States of Poetry Series Three
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.
Henry Hill, Goodfellas
I am in a Martin Scorsese film – except I’m not
In 1972 I was in a bar with my gangster friends
having my gangster laughs and we were
Kings among men – ‘You’re a funny guy!’
I shouted we shouted guns sleeping restlessl ...
(after William Shakespeare, Richard III Act 1, Scene 1)
this winter of our discontent
dead leaves scutter on roads
sad! no one is sadder than me
the sun reports winter as
summer – fake news!
winds carry chill of snow
I won some victories
made crowns of branches
bruised arms stripped bare
fool trees ask the sky for care
I set out one morning to return a book and five years later I have not returned; face
pressed into the dirty skin of the Earth. In the bushes I stare from scrubby branches skin
angry with red rashes trace paths travelled. I remember two of the things I left behind –
a copy of The Brothers Karamazov and a poem I wrote in Mexico. Tears catch in my eyes
at sunset ...
The gentle hills north of Taralga
unfold as though
everything were possible. Trees
grow. Their crowns shift in the small wind
showing off new leaf tips: pink, green, a hint
of blue. The cows in the paddocks are big
and brown. They browse and stare
into space. One lays her head on her friend’s
shoulder. Their calves lollop around
Five ducks are standing
on a narrow strip of concrete
designed to ease boats into the water.
They have their backs to me;
even so, at the sound of my steps,
they slide into the lake.
A moorhen rises up and
onto the concrete.
She raises the dark wedge of her tail
and shits a neat soft gleaming pile
then steps towards me