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Cuttlefish Edition No.2 June 2018

Cuttlefish Edition No.2 June 2018

Contributors

Mags Webster

Kevin Gillam

Carolyn Abbs

Julie Watts

Dick Alderson

Rachael Petridis

Andrew Lansdown

Sonya Frossine

Rita Tognini

Veronica Lake

Joyce Parkes

Ross Jackson

Pat Johnson

Vivienne Glance

Rose van Son

Laurie Smith

Flora Smith

Christopher Konrad

 

 

My first kiss

Was it Bill? Faded jeans, an experienced tongue—

or Tim—too tall, too shy—(but nice).

Or Jo? Same height, same age, same sex—

or Grace—fresh toothpaste, slow, polite.

Or was it John, the vicar’s son—alleluia!—

(on my knees), or Chip, with stubble

on a rockstar chin? Was it deep and ‘French’—

did my jaw go numb? Or was it furtive, rushed—

and somehow wrong? I remember the sound

of a saxophone, I remember the feeling

of flesh leaving bone. When I opened

up my eyes, too much light rushed in, so

I opened up my self, made the hurting begin.

 Mags Webster

 

 

Nothing to declare

I thought I’d given up France

                for good, scoured the Gauloises

from my tongue, but still I’m avid

                                 for absinthe.

 

I am an addict,

                who does not fight disease

so much as battle with the cure.

                                   My name is ———. I fall

 

in love with countries, use men

               as their proxies, at night

I spread their bodies out tight,

                                let rivers unravel,

 

plateaus cramp, canyons open up

                  like wounds. I may be exploring

different skins, but underneath,

                                    their geographies are just

 

the same, the compass needle

                 lurches northwards every time.

At first, I travelled in my sleep—

                                  borders aren’t patrolled

 

in dreams—I flowed from Italy

                to Mexico, carrying my cravings

like contraband. I dived down

                                   under, prised apart

 

the hemispheres with my nomadic

                  need. But it wasn’t enough—

waking alone on the blade

                         of a cold equator—

 

so I’ve shrunk the world

                to a scarab track

where I roll my lust

                                    like a ball of dung

 

from dateline to horizon,

                   change visas

with the swivel of an eye,

                               invade these realms

 

a month or two, then deport myself,

                   no forwarding address—

not even a scrap of nametag

                                  stuck to the teeth of the carousel—

Mags Webster

 

 gifts for cloud 

somewhere beyond lights are on                       lights are going off

where road and thought conspire  moon and Blackwood seeping

between a kitchen chair and unbreathing                           don’t go

yonder, no, but you do, off amongst tuarts                                 are

lights replaced by creed?             you, book fallen, sit where lights

are not needed for word                                       laminex table, on,

on, letters not scrawled now, skin chilled and clammy              are

lights swaddling you? the kindling stacked, though heat and light                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

are but gifts for cloud                         medals, marches, all beyond,

gone to where the Blackwood eddies and pools                    not be-

ing, not even that                           last call for fluorescence, where

off-going are lights                on aren’t lights, beyond where-some

     Kevin Gillam

 

 

  the colour of healing

 

it’s a thick silence,

unrehearsed and accidental,

with the house suddenly empty.

rare, in a home like this –

grand piano, two ‘cellos, violin, guitar –

three musicians and a dog,

Bach Chaconnes, Chopin Preludes and

high pitched whines joining ‘cello duets

 

has me thinking though,

about the repositories of silence

because it’s been here and waiting,

in the 45 degrees of stairwell, the angle

providing harbour, a balloon of silence

the colour of healing

 

Kevin Gillam

 

Heirloom

 

My sister sent the clover-leaf table from the UK. It went astray, weathered

a storm; battered and bruised landed on my veranda. A scrawny leg poked through

the crate, like a sheep in live transportation. I once yelled at the driver of a sheep

truck on Leach Highway. A leg stuck out. It hurt. I demanded he stop. He didn’t.

 

Years ago, my brother climbed in the loft, balanced along beams and slipped.

A leg dangled through the ceiling. He hobbled about in a plaster-cast for months.

 

But this was an antique table. I polished it with bees-wax, fixed its leg with super-

glue. Stood it in the corner. Stoic. Majestic. Admired as a throne. Queen Bee carved

from a tree. While I was cooking dinner, three-year-old Lily drew on the table

with Derwent colour pencils: grass green, sky blue, a pink cloud or two, and mauve.

Content as sheep nibbling clover, she whispered, I’m writing. We deciphered it with fingertips. Pencils

slithered from the tin like skinny legs of lambs being born.

