Tuesday, July 22, 2008

turn the page

we're the cool kids sitting up the back. razor sharp hair, we don't give a care. faded old tees, and ripped up jeans, we lean out the window and wave at strangers. we daydream of candy striped corner shops, mixed lollies like we used to get back in the day. we hum, slightly out of tune, even moreso out of time, and we've forgotten the words - long ago. we make daisy chains together in the park, after dark, and we ride down the slide when there's no kids around to make a sound. when we head home, we rest our weary pretty little heads on faded pillowcases. damn fool, we don't give a damn.
c h a l k talk

growth: lexi c

You’re swimming – learning at least
And while you’re paddle kicking,
Making splashy toes
There’s piped music,
It could be Beethoven, Mozart
I’m not sure, but it’s one of the greats
And it sounds sort of tinny
But at the same time, it’s great
- like a soundtrack for swooshing around
In all that water.

You occasionally glance at me
As though to elicit confidence,
I smile, I’m always smiling
It’s almost like a mask, my smile
Underneath this happiness,
I can’t believe that you’re paddling across
When once you were a babe in my arms
Floating with me,
Before that, you used to do laps with me
When you were in my belly.
All the while I’m dumbstruck at how fast time really does pass.
Lost in my thoughts, snapshots of memory -
Your class is over, you’re wet and shivering next to me,
I can see the pleasure at my praise in your
Sweet eyes, mine are damp.


futility: wilfred owen

Move him into the sun -

Gently its touch awoke him once,

At home, whispering of fields unsown.

Always it woke him, even in France,

Until this morning and this snow.

If anything might rouse him now

The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,

-Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.

Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,

Full-nerved, - still warm, - too hard to stir?

Was it for this the clay grew tall?

- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil

To break earth's sleep at all?

if you want to tear out our pages, tell us. if you wish our book went on and on, tell us that too.


one small hope is one big dream. i'm still sitting up the back, absorbed in somewhere else. i'm writing poems in my head, wishing i brought a book and a pencil. i'll etch them into my mind, but i know they'll soon be forgotten, those golden lines. i'll throw out a glance occasionally. but mostly, i keep staring at that blank wall, publishing my own poems.


Friday, June 20, 2008

walking around all day in my one piece swimsuit

it could be worse. it could be a bikini. think of it. cold, blue limbs. tickly long, wet grass around my ankles. itchy. the grey skies opening up and drenching my already cold body. it could be worse. a hungry empty stomach. instead it would be more fun dressing for the occasion. think long dr who scarves wrapped around long necks. warm jackets buttoned right-all-the-way up, boots fending off cold feet, long socks -stripey of course, and a cute little hat, jauntily placed, of course. welcome winter. we've missed you.

c h a l k talk


walking to work: frank o'hara

It's going to be the sunny side

from now

on. Get out, all of you.

This is my traffic over the night

and how

should I range my pride

each oceanic morning like a cutter

if I

confuse the dark world is round

round who

in my eyes at morning saves

nothing from nobody? I'm becoming

the street.

Who are you in love with?


Straight against the light I cross.


being stung by a bee on the lexington avenue local: john hollander

Ouch! etcetera

Aside, and then likewise the

Conclusion that I

Had indeed not been

Stabbed in the left shoulder with

A knitting needle

By some demented

Wretch whose misery I'd be


Too angry to spare

Any real sympathy for

(Though I knew too well

Life had undone so

Many) sitting in the jammed

Car heading uptown

Through the acutely

Nonrural subway tunnel:

Said conclusion drawn

From a subsequent

Nonmechanical humming

In my ear accompanied

By an actual glimpse

Of the creature who would not

Live long buzzing off,

As it were and as

A matter of fact as well—

What some idiot

Of the literal

Might mean by rus in urbe...

All of those aside,

It was only weeks

After that I realized

That the very (most

Nonliteral) point

Of the sting was that the thought

Buzzed through my mind some

Days later that I

Was as one who, once stung by

A gold-banded

Bee in a fable,

Might have thereupon acquired

As a gift—not from

Apollo himself,

But from one of his nine girls—

A peculiar kind

Of wisdom: but of

Which sort, and from which of them—

Which of the Muses—

Let alone what tied

That bunch to that misplaced bee

(Poor lost bee! I had

No anger for her

As I might have had for the

Knitting-needle nut)

And what deep cosmic

Questions had hung on this I

Could not imagine.

