Notes at a Park

1.

Old man stops to rest,
burnt bat wings above
spread over two wires.

2.

Tree trunk leans
its shadow on the lawn;
a brush turkey sprints;
no birds.

3.

Woman sits
alone at a table,
with salt,
car on concrete
fallen leaves.

4.

Magpies shriek,
swoop at a goanna
noiseless in the grass,
a young fern bent
in the wind.

5.

Grey wood path crosses
the creek
frogs hid in the reeds
when there was water.

6.

Four white ibis walk along the fence.

7.

Dry twig dangles in the wind
black cockatoo upside down.

8.

Old man
on a bicycle
in birdless heat,
dried seeds on the ground.

First Published in Bitterzoet Vol 2.1 2014

Still Life

Paintbrush,
weathered and grey,
dried through years,
old hairs fixed.

Cluttered paintings
of beaches and women
beside oil paints
hardened in dust.

You used to paint
the world considered,
your strokes lit oils,
painted the new.

Now idle
by unfinished works,
you gather dust,
stare at walls.

First Published Message in a Bottle Issue 21 2014

Adrift

A small rock
rises from the sea
a tough refuge
for battered birds.

Perched vigil,
they salvage a piece
of austere sanctuary,
tread their tired feet.

The sea sweeps
in haste surges hard
white foam thrashes
and squawking birds,
their port flooded,
flap into the air
abandon trust.

The birds shriek,
weave in the wind
then outstretched glide
into sky.

Splash empties
back to the cold sea,
where the rock,
rising again,
remains.

First Published Message in a Bottle Issue 21 2014

I Shed My Skin

Surrounded by night, the shriek of unrelenting frogs
roused after torrential rain, covered in the long reeds
that flourish by the fast-running creek and rice fields.

A lotus flower wanes, floats on a pool of fresh water
collected in the lid of a large vase. A snake lies still,
curled on the base. This is not usual. The phone rings
near midnight; my sister tells me my father has gone.

Words are interspersed with frogs; it will be hard
to recall this type of nature untouched with sadness.

The frogs do not stop all night, until the snake slips
away into the reeds. I do not see it again till days later
when it quietly slithers out of its den, leaves behind
silence, and the transparent shell of moulted skin.

First Published Axolotl Issue 1 2014

After a Study of Lizards

When I wake, the red gum tree has elephant feet
swollen at the base of its trunk, as if an elephant stopped too long,
its feet embedded in the fertile earth; and the rain that poured
last night, that sprouts roots on things that stay,
bound its feet to the underground.

This has happened before, but no one says anything;
one day the spell will be broken. I warily climb the trunk,
but do not feel the rest of the animal hidden inside the bark.

Its branches have fingers that reach to sky
for the blood of sun. I soak up the heat.
Leaves whisper together, murmur that they’re feeling trapped,
stunned in a nakedness they wanted all along;
to be part of the world without having to think about it.

Noisy miners congregate on nearby limbs,
rouse each other’s angry little spirits, create a colony
of eyeballs.

I won’t back down. The tree is a place for me to find eggs,
my scales for courage. I like the black cockatoos that sit stately
on the uppermost limbs. They growl like lions, fly the sky
as if they have been flying since the dinosaurs.
It’s like the sun is a candle, snuffed out

by the ocean at dusk, while below little people relight it
ready for dawn. At night ghosts flutter with insects,
bees tend love, and the trees bring the African plains.

Elephants, lions, and in the distance, Mount Kilimanjaro.
I have been listening to humans for too long. I have a hard skin,
but inside I am soft. I find new ways of seeing;
the tree is really an elephant; an elephant is really a bird
that mourns; a bird is really a bud escaped from a tree.

First Published Axolotl Issue 1 2014

Crescent Moon

Words funnelled into my ears
thick oil from your mouth
poisonous additives
seep through cracks in long pipelines,
your ugly, stitched mouth
a starved tiger
hanging on trees with monkeys.

Torn mouth
hooked on a puppet string
a fish writhing in the air
a velvet carrot,
death in the clutch of a grizzly bear,
soul crunched into a limp.

Wild eyes like ravines,
unconquered creeks;
I find treasures,
continents; others drown.

Your tree smile
like the monkey swings,
runs amok, blood stains
the corner of your mouth,
threaded red socks,
your cheeks, the flash of a bird,
your ears petals.

Barnacles on my feet,
hitched on the howl
of a cactus dog,
clocks that never tell
like the rose thorns you keep in your ears.
When we met you were a cloud,
now you are the steel-grey sky
that paints the river.

First Published Axolotl Issue 1 2014

Stillness

Offerings remain

sprawled on the road,

white rice to appease

 

the gods, soiled black

with dirt and exhaust

fumes from rumbling

 

mopeds, cars, trucks,

shoe-prints indented

on white and grey

 

a remnant of ash

from an incense stick

placed by pious hands

 

a frangipani

 

small petals uncurled

its centre yellow

the residue of the sun.

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