You Looking at Me ?

Those rocks deflect you

from the red-backs

in your mind that crawled off your brush

onto the canvas that morning:

those Ned Kelly heads

staring at me

from the foot of the quarry:

you looking at me, I say.

You looking at me?

I’m the only one here.

Then I come and get you

and those stolid blocks of stone

with eye slits

wallop your imagination.

the ones you’re committing

to canvas so people can stare at them from the walls

of a gallery.

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

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

The Sitting Duck

Every time I sit out the back on my three chairs a bloody poem

comes into my head. The Muse is not silly. She sees me sitting there, happily

drifting off like a Labrador in the winter sun





and says, ‘Aha: there’s a sitting duck’. I don’t know if sitting on fewer

chairs or more would make a difference. I suppose I could experiment.

I could bluff my way into intensity by having a book of heft





say ‘Sabbath’s Theatre’ open in front of me and my glasses resting

professorially on the bridge of my nose, my chin resting on my hand

in faux concentration. Maybe that would work





but She’s not buying it; She nudges up to me, the swish of Her gown

over the carpet of bluebells, the murmur of bees, Gus, the Jack Russel

yelping at ghosts next door, and says, I’ve got one for you





and She whispers a line in my ear, and she sure has, and I leap out

of my three chairs and dash into my study, onto my laptop where I’m

pounding down this poem, the one you’re reading,  right now

Shooting Star

I was driving back from the gym when I heard it

for the very first time,

that unmistakable voice,

a little gravely now, less freewheeling,

that knocked me  right out of orbit.

It was one of those moments when you have to pull over

to the side of the road, and give yourself

completely to the song;

“Purple Rain’ was like that,

Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’

and the soaring piano, guitar segue from ‘Layla’.

You receive the stigmata of otherness.

It changes your whole day and lingers for weeks.

 Perhaps never leaves you.

Then there’s the personal accounting,

where you’ve messed up, missed out,

fallen short of the mark, the roads not taken.

It takes a song to shake you like this:

‘Guess it’s too late to say the things to you,

you needed to hear me say,

Seen a shooting star tonight

slip away’.





*what songs have the power to transport you?

Is Your Poem Looking Wan?

If you come across a poem that looks unwell

a little wan

tape it to the window

let it soak up some sun

bring colour to its cheeks

let its eyes feast on the great outdoors:

the tall cedars tapering to the Xmas tree skies,

the yellow-shouldered honey eaters bouncing on boughs

like kids on a trampoline

cobwebs in their silvery finery draped

over the gate that no one enters.

Invite some other poems over, maybe

Too much navel gazing is not good for a poem.

Offer it a coffee.

a sliver of Mrs. Kipling’s  peach and vanilla slice.

a jaffa cake for zing,

Take it for a workout at the gym.

.It’ll soon be better.

And so will you.

Calm

I like to read calm sentences, she says.

No ugly exclamation marks that bully and harass.

No question marks that interrogate.

No dots or dashes.

Nothing jittery or jagged

Calm.

Calm sentences.

Placid as a billabong.

Soothing as slumber,

Pachelbel’s  canon.

The Crotch of the Matter

Halfway through my walk I get this poem in my head.

I’ve got to write it down.

I pick up pace, hurry through the Brickworks Market. Someone surely ….

A stall owner looks up as I go past.

“You got a pen and paper?” I ask. “I’ve got this poem here — [pointing to my head] — I got to write down.”

“Sure,” he says, “do I get my biro back?”

“Of course,” I say. “Do I get to keep the paper?”

He gives a feeble smile.

“What’s yr name?” I say. “Yr first name? I’ll dedicate the poem to you.”

What human being could resist such a grand gesture?

“Costa”, he says in a deadpan voice.

Just then his mobile rings.

It’s his girlfriend. He brightens up. A lascivious smile crosses his lips.

He gives me a wink.

He yabbers on what they’ll get up to tonight while I furiously write. It’s hard to stay focused.

Some of what he says gets in the poem.

He keeps adjusting his crotch.

That gets in the poem too.

Then I sense the dialogue winding down as I stagger to the end of the poem like a runner over the finishing line.

“Here”, I say. “I’m done”,

I’m hoping he’ll ask for a copy or at least a read.

But Costa isn’t interested.

He only wants his biro back.

“No hard feelings”, I say. “This poem’s still dedicated to you”.

And I write his name, Costa, above it in bold letters with a flourish.

But I needn’t have bothered.

The poem’s crap.

Waiting for the Wood to Catch

The sun levers me from bed .

Slides over the smooth rump

of hills .

Steams away the frost .

The cats desert the hearth .

There are a few embers left ,

chunks of ash

warm and marshmellow fluffy .

Not a ripple of sound .

Everyone’s asleep .

I put two logs on the ash ,

a tangle of twigs

and settle back on the cane lounge

waiting for the wood to catch .

Two dragonflies clamber over

the green scrim of curtain ;

a young magpie rests high up

in the fork of a scrawly gum ;

from the next farm the caw

of a crow ,

the baaa of distant lambs ,

overhead the sudden scraaak

of galahs ;

my stomach rumbles —

breakfast !

the grey slumbering Sloth

and Mao , the red burmese cross ,

in expectation of warmth

slink around the hearth ;

a flame stirs the stubborn fuel

crackles

sets this poem ablaze

Not a Drop was Spilled

Look, I’m going to be honest. I made a mess of this.

You shouldn’t try to explain the inexplicable.

I wrote a poem. Big deal.

People write poems all the time. They don’t try to explain them. They just present them. And that’s what I should have done.

But instead I went all mystical: probably the result of my religious upbringing and the time in the Pentecostal Church when I was speaking in tongues. Well, that’s what I thought I did. I probably spoke gibberish. Come to think of it, that’s what others around me sounded like.

The trouble is I don’t stay grounded long enough. I never have. You heard that story about the boy with his head in the clouds, well, that was me.

So I wrote this poem or someone did —- do we still subscribe to ‘the Muse’ theory? It was sort of compelling and confusing at the same time. Are you familiar with that feeling?

And okay, I put down stuff about jabbering seagulls overhead, and the guy with a metal detector who found something and went a bit gaga with it, like I did with the poem I found in my head, the one I carried around like a precious fluid till I got back to the car and wrote it in my notebook, without a drop being spilled.

That’s what I was trying to do all along. Get that last line in. Well, I did it. Sorry I messed up along the way





*pic courtesy of Pinterest by Veronika Gilkova