But although with no

Gift nor Muses nor indeed

An available

Apollo, I would

Come to conclude that even

The subsequent brief

Sting of the sudden

Awareness of them and their

Moot irrelevance

Was as much of a

Gift from those nine sisters as

Is ever given.

if you wish we'd stop making a splash, tell us. if you would like to come frolick in the waves with us, winter or summer, tell us that too.


sticky jam on cold toast. it tastes too good, of course it's with tea too. on tv there's a cardboard elephant dancing on a wire. it's rickety in its frame, but i remember it well from my own childhood. dear diary, i should be writing more, but instead i'm reading fashion magazines and daydreaming about my next pair of shoes, my new summer dress, the cake i'd like to bake. the new pillowcase i thrifted. i'm doing anything but what i'm supposed to be doing... and then there's the swimsuit. stripes or polka dots this season?


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

stealing from the back catalog: everybody's busy

so – everybody’s busy. everybody’s got a lover (boris, mitzi, derek); or a husband or a wife. everybody’s got themselves into some form of strife (parking tickets, no petrol, no money). everybody’s got a job (mummy, disco dancer, dj), everybody’s got a hobby (macrame, stamps, ant farms), everybody’s joining some political lobby (less work – more pay!). so the excuse of ‘I’m too busy’ doesn’t really stand, because everybody for that one can raise their skinny little hand. if everybody is so busy – then how do friendships ever get made. if everybody’s so busy – everything must surely just get waylaid. i made an oasis in my day to bring you an oasis in your busy-ness.
say no to being too busy.
c h a l k talk
amanda’s painting: les murray
in the painting, i'm seated in a shield,
coming home in it up a shadowy river.
it is a small metal boat lined in eggshell
and my hands grip the gunwale rims. i'm
a composite bow, tensioning the whole boat,
steering it with my gaze. no oars, no engine,
no sails. i'm propelling the little craft with speech.
the faded rings around the loose bulk shirt
are of five lines each, a musical lineation
and the shirt is apple-red, soaking in salt birth-sheen
more liquid than the river. my cap is a teal mask
pushed back so far that i can pretend it is headgear.
in the middle of the river are cobweb cassowary trees
of the south pacific, and on the far shore rise
dark hills of the temperate zone. to these, at this
moment in the painting's growth, my course is slant
but my eye is on them. to relax, to speak european.
teeth sensitive to the sand: matsuo basho
teeth sensitive to the sand
in salad greens--
i'm getting old.
this is a photograph of me: margaret atwood
it was taken some time ago.
at first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper; then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house. in the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills. (the photograph was taken
the day after i drowned. i am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface. it is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small i am:the effect of water
on light is a distortion but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)
if you’re too busy to read this, tell us. if you love to pause a while for the cool air of a poetic oasis, tell us that too.
i’m skeeeping town, moving to mexico so i can say all day long – heeeey gringo, why you look so sad?
morning time and we skip around in the leaves, crunch, kerunch, crunch. the bottoms of our jeans get wet with dew, my little man wears the radiant smile that beams as a sun, run out feed the ducks, run out into the sunshine, pick flowers, eat breakfast in the morning cool, wonder just how long this winter will take before it melts in the heat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

making up for lost time

race into the car. strap the babies in. slide in behind the wheel. did i really strap the little one in? out the door and check. yep. internal dialogue turned up to ten. drive to my destination - but don't remember how i got there. did i really stop at that red light? must have, there's no dents in the car. race around supermarket, bright lights flickering, bad muzak and old ladies deliberating over their tea. english breakfast or irish? get to the checkout and discover an odd arrangement. some extra biscuits with neon icing - definitely didn't want those. a small matchbox car. nope, not that either. must have been my little boy. hide them on the adjacent shelf. back out to the car, i'm always in a hurry, i can't wait to hit the brakes.
c h a l k talk

parting with thee reluctantly: emily dickinson


Parting with Thee reluctantly,

That we have never met,

A Heart sometimes a Foreigner,

Remembers it forgot—

the happy prince: janet frame

In the children’s record of the Happy Prince,
before each gold flake is peeled from the Prince’s body,
the voice orders, Turn the Page, Turn the Page,
supposing that children do not know when to turn,
and may live at one line for many years,
sliding and bouncing boisterously along the words,
breaking the closed letters for a warm place to sleep.
Turn the Page, Turn the Page.
By the time the Happy Prince has lost his eyes,
and his melted heart is given to the poor,
and his body taken from the market-place and burned,
there is no need to order, Turn the Page,
for the children have grown up, and know when to turn,
and knowing when, will never again know where.


if you wish our clock would stop, tell us. if you wish time stopped for no man, tell us that too.


looking out the back of car windows, dirty from distant travels. blurs of semi-trailers in the distants, lights bleeding into the night rain. up in the front, there's some bad tune twirling out of the radio, ruining it all. all the while, i'm hoping i'll fall asleep, and when i wake - we'll just be there.

