Lyn Hatherly spends much of her time doing something about writing: editing, publishing, writing, and teaching. Some writers have been working with her – as members of The Writing Zone club – since 1997. Currently, apart from teaching writing and mentoring other writers, she’s one of the managing editors of the new Five Islands Press. In the past she was one of the founding board members of Australia Poetry, editor of Poetry Monash and the Medal Poets Series. In between lecturing in North Queensland Lyn set off in her small green car on a Writer on Wheels tour funded by the Regional Writing Fund. She also acted as poetry editor for LiNQ. Lyn has three published books: Acts of Abrasion (Five Islands Press 2006) Sappho’s Sweetbitter Songs (Routledge 1996) Songs of Silence (Medal Poets 1994). She contributes poetry and reviews to journals and anthologies and has won several awards. At the moment, after much house and garden building, Lyn is busy with a new book about creating a garden in the natural Australian style.
It’s a miracle the way they home
every evening, braids of light from the city
to the burbs and boroughs
dark-suited parents in singles or pairs
swooping in with the day’s bacon or fish
dreaming, while halted, of the snug rooms
the glad cries of their young.
From crowded arterials they separate
gem-like threads shine up and down grey dales.
Who could believe they’d each find
that certain opening, could zoom at speed
into their own welcome.
By February Shearwaters have nested
in earthen burrows, each parent sitting
alternate weeks sharing their warmth
with the young as they swell in curved shells.
The other floats, dives for dinner with the flock
flies unerringly home, feathered beats
matching the clouds, shape-shadowing the sea.
Each plunges straight and fast into one entrance
among thousands, each, to my eyes
exactly alike. Babies in their fluffy suits
squeal with pleasure before the family
settles in their dim cosy nest.
you slip from me
slick with the fluids of ingress
my labia refold like petals
when the world turns from the sun
I think how part of you
sleeping now against my thigh
is solid brawn yet baby-skin soft
you don’t know
in months a child will take its leave
the way you have left
my very bones spreading
hormones unsettling them
as our child moves outwards
you can’t remember
how a pelvis bent as you birthed
so you fit that thin canal
how fontanelles those pliant spots
flexed your skull
where spaces lingered
where skin stretched
and revealed your soul
you didn’t see the head
of our first child pointed
as a pixie as she squeezed
only love could melt bones
this way then fuse
them for a lifetime
Mila Kačič, acclaimed Slovenian actress and poet, was born on October 5, 1912, the illegitimate child of an impoverished teacher in Ljubljana, Ljudmila Kačič, and a rich property owner, Herbert Mahr. Mahr’s parents objected to this relationship and arranged for the child, at only a few months old, to be put in foster care with a poor family named Kovačič, where to all accounts Mila had an unhappy childhood. After completing primary schooling she was enrolled in a private civic school, earning enough for her books and other school needs by working during weekends and school holidays. She studied singing and drama at the National Conservatory in Ljubljana, and later at the Theatre Academy. She made her first, amateur appearance on stage at sixteen, and a year later began working in radio. She joined the Ljubljana opera in 1941 where in the four seasons before the Liberation (1945) she took part in forty-two performances. She subsequently became renowned as an actress for stage, television and film, performing over 120 roles as a member of the Ljubljana Drama Theatre ensemble between 1945 and 1970, and receiving numerous awards for her film and television work, including a Golden Arena award at the 1978 Pula Film Festival, the premier such festival in the former Yugoslavia, for her role in the 1977 film To so gadi (Real Pests). She published her first collection of poetry, Neodposlana pisma (Unsent Letters) in 1951, and four others over the next five decades: Letni časi (Seasons, 1960), Spomin (Memory, 1973), Okus po grenkem (A Taste of Bitterness, 1987), and Minevanja (Passings, 1997). Her great love, and one of her most consistent subjects, was the sculptor Jakob Savinšek (1922-1961). She was deeply affected by his early death, and later by the death, in 1990, of their son David. She died on March 3rd, 2000. It is felt by many that she was neglected by critics, for the simplicity and directness of her verse, and for her preoccupation with desire and disappointment, love, motherhood and death. The 2005 publication of her collected poems, Skoz pomladni dež bom šla (I Will Go Through the Spring Rain), however, has gained her a wide and enthusiastic readership. Apart from one or two poems in isolated anthologies, these are the first of her poems to appear in English language translation.
