Tag Archives: Stinson wreck

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
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‘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.