The upright piano stands like an empty cupboard of music
where a small boy holding balloons bigger than his head
stands talking story to a pulse in consciousness
and to the portrait of a fresh-faced Queen
in the deserted gloom of a daytime picture theatre.
We speak briefly, for contact more than content,
as morning sharpens its chill breath
against the fine-crushed gravel of the narrow path.
Violet-leaves curled in a sidelong shade
go on concocting a promise of Winter flowers,
and the berries bequeathed by dead elder-blossom
glint with prick-sparks of highlit gloss.
In a canyon of orange brickwork,
I recall for no reason the small shock of the sight of a yabby,
washed from a dam and drowned in sunshine,
dazzling whiter at the side of a road
than chips of quartz. Its albino husk
supported an almost perfect appearance of life
betrayed only by the fact of inanimate
absolute stillness. Near a main road,
as you guide me by hand against the traffic,
a breeze divides itself around my body’s tall building,
flawed by an age in love
with the wrong gold. Later, while cutting up firewood,
I notice how my sawing’s sawdust
imitates the falling sands of the hourglass:
the grains in their sift momentum
maintain formation against a full-strength wind,
half human voice, half inhuman noise
intent on scatter in the order of creatures
yet susceptible — oddly — to a melody’s skeleton-lilt.
《飲馬》：龍力游（油畫）/ “Watering the Horse” by Long Liyou (oil painting)
The big brown horse,
head down in a wood trough,
drinks cloud off a paint sky. That blue too
is her undrunk dress,
but supreme wear and tear overpower
with texture’s weathering slow second nature.
A long leather strap
tethers her to the creature, symbolic anchor
in survival’s solid world.
fenced in by a short forest-barricade
of silver-birch stumps,
she has allowed inattention
and daydreaming half-thoughts
to wander beyond the stern-alert head of her husband
(he’s busy laying down new bone)
and over the farmhouse roof
to where time and space in an untoward next door
the mind of this curious human.
Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau (April 2016)
How should we be taken
in photos, so that astronomically we feel
most comfortable with ourselves? Here’s me,
Malvern East State School 1968
Grade 1M, squeezed between
Wayne Kent and Russell Butcher
in the middle row, while twenty-two other kids
also do their best to manufacture for the lens
awkward collective separateness.
We’ve all done it for countless cameras,
constellating as families,
in conglomerate isolation,
forcing smiles and holding our breath
for the frame. To me, it’s never felt right,
ever. Just why that is I realized only recently
when I saw a black and white picture
of fourteen people — mainly women —
with Ida Woods at far far left
and sheepish telescope operator Frank E. Hinkley
at far right. They stand there fixed
like stars on a star-chart
in front of some august old building, but
they do something else,
simply and with near perfect naturalness:
they all hold hands.
She knew the sane feeling
a lithe body in motion can give
just by watching its concentration,
but it felt like a meeting of minds
when she joined her desire
to the face in the perfect mirror.
There was one defect:
the cellular life of her own body
was a butterfly lapsed on a flower,
calm in the jaws of a small spider
smartly acquiring its eyes.
There are no genuine flexions in this world,
she thought. Only reflections, sections
of that delirious, exterior stranger who lives
without us, on our skin.
Eye is Lord, but Michelle saw reason:
she no longer submits
to the mere thrill of being
another’s amphibious smile.
She turned in.
Wedding Colours. Photograph by Omid Azadibougar (2018)
Chastening to think
even detergent gets its chance to enchant,
wiping wry smiles and misappointment
off heavily adult faces.
(Note: there’s hope for us yet.)
Many kids find a lifetime’s first rainbow
in these transparent, shimmering planets,
lighter than thin air,
but strangely grave with a uranium poetry.
In the end does the rainbow really have to die for us all?
Through the spinning film of their lenses,
our ironic world becomes razor-vivid with renewal,
while the stateliness of their orbits
cannot but direct us
to the hushed intensive care at work
in our only begotten core.
In this atmosphere of convivial weightlessness
chock-a-block with laughter and atypical, unshrewd wonder,
we are invited against smugness —
and against the anti-complacency of wrongheaded zeal —
to sit back and relax
into what the unsung spectacle of these bubbles’ soap-soaring arias
minutely fine-tunes in our birth.
Simon Patton 著
It stopped you first in full flight mid-sentence
the common bronzewing dead on an overgrown path.
It looked like it might have fallen out of life
and out of sky in the same breath, dropped
in a goshawk’s botched shock-attack
through some whirrakee wattles. Dew ―
not blood ― beaded beautiful feathers
and its pale-pink claws stayed curled slightly out of habit
round upside-down air as the dog snuffled past
I admit there are times when I wish for myself a death like this,
and not only in moments of sadness
beyond despair. As for your sentence:
now there’s something that can never ever be finished in this world ―
I feel my ears tingle even now
with echoes of its inspoken promise.