March 31, 2007

from Wittgenstein Improvisations


am explaining
my poetry to

by pointing
to a poem

reassembles what
I have written.

—Tom Beckett
This piece has been published in Unprotected Texts: Selected Poems
(Meritage Press, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 03:22 PM

March 30, 2007


over the rocks

loosely weaving them
together with a tongue
as limp as algae

rotting in the sun
each thought
punctuating the otherwise

easy flow of speech
tripping it up
on discarded entrails

heads and tails
and fear and shame
so it lands

on all the jagged bits
between the image
and the stutterance

—Anamaría Crowe Serrano
(this poem was written as part of Offsets, a collective writing project which can be viewed at

Posted by dwaber at 12:14 PM

March 29, 2007


by the time I reached
the bottom of the sea
I had begun to fathom the sense
of liquid words. Intonation
curves like a tongue of algae. It
conjugates with the tide. And like
the tide, it
turns my white horse
into poems pulling me under
towards the tow where physical space
condenses time. A small rock
jutting above the surface
looks much like a wave of inspiration
and sure enough
far below I saw the remains
of mariners who had missed it
mistaking it
for something ethereal
that requires no words
or even thought
the lure of thoughtlessness being tempting
and the death it brings
sweeter still, taking just a few
seconds longer than in fresh water.
You can sense it
even out of the water
the density of prose in the air
the fleeting tone

—Anamaría Crowe Serrano

Posted by dwaber at 12:29 PM

March 28, 2007

Just a Few Questions from the Panel

Why do you want to be a poet?
What sort of work do poets do?
What, in your view, is the difference

between the work of a poet
and the work of a civil engineer?
What would you say

if you were asked to write concrete poetry?
What would you say
if you were asked to build a concrete boat?

Why do some poems rhyme?
What makes a slum?
What is a Found Poem

and where might you find one?
What is conservative dentistry? What should be done
in the case of an elderly person who steals a bar of soap?

What are the qualities of a sound net-ball defence?
Why do you want to be a poet?
Is there a future in fish farming?

—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:11 PM

March 27, 2007

The News and The Weather

Too much has already been said

about the spring. More than enough
ink has been squandered on the fall.

It would be impossible to entirely cast out
the volumes that dwell on light.
That winter is marching steadily

down from the hills is as much
yesterday’s news as ripples of sand
on the beach being like something
or something else. The wet-linen

colour of almost every cloud
in literature is, frankly, boring.
It is time to address other things:
empty boxes of rain that are sometimes
trees, the neglected battalions of grass …

—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 11:38 AM

March 26, 2007

The Duck’s Back and How it Got Like That

You have taken to returning
to the old notebooks,
where the other life is,
‘the properly narrated one’,
where you consider the duck’s back
and how it got like that,
the morphology of clouds,
how stars explode, the habits
of gravity and time. These days
you wake up in the dark

and ask yourself what you know:
the names of the Telemark saboteurs;
how the best way of writing about it
is never writing about it; that the light
at the end of the tunnel is no chink
in the gloved and greaved murk
of Erebus, neither is it the apocryphal
oncoming locomotive. It is only
some bastard with a torch.
He is not looking for you.

—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 11:53 AM

March 25, 2007

A Postcard to Martin
for Martin Stannard

I’m writing regarding my head. Do you think anything can be done about it? You can tell me. I can take it. Birdsong occurs frequently in my poetry (here it is again). I mean, I know it’s preferable to stars, but not how preferable. And what about horses? Because I know horses stand for common sense. Where do you stand on the whole ‘building a bridge between you and the reader’ issue? When should I bring in the horses?
—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)
Posted by dwaber at 01:01 PM

March 24, 2007

Sonnet About a Handgun with Diamonds

I am writing this sonnet about
a handgun with diamonds. The light
fires off the facets and dazzles.
But this is a handgun alright.

We are swinging through somewhere quite louche
in a taxi that smells of incense.
The mirror is hung with red tassels.
The driver is black and farouche.

