Bucolic (MM beach 34.48°S, 150.91°E)


You know how
when the drug (poetry) kicks
everything – cars, lawns,
a v-energy-boost can on the sand
– is glazed
with potential.
The young mum
barely taller than her eldest
marshalling a stroller and kids
across the highway
in this light looks like
Helen of Troy.

and the birds, the birds
4 black cockatoos
lift over the ridge – so close
I could hear
their feathers catch air
6 now 9 galahs chiack
on the high voltage wires,
a kestrel perched on
a 44kV transformer
targets a fieldmouse
in the litter.

and then
when I thought all this was done,
right there in the lantana
an eastern whip bird.


On the degraded ridge
behind the works
with a thousand linear feet
of medium-carbon steel being
punched and welded
and forklifts’
back-up beepers

Auden’s complaint*,
(from what I can tell),
was that the violent world
that Piero di Cosimo
painted at the start of the 16th Century –
forests of lions eating
bears being clubbed
by satyrs fucking
pigs tearing
bloody meat
right from the
throat —

— had been civilised
by the English middle class
so they could picnic on Clapham Common
on a nice sunny day.

Perhaps (being clever)
he was also talking about poetry –
how Coleridge, Keats
and Wordsworth (the worst)
had replaced poetry’s beastly
horny appetites
with sylvan nymphs and
daffodils and
tricksy rhymes.

But what to make
of all this life
amongst the trash and
poisoned earth?

by the time they’re done,
the zinc and lead will have leached a thousand feet down
and the creeks will run toxic for years –

here’s an
eastern water dragon
eking a living on the muddy shore.

Truth is (of course) the forests are still here –
the cormorant slick
through the morning swell
is spearing sprats and mullet,
the dolphins tear at the salmon
until the water’s red,
the mynahs are
beating the crow
for first dibs on

I remember as a kid
watching the neighbours
lop a chicken for dinner –
how the brothers
laughed & laughed
as the body
(you’re supposed
to tie the legs)
ran in that
familiar spasm –
finally banging
into a car door
and falling down.

ImageA Hunting Scene, Piero di Cosimo, ca. 1494-1500, Metropolitan Museum, NY.
Eastern Whip bird c/-Linda Hansbauer (turn it up); * W.H. Auden Bucolics 2, Woods

2 thoughts on “Bucolic (MM beach 34.48°S, 150.91°E)

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