New Years Day
I must fight my liking for this kind of feeble pessimism
Thirty years ago I left my job
and started work for working folk.
Thirty years of contradiction
failed to deviate the system.
Thirty years of do-good tilting,
and not a windmill over-turned.
2 January 2010
Today we started on our five year plan,
like the ones they had on boyhood stamps
Cyrillic ones with factories or mines
and heroic workers building futures.
We have our spreadsheet and we have our plan -
it’s not utopia but in five years time
we’ll live a year in France and then return
to sell up and turn our children out of home.
3 January 2010
#48 Look, some of my best friends are plants
My friend the Gardener grows silent -
He lets his garden do the talking
and what its says has got me bluffed:
Please don’t leave; he can’t; he’s rooted here.
It’s too late to mourn the death by car
of Albert Camus who smoked and had TB
like Orwell that other cross-grained writer
running widdershins against a crooked world.
There’s a record of him speaking in the days
when Paris was freed: rejoice in freedom but…
too easy to give in to joy, he said,
there were still great tests and tasks ahead -
Five years of hiding, hope and silence
should not be forgotten, should be honoured.
And then they all rushed past him, right and left,
leaving him as stranded as a prophet.
5 January 2010
#50 Another go
How do they do it these painters?
How do they tackle the seeing?
Dry leaves droop in tatters of yellow,
a forest of Calatrava fronds;
and above them, slender flower stalks
spiky against our mottled wall.
Even our lapis pot is moving,
light shifts it second by second.
6 January 2010
You’ve gone to work, the cat’s shot through;
my kid will sleep for hours or years.
I’m on the exercise machine
when blood starts drumming in my ears.
If I should fall down with a stroke
I calculate that I could crawl
six feet to dial the triple 0
and give the ambulance a call.
But what if I don’t make it dear?
One of you will find me here
lying in Lycra and sweaty T
very fit and beyond all care.
7 January 2010
Resist the urge to seize your poem’s throat
roughly compelling it to signify -
as if any tortured quasi-truth will do.
Don’t rest until meaning is revealed.
Never apologise, never explain -
don’t hold your infant poem by the hand:
What if one fine day you make a thing
whose meaning surpasses understanding?
8 January 2010
I’m spitting out spiders as I wake
scrabbling in my sheets to shove them off;
my tongue swells numb as if a spider bit
and desperate I hope I merely dreamed.
You say I ought to look up Sigmund Freud
or one of our books on the meaning of dreams
but more likely it’s the treatment for my toe -
the tablet leaves a tingling in my mouth.
Burnt Njal’s wife grew fingernails like claws,
misshaped by fungus the editors suppose,
but Njal’s opponents said she was a witch
and things went bad for Njal and his spouse.
At this stage of our children’s teenage lives
it’s best that neither of us burn alive -
good reason for me to keep on taking pills,
and never walk out with my toe exposed.
9 January 2010
Look into this dusty stone,
look into its polished face.
There in its milky depths you’ll find
a boy enticed into the maze.
It’s sixty years since he first peered
into the coloured twisted threads
swirled in a ball of glass, and tried
to puzzle out a way inside.
Sunday 10 January 2010
Deftly my kid dodges my attempted kiss;
she’s through the gate without a backward glance
and flies; not an unaccompanied minor,
but one old enough to spurn her father.
I wait edgy till I get her SMS
‘I’m safe and picked up, put your mind at rest.’
I’ll take her satire, or is it scorn?
So long as she’s alive to my concern.
11 January 1917
#57 Jean Garcin born
Madame Silvestre said I should read him
about the Resistance in the Vaucluse -
he was the same slim stylish build as Dad.
Terrorist and saboteur, assassin:
but quickly Mon Professeur objects:
‘no assassin if he fought the Germans!’
But that’s what Vichy and the Germans said
and Nous étions des terroristes he wrote
in his eighties, with its end of century sting.
