for Marcia Langton

 

The rock-art guide, combusting
in 43 degrees, back to image.
His sloppy dreamtime
a melted ice-cream,
far from refrigerated sublime.

Gwion rock art from the 'Tassel era' is happy art,
though contentiously attributed and dated, he says,
authoritative white sweater in white sweater.
Pompoms, plumes and tassels signal the fertile time before the great aridity.
Your stone heart, Wandjina, listening.

Without an age and a date, Native Title
becomes rockfall. Outsider art.
At night, fears of extinguishment come,
clamped in the soft-chalked
mouths of dogs. History is that quiet.

Some whites reckon pre-contact was one big
happy black camp-out, lasting millennia.
That's so's they can conveniently
keep Aboriginal people in some
pre-modern place.

It's a quote, I say, overly nonchalant.
People lower their cameras
heartwards, like Jesus snapping a selfie.
We all want the fridge.
Country is no caravan park.

The guide wipes his brow
with a neckerchief of
ochre-tinted dots, the rest
pixellating behind him.
My pale cheeks burn up like documents.

He turns, livid archaeology
in terry towelling, a man
impossible to carbon date:
What's wrong with you? he says.
What did art ever do to you?

 

A. Frances Johnson

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - Victoria | 'Australian awe: white guys on life and art before 1788' by A. Frances Johnson
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

for Lee Harwood

 

Softly solarised and parallel
two lines echo each other, glow slightly,
in a space that is nowhere

                               #

                                                         I am perched
– I 'find myself' so –
                                              sitting forward –
                                         hand
                                                     on knee

the knee I've thrown over
                                                the leg beneath:

                                                    I look left,
out the window

                                           – of the
                                                          Boulevard cafe

(does it call itself that?
                                                      I don't think so) –

to the brickwork laneway outside –
wet with the rain,

                                       that is now stopped –
people going past
                                       in Hindley Street.
Onto which
                                  the lane 'gives'

tho who talks like that?
                                                           Not me
– I'll give you 'gives' –
                                                                    but
am I me, right now,
                                          not, say, Lee Harwood?

                                                                                      or
                                                                       someone?

Anyhow,
a little back in time
                                          – & looking at the rain, &
thru it,
                 at the harbourside road      the corso     of Trieste,

                                                                                      some-
how
            in Italy

                                      A land I love 'unreasonably'
'disproportionately'
                                                   ((conventionally))
                                                                                    but 'love' anyhow

Hullo, bel paese,
                                      kind people,

                                                                  feeling
a little out-of-time,    suspended

                                                                   between a
here & now,
                           a then, &
                                                some near, near-ish,
                                                           future

More fragile than I used to be.

                                                            Wondering
how to explain this to my sister
                                                                Should I, in fact,
                                     'explain this to my sister'?

we have not seen each other,
                                                                              have

'hardly' seen each other      since '73

forty years more or less
                                                       Three or four times
in that interval?

                                                        #

                                                This is the kind of
                                                           coffee shop,
I will tell Gabe,     where you could still buy
                                                                  a Vienna Coffee,
                                                   I think. I'll check the
                                                                        menu
as I leave

                                 The newish waitress
                                                                                       whom I like
– (who would not know how to serve one,
she will never have been asked) –
                                                                                                  looks
very nice today

                                                      The boss     gives me
                                                             the second
                                                                   'free'      –

                                                                I MUST
                                                           BE A REGULAR

                                                                               Now I see
or note again
                              what first caught my eye
as I approached the glass,
                                                                   four
                                                          silver lines
reflected, in the window, on the side that I look
                                                                                         'out' :

the metal arms of the cafe chairs.
                                                                          They catch
the light
                            float, disembodied,
                                                                          'upon', or 'above',
the intricate paving without,

                              so that I look thru them
to see
                              the wet brick,
                                                                 the grated
metal drains
                             that flank at either side, &
a round cover
                  removable – like those in Italy, sometimes
still marked with the insignia, the lettering, that
                                                                                        proclaimed
'ancient Rome', 'Roman'
                                                       'SPQR' ?
                                                                        – that might be, by now,
some of them,
                               quite old :        early twentieth century.

Ours stem probably
                                          from the seventies or the eighties.

