from Issue #8: Poetry by Lyn Vellins

Photo (CC) Selena N. B. H. @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Selena N. B. H. @ Flickr

*

Dancing with echoes

Last night’s rain listens on the grass
…….it hears wings whisking upwards
………..the whips of cuckoos rising and falling,
hitches a ride on a train ticking in the distance.

This morning skulks beside stones lonely as a leash of foxes
…….it fails to warm even the brown lizards that perch alert
………..beside the fallen frangipani and the dew-sopped feather.

A Xerox copy of the screen door’s angles
…….lies sun-stamped onto the green street door
………..gracing true light silence and shade
echoes filter through splayed fingers.

.

*

.

Sunday 3pm

i

In this solitude
……..ambient light presses
……………maquillaged diamonds
across the threshold.
The open door
………….lays columns of
…………luminous shade and light
on the linoleum floor,
………weightless bright notes
…………….waiting to be played.

.

ii

In front of me
……..the dog on the Persian carpet
……………has no need
of anything right now:
sunlight makes
……..her fur iridescent
……………she lifts
her face in wonder
……..as if she is
……………seeing me
for the first time
again &
……..again &
…………….again

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

LYN VELLINS is a Sydney-based poet. She runs a monthly poetry reading group, ‘RhiZomic’, and was on the committee of many reputed publications and on several editorial committees whilst at Sydney University. Her first collection of poetry, A Fragile Transcendence, was published by Picaro Press in July, 2012.

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from Issue #8: Poetry by Philip Hammial

Photo (CC) Tim Parkinson

Photo (CC) Tim Parkinson

*

Tied

Those tied at the feet
will attend Lesson Time where they’ll learn
the discipline & grafting required for a transition
into membership in My Father’s House.

Those tied at the waist will receive a deposit
containing a soul’s beginning
that has the capacity to recognize the Kingdom
of Heaven’s Representative.

Those tied at the hands
will, with some effort, be reprogrammed to assimilate
the advanced non-human perspectives that are being
offered by the Admiral & Captain of an away team from
The Evolutionary Level Above Human.

Those tied at the neck,
will return home, will, in human bodies picked & prepped
for this task, experience a second rapture or snatching
away from this world that is about to be
recycled, refurbished, spaded under.

Verily, tied at the neck & guided by the Shepherd,
these human plants will experience the glories
of Our Father’s House, therein to dwell forever.

.

*

.

Ward Seven

Who’s for ward pride?
If not by the light of a maid’s lurks
we’re paged by what? Number mad with sane
& the Molly you think so fair is a face
for an apricot fan. All
of her curtsies at once, at once, all
of her curtsies at once.
………………………………..In a cup
I thought empty the blood of an owl, for who
has wit enough to keep at bay the hounds
of Henry the Eighth, his double
I’m forced to shave. Bury me not in the lap
of a dog, I said, & he did not listen, in the lap
of a dog & he did not listen.
……………………………………In father’s piano
with the lid nailed shut, that’s where I’ll be when
Henry’s finished with me while his cooks skim off
a right keen breast (a ripe queen’s breast), & so
they should for it seems that glaucoma thugs
are close behind, are close behind
with rags for eyes.
………………………..At most
in trams I trust, a dozen dozing
in a depot, in each the corpse
of a man like me who all too soon was quick
through hospital corridors tangled like baobab roots
on the verge of marrow, on the verge of marrow
those baobab roots.
…………………………..If by tooth not nail
I judge a hunt those dogs in the thick
of shamed men will be kicked by him
who’s for ward pride; for it was him I’m sure
who left a knife on my kitchen table, to do
what with, a knife on my table
to do what with?
………………………Not the wit
to know, not wise like an owl
that left its blood in a cup for a queen
to find, to make of it a broth
to quiet Henry’s hounds at large
in tangled roots, in tangled roots
at large.
………….And for a finale
we turn to the last page (sane
numbered by mad) where a surly nurse
with ten thumbs is dressing my eyes
with ribbon, an obstreperous rainbow
skipping its maid on the verge of marrow, its maid
on the verge of marrow.

.

*

.

