Monday, March 31, 2008

New Poetry by Les Wicks

Episodic Gratification

Kill the cat.

Your name is not enough.
Trust your hands.
Kill the cat. Make It.
Don't let prayers have all the brightest stars, roll your lips.
Your choice one-day one-day.

The secret is layers, one cannot endure…
good life is an accretion of layers.
By the time you have attained
spouses, mortgages, power or esteem
there will be nothing exposed to the certainties of cold winter.

And you'll have killed the cat

which had no name
maybe once sleek
preposterously proud in its little menace.
Worse then, ginger dimmed
scars and missing teeth
but still a tomcat howl
to rake a sleeping night.

He had no humans of his own
but his kind all know the predictable call for food.
Geoffrey allowed. The approach, the grab
then throttle. A vicious, short-term fight -
scratches before a death.
This man dropped the orange, empty carapace -
it lands like exhausted breath (which it no longer had).
He could almost see refugee fleas as they packed for diaspora.

That empty ball of bone
buried in a #4 blade plot of lawn.

Next day had a paper-cut wind
his own belief in comfort
warmed the Sunday hands.
We know this choice. The end.
He becomes the intended comet
of primary happiness.
Grass grew brighter.
Everything important wins.

Each page
in the Gehennic biographies -
more food, more garbage
sleep at the edge of charms.
Thieves, chains and Hugo Boss
strange children home from school
becoming just like daddy
and the wife is toning thighs
in rooms full of energy.

- Les Wicks 2008

Kurraga City Council

The lords of local politics fly spotlit under lamps.
A desk can bluster them lazily above crowds,
stinking contrails above the craning lumpen necks
of almost-concerned citizens.
Expertise is rusted on
our mouths are angry nests as waves
corrode beneath untended sun.
There's a 1940s lemon slumber in the halls
as lesser grades sick lankly over tea.

Pyramids of waste
cacophonous hymns
cracked roads like mousetraps
with chasms at the verge.

Art projects primped then launched in a
municipal wine to an audience of three -
ossuary of the new.

Pensioners get bussed to parks
where they're mugged then rushed to hospital.
Like People's Liberation Army troops at harvest time
blue uniformed Rangers march out to reap fines from those
whose junk-pump cars go everywhere
"for the ride".

Each civic plan has kernels for the next
while good intentions seep like limescale
in a great impotent bowl.
Envy no one this choice
when they one-day raise their hand;
Australian suburban jihadis
on an asthmatic campaign.

Me too, complaint becomes habit
then every day is caught up
whining into nitre.
Overheated phones placate iconoclastic codgers,
complaints are passed up into space
until no one rings and no one answers.
There's just the fart-oomph of spent words
folding all the air.

- Les Wicks 2008

Bondi poet Les Wicks appeared in the March issue of America's Concelebratory Shoehorn Review, one of hundreds of publications that feature his work.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Poetry by Ashley Capes

as mud dries

what draws you to empty
spaces, where
echoes cross arms
and dive off rocks,
never to be heard again?

alone is just five letters
pulled together by a snapshot,
when otherwise they wouldn’t
know each other at all

but between them something
happens to make
going back possible

the way you can take words
like lead, until one syllable
breaks your knees,
and still you go back for more, sneaking

the way you find seconds
between jet engines
and a cool change,
even when running.

- Ashley Capes 2008


whatever hands may wash
we will steal and muffle with boxes,
rachel’s blue rose on the wall
of cups, crippled toothpaste
and the
peter pan complex

only the body moves
and thoughts stick
sills and taps that drip.

- Ashley Capes 2008

Ashley co-founded Egg(Poetry) in 2002 and is working on an pdf
magazine holland1945. He is currently studying Arts and Education
at Monash and 'sings' for his band kingfit. His first collection of poetry
is 'pollen and the storm' (2008.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Poetry by rob walker

The Teachings of the Buddha

when the others have left
a man wakes from his
stupor finding himself
in the middle of the kingdom

of bhutan in an old hotel room
with a plain brown wardrobe
half a cup of cold darjeeling tea
a piece of plain toast and the

Teachings of Buddha at his side
through the curtains orange and
yellow prayer-flags billow upwards
across the whispering thimpu river

regular white geometry
of bhutanese houses climbing steep
slopes with the cedars and the
dzhong on a distant mountain

against blue
he wonders at his place in the
world and the book
falls open to

When a man is in a house and opens his eyes he will first notice the interior of the room and only later will he see the view outside the windows. In like manner we can not have the eye notice external things before there is recognition by the eyes of the things in the house.

