Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tuesday Poem - 'Front Verandah' by Sophie Tarrant


He starts the day by lighting incense in the neck
of her vase. She breathes in a gust of wind until the scent fills her.
His hands, which she has seen break tree branches as thick as his arm,
tappity-patter the bongo drums. The rhythm pulses through her chest
of drawers. She sings along
with wooden wind chime voice, out of time but melodic.

He eats lunch at the table, his leg touching hers.
He pays no attention to the view through her windows
even when she swings and whines with rusty hinges.
He reads a magazine with ads for shampoo, models with dyed
blonde hair. Part of her palm tree comes through the window,
a few fingers brush the open page.
The fringe of her frond is yellow from sunlight.

He leaves her, walks away down the street
comes back with a sprig of frangipani, pink as a blush.
He tucks the stem into her thick fronds
layered across the windowsill. She feels warm inside,
shades him with her maroon veil.
He lies down to rest on her white cushioned forehead.
When the kookaburras laugh on the power line outside,
her ferns rustle, shhhhhh, and the birds fly away.
His snores vibrate through her chest
as vibrantly as bongo beats.

I met Sophie Tarrant up in Brisbane at the Riverbend reading (she runs a reading called Below Deck which I must get to next time I am up that way.) And then she was in Melbourne just as I was putting on a Big Read at Collected Works for NZ Poetry Day, so I invited her along and after dithering over Janet Frame and Chris Price she chose to read Glen Colquhoun, and was a total asset. Later that night she gave me her chapbook Memories of Home and I liked it a lot and chose the verandah poem because of its evocation of Brisbane (such a spirit of place!) and the charm of the personification of the verandah.
Hear her read her poem. 


Monday, October 12, 2015

Tuesday Poem - 'Frankston Train' by Garth Madsen

Frankston Train

Armpit to armpit, everyone sweats in a different
language here. A woman's voice calls out the
name of each station as we arrive, another
scratching in the race of life, she says Mordialloc
as if there can be less dialloc. Four urban
minimalists play euchre, I cannot see if their
cards are real or not. The echo girl sits under the
'no feet on seats' sign, her foot on the seat, the
angle showing the curve of her in-step better than
high heels, she tells her mobile phone that she
was named after a car number plate. The
powdered aeroplane blonde with an imitation
pearl necklace becomes a delta, people pushing
past her on either side. A drunk shouts, “Of
course, I'm smart. I went to school, didn't I?'
A father, a mother scold their son as if they are
trying to make him smile for the camera. The
lowrider with an earring drops a water bottle at a
ninja bitch's feet, there is an empty McDonalds
wrapper under her seat and a browning apple
core. The rainmaker with crickets in his ears
drums the seat between his legs. The bonsai
brunette sheds her black cardigan and flicks her
anklet at the far border of my vision and I ask
myself where her story ends and mine begins.

One of my favourite Melbourne poets is Garth Madsen, and he lives out on my train line – the Frankston line. He is very tender and astute about the place where we both live. His 'Frankston For Beginners' is a must-read, as far as I am concerned. I have no idea how you might acquire a copy though. He had a big launch for the book, out at Seaford, (with enough food, including a chocolate fountain, for an invading army whose quartermaster had gone awol so the troops are pretty hungry, about as hungry as hungry troops can get) and then there was a reading at Red Wheelbarrow in Brunswick, and then as far as I know that was the end of it. Anyhow anyhow, when Avril Bradley decided to do an anthology of poems about Frankston, Garth was a must. Those who know Garth truly appreciate him. We had a lovely launch for the anthology in the remoter reaches of the McClelland Sculpture Park in Langwarrin - well done Avril for pulling it all together – and this poem was a stand out for me. And a shout out to Michelle Leber whose stunning photo is on the cover of 'City Of Stars”.

PS Garth often blocks his poems so they are as neat as bricks an expert bricklayer has laid – but no matter how I fiddle I can't make my blog block – so please forgive my my hod, my grout, my towel.