 

Carolyn Abbs

 

 

Floating Backwards                                              

 

they walk bent as

bows through the dunes

 

feet shuffling through

memory of sand

 

heads bowed to the wind & gull

huddle together on the sloped

white ship

 

the waking in their toes

intent on the shoreline.

 

here they disrobe themselves

drop years from their bodies with

each discarding

 

the sagging cardigan

crumpled skirt & trouser

 

arise from the dumping

like new birds.

 

feet edge into liminal

saltwater slush sending shocks

 

wind picks up their hair

throws it behind them

 

& they face the sea

all their lined histories

 

enter their past

water transforming skin

 

lengthening backbones

flooding sinus      infusing muscle.

 

there are children in Watermans Bay

floating backwards

 

rotating bodies

sinking      under the slow curl

of wave

 

laughing      splashing

drifting in the thermals.

 

later      a couple      bent as

bows will shuffle themselves

back to the Boardwalk

 

cardigans      undone

sandals in fists

hair      full of sand.

 

Julie Watts

 

 

At Dietzenbach Pool

 

she is eleven

 

steps in the shallows of the outdoor pool

 

parent instructing

sunscreen, rashi, goggles

 

swims away to the deep zone

dives, comes up, dives

 

transformed

into dolphin, dreaming

 

smile as broad

as a beach

 

Dick Alderson

 

 

raven

 

I hear you

your blackness unseeing me

 

as if you are cut out

of that tree

 

just the pale ring of your eye

blade ring of your voice

 

Dick Alderson

 

 

school afternoon

 

locked in, those

vast adiabatic days

 

till the land emptied

and air stopped

drained to sea heaviness

 

in the baking interlude

they walked home

 

low as grey parrots

 

settling, fanning out

to porches and farm gates

 

past trucks and air brakes

steam of railway engines

 

drinking out of taps

splashing their faces

 

drifting into kitchens

finding mothers

 

Dick Alderson

 

 

Hot Gold

 

What is it about this coast?

Is it the bald sun dropping

over the western rim

into a thump of waves?

 

Or is it the steel blue curling

and hissing–

foam crawling up the beach

and feet burning on its hot gold?

 

Or is it our colonial history,

the city’s beaches

Scarborough, Marmion, Cottesloe

English names stamped

on our summer playgrounds?

 

Or is it sky-sails billowing rainbows

on a warm Sunday afternoon?

Or mannequins surfing a wave

arms holding up a sky?

 

Or does a beach unfold like a poem?  

Beach rhymes on a page of sand

 

Rachael Petridis

 

 

Miscellaneous Autumn Maples, Kyoto

 

1

Such delicate hands

the Japanese maples have,

so petite and green,

waving goodbye to summer

with here and there a cut finger.

 

2

Maybe amoeba

or yet mosquito larvae—

but no other life

graced the granite bowl until

the maple’s coloured starfish.

 

3

Very beautiful—

a woman in traditional

obi and sandal.

And see, in its autumnal

kimono, the small maple.

 

4

Like a well-bred

gentleman, the gardener

picks up the red

(for which others never stopped)

handkerchief the maple dropped.

 

5

Foolishly, maples

conspire each fall to challenge

Kyoto’s women.

But who could win against those

slender limbs and stunning clothes?

 

6

Little maple,

I’ve seen pictures of a girl,

a German Jew,

who was, like you, skeletal—

and she wore a small star, too.

 

7

‘If the heart of me

is transience,’ momiji

asked Shakyamuni,

‘why every autumn do I

sorrow at the loss of me?’

 

8

Maples, seppuku

was once practised in Japan,

but never suttee.

Besides, you are not widows

nor are you by creed Hindu!

 

9

Is it compassion

that moves the maples to join

bereft mothers who

dress the Jizo stones in bibs

or have they lost seedlings, too?

 

10

(i.m. the Kakure Kirishitans)

‘Our trunks are the stakes

to which the martyrs were tied,

our leaves are the flames

in which they blistered and died,’

explained the maples, horrified.

 

11

As they spun out

during the scourging of Christ,

so the blood-drops

are hurtling from the maples

as the wind flogs their raw backs.

 

12

It’s almost perverse

the maples’ stark revealing

our poor universe—

stars turning red and reeling

under the Transience Curse.

 

Andrew Lansdown

 

Buddhist Temple Bell

 

Bonsho

 

Hung by its handle

an unflared clapperless bell—

simply colossal,

dangled in its own temple

with a wood ramming pole.