Dad was sick, sent home early from the War
but Garcin fought it till the very end
and lived healthy ever after with his loss
including his father dead in Buchenwald
and comrades captured, tortured, killed
and the great high hopes he’d held for France.
Mon Professeur says he knows a house
where a German’s buried under a tree
who found them working an illegal press.
Look at our landscape, rolling to ocean,
occupied and annexed and foreign-planted -
Monterey pine - with how many bodies?
12 January 2010
I’m up prickle eyed and wide awake at dawn.
I wish my body would sleep gently on
but this is a good hour with the house half-dark
and hours to go before I go to work
and with the birds that woke me still abroad
less raucous now, reflective, down to earth.
Although the air has its dawn coolness still
you guess at a hint of the hot day to come.
I could write something good in this pause.
Wallace Stevens would I have no doubt.
His elements are here: sun, tree, and bird.
He’d not play solitaire instead of write.
13 January 2010
#69 Fugue – half waking
There’s dove’s repeated gentle cry;
there’s me who seeks to grasp the sound
there’s memory dawning – buried deep;
The dove of memory deeply cries
to gentle me who buried seeks
to grasp repeated dawning sounds;
O deeply sounding, gently grasped
the cry of dove repeated dawns
in memory, seeking buried me.
14 January 2010
We can say the words, we can talk of ceasing -
you plummet through the trapdoor and you’re gone -
but we never can believe it in our bones.
Try thinking of myself as nought - I can’t.
A fence can’t jump itself, and I likewise
can’t leap into a world that’s lacking me.
Odysseus rowed to the shores of death;
sacrificed beasts on the shadowy beach
and the dead scrabbled feeble in the sand.
They were there, although weak and dim, Homer
saw them - persisting, bound to life, -
prophets, chieftains, parents, comrades, kids.
They drank the victims’ blood, hot in the trench,
attaining thin substance and enough life
to lament that they no longer lived.
John Keats, dying, flirted with the wish
to cease upon the midnight with no pain
but wrote himself existence after death -
the nightingale continuing its song,
and he who would not hear the singing bird,
aware, although unfeeling as a clod.
15 January 2010
A manuscript assessor read my draft
when I thought my novel fit to be seen
and said of my hero - What does he do?
He cooks, he cleans, he works, he yearns for love
and worries about his motherless kids.
He was like me - who sang and read and wrote,
and worried about my motherless kids.
I suffer from the deadliest of sins -
the Pluto-like Inertia, the eighth one,
unknown until discovered by Newton.
Today’s my first day off, now I’m part time.
I read and write and play my bits of Bach;
but give my day an anonymous review
they would be sure to ask, what did he do?
16 January 2010
#62 When I was their age
Did I ever sound like that back then,
when I tried to comb my hair like no one else
and fretted after a green baseball jacket?
Was I as sure about my future, sure
that all would be well and my life secure?
But weren’t the fifties the age of certainty?
I don’t remember I was fearful of the bomb
but it was only ten years since the last World War
and my father sounded worried by the Coms.
I know for sure that no one ever said
to head overseas like my girls at eighteen
or booze in Queensland when your schooling ends.
17 January 2010
#63 ‘Connecting Jesus and community’
Those Baptists hold themselves in high regard
to think that Jesus needs them to connect.
I’m sure He works silent, subtle, godlike;
but, if He wants, will appear in glory
as judge of all us living and us dead
and of His kingdom there will be no end.
We’ll see precisely who’s connected then
when us atheists start spinning underground.
18 January 2010
#64 Reading A Year in Provence
He lives in the Luberon near Bonnieux;
He’s older than me, must remember the War -
young men fled conscription to these hills
were dragged to be shot in the village squares.
I know the problem, the surface is gorgeous
and its origins slip from awareness -
but he fails to note when he visits Gordes
that the Germans shelled it in 44.
It’s like he found a 60 year old wine
drank it, enjoyed it, ambled through the vines
without wondering who the Pruner was back then
and what he did in these hills on those nights
when, bleary and sleepless, he’d watch and wait
till his team was called to a parachute chase.