Bins

Everything
on sale! So what to say
to these burly girls assaulting bins? What
you can’t carry in your cupped hands
leave behind? No way, that’s suicidal & might
prove fatal (unlike those previous attention-seeking
failures).
…………….Leapt
on the count – one – & no time off
for good behaviour. Is it true that a deep plunge
is more effective than a shallow? Yes, obviously. So why
evoke culpability when wives one & three were left high
& dry? – so abundant
their sorrow, so loud their prayers, but would they pay
to hear me print a book? – Hallelujahs
on every page, enough voice
for six choirs (if you’re going to do daft
do it right): sleights of idiom
that mind harm, those begged comparisons palmed off
as apparitional insinuations that buried
the dead of Haiti with the dead of Togo. What
a mix up! – a scramble for place
as house music for God buffs swells
with bloat. Jesus, just a smidgeon
of decorum, please; I can’t take much more
of this uproar, these girls with their celebrity screams
mounting me, a ridden god; if only I was I’d replace
everything that’s for sale with everything that’s not.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

PHILIP HAMMIAL has had twenty-six collections of poetry published. His poems have appeared in 25 poetry anthologies and in 105 journals in twelve countries. He has represented Australia at eight international poetry festivals, most recently at Medellin, Colombia (2012) and Granada, Nicaragua (2014). In 2009-10 he was the Australian writer-in-residence at the Cité International des Arts in Paris.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Luke Whitington

Photo (CC) Igor @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Igor @ Flickr

*

Only fig, wine and prosciutto

In the gilded mirror we sit – expectant
Yet distracted, sallow figures in the glow
Of a hotel dining room – the hush of luxury
Hovers in the background, waiters blur
Passing with a tinkling of glass and silver.

Thoughts of finished lovemaking linger
And float away, words begin to form
But trail off into softer, vaguer notions
Our limbs start to wake, stirring from recent idleness –

Dazed still we contemplate a pyramid of bruise-purple figs
All painterly perfect – some peeled to a ribbed, pale green
Some split wide open, inviting the tongue and lips to try —

And combine them with a silky slice of Parma ham
Folded in ripples of filmy redness across our plates.
Under its dark blue skin, the unpeeled fig waits
For our palate, with its pulp of honey-slow flavour –

And your smile broadens as I watch
You stab your fork into a pink and cream slice
As you anticipate the flavour of rosy flesh
Your eyes swimming with reflected light

Swirling up from rubescent wine from Umbria, Torregiano
A Terroir type, grapes trellised and grown and plucked
Carried in baskets from the tilled furrows of their province.
Your nose crinkles – another sniff of tannin pungency
Cured ham and fig and wine nurtured from ochre chernozem

Chewed and tippled carefully, warm and cool from a fecund earth —
A quick taste; a quiver to the heart, savoured in recollection
Of summer and winter harvesting, feasts under trees and slanting memories
Begin to mingle, turning sweetly in my mouth –

Crisp marries well with soft and also effervescence
Seconds later lush and lean slipping down
A sumptuous buttering, a plump delight
Remaining on the tongue, more wine – now

Intoxicating us – drained like an old friend – the ruler of our tipsy minds.

.

*

.

Apricots and cumquats

For days I watched you walking
Through the marketplace
Gulls’ cries above and wings gliding about you –
How those naked sandals on your feet, amazed

And hair unkempt but carefully tumbling so
It tossed articulation when you spoke –
And then you reached and picked up the fruit; an apricot
Always was your first choice, and your preferred theme it seemed –

A skimpy orange dress
Suntanned legs unhindered by the floating cotton –
In certain stray slants of sunshine
Your hair curling with its light, flecks as free as autumn leaves

Unfolding red and russet against the walls of rising green swells
Breeze-blown threads across the travertine pier –
You were tall amongst the older women’s scarfed heads
Through the sun-bleached slanted green umbrellas…

The recurrence of the sea’s echoes heaving against travertine
Seemed an undercurrent to your course
Through stalls and barrows in the windy square
Giddy green crashing against your conversations

Made often through cupped hands…
Soon I learnt to follow, a little careful
Not to get too close, buying apricots and cumquats
And then for good measure some oranges and mandarins; appearing to be

Circling there for no other reason – innocent or complicit
Furtive or urbane – ridiculously I strayed along behind you –
Until several days later when the sky had changed
Displayed in streaks of greys and yellows

And you did not come again
And I had the market
To myself for three or four days –
And then for weeks afterwards…

My bowls and oval plates

Placed on the window ledges –
Still lives – depicting to a wintry square
Your absence, arranged in mandarins, cumquats

Oranges… And with the tawny silence of the apricots.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

