Monday, December 31, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Boys Own Annual by Rhyll McMaster

Boys Own Annual

What a shame
girls aren't more like boys.
Girls want to change the rules.
What a shame
they don't ever play the game.

In a Boys Own Annual view of life
the punch, the grab, the shout are haute couture.
The moon-about is paramount.
Boys need never realise, need not be clever.
Boys need not mature.

Girls don hats and gloves their mothers wore
and play at Houses under trees.
Girls are bossy.
They seem to like responsibilities,
don't love the mystery of scraped knees.

Boys like the smell and sometimes-touch of boys,
their stop-start world, well-debated challenges,
hatched plans never carried out,
the detached stare.
Boys like it when they never have to care.

Boys know girls are the enemy
because girls keep calling in the debt.
Girls block the light that's shining
straight down on Boys Own Mighty Heaven,
that glazed place where time's ephemeral, yet set

where boys can rest their case
without entering a plea
and wander home at sunset
for their tea.

This poem is from Rhyll's newest book – Late Night Shopping – published by Brandl & Schlesinger. The book is such a delight. Sharp and funny and eloquent.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Two Short Poems by Luke Beesley

Peacock peacock

In Tagore's last poems he imagines words popped of
loose, in the sky, nonsense syllables, pure colour

At the post office I watch a man for an hour
sew my parcels with a large needle
a purple full stop on his thumb

I never saw the Taj Mahal.

             I write I never saw the Taj Mahal
             but write 'sew' instead of 'saw'
             I never sew

Short story

His ear lit up like a daffodil

He found four bees in his car

It was a leap year. February rushed
past like formula one
a twist of tomato
in the alcohol

Luke Beesley lives in Melbourne. These insidious little poems are in his recent book 'Balance” from Whitmore Press.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem - In The Voice Of A Tree by Michelle Leber

for Georgina King (1845-1932)

Do not marry if you wish to develop your talent
                                                          George Bennett

Her warm curve on my spine―
it’s like this each day. She’s reading
with her little sighs, pressing a book
to her hillocks, as if absorbing my ancestors
by way of brooding osmosis.
No one knows what she reads.

Some days she writes letters,
packing faultless flowers between paper
and lets the laughing dove take them
across meadows, over mountains,
to enter Mueller’s chamber as he sits
with Termination Lake specimens
in the drafty acreage of his esteem. 
No one knows what he reads.

A dandelion seed has taken sentry
in her hair. For the view. For companionship.
Ants devising better ways to reach honey,
by-pass the flighty blooms of her sleeve
that puff like batwings onto her page.
No one knows what she reads.

If I could, I’d insist she reconcile
her natural beauty. When her head
turns to a bee, rises on its tower to meet
with clouds, she is more than kindred:
how shall we commune, together admire
our mandate with petalite, tuff beds, fern allies.
I am bending my branches.
No one knows what she reads.

Note: First published in a different form by Westerly 57.2: Nov 2012 

Michelle Leber lives in Melbourne and is writing a series of poems about women naturalists. Each one I come across, either in journals, or when she reads them to us at various poetry events around town, or when she tables one at a monthly workshop at my place, I am entranced by their delicacy and pungency and cogency.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Promise of Storms by Graham Nunn

Promise of Storms

Always, in the late afternoon,
when the air is rusty with wattle blooms
the town gathers in its quietest corner

lining the road like a mob of roos.
In the front, women's knees flash
like winter apples split in half

between skirts and stockings
and men lean their arms against the coffin
ever so gently.

With their free arms
they brush pollen from black suits
clothes worn only for weddings and funerals.

And later that night they hang them
to be cleaned with vinegar and brush
unsure as to when they will be worn again.

I wonder what remains
after a small town funeral?
Not much hope, not much longing.

Maybe only pollen and the promise
of a storm, carrying its blessing
of new growth.

I came upon this poem in the latest issue of FourW and liked it a lot. In fact there is a lot of 
great stuff in the latest issue of FourW.
Graham lives in Brisbane and is currently raising funds for an indigenous literacy programme 
which is sorely needed. Sad but true. Check it out on his blog - Another Lost Shark

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tuesday Poem - The ngaio tree by Fiona Kidman

The ngaio tree

“..we leave best what we have truly loved.”
                                     Lauris Edmond

So here come the kids, skidding their school bags
across the floor, blazers flung awry on the chairs,
                                                     two grandsons
of which there are five brothers in all.
‘We’ve had exams today,’ they say, exasperated,
 ‘And we had to do that poem, the one you wrote
about Dad’s tree-house in the ngaio. We knew
we’d get it sooner or later. Toby said so,
                                                       and Reuben too.’
‘So what did they ask you?’
‘Oh you know, stuff about what does the poem mean?’
                                                       ‘And you said?’
I’m focusing on the hot chocolate now,
                             pouring it into two mugs.

‘That our Dad had a tree-house and you used to yell
 at him to come down when it got dark and raining.’
‘Nothing about bad dreams and conquering fear?’
                                                       One of them sighs.
‘Teachers don’t know our Dad. Our dad’s our dad.’
That’s true enough, more that than my son anymore
and besides, the meaning of the wretched poem
 has shifted.                            The red-headed woodsman
shakes his head regularly over the fragile
branches, the thin screen of foliage,
the tree’s increasing vulnerability
as another gale sweeps in scattering dry twigs
                                                     ribbons in the sky.
‘Don’t know how much more it can take,’ he says,
                                            laconic, commiserating.
But there are some things I do know:
 if we stand on the lawn beneath that tree
we see far beyond us dark fires of sunsets
settling over the bay, pastel new moons
cavorting across the sky, the delphinium
days of summer,  mists resting in the far
 hills like the foothills of the Himalayas
and yes the dark scribbles of the tree’s branches
against stormy skies, even though the boy came down
                                                     from the tree long ago

There is all this and more. At some time
or another, every person I have truly loved,
our close family circle, the aunts
                         (save Roberta who never made it here),
 the old old companions of my childhood,
                                                    all the true friends
 have stood beneath this tree.
                                 And I tell myself
 that, so long as I live, if the roots hold
 fast to the bank below and new green shoots
 appear on the branches each spring, all will be 
                                                   as well as it can.

Another wonderful poem from Fiona Kidman’s recent book Where Your Left Hand 
Rests published by Godwit, Random House. It is a most enticing little book, a gift.