Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday Poem - man with children by Ross Donlon

man with children

suddenly on my garden wall
a child's frowning face
her arms folded waiting

then a burst of jigsaw words
but about her hat
her black and orange hat and lost

oh well I say looking up and out no adult
where did you leave your hat where was it?
but no at the slow man a cat a lost cat

saturday afternoon with radio sport
talking to a welcome stranger child
the street and front yards empty

oh he'll come home for his dinner the cat
but now a second child scrambling up so
two cross puppets hanging on and puffing

a small girl and her smaller snuffling brother
reporter faces stern with breaking news no
the cat was there pointing near and nowhere

we all three look but all is innocent of cats
then a woman enters centre stage opposite
looks across I wave my spade say hi

call my name gabble black and orange
and of the children who came like the past
too far to shout four of my own

she looks away and down the street
makes a waving motion like sowing grain
I shoo my hands to make them fly

but later the sun and the sport disappearing
small steps scramble up shout found him
then run across the border road to safety

Ross Donlon lives in Castlemaine and runs the excellent Castlemaine readings in the Guildford Pub. They are a treat and a half and the open readers compete with a keen edge for the Castlemaine Cup. Which is always an egg cup and is sometimes of stunning incongruity. I have seen a Barbie egg cup handed out and I have seen it accepted with due gravity. These readings are tons of fun, packed to the rafters, and the standard of poetry is out there somewhere in the stratosphere. Ross is very inclusive and when funds allow he flies in poets from all over Australia. It's a hub for poetry, or a crux, or a choke point, or even, maybe a grand convergence.
But there is a lot more to Ross than this event which he husbands along. He's a poet. Sometimes his work is droll, and sometimes he essays more troubling subjects. I like his angles. I like his attention to craft. I find his work attractive.
One of his most attractive poems is The Blue Dressing Gown which recently won the Wenlock Festival Poetry Prize in the UK and Ross will be appearing at the festival in May. I hope to be able to post it here later in the year.


  1. I like his angles in this poem, too, Jennifer. A poem with 'layers.'

  2. Oh yes I like this very much - something gorgeously active about it - the movements of the children and the language I like ... too many poems are static aren't they? love the 'jigsaw words' and the 'cross puppets' - not sure about the last line though - it feels too 'safe' to me - less energised than the rest of it...

  3. I like this a lot - and in this case I will disagree with Mary (sorry, Mary!) and say that the last line works well for me, particularly in the way it reflects the "street and front yards empty" from earlier in the poem.