from Issue #2: Poetry by Antigone Kefala

Photo (CC) Dale Gillard @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Dale Gillard @ Flickr

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Pilgrims’ Tales

When they reached the place
they waited in the dusty courts
with the stray dogs.
Slowly the landmarks
of their days drifted away
and imperceptibly they sunk
into the decomposing silence.

When they came back
their eyes were scorched
their hands like open wounds
the road, they said,
nothing but fire
no coolness
as they were promised
in the fables.

*

The Fatal Queen

She watched us from the dais,
her eyes full of a savage
desperation
she was trying to contain
her voice rasping.

She seemed suspended
above the cliffs
of a dark, frozen sea
already disconnected
from the everyday
impatient, inside her
all was set
for the last killing.

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ABOUT THE POET

Antigone Kefala is a poet and prose writer of Greek-Romanian heritage. She has worked as a university administrator and as an arts administrator with the Australia Council for the Arts. She left with her family after the Second World War and moved to Greece and then to New Zealand, where she studied French literature at Victoria University of Wellington. She has lived in Sydney since the sixties. Her books have been translated into Greek, French, Czech and Romanian. Her latest publications are Sydney Journals (Giramondo, 2008), Absence: New and Selected Poems (Hale & Iremonger, 1998), Max – The Confessions of a Cat (Owl Press, 2009).

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from Issue #2: Poetry by Elias Greig

Photo (CC) Jes @ FLickr

Photo (CC) Jes @ Flickr

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Wentworth Street

The superintendant with his lisp and stoop,
Between fixing lifts and mopping foyers,
Tells me the suburb’s stories of depravity
(Or those that can be seen from our floor);
Shivers over certain parks and certain corners,
Backed up with scrapbooks, carefully kept,
Filled with labelled white chalk silhouettes.
“Here he died,” he will say, or “killed her mother”,
That empty square of pavement and gutter,
This bench beneath an empty trellis,
The super says, have all borne witness
Though papers lie and news remains indifferent.

(And like some infamous European field,
Suddenly the street seems poised and ready
To belch up murders, drunken killings,
Suicides, and children’s ghostly bones,
All with the first hint of heavy rain.
So the super would have me believe.)

Still the night sets in, same as ever,
The afternoon orange on the fence-tops,
The park-birds calling in the figs,
The hush and hiss of passing cars
And lock-step couples walking home,
Smokers on the steps of terrace houses,
The smell of cooking, sound of game shows,
The quarrelling, the unanswered phones.

(The dead under the blocks sleep chaste,
Unmolested, or perhaps unmoved.)

And yet so many in these alleys disappear,
Snatched away by ambulance or old age,
A quiet or a fretful, a still or squalling death,
In the bathrooms, taps still running,
In the shower, on the laundry floor,
In kitchens, just as the kettle comes to the boil,
Halfway between the clothesline and the open door.

(I must ask the super how to recall,
Show reverence, be discreet and solemn,
Care about how ever many spirals spun,
Lines ended, seams and stitches come undone,
The dull images of life, now ending, now gone.
How to be solemn, wholesome and concerned,
But quietly, firmly removed.)

And though I wake up with the street
To barking dogs and slamming doors,
The cries of the morning children
And shouts of midnight drunks;
Though I walk the darker lanes unhurriedly,
And sleep sometimes by the skinny backs
Of the street’s young women,
Hear their sighing, floral dreams,
No one I know has died here.

I will stay awake into the early hours
Learning skylines, names and faces,
Some grand speech of transformation,
Some sense of place an author wrote,
(Appended by some cunning editor
Intent on making new money off old work),
While my flat nestles in the crook
Of the suburb’s twinkling arm,
While new buildings grow out of old bones,
But I will never sleep beneath the blocks
The way the super likes to say we will,
And, in truth, neither will he.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Elias Greig is a PhD student at the University of Sydney, working on Wordsworth, Revolution, and British Romanticism. Other research interests include the republican agitations of the 1790s, the critical styles of William Hazlitt and Charles Lamb, and the radical ironies of Robert Burns. His poetry first appeared in Hermes, the University of Sydney’s literary journal, a publication he was lucky enough to edit in 2010, and remains a hobby rather than a vocation. This is his second appearance in Contrappasso and he is proud to be included in such an exciting new (and young!) publication.

from Issue #2: Poetry by Chris Oakey

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Photo (CC) John Fowler @ Flickr

Chris Oakey’s poems – ‘Revolution,’ ‘Heaven,’ ‘Counting Down From Zero’ and ‘Love Song’ – are presented as a PDF to preserve their unique formatting.

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ABOUT THE POET

Chris Oakey studied Communications at UTS, taking honours in Modernist fragment poetry. He has recently completed a Masters degree in poetics, at the University of New South Wales, on William Carlos Williams, Hilda Doolittle, and their poetic epistemologies. He has published poetry in journals in Australia and overseas, most recently in the online journal Cordite and the inaugural issue of Contrappasso. His poetic obsessions are American modernists, Russian Futurists, and Australian poets of many stripes.

from Issue #2: Poetry by Tessa Lunney

Photo (CC) Colin @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Colin @ Flickr

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Your love is a blood red stone

My heart beats in this blood red
stone. This stone, rolled
by the oceans for aeons,
from the depths of the ocean’s
soul, rolled over and over
from Indian to Atlantic to Pacific
to Old Bar Beach, this shore.
This blood red stone rolls
to my toes as I tread the tide line.
This blood red stone, so smooth,
so sure, so absolute, it rolls
sure into my palm. It sits
whole on my tongue, in my
mouth, so simple and pure.
It tastes of salt and centuries,
of love and blood-iron
and memories. It’s heavy and firm
with home. My heart beats
in this blood red stone, beats here,
this stone, this shore.

