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