Tag Archives: poems

homeschool ravens

after days of rain we need to leave
the house is all spelling and online
math lessons wwhaat’s fo-or diiinnner
and the constant repertoire of piano
that sometimes accompanies the theatre
of my nightly dreams

midmorning cease, the grey sky ascended
distant, moving east. we take an apple
boots and a notebook each
into the woods behind, knowing
post-rain Fall is written for the senses

the burnt patch from early Summer
starting to sprout barely, mostly blackened
inside acres of yellow; the knee high kind of grass, sharp
through clothes, the scrappy kind that looks beautiful
for about ten weeks a year

the burnt earth exposes rocks and its soilless quality
this is manzanita land, oaks and the determined pines
with creamy nuts if we do the work

the house that burnt, it’s garage levelled, a drill press;
will it work again? a garden gnome stares from inside
temporary fencing (not at us) lifeguarding the covered
in-ground pool
no trades have touched this place yet

the house next door burnt two years ago
and rebuilt from its event of kids and cigarettes

my kids always find the best sticks and compete
bulrushes in the awakening dry creek
are about to burst, like those they found last week
explosive, unstoppable, these aren’t quite ready
my middle boy shows us all pushing with a thumb

two ravens in a flurry from the greater pines
and a great brown owl with it’s bulk body
is all wingspan and pointy eared out of a flattened face
we chase them for an hour following the bird terror
around the valley, a hunt for a glimpse
of the great night creature, who lands and disappears
into pines or oak, found again by the two crafty ravens
who we thank for exposing the rare evening bird

a deep closing bluish-grey approaches
faster than my estimate to make it home on little legs

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there are there there are

a million things

on in Brisbane right now. this

is one 

shameless self-promotion 

riverwords photo

Brisbane Fringe Festival is in it’s second year. I really wanted to perform some poems on this river of ours. Partly to interact with the river in a different way, partly because it devastated us not so long ago and I want to learn how to love it again and also maybe just because we can get in a tinny and read some poetry (and that can be fun). If you’re interested… I’d love you to be there.

It’s this Friday night.

Two sessions –  6pm and 8pm.

Get a ticket – 6pm session

Get a ticket – 8pm session

or reserve a seat here: Brisbane Fringe Festival – Riverwords.  and here

is a poem I’ll read on Friday night (first published in fourW magazine 2012)   

 

In need of a poem

Fingernails full
of river can’t be
explained.   

Thoughts seep into the carpet.  

I want the nose of the knee-deep
throwing wet bags of stand back.   

They bulldoze novels into a council pile of lounge chairs.


In need of a poem that’ll break the silence
with the river we loved, point out
we are still deeply in love, but don’t

know how.  Like Grammar girls first time
back, stroking 5am oars. 

Because it drifts past like a dog at the back
fence wondering
what it did on the carpet. 

In need of a poem
so I asked some buddies, who
shared their river.

 

Facebook Event: Riverwords

 

Up here

I plant my feet
in steep leaf mould

it threatens
to let go 

I lick the soil
in the air; a mixture
of oxygen, water
and a slit of sunlight

I zigzag like ground locals
this place asks for instincts
lichen give directions

the mug, sleep-sack, bread 
and spuds slice into my shoulder
heavier than thoughts

It’s been great committing to writing the Stinson series earlier this year.  I’ve had a bit of a break and now working on other things.  This one seems to hang up there in Lamington National Park so I just wanted to share it.  I hope to return to all the Stinson poems again one day.  They need plenty of editing and I want to finish the series and get the two blokes down off the mountain.  Thanks to those who have read and shared your thoughts along the way.  It’s been very encouraging.   Andrew

‘Shake hands’ – Stinson series

Their sunken eyes stare
back at me, bodies motionless

and propped against the charred remains
of their flight.  The older one leans forward
and stretches out an arm.  Shake hands.

It’s like grasping a raw piece of meat.

You poor bastards.
I could’ve been here a week ago.

The two of them watch themselves
run down my cheek and fall from my face.

My hands shake. I try to hide my thoughts
but they can read them.

What’s in the bag?
How about boiling the billy?

It’s routine; the movements
of building a fire and brewing tea
that fight the uselessness of shock.