LUKE WHTINGTON has travelled extensively and has been published in Dublin journals, anthologies and Irish media, as well as several Australian journals and anthologies, including Australian Love Poems 2013 and an anthology of Canberra poets to be published in China. Recently he read his love poems in Florence with Sarina Rausa, a lead soprano with the Florence opera company, singing her arrangements of his poetry. Luke divides his time between Italy and his cattle farm in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Travis McKenna

Photo (CC) Alessandro Prada @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Alessandro Prada @ Flickr

*

I once saw Charon,
you know,
in a cafe, just off the Via Cavour,
stirring lumps of sugar into his blackened beverage.
He spoke
with all the crunch one would expect of a mid-level deity,
of how would you guess that the free market
also can cross the Styx
– one drachma only! Savings passed on.
When I asked if he could feel the sun’s warmth
he just slurped his drink.
Seven sugars, no milk.

.

*

.

Aeolus? But of course
last time we met
we were bumbling, spilling,
into the gutters of medieval streets
– the works –
small place, behind Navona,
old Od has his wind,
you see,
and little there was,
but to stumble, bumble,
windless
– retirement is never kind on
those late deified
Olympian pensions are small
although he got the next round

.

*

.

‘Tourists!’
laments Virgil
and bottoms the fourth shot
of red, red rum
– part time at the musei vaticani is
/exhausting/
A guide by trade,
he points me true
to the bathroom,
when I ask
– and when I get back, he’s gone!
But the tab is paid.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

TRAVIS MCKENNA is a student of Mathematics and Philosophy, who has also taken very recently to the writing of poetry. He was raised in the western suburbs of Sydney, spent some time abroad in Rome, and now lives in Newtown, in Sydney’s inner west. In addition to poetry, he is currently working on a set of short stories. His undergraduate study was in Classics and Italian Studies, with a special interest in the Renaissance.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Tony Page

Photo (CC) torbakhopper @ Flickr

Photo (CC) torbakhopper @ Flickr

*

King Agamemnon, Athens 2014

Who is this tramp stumbling among the coffee tables?
Dressed as if he’s been thrown off a movie set
clothes in tatters and gashes all over?
Now he’s on his knees,
mesmerized by someone drinking from a glass,
as if he’s never seen such a thing.
A waiter attempts to lift him to his feet
but the poor devil draws a sword

babbling gibberish: A-chi-le-us, Hek-tor, O-di-se-us.
His wailing dismays the diners
and children begin to cry.
When the police arrive he’s quietened down
gazing at the glass once again
as if it were an apparition.

.

*

.

Before the War

The air is torpid, trying to ignore history ─
that burden packed away for good.
How the birds sing! commenting on customs
but perched safely above. Gentlemen pause before
clinching their argument, planning which way they
might flee. Shadows across the tables, long late
afternoon with attendant breeze.
A still life on its last legs.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

TONY PAGE is a Melbourne poet, whose third book, Gateway to the Sphinx (Five Islands) appeared in 2004. He has read his work at the Edinburgh Arts Festival, Venice Conference of Commonwealth Literature, Shakespeare & Co in Paris, plus venues in the USA and Malaysia. As a theatre director, he has mounted productions of Shakespeare, Beckett, Brecht, Pinter etc. plus several of his own collaborations with various student groups. For 20 years, he worked in Thailand and Malaysia, but now lives in Australia. He has also written for the stage, with Who Killed Caravaggio? completed in 2009. He has recently been published in Eureka Street, The Australian Poetry Journal, The Canberra Times, Peril, Plumwood Mountain and Otoliths and is now finalizing a fourth collection of poetry.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Frank Russo

Photo (CC) Marion Doss @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Marion Doss @ Flickr

*

The parachutists, 1943

The night before the Americans came the villagers evacuated to the cave.
Six men carried the statue of their patron on their shoulders—
the Marseillaise saint upon his horse, trampling a Turk underfoot.

As the sky hummed with C-47s, they touched the saint’s hands and face
and watched as balloons fell from the sky. Americans swarmed like ants,
dropping to earth, shedding their skins in the branches
of olive trees and on the jagged timpone.

Someone called them paracadutisti—and soon everyone used the word,
repeating it—paracadutisti
parachutists,
as if they’d known it all along.

Just as quickly as they came, the Americans left, heading north in pursuit of a retreating army.
Then came the race—
……………………………the villagers came down from the cave in search of the nets,
the fabric like none they had seen before.

‘It’s perfect for collecting olives,’ one woman said,
…………………………………imagining her net stretched taut between thick trunks.

