A Magnificent Lockdown

I almost tread on this fuzzy little chap on the sidewalk, out for a stroll, soaking up the mid-winter sun.

How’s it hanging? he asks.

Oh , you know; not bad.

He looks up. You out of lockdown yet?

Almost, I say, one day to go but we’re allowed to walk. How about you?

I’m about to enter the biggest lockdown of all, he says in a tone half way between excitement and trepidation.

Wow! I say. Really?

Yes, he says, metamorphosis. You heard of it?

Why, yes. It sounds magical.

Up to 14 days, he says. No food. No visitations. Reckon you could handle it?

If I could turn into something light, winged and beautiful, like a butterfly, I’d give it a go.

You humans can’t have everything, you know.

I nod my head sagely.

True, I say, true. Well, anyway, have a good …. metamorphosis, and off he trundles on his way, giving me the thumbs up, a tricky thing for a caterpillar. Such a clever chap.

Spent

Now it is spent and lying limp

and placid at my feet —

a contentment of inky blue

but the other day if you

could have seen it bucking

with energy , flailing its

wild hair and arching its back

[ sea mountains surfers abseiled

down ] you would not have been

surprised to see it thrust

its loins again and again against

the soft white dunes nor after

to see the body of the foreshore

bruised and torn nor its rump

so foam wracked .

pic by Lachlan-Ross on Pexels

His Arms Were a Graphic Novel

It wasn’t the person from Porlock; it was my aunt

Who got on the bus, brought my poem to an end.

My notebook slumped on my lap as she told me

The long sad story of a friend.





When she got off I had my chance but this young bloke

Sat next to me, iPod blaring, hair swooped back.

It was the White Stripes live from Splendour.

How could I not listen ? It was Meg and Jack.





But then a cross-eyed biker got on, hair in a rat’s tail,

Skin graffitied with tatts. How could I not look?

His arms a graphic novel. Then a woman got on

Shouting into her mobile, angry as ‘The Angry Book’.





The sad sack on the other end was out for the count.

Luckily Coleridge didn’t board this bus

while he was dreaming ‘Kubla Khan’. He wouldn’t

have written a word. The poem would be dust.





  • picture courtesy of Pinterest by TheTatt

Okay, I looked but I didn’t stare

On a road trip the other day

we got talking about birth defects you don’t see

any more

like hunchbacks, birth marks, cleft palates

though Simon

whose father was Lord Mayor of Mars had one

and spoke with a lisp.

Then at this café in the mountains

we were served

by a barista

with a raspberry stain on his left cheek

the shape of Africa.

Is that a birth mark, I asked him. We were just talking about them.

Yes, it is, he smiled.

It was just another feature on his face, like his nose.

or a mole

It was nothing special.

Yet it had a strange sort of beauty.

He poured me the greatest cup of coffee.

I was glad that I had asked him, that I didn’t wuss out.

It’s okay to be curious.

Ambush

Whenever I come across you, you light me up.

You are

Helen of Troy,

Layla,

that host of golden daffodils Wordsworth came across in the field,

I drop everything,

reach for my ruler, my pen and underline you

firmly and lovingly with indelible pink:

you are the amazing phrase,

the freshest of images,

the startling sentence,

the delightful ambush hidden in my reading.

pic courtesy of Unsplash by Alexander Krivitskly

A Thing of Beauty

Five skips in a row

is a thing

of beauty

says

Nik

in ‘Wakefield’

referring to skimming a flat rock

across the smooth

surface of a lake;

so too

is that bamboo toothbrush

I used this morning

light as those balsa wood gliders

I flew as a kid

over the paddocks

behind the school;

and those opening chords of ‘Sugar, Sugar’

like being tasered

by God





+pic courtesy of Wikipedia

A Half-Van Gogh

He’s just heard the news. He slumps, decides to act breezily.

“I am getting a half -Van Gogh,” he says over the phone.

“A half -Van Gogh? What is that?”

“You know how Van Gogh lopped off his left ear after a fit of madness, or so it’s claimed?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m getting half my left ear, the lobe lopped off.”

Silence.

“Why? Why would you do that?”

“It’s cancerous.”

“Oh dear.”

“You said you would love me even if I had half my face missing.”

“I know but …”

“Hello. Hello…”

Dial tone.





*photo by Jean Carlo Emer from Pinterest

Zen Sandwich

Zen Sandwich

I am eating my zen sandwich by the side

            of a blue lake . I hear the sound of

                        two wings flapping .





A fawn falcon plunges down the side

            of the volcanic cone , its claws extended

like the landing gear of a plane .





As it skims across the surface — a sail-winged

             skater —- the talons lacerate the taut

                    skin of that lake . It bleeds blue .

the Red Pencil Sharpener: Zoom

I am looking down the barrels of

the red pencil sharpener

its holes

big as drainpipes

fat as full moons

flared like the nostrils

of horses;

 they are

deep wells

dark tunnels

O-shaped mouths hungry

for pencils

The red pencil sharpener sharpens

my imagination

Zoom Workshop: I am running a writers’ workshop on ‘Sharpening the Imagination’: tools and techniques for doing so. You are invited to attend. It will be a workshop run by the Vienna Writers Club but it will be broadcast from my home state, South Australia. participants can come from any country. It will be run towards the end of January 2021. Details can be found by Googling ‘Sunday Writers Club Vienna’.

Heretical Beauty

No one in their right mind while wandering

lonely as a cloud would proclaim they had spied

a host of scrawny weeds upon the hillside

and break into a jig. Yet weeds have their worshipers.

You can scour the internet and dig up poems,

odes to weeds, panegyrics. They are the bones

of the earth. Wordsworth got in first, that’s all.

But his daffy little poem is not the last word.

The weeds will rise up, their heretical, skewed beauty,

tough as barbed-wire, will find its bards.