                         People walking past,   in black,
black & red,   greys,   but black mostly – for winter.
                                                                                                    Me,
too.
               Two people across Hindley laugh

as they help each other re-pack rubbish
                                                      spilled from a split bag

a woman, a man
                                                 I guess they work in Burp
the awfully named
                                             'eatery' (or 'food outlet'
                                                                                                  tho
who am I to be so snobbish,
                                        make these distinctions?)

                                                                both, at different times,
stand, hitch up their pants, bend again
                                                                                   &
rebundle the refuse
                                                         A very handsome Asian couple
                                                                                                go past
small,
                 smiling,
                                       she     in red coat & very high
– 'above-the-knee' –
                                                   soft black boots
                                                              soft deeply black suede

                                                                                          Elegant
A kind of gift to the eye –

                                                                for me, a too old,
not very handsome man.

                                                    An African girl, eating chips

                                                                            #

a guy, narrow pants, cap, on a phone.

                                                                                  #

                                                                        Gilbert Place.

                                                                            #

                                                                Posters on the wall
for Elton John '& his band'
                                                             I thought he was
                                                                                            dead
or at least retired
                                     & Dylan Moran
                                                                                      A young guy
in clothes too light – homeless I think –
                                                                                    goes past
(I look outside)   his
                                                                      figure
large,
           – black t-shirt, black pants, low –

stumps past like a fridge, from side to side

                                                                                   A guy,
unintentionally debonair,
                                                      using a long, furled,
pink umbrella
                                  like a walking stick
                                                                                  flamboyant
but not consciously so,
                                           lost in thought.

As who isn't?

                                      – 'Thought'.

                                                             Each with
our own.

 

Ken Bolton

Recording

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Gilbert Place - Cafe Boulevard' by Ken Bolton
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

Octopus

Quick across the twilight road,
the eight legs of the cat.

 

Flood

Water corrects the earth
to flatness, patching fields with sky.

 

Alarm

Little boat of red figures, adrift between two days.

 

Window

The creek slides through the rain's eyelashes.

 

Aidan Coleman

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Shorts' by Aidan Coleman
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

Should the unique serve to typify?
Have they been ill-used? To what purpose?

 

Asian Couple

                    The Asian couple.
I am inclined to think Chinese –
mostly on the basis of size,
but not Japanese (the man
might be bigger, be
better, less self-effacingly
dressed) – maybe not
mainland Chinese.
She
is a bright shape & colour
Soutine, Sargent, van Dongen –
for the fast, big city.
I like her for her good humour,
appetitive, optimistic – for her
visual eclat. Tourists, or living here?
In the market – for oysters, sights,
real estate?
She has her husband's arm. Both smile.
He is laid back.

 

African Girl with Chips

The Africans seem increasingly
to fit in. They are a new factor.
Week by week less surprising.
They assert themselves
in small groups, talking animatedly
in pairs, striding, quieter solo.
Perhaps the chips are protection,
compensation, or just a meal. An
ordinary girl – of 18, of 20 or so?
Black jeans, blue top a fashionable
parka, her expression one of
caution, defence, apprehension.
She looks about.

 

Fast-walking guy

The guy walking fast, phone
pressed to his ear – all for business –
in which case the business looks shifty
tho it may just be his manner – on his way to borrow fifty,
meet a friend, give somebody
a piece of his mind, pick
a car up, have an argument

 

Homeless

The homeless guy I see him
only from the back, which makes him
more of a 'subject' – 'subjects' look out
a window, don't they, like I do –
& think – & as with
those romantic paintings I see
his view – it's mine – he is 6 metres further in –
rounds the corner, moves eastward
with the crowd. Rundle Mall. Somewhere.
Which might be what he is thinking:
where to go, what to do, for
heat, for movement, the long day to fill in.

(The young guy in black – who rounds the corner
of the Boulevard – Gilbert Place – thinks what?)

 

Flamboyant

The thirty-year old with the umbrella,
striding – where the homeless kid
was strictly 'graphic novel' –
has that hipster look,
of operetta.

