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Blood cancer solidarity

Peter Mitchell |  25 February 2013

Final Straw

Our future was a sky sprinkled with daisy stars.
Sitting on the Murwillumbah XPT homeward bound,
eyes tremble, tears water-fall dry skin,

choking breath as if a swimmer gasping for air.
Was it the explosion of your troubled dreams?
Were your five knuckle arpeggios the last straw?

Through the night, a chaos of dreams: halo of purple
storm clouds, sweet talk as barbed wire, roses powder
to dust. Legs are tight knots of muscle.

With morning, considerations of independence, of being single
content the light. Legs become supple stretches in a cool, free skin.
A white care cruises a straight freeway, open windows winnow the past.


Bandit Country

Some symptoms of illness are bandit country:
_________sudden intrusions into our lives,
the treasures of
____citizenship stolen,
__________ruddy health shimmied away.

Life margins tumble and slide
_________as night lives with day and day night.

Bodies wither, legs are twigs.
_________Dreams snag on thorns.

Our lives are
____envelopes in the post with no address.

Stick figures stand at crossroads in frayed dusk.
Coloured flags point north
_____________and south
_____________and east
_____________and west,
all points on the compass benign,
_______________without judgement.

From nor nor east, words suddenly appear,
____fly through thin air,
____vowels and consonants as wingtips
____feather our closed eyes.

Our eyes open,
____word storms smother bandit country
____in black-on-white.
Diagnostic words return memory of sky,
____solace of light.

Our envelopes are posted abroad.



A lymphoma brings affiliation: disquieting
fears as bedfellows. One, a doppelganger head —
Mars-sunset eyes deep sunk, prune wrinkled hide,

cheek bones protruding like clenched fists,
hovers above the bed of respite. In the silence,
this fellow-feeling fissures the lines of my ordinary features.

The chemical triad: Epirubicin, Vincristine and
Prednisolone are calligraphies rewriting cells and
DNA strands with recombinant healing.

The hologram dissolves to the high blue nothing.
My heart shines with golden flowers
as these blooms adhere the known world. 

Peter Mitchell headshotPeter Mitchell lives in the Rainbow Region of NSW, writing poetry, short fiction, memoir, literary criticism and a range of journalism. His collection of poetry, The Scarlet Moment (Picaro Press) was published in 2009. 


Peter Mitchell


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Submitted comments

Now this is poetry! It has that dimension which separates the poet from the writer of contrived, masquerading prose ('prose poetry') and from the structured rhymer. I recall that John Keats, as a young resident doctor at Guys hospital in London, interrupted his roommate with,"I have written a line - 'A beautiful thing is a constant joy'. "Yes", his friend replied without enthusiasm. A little later Keats again interrupted his friend. "What then of this?' A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its lovliness increases, it will not pass into nothingness. "Now that,Keats", his friend replied, "will last forever." Such is the mark of the poet. Thank you Eureka Street for publishing what is, to me, real poetry written by a true rather than a confected poet. I will have to read more of this bloke, Peter Mitchell.

john frawley 26 February 2013

My husband died of leukaemia. How this resonated!

Helena Sweeney 26 February 2013

Reading this, and other poems by Peter Mitchell today, for the first time, has changed the tempo of my day. It has interrupted routine with reflection and taken me to places outside my office, a few of them ones where I'd rather not be. But all the same, I'm glad I took the trip as my brain feels clearer; I'm looking through different lens now for a while. I'm recommending folks read Peter's poem called Robinson Lookout Lismore and the one called Stone. Together with these treasures, it's been an amazing, and unexpected, interlude in my workday. Thank you.

Melanie James 09 October 2014

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