States of Poetry Tasmania
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 ...
Upper Heights And Lower Depths
What heights remain beyond our reach
When dog whistle and tuning fork,
Straining to listen though we may,
Sound notes pitched too high for our ear,
Deserting us yearning to rise,
Freed from the confines of our lives?
Nor can we hear how far below
The scales a crow's cawing might go,
Summoning t ...
The badly wounded and the poor
Move round the city with the sun
And little else to keep them warm,
While time softens cathedral stone,
Plucks eagles bald and breaks the wings
Of St Teresa's doves in flight.
A fine day shows up broken teeth,
Club feet, ten thumbs and squinti ...
On World Heart Day
I notice your scars more than usual -
life-saving stuck zippers.
I want to plant kisses
like votives along each one:
along the delicate ribbon of light
between your extroverted nipples,
along the scythe shaped slash
de-freckling your right calf.
Hospital flowers bloomed, petals fell
in the sterile-fresh air th ...
Part of the main
is what Donne wrote when he wrote about men
not being islands and what I’d been thinking
when my friend posted the photo.
Our Lady Help of Christians, Grade 1 -
thirty five six year olds in pigeon grey
with a hint of ascension blue.
Those faces exactly as I remember them -
crushed or beaming, self contained, ap ...
Swallowing the sky
What can I say about this
spring day but that the leaping
dog cloud has stolen my attention
away from all earthly blooms.
Such fine points of ears,
legs built for speed, for the hunt,
tail set to thump nothing into being,
open jawed, tasting life on the hop.
Yet even as this poem takes shape,
its inevitable dissolve has b ...
The insistence of now
An almost-noir chill day in the cemetery.
A service just finishing, no one I knew.
I walk the line - observer/interloper,
drawn to incongruities, ambiguities.
The way graveside life teems - regardless,
causal. A priest walks by swinging
his thurible, black robes, black puffer jacket.
A child forages tidbi ...
(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