States of Poetry Poems
(Willow Court Asylum, 1827-2000, New Norfolk, Tasmania)
Squatting in the bitumen
by the old mortuary
Around the hem
of the exercise yard
Under the scum and stench
of the Frescati pond
rotting water ribbons
An ash sapling
Snow laced the lower slopes
of the mountain today, trees
hooked to filigrees of light,
sky tethered to the mountain’s bulk,
its table cloth of white.
Possibility was everywhere,
the embroidery of snow, illuminating.
Out of the corners of our eyes we spied
our own footsteps like animal spoor,
faintly articulated in the white blanket ...
This clutch of buildings
has long died
but the ghosts are still here
trying to find heartbeats.
We need to lie
the mirrors down
and take a hammer
Make a mandala
out of all this
and crazed glass.
This place needs
to be blessed
before the ghosts reach
Where am I?
I am desperate for connection.
I must have hit a black spot.
The sun is glaring at me and blinding
my display screen.
All I can see is my own face.
Coarse sand has crept between my toes.
I have wandered too far.
I need to google a map, text someone
who will reconnect me.
This shell, this sand, the smell of rotting ...
Rise above it, my mother used to say,
and now she's old, she herself is something I must rise above.
Just now, to separate myself, I turned and drove,
and finding Graces Road, followed its name
upwards to paddocks that a summer of scant rain
had worked into yellow and m ...
Notes from the inland
When he goes into that country,
a man loses his thinking
Patrick Mung Mung
A tree opens
a crack ...
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