Monday, February 18, 2013

Tuesday Poem - Wildlife by Nathan Curnow

for Alexis
She leads me into the worn out wildlife park
where all the kookaburras care to say is ‘lol’.
Brown kangaroos remain slumped upon the green
like used teabags on a kitchen sink.
Alligators dreaming of their glory days
as stars on Miami Vice refuse to move until
they score a bit-part, one that’s bound to cost an arm and a leg.
While the Aldabra tortoise munches on salad
as it’s done for a hundred years, the great vegetarian 
who has never thought to demand anything more of lettuce.
My girl skips and charges, fierce and innocent,
we come to this park every week.
She confronts the big reds—as buff as steroid users
who could kick the shit out of Olympians.
Singing her ABCs at the top of her voice
as emus beat box by, the lop-dop of a well-drum,
a billabong hidden somewhere inside their throats.
And the Burmese python who waits for us
inside the Reptile House, does nothing when we arrive
because it’s shed its skin and need do nothing again for weeks.
She gallops into darkness, past the whiptail lizard,
chameleons barely roll their eyes, the hog nose snake
forever smirking at her nostrils spread flat on the glass.
Then she turns the corner, finally stops, there is a girl
up ahead with her mum, the shock of a creature
the same age and height, they stare.
She backs into my legs.

This poem comes from the excellent joint book (with Kevin Brophy) called Radar.
It's available from :

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tuesday Poem - Thirteen Reviews of the New Babylon Inn by Geoffrey Lehmann

Thirteen Reviews of the New Babylon Inn

for Nicholas Lehmann

“The world’s eighth worst hotel?
I vote it Number One!
I’ve known better in the back-blocks of China.
I was offered heroin at the entrance.
The narrow stairs shake when you tread on them.
I couldn’t get my door to lock
and the sheets have holes and strange stains.
Read the reviews before you book.”

“The manager yelled at me
when I asked where’s the free internet.”

“Don’t be deluded by the photos and location.
My room was like a horror film,
dank, the tiniest I’ve ever seen.
I could hardly wrestle my suitcases through the door.
To sit on the toilet I had to twist my legs around
or have one foot in the shower.”

“Their free American breakfast!
A small piece of white bread, a droplet of jam
and microscopic package of cottage cheese.”

“No cold water. Both taps had hot water!
And a power point in the shower cubicle.
See the photo I’ve posted.”

“Six panels were missing in the ceiling –
something to look at when you’re lying in bed.”

“My wife woke up thinking I was tickling her feet.
I felt a tickle too,
and switched on the light.
Two beady eyes of a small rodent!
Grabbing bits of our pizza
he vanished through a hole in the wall.”

“I complained about mice eating our chocolate.
‘What do you expect?’ the man at front desk said,
‘Mice like chocolate.’ ”

“Extra friendly staff
found my lost passport under the bed.
They attend you like a princess aus Deutschland. Five stars.”

“My secretary
will never book for me again.
My secretary isn’t going to be my secretary. ”

“I didn’t expect pre-warmed bed linen,
residues of bodily fluids
sandwich wrappings and cigarette ash.
A hooker and her john
pulling their clothes on
hurried out the door
as we checked into our room.”

“Just out of college
we were sucked in by the price and location,
and were review-skeptics.
OMG, they were right!”

Dreams are explained.
81/2th Avenue has five lanes
of bumper to bumper, humid traffic.
The beautiful grid
of this flat, granite island,
its horizontals and verticals of space,
are a psychic phenomenon.
I step out from my air conditioned limousine
with tinted windows,
and recognize the facade from the photos:
a fire escape zigzags down the front,
the New Babylon Inn
is backed by a tangerine sunset.
A young price-conscious family with luggage
is staring from the sidewalk.
I walk up and open the glass door
with precision.
They pick up their things and follow.
Management greets me
and my credit card
like a friend back from the dead.

Here is another poem from The Best Australian Poems 2012 edited by John Tranter. It is not that I am not reading anything else at the moment (I am enjoying Radar by Nathan Curnow and Kevin Brophy and hope to get permission to put up some of their work soon) but I did find so much to like in this year’s Best Of.

Geoffrey Lehmann has published seven collections of poetry and a Selected Poems and Collected Poems. He has edited two anthologies of Australian comic verse and co-edited (with Robert Gray) several anthologies of Australian poetry, the most recent being Australian Poetry Since 1788. He has been a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council and continues to write as a literary reviewer for The Australian newspaper. His poems are widely published, most recently in The New Yorker.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tuesday Poem - Kohlrabi Soup by Jan Owen

Kohlrabi Soup

How it trapped the dust,
the stucco fa├žade of that old square house
the colour of deepest heaven
behind the oleanders’ poisonous pink.
Half the back yard was an offering of scarlet tulips
like a ritual letting of blood.
In the other bed the lymph-coloured kohlrabi
craned on their purple stalks,
slowly gathering the will to walk.

The father, young and newly ill, had begun
in desperation to build a catamaran,
safe outside in the shed.
By five pm, the hemmed-in kitchen was already dim.
She had finally made him the kohlrabi soup
and put it to cool on the bench.
When he came inside,
the babies, latched in their chairs,
were brandishing spoons and shrilling with hunger;
he yanked the plug
of the bakelite radio blaring against the din
and cut the cord with his knife.

Late that night she tiptoed into the kitchen:
the abandoned soup had set to a sinister pond
gravelly-soft as semolina, elastic as phlegm.
It was the exact colour, she saw, of the moonlight
mottling the yard of scattered toys
and the phalanx of triffids beginning to stir.

Over the scene,
a disappointment balloon
was drifting to if and when
the boat would be launched,
the family split,
and the small blue house knocked down.

Another wonderful poem from The Best Australian Poems 2012 - this time by Adelaide poet, Jan Owen.