If none of this makes any sense,
remember this sonnet’s about
a handgun encrusted with jewels

and, as such, the usual rules
should be left at the door. Got that? Right.
A handgun is what this is about.

—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 01:15 PM

March 23, 2007

‘Poems of Universal Wisdom & Beauty’

I forgive everyone. I’m like
that. I don’t gossip too much.
I’m a kind of hero. The moon
is like a big empty plate up there,
don’t you think? No? Okay.
I’m a very democratic writer.

Most days I’m at work on my magnum opus:
‘Poems of Universal Wisdom & Beauty’.
I’m understandably excited. Music drifts
through from the other room
like smoke while I type away
merrily. When lunch arrives I eat it.

I’m trying to free myself
from the idea that intelligence can only be
conveyed by thought, especially
the complex, allusive sort. Readability
is my new thing. Readability
equals intelligence.

—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:27 PM

March 22, 2007

Advice from Parnassus

Literature is a fine career for a young person.
It’s so straightforward. You just write
down your deepest feelings. In fact
they don’t even have to be deep, any feelings
will do. The media can’t get enough.
Everyone knows this.
If you want to you can describe mountains
or sex scenes, what people say, the way
they stare into each other’s eyes
as if desperately trying to decode secret messages.

There’s so much scope. You slide your coin
in the slot, take a swing at the horizon
and see what comes up. It’s a breeze.
Don’t waste your time on cybernetics,
the greasy corporate pole. That sort of thing
is strictly for numps and loobies. Drop by
any time, and remember, when you enter a room
carry yourself magnificently, especially your head,
which you should think of as a vase of lilacs,
preferably painted by Chardin.

—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:31 PM

March 21, 2007

Poetry is Your Friend

It’s undeniably true, life
weathers you. There’s no doubt
about that. Gardens crammed
with slightly creepy little elves,
a van parked on a deserted lane,
the sky almost purple when you look out.

That’s when you turn to poetry.
You may not know it of course,
but that’s what you’ll be doing.
You’re doing it right now, superficially
despite yourself, riding this wave
of energy out of nowhere. It feels good,

doesn’t it? Like a high-sugar drink
or that special moment, you know
the one. It’s here to help
even if it sometimes forgets,
gets all wrapped up
in counting syllables and such.

It wants you like a tyrant or the sun.

—C. J. Allen
from A Strange Arrangement: New and Selected Poems (Leafe Press, 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 12:43 PM

March 20, 2007

cow poem


it is a day for poetry   that is to say

one like any other   full of sunshine   paddocks

and cold at heart


all day I speak to screen poets

the artless machine gives me breath

and words     and


I am sitting in

a paddock far away    a cow roars out


even I can tell distress from love

in cows

in others it’s not so easy


blue seeps in at the curtains

of my cow-isolated study

I warn it off with words


there is too much at stake

to start loving now


the phone nags

and there only people

I don’t love

they make their demands

time    money    an honest opinion

a dance

I don’t want to hold hands

there is no one whose thigh I want

to cross no particular blizzard eye I want to


I make the print big with fine


the cow is giving birth

and someone is in trouble     the dairyman

– I know his name –

will come in slow urgent

paces across the paddock

and watch    not wishing

to disturb her   his girl    full of hope in a field

of good winter feed

there is nothing to the print

the page rolls past like a lowing

poets fall off and fail

clipped by time    they thought they were immortal

and not one was

a comet   the size of a swimming pool

glides over and we don’t notice our near extinction


astronomers should take more care we’re not hit

by the unpredictable


she lows in the paddock

and the dairyman­ ­­– Phil – judges with squinty eyes

it’s a matter of economics this love

I write cheques

to poets     petite commercial haikus of trust

it must

be the end of the financial world

the mail drips in

another poem comes reeling up   this is a bluster

of words

high as a blue sky the cow says

and Phil     the master cowman     strides over the field

of the poem    there is food for thought in this green


he takes the cow by the horns

and speaks to her in low tones


then he grasps the calf by the legs and for a while

there is an ten-legged beast    his two   her four

and the four of the new

she bellows out and Phil

pulls the legs and the poems come up on the screen   too much

too many poems    and the new beast is born


—Chris Mansell


from her latest book (Love Poems, Kardoorair Press, Armidale, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 12:32 PM

