Carolyn Gerrish

Carolyn Gerrish is a Sydney poet. She has published five collections of poetry, most recently The View from the Moon (Island Press, 2011). She runs creative writing workshops in the community and at WEA adult learning. She is currently working on her sixth collection and hopes that one day satirical writing will save the world.


War of Nerves

sometimes    the feeling nothing can harm you
the dizziness of freedom    where anxiety’s
a useless passion  &  there’s no vigil  waiting
for the end to begin    you’ve lost the fear
life could just haemorrhage away    or that the
mobile phone tower    could morph into a Transformer
&  ruin the suburb    &  there’s plucky Bette Davis
who   after receiving a negative prognosis   from
the handsome doctor    claims   I’m young & strong  &
nothing can touch me
                                  every exit
                                         is an entry
                                                 somewhere else

but why are there so many security guards at the
Mall    then there’s the worry of wrong weather
(this year   summer was autumn)   & those nimbus clouds
painters’ inspiration    or evidence of Apocalypse
&  that shadow   just resting on the road    becomes a
suspected portent     &  please note    the asteroid
passing by us    if we collide    could certainly
take out a medium-sized continent    so   with
Armageddon averted  for now    one antagonist
is missing     but the 24 hour news cycle  never
stops    as a rogue Afghan soldier   kills
Australian troops
                            the disaster
                                      takes care
                                                of everything


Ground Zero

the omniscient narrator peers down    the air
stoic rather than heroic    no ignorant armies
(that)  clash by night   & Stendahl would find
nothing to swoon about    it’s just a mess of stuff
detritus of the city’s zeitgeist   &  are these
your pets?  dogs?  camels?   a baby in a backpack
on the way to Kindergarten Adventure Travel   &
objects Jung would love to discuss   a key for
no particular door   residences are generic here
a torch  to search for your neglected self   a
globe of he world  beginning to shatter after
ignoring all the warnings    a lady’s hat housing
no skull   & sheep & goats wander the street  &  he
shall set the sheep on his right hand   but the
goats on the left    a decaying apple    brain in
cognitive decline  when I am dead & doctors know
not why   a life-size doll with attitude & paint
brushes that achieve an extinguished palette
but unfolding    unfolding     as being emerges
from concealment

                 After Rita Lazauskas, View from the Ramparts # 5
                              (drawing in charcoal, gesso, conte)