 

2  

Hoop

 

The bell may bellow

with every blow, but the beam,

too, takes a bashing:

only an iron hoop stops

its flattened end from splitting.

 

Boss

 

The striking panel,

the tsuki-za pounding point,

of the brass bonsho

bears a lotus motif boss

to brace the bell against loss.

 

Pole

 

Unless they pommel

the lotus-embellished bell

it won’t peal or toll—

so it waits for monks to call

to pound its boss with a pole.

 

Andrew Lansdown

 

 

Zipper

 

She arrived in a suitcase

Neater than the third shot of whiskey

Curled up in a carved-out corner

Arms folded like laundry

 

Ironed flat, dried by the pressure

The tea-leaves hanging from her hair

Were uninterested in the semantics, the oxygen masks

After the flight over forty-four fallacies

 

She left a trail of beach-burdened fingertips in her wake

Reddened like ripe, raw cherries

Half-bitten and left to burst

Like spores filled with blood

 

They would, at a moment’s hurriedly scribbled notice

Burn and drown like candle wicks in wax

Alight, the zig-zag of lost lovers

Formed a constellation through a handprint of countries

 

They were the residue, really

Of a juggernaut thundering through

Built from a body, somehow unthinking, unwishing

Surely never, ever stopping

 

Someone small enough to slip into the stomach of a suitcase

Worldly enough to wait with the watches

 

Sonya Frossine

 

 

 

Los Angeles Voices

 

(i)

Beneath our plane and Californian sun,

from San Gabriel mountains to the sea

Los Angeles

sprawls.

 

Once El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles–

now pared back to Los Angeles

or LA for speed.

 

Yet la Reina’s tongue

is still everywhere in her pueblo–

Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, Hermosa

and Redondo beaches, Palos Verdes,

 

San Pedro Bay with Santa Catalina Island

sunning itself off the coast.

Tides of Latino accents

lapping the city like Pacific waves.

 

(ii)

Other voices too sibilate

in the substratum–

beneath the footpaths of Sunset Strip

inscribed by the movie famous

beneath cathedrals and downtown skyscrapers

beneath boulevards that travel to the sea.

 

Tongva[1] cries

that called to Cabrillo from canoes

to come ashore

visit their brush huts.

 

Tongva chants

mutated to Gabrieleño prayers

in praise of la Reina and her saints,

who uninvited came             

and stayed.

 

Rita Tognini

 

 

 

Serried Ranks

 

Wednesday evenings they emerge;

wheeled smartly down driveways

clattering out into the street,

lined up like daleks on parade.

Stoically indifferent as to weather,

their presence is inevitable.

It is their moment inescapable.

 

With wheels precisely aligned to kerb,

lids secure over cavernous bellies

they stand rigid in anticipation.

Rank upon silent rank, street after street.

A veritable army; brimming with detritus

containing all the secrets of the world.

These are the timekeepers,

counting off the days, the years,

the entirety of living in between.

 

Each Wednesday brings a kind of communion,

a cleansing of the soul

and its accumulated encrustations.

At road’s edge, penitent, self-effacing,

resolute as martyrs, they remain steadfast,

secure in the knowledge

that the blessing will eventuate.

Come morning, they will be raised on high,

catharsis will ensue, absolution achieved.

 

In the aftermath they are discarded,

Lying askew on verges, exposed to the elements

In due course, each one will be collected

to lumber cumbersome back down driveways

and be stowed away somewhere in dim obscurity.

Of necessity will they be refilled, replenished,

‘til each tomorrow blurs and Wednesday returns.

 

Veronica Lake

 

 

Amity Poem                                                                

(For I.M.P. and J.M.G.P.)

 

Is amity a wave

in an ocean

of sentences,

a vessel

carrying sojourns

 

and solace, a frown

asking tears

to wash the deck,

or a sail billowing

on a raft going

 

from Fremantle

to Rottnest

and back?

I am glad

you and I have met,

 

sailed, hugged,

walked, played tennis

and chess,

listened to Elgar,

Mahler, Cohen,

 

Baez – shared

a bed, a house

and have a daughter

who loves and likes

you and I.

             

Joyce Parkes

 

 

Like the Mist                                                         

 

After writing for hours

by one of the windows

in one of the rooms

at the home she occupies

and looks after

 

she looked up for

a break, noticing

eaves made of iron

above the panes

of a window framed by

 

banksias, bottle brushes,

Albany woolly

bushes, a palm and a plane

tree, swooshing

refrain and refrains.