March 19, 2007

                                                     NONCE SONNET 4



                                                                  up’s op-


                                                             to streak: rush

                                                            hour.  The  PA                             

                                                          system organizes

                                                         muck, and my luck

                                                        is behind one who’d

                                                     rather  preempt humble

                                                 conjecture  with a  jeremiad

                                         than reach his pristine bar or seedy

                                    bower before the late show. The power

                                to tuck in high-tech earplugs is encouraged

                          by a paper friend unless I’m inclined to ride bass

                        lines below unmodulated treble.  You might pluck

               an expiring flower  from the waiting room floor  to save it

          for an aspiring gatherer’s open pouch. Where farming of image                     

     is neither inherently devil  (e.g. stealing from those presumed mute)  

  nor blessed delivery, where ouch is neither  trounced nor deified, she’ll

pitch a scrimmage  for poetics. Where any  ceiling is unafraid to fluctuate.


—Thomas Fink

Posted by dwaber at 12:04 PM

March 18, 2007


for Wolfgang Laib


a life

of collecting pollen

from hazelnut bushes

a life of gathering word-grains

to find all you have wanted

all you have waited to say





we cannot climb

hills we cannot touch

perhaps we are only here

to say house, bridge, or gate



a passage

to somewhere else

yellow molecules

spooned and sifted

from a jar filled with








you are the energy

that breaks form

building wax houses

pressed from combs



a wax room

set upon a mountain

an offering of rice

nowhere  everywhere

the songs of Shams



—Shin Yu Pai

previously published in Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 12:37 PM

March 17, 2007






but in








             tense operations


bird’s eye



of compost



                                      not figure

                  against ground


likeness & unlikeness


pigment ground

              electrical currents

a basis for

         belief in


the collapse of



into the intimate & the vast



(* the Navajo word for “beauty”, balance, harmony - & the effort towards)


—Shin Yu Pai

previously published in !Tex! magazine

Posted by dwaber at 01:21 PM

March 16, 2007

chop wood, carry water

love and adventure are
words that can be found
in any dictionary -

they are simple days
free of high romance,
excitement another

person might call
them boring:
sweep porch

wash dishes
boil rice
boil water

sit at writing desk
sit before shrine
write poems

I left my work to learn how

& breathe

I count all the people
who have entered
both my life and

heart on
            one open 

—Shin Yu Pai
previously published in !Tex! magazine

Posted by dwaber at 12:11 PM

March 15, 2007

A conversation between Huidobro and Braque

Is a poem a poem?
And isn’t an orange just an orange,
and not an apple?

Yet next to each other, the orange
ceases to be orange
the apple ceases to be apple,
and together the two
become fruit.

—Shin Yu Pai
first published in Gastronomica and later published Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 11:57 AM

March 14, 2007

Recipe for Paper

Send legal briefs, failed attempts at love
letters and other confidential documents
through a shredder,

soak over night in a warm bath,

scoop handful of wet paper
into kitchen blender add
boiled daffodil stems,

mashed into a pulp, then blend
black tea leaves, garlic
or onion skin,

translucent stains
of color,

pulp until smooth as oatmeal
in a plastic tub combine
one part pulp to 3 parts water

A closely guarded secret for centuries until the T’ang Dynasty, when on the banks of the Tarus River, Islamic warriors overtook a caravan traveling on the Silk Road, spiriting Chinese prisoners away to Samarkand. Their lives spared in exchange for sharing their secret with the Western world. Samarkand fast became a paper-making capital and the practice of slaughtering three hundred sheep to make a single sheet of parchment hide quickly became a thing of the past.

The addition of crushed spices creates a textured surface to the paper, as do crumbled tea leaves, coffee grounds, and dried flowers. When a freshly pulled sheet of paper is pressed beneath a warm steam iron, the fragrance of these organic materials is slowly released into the air.

