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Saturday, 7 June 2014

Semi Precious

I lie flat on my back,

and you are there in the molding around the lampshade;

I roll onto my left side, and you roll there with me;

asleep awake asleep awake

the tinny seconds leap over each other

and fall in a heap.


I close my eyelids, and you are behind them;

I turn to the window you tried to unlock,

and there you are,

slotted in amongst the panes.


At 3am, the pillow is you.

I force it close, hating it.


Your eyes are strange and yellowish.

Your eyes are amber, with dead insects inside.

I cannot trust your jaundiced eyes.

My blue ones don’t speak their

yellow words.


Lapis and amber,

trying to speak a language

that may as well be made of stone.

My eyes are Prussian blue, yours are ancient tree sap.

Is it any surprise, then,

that we should peck and bow

at each other’s words

like click-clack fowls

ducking for grain?


Your body speaks a language foreign to mine;

my body speaks through touch;

yours speaks a language of mime.

Your mimicry makes me afraid.

It seems that you might commit any crime,

as long as there are no fingerprints

left behind.                                  

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.




Tumbleweed Lullaby

A chipped ceramic pot of dune,

faded blue and white,

sits like a scruffy buddha

at the foot of my disheveled bed.

Purple grass, untidy with seed;

tiny purple daisies,

their blooms corrugated,

making dry stipples;

sherds of water-softened glass

littering the soil.


On nights when there is no moon,

the threadbare canvas of my room…

Silent gulls carved from pine

could almost blink.

A crooked feather might ruffle.

Heat, and the thrum of misplaced frogs

in the sedges;

two dingy windows ajar

letting in an algae-blue light;

the open sky above the big blackwood

the colour of a breath,

sweet and awry and unhurried.

Sometimes, the night air was a lazy drug

when I needed it most-

the night air rocked me with a musky sleep,

cradled me on a sweeping arc,

levitated me on a current of lusciousness.

Bare arms above the covers,

I dozed, dazed by the snail-trail

silvered touch of the cool.


Kookaburras, there must be three!

They incant at the unripe greening of the sky,

their mantra filling the blackwood tree with ink.

The geese up the way rehearse

and trumpet their evening prayers,

where they all squat to face their feather-flurried ground.


Night falls, crashing into a thousand silent pieces.

Now, all sounds are ricochets

within the creaking walls of this house;

now, the whole world is held inside

the windows’ weird reflections.

Taylor Camp, Hippie Utopia, 1969

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Mole Creek, Hobbit Cottage 6

We start to burrow down into the house,
like animals circling, circling,
to press down a sleeping place.
The shadows and the gentle light from the window
shuffle on my notebook as I write.
You can't see them, can you?
I wish you could!

I wish you could hear the morning fire
cracking in its black drum;
I wish you could feel the peace and lethargy in me.

The mirror in this pale place
turns its nose up at my bulk.
Why do I feel so ashamed,
when bulk and weight
are so highly valued in the walls,
the furniture...even the garden?

Once upon a time,
all the knots in the ceiling and walls
would have been faces.
I would have felt them watching me.

Mole Creek, Hobbit Cottage 5

Oh, I want to tramp these hills.
I want to feel light as a feather,
weightless as a cobweb.
I want to take a paper bag
and put all the dried and insubstantial things
in it.
I want to walk off the feeling
that my whole life is shoddy.
I want to walk off the judgement
of this heavy stuff,
this creamed-honey flagging,
this blackwood panelling.

I want to huff and puff away
the shame I suddenly feel
for my flatpack kitchen table,
and wobbling chairs.
I feel like a tribeswoman
with a Coke tab for a wedding ring.
Suddenly, I feel the shoddiness,
the weightlessness, of my life.
I have built my life on shifting sands.

Suddenly, I am ashamed for
my innocence.

Mole Creek, Hobbit Cottage 4

Birds in the cotoneaster tree!
The sun now white, now molten,
above the burial mound.
In a far paddock,
the crows gargle.
Finally, the house is warm-
it has, finally, let us in.
Yesterday, it would not take to us.

Today, we will bring in piles of wood,
and we will show this old stone byre
who is boss.
We will tame the harsh malevolence,
heating every shadowed corner of the house,
letting in the light.
I will fill the kitchen with cooking smells.
I will inform the straight-backed chairs
that I could split them up for the fireplace
if I wanted to.

Was that what drove my father,
when I was small,
to split up Grandma's camphorwood box
for firewood?
Was it the only way
to put the ghosts
back in their place?