19 January 2010
The Gardener liked to drink a beer with me
while we watched his sky go gold in autumn;
and often seemed like the sunniest of men
and never told me outright of his dark.
But he told a sunset over paddy fields,
when he saw a far-off file of Viet Cong
silhouettes against the shining sky
who next night he and his comrades killed.
If conscripted I would have gone, like him;
but the barrel hid my number and I stayed
and lived safe at home while he went to harm,
ordered off to slaughter; born the wrong day.
This day in seventeen eighty seven
Goethe in Rome on his Italian journey
joyful to reach the centre of the world,
wrote of the body in ancient sculpture.
And on this day in nineteen thirty nine
George Orwell high in the Atlas mountains,
still plagued by Spain and planning three volumes,
doubted his lungs would last the distance.
This working day in two thousand and ten
I’m in Collingwood answering phones
at the world’s centre, with my headset on,
doubting that my soul will last the distance.
21 January 2010
Today’s entry says: ‘Spanish at Zenzero’
a new tapas place where we ate this night.
Which leads me back to Orwell yesterday:
‘What a mess is Spain … Barcelona’s smashed.’
People say ‘the children are all hungry.’
Orwell disliked Spanish food but I guess
he never had upside down mushrooms grilled
their caps filled with garlic flavoured oil
like we had one lunchtime in Seville
in a corner bar which barely fit us
with our sardines and our dos cervezas.
It’s odd, but I regret he never saw
Plaça George Orwell down towards the port;
how Barcelona thinks of him and thrives.
22 January 2010
In the gust the casuarinas swirl
each needle bright against the dark.
Ah - if the same force breathed in me!
23 January 2010
#69 Centenary of Django Reinhardt’s birth
The vibes gone wild on Benny’s Flying Home;
the seductive clarinet on Petite Fleur,
or Django’s gentle swinging of La Mer
the sounds come clean from when I was a kid
when Dad admired his music on the air
and said he had three fingers on one hand.
He called him Django like he was his friend -
a gipsy from the Hot Club of Paree.
Dad strummed chords on the guitar and crooned
and knew how brilliant Django had to be;
and he knew what it took to make it swing
from when he’d been a drummer in a band.
Django was exotic, now he’s jazz manouche
but in my head his music plays through France
as boys go to the scrub to fight or hide
or like Lacombe, Lucien join the wrong side.
Sunday 24 January 2010
Outcasts from Eden since four months ago,
we walk the bright morning to Camberwell
but my compass turns to Cannaregio -
through the maze to San Marco, over low
wooden bridges and quays on green canals.
Cast out from that Eden four months ago.
Venice was our best of walks; although
we sweltered joyous days in old Seville,
my compass turns to Cannaregio.
Once from a ferry pier we didn’t know
we crossed the sestiere quiet as day fell -
we’re outcast from that Eden, months ago -
then drank in the campo, pinot grigio,
while kids kicked balls against the ghetto wall.
My compass turns to Cannaregio
where all Venetian Jews were made to go
then they transported them, they seized them all -
cast them out from Eden decades ago,
when the SS turned to Cannaregio.
#71 25 January 2010
Today I get an email from our friend
when I’m worn down entirely by my work
because my callers left their wits at home.
He wants details of our Cannaregio flat,
and his message slashes envy through my day,
my desire to be in Venice is so strong.
#72 26 January 2010
Mort pour la France. Their love for it’s so strong
they die for France - not for wife or kids or friends;
but I’m not loyal on our Australia Day
although it’s true I’ll gladly pass up work.
There’s no joy in this day, it leaves me flat,
dejected, though I call Australia home.
#73 27 January 2010
The blackbirds call our green tristania home
but leave at dawn and then I brew my strong
black coffee and sit down to write. I’m flat
out at these poems when my trying friend
young Fred jumps up to set me to my work
which is to feed him cat mush for the day.
