Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Poetry by Phillip Ellis

After John Tranter, on Painting the Whole Sky

There is something to the art of painting
that makes talking about it holding weight
in your hands, the act of lifting a train--
say, a passenger train, or a freight train--
the way that you would lift up an ill boy
underneath the cloud-patched and summer sky,
the way you'd lift your head to count each cloud
that sidles too high to hear human cries.

It is not the sunset that is wounded
like a bayonetted khaki soldier
who's haunting the corridors of these trains,
bearing the phantom imprint of canvas
against the restlessness of all the boys
like a hand held up against the sun, sky.

Nightmare of a Haunted Father

The hunted and haunted sleeps
in restlessness, nestled close,
with hoarse, dumb breath
rasping against his wife's head.
But within, a single, ghostly voice
sings to him lieder close to Mahler's
in form, but bleeding
with heartless whispers
gnawing away and beyond waking.

Spiralling inwards, later, at the table
cluttered with toast and spilt cereal,
his mind is still disturbed, fearfully,
like ghosts behind his blinding paper
bursting with words raped
of any meaning. Folding it down,
with a sudden mental sound,
he huddles, as if a scent of metal
surrounds him.

Later, awake at one, in the heat
of the creaking bed, he dreams again,
dumbly seeing the redness of blood
on his dead daughter's legs,
on the stove the water has fled,
her ovaries burning dry.

- Phillip Ellis 2010

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