As I began my day
I went into the world
and I was spoken to,
a voice in my left ear,
and I was told to turn
as I set my foot
on the blacktop river
that would take me to
the place; the place,
I am told in my right ear,
is perfectly lined for me:
but my left ear burns
and my throat is always dry
and today there is a tugging
at my earlobe,
so I turn
and I see trees reflected
in the black water,
and the water seems to flow
and I—like a Pooh stick
drift from one side
of a stone bridge to the other,
and when I look up,
squint past the blinding sun
which was not here yesterday,
I see that no one is watching.
As I began my day
It doesn’t matter how long she’s hidden
or what name is given to the stone
by the spirit living within,
and the prince’s wounds healed—
she served three emperors this way
and each time the kingdom forgot.
Her voice clouds the night air
like splinters of glass
but he doesn’t turn his back.
Each word pierces his face,
draws water from under his fingernails.
He suffers every fragment
because he knows—
he was there when the clouds boiled
from stillness into fury;
he saw candles sputter and die.
He knows it was not the lightning,
It was her—it was
ten thousand chrysanthemums
shattered by the hot spring wind
that stirred in her skin,
and it was the sun in her heart,
the moon in her face.
With a hand at her throat
she closes her eyes,
golden vines stream from her feet
and she lifts,
peeled away from memory
inch by inch,
and she dreams of a gate
which reads “Be bold, be bold;”
can no longer hold
such a thing as memory,
which now rhymes with dream;
A dream of a feathered tail,
and a dream of a golden blanket
I’m left to wonder, sitting by the Swan—
our river, on her quiet, curving neck
and looking south towards her ancient back—
I wonder how these places have the heart
to tolerate the engine’s drone, the waves
on windless days, the hammering that drowns
the little laughter of a stream. I know
that nature has the teeth, so why not bite?
Translucence twitches in the sand—a prawn
left out of water by the tide. I catch
it with a stick and send it home. Perhaps
the crime is punishment enough, while those
that care to watch for spineless refugees
enjoy the lichens bleaching in the sun.
on an iron flower; decrepit
red steel bursting
the buttons of its white coat.
That flower’s very old,
a plant that once grew
pressed steel petals
radiated from every
on every street.
This must be the last of a breed
that whispered to a boy,
told him where he was.
Man perches on fresh
red clay, bricks
tapered to a modern corner.
He must be a long way from home,
must be from the North,
somewhere far, under
the winter solstice sun.
He’d not be the same there,
brighter under the sun,
would not have his head in his knees.
Like a kookaburra,
he’d laugh at the door to a house
and sit with the whispering lamps
that tell him where he is,
tell him he belongs.
The Moon is haloed, seven coloured rings
that hang on heaven’s hatstand, snagged on hooks
suspended in the sky; and everything
is draped in linen sheets like ghostly books
forgotten on a ghostly bed and made
by careless hands. They say that sheets when dried
by full moonlight will glow their whitest shade,
reflected silver echoed in their sides.
The slightest breeze will push the blanket south
and bring the tree line sharply into view.
Then, clouds within my lungs escape my mouth
like shades, their icy fingers pushing through
my chest, reminding me of other such
cold nights, your warmth, the fire in your touch.
Tell a man that the roof of his house is empty,
He will pray louder;
Tell him that his air is water,
He will listen for the twittering of fish;
Tell him that his sea is a desert,
He will show you how to drink;
Tell him that the trees have no mouths,
He will sing you their songs;
Prove that his religion is false
and you have proven his faith;
Show him his foolishness,
He will tell you about love.