#74 28 January 2010
Our team meets, they are full of angst today
and soon it’s clear I should have stayed at home.
I’ve told myself I’d rather do more work
than grace these tortured meetings, with their strong
taste of bitterness, and I’d spare my friends
the task of trying to stop me falling flat.
#75 29 January 2010
It’s my day off this fortnight, paid for flat
on the knocker – lose the money, win a day.
First I wash our floors and then I see my friend
marooned and helpless in a nursing home.
He’s frail and absent; not the wiry strong
hiker I met forty years ago at work.
#76 30 January 2010
He’s on my mind, my friend and it’s sad work
thinking how he falters into long flat
silences, confusion where once was strong
mindedness; how he’s trapped for endless days -
no matter how he yearns he won’t get home.
I left him there and showed that I’m no friend.
#77 60th birthday party – Sunday 31 January
I’ve known these workmates thirty years; today
our host states flat what I confess at home -
I never had better comrades, such strong friends.
1 February 2010
#78 Don’t look up
Back in my jogging days I’d run the Tan
and do it clockwise so I had to run
sooner or later up Anderson Street hill.
When I reached the bottom of that steep drag
I’d mutter my rule which was “don’t look up” -
don’t look for the crest or you’ll lose the will;
watch your costly feet as they hit the tar,
keep pounding out each hard-fought breathless step,
and never think how far you must pant still.
Today our kids are headed back to school;
and I resume my chore with the school lunch.
I say to myself, don’t look up, until
five years have passed, 200 school days each,
only a thousand mornings till it ends,
and I’m Scheherazade of the sandwich fill.
2 February 2010
#79 Don’t look up
Yesterday many teachers made mistakes;
they looked up at the hill ahead, and saw
all the school years and all the bleary days
always having to be at class on time,
all the bosses who glance at you and judge;
all the promising kids gone bad, and kids
who must slog so hard it makes you weep;
parents who want to see you skinned alive
and the ones whose lives you can’t bear to see;
all stretched out before them and they lost heart.
3 February 2010
#80 Wish you were here
Tonight our book group gathers at Bleak House -
our mission statement says we hunt big game,
we send our native beaters out to rouse
weighty books from thickets, vainglorious names -
great works are stuffed upon our shelves in rows,
and ‘nothing common read’ is our refrain;
our yardsticks still are Joyce and Marcel Proust
but Dickens holds his own, he stakes his claim.
There’s always someone missing when we meet
just the three of us and our absent fourth
who stayed with us till Virgil, but is dead;
but tonight I’m missing you as well my sweet
co-reader, and I wonder by my troth
what thou, and I, did until we loved, and read.
4 February 2010
‘Please take my observations as well-meant’
anonymously Yankee Zulu says.
A loon like him is truly heaven-sent
to a man who’s short of interest in his days.
5 February 2010
The pizza place again, it’s Friday night -
capricciosa, added anchovies -
the pizza years-to-come stretch out of sight -
sangiovese and the speck and brie;
I think of our bright Venice coffee bar
where we had breakfast each day for a week;
I could jostle those same customers for years
and return each morning to the same seat
and not feel, like a Venetian boatman,
that I repeat my pleasures till they’re drained
of vividness and meaning, dry, and then
get up and do them listless all again.
6 February 2010
#83 12 Bar
Wake up in the morning Paul Simon’s is the voice I hear;
Wake up this morning Paul Simon is the voice I hear;
he’s in my head, can’t shake him, singing about Clifton Chenier.
You’ve gone to work, the cat’s shot through; my kid will sleep for years;
You’ve shot through, the cat’s at work; my kid will sleep for years;
It’s time to get the vinyl out, and listen to Clifton Chenier.
Jolie blonde sang Clifton, his records in brown paper sleeves;
Jolie blonde sang Clifton, on vinyl in brown paper sleeves;
in French from when the bayou still belonged to Louis Seize.