in the green brightness
at the first
breath of Spring dreams
a tiny blossom.
in the velvet dark
in the midst of sunburnt fields,
like two enamoured knights,
their first fruit.
in the golden glow
gone for an early dance with the wind
into the azure, silently
of sweet surrender
have vanished in time
the late glow of a scarlet dawn
An echo somewhere
but it’s my voice no more
that dove of pearl
no longer eats from my hand.
into the bottom of a sinister evening
A night heavy as lead
is covering my heart.
You say nothing to me
You say nothing to me but I know
our arc has broken asunder.
Wherever you and I go
we don’t join hands any longer.
Why should we? Touching disturbs you.
Why should I block your path
when I know so surely from which other
comes that scent that you nightly gather?
There is nothing more you want from me
nor anything more you could expect.
The dawn chases you off each morning.
Every evening you are stranger.
Never before this evening have
I felt such coldness from grey walls,
tearing into my flesh like a knife,
the dark door like an open grave.
My stare follows your steps through the window
as they vanish into a gale as cold as ice
cutting a narrow line into the blanket of snow
where our star is gilding the universe.
I wish that a tear like the one which just now
dropped onto the cold, white sheet
would no longer so searingly cloud my sight.
I wish that my hot lips could find you
and like chords of music at last vibrate
as an echo only to your song.
has already banished the grey of dusk
and the moon’s ray
is kissing the surface of the lake.
The white birch
like a sweet, virgin bride
has silently leaned
into the arms of the restless elm.
From the gentle lotus
to the poor, skeletal nettle
whatever is able
wraps itself in alluring dreams.
To its mate, the titmouse
is warmer than ever before
See? on nights such as this
the meanest heart can be at peace.
The world can’t afford
into which to chisel
all the yearnings
And you have just two hands
and only one heart.
on the pane of my loneliness
are your greeting.
All that remain
of the promised flowers.
Austere, in neat lines,
like unbribable swords
keeping guard between us.
I watch them from a distance
lest they are driven off
by my breath.
Close your eyes, Spring,
when you walk by.
Under your stare
there will only be weeping
lost in silence.
In my thoughts, after you departed,
I sat the whole long night beside you.
Past the last of our cottages, the iron beast
rushed us into foreign lands.
The spring morning, waking from night,
has hidden the horizon in a woollen mist.
Far, far away beyond it is the sea
And, farther than the sea, the sun and you.
Now I seek you down unknown roads,
staring into strange, unkind faces
and feel wretched. When it’s worst
I find you buried in my dreams.
A note about the translators
Bert Pribac was born in the village of Sergaši near Koper in Slovenia in 1933. As a boy he was caught in the turbulence of WWII and later in the traumatic events of post war Yugoslavia. At fifteen he was enrolled in an intensive course in journalism and began writing for local newspapers. In 1955 he began university studies in Ljubljana and completed them in 1959 before forced by politically adverse circumstances to leave Slovenia. He arrived in Australia in 1960 as a refugee, working at first as a hospital cleaner. In 1966 he began work as a library officer at the National Library of Australia, and became subsequently Chief Librarian for the Federal Health department, travelling widely and leaving behind over 50 reports and articles on library technical and management issues. After early retirement in 1988 because of a major car accident, he became more active in literary work. He returned to Slovenia in 2000. He has published several collections of poetry, and translations both of Australian poetry into Slovenian, and Slovenian into English, most notably, with David Brooks, The Golden Boat, an extensive selection of the poetry of Srečko Kosovel (Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2008).