 

There was enough quiet

to discover that

promises made

in fair weather for

fair weather seldom last,

 

that a resolve asks

for kindness.

The mist, lingering

in the province of risk,

lifted to cover findings, givens.

                                         

Joyce Parkes

 

 

A small boy returns

 

on a hotel porch on the front

his flapping tie sea-breezed

       he’s back again on business

 

holiday smells come in

       sand-heaped jellyfish-mess

       stranded seaweed-rags

       front end loader diesel-fuming

       as its inscrolling the beach

 

above the surf

seagulls, adepts at windsurfing

nosey-beak

     in slip-sliding air 

 

face sun-warmed

in tummy-tum shallows

he driftwood-floats

on to his freckled back

       till a splish-splashing past

       washes up

 

Ross Jackson

 

 

Failures

 

old caged cockatoo

Picasso might have thought of you

as a white pocket handkerchief

a beak with tangled triangles

but those shreds of blue

you were meant to electrify

those hollowed logs

your family were to occupy

failures, oh yes, failures

we understand each other

me and you

 

Ross Jackson

 

Dawn on Eric Street Bridge, Winter, 1954

 

Rose ether inflates the sky

train slides to bridge on argental glints

 

tendrils of a cold breeze

born on faraway desert dunes and swales

 

blush my skin

hands retract into my cardigan sleeves.

 

I’m swallowed by steam and grime

 

rewarded with fleeting warmth

flash of bright firebox.

 

In dim yellow carriage light

a man hunches in an old army greatcoat

nursing a Gladstone bag.

 

A young woman reconciles her murky

soot - smeared window

with the pristine sky beyond.

Laurie Smith

 

 

1. She never finished

She never finished her song

but grew weaker with each stanza

Her fine voice faded

Her resonance stilled

More stanzas that I never heard

are sung somewhere else

in better company than I

 

But I wish I could hear just one note

to bring her back to me

 

2. Jessie

 

I tried to save her but the baby fell

I tried to hold her but did not hold her well

I tried to love her but my love was ill

I tried to keep her but she had her will

 

My baby fell and broke apart her life

and in my heart there lay a glittering knife

The knife has rusted there and still remains

My heart has healed and scarred

and loves her just the same

 

Pat Johnson

 

 

Sing open the gate

 

My voice fights against the constant hum

of more important tones manifest in traffic jams

and living rooms, flitting from renovation to school fees

to new job/new wife, avoiding new life

jingling tunes that catch your mind, whisk it away

saying someone else will take care of your concerns.

 

Deep in your self-knowing

you hear me murmur

below the surface

Come on! Risk dipping your toe

into this tepid dark

fetid swamp.

 

Hear my scratching voice sore with use/misuse

declare the unloved truth.

One voice is heard but many more

shout in silence. Let their cry from the desert

reach the town where this miserable note becomes

a chorus of the world watching

 

and we sing open the gate.

 

Vivienne Glance

 

 

I wake and look for the moon

 

Ithaca gave you your lovely journey

Without it, you would never have set out

            C.P. Cavafy

 

Her aunt knew the ways of the moon

the way vegetables bloomed in night light

how they trailed, spilled by morning rays

 

the April moon full of expectation

tempted by southern winter rain, days

filled with promise of a fragrant spring

 

to have set out on a journey, to have travelled

from the northern summer to the southern winter

from sweet tomatoes to sweet potatoes 

 

those hungry faces of a moonlit night

so soon after solstice. They have passed

the worst of it, she knows, the moon

 

promising so much would deliver

as it delivered flavour to her father’s house

her mother filling empty mouths

 

& she looked at life as a verse

having the means to turn, to fold when needed

to break when a new breath called

 

& there were many, another child born

just when there seemed no strength to bear–

no space by the fire to keep the child warm

 

& she mapped her concern in the child’s brow

as if the child knew as she acted her dreams

to appear as bright as she could

 

when she sang in her low voice

in the voice of her mother, she kept

her mother’s Ave Maria in mind.

 

the child smiled and the flicker

from the fire stretched her voice

& a new volta born.

 

In her aunt’s last winter, the storm

over, the orange crop overwhelmed

the sky a turned summer blue.

 

Rose van Son

 

Ps 119: 39

Turn away thy reproach which I dread; for thy ordinances are good. Behold, I long for thy precepts; in thy righteousness give me life!

