Saturday, September 18, 2010

Winter 2010 Landscapes Journal now online

On the Theme of 'PeripateticaEditorial by John Ryan
and featured under Trekking the Wild, my story Hunting the Qualup Bell.
Peripatetica: The Poetics of Walking

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Poem

(or the deserted village revisited)

Look! There’s crystal handwriting
on the brickwork of the CWA hall
that leads to the cracked foundation stone
(March, 1934). A pencil pine
next to the post office is dying off.
Here people come and go yet do not talk
of Michelangelo. With each inhabitant
conceived, hopes rise but wither like fallen
wombs. And prostates swell to block vesicles,
render impotent the display of baby prams
in the co-op shop. Sweating with salt
footpaths buckle unused, the gutters
and downpipes, fragile festoons of rust,
swing in the wind that blows off dry lakes
thick with tang of saltbush, glut
of samphire. And at the entrance to a
broken culvert a limping rat pauses
to watch a stray dog squat in the gutter
searching for a tick or a flea. And here
a dribbling stream of salt drains away
like misspent urine. The town boundary
sign suggests their population drift
is critical. That was decades ago.
Nobody has time or energy to change
the numbers now. Past rusted rails
we visit the station yards where
abandoned railway buildings wait
for no trains these many years. Once
in days of steam the lofted water tower
gave life to generations of locos.
It teeters now, water-marked, rivets
loosened, fretted by rust, good only
for a few welcome swallows to perch,
hoping for puddles of rainwater
in the base. A ragged crew of galahs,
pink-and-greys, comes flapping past
to check it out. But here too salt
has crept up the footings into the stays
and struts to rot, to mock where sweet
water ascended once. Driving away
we remember the rule in warfare:
that deserters are the first to die?