David Brooks (b. Canberra, 1953) spent much of his early childhood in Greece and Yugoslavia where his father was an Australian immigration attaché and later consul. Returning to Australia he spent a year in late high school on an exchange scholarship in the U.S.A., and after an honours degree at the A.N.U. returned to North American for postgraduate studies at the University of Toronto. Since then he has taught at several universities, most recently the University of Sydney (1991- ), edited numerous literary journals (most recently Southerly [1999- ]), and established a reputation as a poet, essayist and writer of fiction. He lives in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, and for a portion of each year in a village on the coast of Slovenia. In 2011 the University of Queensland Press published his The Sons of Clovis: Ern Malley, Adoré Floupette, and a Secret History of Australian Poetry, and in November 2012 his fourth novel, The Conversation.
by David Herd
Reviewed by ANN VICKERY
All Just (2012) is David Herd’s second collection published by Carcanet Press (the first being Mandelson! Mandelson! A Memoir (2005)). The epigraph by Giorgio Agamben foregrounds the volume’s key theme which is to explore what it means to be political in contemporary times: “The thought of our time finds itself confronted with the structure of the exception in every area”(n.pag.) In many respects, All Just is Herd’s response to the epigraph to Agamben’s own book State of Exception(2005): “Why are you jurists silent about that which concerns you?” Agamben views the state of exception as the site of uncertainty or “no-man’s land” between the legal and the political.(1) As he points out, the state of exception is a structure in which the law encompasses living beings by means of its own suspension and is increasingly a dominant paradigm of government in contemporary politics. Perhaps the most obvious example is the U.S.A. Patriot Act which “allowed the attorney general to ‘take into custody’ any alien suspected of activities that endangered the national security of the United States.” This Act, as Agamben points out,” “erases any legal status of the individual, thus producing a legally unnameable and unclassifiable being.” He or she becomes simply a ‘detainee,’ the “object of a pure de facto rule”(3). In “Fact,” Herd notes a similar erasure of rights in the British system: “when a detainee/ from the Dover Immigration Removal Centre” is not entitled to attend his own bail hearing and the bail hearing is “officially un-/recorded”(27). The poem foregrounds the dehumanisation involved in applying the letter of the law under a state of exception. In transposing the legal statement to verse form, chopping it into lines, and framing it through William Carlos William’s whimsical imagist poem, “This is just to say—”, Herd undoes the statement’s objective, totalising force as rule.
In his essay on Kafka, Walter Benjamin proposed that “[t]he law which is studied but no longer practised is the gate to justice”(qtd in Agamben 63). That is, justice is approached not through rejecting a law that no longer has any meaning, but “in having shown that it ceases to be law and blurs at all points of life.” Agamben argues that only a “studious play” with the law will be that which “allows us to arrive at that justice […] a state of the world in which the world appears as a good that absolutely cannot be appropriated or made juridical”(64). He continues, “To show law in its nonrelation to life and life in its nonrelation to law means to open a space between them for human action, which once claimed for itself the name of ‘politics.’” For Agamben, politics has, of late, been contaminated by law, “seeing itself, at best, as constituent power.” However, in Agamben’s view, “The only truly political act […] is that which severs the nexus between violence and law”(88).
This may seem like a lengthy way to getting around to talking about All Just but necessary, I think, in order to demonstrate just how significant and pressing a task Herd takes on. Herd dedicates All Just to Alpha, a synonym for “beginning” or first of a new use. It is a utopic gesture. The opening poem, “3 a.m.,” considers what Alain Badiou might call an evental moment of Rimbaud writing,
What he imagined was a vanishing point,
A tenacious correspondence between diverse spheres.
Or rather, a kind of serenity [eue’maneria, beautiful day]
The new politics which remains largely to be invented.
That’s what it’s all about,
Candle. Birds. Trees. Bread.
Seized [s’est chargé],
Already the staccato.