*

We built our fires on the beach
(a letter to a friend who first showed me poetry)           

We built our fires on the beach
when you were nineteen and missed
your man in the rain (he said
he thought of you with great affection, still)
Pain slid over your skin and puddled
in your hips but you stamped your spine
with ink and declared

Who pays any attention
to the syntax of things

Tea and toast was manna, and the golden ratio
echoed in your father’s words,
in the rain’s roof-top jazz.
The world fizzed and popped
it expanded like a nightmare
like a grail
and still you declared

And kisses are a better fate
than wisdom

but wisdom came anyway.
Paper dolls and pewter earrings
adorned a life lived head-first,
heart-first, when Spring is in the world
There was spring-life in your step, my Goddess of Small Things,
and each raindrop (you said in smiles)
holds a world, hear it sing
hear it sing
and you declared

And I think death is no parenthesis

*

ABOUT THE POET

Tessa Lunney has recently completed a creative doctorate at the University of Western Sydney. She examined silences in contemporary Australian war fiction and wrote a novel as the bulk of her dissertation. She has had her poetry, fiction and reviews published in Southerly, Mascara, Illumina, Phoenix, and Hermes, among others, as well as the inaugural issue of Contrappasso. She works as an editorial assistant at Southerly. She lives in Sydney, and dreams of Elsewhere.

Tessa’s poem “We built our fires on the beach” quotes “since feeling is first” by e.e. cummings.

from Issue #2: Poetry by Mark Tredinnick

Photo (CC) Alex Holzknecht @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Alex Holzknecht @ Flickr

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Issue 2 published six new poems by Mark Tredinnick. They are presented here in PDF to preserve their unique formatting.

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ABOUT THE POET

Mark Tredinnick—winner of the Montreal Poetry Prize in 2011 and of the Cardiff Poetry Prize in 2012—is the author of Fire Diary, The Blue Plateau, Australia’s Wild Weather and nine other acclaimed works of poetry and prose. His new collection, Bluewren Cantos, will be out in early 2014. Raised in suburban Sydney, Tredinnick did time as a lawyer before working for a decade in book publishing. He has lived in Sydney and in the Blue Mountains; these days he lives and writes along the Wingecarribee River, where he is at work on Reading Slowly at the End of Time and an anthology of Australian love poetry (Inkerman & Blunt, 2013). Read more at Mark’s website: www.marktredinnick.com.au

from Issue #2: Poetry by Chris Andrews

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Photo (CC) Takver @ Flickr

Spring, Regardless

Spring: the litter traps in the river are full.
Sleeping streets given over to blackbird song.
It helps them to mate but why should I like it?
Perhaps because they will go on regardless
like Salvador Allende’s German Shepherd
suckling her litter on a couch and no doubt
defending it too, from soldiers and neighbours,
in the looted presidential residence,
while the tranquil metal of her master’s voice
began its historic voyage. September:
a scent of pittosporum drifts. September:
a pied butcher bird reinventing the song
much admired in European theatres,

transcending its hatred of kookaburras
and the ugly but sensible shrike habit
of impaling, perfectly indifferent to
the wild evolution of human music,
which media empires can only pursue
and exploit, as devoid of initiative
as the armed forces in a world far away
at the end of wide, poplar-lined avenues.

*

Mateship

Was it eupepsia? I wasn’t thinking:
Why does everything have to be such a rush.
Or the mottled weather? I wasn’t even
wondering how indignant to be about what
when the media and self-interest provide
reasons to keep me indignant all the time.
Walking to the station, I had a vague sense
of what it might mean to feel real affection
for the things — the patterns of energy-stuff  —
in the world, and, being one such or many
myself, to adjust them here and there in right
but unnecessary ways. The shadow-pools
in the street seemed continuous with a night

like a party spilling from a mansion split
into flats along a canal, an open-
ended night full of divergent adventures,
novelty lamps, doors ajar, strange languages
and splashes. Then a vaguely familiar guy
with his elbows out came up to me and said
“Usually I think, Life will sort you out, mate,
but this time it looks like life has to be me.”

*

The End (I)

As the credits rolled minor conflicts arose
between those who wanted to leave straight away
and those who wanted to return gradually
from fiction. Some were already sharpening
inappellable sentences while others
were embarrassed or grateful to discover
that aging had given them readier tears.
The world was waiting outside with its weather
(local thunderstorms), its news (a gold rush hour
on the stock exchange), its extras streaming past,
each a turbulent world of thought and feeling,
its livid blue neon lettering against
a pink bench of cloud rifting how far away?

The projectionist emerged from his cabin.
He knew there would be no safe way to confirm
his wild guesses at the content streaming through
the mind of a freshly employed usherette
who could have gone home already but remained
sponging Monstera deliciosa leaves
to a deeper green gloss in the dim foyer
of a memory cinema lost in the rain.

ABOUT THE POET

Chris Andrews teaches at the University of Western Sydney. His second book of poems, Lime Green Chair, was published by Waywiser in 2012. He has translated books of fiction by Latin American writers, including César Aira’s Varamo (Giramondo, 2012) and Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile (New Directions, 2003).