What’s Coming Down the Pike

You don’t know what’s coming down the pike.

No one does.

Covid-19 showed that.

Now there are rumours of something else.

It doesn’t have a face or name

but the word ‘China’ is often invoked.

But no one knows.

But something is coming.

You can see its shadow.

Hear its footsteps.

Feel it breathing down yr neck.

And I feel like the poet Mark Strand

who always saw something coming down the pike

which is why he always slept, he says,

with one eye open.

This One’s for Ginge

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I’ve just been informed it’s World Turtle Day.

As usual I’m a little slow off the mark

But I’m sticking my neck out now

writing a poem to Ginge

in his tiny turtle tank looking out at the world

I’ve been reading him some famous turtle poems
including Robert Lowells’ Waking in the Blue

but Ginge and I are shaking our heads:

the only turtle reference is ‘I strut in my turtle-necked

French sailor’s jersey’.

but the one by Mark Doty has a few really good lines:

‘a snapping turtle lumbered down the centre

of the asphalt like an ambulatory helmet’

Ginge liked that

I read him a few more but their meanings were slow

to emerge

Perhaps that’s the point.

I hope he likes this poem.

I’ve been working on this one all day but I still

haven’t got very far.

 

 

 

On Reading Carolyn

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All week I have been reading Carolyn,

Her chapbook of twenty poems focused

on one anatomical feature — the ankle.

 

How could anyone do that? I wondered.

Breasts, yes, the penis, body parts

with a sexual agenda. But the ankle?

 

I read on. Carolyn fractured hers

recently in a fall so that provided the bones

of the material.

 

Wonderful, warm, poems,

inventive and insightful that trace her

journey towards wellness.

 

My favourite?

‘Zero Weight Bear’ with its zen-like title and

witty word-play. ‘Gravity Sucks’ runs a gamut

of emotions but ends like the collection itself

on an optimistic note.

 

  • books can be purchased through the publisher: Ginninderra Press

Anytime Soon

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The poems whiz past like buses ‘Not in Service’.

There is no time table.

No bus shelter.

Only a sign saying, ‘Bus Stop 29’..

Anywhere is good as anywhere else.

That’s what Raymond Carver meant when he said:

Be At Your Station.

Be alert, open.

The deus ex machina will come.

Still, I’ve been waiting here for the last twenty minutes

With the girl with incarnadine hair.

It will be good if the poem or bus pulls up anytime soon.

Old Schooner

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I was reading a poem by Weldon Kees —

Does anyone read Weldon Kees nowadays? —

About Boris, ‘the fatalist parrot’ who fell off

his perch.

I thought of old Schooner in his cage in the

Drive thru bottle shop at Magnums at McLaren Vale.

At least he had some life in him unlike Boris

Who ‘watched the traffic flow, unheeding’.

You’d say ‘hello’ to Schooner. He wouldn’t say anything

But once you got your purchase and went to go,

He’d say ‘See Ya’ real chipper like. You’d wave back

And give him the thumbs up and if he could Schooner

Would reciprocate. He had a fan when it was hot and

A lamp for when it was cold and a little mirror to see

what a handsome chap he was. He looked well fed.

At least he didn’t pace up and down like a lion in a cage.

Whenever I have a glass now at Magnums I raise it

To old Schooner.

Lost

 

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I met him on a winding path beneath the bridge

leading to the zoo. I had lost my girl. He had lost

the plot though I did not know it then.

 

We talked briefly beside the banisters as a blue

Kayak passed us by. Before his accomplishments —

his CV baggy with published poems — I

 

was lost for words. I blubbered something

about his latest book. “Take care,” I remember him

saying. “He’s always had his head in the clouds”,

 

a fellow poet once said of him. Perhaps that’s why

a week later he climbed to the roof of a big city hotel

and stepped off.