‘With this, I’ll make a shirt for my husband,’ said another,
…………………………………testing it for tear resistance.

‘I’m using this one to fly,’ said a boy of fifteen,
…………………………………too young to be afraid or enlisted—
……………………………………………………..imagining he’d fly like an American.

From a crag above the cave,
the boy’s parachute caught the wind,
billowing out to form a mushroom.

It floated before opening
like a handkerchief,
folding in on itself
as it fell,

tumbling down to earth
to form a shroud
for broken bones and battered skin.

.

*

.

From Earth, stone, water

I: Gravel road, Pisticci to Craco

A boot-trodden path cuts through wheat fields
to the remnants of a farmhouse. A chimney
standing sentinel takes on the proportions of a belltower;
an archway cut into loose brickwork forms
a poor-man’s nave. What’s left of the kitchen hearth,
now a tip for broken bowls, coat hangers,
shards of glass. A clean slab of granite
might’ve once formed a kitchen bench,
propped up with bricks, a kind of altar.

Here the hills erode to barren dunes
where only tufts grow, roads wedged
on the backs of ravines: a pilgrim’s landscape
through which the Apostle Thomas might have travelled.
Here a well, ploughed deeper in a drought year,
has gone to clay, a silent protest
against the profane.

In the distance, Pisticci, perched above a drop,
its houses whitewashed and symmetrical;
the town’s water tower glints in the afternoon light,
its reservoir full, waiting for a slide to spill its barrel.

 

III: At Laurenzana

A man reclining on a low stone wall recounts the allied
landing at Salerno like it were a week ago;
how the mountains crawled with soldiers.
In these mountains a thousand years
is like yesterday and the memory of yesterday erased.
Pointing to the church on a spur, he tells me how
archaeologists who excavated the abbey floor
found a woman’s mummified corpse—
he stretches his arms out to indicate a crucifix.

At Santa Maria della Assunta a young priest
points at his watch, gesturing the abbey closed at midday.
No, he shakes his head, there was no woman found
in the shape of Jesus; found here were medallions,
a bronze plate with a Madonna and child,
the remains of rosary beads, a fragment of animal jaw,
Bourbon-era coins, buttons—many of them, of wood and bronze,
a pair of women’s leather shoes in perfect state of preservation,
the remains of a woollen blanket that swathed a newborn infant,
and a woman’s corpse, hands folded across her solar plexus.

.

*

.

At home with Peggy

I

In the former dining room Peggy stands
beside the reproduction dining table,
watching visitors admire the sideboard
topped with reliquary carvings from Gabon.
Dressed for guests, though now visitors
stay no more than minutes,
moving to the drawing room
where the Kandinsky and Mondrian hang.

 

II

Peggy rolls her eyes
as she overhears a woman
discuss the Magritte—
I’ve finally worked out
what’s wrong with this painting—
how can it be night time
when the sky is still light?

 

III

In the library Peggy sits
on the white lounge, watching
art school grads frame shots of the canal
through the iron-latticed windows—
tourists more drawn to the view
than to Cornell’s Fortune Telling Parrot.

A woman poses like Peggy
in the photograph that hangs in the corner:
legs crossed, arm stretched over the lounge’s back.
She pouts, and so does Peggy,
parroting her parrot.

 

IV

On the terrace, Peggy sunbathes,
amusing herself with the reactions of guests
to Marini’s sculpture of The Angel of the City
eyes delighted by the figure of the rider,
his arms stretched out in jubilation,
until they see the metal penis
Peggy has screwed in.
She hears an American tell his girlfriend,
You could give him a hat
or put a bucket around his arm
and turn it into an entirely different artwork.
Peggy turns to tan her breasts.

 

V

Peggy in the garden
beside the spot where her ashes are buried.
Peggy watching tourists take a break
in the garden’s cool shade.
Peggy listening to visitors discuss
whether it’s time for a coffee
or the special exhibition;
I want to check out the gift shop;
Are the toilets here safe to use?

 

VI

Peggy in Pegeen’s room. Peggy studying
the photo of Pegeen sitting on the Byzantine throne.
Peggy observing her daughter’s paintings,
how they teem with happiness: scenes of sun and Riviera.
Pegeen’s paintings, primitive and naïve.

