from Issue #4: Poetry by Todd Turner

Photo (CC) Kari @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Kari @ Flickr

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Shadows

All afternoon the sun sinks, falls away
from its height. Shade in the leaves
in the trees outside. I feel this, I say
but this will pass – down-go-the-leaves.

The sun follows suit and shadows rise.
They rise like a felon over brickwork
walls, then hunt down paths, chastise
lanes to stake a clear case for the dark.

Crosswise in a hoodie and tight black
jeans, they’ll switch the light and leave no trace –
then slate the hands of the old town clock
and stick wild gloom on a new moon’s face.

Befallen, they come again, around and around,
lurking black-booted over the guardian ground.

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*

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Seesaw

for Jy

We made a run for it as we entered
….the park, ducked the swooping wing-

beats and nipping beaks of maddened
….yellow-eyed birds. We ran panicked

across the lumpy earth, tripping our
….way over ditches and trunkish roots

to the two end plank that pivoted
….on a stump; first hurdle of the world…

We were barely the weight to sink
….one side, we straddled on at spirit level

and dug our heels in and dangled
….our feet, you with your knees locked

and pushing, me hoisted up into the blue;
….the wild descent into free-fall felt

like a whirlwind blowing in my gut.
….We loved the jarring clunk at the top,

the jolt hurtling us out of our seats,
….and the sudden hilarity of seeing

our hair whooshed into a mid-air quiff.
….The backdrop blurred as we ascended;

the sky and rooftops, the grey-box maze.
….We were airborne, elevated, catapulted

in-flight. At angles, en route, our limbs
….rebounded as our feet touched ground.

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 *

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Sojourn

Let’s take a train
or maybe just go for a drive.

Let’s just sit in the car
as the wheels turn,

as the wind blows off
over the hood and the hubs.

Look, the kerb up ahead is a kerb.
Why not just roll around it?

Why not just relax and gaze into the flash
and blur of the tanglewood and trees –

let us slow down and merely take a look.
We can go as near or far into the woods as we like.

Listen. Do you hear that? The rustling air,
that quiver of leaf. The rule of thumb that makes

everything here slow up, bend, halt, go shhh.

.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Todd Turner lives and works in Sydney with his partner and his daughter. His poems have appeared in various journals, newspapers and anthologies including Meanjin, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, Islet, Overland, Quadrant, Southerly, The Weekend Australian and Verity La. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Jean Cecily Drake Brockman Poetry Prize. He was highly commended in the 2011 Blake Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the 2010 Newcastle Poetry Prize. His first collection of poetry Woodsmoke has just been published through Black Pepper Publishing.

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from Issue #3: Poetry by Luke Whitington (II)

Photo (CC) Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious @ Flickr

*

The last valley of oil

We brake on the rise, the cloud of dust behind
Envelopes us in a gritty tide, below
The roads rampage up and over and across
Pinning down the land, the trees

Herded on to traffic islands, the landscape
Becoming incomprehensible, truncated
Configurations cut off at cross sections of rolling dust.
A haze sweeps and forgets its way, here, elsewhere, everywhere.

The valley is a murdered garden, a butchered kingdom
Of palms, the sky is furtive, hiding behind veils of mist
Or rolling east like tumbleweed, For Sale signs slide

Or lean or topple, now all bought and sold. Telegraph wires
Dip and rise, dip and rise in emigration toward the light.
Scarecrow antennas, poles criss-crossed like crucifixions

Leap on to nowhere, the desolation so unreal
You ask yourself was God in on this deal?
Time half way up the driveways withers into unclear surfaces.

The view will not confess, lines of cypresses swerve
To avoid any intersection, the conversation between man, sky and light
Has ended in blank befuddlement. California here has finally stopped its dreaming.

As you drive on the light barely glows, drags across your car bonnet
Gaunt trees stand all together in unrelated families
Type and gender orphaned, palm with conifer

Tea tree or eucalyptus paired with dust-reddened cypress, foxgloves trespass edges

Of roads and whisky grass rides high along the loping ridges.
The land of God’s acres and orchards lies spent. The fences fall or run amok
The gates grow rusted runners in the dirt. The rhododendrons

Have spread low with flowering weeds, the wars of roses with the Joneses
Are all over. We continue to drive in timeless silence, through a mistaken land.
Perhaps we had taken a wrong turn or swung through a chance gate, blown open

After years of rot, broken locks and rust. Somehow the scraggy trees look ashamed
Caught with their foliage down, slumped above lakes of black gold
And the rigs with their weighted arms pump as if to God’s command

And the only motion of being is to suck into the sea of oil
Slowly rising with the clang of turning ballast
Pumped into pipes heading west, towards the dark refineries edging the sea.

*

Postcard from Latvia

Folding your napkin in a Latvian seaside hotel
The waiter attendant, waiting for you to go
The same with the sea, a waiting wintry grey

Carelessly cresting to somewhere you do not choose to know.
In honour of the bronze thirties décor you chose
A three-piece suit to wear and a Windsor knot to eat with, alone

In the huge dining room, a high-ceilinged temple to occasional throat-cleared silence.

The gold chandeliers glowed a garish tribute to midday.
Surprisingly the fish (a flounder) was delicious. The music, however – a dirge of Russian
Origin was listless as autumn leaves on the hard stones of socialism.

You ate your peach without a knife or fork
After Prufrock no longer thought to be so courageous
And you thought of your youngest daughter, bored and married and
Pregnant, far too soon, in snow-cocooned New York…

God – how the wind here moans against those quivering hotel windows
Lost like the sounds of gulls dissolving in the fog
Or guard dogs or poets forgotten in Siberian prisons
Or your mind rebelling against ever fitting in …
You wonder what an old girlfriend is doing now

The one who taught you Italian in Trastevere down there in Rome…
And wore a black velvet bustier and suspenders like a natural skin to bed
The first time you met her, and who wouldn’t stand for any sex
Totally naked, described it as like having to digest cold toast

Unbuttered, together with hotel punnets of frozen jam
And a paper napkin for luck, which you had always delighted in sending back
Untouched in tribute to her, especially when left to dine alone in grandiloquent hotels
Empty and solemnly lit as this one, time pinned under the glaze of winter time…

Where the cutlery would unquietly tinkle away to itself.
Where you came avoiding distractions to try again to write
And ended up being distracted most of the time
By big-toed attempts of staff to be silent, the wry
Ongoing reflections of your several lives and lost wives
And daughters finally gone to live their lives behind windows elsewhere.

* * *

ABOUT THE POET 

Luke Whitington lived in Italy for nearly twenty years, restoring Medieval structures in Umbria and Tuscany. He continued this work in Ireland, restoring the Norman castle of Portlick at Lough Ree. He founded the multimedia gallery Pleasants Factory in Dublin, which supported artists and writers for seven years. Luke’s poems have been published widely in Ireland, including in The Irish Independent, The Westmeath Independent and Poets In Cahoots. In Australia, his poetry has appeared three times in the Henry Kendall Award anthology and in Overland, Quadrant, The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, Melaleuca and the Five Bells anthology. He has read poetry written for art in galleries at Cessnock, Bowral, Pearl Beach and the Charles Cecil Atelier Art School in Florence. He founded the Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Poetry Prize and divides his time between the Central Coast, Canberra, Ireland and Renaissance Italy.