jasmine rice

rain beyond the glass 
intensifies in sheets, wild
against apartments and 
hoardings, shudder of traffic
as we huddle in our interiority
the meal’s remnants sizzle to a crust.

one eye on the conditions
we’re counting umbrellas (1)
considering desserts (4) 
jellies, sticky rice, coconut, rambutan
and how poetry elevates everyday speech
the crackle of electrics and lit. things.

weather apps show mint and mango 
zones gif-looped on the tablecloth
show renewed river rises 
floods minor to major
water down the water glass.

we shrug into cardigans 
and summer throw-overs
tarry at the entrance 
the waiter in silk pyjamas 
bows, hands together – sawadti kha diners
Buddha says appearances are an illusion —

how beautiful tho

the puddled carpark
the servo, native grasses 
like the Tanami in Spring
a way through to
the cemetery, roses 
heavy heads before the rain.

Image: Photo by Jolly Yau on Unsplash. Sawadti (pronounced with long last syllable) – is a Thai greeting, farewell and generic blessing; the Tanami is a desert in north west central Australia; and Jasmine Rice is a Thai restaurant in Wollongong, ‘almost an institution in this town’ some say: not that you need all this explanation.

For music this morning, here’s the Australian Chamber Orchestra with Johnny Greenwood’s composition ‘Water‘ (Youtube).

This poem was written on unceded Wodi Wodi land.

The parachutists

In this still blue bright out of nowhere
they appear, five, six, nine, just hanging

I notice them peripherally, a flock much 
larger than the usual circle of seabirds

a tenth is still falling, a stone tied to a ribbon
then the shute flowers finally and she brakes.

I hear them distantly woo-hooing each other
legs a-dangle, bodies hung from a string. 

Maybe they’ll bring us news from that upper realm:
‘the air is cold and thin’, ‘clouds wispy like pillows’

or say how we appear in our gardens
unexalted, climbing ladders, walking toddlers 

or, having snatched themselves out of the great mouth
tell us the particular word death said when denied.

Image: Royal Australian Air Force parachuter, c. 1939, c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr.

And for music this morning, here’s an early album by Max Richter, The Blue Notebooks (youtube) – (maybe start with the familiar ‘On the Nature of Daylight) which he described as a meditation on (and against) violence. Featuring Tilda Swinton reading from Franz Kafka and poet Czesław Miłosz‘s Hymn of the Pearl and Unattainable Earth. Originally released in 2003, here we are nearly 20 years on…

Drake tanka

girl in the Honda 
smoking as she shift lanes
she's listening to Drake 
driving like she doesn't care 
she’s thinking YOLO

Image: Dodgem cars, Luna Park, November 1952 _ photographed by Ivan Ives, c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr. Drake, is a Canadian rapper musician, who is currently the most streamed artist of all-time on Spotify, with his songs having been played over 46 billion times, as of April 2022.) He also popularised the saying YOLO (abbr. you only live once). A tanka after Drake Equation by British-Nigerian poet Gboyega Odubanjo

You’ll have to find your own Drake (just ask anyone under 40). Meanwhile here’s US bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding with her 2008 album Esperanza, (Youtube) maybe start with Samba em Preludio (Youtube)

a tanka sonnet — August 2

as sun leaves the wall
spider gets busy 
sowing sails and vacancies
scaled to her prey 
in hopper legs and fly husks 

how like this this is — 
line on line and beauty
bent round purpose 
like a bonsai cypress 
framed by chicken wire 

and how wrapt we are
beguiled by gravity 
stuck, barely able 
to remember the door

Image: A favourite wall in Wollongong, rear of the Bridgestone Tyres outlet, McCabe Park. A bit of play with forms today (apols to any tanka purists, the syllable count doesn’t work either).

And for music this morning, here’s another piece from favourite US soul guitarist Shuggie Otis, Live in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) from 2014 (Youtube).

Chasing the Line – An Anthology of Poems from the Back Room

Chasing the Line: An Anthology of Poems from The Back Room; Well Thumbed Poets 2022, 139pp. $25 (+ p & h) from Well Thumbed Poets

The back room of the title refers to a room in a bookseller – Well Thumbed Books in Cobargo NSW, a small town four hours south of Sydney on the Princes Highway between Narooma and Bega. 

The introduction to this volume describes a long wooden table where a group of seven local poets —  Linda Albertson, Leigh Crowe, Kai Jensen, Kate Taylor, Sandra Taylor, Glenda-mai Morgan and Peter Storey — have worked over the past few years to produce this rich volume. The latter two also provided the gorgeous colour illustrations for cover and the chapter dividers. 

Continue reading

similes

don’t you just love how along a line
                        there’s a word that signifies
                        a lit fuse spitting in a milk bottle

watch out reader          stand away

this poem is about to        l a  u   n    c      h
into some parallels            unexpected               revelatory              (or dull) 

fresh takes on the familiar: car-crash, swan, a vase falling floorward 

do it
I'm so ready 
to be arrested by 
outré ways 
of looking 
at water
-birds &c.

Image: c/- Rijksmuseum on wikimedia commons. One of a pair of porcelain swans are small versions of the famous large porcelain birds from the Meissen porcelain factory. From 1749 onwards, the successful Paris dealer Lazare Duvaux had several pairs of similar swans fashioned into candelabra. This pair may have come from his shop. A bit of silliness inspired partly by Marianne Moore’s poem ‘No Swan so Fine‘ and this amazing construction.

And for music this morning, here’s West African (Burkina Faso) singer song-writer Amadou Balake (1944 – 2014) with Taximen (dedicated to all those drivers out there making their way through the streets of Ouagadougou ) (Youtube)

tanka — 23 July

i wrote poetry
in the morning     bright
dew on tranquil lawns

— it’s afternoon already
and i’m re-writing    still

Image: Night Scene, from Camping at Culburra, NSW 1937, Max Dupain and Olive Cotton, c/- State Library of NSW on Flickr.

And for music this morning, here’s American jazz dada-ist composer Raymond Scott (1908-1994) with some soothing sounds for baby vol 1 . (Youtube). Maybe start with Sleepy Time (Youtube) Yes, there’s another two volumes (!).

tanka on the first wattle bloom — July 22

still frost rules...           

(tho
rumour is 
that spring’s
been sussing rentals
hereabouts: 
house-cat 
sea-views
garden 
needing 
tlc )

Image: a coastal wattle (Acacia sophorae) on this morning’s walk. And in the Dharawal calendar (on whose unceded land this tanka was composed with respect) we are just entering time of Wiritjiribin – cold and windy time when the lyrebirds’ calls ring out through the bushland as he builds his dancing mounds to attract his potential mates.

And for music this morning, here’s Soviet-Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin with Unsent Love Letters (uncollected on Youtube but start here)