Peggy studies the long-limbed women standing naked,
the canals of Venice brown like oil slicks.
Peggy focuses on the brightness of the colours
and tells herself how happy her daughter was.
Peggy focuses on the colours and reassures herself
how untimely and mysterious
the whole thing was.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

FRANK RUSSO’s writing has appeared in Contrappasso 6, The Weekend Australian, Southerly, Transnational Literature, Cactus Heart and in anthologies in Australia and overseas. His poetry collection, In The Museum of Creation, will be published by Five Islands Press in 2015. His writing has been short-listed for the Vogel/The Australian Literary Prize and other awards.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Page Sinclair

Photo (CC) laura.foto @ Flickr

Photo (CC) laura.foto @ Flickr

*

Grazie Italia

For the Roman sparrow who lent us his time
As we awed at the Pope’s palace in a crowd
Of two and for our moment by the Tiber
Green as the sycamore’s fresh summer rags.
For making us sticky in the heat as we fall away
Like ash into the noisy song lit twilight
And for the wine in worn out street corners
And marble foyers grand as an aging contessa
Slipping into the dark draped across the lanes
By the glamorous and impossible canals
Of my first time Venezia, where the night
Is an insistent daydream dressed for carnivale.

For the sun that razored the cooling Tuscan air
As Firenze stared down like a pantomine
Wizard casting a spell over its sleeping riches.
For the hidden church of gilded silence
That lost us all over again between the
Tourist party palazzos and wet diamond
Fountains busking for foreign coins.
For singing opera in gondolas steered
By poor boys in borrowed shirts.
For selling me enough glass beads
And Chianti to be dazzled by myself

Grazie Italia for being the best lover
I ever had the pleasure of leaving
Behind.

And you make me wonder if we were
Ever sound in mind with our strong
Young bodies pulling us up the hill into
The arms of a legends appearing like a
Distant relative from the summer dust.
You make me want to sit in shade until
The money runs out and jump a train
Through fields of canola and sunflowers
And tiny churches blooming from the
Harvest, old as trees. You make me
……………………STOP
And walk my streets in the rain
And falling churchbells, and sleep
Til Sunday noon in the spell of black
Silk and cobbled old women in the
Squares cleared in the stone forest
For the church, and wake to the rough
Hand of the artists in the piazza
Jewelled with their work, and breathe
Damp windowsill morning dreams.

I am a bird perched on a city
Lost in its own twistings and
The symphony of living on rooftops

And it’s all free

Italy you cheap whore
Soldering hearts together

I love your hairy upper lip
And swinging hips
And impatient loving
You big armed
Hold me together
So drunk and fed
That I forget to fall
To pieces under
The accordion light
And gypsy flowers
Worshipping in the
Dust of saint’s bones
And the grinning skulls
Strung with lace
And hot prayers.

Thank you for teaching a cold
White-bellied tourist how to burn
With the midnight candles.

Grazie for breeding greedy brave sparrows
To befriend the wanderers on a bridge.

.

*

.

An afternoon with Eliot, Dante and Steinbeck

There it is – your life – in a cage of rain. Impervious
As the clouds are to your wet feet. Too slow
Too slow the bird chimes from the bricked up
Chimney with the butchered shoots
Of the sage bush in its beak as the sun
Laughs at your turned up collar.
Galled by the world into the secrets
Under the dust and horse sweat,
Hiding with the mice in the haystack.
Lost somewhere in the powdered mist
Kicked up like a curtain hem
By the feet of the Hollow Men
There is darkness and a river –
Each the other’s nightmare –
And a journey into nowhere,
Through phantoms of the streets
And old frontier truths
To find the sky on a clear night;
To find the nothing in yourself
And your loves scattered like seeds
Onto the cool field of the stars.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

PAGE SINCLAIR was born and raised in Sydney and completed a BA at the University of Cambridge in 2013. She is currently working on her first collections of poetry.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Alex Skovron

Photo (CC) Julien Boulin @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Julien Boulin @ Flickr

*

Door Soldier

The flabby bouncer outside Adriano’s
plucks a speck of street from his lapel,
……realigns his feet. He is thinking

About the wirehaired girl, she looked fifteen
though her ID seemed kosher. These days
……they get them forged, easy with Photoshop

And laser printers. He is remembering how
as a strapping punk he once king-hit a constable
……during the Globalization demos

Or was it Occupy? Nobody saw him do it,
but later he learnt the copper had laughed it off,
……which relieved and angered him.