You’d think a 12 bar blues was easy, but it’s not at all I fear;
Don’t think 12 bar blues is easy, it’s even harder than you fear;
Unless you’re born a natural like Cajun Clifton Chenier.
I’m on the exercise machine, blood starts drumming in my ears
On the exercise machine, and blood gets beating in my ears
I wouldn’t mind being hefty if I could sing like Clifton Chenier.
Sunday 7 February 2010
#84 St Francis Choir
Note by note, just a lowly second bass,
I picked my way devoutly through the score,
a non-believer giving Sunday praise.
I joined you when my wife died, my dark days,
sang Fauré, Willcock, Tallis, Byrd; unsure,
note by note, just a lowly second bass.
I recall the first Mass, the sign of peace,
the human warmth which started my long thaw;
a non-believer giving Sunday praise.
Singing Tallis’ “Why do the nations rage”
let me love Williams’ Fantasia more,
note by note, just a lowly second bass.
Often enough tears made me lose my place,
as loss or beauty swept me from the shore,
a non-believer giving Sunday praise.
Through you John I received these gifts of grace:
music, friendship, my joy in life restored,
note by note, just a lowly second bass,
a non-believer giving Sunday praise.
8 February 2010
It’s your generosity impresses God, not your wealth
Uniting Church sign
You know what they mean, and it is well-meant;
and I would like to take the wealthy down
a peg or two, the mighty well-regarded;
but these kindly Protestants offend me:
the way they presume to speak for their God.
I do not falter in my non-belief
but the God I don’t believe is awesome;
He’s a much more hefty proposition.
Like when, very bloody high and mighty,
He accosted Job from out the whirlwind.
We praise Him for His surpassing bounty,
the wealth of His creation, for its size.
I dislike a God Who’s wimpily impressed
by the meagre tribute of the oppressed.
9 February 2010
I’m woken in the morning by my shout
like a dog whose vocal chords they’ve cut,
to stop him barking, sounding the alarm.
What are you doing? I bay across the street
as they train a spotlight on my upper room;
they’re hunting for a spy who’s on the run.
It comes out like a muffled choking howl;
that dirty spy, he might as well be me,
and my only armament is this sad yowl.
10 February 2010
‘Convalescence is the time for poetry’
They say, rested, showered, full of beans,
Congratulating me on catching flu.
Vincent Buckley, Arcady and Other Places
You have to be well for this writing game,
it’s no trade for the sick or halt or lame.
How did Faulkner do it, overhung each morning;
or Kafka smothered with his crippling despair?
And those who fought for breath like ardent
Keats and Lawrence; or dry Orwell and Camus;
and Primo Levi afflicted by his cancer
but before that with his own freight of woe.
I’ve come home sick and planned to write,
but my body won’t feel what I tell it to.
11 February 2010
#88 Coming home in the wet
I praise You for this reviving rain;
and also for my daughter reading Orwell.
Sounds impious from an unbeliever -
but I never curse You for Your earthquakes,
I never blame You for flood or tempest,
neither for famine nor for pestilence.
But something in me thanks You this wet day,
while my kid lies studying on her bed.
12 February 2010
In one month I’ll be hitting sixty four -
I still can’t plan a time when I won’t work.
We need the cash and the system’s rotten still
and someone needs to turn it on its ear.
13 February 2010
#90 Michelangelo’s Sacristy - Medici Chapel
Here were people with slow grave eyes
Dante Inferno Canto 4
Light filters from the bright world into dusk;
beneath Michelangelo’s high lantern
are doors which open to a silent land.
Two dead Medici princes look beyond
the walls of San Lorenzo and beyond
night and day, dusk and dawn, trapped in their stone.
The princes gaze into the gloomy realm
where vividness recedes; there’s only grey
light falling, always fading from the air.
They watch as light dims over wooded hills,
as ridges blur and valleys fill with mist;
and beneath their dim trees the earth grows dark.
