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.
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
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.
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.
‘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
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.
I was reading a poem by Weldon Kees —
Does anyone read Weldon Kees nowadays? —
About Boris, ‘the fatalist parrot’ who fell off
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.
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.