Before the invention of paper the sutras were incised into cave walls, verses from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching painted on silk. In ancient China, Tsai L’un, Director of the Imperial Office of Weapons and Instruments, won the favor of the emperor. By pounding the branches of mulberry trees and husking bamboo with a wooden mallet, Tsai L’un discovered the method of separating plant filaments into individual fibers. Mixed with water and poured into a vat, a bamboo screen was submerged into the suspension. The tangled mass floating to the water’s surface and trapped on top of the mold resulted in a thin layer of interwoven fibers. Drained, pressed, and hung to dry, the birth of “Tsai ko-shi.”

The history of paper contained within a mulberry bark and seed, the paper on which these words are printed.

The poet should consider this story with care throughout the years.

—Shin Yu Pai
previously published in Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 12:44 PM

March 13, 2007

Teacher of Writing

Experience pedagogy
John Dewey
Isn’t very poetic
(Or at best
Poetic eclectic)
In getting students
To make local
Writing stops
At words
And yet
Diverse minds align
Yes, we do prefer
Taking the express
If only thinking
Of saving time
Instead of knowing
Syllabic tickling
Comes from somewhere
Between read
And write
And beyond
The reach
Of clock hands
And hurting
Until the grasping
Comes from the stranger

—Will Hochman
from Freer (Pecan Grove Press 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 10:43 AM

March 12, 2007


Not metaphor
Or power
Not author
Or voice
Or character
In you or me
So much as sinew
Legs stretching
Almost wing-like
And running us
Syllabic perhaps
So toughly loved
And brought
Together word by
Fleshy word, alive
With the fear of crossing
White space
Step by terrified step
To arrive
At the wise suspense
Of foot bridge wood,
Always questioning when
Step will or word
Might break
Across the span
Of our human abyss

Imagining a snap
That is jazz
Improvising essences
Seen so clearly,
It seems easy
To become us
Back lit lovingly
With music’s intuition
Words smoothly
Fall into sound
Then read safely
Down from beyond
A spine’s breaking point
To the place where peace
And synapse conduct

So autobiographically
We grow refined
Constant and solid
Like a nerve’s sheathing
More viable
Instantly stable
Yet not guessing
The messages deep inside,
The finally liberating story,
The one where death
Is almost sexy…
Maybe this broken
Moment’s trance
Will reach out then, laser
Printing imaginary winds
Of love flying
Perfectly puckered
In gravity’s last kiss

—Will Hochman
from Freer (Pecan Grove Press 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 10:48 AM

March 11, 2007

Bears of Cheyenne Canyon

This October a host of silent bears
have come to Cheyenne Canyon
like never before.
Tonight’s canyon bear almost looks like
Miles Davis from his In A Silent Way days
—black face, black eyes, brown skin tints
and a black mass surrounding his huge,
shiny head, making it appear
as if the bear had some Round
riffs in his walking away sound,
as if Miles with his late night horn
was playing rhythms endlessly
into this mammalian’s dark
dancing path of experience
and crossing sounds of the night
into sentences
before ears or bears
know best where to bend.

Even this sleepy, city kid
can watch those quiet
lumbering swatches of huge darkness
kindly cross his asphalt street.
In their hungry-eyed stares of wonder,
he thinks these creatures could eat him so easily,
though they want only to rifle and gobble garbage
and amaze us with their ghostly humility
of what the hibernating winter in their blood
needs to become—some dreaming scene
of humans lumbering away, walking
on their tongues and tasting
the truth of earth.

—Will Hochman
from Freer (Pecan Grove Press 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 01:38 PM

March 10, 2007

The Art of Collage in Cracked Italian

This little tile,
a reject from it makers
(one of many
from generations of Rampinis)
transcends borders and time
with its cooked sand and color
almost living and grouted
into the jaundiced skin
and coagulated blood
of an Italian family’s
dead ancestors.