Just about, merely
The elements of this “new politics” can be found in terms, “3 a.m.,” “Candle,” “Birds,” “Tree,” “Bread.” As Agamben notes, language too can be cut from the confines of grammar although it gains meaning through discourse or through “merely/ Circulating”(37). In seizing these mundane words, Rimbaud stages an act of violence and challenges their normal use. In so doing, he reveals language as an empty space. This “staccato” is the suspension of the law, by which there is the possibility of “Just about”, a possible glimpse to the “vanishing point” of justice.
The collection’s title All Just suggests that the poems within might be viewed together, studiously or ‘just’ playing with, or layering one another towards the state of justice. As such, they can be approached singularly but have additional charge if read serially. Sometimes, this might be a recurring word, such as “plum.” Tying the poems between each other and back to William’s “This is just to say”, Herd ranges from a state of potential in being “plumready”(23) or “When the plums were first ready”(31) to that of destruction, with an image of plums smashed in other poems. In some cases, the connection between poems is made overt (such as through a play on title) and could be seen almost as variations. These are poems where words and phrases are extracted and rearranged, a process of condensation that encourages (Objectivist-like) a heightened attention to the remaining words and to their surrounding space. The following two poems is an example of this pairing:
Along the broken road
nearby the disparate houses
where summers, coming into purple
the mallow blooms,
complex tools and fishing nets,
stop and exchange;
beneath wires where
‘Adoration of the Child and the Young St John’,
nearby the outbuildings,
slipped open early,
‘based on conflict’,
as morning comes;
where seagulls stand
allover into language,
where mallow blooms purple along the broken road,
you stood one time
to arrive at terms. (32)
Ecology (out set)
What stands discrete
scattered against the outbuildings
mallow goldfinch complex terms
and you, stood there
not knowing if you’re coming or going
‘hostile world’ (33)
The first poem foregrounds being located in a particular place and time, one that seems to be of a Kentish seaside town and with the modern parent’s responsibility of “carting children” around. The poem, on one level, can be read as a glimpse into the privacy of the living being, situated between the aesthetic and the functional, between natural cycles (the seasons, life and death) and human degeneration. Yet on another level, the poem is focussed on its own artifice and, indeed, doubles up on itself in recycling its own terms and being ‘beautifully economical.’ The poem ends with “you stood one time/struggling/to arrive at terms,” questioning at one level, the terms of governance and the state prescribed to the ‘normal’, but at another level, asking what the living being might mean in relation to words. This is also reflected in “[W]here seagulls stand” being made “allover into language.” The second poem is an act of condensation from the first poem, intensifying attention to a few words and phrases. Attention is now drawn to the emptiness or white space surrounding the words. The words and phrases are “[w]hat stands discrete” out of a traditional verse form. One’s relation to these terms and phrases is less easy to navigate without poetic conventions, such that one is cast into “not knowing if you’re coming or going”. In placing terms like ‘hostile world’ in quotation marks, Herd foregrounds their clichéd over-use and possible emptiness.
A further poem, “One by One,” both enacts and reflects on Herd’s multiplication or fragmenting of poems, stating:
The poem splits,
It has no desire to become a nation,
It traffics in meanings, roots among stones,
The things they have with them,
Along the broken road. (37)
In the poem’s second stanza, the immigrant is marked as “it,” splitting identity “To begin again”(37). Identity papers are, of course, a way of positioning within and binding a living being to nation. The tendency of documents to ‘fix’ a person has been well-theorised. A number of poems in All Just explore the relationship between living being and documentation. “Sans papiers,” for instance, considers how the history of migration does not lend itself to empirical or juridical analysis because of the lack of documentation:
Where parts of the message must have disappeared
With time but also through violence, errors in transmission
So it couldn’t be framed how much movement there had been (12)
Herd puts tension on words (language) and genre (form), testing their degree of circulation and separation. Occasionally he merges words together into neologisms such as “seagullsallover”(52) and “sweethairbefalling”(55). In these instances, words are literally brought closer together, whereas in other cases, he tests word “scattering” against the blank page. He parallels the experience of making sense of linguistic terms with the difficulty of negotiating terms between two individuals. All Just is a wonderful collection because it has poetry that does what many do not, meditating upon the long-term nature of a ‘holding place’ in which to live (of intimacy, “[m]aking a home”(53) and “establishing a living”(53)). The articulation of personal structures, both their fragility and routine nature, is tenderly and eloquently set out. Not only this, but there is also a contrast between the efforts required to maintain connection and security against an alternative transience of life that marks those moving across places, such as refugees. The difficulty of knowing ‘where one stands’ both in space and affect, whether it requires particularising or details, whether one can choose where one stands, is perhaps the condition of being modern and is explored in All Just in a way that is resonant and haunting.
