Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Poetry by Peter Boyle

In the age of restoration

The Emperor Hirohito is being reborn
inside the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral,
wearing a top hat and monocle,
swathed in umbilical bandages, bathed
in glue from the sky’s condensation,
hatched from an egg –
tensely the operation proceeds:
listen, the assistant says,
the silence is ending.
A purred group of words in English
murmurs like a bee-swarm on the Emperor’s lips
(at birth he is already thirty)
and softly the dazzled spring leaves of London
are bowing in obeisance,
barges on the Thames
are sliding from their moorings,
storks and swallows mass in grey hushed
lines of reverence along the rooftops of the city
while, unsuspected, his subjects –
the inhabitants of all wandering islands, great or small –
dither or dally at the usual
tasks of daylight
like a world of tiny life-worn hands
folding and unfolding their cherished anxieties
before a great boulder descends.

- Peter Boyle 2011


For twelve nights he lay awake: the great stars of the abyss had invaded him
At last the storyteller was summoned
“There was once a thief no thicker than a rose’s stem”
An unsuspected withering began to unweave the shadows on his bed
The chrysalis of the sky surrounded him
Two deer beside a jack-knifed car stared into a crow’s unforgiving gaze
A swarm of aphids was about to carry the soul of a famous opera singer back to Africa
He lay beside the storyteller and they were both old
Sharp specks of a dazzling black flower infiltrated his skin
Everything that ever existed seemed magical
An apple on a table a row of dots abandoning an exercise book a microscope caressing dead cells all night as a swollen clock inspects the laboratory
Water like strips of torn paper a lizard a door in a forest and behind it lavender and mint
The earth they would enter had already been prepared: in the underground factory languages and genetic codes would be exchanged
In the upturned cup of a flower the same ocean as at the earth’s end
To destroy a great city or a human body a single blow at the precise centre is generally enough

- Peter Boyle 2011

Peter Boyle lives in Sydney. He has published five books of poetry as well as three books as a translator of French and Spanish poetry. His most recent book Apocrypha (Vagabond Press, 2009) won the Queensland Premier’s Prize and the Arts ACT Judith Wright Prize and was shortlisted for the Australian Literary Society’s Gold Medal. His translation of Cuban poet José Kozer’s Anima was released by Shearsman Press in 2011. His New and Selected poetry is due out with Puncher and Wattman in 2012.

1 comment:

Stuart Barnes said...

"A purred group of words in English/
murmurs like a bee-swarm on the Emperor’s lips" - fantastic!