This poem was written with thanks on unceded Wodi-Wodi land
Here I am grateful to be up early
while the house is still asleep and
the sky is the colour of blood plums.
To slip into the kitchen, take the last orange
from the china bowl, quarter it
bleeding juice and cells, and give thanks.
Thanks for the orchard near Griffith
6 hours west of here where it’s still night
the whoosh of frost fans, the fruit like lanterns
hung in the bladed leaves. And for
the Italian diaspora, out of poverty
and crumbling fields to new south wales — grazie, milli grazie.
And ever for the Wiradjuri Nation on whose land
this fruit grew. For quartz knives and scrapers
singing trade routes thru the alluvium.
For the mottled cod on a rock face and
a deep well of water hidden by a flat stone
— say mandaang guwu (that’s Wiradjuri for thank you).
To the picker from Kiribati grateful
for our wages (less board, less diesel, less this ‘n that).
In three months, he’ll see his family
they’ll buy a Chinese solar battery
so their daughter can do her homework at night
sitting up out of the tide — and they’ll give thanks.
Such abundance, such good juice. 3 aussie dollars
buys a netful from my grocers. There’s Damascus pop
on the radio and in season you get the best broad beans.
They pile nets of glorious navels in bins by the doorway
and help mothers in hijabs and elders in duffle coats
load their trollies high — and say shukran.
Wait. Time for one final thanks:
for this morning’s morning chorus, the honeyeater’s tchlik
the blackbird in the casuarina — another settler
another feral import, useless but to assuage
an Englishman’s nostalgia at breakfast and
to bless us in our loud, complicated song.
Image: Postcard, the Parent Navel Orange Tree, Riverside, California, c. 1930, Boston Public Library c/- Wikimedia Commons. This is the image of the ur-navel orange, the mutation that occurred in oranges around 200 years ago that produced the navel. All other navels are clones of this one blessed tree.
I’m sorry for not posting for a while but here’s a new poem which I hope you’ll enjoy.
And for music today, (I know I’ve linked this before) to celebrate seasonal change wherever you find yourself, here’s Max Richter’s Four Seasons (Youtube).
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
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; 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.
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
I'm so ready
to be arrested by
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)
still frost rules...
been sussing rentals
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.
after Dressing table self portrait, Margaret Olley, 1982
there are days — when the levity of dogs
the fridge motor, the pol air chopper
says there’s no quiet to be had
but for this moment to which you return
again and again, your familiars —
blooms, a fan of feathers
ovals and angles turned so the light
that lines your dressing table
leads to the morning over your shoulder
then descends into blue, blue shadow
— your cardigan, your face is awash
you stare at the sun specular in glass
and antelopes on a black lacquered box
lost to us now, but leaping still
Image: (detail) Dressing table self portrait, Margaret Olley, 1982. A poem after Australian painter Margaret Olley‘s (1923-2011) 1982 painting which is here. Olley painted several versions of this scene over a painting career of nearly sixty years during which she focussed on colour and still life.
And for music today, in keeping with the retro funk from yesterday – here’s London based electronic producers Jungle with their May 2022 EP Goodtimes/Problemz (youtubers)
every morning my usual breakfast cereal, fruit and eighteen wild swans lifting over the water
Image: Tho it’s still winter, the bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is blooming here in the suburbs. A piece in tribute to the mullet haircut of Cameron Smith, professional golfer who recently won the British Open. In case you missed it, here’s a patronising piece on Cameron from the Daily Mail – ‘you can take the boy out of Brisbane, but you can’t take Brisbane out of the boy…’