All Just articulates the ambiguities, uncertainties, and intersections between living beings and the structures that bind, including that of language itself. Herd suggests that “what we need surely/ Is a new kind of document equal/ To the places we constructed between us.” One might add, and to the dynamics between ourselves. All Just attempts to write just that and in doing so, is affectively moving, linguistically playful, and emphatically political.
Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception. Trans. Kevin Attell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
David Herd. Mandelson! Mandelson! A Memoir. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 2005.
—–. All Just. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 2012.
by Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne
Grand Parade Poets, 2012
Reviewed by BRONWN LANG
This is Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne’s second publication. Her first, People from Bones, was co-authored with Bron Bateman and the new collection, Domestic Archaeology, “has been ten years in the making and aims to take you on the journey of infertility and out the other side with your optimism left firmly intact.” Pilgrim-Byrne is indeed true to her aspirations and it is the unflinching exposure of the personal that makes this collection so charming. What seems striking about this collection is the anthropocentric inventiveness; the way Pilgrim-Byrne’s use of nature adds layers to her personal poems.
A third of Laysan albatross pairs are female and have been known
to couple for up to 19 years.
We’re Laysan Albatross People
co-operatively breeding a new generation
of squawking individuals
Domestic Archaeology offers the reader a detailed review of Pilgrim-Byrne’s biographical experience and her familial landscape. Fertility / infertility are a central theme and throughout her collection weave a sequence of poems which document the author’s personal journey through four and a half years of IVF treatment with her same sex partner and the eventual birth of their daughter. Pilgrm-Byrne is writing for and from her times. The subject matter of her poetry is unique in its approach to universal themes and their expression in the contemporary world. She uses her poetics to specify and detail the experience of same sex motherhood in lyric and metaphoric layers.
the slice of her abdomen
the slick and slip, pull and tug
your quivering arrival
delivers the (other) mother
Domestic Archaeology is a triptych, each territory of which is exceeded in size by the next. These sections chronicle the journey between and beyond fertility / infertility. When viewed as a whole, this narrative appears to begin in medias res with “Venus of Willendorf … Her vulva trapped / between fold and fat, / a luxurious peak / of convergence” (9); this ekphrastic poem also featured in The Best Australian Poetry 2009 anthology.
Like layers of sediment the three subdivisions within Domestic Archaeology, “Excavation”, “Fauna” and “Cataloguing”, invite the reader into a process of unearthing, discovery and construction of narrative.
For those who came before
I feel as if I have let you down
scrubbed out all your hard earned
broken the chain–a thousand years
of pox on me.
Yet here’s an intriguing thing about families
–similarities are not all hard-wired
and in our daughter we see facial expressions,
overexcitement, or the flourish of a hand gesture
that have been gifted from you by me to her
a precious package of inheritance.”
Despite the intimate focus of the narrative, this collection never slips into self-indulgence. In part, this is because the very personal and confessional material dominating the content is tempered with works such as “My Maiden Aunt’s Lips” and “Snake in my laundry room (4am)” which view the author’s immediate surroundings through a wider lens. Perhaps this is the most obvious in Fauna which consists of a series of poems which are deft and analytic in their examination of various living creatures. Any risk of sentimentality is also avoided through Pilgrim-Byrne’s wry sense of humour.
