chairs. You must shake
the crumple of sleep from the sheet.
You must clean your teeth. Wash the teaspoons.
Fold your pyjamas too and lay the neat squares
to rest under your pillow of a morning
Timing and manner my mum would always say
and it's true, the how and when override the what
of what's said, and the same is true of poetry.
I don't think people remember their tone when speaking –
other people's yes, but not their own. Tone, like texture, is crucial
for the feel of things – is it honey or cactus, metal or water?
And if the words ...
(after Jordie Albiston’s ‘Cartography’)
What is the space between this hut and that mountain
but impenetrable black, and frosty cold.
She is writing this at a table in the cabin,
spinning thoughts like threads, as if they can hold
her boys tighter, pull the mountain in, with their bold
tents blooming like flowe ...
She sees the flowers are red flags
like pennants hauled up, heralding danger,
hailing the world and its lovers
watch out, watch out.
On long stalks they wobble
and wave, handkerchiefs flaring
long after the ship has left port,
their scarlet hue a constancy, ...
I Marie Antoinette, imprisoned in Paris in 1791,
to Marie Louise (Louis) Girardin,
departing from Brest on d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition
Your breasts, small ...
Bill And Gwen
In Swiftian mood, insisting that
The human race would never learn,
Was hopeless, doomed, Bill Harwood, pure
Logician and philosopher,
As well as spouse of poet Gwen,
Proposed a universal ban
On sex to end our sorry ways
And brought our threesome's talk on how
The world was going to a halt
Of the socially awkward kind.
Learning To Know One's Place
(For Gwen Harwood And James McAuley)
'Hello Graeme, old love, it's Gwen,
I'm sitting on a cloud too fine
For jealousy to let you see.
But please believe your ears as I
Exhort you not to bow to age,
To keep tramping around in search
Of at least one poem that will be
As sure of fame as all mine are ...
For Bill Harwood
A theorist of the purest kind,
Your lectures had no human warmth
And faded like a day-time moon.
The crueller said 'cloud-cuckoo land'
And loudly tapped their hollow heads.
Some thought you clinically disposed,
Contemptuous of eveything
Except the symbols on a page,
Myself included till you said
With gr ...