Bridges

Not Katherine Anne Paterson’s Bridge

to Terabithia,

the one that Leslie and Jess cross

to get to their magic kingdom.

Nor that bridge too far.

Not the one Over Troubled Waters.

Nor that terrible one on the River Kwai.

Not even the bridges you burn

so there’s no turning back

but that rope suspension bridge

dangling high over the gully

that me and my faithful mutt, Salem,

can’t bring ourselves to cross

photo by Andre Amaral on Unsplash.com

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

the Coffee Cup

1

my coffee cup

is

an atlas

of stains:

a dark blotch vast as Asia,

another,

a continent of khaki

shaped like Australia;

there’s a South America too

[but no North]

And around the rim

an aurora borealis of brown

when the sun

lights it up.

2

Clean it, a visitor declares.

Clean it? I say.

This miracle of incidental art?

This repository of rudimentary remarques?

It’d be tantamount to the Taliban

blowing up

the Buddhist statues

in Afghanistan!

No!

the ‘Think Position’

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I have had a good think about this.

What is the best position to have a good think?

My first thought was of Rodin’s sculpture,

You know the one, the naked male figure hunched

over in deep thought usually displayed in public.

Nude thinking in public especially on a cold stone pedestal

does not appeal to me. Does it to you? Apart from the fact

It would lead you in hot water with the law, possibly

Not a bad thing if you were out there naked on a cold day.

There must be a better, more private way, I thought.

My favourite ‘think position’ is to throw myself on the bed,

head on the pillow, close my eyes and let my brain take over.

I am looking for some modern day Rodin to sculpt me

in this position, preferably not nude, and immortalize me

in public, a possible title being ‘The Prone Thinker’.

 

What is your favourite ‘think position’?

Inside the Panels

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Reading when one person dies the whole world is over, a bleak and beautiful scratchy black-and-white graphic novel. It rains a lot inside the panels. Even for Melbourne. Even when it isn’t raining, the sky is dark and broooding. After a while the pages become soggy; the panels leak into each other; water begins dripping on the floor. I go to get a bucket but it rains and rains. The bucket overflows. In the end I have to close the book and take it back to the library before the house gets flooded.

Okay, I looked but I didn’t stare

Microbiology_gram_stain

On a road trip the other day

we got talking about birth marks

and how you never see them any more

then at the airport

I saw this barista

with a mulberry stain on his face.

I had to ask him,

is that a real birth mark? I asked

we were talking about them

and how you never see them anymore.

Yes, he smiled

as if it were just another feature

on his face

like a mole or scar.

It looked almost beautiful.

Then he made me the greatest cup of coffee.

Thank you, I said

glad that I had asked him

and didn’t wuss out.

It’s okay to be curious.

 

is anyone else fascinated by birth marks ?

what would you have done?

Another Failed Dragonfly Poem

Dragonfly_ran-387

I used to go down to the pond at the end of our street to write poems about dragonflies the way Monet would go down to his garden at Giverny to paint water lilies.

 

The only difference was that dragonflies didn’t stay still like waterlilies did. They dashed and darted about the pond at 100 ks an hour. Even when they had sex they had it on the wing coupling like planes fueling mid- flight. You had to admire them though they were devilish to tie down.

 

I almost got one once when a dragonfly dawdled on the front doorknob one drowsy afternoon, after summer rains, then saw me and took off, its gossamer wings flashing rainbows.

 

Too Much

 

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It’s a good day, I said, the sun angling through the red gums hooking our attention.

I don’t know, he said, Friday was pretty impressive too  [referring to the hailstorm]

then he looked at me, knowing I’m a poet, and said, you gunna write about it?

& I said, without thinking, when I get time, Mark, when I get time

& I thought about it afterwards, how you could write about almost anything at all

even the least bit startling — a rock maybe metamorphosing into a frog, the hurtle of creekwater rounding a bend, a screech of cockatoos tearing up the sky

there’d be so many you wouldn’t know where to stop. You’d be writing all day

& the night would hold some surprises too — a spider abseiling down a branch,  a fuchsia sunset or a blood moon, the soft sounds of love —-

everything offering itself into words: there’d be no end to it; in the end you’d have to

avert your eyes, close your mind, do what you were told never to do and NOT listen

to the Muse; only then would you get some peace, the world so ablaze with glory

the problem is not too little but too much.

 

is that the problem with your writing — too much to write about?

or is it writers’ block?

how do you deal with it?

 

Creativity is a Terrible Thing

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Creativity is a terrible thing,

He says,

When it gets you in its clutches.

It won’t let you sleep, rest.

It jerks you awake,

Kicks you out of bed,

And before you know it

You’re at the keyboard

At 3 a.m.

Belting out a poem

Belting through the bleariness

To get it down

Then head back to bed

Where it starts again

The brain twitch, the jerk,

The plummet into wakefulness.

You don’t even make a living out of it

But it’s the way you’re living

The gift, equal curse

But when that sweet chariot swoops you up,

Oh the rush, the voltage,

That gift

You’d trade your grandmother for it

Were she still around.

The Parable of the Pearl Oyster

pearl oyster

 

I envy the patience of pearl oysters

Which can labour up to twenty years

To produce a pearl of great price.

 

The freshwater ones lacking the deep

Patience of their seawater cousins

Produce a pearl in a mere six.

 

But I have the shallow patience

of a gnat: a poem in a few minutes

else I lose interest.

 

No wonder I produce little of lasting

Value.