States of Poetry Series Two - Victoria | 'The Internet Is Poorer Without You' by Brendan Ryan

In memory of Max Richards

Somehow you found the articles and poems
I needed to read.
Your key word searches driven by connection,
of passing it on.
Whether it be through the nodes of ADSL2
or the poetry of Heaney, Murray, or MacFarlane’s
nature writing,
whether you be in Doncaster or Seattle
or your shelves of books and manilla folders
at La Trobe,
you were always passing it on. Whatever
you found for me on the internet read as personal,
yet it was only after your death that I learned
I was one of the many, scattered across the globe,
who received the news and poems you set before us.

I sent you all I had written, for you were a first reader –
forgiving, close, a grammar stickler. Mostly
your feedback confirmed the work I had to do.
Sometimes poems were returned and broken up
into stanzas or quatrains giving form to my ramblings.
Your own poems arrived almost daily-
light, diary entries of dogs, trees, squirrels,
dream poems of other poets, the last outing
with your mother, the words of a father,
your tendency to be sombre yet playful about dying.
Your poems grew into a life from ‘an inarticulate
and non-self examining culture’. The moments
you left us, the urge for the next poem
may be all that a life writing poems can teach us.
There is no absence like the days following
an email of poems sent.
Trying not to wait for a reply
to see if a poem breathes or dies.
Your replies were never late, sometimes within hours.
The warm, confiding voice is still in my head.
Tall, gentle, Max who would rather exclaim
in wonderment than complain in negativity.

I was on holiday when I heard
you had been knocked down by a car,
your dog refusing to leave your side.
Some hours after my last email
some hours after I last thought of you,
the absence of its reply I am continually adjusting to.

Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan grew up on a dairy farm at Panmure in Victoria. His poetry, reviews, and essays have been published in literary journals and newspapers. He has had poems published in The Best Australian Poems series (Black Inc). His second collection of poetry, A Paddock in his Head, was shortlisted for the 2008 ACT Poetry Prize. His most recent collection of poetry, Travelling Through the Family (Hunter Publishers), was published in 2012 and was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Awards. He lives in Geelong, where he teaches English at a secondary college.

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