This particular square
of hand-painted tile
cheaply brought its
right angling of yellow,
green, brown, orange and blue
back from Radda, Italy
(a happy place
despite its sound)
to cast “Il Volpe—The Fox”
stirring in front of a Cypress tree,
painted perhaps out of scale
but almost perfect
for all creatures
to see beyond.

The animal’s brown pose
and memories of Italy
warm slowly with
tea brewing the green taste
of earth’s surface on this tile
cracked and cooling
until it seems to taste
its gaze in yours.

“The fox knows many things,
the hedgehog
knows one big thing”

the swift worker
may have thought
as he exiled the flawed tile
just past the furnace
to land on the last table
marked even in English,
and “No Return.”

Broken heart dancer
from mold to fired moment,
these ceramic words
are really all of me
cooked, coming apart
and together again,
broken beautifully
to take stock
that’s me
and think myself
more of a hedgehog
while knowing foxes
(like collage)
import better art.

—Will Hochman
from Freer (Pecan Grove Press 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 01:32 PM

March 09, 2007

Ars Poetica: Tree Mend Us

     “Not the coffee you’re waitin’ for her to offer thee,” my muse rang me
on the blue plate poetry hot line, “but the life story you need shine warp-speed
with right now. Drop Miss-A-Mess impressed by the power of less onto your
‘gotta go’ list, win me with long-lastin’ love witness on the always built for
more metaphor express: passion unpreventable once in outpour affluent, a
wonderwall in waterfall exuberant. Don’t you know so much depends on a red
wheelbarrow beside white chickens glistenin’ up through the winged spring of
May, so I got a hunch April’s not the cruelest month. Hey, listen: beyond a
lunch pail Aristotle, there’s a human throttle & when you embrace me please
we equal infinity face-to-face. As for goin’ with the flow & ridin’ the tide, the
truth’s in the motion of the ocean, yo, come mountain top tip straight from the
temple to Isis, that is, know thyself & see-heal-glow-feel helter-skelter-no-
shelter’s full eclipse a moon disc stops the sun with & descend with me the
     “Easy for you to say,” I said, “but I’m afraid of the dead. Furthermore,
bein’ like water & seekin’ the lowly has got me on all fours & I’m sinkin’
slowly. As for love, it’s already torn me to shreds.”
     “Babypop, lose your art or show some heart: Dismemberment’s got this
one advantage---ya get to see all the parts. A war’s on, son, so to the Lady’s
cause run to stand under the understanding slipped through the gates of Eden.
Shade’s the oasis of the highway & love’s the secret revealed only in
beholding it, so lay low, son lover, lay low, the hills shimmer like the patterns
our own stilled bodies make in big happy soil song after the rains torrential,
take me to that monsoon reason if you’re movin’ a mountain to Mohammed
this season. Ye need send us to Tree Mend Us where old growth forests ring-
tell a tale’s end in a mouth’s beginning, singing what’s born in nature doesn’t
die, only changes shape & size. Beyond reductive norms called attached-to-
your-own-form bring me along eight lunar phases: virgin & fertile, curious &
seductive, ecstatic & abandoned, exhausted & wise.”

—Kirpal Gordon

Posted by dwaber at 12:17 PM

March 08, 2007

Ars Poetica: Eros in Sanskrit

     Om purnama dahapurnam idam, purnat purnam udachatay, purnasya
purnama dyam, purnat eva vasishatay.
The bird is in the field as the field is in the
bird, lover. The grammar of Sanskrit won’t have it one way over the other. Yes,
no, both & neither: every spoken word wheels true, but moons only rise in skies &
glow because om nama sri chandra the wise lyric it so.
     Sound manifests the world our maws mutter, shudder & pout at. A single
inflection’s fall separates a seeker from a sunset. Stressed or blessed, elocution
admits our own tongue tips to be shiva lingam, strike-stroking fissures within our
yoni cave mouths where scores of unborn life forms break out in whispers, “Create
me, baby, shout.”
     Om purnama dahapurnam idam, purnat purnam udachatay, purnasya
purnama dyam, purnat eva vasishatay
: This is full & that is full & every
emanation full for what is produced of the full is by itself full. In Devanagari birds
fly by wildly, but fields only open with the wail of a word or the wink of an I.
     If the veil of Maya conceals to us our own divine nature, then the
other must be who we seek to discover, honor, reveal & become. Guttural,
palatal, domal, dental, labial: the sutras of Sanskrit elucidate the exact parts
lips & tongue play in the art of love---& so exactly the whole of love---
yearning to sing & get sung over & over & over again.