I’m going to build a monument to infertility
where there will be no penises no breasts.
There will definitely be no vaginas–
though there will be lips
and they will be pursed and cinched
and of course, downturned.
These lips will not be dusted red
and they will not be plumped,
they will be …
Domestic Archaeology deals with powerful emotions and the experiences of grief and loss. These poems appear alongside the ecstatic; harmony is found between the felicitous tone of these works and those of the darker poems such as “Home” written “In memory of Rafferty James Manhatan Downes 15/7/11 – 30/7/11” and “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.
And I learnt that if there is a God
prayer isn’t the language he understands
because if this Kris guy, after two years of living on the cusp of Hell
has been sent home to make books and videos for his sons …
if there’s no hope for him
then we’d all better learn to let the light in.
The longest poem in this collection is “Juvenesvcence, variations on a theme”. In this nine part piece aphorism and powerful imagery combine in an impressive whole.
business students learn
how to rule the world, the arts kids shape it
scientists (for better or worse) change it
with their skin pulled tight
how the young sound
The poem from which this collection takes its name is an excellent one from which to draw the essence of Pilgrim-Byrne’s solo debut. Here, evocative imagery meets the uncluttered strength of her free-verse.
we sift through simple ruins
cultivating people from bones.
Domestic Archaeology is the third collection released by Grand Parade Poets, a press which believes poetry “must be at once elitist and democratic since it brings high-powered imaginative entertainment and intellectual pleasure to those willing to meet it at least part of the way. Grand Parade Poets wishes to publish poets of music, passion and intelligence” and, like Pilgrim Byrnes herself, this publisher also delivers what it promises.
 Wearne, A. An Accidental Publisher: Alan Wearne on Grand Parade Poets and Christopher Bantinck, [16.11.2011] spunc.com.au/splog/post/an-accidental-publisher-alan-wearne-on-grand-parade-poets-and-christopher-bantick
by Keri Glastonbury
Reviewed by MELINDA BUFTON
More than any collection I’ve read recently, Keri Glastonbury’s work takes us along for her travels – we are the notebook in her back pocket, and accordingly, she wants us to remember a few things with her. And what an excellent trip. It’s a rare thing to find energetic exuberance combined so well with sharply calibrated specificity, and when this appears in poetry you know you’re in for something good.
now I’ve been toNew Yorkit’s official: no lack left!
& though I can’t lose my nostalgia, I can’t hide my relief
at the ambivalence I feel the strategies I imagined I
learnt for nothing?
Grit Salute is Glastonbury’s first full-length collection following chapbooks hygienic lily (1999) and super-regional (2001) and the distance between them has resulted in a collected that is super-honed. Questions and asides pop out constantly in these poems; they do seem to speak directly to us, as though she has somehow managed to melt the page off (like a transfer or temporary tattoo from a showbag) leaving just the words, and it’s all we can do to converse with them. There are ‘literal’ geographic travels here as well as poetic; the volume is divided into segments that include those titled and located in hygienic Italy, anti-suburb, triggering town and local/general. I would argue that the beautifully named opening group of poems ‘8 reasons why I fall for inaccessible straight boys every damn time’ is a destination just as recognisable to many of us as a European holiday (‘Take me to Unrequited, I hear the capital is lovely in the Spring…’).
