States of Poetry Series Two
The failed money-fix of the 1980s:
dying tree plantations. Stark struts of fizzed-out financial hype.
The words ‘inherent value’ devolve into a distant dialect.
Yet some people retain three eyes.
They perceive the radiance of things.
Their eyes can tell you much within.
If they know the Australasian bittern,
or the pallid cuckoo’s elegant thievery, ...
We invent the colour ‘blue’
and say the sky is blue.
An older language
Soggy Winter has become Spring’s fullness.
Pungent cascades of melaleuca:
frothy white, yellow, pink.
Do we feel small sounds
all around? A waft of midges
in sun-shafts; the just-here-ness
We participate in the ...
One who performs divination by dissecting faeces
We poke apart devil scats.
Clotted fur, bone fragments, gristle,
possible scraps of crushed mollusc.
Devils lope across roads less and less.
That which people called a growl
was possibly vernacular for ‘How?’
There is speech everywhere:
the inaudible conversation of orchids;
the quiet breathings of ironbark forest.
Birds bring energy from the sky.
A bronzewing murmurs a low OM.
She intones the OM alone, as we all must,
and clatters when she takes leave.
The OM attunes itself to inner ears;
the unfathomable OM
of the living, the dead, the light itsel ...
James Charlton graduated from the University of Tasmania, and from Flinders University and the University of Cambridge. He was Poetry Editor of Island magazine and Advisory Editor for Australasia of Chautauqua Literary Journal, published in upstate New York. Charlton earned his PhD from the University of Tasmania ...... (read more)
I step in a taxi, again. It takes me there fast,
cutting the white dotted lines of highway
into miles of silence. Back to my mother
in the ship or the plane, reversing my steps
to see her curving herself into her pillows
her red walls, her eyes not seeing me but a blur.
My mother calls to me from her place far away
in deep mind, where she has built a tower o ...
leafing through stone-quiet papers,
I freeze in the 8 am birdsong morning.
No fog-horn traffic noise or school-song children today,
pinned to spiked leaves
and sea light far away.
A. E. Houseman memorably said: I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat. It’s not an easy matter to justify one’s decisions when faced with numerous poems from which to make a limited selection. There’s no programmatic guide to what makes a poem successful although the impact of a good poem is something we all know and recognise. ...
standing on the Puente Romano
watching the rio Guadalquivir
like time itself
I do the math
2,000 divided by 44=45
history is nothing more than this
45 times a life of error and uncertainty
the main lesson of monuments in Europe
for which you only queue twice
unless you want the audio guide too
but mostly we take ...
I wake up
in the middle of the night
in a panic
about my dead-end job
the credit card
the housing market
until poetry appears
like a window
I go through
a couple of works
by day light
they won’t be much
but it’s enough
to get me
through the night.