Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Poem - 'Waiting' by Tracy Ryan


Waiting for bog
to blossom
with white flame
of bog cotton

is groom not given
to see the dress
before the day

Knowing her only
one long cold season
is love meeting
weekdays only

or sensing no more than
the moon's dark side
thus the moon's
wrong meaning

Yet bog in continual winter
is most bog wearing nothing
but more and more water

her deep nature
bog is what bog does

And yet another launch at Collected Works of a wonderful book! This time Hoard by Tracy Ryan, joint winner of the Whitmore Press Prize. It's a deep, unfathomable book, and a shifty, slippery book. With who knows what within. So like a bog, so like a hoard within a bog. (Tracy's pronunciation of the local way of saying 'hoard' is still resonating with me.) And how much I appreciated the quiet, stringent perfection of the laying down of the words on the page.

Marion May Campbell's trenchant launch speech is published here in Cordite -
- and it pretty well covers anything else I might be moved to say about this book.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Poem - 'Night Watch' by Robyn Rowland

Night Watch

Time is elastic, its zenith fit to breaking
when you wait for the ambulance – now leaning over him,
now rushing back and forth from house to street straining
for sirens, night so dark and wet and quiet out there.

Listening for breath in a slight boy of fifteen years
is an ancient art requiring silence. Kneeling on your hall floor,
ear right to his lips, beside the frenzied shouts of his father,
whose panic of pacing is the only thing he can offer him.

Your own son watches his friend from the corner,
slumped, slightly beaten, the first fire of alcohol seeming
less necessary than it might have been, not worth the effort now,
while the friend he tried to carry home lies on his side, still.

Slapping his rump to try and wake him feels like assault.
Strange to be able to do things he would never allow,
ice you run across his cheeks a cruelty. Beyond limp,
he will not jerk away, open his mud-brown eyes.

When they finally come, wearied knights of the new wars,
they cannot rouse him, tell us it's not good, open his lids to pupils
so huge, so pitch and utterly void, his mother gasps, sinking,
and you never saw anyone so unconscious who wasn't dead.

You make your son sit and watch. They strap on an oxygen mask,
fail to open his mouth for a tongue block, quietly ask what he took -
vodka yes, but weed? pills? needles? No. Just vodka. Straight.
He was kicked,' your boy says, 'they punched me in the head.' And vomits.

Clipped on a stretcher, they lift him out of the hall. In the long night,
fourteen hours twisted in tubes before he rouses, you remember
they loved pizza by the swimming pool for the last three birthdays, watched
videos, Xbox, played Star Wars with Darth Vader the only enemy -

and when you turned sixteen no-one had parties at all.

Robyn lives in Ireland and Australia so she launched her new book Lines of Drift (Doire Press) both there and here. I caught the Aussie launch by Catherine Bateson at Collected Works here in Melbourne and invested in a book. I must say I liked the epic poem Unbroken Stone In A Stubborn Sea – but just too long for a blog I reckon. Again the scroll scroll scroll problem. But this mini-drama called Night Watch caught my attention. Such a shriek of a poem. Recollected in tranquility, as they say.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tuesday Poem - 'Wondernight' by Alex Skovron

for Zofia RadwaƄska

I was a child
when a picture book
brought me this/

a study
dark among its panels
the household

asleep/ a pendulum
softly clicks/ midnight

bookshelves stir/ the books
are coming to life

they wake/ start
to converse/ glide or file
to the floor

begin a vigorous
debate/ each volume utterly
unlike the next

It is a wondernight
of books
the room vibrates/ colours

& covers throb
pages windmill/ a dance
of books

that should have stayed
the shelf
where day belongs

Try to recatch
the colour of that tale
I fell for/

I can almost
close my memory

around it
almost/ stubborn is the
old steep

to be a little boy

the night gives notice
to return/

the books
must reinstate a front
for the sun

a facade/ for morning
to discover
perfect order/ shelves

the spines & sequences

And I wish
that I could hold this
Polish fable once

more in my hand/ protectively/
lest by the colour
it no longer

lent/ the flaws
in the text
& the art

I picked at/
these books should finally
close their dream

& I/ unreconciled/ resume
my book
to book search for myself

I missed out on Alex Skovron's launch of Towards The Equator; New & Selected Poems (Puncher & Wattman 2014) but I did catch him reading at The Dan recently, and that was a treat. He brings such force and colour to the work when he reads. (As if it doesn't contain enough already!) The poem I chose comes from his 1988 book The Rearrangement, and the title poem is a stunner. But too long, I thought, for a blog post. Scroll and scroll and scroll. I can only suggest you invest in a copy and have a good browse through the greatest hits of one of our best poets. Alex really knows how to poet! (I also enjoyed very much, on my first time through this book, the selections from his 1999 book Infinite City. Oh and The Man and the Map 2003.)