—Kirpal Gordon

Posted by dwaber at 03:13 PM

March 07, 2007

On Reverdy Road

They like poetry that isn’t.
Not the kind that wakes into you
the way eyes gleam candid

in shadow, untrimmed wicks,
or that you grab from casual breezes
barehanded at dawn. When

don’t the words in a poem
count? When they fall into a pit
and Dear Reader goes tumbling after.

—Barry Schwabsky
from the sequence For Despair, published as a chapbook by Seeing Eye Books, Los Angeles, 2005.

Posted by dwaber at 12:54 PM

March 06, 2007

Diary of a Poem


Prose refuted:

struck, the blank hour stays
struck—an indoor resolution
and most merciless of all
the colors we tweaked together

prose refuted:

rumor slides across rumor
each remembers to search my morning suspect

she loves the sound of breaking chains.



Prose refuted:

struck, the hour stays
struck—an indoor resolution
and most merciless of all
your face made me noisy

the essay melted
in the blood mine
as if we had any choice

prose refuted:

that rumor enjambed on
a plaque in the red-brick museum of loneliness
you need so much research to make it beautiful
but please don't make me say it.



Prose refuted:

next best thing to wordless
the violet day hammers along
and most merciless of all
impossible to have been present without

taking part
in those colors

prose refuted:

God sleeps in his Word
get flung out of pretty
you need so much research to make it beautiful
but please don’t make me say it.


Prose refuted:

struck, the next best thing to wordless
the essay melted
and makes you want to crash
what sky-blue distance wrote

prose refuted:

so if I had a diary
even critics pass away
they want to search my morning suspect

she loves the sound of breaking chains.


Prose refuted:

the essay melted
a space to peer into and lean
out of

thrones, dominions
in the casual sense

prose refuted:

God sleeps in his grassy Word
whose angel folds me carefully

the colors we tweaked together
his outtakes and bloopers.


Prose refuted:

rumor slides across rumor
I sank into it but forgot to drown

this canary borne repeating
on fast clouds

toward prose refuted:

go forth little saffron bird
toward inquorate nights of poetry
your rumor
more than gone.


Prose refuted:

in this bronze museum
Rembrandt, lift me up to golden failure
let grief pacification false memory
drift outside the book

prose refuted:

don’t kiss
all she wants is
your every forgiveness

let’s get out our pretty rumors
in the sunlight
more than gone

lipidic colors
prose refuted.


—Barry Schwabsky
published last year in the book Storia di un quadro/History of a Painting,
by Maria Morganti, Mantua, Edizioni Corraini

Posted by dwaber at 12:22 PM

March 05, 2007

This is the house I find myself in


These apartments are all beautifully maintained.

One of them is in my husband’s name.

I saunter away along the top floor

& see the old woman

with grease baked onto her gas cooker.

I did know other people would be living here:

it stands to reason.

She does have a window &

she gazes out at the brick wall, stubbornly.

There is a much better view from the other side

of the building.

I don’t remember these stairs. Pitched steeply,

winding back on themselves, leading nowhere

purposefully. Likely back stairs for servants

But there are no servants. Any more.

The old man

takes a shower in his jerry-built bathroom.

His haunches twitch. He soaps between his legs.

Why does everyone

leave their door open? I don’t want to have to see into their rooms.

At last! The main staircase with that insolent, laconic curve.

& this friend of a friend

strides past me, three treads at a time – before I can find

breath to speak. Or lift a hand. He has come to live here:

found this house. He doesn’t seem to know I live here too.