I remember to breathe, collect what I’m doing here
from the damp forest floor, make plans
to get these guys out of here.

What’s happening in the fifth Test? 

John sort of smiles as he asks,
his leg lies out in front of him
open and swelling with maggots.

‘Unprepared to Find’ – Stinson series – 28th February 1937

There’s a gap in the trees.  Long splinters 
of red gum point to heaven.  Below, a wing 

torn off from the charred skeleton 
of pipes that lie in the tangle of rainforest, 

buckled propeller blades are screamed back
and the dead still slumped in their seats.  I hold a vine, 

and stand trying to keep the thing from me. Two days 
searching, and now, unprepared to find it,  

through the unclean air, their voices 
call again,  shake me out of my horror and cold skin.

moment, for a currawong

 

too heavy for air,
between cathedral roots 
of a black booyong, wing bent back,
floating in leaves, it waits
to sink into earth

its expression
noble,
as the way it stood, in suit jacket – the piercing 
yellow eye, closed, offering
itself to the forest workers 
who will massage
everything back to soil 

I’m still working on the Stinson series of poems.  It has been such an interesting exercise, working with historical facts and biographical details from Bernard O’Rielley.  I’ve been struggling to get Bernard near the plane, so I’ve spent some time on rainforest pieces relating to the area of Lamington National Park, where the stinson crashed.

Calamus muelleri (lawyer vine)

How soon did you arrive 
after this giant beech fell
and pulled down a hole 
in the ceiling?  

You scramble for light 
on a rotting forest floor.  From one hundred 
meters you stretch tendrils to climb 
into the canopy with your backward facing
thorns.  Why do you exist lawyer 
vine?  What purpose? Look, my throat 

is jagged sideways, your necklace of needle hooks
rip at my skin, but even as I step back and perform 
a delicate pincer removal, you curl another 
round my back and down my arm, grab my 
pant leg.  I bend down to pick you off 
and again you are holding my hat.  

 

 

Stinson series – Sunday 28th February, 1937 (Day 9)

ix

Hands spin the map
to turn the ridge north.  An identical
twin of the last
tangled north
running ridge. It is like 

a fog; no sun, no break
in trees, no view, I climb a fig.  It is
one o’clock, five hours dropping
into gorges, lantana climb 
and lawyer vine across the top, five hours
since I saw that one burnt tree.  

‘Coo-eee’  A human voice 
out here?  

Must be another local
with the same idea
to scratch around
for an airplane.  Better not
respond, confuse the poor 
cocky.  He is two tangled 
north running ridges to the west.  
Where I’m going anyway.  Company 
will be nice.

 

‘Border Ranges’ Stinson series – Sunday 28th February, 1937

viii

Out of the dust in cameron corner
the border dashes a straight
line for the coast.  Then, 

leaps off the 29th parallel 
to swim upstream, for rivers should
be 
shared.  It bends and twists 

until it climbs out to traverse the great 
dividing range.   A dotted line 
must be its own guide.  So it wanders 

from peak to saddle to granite 
dome, skirting the base of wedding cake 
shaped cliffs.  It is a roller coaster hike and  

before it jumps 
into waves at point danger
it must scramble the subtropical

ridge of the tweed escarpment,
the inside rim of an extinct volcano
still gazing at its own belly warning.

8am on Mt Throakban
waiting for cloud to part,
to catch a glimpse 

of his pencil line
between Archerfield 
and Lismore.

burnt tree on a ridge
his heart rate
on the border

 

Stinson series – Saturday 27th February, 1937

vii

Sleep doesn’t fall 
for the night
has its own level; 

bent branches, 
screeching vines, tightly 
packed fur, lost in claws,

a tone of howls 
spread across 
an octave, 

clouds swoop, pour a drink
the size of a droplet for every leaf, 
log, black spot hiss on red ember. 

It drips like a light doze
before dawn, broken by a great owl
who has finished its search.  Bernie 

roasts an onion 
then continues his search
for broken wings.

 

Stinson series – Lamington Plateau: 1829 – Today

vi

These are the hills
Captain Logan walked around;
‘impassable pine scrub
from base to summit’.

These are the hills the O’Reilly’s built
a cottage guest house
to retreat, to cut conservation
into the mountain.

