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Friday, 23 August 2013

Found Poem (Derwent Valley, Tasmania)


A place called ‘Fatigue Can Be Fatal’;

Sleeping Beauty from the ugly side;

we sang ‘Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah!’

with harmonies;

deer antlers for sale;

old postcards;

a roadside paddock full of lupins…

they smell like peas;

‘Swallow’s Nest’ right next to the river;

briar roses;


a hopfield called

Li Ayyi Sabab Uhjar أمينة العلوي - لأيّ سببٍ أهجر

Your virile poison has almost drained away

from my swollen veins;

the fat red cushions on my wicker chair

are red once again;

the ripped leaves of the monstera plant over there-

heart-shaped and green;

this sultry music – daf, zarb, ud and violin-

pleases me once again;

my morning coffee is strong, sweet

and bitter, as it once was;

dear Saturday is just Saturday;

the sky is merely blue;

time is kind and gentle;

the shadows of leaves flicker on the ceiling-

(those changeable cherry leaves that I cherish).


Your twisted poison has drained away

into a blue and white bowl

and good blood flows untangled in me, at last.

My heart is pure

(just as my friend, Ali Qarandari, wished for me,

touching his breast)…

my heart is pure and all else is flowing sweet

from that.

My heart is pure again,

and Amina Alaoui soothes me,

as a mother or a sister might soothe,

pressing my face against her resonating breast

and stroking stroking stroking my hair…

stroking stroking stroking my hair

Amina Alaoui

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


A bedroom full of seagulls,

and my reclining nude

is a white gull

with a broken wing.


A room full of white,

and the white breast of the woman

looks like a disjointed pinion.

- It is the Jaegermeister painting, I told him…


..and it was the truth-

the background colours:

Tarkovsky green and a deep scarlet-orange

both taken from the label and the glass.


That was a day to remember,

when I showed him the bottle.

He climbed onto the bench

to reach for shot glasses


I squeezed his tiny arse cheeks,

and the smallness of them

nearly broke my heart.

That was the day, alright.


Afterwards, I felt like 100% Irish linen

and crocheted lace.

I felt like my initial was embroidered

in my corner.


I felt blessed, cleansed,

starched, ironed,

folded and put away

with dried rose petals.


An Ordinary Apple

If I were a ripe fig

and you split me open with your delving thumbs

to see the sweet and sticky flesh inside,

and feel the grit of seeds between your teeth,


could any of the those spilt ever swell and sprout

to grow a big, lolloping, female tree,

like an old grey aunty with flabby arms?

I can’t figure out what fruit I am to you?


You halve me like some desert pear.

To you, I’m the fruiting body of the monstera plant

with stinging spikes hidden

in the fuzzy folds


that paralyze your tongue with a tiny, perfect pain,

though I always dreamed of being more like an

ordinary apple, that, cleanly dissected,

reveals a star.


Blanco, blanco, que te quiero blanco…

White, white, how I love you, white:

puffed breast of white gull,

smooth feathers,

white scraps of flight flung

like discarded letters

across the waves.

White foam scraped edgewards,

hemming the selvages of the waves.


White sheets, white cotton,

white gauze curtain

hanging motionless

in a breezeless hour.

White silence, white singing of the stars.

Off-white paperback mended with tape.

Yellowed pages, re-read and mended-


a gamekeeper, a lame creeper,

the same weeping woman;

green woods, purple shadows,

newly-hatched pheasant bods

like sparks of life:


She’d rather be caught by the wild hound of Pluto,

than by the speculative spaniel of Plato…


(The First Lady Chatterley, DH Lawrence)

Albinoni: Adagio in G Minor

Sometimes, life is unbearably sweet,

when the shadows of a Moorish lamp are spilt upwards

and blotted into bedroom walls;

when morpho butterflies nestle bluely on a canvas,

and brandy burns like petrol in your gut.


Sometimes, the death-keening of a violin

makes me sick to the stomach

with melancholy.

Once, when I was just a child in patent leather shoes,

a madwoman raving in a red train carriage


made me feel the same, and almost holy.

Even now, I’m confused by my own secret Maria Goretti;

by my own secret murderer lurking nearby.

I suppose it shouldn’t have fascinated me:

the story of the fourteen-year-old peasant girl…


(or was it fourteen stab wounds?)

and the father’s long cart ride over a rutted road,

with Maria jolting like a sack of spilt meal

on boards strewn with straw.

I had hoped to be a much-desired saint.


I had hoped that Our Lady might appear to me,

like Serena Couchi, who fell into the flames of a bonfire

when she was only small, wearing a Blessed Scapula

around her neck.

But she was just a potato-farmer’s daughter, and Maltese,


with dirty cracks around her fingernails,

whose sister sold pink lemonade in wax cups at Woolworths.

I always liked the story of how Jesus would not be tempted

by the devil, and shouted: Get behind me,



I always liked Jesus when he shouted.

Once, I did get behind you,

though it was no less sinful than in front.

My hair hung between your buttocks

and down your left thigh.


I felt like the Magdalene,

and my hair seemed to fill the room.

My combustion seemed to fill the afternoon,

and you can’t deny,

it was a miracle, of sorts.


Albinoni adagio in g minor

A Savage Orthodoxy

Mercedes Sosa and Misa Criolla;

the wind outside frigid, blustery.

Pan-pipes bring the Andes into my

high-ceilinged bedroom.

The front door rattles.

Good Friday is roaming outside

my house.


Once, when young, the poultry farm shriekings

on Good Friday morning

were the howling ghosts rising up from their graves.


At my First Communion breakfast,

I vomited saveloy and raspberry fizz-

why wasn’t it the body and blood

of little Baby Jesus?

The hymn they sang made me sick inside,

it was  so beautiful,

and life so transitory,

the light on our mothers’ faces

supernatural- a chrism.

Though, now I understand,

it was ordinary motherlove,

not the Transubstantiation.


Misa Criolla fills me with the same fearful beauty-

reminds me of the six-inch spikes on the grille

that we saw my sister’s best friend behind

when she became a Carmelite.


Beauty and cruelty,

compassion and ugliness,

mixed together to create una mescla,

a misa criolla!

A savage orthodoxy.

Mercedes Sosa "Kyrie"

Saint Joseph of Cupertino

My coloured tumblers are fading on the window-ledge;

my aspidistra has grown too leggy for its plastic pot;

the leaves on the cherry tree have turned yellow

and they hang like yesterday’s dirty socks;

the birds are not really singing,

they are mumbling about moving on.


One of my curtains is missing a ring-

it hangs drunkenly from the window’s bony shoulder blade,

and it is probably too late too late for love;

it is probably too late too late:

my wicker hamper overflows with matted cardigans,

my red sheets hide the stubborn stains of poems,

my nights and mornings are filled with delusions.


My mother, at this age, fell in love with dark-eyed priests

with French names like Fillipe;

her favourite saint was the one who laughed so much

he floated to the ceiling;

his levity a kind of grace.

My mother once slept, crumpled,  in the front doorway in her nightie-

she lay behind the screen door while the mosquitoes

batted their blunt heads against the mesh.


She also climbed into a backyard pool

fully dressed and heady with chlorine

on New Year’s Eve 1974,

besotted with a young monk with an eye for little girls.

When it is like that-

when they say things such as mutton dressed up as lamb,

there is no sense in the analogy,

since a woman is not meat.
The Reluctant Saint