We all live here. Well well. We’ll meet in the rose garden

adjacent to the fountain. Or he will reach for the knocker

to let it fall & boom inside the entrance hall as I approach

the porte-cochère.

He’ll turn and say – It’s you!

This is the staircase I have been looking for.

A cunning flight of stairs behind a secret door.

& here is my room after all. Four walls. But -

When I wake up I still believe in this house

my room: I plan to furnish it. & what to write.


—Jennifer Compton


from Parker & Quink (Ginninderra Press, 2004)




Posted by dwaber at 11:41 AM

March 04, 2007

The Pursuit of Poetry


Once you have become a drug addict

you will never want to be anything else



It's late afternoon. It's always late afternoon.

Take what you will want. Walk out the door.

Walk towards the setting sun. Of course it means

turning away from the people you are leaving

with cold eyes, unamenable cold eyes.

Never say goodbye.


Now you have walked out of the house where everything

means too much. Now you are walking up the street until

you don't know where you are. Abandon what you thought

you wanted to take. You are becoming unclean forgetting

the passwords walking like dancing talking without meaning

back under the moon you never thought you'd see again speaking


in a voice you haven't heard in a long while

guessing lamp post guessing moon something

jerks twitches flutters something falls down -

there is the next front door right there.

It's very important to walk towards the setting sun.

And to never tell where you have been. What you have done.


—Jennifer Compton


from Blue published by Ginninderra Press (2000)


Posted by dwaber at 01:27 PM

March 03, 2007

Instructions for Open Mike Sessions


Don’t moan like second stage labour

in the back row. It doesn’t help


anyone. Soften your eyes, like a horse,

so you can see everything at once


like they do. Understand the source

from which all this verse springs.


Intuit it. As if you lived in a village.

One day they’ll die. In the meantime


they have a voice.

Their courage


as their arms swing and eyes roll

is their poem.


And the moment when they stall and

understand that on the richter scale


they are registering less than ten

is more moving than Fern Hill.


—Jennifer Compton


from Parker & Quink, (Ginninderra Press, 2004)



Posted by dwaber at 01:46 PM

March 02, 2007

Borrowed Landscape

Paddy Maguire’s Pub, near Chinatown, Sydney


The trees, that do not belong to me, on the hill,

that does not belong to me. This is my premise.


The people in a house that grew like a mushroom.

But with shattering noise! Oh yes! Look across


at us as if we have always existed - just like this.

But indeed we have not. And will not. No.


When I call on my airy familiars, they come to me, more

insubstantial than they used to be, but still. They come.


With – lightsome tread. Through landscape. Sometimes

in the guise of an animal or bird. Sometimes … sometimes …


… exactly what is about this city that I cannot

quite – quite – quite – dislike?


They are looking at me! The people! As they pass!

I can’t grasp, even with exhaustive intuition, Asian


postures, ways of being. I can read the Australians,

some with an Asian cast of feature. Some not.


A grandmother – I can tell that much – a grandmother

trots past flat-footed, the baby jogging on her back


stealing the look of me. All saved to file, on her hard drive.

The woman in the beer garden in the black hat … scribbling …


… scribbling. As she steals me, so I steal her.

The man (with his bitter mouth) has gone. Up!


And left! Taken his chance, picked his time.

So I would not notice him going. Although


I notice him gone. He is gone out as far as I

can imagine to the place where he lives his life.


The place that intersects with this. I am bold today.

I am imagining lives. Lives! Three whiskeys down!


Writing a poem – as if it is allowed! – thrumming with

the courage to impose – and claim – what is always mine!


—Jennifer Compton


from Parker & Quink, (Ginninderra Press, 2004)



Posted by dwaber at 01:26 PM

March 01, 2007

It’s the end of a cycle.
The pause before.
I’ve been here before but never known it.
Before, they told us to be beautiful about it.
Now, they tell us to be quiet about it.

Other people’s poetry is all the poetry there is.
I dance driving.
I am a member of cabs.

—Ann Bogle
This poem appeared in International Library of Poets’ Best Poems and Poets of 2005

Posted by dwaber at 01:02 PM