The God of Bone and Antler
What passes here for air is dry.
Four bare rooms and four doorless frames
sixteen unwindowed walls of caulked pine
and countless things with claws that scrabble
in the dry above.
If it lives
it lives like a shadow, preceding and anterior
to the light, tethered at the edge of vision.
Your feet below are naked.
As you creep across the boards
there is a scraping, a thunk
a hiss, clock, hiss and clock
of limbs as they strike ancient wood.
An antiphony of bones, a twitching cow skull
in a nest of horns.
It has no songs, it is kin to stone and ferryman to beasts;
language makes no purchase
and keeps no token or effect.
You wonder as you go within
elbows held over your breast
if it thinks like a draught horse working a bit –
teeth wearing flat on steel.
If it lives, it is behind,
cracked hoof seeking the shelving of your heart.
For Adam, Lara and the Cactus
My last love was a husky
a beautiful, high-maintenance pack animal
that devoured my heart with tenderness.
Before I flew out of Stansted, I sent her a postcard,
said love was a chimera, no one knows
what it looks like but everyone
hunts it. She thought it meant
I wanted to get back together.
There are green parrots in the bottlebrush.
They wake me. Dawn moves so
quickly the dream and the hangover
marry in lilac.
Yesterday, I bought a yellow-thorned cactus for my friend.
Adam is thirty, unemployed, useless.
All his friends know he has a tumour
but no one says anything.
I bought the plant for him to look after,
Adam left it on the window-sill
and his sister’s black husky smashed it, ate the roots,
left it for the rising sun to bury.
The dog now comes to his window, tries to climb in
with digging motions, yelping.
I can’t stay angry. It is so easy to fall
in and out of love
with something so stupid and so fierce.
So I drink Coopers Red on Adam’s ancient mattress,
give advice I should probably take
and throw away that cactus
too damn shredded to live.
ABOUT THE POET
Daniel East is an Australian writer currently working in Sydney, publishing theatre reviews on media culture reviews (reviews.media-culture.org.au). He is a graduate of UOW’s Creative Writing degree and his work has appeared in Cordite, Mascara, Going Down Swinging, Voiceworks, Red River Review, Verity La and is soon to appear in PAN Magazine and cutthroat. He co-wrote Sexy Tales of Paleontology, which won the 2010 Sydney Fringe Comedy Award and he is a member of Australia’s only performance poetry boyband, The Bracket Creeps.