And from a white fog
nothingness begins to take

- rob walker 2008

rob walker is an Adelaide poet currently residing in Himeji, on the coast road between Kobe and Okayama on the Japanese island of Honshu.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Les is more than I can handle

It will always have its detractors, of course, as anyone who has suddenly come into money will, and anyway, detractors are to any institution what air is to a whale. But Chicago’s Poetry Foundation is at least putting some of that money where its 96 year-old mouth is.

In its annual newsletter just arrived on my desk, Foundation President John Barr states

Recently we counted up… and were surprised to find that our partners number more than 40 different national and local academic and cultural institutions. The collective effect of all the Foundations activities in 2007……was to place the poems in front of 10 million people.

On top of this there is Poetry’s ongoing commitment to awards. Now, you may share some of my scepticism about awards (look no further than the winner of this year’s Archibald in Sydney), but at least Poetry is going some way to unclogging the funnel and allowing some real and lasting talent to slip through. There is also Poetry Foundation’s initiative American Life in Poetry, in the words of John Barr, a syndicated weekly column of poems selected by former poet laureate, Ted Kooser and published by the Foundation with the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. That column now reaches more than four million newspaper readers each week, and the program is being expanded to offer a free poetry syndication service to newspapers (you hear that, SMH?!!) featuring book reviews, op-eds, and articles on poets and poetry. In addition to continuing a series of broadcasts on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer......

As you may have intuited by the dots, I could go on, but all this vibrancy and optimism is making me dizzy. I am a native, after all, of that hoarse whisper south of the line where our only poetic “institution” is a bloated avatar for all the good we inherited, whose skewed pronouncements on those less fortunate than himself speak volumes for his clinical condition and not much else, and whose output seems to yellow and blister at each fresh reading. Had I a fraction of his money (this is a man, need I remind you, who could afford to return an enormous government grant, in essence buying copy to air his pithy grievances), then I assure you I would be doing my utmost to explore ways of salvaging what remains of this island’s proud literary heritage. Let’s face it, Poetry are drawing up the blueprints.

It behoves none of us to draw too many parallels between Americans and Antipodeans. They are a programmatic race infused with an energy alien to us. They are only ever looking in one direction (the Iran-Iraq war is, after all, ancient history to those whose parents’ taxes largely subsidized its prosecution and the eternal “liberation” of 2 million souls), while we are forever in two minds. In fact, just this morning I was struck on reading Don Bradman’s classic “A Farewell to Cricket” that he refers to heading off to the “New World” when setting sail from Sydney for his tour of North America as though leaving the “Old World” behind. Only the pedant in me was struck by it.

The great Don’s Dominion-esque approbations aside, institutions such as The Poetry Foundation enrich us all, Antipodean or American, poet or passing stranger. Did I mention their decades-old “Open Door Policy”? It was enshrined thus by founder Harriet Moore in 1912

The Open Door Policy will be the policy of this magazine – may the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius! To this end the editors hope to keep free of entangling alliances with any single class or school. They desire to print the best English verse which is being written today, regardless of where, by whom, or under what theory of art it is written.

Though an institution with plenty of money (it is in the process of building its own headquarters, for God’s sake, in downtown Chicago!), Poetry has never really forsaken its modernist roots, ie that vibrant, exploratory, oftentimes reckless spirit so characteristic of the first two decades of the twentieth century, workshop of that thundering rollercoaster on which was conceived this island’s all-too-partisan equivalents. “it is a strange bird/this world/whose habit is/to fight itself/whose left wing/and right wing/tear themselves/bitterly apart”. So said Michael Dransfield, back when our “institutions” were still young. But someone needs to tell these dons of the dilatory that the old bird is dead. That the wings weren’t clipped but blasted clear out of a September sky. Someone needs to tell these grand old cocks to either shit or get out of the nest and give this chick some room to hatch.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

New Poetry by MTC Cronin


Oh great poet
There seems to be something you do not know
Otherwise why so many laments
Though artfully concealed
You have made from words?
Shall I tell you what you are missing?
There is only one thing
When someone mistakes it
Anything is bound to happen
Including these things
You have been forced to write

- MTC Cronin 2008

[from FALLS]

Margie Cronin is one of Australia's most accomplished and prolific poets. Her latest book is "Prayers in a Box/life without a god" through SOI Press (2007)