 

Lay your orders down, over the tree that peels, the errant blades of  grass, the melting stone       

Sun sets down Bayview Road, the Bay whale-blue; set your statutes, Lord, over my

wanderings – my  blank musings; perhaps ordinance shelters my fraying mind and on

afternoons such as this, sun-suppurated, bird-songed and wind-wispied; the gums flood

their feathery leaves        Let me understand the way of the ant-warrior and share its burden:

march on, march on good soldier, finish your dutiful step and lift, make your colony strong

– give me a hint, lay it on me                               rule of God.

 

 

 

Isaiah 24: 19

The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man, it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it and it falls, and it will not rise again.

 

Tjandamurra, at Tunnel Creek, painted his skin red in the dirt of his land

when they came to take it away. If that was brinkmanship yesterday,

today leave your qualms at home

now is time to wear your god on your sleeve

time for ride-bys, hoons, alt-right        smoothed over

time for smooth things, again and our daughters are in various states

of nesting        Is this right, that the tree is dry, the creek bed dust

eggs and bread are shored up for tomorrow

prodded, poked, pricked, kept

Sell me the open road for a handful of shekels

eat molluscs by the bay, pile them up in history’s middens

for random beach combers to be amazed         broken oysters

to raise more questions

 

Isaiah 40: 3

A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’

 

Did not someone, some centenary ago times a plenty

rightly write a voice, out there, in the ether

on the wire        Was it not downloaded some time ago

say, to make a bee-line    correct the road

that we roughed out in the bush, along a lonely coast

through thickets of sheoaks, blackboys and banksias

Did not that Primary voice command us lay it down straight

upon a desert highway        even in the red dirt deserts

leave lie your bleached bones along the side of the road

for the carrion, ants and flies to pick clean

Join the dots if you must        East to West, South and

in some northern Kapok fields        Draw the Linear

be my surveyor with your sure eye

pave the Way and do not waver

 

 

The Thanksgiving Hymns, Qumran

Hymn XXII

Thou hast opened my heart for thy understanding

My heart murmurs … and my heart melts like wax

because of iniquity and sin …

 

Send in the clouds, snow and ice   heart of mine

a wide range on this southern horizon where the kitchen is warm

eggs and chorizo freckled in the frying pan   are there other duties to distract

to peel my eyes for this day? Other than a monastery far far away on a Dead Sea

is this day not enough   parrots gambolling the gums all around   maybe hearts

do melt   maybe they are tiny like a little wren and, crushed only once,

can they ever truly bounce back? Look to the beyond, there, over the zigzag

skyline to a wider sea that breathes for us all.  

Ecclesiastes 1: 9 

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.

 

Forgive me brother, sister, but what was, will again ∙ this has to be said, has been said a legion

& again ∙ a prisoner’s life is a lonely one, inside & out ∙ this is true of the writer, the pole

dancer & assorted aberrant literatures  ∙ Send me to the gallows, bend down to tie my laces,

wash my hair with anointed oil ∙ this will cost you darling, this will send them into a tizzy,

but they  will rule with Kafka’s notebooks on how to rule ∙ The boss will kick us & we  will go

home & kick something  else agreeing that we could have done better ∙ The falling leaf has

said it all, accomplished it all, like a river that  never ends, but tails into the deep blue ocean 

where molluscs feed  &  all will be restored to the earth

 

Ecclesiastes 1: 6 

The wind blows to the south and goes round and round to the north; round and round goes the wind, and the wind returns to its going around.

 

Return again        don’t just return me to the store

buy me outright        own me, own your own shit, eat bread this day

don’t just break it; the rat-wheel, tread-wheel

are we not all prime suspects, are we not viable, our fields fertile with cash

cows ploughed into millions of acres of virgin jungle

we all want our piece of the hamburger-pie

It is said there is some sort of slippery slope, uphill and down

again, again, again        take the strain great Sisyphus and your stone

we step into the stream and are changed and yet we are again

Eat me, consume me        mighty bit-coin

allure me with your glimmer

your call-girl cry out to the wilderness, until round and round

like a merry-go-round        we are no longer affordable and

I look to your breath and mine for liberation

 

Christopher Konrad

 

Biddy

She could see it too well 

the men running   

 

plunging into the surf

desperate for sight of his body. 

 

she could see the horse    

in the breakers terrified.

 

how it must have pulled him

the dead weight of him     

 

how it would have bucked   

and tossed  

  

losing at last its dreadful cargo

from that stirrup. 

 

how it would have fled

bolted away down the sand

 

a riderless horse always a signal

always brought men running.  

   

brought the news of him 

that morning when

 

they had not 

ridden out together    

 

she put to bed with a cold 

 

that morning when

she would never

 

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