These are the hills
Bernie went scratching
around for the missing
‘City of Brisbane’.

These are the hills
where the Japanese hop
out and breathe, snap rainbow
lorikeets on their Mothers head.

These are the hills
I scramble and take
with me, lose my way
to find something else.

 

 

Stinson Series – Friday 26th February, 1937

v

His brother carved a farm
at the base of the lamington

range.  That’s where Bernie is
among the black spotted pigs

that remind him of tiger cats
who haunt the mountain.

Herb points his finger
up the valley at last Friday

afternoon’s twin engine plane
entering cloud, trying to climb

the downdraft.
‘That was a week already’.

Bernie didn’t see it fly over that day,
he hadn’t seen the newspapers either;

a santa’s sleigh of a plane,
over Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads,

Wauchope, Terrigal.  Spare aircraft
search the coast and hinterland

the army head up
the Hawkesbury, then, oil

spotted off Broken Bay.  All Hopes
Abandoned.  Growing Belief

The Stinson
Plunged into the Sea.

Have you ever had a hunch?  It is logic
I listen to, mostly.  Bernie never called it

a hunch.  He just didn’t
think newspapers have a clue.

Stinson series – Tuesday 23rd February, 1937

iv

The flask held less than a quart 
they reckoned.  Heavy, for a city man

on a diet of water, his daily exercise 
to keep John alive. 300 yards 

down to the creek; rocks, lantana,
lawyer vine, mama bird eats 

the berries from a walking stick 
palm.  Today took 

three hours to climb back up 
that slope.  

 

Stinson series – Saturday 20th February, 1937

ii

leg bone –
aircraft pipe
through canvas

iii

The cyclone moved
off the mountain, moved off
the coast, retreating
from what it had done.  Air

washed of its haze; buildings
in Brisbane and beyond the Glass
House mountains.  We couldn’t see
our mountain held a secret;

flecks of blue through the canopy,
and wandering planes
never circle
our cries and smokey fire.  Westray
couldn’t wait beside the carcass
of yesterday’s flight, his hand burning
to scramble down gullies.  Gone,
in moments, swallowed by green
just the fading sound of a man slipping
through the undergrowth.

Stinson series – Friday 19th Feb, 1937

i

The pressure drops, the anxious
spin before the storm.  Trees lose
what they can’t hold, limbs 
crack, bring down vines, ferns explode 
and send a squawk up the valley.  
All of this is swallowed

by the howling.  Behind the timber barn,
the girls huddle.  Their udders and fearful eyes 
wait until tomorrow.  Stump to stump, Bernie
crosses the field to the rattling cottage, 
inside, smoke billows
each gust back down the chimney.

Twenty miles west,
below the top of the plateau,
John escapes through a cabin window,
into the rain, pulls out two others
before the engine fuel
takes them all.

 
 
 

Brisbane’s pesky locals

For some reason this week there’s been some poetic interest in the feral, good for nothing, ugly, will pinch a chip out of your fingers, sings like my great aunty, local Brisbane birds (no offence aunty).  Here is a sensational poem called ‘Why do we hate the crow?’ by a new blog friend Gabrielle Bryden.  Click on the mp3 recording.  It is well worth it.

Lee-Anne Davie has been writing haiku and you’ll find this (as well as plenty of others) at Another Lost Shark Sandgate Ginko: Lee-Anne Davie

a lone ibis fossicks

in the mangroves

nothing

I had to laugh at the misfortune of the old ibis but there seems to be a great deal of sympathy out there.  Here is John Wainwright at MirrorMosaicOfSounds :

noisy bird

enticing me

no-one else

A stone's throw from Chermside (don't even think about it!)

 

For some unknown reason, I’ve been getting cosy with Brisbane’s ‘pests’ – I wrote this last week:

during smoko

collecting nearby twigs

tones down his aaark

And here is a ‘fresh’ Saturday sequence of my own:


early morning car park full of sunlight

 

at the truck stop

morning birds

pick at a meat pie crust

 

I guess there’s no rush…

a crow walks

across the road

 

each time another

joins the banquet –

magpies lift their song

 

Peace to the pesky Brisbane locals