Monthly Archives: December 2016

A week of poems: Chris Tse’s ‘Notes for Taylor Swift, should she ever write a song about me’

 

 

 

Notes for Taylor Swift, should she ever write a song about me

 

I look for men like I look for nouns, though

I have very little use for them once I find them.

I write out their names like blank cheques

and put my trust in their honesty. I revise

my lists until I have no time to action them.

Yes, they’re meant to be an efficient exercise

in compartmentalisation, but there’s always

something I’ve overlooked so I rip them up

and start again. Like they say—once more

with feeling! I lack the mechanics to say no,

but I do have the common sense to run away

from falling pianos. Some men I’ve loved

have lacked that initiative. I’m destined

to be a poster boy without a cause,

without a slogan. But you can at least

give me a chance, right? Make me a hit song

for the ages—the last great crossover ballad.

 

©Chris Tse

 

 

 

A week of poems: Nick Ascroft’s ‘Cheap Present’

 

 

 

Cheap Present
A young mum with a trolley tries to barter
with the Warehouse staff, says yeah her pinus
radiata breadbox took a jolt
and scratched the upper half a bit. They take
her with a pinch of salt, and call the guard.

A skimping hard case writes a cheque, and now
the Black & Decker he can get himself.

The teen who works the checkout beeper watches
all the crud that’s destined for the tip
flood past: a jersey with a little rip,
a spatula, a fishy aftershave
to keep a bachelor a bachelor,

a plastic sword, a power board, some bran.
The checkout chick nicks something for her man.

 

© Nick Ascroft

 

 

 

A week of poems: Kiri Piahana-Wong’s ‘For Michelle’

 

 

For Michelle

 

You have receded against the far

horizon. It’s been three months

since you left, I can barely make

out the shape of the vessel you

sailed away on. I lie in my garden

and I grieve. Nothing seems to

thrive, not the flowers, not the

vegetable plants. Sometimes I

go to the shore and look out.

I think I can see you, surely

you are just there, surely

you haven’t left yet, it’s too

early, did no-one tell you?

I know now that’s what

happened. You forgot to

read the timetable, you didn’t

realise, Oh yes, the time to

catch this ship is years from now,

I have all the time in the world.

 

©Kiri Piahana-Wong

 

A week of poems: Emma Neale’s “‘So Sang a Little Clod of Clay'”

 

 

So Sang a Little Clod of Clay’

William Blake

 

When it hurts, but she doesn’t say;

when it dulls, but he still gives praise.

 

When she bites, but he refuses rage

and he walks free, yet she stays.

 

When they wait through blunt dismay

although they ache as the children play

 

this is tread and bootgrind

this is hope’s hard labour

this is the heart’s ripe savour

this is the sting of healing

this is the rope of time —

 

and love is dust

ignited

in fleet, golden murmuration.

 

©Emma Neale

 

 

 

A week of poems: Albert Wendt’s ‘New Coat’

 

 

New Coat

 

This late summer morning is learning how to breathe

while Reina embroiders on the lanai shaded by our rainbow umbrella

 

Pete and Willie of Villa Magic have taken five weeks to burn

scrape and sand off our villa’s century-old skin  and replace it

 

In the kowhai a lone cicada’s love call sounds like the imperious

snapping of fingers ordering our villa to rise up

in its new coat of iceberg white

 

and plum trimmings: its radiance will wrap round Reina’s

fingers and needle

and the morning will breathe in admiration

 

© Albert Wendt April 2014

 

 

 

 

 

A week of Poems: Amy Leigh Wick’s ‘I, Melchoir’

 

 

I, Melchior

 

To be honest, I didn’t know Baz or Casper

before we took the trip.  We studied

in different cities and my focus was on the history of stars

while Casper predicted movement. Neither of us

know what Baz studied exactly, but it was good

having him around.

 

Many nights over the small flame of our fire

we guessed at why the dream chose us,

and most days I wondered if I was a fool

to leave my life’s work for a single light.

 

Traveling west we saw the far reaches

of an empire whose gold leafed crown

would wrap around the head of every

nation if it could.  I didn’t mind the welcome

given to us by its governors and princes,

the cold limoncello and soft cheeses, the grapes

brought to our mouths by slender bangled wrists;

 

But there was something about that king—rouged

and fat, chewing a leg of meat, feeding us like we

were to be eaten next, asking exactly who it was

we were off to see—that reminded me not to be a man

given to appetite. I closed my eyes to the women

and remembered there was somewhere

I was supposed to be going.

 

The last days of travel were quiet, thirsty days,

full of dust and flies.  Nights we slept close in the dark,

because Baz insisted we not light any fires.  We argued

about whether we were on course and what we were

looking for in the first place until we found ourselves

 

under the star, at the door of a house.