The references that I always hope for are presented in spades. When looking for something new, in poetry (as anything else), I genuinely want to see things being woven in that are ripe for the plucking. I want to see work that tells me it’s of our time. I’m not talking about tokenistic inclusions, that operate like a time-and-date stamp, but nuggets of observance that beg to be put in a poem. It feels too simplistic to call these ‘pop culture’ as they are presented with lightness and a solemnity that surprises at exactly the same moment that it reassures. This is content that has the confidence to assume I know what it’s talking about. And surely this is the idea, to take for granted the importance of these thematic strands. (And it is only because I don’t see it as much as I would expect to, in ‘published’ Australian poetry, that I feel need to mention this at all.) So much is held in small fragments, such as ‘we did the sydney scene so differently’ (‘Glory That’) and ‘you never did grow up to be that carol jerems photo of a topless woman some oedipal hitch with identity’ (‘The Red Door’). The shorthand of ‘this is how I see it/sometimes we’d fuck to guitar pop/ sometimes to ambient electronica’ says more about whole decades of people’s lives than three lines should be able to contain, and yet retain nonchalance.
There is a fair serve of teenage rural memories, which can difficult to do without just seeming sentimental. Somehow it never veers towards this, despite evoking and evoking until you’re not quite sure which are Glastonbury’s ‘memories’ and which are mine. Or indeed, the second-hand memories of my friends, which she seems to have carriage of also. I know these people, and I know the attendant feelings. There are farms with tennis courts, and twilight barbecues with local squattocracy, with Glastonbury even somehow getting away with ‘your once best friend is now a companioning house frau at least she’s made it into town and is no longer “stuck out there”’.
Perhaps it’s unfair of me to have sliced up the lines of the work in the way I have; the small quotes do nothing to show the fabric they make in whole poems, a style further enhanced by the running together of lines into blocks of text. I love the manner of reading this can create, where you need to run your eye back to check whether something was an ending or a beginning. Of course it’s both, and this just sweetens the deal. ‘Triggering Town’ (from the section of the same name) shimmers with this all the way through:
…the flouncey skivvy
a show of rare authenticity which sees you investing appreciation
into perceived flaws you hope disqualify the beloved
to everybody except you generous arbiter of redoubled fantasies following a familiar maternal loop she’s not
trying to get out of interaction the moment it snares
her like everybody else is around here…
As well as journeys, the collection gives us many hints that choices, or the slipping away of choice, is as fine a parameter as any for the creation of strong and feisty poems. We can’t always see where we’re at, while we’re in it, and never more so than at the point of history where we are overloaded with information, and stimuli, and people in all their heartfelt and oversharing modes. Poetry does its job when it takes some of it and places it just so. Not to understand ourselves (God forbid), just to see. And to hear how it sounds when it’s arranged better, with cooler syntax and humour that sidles up to you and gets it right. Grit Salute has loads of style and exclamation marks to burn, and deserves much attention.
MELINDA BUFTON is Melbourne-based poet and occasional commentator on the creative process. She is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in creative writing at Deakin University and has most recently been published in The Age, Steamer and Rabbit.
Mani Rao is the author of eight poetry books and a translation of the Sanskrit Bhagavad Gita
(Autumn Hill Books USA
2010, Penguin India
2011). For links to more of her writing, visit www.manirao.com
Midas, A Casino in Vegas
Talk to me, goldfish
Fancy a gold apple it’s
greed only if you’re hungry
Lady Luck just wants a fuck
You don’t need no PhD in Alchemy
By 30, Alexander is not going through a phase
By 40 if Aristotle is not Aristotle he will never be Aristotle
The next 20 years
Around the time you need reading glasses and
numbers are leaky
you run into Kronos
Under a tree
Bitter or sweet?
See what’s better
When children do not know it
is their turn to love
See what’s better
Cupid and Psyche
Psyche’s in the dark but Love isn’t blind
Catches double glint of Psyche’s intent
New moon night
Mermaid and dolphin
In a daze
Psyche sees with Cupid’s eyes
Jakob Ziguras lives in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney. His poetry has been published in Meanjin, Australian Poetry Journal, Literature and Aesthetics, and Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry. He was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2011 and 2012, and won the 2011 Harri Jones Memorial Prize. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Sydney.
