Monday, March 18, 2019

New Poetry by James Walton

The Strzelecki Mountain Killings (I,II,III)


I brought down the iron bark by the garage
to give the solar panels more say
in using the day from the north east.
The mahogany wood is hard to split,
the dense grain knowing more than sin;
axe and wedge recoil 
until I find a way to work around the edge
down to the heart.
Younger branches dribble sap in thick remonstrance on my shirt -
on the sawn rounds my thumb traverses a thick history
of circles closer than early marriage,
holding more than a national library in an inch.
I strike down and shatter the lines
that were there when Charlemagne was emperor,
growing when Istanbul was just rumour to Constantinople.  


Elizabeth Watkins Creek speaks in flowing,
most often, a rustle in the back ground
like the child up first for the Christmas presents,
or a whispery kiss on your ear.
Sometimes, a lunging push that wakes in flood
when the careless water sprite surge might just
grab dangling ankles off the stringy bark bridge
past the driver’s ford;
rolling over winded flat out on your back the last thing seen
a stencil of doily tree ferns stitched on to looming white gums.
Black wallabies sip at the giggle of her ribs,
waving off the early traffic
where the sandy gravel rides the perimeter circus curves.
She springs too early, washing down McDonalds Track;
the mountain quakes its fist for her again
pleading release from the undercurrent leash
slapping the bitumen harness away.


Through the cross roads
where the big cat is claimed to wander,
past the gorging potato factory tractors
an iron tower marks the place,
where the tallest tree in the world stood.
Two brothers cut it down to measure -
the distance now in segments of fence post spacings,
a splash of orange on one to show
where the crown would have been
ten quarter acres up the road
from the rusting monument base.
Out of the aching mist on windy nights
you can hear the ruffeting of missing limbs,
waving across the valley to the Baw Baws
where a higher regnans in sanctuary,
clothed in a garland canopy
resists the tailor’s tape, 
knows better than to signal back.

- James Walton 2019

James Walton lives in South Gippsland. He was a librarian, a farm labourer, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many newspapers, journals, and anthologies, and has been shortlisted for the ACU Prize, the MPU International Prize, the James Tate Prize, and Jupiter Artland. His books include The Leviathan's Apprentice  2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, and Unstill Mosaics (forthcoming). 

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