Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Poem on My Father's Birthday"

On the train to Haifa
I think about my father
in wartime Palestine,
a different time, a different name
but the same place.

His memories of oranges and beaches
and warm, Mediterranean swimming
are the times he chose to rescue
from the six years when the world
was drowning in its own blood.

The weather is blue and grey
but the sun shines
like my father’s medals
on his blue-grey air force uniform
that entranced me as a child.

As the helicopter gunships prowl over Mount Carmel,
speeding north to Lebanon,
I wonder what times I will choose to rescue
from a land built out of longing,
but paid for in blood.

The poet wishes to acknowledge The Press in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Stealing the Dreaming"

I wake to sirens in the night
the voice of flight
black on white
a symphony of despair
rising and falling in the still night air
crossing the light
black on white
we stole their children
bred them bled them white
now we have bedlam in the night
read them their right
black on white
school work jail
set up to fail
feeling most alive when the sirens wail in the night
black on white
parents clan tribe totem language all recede
speed fills a need
hotwire ramraid let's give these Wetjalas a fright
wake them screaming from their dreaming
fair exchange              too right
I wake to sirens in the night
black on white

Wetjalas is the Nyoongar (South-West Western Australia tribe) word for "white man". When I lived in Perth, Western Australia, there was a lot of concern about young Aboriginals sniffing glue and then stealing powerful cars and taunting the police into high-speed car chases which often ended in serious injuries or fatalities.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Micropress New Zealand in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Ruby, the dark-haired girl (1887-1987)"

O grandmother,
though we are Pakeha you had great mana.
You lived close to that taciturn volcano, One Tree Hill,
and its scoria scars were like the lines on your face,
etched out by the evolution of that city.
And, grandmother, you remembered the beginning of the cycle
with the lucid vision you could not afford on the recent past.
I always wanted to tell you that I loved you, grandmother,
with a sincerity you would feel long after you passed
through the gates of heaven.
To tell you that when I was a child,
I believed you would be here always,
but then I listened closely to the silence between your words
and I knew you were weary of this world.
You were the last bridge
connecting us with a pioneer century
and I feared we would lose ourselves if ever we lost you,
but we never did
for in our children and in our children’s children
we will see the face of Ruby, the dark-haired girl.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Venus' Slip"

Like a sailor returning from a long sea voyage
to find his village wiped out,
like a soldier returning from an unpopular war
to find the gates barred,
his eyes traversed the terrain of his longing,
but the landscape offered him no point of entry.

She no longer keeps the home-fires burning,
she stamps them out
lest they betray the flicker of her ardour.
Across a vast plain of darkness
he sees her there, working in silhouette,
methodically cooling, dousing down their history
from the bottomless bucket of her frozen tears.
Here a memory, there a moment of affection
and over here
every moment she ever arched in ecstasy
or ached with longing at his touch.
“No more, no more,” she whispers, her head bowed
over her breasts, “all fire is consumed by ice.”

His loins and heart debate constantly,
but they are separate animals now and he rises
above them with the lightness of suffering.
Up here, he captures the clarity he was always denied
and he sees her like Venus in a half-shell
attempting vainly to cover her nakedness.
As she recedes from view, she lifts one arm to wave
and her flimsy cloak falls down.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Valley Micropress in whose pages this poem first appeared.