The long stares of the Medici dead
those eyes that ruled, that saw and then possessed
fail before darkness, always drawing down.
14 February 2010
Our teenage daughters heatedly protest
Saint Valentine’s commercial tawdriness -
in odd agreement with the Church
who want to get their saint back in their clutch.
The Church says he was not into romance
but joined souls out of disobedience
to poor old limping emperor Claudius’
demand for reckless unwed warriors.
And now again the Church is out of sorts
with the prevailing powers, it is opposed
to the sway of commerce and to us poor sods
who happily would buy our wife a rose.
15 February 2010
#92 Flatbush City Limits
I dreamt last night a dopey country song,
which when I woke was twanging in my head,
about a country hamlet they call Flatbush:
a one-horse flea-bitten ramshackle town
where my secret jeering self will jail me
when finally it gets the upper hand.
Going back to Flatbush in the morning
Going back to Flatbush every day
Going back to Flatbush in the morning..
16 February 2010
One summer Wednesday after school
a blond man ran in the window
of the Main Street Electrics store.
Vladimir Kuts ran on TV,
heading for one of his two gold,
entranced a watching 10 year old.
It’s my 6 am treadmill stint,
and its tough beyond endurance
and I curse that Soviet soldier.
17 February 2010
Above his fluid runs of notes
the glass harmonics ring and flit
out of light to disappearance
like those particles which briefly
streak the physicist’s cloud chamber,
spark their brief instant and are gone.
How ever could you trap in words
the fleet hallucinatory chime
of Gary Burton’s vibes?
18 February 2010
#95 Do you know how hard it is to say
Mum – she’s part of you, she comes and goes -
her face is bright when she hoists you high
and lowers your face to hers until they’re close
and blur to each other, shining with joy.
She speaks in her soft low voice and you sound
one of your squeaks or you murmur or laugh
and she speaks again and you squirm in her arms
not knowing where you begin and where she ends:
nor that you will live parted from that warmth,
that in each playful gesture and each squeeze
she hides an anxious duty that she must
ensure you’re quickly started warm and sure.
Not knowing that you begin and that she ends
you thrive for near three years with her and then
though she’s the stuff of which you’re deeply made
she’s gone and then your memory of her fades.
#96 René Char died this day in 1988
Ne t’attarde pas à l’ornière des résultats
His maxim in war was don’t get obsessed
by results, with the count of win and loss.
But he had to say that, France having lost
and him gone underground in the maquis.
His notebook of sayings, coded, compressed -
is filled with anonymous mythic types:
Arthur the Mad who wavered at first,
The Pruner, friend of the cats of Pompeii;
the poachers of Provence who aided him;
the Man of the Grain with his silo of arms;
his friend who he watched as the Germans shot;
the young mason whose torture he observed
they are all there, it was their cause he fought;
and no jingo – there’s not a single word.
Overnight some Communist cheminots
blew the Avignon railway roundhouse up
mangling twenty Pacific class locos:
which were the railway Rolls Royce of the time
said Jean Garcin who found them the explosive
but wasn’t there, he was off in Marseille.
The Germans took months to do their repairs
but not half so long to find the saboteurs
and shoot them or deport them to the camps.
If one of their friends should overhear
a voice like a dead railwayman’s they’d gasp
with shock and shaken renew their grief.
As happened to my friend who was born this day
and had come to my place for Sunday tea
and answered when my dead wife’s sister rang.
This day was the day before Mardi Gras
a bad day for pigs up on Mont Ventoux;
the maquisard butchers slaughtered a few
and the lads went happily to their beds
because next day they’d be eating their fill.
The SS roused them at dawn with kicks
and gun-butt blows in their abandoned school;
and marched them down to a deserted farm,
where they shot them four by four,
thirty five: boys and men, soldiers, Jews.
22 February 2000
#99 For Cate
My suitcase is packed, my trunk’s already gone
Mississippi John Hurt Sliding Delta
Did you listen to old Mississippi John
as you worked your way through my scratched vinyl?