He is wondering what his mum will say
when he creeps in after four again, or maybe
……he’ll sleep over at Lorraine’s, she’s

Always good for an ’im prompt you, she calls them;
mum’s really out of it nowadays,
……sometimes she doesn’t know what day it is –

But he’s deciding no, he’d better turn up at home
just in case she’s on the bedroom carpet,
……forgotten where she left her walking frame

And went for six. She never seems
to injure herself when she falls, although
……he knows it’s bound to happen eventually.

There’s that steelwool girl again, leaving already;
she’s young alright, but cute,
……where could she be off to now?

He fancies how he could follow her, for a lark,
if he wasn’t stuck standing out here
……in front of this shitty pub,

That’s all it is, despite its fancy title,
this dead end of a drinking hole, the haunt
……of try-hard aging poets and snooty chicks.

He hears his knuckles crack, catches himself
recalling a piece of advice his father shared
……in one of his angrier moods.

.

*

.

Open Slam

Just before he sauntered into the poetry reading
…………..he spotted the girl sitting in the gutter, her head down
as if in the midst of a distraught meditation or
…………..maybe about to vomit. Reluctant to approach her lest
he intrude, or she throw up at the very instant of his
…………..soft solicitous gambit, he stood off a while,
watching her like a jumpy guardian or dubious minder
…………..hoping her intentions, indeed her proper demeanour,
might swiftly clarify; but she simply sat there, not
…………..in the slightest mindful of the middlebrow semi-dandy
calibrating her every twitch, each microscopic shift
…………..and variance in her posture. As he was starting to feel
less fond of this fortuitous project he’d enlisted in,
…………..she suddenly jerked her head sideways and up and
directly into the sunlight behind him, so that her eyes
…………..must have construed a silhouetted figure, clearly male,
backlit in the late-afternoon dazzle of a sun’s
…………..Parthian emblazement before slippage under the slums
to the west of town. If not startled, she registered
…………..still something of surprise, but her kerbside station
refused to update itself. When an auto sizzled past,
…………..its whitewalls too close not to spray muddy droplets
over the basket he only now noticed flanking her,
…………..she arose at last, and he made out the young poet he had
encountered last Thursday in the Rotunda, that
…………..skinny one he’d led up to his shop and slept with.

.

*

.

Apokryphon

Midnight dream. The bed swims below a roof awash
with the rid remains of hags and queasy clocks.

On the stead a pair of hungover jocks. The guests gather
all over again. The wedding canopy’s lid

is quilted with cartoons in black pen, pastels, and prints
of exotic family trees. Invitees lavishly grin, some of them weep.

A leering urchin passes, waltzing with a broom. Curtains
part, discreet. Soon the speeches will start, the blackening sky

and canopy refill, umbrellas are crisply arranged.
The marriage of pride and gloom. All manner of vows shall be

exchanged, while the un­invited clutter about in a forbidden room.
No tickets please. On the lawn, a slightly familiar singing

among contorted trees, a plinkle of glasses and a tlunk of plates.
Eyes crawl everywhere, looking for links. Sex and seduction

colonize the air, it’s a cocktail turn: he’s itching for some
fingerfood, she scans for drinks. Wait, is that the celebrant

pushing the gates, wearing her tinny sprinkle of professional joy?
Her golden tresses, the way she flings them, gorgeously. Oh boy!

(Among the rhododendrons, behind the drive, a churl wrestles
with a virgin’s brief, watches her arrive. Maybe now

the reception can begin.) But the celebrant isn’t: she’s merely
another guest; rumours fly. The sated couple from the bushes

remingle at the rotunda, offer each other the rosy eye.
On the balcony a tipsy-curvy secretary strips. The midnight dreamer,

disabused, notes how it really is clothes that naketh the woman.
She vanishes behind a vase. Everybody sips.

.

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ABOUT THE POET

ALEX SKOVRON is the author of six collections of poetry and a prose novella; his most recent book is Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014). Many journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas have published his work, and his novella The Poet (Hybrid, 2005) was recently translated into Czech. The numerous public readings Alex has given have included appearances in China, Serbia, India, Ireland, and on Norfolk Island. The Attic, a selection of his poetry translated into French, was published by PEN Melbourne in 2013. A collection of short stories is also in preparation.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Paolo Totaro

Photo (CC) Alex Cheek @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Alex Cheek @ Flickr

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The question

There was once a monkey who asked who am I?
The answer was not one that would satisfy.
Some time later he climbed down from her tree,
looked at the sky and asked pray, who am me?

