poetryrepairs #234 17,02:019


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My dreams came to a stop. Must be content with that condition. Two doves in a fierce fight on the asphalt opposite. Birds of peace, eh? Get real. Hot and blowy, as a friend likes to put it, all that scarlet bottlebrush dreck assembled in corner and down between flagstones. Yellow flowers open on the prickly pear, its first fruit reddening. The usual raucous ravens abound. We read history hoping to make it different, I feel. Only if I keep on reading hard enough will this or that age have an agreeable ending, our troops at last holding the heights of Gallipoli and Uncle Keith making it safely back home. Still no dreams, but what the frick: nice gallery, your neoclassical Frick. Lunch with unshovelled archaeologist, polite as an archaic Levantine. Names choose us, quite a lot, I would say. They come up seldom in my drones but, hang on, I was meaning dreams and should sit opposite the keyboard, fair and square avoid mistypes like that one. However, the dreams are all returning, long, muddled, dawntime meaning-talks, some of them in full colour now at no extra cost.

poetryrepairs #234 17,02:019

The Fire-Bringers

(from an old tale)
All over the country in those days there were hunters. Even in Tasmania they roamed without fire; But two blokes arrived once with flames and firewood To sleep under our night sky, Make free with spark, blaze, ray Of uncanny brightness. Our men and women Gathered, hoarding this gift. The strangers had no women, Just two curious wandering huntsmen Bringing a boon to round our hearts with its rays. We wondered. We named it Fire, Able to sleep now under the frosty sky While an orange flickering spirit danced on wood. Down through the scrub, out of a ragged wood There strode onto the beach two angry young women Whose husbands were roving under different skies For girls, not game – unworthy hunters. These women showed no fear of shark or stingray: Sun on the beach is a soothing fire. Diving that green water, they were playing with fire, Splashing around just as you or I would In high summer. They didn’t see the stingray Which lurked in a sandhole spying on the women; Merciless, crueller than armed men. He aimed at their bodies, dark against the sky. Under the brightblue, innocent sky Deadly as (later) gun or yellow bushfire He was flat and hated all men. With a long spear of unyielding hardwood He pierced and killed both women. Content in sandy shallows lay the murdering ray. The strangers cared nothing for a stingray, Nor even for beach or sky, But strode straight down to those two dead women, Roused them with bull ants, and lit a bonfire Between them, stacking on dry wood. The dead rose again, thanks to these wandering huntsmen. Soon, very soon, two young women and two men Were whirled above woods, mountains, beach, foam, stingray And their fiery stars gleam in our night sky.

poetryrepairs #234 17,02:019


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CHRISTOPHER WALLACE-CRABBE an Australian poet and emeritus professor of the University of Melbourne. CHRIS WALLACE-CRABBE’s most recent book is Afternoon in the Central Nervous System (NY: George Braziller).