Stuart Cooke

Stuart Cooke is a Sydney-based writer but at present he is in Chile undertaking research for a PhD on Australian and Chilean ecopoetics. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in various magazines in Australia, the USA and the UK, including upcoming editions of Overland and Meanjin. In 2007 his translation of Juan Garrido Salgado’s Once Poemas, Septiembre 1973 was published by Picaro Press.



Birthday Shift
The entire memory of waking, a
quarter of an hour ago, might also
be handed back to forgetfulness, incurring
                                                                   no loss. It’s amazing
how quickly it goes – money, I mean,
and love. I had love, once.
I had it I knew
it was there. But
you can’t write about that swift
and sudden fall from grace It’s
that mild evening, ruled
by still air. “Mordecai,” she asked, “what
became of the old books?”
He could have been contemptuous or filled
with hope: you can write this way, you
assembled in wash, blubber, observation,
can. Write. And I
turned on the television:
Germany’s done with words:
too much to be said; nothing
to say Our
daydreams carry us back to it. Love.
in the faint, white light. You can’t write
about that. At dawn
I see a fox
                 on the lawn the queerer
the dearer in pink the moment leaves
and passes on.
I was filled with a desire to say, ‘Those
were the days’. Return. Victory shifts, you know, now
one man, now another. Shift. Light
shift. What silly
physics! (now as I look) You
can write lonely poetry. This armageddon of the brain
is lonely poetry and the Jew,
who was seen to be quite elderly,
made his own way to the door.
I came back filled. I hate
birthdays, this enforced
loneliness we step into
locations and change them history
channel blues.
I’m sorry, for whereas the real beginnings
of images
will give concrete evidence I
wouldn’t have fallen in love of the non-I
that protects the I if I wasn’t a lonely poet to teach
the world to laugh at virtue to drink
gin like love
on leaves. Parks filled
with the dream departed,
leaving him there, his heart racing with hope
shifts, birthdays shift
new work in old
 Cited texts:

‘Breakfast’, by Martin Harrison
‘Stranger in Moscow’, by Michael Jackson
Riders in the Chariot, by Patrick White
‘Lighthouse Series’, by Kate Fagan
The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard
‘hare encounter’, ‘art nouveau’ and ‘nella casa di balla tutto balla’, by Michael Farrell

The Iliad, by Homer (trans. Robert Fagles)
Those Without Limbs
 from Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Those without limbs, those
with round stumps or shards of bone
covered up
are absent from clubs.
are the realms of the beautiful,
the whole,
the bodies untouched by history.
Those without limbs are left
to drag themselves along the beachfront,
their half-thighs drawing thick lines
in sand
which we, the varnished, the well-
step over with wet feet, with
smiling, and damp wads of riel for the white
blood of bulbous, dissected coconuts.