Author: Claire

Bigger than Texas

the earth will take back

in heat and ordure

the shredded plastic bags

and bottle caps.

 

unbeautiful bits of nature

pond dust, saline scum and

damp piles of leaf and blossom scrofula

look like horror

brown-shiny beetles and chokey cockroaches

creep slow on sickly stick-legs

 

they take back the dirt

one insect footstep at a time while

seahorses attached to Q-tips

and seagullpigeons in rubber bonnets

are not raging like us

no

they merely persist

hoping to discover

that rubbish-island in the sea

the size of New South Wales

(because it’s bigger than Texas now)

– must be terra nullius for them

 

 

This poem was inspired by the novel Arkady (need to get back to polishing up my own dystopian story one of these days!) And also somehow by Singapore (pictured), a place where the lush fecundity of nature mashes with the nasty detritus and pollution of human industry.

 

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Blue Crush

 

 

leaked my heart through my eyes

a soft blue sludge like

Blue Crush slurpee

what she couldn’t see

was the thaw

of a long-petrified glacier

that had been waiting

for her

release

 

behind those same bruised-blue-raspberry eyes

a sand-blasted

desert over which wind

harshly blows

eroding

thought and feelings

smoothing surfaces that

emotions slide off

like a Dali pocketwatch

I sigh, it’s time

to wait, redux

 

So I kinda bombed out on poetry month. It all got too much with the travel and everything. I was going to come back and write up the ones I missed but I don’t know if it’s really worth it. Some big changes ahead as I’ll start a new job in a few weeks. I need to spend the time in between contemplating what I want to do with my poetry and writing and/or HOW!

Photo: Moon jellyfish in Singapore Oceanarium by Claire Doble

The meat of time

I’m threading chunks of time on a string

bloody purplish gristly cubes

they slip sinewy and slick on my fingers and

stain the sheets

spatters of strawberry red

give off the sexy-filthy intimate smell of beach coves away from the wind

where it’s warm and protected and the ocean’s sweat lazes in postcoital gentleness

while the sound of the breakers booms a satisfying distance above, beyond

seagulls cry and tease the ragged exciting air up there

but we’re safe here

except for

those grisly bits of meat, the bits of time I want to eat

stick in my teeth

and taste of

juniper berries and suncream and peanut butter and aged reisling today

tomorrow it’s salted caramel, meat pies, prosecco and lonelieness

so beautiful that

I want to spew them back up and taste them fresh, yet

on each regurgitation they’re more grey and flavourless

senseless time, and time rotting on my plate

Skipping ahead to day 26: a poem that includes images that engage all five senses.

Corridor

Newtown smells like limes

cocktails and

the soft dark night

smudge of bodies

we’re the old ones now

she says

we talk

gin and jogging, noticing

how I hold my friends

a physical thing

while their fingertips are laid

so gently in my head

like kisses, kindness

and life’s gentle wingbeats

whisper

I’m home. I’m home

Day 19 (sort of) – a poem written based on a paragraph that recounts a scene from everyday life

Psoriasis Narcissus

what happens when Narcissus shows
a face in ribbons
and red
that cannot reflect
aching bones and
corporal betrayal
the horrid looks
at monster flesh when
she once served haute cuisine
with a flourish
eyes smiled in her head
quick wit, gleaming bright
but her ravaged music slammed through
the walls at night
and remembering the scent and curled dust
of her psoriasis skin
makes me think
she must be gone
Ave El, Narcissus was unkind

Day 21 (I’m all out of sequence): try writing a poem that plays with the Narcissus myth in some way

Swagman

The Swagman’s Rest by Pro Hart

Touch my hand

bones splinter in the dirt

think of the wind over the sea

and places bandicoots skitter in the eve

I was once a good man

with shining rope, glinting gun and a plan

although the map’s not one you can see

and my words came smooth, debonair, like lies

 

My final shouts rang true though

if anyone cared to hear them

and I washed myself in the sound

‘Oh Nell, my love, I wronged her.’

the drink has taken stronger men

and left better women stranded

but I broke her heart and stole her wine

the child we’d made, abandoned

 

When it came time for him to die

alone he was, in bracken

the river was so loud that night

she felt the baby quicken

perhaps he called aloud those words

Nell, she didn’t hear him

upon his head she put a curse

and found him in the morning

 

To free his twist in memory’s embrace

we left a blank and humble cross in place

lost now to all but she:

Sandy Dan the Swagman, we

tied ropes across his grave

of bleached bloodwood, as dead as he

and while mountains rise against the sun

no more a-roving will he see

 

Day 18. I enjoyed this prompt: First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.

I used “The Swagman’s Rest” by Banjo Patterson. It ended up with an odd, off-kilter rhyme sequence but I like it

Cat food

Sugary childrens’ cereal

shaped like stars

the colour of Mars

(planet not the bars)

so different to

breakfasts of ours

back so many years

may as well have a nibble

OH NO it’s kibble

so embarrassing!

will never tell this thing

but

it has a funny ring

Ok, make it sing

wake up kids, do

Nana ate cat food!

Day 17: write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time.

Photo @Unsplash

Lord Garmadon’s lament

Interview with Lego Ninjago’s Lord Garmadon:

The demands of arch-villainry just get harder every day. Sure I’ve got four arms, eyes of fire and a heart black as a bin liner in landfill but I need to cut loose sometimes. My local stitch n bitch is the ideal place to unwind and let off steam. And, since I’m nominally Japanese with the ninja connection, I also compose Haiku:

They shout Garmadon!

but this needlepoint will not

embroider itself

Day 15 was to imagine a human side of a villain. (My kids love Lego Ninjago).

Photo: the poet as Lord Garmadon, Halloween 2017

Home is where

Found my heart on a shelf in your home

covered in dust, crumpled behind the piano

a poem

Tracked it across the land wide and brown

buried in cinnamon soil, overlooked by big gum and

charred bush

I know my heart drowned in the sparkling sea

where ozone and froth combine to churn diamond sand

into me

Sniffed out in the warm of your car’s cracked seats

the baked-biscuit-brown smell of hot vinyl

beats

It beats, it beats. I’m defeated

I can’t collect

All the pieces

at once

so I save my tears

in a leather sleeve

hoping

one day

for my heart’s cleave

Day 13 prompt (still catching up): write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended. I chose “home is where the heart is” as I’m travelling and seeing many people and places who hold pieces of my heart

Bone-deep

Lush green foliage soaked with mature gold sunlight, hot as summer, but death curls frogs and insects like the promise of cold. The centre of our busy lives lit by mosquito smoke as we say, bone-deep and slow: I love you, it will be ok, oh how I miss you when I’m gone.

So briefly exchange

our most precious insights, to

hold love in the abyss

Day 12: Haibun. I have been curious about this form for a while. Not sure I got it right – a prose poem involving nature that ends with a haiku.