Heifers with gilded horns no longer part before the axe,
in celebration of the rites of Venus; these days no
mythical obstruction dulls authentic pain, her hidden
Art always seemed to offer permanence surer than
the fading skin. But I am tired of scraping at a rock
to find the girl within. Here in my garden, beside a pine
skirted by shadow, a youthful form burgeons in alabaster.
Caught in a state of grace, she grasps after the fluency
of air surrounding her entombed appeal. A straying
whistles through her fluted curls. Beauty that cannot dance
or kiss. It scares me suddenly, to see my need transformed
into this lissom milk, compacted hard enough to grind the
of dreams; holding my life between her glowing thighs.
Tiffany Tsao grew up in Singapore and Indonesia, has spent time in the UK and US, and now resides in Sydney, Australia. She earned her PhD from UC-Berkeley in May 2009 and is a currently a lecturer in English at the University of Newcastle, Australia. In addition to writing fiction and poetry, she publishes on English and Indonesian literature. She keeps a blog at http://tiffanytsao.com
The man in the photo is a green shoot of a man
a slim-waisted sprig
a pocket-watch spring
with ears like the wings of a jumbo jet.
He’ll take off and you better catch on.
The shades of white and grey can’t hide
his technicolour visions.
Through the creased paper protrudes
a jaunty ambition swelling by the second.
I think his rakish moustache just sprouted another hair.
I know how he’ll unfurl.
He will build empires.
He will populate the earth.
He will feed multitudes.
He will shower the land with dollar bills.
Then: a modest monument, a humble knighthood,
a self-commissioned portrait hanging in the hallway.
But let’s keep this a secret
or he’ll never get over himself.
Jas writes short fiction, poetry, plays and has just finished her second novel. Her stories have appeared in various journals, including Verity La where she now reads submissions. She lives in Fremantle with her partner and dog.
I want to stretch my life onto a long piece of string, connected to nothing at either end. Every moment which has meant something will be cut and tied back together. I cut the string to signal the heart stopping, I tie it back together to show I am still alive. I have to cut it several times, here for when I realised your beauty, and here again when I realised my love. I’ll cut it when you come back to me, just like I did when you left.
The lesson of love and cigarettes
You tried to teach me how to roll a cigarette; I roll my own now with such ease that I forget it was you who taught me and only think of it once five years later. I remember sitting on your balcony, which we peered over in silent agony waiting for your girlfriend to arrive. You taught me ill-fated love. You taught me to make you gin and tonic while you begged your mind for any excuse to ask me to leave, and found none, and so I stayed and brought you the gin you drank so well. You taught me the game of love, the notion of winning and losing, and you were my first loss. You taught me secrets, how to keep them and how to confess them at the wrong time. You taught me to swallow love and burn desire. You taught me the power of a door—once closed—a lover can never enter. You tried to teach me how to roll a cigarette. I roll my own now and think of you, but just this once and not again for another five years.
Suddenly the night air
laid down its arms
and allowed the cold to take over.
And as we entered the street
we were struck with the unmoving chill
that stood waiting on the pavement
and outside windows.
Our bodies shrivelled like leaves
and we caught our breath warm in our throats.
At your house the cold was forgotten.
The frosted street lamps,
the wet grass,
our frozen breath
DianeSahms-Guarnieri is currently Poetry Editor of The Fox Chase Review, and co-curates The Fox Chase Reading Series. Her first full length collection of poetry, Images of Being, (StoneGarden.net publishing) was released October 2011. You can visit her at http://www.dianesahms-guarnieri.com/
Unnoticed as flowers dying
or slugs crawling
they pass as divers into liquid night
mysterious as the sick yellow glow
of hazy streetlights, using a perfect
stream of blue laser light to shine into
a line of curbside recycling bins.
They mine aluminum.
It’s faint rattle wakes me
like raccoons stirring inside dumpsters.
From the distance of my bedroom window
they are of small statue; dressed in darkness
a mismatched pair: jack of spades: queen of clubs
placing each can into bundles
of plastic handled bags to muffle the sound
filling their stolen shopping carts
rolling out of sight.