Friday, May 9, 2008

silver stripes

striped skivvies. striped pencils. striped scarves. striped towels. stripey plates. stripey boxes. bikes with racing stripes. yes. yes these are all good things featuring stripes. zebra crossings. zebras. double white lines. lollypop ladies. black and white stripes. red and white stripes. bulls-eyes. i have a little hankering for striped boiled lollies - the type that are kept in glass jars. nostalgia is kick-starting my taste buds. mmm. mattress ticking. speeding stripes. not one single spot in sight.
c h a l k talk
a hank of her hair: anne french

When he found it
it was the blaze that shocked him
its red flare in the darkness,
its weight, like a body part
an amputation
a ripe fruit.
He sniffed it, expecting
a feral stink
the scent of her
some kind of perfume
or perhaps all three.
Its mustiness recalled all the cupboards
of all the houses they have ever lived in
in several countries
and it inside them all along,
wrapped and waiting
for this moment.

garbageman: the man with the orderly mind: gwendolyn brooks

What do you think of us in fuzzy endeavor, you whose directions are

sterling, whose lunge is straight?
Can you make a reason, how can you pardon us who memorize the rules and never score?
Who memorize the rules from your own text but never quite transfer them to the game,
Who never quite receive the whistling ball, who gawk, begin to absorb the crowd's own roar.
Is earnest enough, may earnest attract or lead to light;
Is light enough, if hands in clumsy frenzy, flimsy whimsically, enlist;
Is light enough when this bewilderment crying against the dark shuts down the shades?
Dilute confusion. Find and explode our mist.
if you wish our stripe stopped, tell us. if you wish our pinstripes kept racing, tell us that too.
the constant rhythm of waves crashing, sand underfoot, in the bottom of your bed. mosquitoes still linger, as though to suck out the very last of the sunshine via your veins. extra-early birds whistle in the morning light, i bunker down hiding under my doona, hoping it's darker for just a little longer. just fifteen more minutes. hit the snooze, well i would if i had one, but instead, my alarm comes in the shape of a three year old wanting to snuggle up close and bury his limbs under my body.

Friday, May 2, 2008

ghost city

the sun is making a special guest appearance, but there's no one else around to share it. quiet town. desserted town. almost ghost town, except for the old silent man sweeping leaves out of the gutter. here i am sitting out the front, hoping for a glimmer of a soul. but nothing. it's ghost city.
c h a l k talk

live model: marie ponsot

Who wouldn't rather paint than pose—
Modeling, you're an itch the artist
Doesn't want to scratch, at least
Not directly, and not yet.
You think, "At last, a man who knows
How bodies are metaphors!" (You're wrong.)

First time I posed for him he made
A gilded throne to sit me on
Crowned open-armed in a blue halfgown.
I sat his way, which was not one of mine
But stiff & breakable as glass,
Pale still, as if
With a rosetree up my spine.
We had to be speechless too,
Gut tight in a sacring thermal
Hush of love & art;
Even songs & poems
Were too mundane for me to quote
To ease our grand feelings
So I sat mute, as if
With a rosetree down my throat.

Now I breathe deep, I sit slack,
I've thrown the glass out, spit,
Evacuated bushels of roses.
I’ve got my old quick walk
& my big dirty voice back.
Why do I still sometimes sit
On what is unmistakably like a throne?
Why not. Bodies are metaphors
And this one's my own.
consider me: langston hughes

Consider me,
A colored boy,
Once sixteen,
Once five, once three,
Once nobody,
Now me. Before me
Papa, mama,Grandpa, grandma,
So on back
To original
(A capital letter there,
Being Mystery.)

Consider me,
Colored boy,
Downtown at eight,
Sometimes working late,
Overtime pay
To sport away,
Or save,
Or give my Sugar
For the things
She needs.

My Sugar,
Consider her
Who works, too—
Has to.
One don't make enough
For all the stuff
It takes to live.
Forgive me
What I lack,
Caught in a crack
That splits the world in two
From China
By way of Arkansas
To Lenox Avenue.

Consider me,
On Friday the eagle flies.
Saturday laughter, a bar, a bed.
Sunday prayers syncopate glory.
Monday comes,
To work at eight,

Consider me,
Descended also
From the Mystery.
if you wish we stayed in ghost city, tell us. if you'd like to join us and make ghost city disappear, tell us that too.
iceberg roses, folds of petals - tutus around rose hips. bees slowed by the cold, i hear them while i read. i holler at the dogs that bark, and ruin the perfect quiet. they hush, rush back, sit at my feet panting as though it's the hottest day, then run off and bark again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On Holidays

I'm away on holiday visiting my family.. I'll be back next week - with two posts instead in lieu of today's.. Sorry - I had good intentions, but I've been enjoying some sleep-ins, too many cups of tea, lemon curd cake and op shopping.. Mmmm.
have a happy weekend
c h a l k talk