|Jan/Feb 2014 Poetry Special Feature|
Image courtesy of British Library Photostream
"There is a crack in everything
that's how the light gets in." —Leonard Cohen
Miners' cottages line the streets
(corrugated iron huts forsaken by luxury)
mountains of ore residue rise like desert alps
in the middle of town, a community split in halves—
one side for the rich bosses,
the other for the workers and union stalwarts
who try keep the bastards honest yet never expect to win.
Someone's father/ brother/ son/
is still missing underground.
Skimp dumps shower lung-disease dust
onto footy teams,
on sweethearts canoodling in parked cars,
on children with illegal sky rockets
launched from bottles for a thrill
outside the perimeters of drugs and alcohol.
Out-roads offer an escape,
but that lead-dust coerces intentions
with loyalty to a birthplace.
Oldies on park benches discuss
the moral return of Ned Kelly's skull,
how the economy is stuffed,
how these days marriage doesn't mean much.
They sprout their verdict on:
how they will spend
when that Tatts-lotto win comes in.
Chilblain season itches tired feet,
aching backs lean against tin fences warmed by the sun
to save on electricity,
long-suffering dreams remain patient
while waiting for those cracks to widen.
Extractions of Green
I exist in minute amputations
amid the bog lands of Lough Sheelin.
Fishermen stamp my origins
onto moss gripped banks.
In a village, on a stone wall—a family name,
voices of parish fly above steeples
to coerce blurred chromosomes
mixed with migrant genes.
Through gaps in the couplings
lineage has lost its potency,
thatched roofs and a Gaelic brogue
are fancies inborn from ancestral melancholy.
I am anchored in another place
where a middle sea has withered into flat plains,
a never-never land that consumes the soul.
Threads pass over and under in a dense quilt
patched with saltbush and prickly pear,
kangaroo skulls litter verges
in a gruesome display of road-kill.
I take for granted sunsets drugged on magenta,
baked clay pans that accept the wounds
consensual to drought.
Brown snakes and shinglebacks track patterns in red earth/
the color of my identity splashed in loamy dunes
amongst rabbit holes and dingo lairs.
When arid days are spent,
dust from my bones will blow across oceans
to settle between shale and moss.
A green resting place will offer the final purity.