Debonair. Protected

 

Ken Bolton

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'What Do I Owe Them?' by Ken Bolton
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

I am history now
in the scales, the age of sounds

I make sense then drop it
it gets dirty, it breaks
the ants carry it

I am bent at the switch
my tapes of the archive
decay, loops stutter
glitch arias

I am bent at the floor
facts roll under the chair
little dust songs
or songs outside
the parrots know

and I am still my species
struck, listening

 

Jill Jones

Recording ('Bent' begins at 6:21)

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Bent' by Jill Jones
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

Fitness: fact, fiction
or fantasy? – among things
meant. Parachutes

open like fuchsias,
picnic hampers
of kittens float quietly

down, as peaks
push through
resplendent mists.

Your sense
falls upward
like helium or blinds,

now it's precisely
subtitled, you realise –
as the first tentative

steps emerge
to be recorded
like a baby.

Consider the aspirin
in its exuberance
that picks itself up

and turns itself over
to become
no other than

water and air.
Like effusive, ever-
digressing chatter –

you could.

 

Aidan Coleman

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Motivational' by Aidan Coleman
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

The do-it-yourself piano isn't
kicked to matchwood, and you take
this for affirmation. When we
work out how to switch off
Bob Dylan, your plangent homemades
will go unaccompanied, no longer
sought like an injury lost in the mists
of Hansard. People suggest topics

they won't be using, and this is
more like an archive sneeze
than what yesteryear's beard
in physics said it could be.
Quite unlike the night beyond, snowing
sheet after perfect sheet of stars.

 

Aidan Coleman

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Immortal Diamond' by Aidan Coleman
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

1.

Angling over star-fields,
the pitches lit like billiard tables.
Those lengths you were shouted up and back,
lungs scoured by brillo air.
The lazier concord of close mown grass
and low hanging fruit
of the short boundary. A tang of primitive
electronics: the circuit board's braille labyrinth,
the slab type of Amstrad.
This callow path, you
cannot take, curves around and through,
the way a perfect river might. You find
a little gate unlatched,
and the light tangles, as you step
into the ferment: into the heady reek of itch.

2.

The aubergine, by the window, glossy
as an eight ball: lavender,
the road, a torn-open
mountain pouring cloud. Noble erosions
from sceptre to cushions,
from mitre to trademark. A lavish
glut of adjectives, dissolving
in a merlot hour – flabby as any
soft landing among
the rubber bells of foxgloves.
The heart as wound
or badge, a tattoo, smudged
like junk-mail wet. A fading haze from clubs
like grates where fires have been –
signs hung out as dirty washing.

3.

Easier to paint
than rhyme, this volatility. A poet-envy
of the art-fluke, or ripeness
cut in segments sucked to the pith.
A plaintive case deflating
on a snack bar counter
where citrus men
swash fizz through lunch
and later repair the voltage of night
in the out-of-sync bounce
of signal and blinker.
You take a little kindling, the light
of a cupped match,
to hazard across deciduous campuses;
the vast, blue continent of theory. Go, softly on.

 

Aidan Coleman


Recording

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Secondary' by Aidan Coleman
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

A little pin-up
three fingers
above the knees.

Behind the curtain
a dress-up game –
pretty things come undone.

He chalks lines
on raw stitches.
I catwalk.

My body fits the timeless black.
'You can live in it, or die'
smile the lips full of needles.

Do I look a little dead
with black fabric
on bone-pale flesh?

Suddenly in the mirror
I see the last party.
This dress is me.

In the front row
button-eyes watch
a grand entrance into the hand-made hole.

Around a little black dress
the roots of the earth
grow matching belts.

 

Jelena Dinic


Recording

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Alterations to the little black dress' by Jelena Dinic
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems

for my grandfather

 

He circles my arrival
on the calendar.

It is late November
and it doesn't snow.

A wooden pallet
hardens his bed.

He dreams of grandmother.
He doesn't want new dreams.

Two siskins in cages –
their song frozen like the air

that other November
when she lost her heart

cleaning and baking
for those who might arrive.

Above the fireplace a few flies
are nervous company.

'Not easy on earth,' he says,
'not easy below.'

 

Jelena Dinic


Recording

Additional Info

  • Free Article Yes
  • Custom Article Title States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'The Silence of Siskins' by Jelena Dinic
  • Contents Category States of Poetry - Poems