Monday, December 19, 2011

Tuesday Poem - The Director's Resurrection by Jennifer Compton

The Director’s Resurrection


My grandfather, the coal carter, started a new business
in the house where his wife and nine children lived.

When he died, after an illness, his two sons
took over the business,

a wooden box factory, can you imagine?
My father, the younger, the Company Director.

My uncle, the elder, the Managing Director.
The family no longer lived on the premises.

My father took his ticket to be a saw doctor. And yes,
I’ve heard all the jokes about the saw doctor’s daughter.

He’d come home of an evening, scattering sawdust,
with talk of pinus radiata and a queer sort of tree –

forbeetoo. Say it quite slowly.
He’d spent the day with his head bent to the

incandescent shrieking of band saws and circular saws,
and his brother above him. Always above him.

I knew on the early starts when he was the only
one there, he threw crumbs for a mouse

that he swore was the same one, year after year.
I don’t think so.

But of what did he think as he bent to the work
his wife and children had sentenced him to?

One night he came home from The Box Factory, reached for
the bottle marked Drink Me – turned to me with a sweet smile.

You like books – he said – and I thought of a good one.
You could write it you know, for I don’t have the gift.

The band saw jammed, like they often do. As I crouched
down to clear it I saw I’d left the safety off, and sweat!

That was nearly me! And I thought of a thriller
where two brothers run a business.

The older one grinds the younger down so he plots to behead him.
Then he’s called away because, say, his wife is having a baby.

He sees his chance, leaves the safety off.
His brother has to cover but he hasn’t got his ticket

so when the saw jams, and they’re buggers for that,
the band saw bites down and kills him quite quickly

but no one thinks anything and after the funeral
the younger brother runs the business all on his own.

The Director’s Resurrection!” What do you think?
It’s good – I said – It’s good. One day I’ll write it.

I have run out of other poet's poems to put up - I'm working on that, reading intensively and emailing out calling in favours. So as Poetry Tuesday is in abeyance for a while I will pull out some old stuff of mine and see how it stands up. This poem is in my book Parker & Quink published by Ginninderra Press. I thought of it because I am answering some questions for the Cordite/Prairie Schooner collaboration about work, so I went back to look at this poem.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tuesday Poem - In the Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre by Jennifer Compton

In the Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre

I hate it when they usher you straight through to the Room.
I’ve never been in the Room but I always knew I would hate it.

I hate the box of tissues waiting for your tears.
I have seen that box of tissues before.

I asked a security guard what the Room was called.
I felt such a need to write an accurate poem.

He told me it was called the Grievance Room.
I looked askance, although I had a grievance.

He offered me the use of their Spirituality Centre.
I declined. But made sure of their Smoke Zone.

A pagoda arrangement out by the helipad.
A birdbath filled with sand for centrepiece.

My daughter’s injury is not time critical.
She will arrive by chopper in an hour, or two.

It’s too early for the fighting drunks.
But the legless, weeping girls are arriving.

I hate the way I have to write this poem
to send it off into the future where

time doesn’t move by fits and starts as
my silly old heart thumps and leaps.

Into the future, all smoothed, (like this moment,
perhaps, like this dull, exquisite, ordinary moment.

And someone else is getting it in the neck.
Someone else is on fire as if they were alive.)

I hate the way my tragedy walks in through their doors
20, 30, 40 times a day.

I hate the way I strike up conversations with people
seeking comfort, like a needy needy needy person.

I hate these magazines. Famous faces who have
already split getting married on a beach, barefoot.

An ICU nurse on lunchbreak in the middle of the night
confesses it is called the Distressed Relative’s Room.

I have the name. (Of it.)
I am safe. (From it.)

If I was a much nicer person I would
go down to the Spirituality Centre.

There is a book and people write poems in it.
Messages, wishes. The things that they feel.

I hate the way it should console me
but I will start criticising, I know I will.

Picky picky picky. Bathos, slop and bilge, tripe.
Already I am planning to edit, tweak, spell check.

I read this older poem for the first time recently at the Collingwood Gallery and it went down quite well. People laughed, although I assured them it was not funny. It is in my book Barefoot published by Picaro Press.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tuesday Poem - wimmera roadsong by Eric Beach

wimmera roadsong

on th left hand side

we have th left hand side

& on th right
we have th right hand side
& a silo     straight ahead
flat roads lead to friday night
they rolled their car & are dead
th wheatfields they are young & green
th donald farmer shakes his head
th racecourse is brown in warracknabeal
hopetoun streets are red
th lake's dry out of rainbow
& th cockies

(that's th birds, not th farmers)

look well fed
on th left hand side
we have th left hand side
& on th right
we have th right hand side

& a silo     straight ahead
th barber's sweeping main street

lest we forget avenue

now th second barber's sweeping main street
butcher shops like marble too

yesterday's marked down at th bakery

& th river looks like stew

on th left hand side

we have the left hand side

& on th right

we have th right hand side

& a silo     straight ahead

two kids share one ice-cream

another brief lick at th drought
when th dirt blows there's no fence
that will keep th dirt out

only stars hang in th window

roos, moving south

I heard Eric Beach read this poem in a Collingwood gallery a few weeks back and was just blown away by it. What a performer he is. He lives in Minyip now (about four hours away from Melbourne) so we just don't get to hear him as much as we would like. This poem comes from his book – Weeping For Lost Babylon which was published by Angus & Robertson in association with Paper Bark Press 1996.

For more about Eric have a look at this site.

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