from Issue #4: Poetry by Joe Dolce

Photo (CC) Biodiversity Heritage Library @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Biodiversity Heritage Library @ Flickr

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Horsewitch

…………………….Fan I begood my craft they passed me neth the horse’s belly,
…………………….An’ ower his back, an’ tween his legs an’ oot aneth his taillie.
………………………………………………………………………………….William Christie

The first Horseman was said to have been Cain
Xenophon 300 BCE stressed operant conditioning for vicious
intractable behavior due to abuse or accidental trauma
horse whispering known simply as natural horsemanship
abused animals like abused children trust no one expect the worst
reassurance over punishment premise that teaching through pain and fear
does not result in best outcome rather patience leadership compassion firmness
The Society of the Horseman’s Word
eighteenth century Scottish secret society trade union
horse trainers blacksmiths ploughmen
magical rituals to provide abilities to control both horses and women
with a single Horseman’s Wird
horsemen with powers called Horsewitches
descended from pagan cults once persecuted in witch trials
the whisperers’ secret phrase of power: sic iubeo – ‘thus I command’
a Horsewitches’ two fetishes
the milt – fibrous matter from the tongue of a colt still
in its mare’s womb swallowed when born
old horsemen careful to extract it immediately after birth
the frog’s bone – fresh killed toad left on whitethorn bush
once hard and dry buried in anthills a month
until only skeleton tossed onto full moon running stream
little crotch bone separating itself floating
against the current this bone was kept
initiation rituals reading passages from the Bible backwards
oaths gestures passwords a handshake
stench of sulphur and alarming noises heralding
the arrival of the Devil
blindfolded initiates directed to shake His hand
grasped a cold wet hoof.

*

Dodo

Raphus cucullatus
common name simpleton
related to dodaars meaning fat-arse or knot-arse
flightless bird of Nazareth
weighing in at fifty pounds goose-big
legs and feet like turkey chicks
nine-inch swollen bill with hooked point
tuft of curly light feathers on rear end
first eaten in Mauritius by hungry Dutch sailors
who called it walghvogel wallow bird
loathsome bird due to taste
two-note pigeony doo-doo warble
faithful to one partner throughout life
ate fruit fish laid a single egg large as a penny bun
swallowed nutmeg-size stones for digestion
war-weapon was a fierce mouth bite but
rats pigs monkeys made short work of them
completely fearless of people gentle spirited
human-made extinct within 80 years of discovery
(although in 1678 extinction not believed
possible for religious reasons) took the Calveria tree
with it whose spread depended on seeded-feces
Lewis Carroll’s famous stammer
was represented by one in Alice
the writer often announcing himself
by his true name: Charles Lutwidge Do-do-dodgson!

*

Cordite Brisance

Sir James Dewar made the thermos flask
to aid him in his work with liquid gas
while looking for a gunpowder substitute
he came upon a combination he thought could do it
the Queen’s Knight Scot from Kincardine
mixed guncotton nitroglycerine and Vaseline
rather than a supersonic detonation
his stuff produced a subsonic deflagration
extruded in spaghetti-like rods and worms
smokeless cord powder packed and formed
around trigger mechanisms that keyed and armed
the Hiroshima Little Boy Bomb
but disputing a chemical patent impingement
Alfred Nobel sued Dewar for infringement
the House of Lords and Court of Appeals
judged against Sir James’ protests and squeals
vitriol name-calling bad blood and lies
was probably why: no Nobel Prize.

*

Don Diego’s Accordion

I quit childhood accordion lessons
due to a time conflict with Zorro
my favourite b & w tv show of the 50s
three slashes of sword
whishhht! whishhht! whishhht!
like the sign of the cross
cut a Z into many young hearts
I hung up the rapier and bullwhip
shortly after George W Bush was run
out of town on the back of El Toro
but occasionally don the black cape and mask
to help local townspeople
with corrupt politicians and greedy landowners
and for infrequent shopping mall appearances
Zorro Spanish for fox pronounced soro
credited with inspiration
by their respective creators
for The Lone Ranger and Batman
whereas the accordion inspired
the blind and the file
I think I made the right choice.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Joe Dolce was born in Painesville, Ohio, USA, in 1947. He moved to Australia in 1979, becoming a citizen in 2004. He is known for the most successful song in Australian music history, Shaddap You Face, Number One on the pop charts in fifteen countries and the record-holder for the largest selling single in Australian music history for 33 years. Over the past twenty years he has achieved award-winning recognition as songwriter, composer, poet and essayist.  He has set fifteen poems of C.P Cavafy to music and works by Sappho, Sylvia Plath, Les Murray, Ali Cobby Eckermann and others. He won the Launceston Poetry Cup, at the 25th Tasmanian Poetry Festival, in 2010. He has had poetry and essays published in Quadrant, Monthly, PEN (in English/Arabic translation), Meanjin, Etchings, Overland, Cordite, Journey, Carmenta, Vine Leaves, Australian Love Poems 2013, Eye of the Telescope (sci-fi) and Antipodes (USA). He lives in Carlton, Victoria.

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