I got him when some anarchists left town.
Your travel program sits here where I write -
you land in Lisbon and head east for Crete -
a campaign worthy of Bonaparte or Ike.
I once dreamed an odd refrain for a song -
“Innocence and gravity,” it started well,
but tailed off weird “and gravity in a suitcase”.
I think of it now because you’ve bought your bag
for next year’s trip; you show its many zips,
its pockets, handles, straps and little wheels.
It’s summer but you’ve got thermal underwear,
you’ve bought the maps and read the travel guides.
Sometimes it seems you’ve sent your heart ahead.
23 February 2010
It’s often been a vexed point between us -
is it Leu COX ylon as your ex says -
and he’s an educated man, I know -
or Leuco XY lon as I still insist -
Greek for ‘white wood’ - Xylon which is Leuco.
And should I really say Trista NI a
instead of tris TAN i a which I’ve said
close to forty years silent in my head
because it reminds me of Catherine Deneuve
in Bunuel’s Tristana – which must mean SAD -
just like our solemn tree outside our door
which loomed this morning when I got The Age
beside me like a large and pushy friend
reading sorry headlines behind my back.
24 February 2010
It is certain that the Fuhrer
had one testicle or fewerer.
Some doubt arises when we ask
if Hitler’s ball was big or brass.
It’s just a total waste of time
to seek as consummate a rhyme:
“Himmler/ had something similar” shines
as warfare’s most accomplished line.
25 February 2010
Nothing happened this day, the merest nought
written before tomorrow, a door
to the future, the platform for Hogwarts;
or maybe it was that unknown upper floor
where a fugitive traitor hides in fear
but which, when you wake, is there no more;
or maybe a secret cosmos that’s near
like Doris Lessing’s world beyond the wall
you enter when the wallpaper turns sheer.
Or maybe Joseph Conrad’s made up world
which he sustains by thinking Nostromo.
It’s February twenty fifth is all:
the merest nought in front of tomorrow.
#103 1920 – Mum’s birthday
She doesn’t come back. We must have settled
everything that there was to be settled
the long night of the beads and Hail Maries.
I think of her now - I think of one April,
when she kept my sisters and me from school
for an unexpected sweet autumn day —
a whole day’s freedom - the beach is empty
the water and sun and air mild about us;
an aircraft droning its way to Hobart,
the magical town where Mum was born,
making the sky sound high and empty,
making the lapping water sound lonely.
I feel her indulgent impulse in me
when I struggle to send my kid to school
when all she wants is a day of freedom.
Mum doesn’t come back but when I lay sick
and two of my daughters were sick downstairs
her low soft voice infiltrated my room:
— All shall be well, son; and all shall be well.
#103 Westron Winde (2002)
The small rain’s falling subtle in your yard,
I lie with you and hold you dear to me.
My plants two miles away will softly droop -
their bright blooms in their baskets hang. Bedewed -
Susanne’s feathered maple, my sad bamboo.
Sweet rain fall gentle on our several kids,
yours around the corner at their Dad’s;
mine in their scattered places for the day;
sift on my father, thirty miles away,
and on Susanne, in their graveyard by the Bay.
I rove from you to there and back again.
My arm is round you, palm pressed near your heart,
in the aftermath of love it softly pounds.
So may it be. The smalle raine downe may raine.
28 February 2010
#104 Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Bertholle Beck and Child, though I called her Chilled -
that was the way the French would inflect it -
I’ve had their book thirty five years at least;
I’ve had three wives since then and my three girls.
I almost can make omelettes, though the last
fold in the pan I have not perfected.
What have I mastered? How to julienne,
to trim the fat away from all my roasts,
how to chop onion, tricks handed down
to the kids without divulging my source.
We watch Meryl Streep torment that poor duck;
she pushes me over the maudlin edge -
all those years, all those lives - and those deaths;
and love upwelling again and again.
© David Bunn 2010