Contentment is the Enemy of Invention
When my husband told me he was leaving
and moving to Berlin with the au pair
it was then my wall came down and I wrote
Auf Wiedersehen a definite contender
for the Liverpool poetry prize.
Last Friday, I lost my job in a downsizing
programme and came up with Guns and Roses,
two hundred lines that will surely get me
a first in the Broadway competition.
For me, misery is conducive to artistic flow.
At present, the washing machine’s
on the blink and there’s no money for another
but I’m bubbling over, drafting an idea I have
for a series of ten sonnets with a sex and water theme
that I’m certain will be the best I’ve ever done.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t
get another job, win the lotto, or fall in love again.
If I could film her reading on the train
If I could film her reading on the train,
the text would be Chagall's biography:
her face a study in expressive reverie,
flickering with shadows from the Central
European pale, the Hebraic industry of small
tradesmen, their synagogues — a reflexive
cosmos, fearing predators, surviving threats,
despite the looming silhouettes of wolves
and bears; then dashed apart — the Warsaw
ghetto's heroism, stoicism torched and charred,
its immolation rendered unto history ...
Her deep eyes glance up from the page
without perceiving me, the hidden camera trained
on her by my unbroken gaze: their depths elude
this shallow century where we shall never meet.
Millennia cohered to shape the consciousness
they now reflect unconsciously as star-
refracting wells in old Vitebsk, glimpsed
by lovers clasped in air's embrace
above dim, narrow streets, smiling as they
skim beneath the moon, in gravity's release.
And so Chagall rests in her lap,
an icon smuggled between stations,
till we alight at different stops
to go our separate ways ...
Rings of Jupiter
Sculptor: Inge King (National Gallery of Victoria)
Imagine, through aeons, how peoples of the Earth
gazed at the night sky’s myriad points of light,
used name and story to help comprehend
their place within the mystery
Imagine, through ages, peoples of the world
with language, observation, instruments
expanding knowledge, shrinking distances,
seeking further out to the vast space
Now Inge King bearing her ninety years of life
has forged a concept into solid form.
We pause in widening cosmology
and ask again what lies
I rotate it, piece it back together
that cube of darkness
I try to find the clasp
no catch just knotted
my hands are soaked in
all over my nails
Paula McKay’s first book of poetry Travelling Incognito (Five Islands Press 2003) and a further collection is in preparation. She is convenor of The Walter Street Poets, one of Sydney’s finest group of poets, and a member of the DiVerse group writing in response to art works in exhibitions at some of Australia’s major galleries.
Jena Woodhouse was born in Queensland and more recently spent a decade in Greece. Her poetry collections are Eros in Landscape and Passenger on a Ferry, with another in preparation. She has published two novels.
Lerys Byrnes is a Melbourne-based poet. Her work has been published in Australia, USA and the UK.
Bronwyn Evans is a Melbourne-based poet and short story writer. She has worked variously as a property valuer, chef and English teacher. Her poetry has been published in the South Townsville micro poetry journal and she is currently working on a collection of poetry.