If these four words were syntactically incorrect,
they posited a question that took time to reflect.
Later still, not the monkey but her descendants
reset the question: what is our why, our essence?

It was the moment He had waited for. He struck
the Lease, called the Quick Eviction Angels Truck
and both he and she had to leave all the trees

and grassy lawns and the tepid sea-breeze.
Yet, the questions kept on rising to the sky
and I for one still ask who the fuck am I?

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 The architect’s gene

…………………………………………..In memoriam Harry Seidler

The house this mouse built, for herself, mate and brood
is a tunnel, complex, to you and me a pinhole in the ground.
Over there, clay, saliva, dung, the termites’ mound scrapes
their sky. Green tree-ants sew their home in a leaf, one design.

Weaverbirds’ aerial nests, of chewed grass and palm leaves,
pulse against the sunlight. Yes, living things all have innate
sense of roof, of eaves. They don’t boast. Don’t add
to the palimpsest, humbly react to what is internally told.

Humans, however, Pheidías to Seidler, improve on ancestors:
towers, domes, each add to the great predecessors,
build nests great as theatres and theatrical places to rest,

try to move one step, two steps higher on the originality
ladder. Their works may last longer. But all living creatures’
nests do not outlast time. Or man’s other gene. For war.

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ABOUT THE POET

PAOLO TOTARO’s poetry in English and in Italian is published in anthologies by Oxford University Press (Mark O’Connor ed. 1992), Stanford UP (USA 2014), in a 2014 special issue on Australian poetry by ARC (Canada) and Cordite (Australia); in literary reviews including Other Modernities (Milan University 2014), Le Simplegadi (Udine University 2014), CreArta (UTS 1998), Quadrant (2012, 2013), Contrappasso (2013). His Collected Poems (1950-2011) was published in 2012. He won the First Prize at the 1992 Due Giugno literary competition with Storia Patria (Naples and Sydney, 2012). He was a contributor to The Bulletin and other magazines. He has presented his work in public libraries, the Dante Alighieri Society, The Italian Institute of Culture, Manning Clark House, SBS TV and radio, the ABC, and others. His current work explores the bond between poetry, science and myth. He had a role in the foundation of multiculturalism in Australia with his Report to Parliament Participation (1978) as Foundation Chairman of the Ethnic Affairs Commission and his work thereafter. He has held many public positions and was honoured with the Order of Australia in 1988 and the Order of Italy in 2010. As a pianist, he presented the first Australian performance of the Suite op. 145 by Shostakovich (‘On Verses of Michelangelo’) for baritone and piano (Art Gallery of NSW, 1974). He lives on Pittwater, NSW, Australia, with his wife. Part of his papers are with the Mitchell Library.

from Issue #8: Poetry by Elias Greig

Photo (CC) russellstreet @ Flickr

Photo (CC) russellstreet @ Flickr

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White houses

I saw it through the windows as a child –
…..Some fine, well-founded house
…..Placed high: on an embankment,
…..Over a green hill where
…..the clouds rest easy,
…..and the sun spreads it hands.
I’d be walking past with my schoolbag
…..And look up, always up.

Some grace note would sound –
…..A wind chime, a fresh breeze
…..Through neat European trees,
…..And I’d be mourning it:
…..The sense of cleanly purpose,
…..The door opening on an impossible decency.
Where else does longing start but in mistaking
…..Something strange for something lost?

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A Tall Man’s Prayer

Lord, let me not fall
…..Crookedly into place–
Rather keep me upright.
Let my tall shadow fall
…..Evenly in all weathers.
My legs keep limber,
My knees well-hinged,
And my long back straight–
…..Keep it a ladder of bones.
If I must bend with age
Let that bending be easy–
Let it be bending
…..Truly – not stooping.

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ABOUT THE POET

ELIAS GREIG is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. His research focusses on the link between poetic and political representation in the early work of William Wordsworth. Other research interests include William Hazlitt, Mary Wollstonecraft, British Radicalism in the 1790s, and Robert Burns. He has discussed Romantic Literature on ABC radio, reviewed theatre for The Conversation, and is the Postgraduate Representative for the Romantic Studies Association of Australasia (RSAA). All these achievements have been funded by over ten years of casual work: in retail, as a shoe salesman, and, most recently, bookseller; in academia, as a casual lecturer and tutor at the University of Sydney, and, most recently, casual marker at several universities across Australia. Of these occupations, shoes pay best, books worst, and marking is by far the most unpleasant.