It was nothing really.  A poor place and the girl

who answered the door was about fourteen, with a naked baby

looking out at us from behind her skirts where he stood.

 

Casper shoved me and I almost spoke, but didn’t.

Baz knelt, and that decided it. I lowered myself to my knees

right in the doorway, and as I did I felt something

no book has ever been able to explain.  Some strange peace,

the sound of beating wings filled the air and the child laughed.

 

We unloaded our treasures and as we did his mother’s

face was wet with tears.  She didn’t look at the spices,

she wasn’t marveling at the cost. Her head was tilted,

her mouth slightly open as if dreams she’d had

were playing out before her.  It was enough,

her silent grace, the child’s laugh–to answer at least

the only question worth asking.  We left at dusk

into a different world than we had come from.

 

The first sleep in the desert brought us the same nightmare;

a slaughter of children and the rouged king’s laughter

heard above the moan of young mothers.  We parted ways

in the dark, with a vow to never look for each other again

for fear of killing the King we’d found.

 

Did we find what we were looking for, or were we meant

to find something that would take all of history to unravel?

I think about Baz, face to the ground in that doorway,

when a star falls suddenly from the sky and wind blows out the last embers of fire.

 

©Amy Leigh Wicks

 

 

 

A week of poems: Tim Upperton’s ‘On the eve of my 53rd birthday’

 

 

On the eve of my 53rd birthday

After Gregory Corso

 

Once I was very small but then I grew up

and other things were small and nothing hurt

like it did when I was sixteen, and again

at twenty-one. Fifty-fucking-three!

The poems I wrote and the poems I shouldn’t

have written but they’re done now and in books

nobody, absolutely nobody,

ever reads. There was some craziness,

and sometimes I was alone and other times

I was not alone, and alone was better

but I was lonely. To be honest,

the craziness didn’t amount to much.

The confessional stopped working about

the time I had things to confess, and now —

now I’d have to spend the rest of my life

in there and still never get to the end

of it, fuck it, I may as well carry on.

My hair was long and straight but went springy

in my thirties then straight again but not

as straight as before. Now it’s mostly grey

but I don’t really care about it.

I let it grow and grow and then I cut

it all off. I imagine it growing

when I’m lifeless in my coffin, masses

of it, which is unpleasant to think of

and anyway not yet. I want more life

in front of me than I have behind me,

but that’s not about to happen. I want

a bell down there, in the wormy darkness,

like in the Edgar Allan Poe story,

or a buzzer, a buzzer I can press

and somebody to listen just in case.

 

©Tim Upperton

 

 

 

 

 

A week of poems: Sugar Magnolia Wilson’s ‘Town’

 

 

 

Town

 

In the small town with

the grey clouds like

quiet dogs

 

on the veranda with our

feet up watching ghosts

in the old corner garden

where the oleander dips deep

 

I am myself and not myself

again and again and again

until you find me through

the small water in my wrist

 

the channel where the darkest

fish run to the lake in my palm

 

It is raining.

 

You hold my arm there, on

the Formica-topped table

with more gravity than a

metal earth

 

softer than a soft sea.

 

I am yours driving down and

diving

 

homing around and around

and back again.

 

©Sugar Magnolia Wilson

 

 

 

 

A week of poems: Elizabeth Smither’s ‘Drycleaners: London and Paris’

 

 

 

Drycleaners: London and Paris

 

A little girl like a shepherdess receives

my knit top with a tomato stain

and returns the docket. Tuesday.

 

On Tuesday it’s hanging on a hanger

the spot shrunk but still visible.

I can’t complain to a shepherdess

 

who has lost one stain but carries its ghost

in her demeanour like a lost lamb.

I take it to another drycleaner.

 

In Paris the spot is onion soup.

Briskly it is frowned over: one week

to remove it, Madame. Not sooner.

 

It will take a special discovery of benzene

an accident like Tarte Tatin

and rows of girls in chemises

 

sweating over garments in poor ventilation.

No wonder we should sniff at improvements

in Paris and failure in London.

 

 

©Elizabeth Smither

 

 

 

A week of poems: Anna Jackson’s ‘Flammable’

 

 

Flammable

The world was flammable, we knew it was.
Our hair lit up with candle-light, we peeled off
the wax from the table and made it into
something beautiful, tender as the high voices
of the castrati, fine as smoke through the grain
of an old LP, a radiance through their song
like the flame of a wick slowly burning,
burning in its casing of wax.  We all felt it.
We all had wine to drink, the dregs
in our glasses covered over with a new tide
of wine from a new bottle, a taste
like the tone of a clarinet with an old reed, old
but not frayed, pliable as smoke and thick
as wax.  And then the morepork in the pine forest
sounded its two sad notes, singing
its “I-Thou” song to an absence, an absence
felt by every one of us, our futures dark
to us, so close and so alight.

 

© Anna Jackson