«Chronicle of wasted time» [contents]

Chronicle of wasted time - cover

 

A downloadable ebook of selected and new poems.

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for Sabo

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then in the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their ántique pen would have expressed
Ev’n such a beauty as you master now.
Sonnet 106

Neither gods nor nature suffer our insolence to be unrestrained.
And, so, they made a plan to humble our pride
and improve our manners. To diminish our strength
they cut us in two, and gave us, each, a neck that could be turned
to contemplate the part of ourselves that was lost.
Through this we were to learn humility.
the fable of Aristophanes

Contents


(This contents table differs from the PDF version because poetry on the website is sometimes linked to the date of publication of the book in which it first appeared rather than the date or year of writing.)


Poems in this book have been published previously in Family Ties: Australian poems of the familyMelbourne Chronicle, Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets, Overland, HIV Here and Now and TheBody.com, The Oxford Book of Australian Love Poems, Perseverance Poets’ Collection 1991–92, Walking the Dogs: the Pariah Press Anthology, at http://theraysfrommyeyes.tumblr.com and on ‘A First Hearing’, ABC Radio.

[There lies Peter Clutterbuck now]

There lies Peter Clutterbuck now
still fourteen, on Phillip Island
where he was sent, and where he died
in 1935 parentless and poor
to the Newhaven Homes for Problem Boys.
His sister could not move him from this grave
since with him is another child
named Victor Hardy, still eleven.

 

 

 

The Argus 29 August 1935 page 8
The Argus 29 August 1935, page 8.
The grave of P Clutterbuck and V Hardy is in Cowes Cemetery, Phillip Island.

[Years ago, when I was reading]

Years ago, when I was reading the philosophical works of Schopenhauer
I heard a sudden eruption of laughter on the street.
I looked up to see what the cause of this laughter was.
Across the road, an old man
extraordinarily obese, was heaving his immense body
along the footpath. He used a cane to help balance himself as he walked
and to relieve the strain on his back
caused by the great bag of fat hanging from his stomach.
It required considerable effort for him to walk only a short distance.
I felt revulsion at the sight of this man.
There were feelings of pity, too.
I knew immediately
there are no counter-motives to humiliation.
We live by climbing over each other
struggle to keep our heads
above despair
and try not to think of harm that’s done.
I lowered the book and listened to the sounds of birds
a howling dog, a small child in the street
asking something of her parents —
every voice repeating the inner nature of the world
and I knew what trouble and pain was
still to come.

Sr Pessoa

Alexander SearchOf course, in times of crisis I do not write
poetry—a consequence of having escaped
pretences about pain and metaphysics.

Last night, though, my head was full
of dreams—most particularly
that my friend (a euphemism)

had decided it was time to leave—
bringing us to the long struggle (an embrace,
perhaps, but it may have been a death-clutch).

And when I woke
everything in my world was ruined
and in fog.

So, it has been impossible to speak
a word that makes sense
and there is no pleasure in a pun.

After all the excitement
I am just another child sleeping
face-down at the edge of the abyss.

Come over some day—
I can offer refuge
in tired abstractions.

I will put on my red dress,
make tea, and then
ignoring Life, we will walk or write.

[cathedrals in their middle age]

cathedrals in their middle age
          sourly contemplate

the platitudes of worship
          (what longing made

the history of their long struggle
          and what prayers like smoke

stain the minds and hands
          of old men

): their structure is a torsion—
          pleasure and silence

twisted
          at invisible altitudes—

below, the dark
          icon of betrayal

above, a whispered light
          revealing nothing.

without ceremony
          no voice to read

a lesson
          or to preach

and no believers (especially
          if there are no believers)

at the end of worship
          silence is their business.

if I was such a man
          —my eyes removed

for safe-keeping
          through the wars

my memory buried
          in a field—

how could I then say
          what my body meant to say?
Originally published in Out of the Box: Contemporary Gay and Lesbian Poets, edited by Michael Farrell and Jill Jones, Puncher & Wattmann Poetry, 2009