A- A A+

Poems for Anzac Day

2 Comments
Jena Woodhouse and Ian C. Smith |  23 April 2017

 

Selected poems

 

Robyn

Getting off the bus at Woden,
I fell into conversation
with another passenger called Robyn,
who then waited with me
for the bus to Manuka, to see
me off, the way friends will,
or people who are closer: family, kin.

I told her I had visited
the War Memorial.
She said she'd never known
her father, who'd been killed
in action, somewhere. No,
she couldn't tell me where,
she'd been only three. She'd not
been out to view his name,
embossed in metal on the wall.
Her health was poor, she wasn't sure
she'd manage all the walking.
But growing up, she'd missed the father
she had no remembrance of.
She'd always felt the lack of him —
an ache time could not ease

— Jena Woodhouse

 


Damask Roses, Syria

It's happening again, in Syria —
a century since people of Armenia
perished in their tens of thousands there,
torched alive in caves, or put to death
by thirst and hunger, where their exile
ended in the desert at Deir-ez-Zor.

Now, the forces of annihilation
once again cohere, as if this were
a valve in history's cardiac arrhythmia
that faltered and unleashed
a haemorrhage of horror, trauma,
fear. The damask roses bloom
unharvested in devastated fields.

Their perfume cannot mask the stench
that permeates the air, the atmosphere
of dread, of mute despair. But when
the juggernaut of war is redeployed
elsewhere, the fragrant fields will come
into their own, if there are hands to care

— Jena Woodhouse

 

 

Not VCs, VD


They huddle sorry-arsed on the platform sharing Turf cigarettes,
faces above khaki greatcoats, demeanour, of older men,
any ideals of medals not what they imagined,
inventing tales, their ultimate destination vague,
a vanishing point joked about but yearned for.
They watched back yards passing by, recalled games,
kitbags in the rack, windows streaked, their gaze opaque,
no risk now of being blown up, yet their world askew.

Crown land, an exclusion zone, rude architecture,
kangaroos and copperheads patrolling the bluish bush,
army doctors' blunt indifference unmitigated by nurses,
women soon to be only memories of mixed emotions;
porridge and penicillin, a muddle of menial tasks,
a caste quarantined from locals who believe propaganda;
troop movement, training exercises, returning heroes,
who remain ignorant of anything to do with this lot.

Look, there I am long after the war was over, a boy searching
for his lost dog he will never see again, walking
away from the murmur of his family's regret, almost
stepping on a coiled snake under the cover of trees,
calling, whistling for things to be as they were.
He reaches the old army reserve where a breeze stirs,
nudges his cigarette smoke, a flap of cardboard on a shed,
sunlight on a soiled window as if trapped there long before.

— Ian C. Smith

 


Jena WoodhousePoems by Jena Woodhouse have twice been shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize (2013, 2015). She is the author/compiler/translator of seven published books in various genres. In May 2016 she was writer-in-residence at Booranga Writers Centre, Wagga Wagga NSW.


Ian C. SmithIan C. Smith lives in the Gippsland Lakes region of Victoria. His work has appeared in Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal, foam:e, Rabbit Journal, The Weekend Australian and Westerly. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy.

 


Jena Woodhouse and Ian C. Smith


Comments

Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Submitted comments

Grateful thanks to both poets for their moving words about loss and (perhaps) the prospect of hope.

Gillian 27 April 2017

So poignant and powerful...thank you, Jena

Nelia Hennessy 28 April 2017

Similar articles

Who was that luckless politician?

3 Comments
Geoff Page | 01 May 2017

Steve Fielding pixellatedWho was that luckless politician, federal, I think, gone now from so many memories, including mine? Male, a sort of suited fledgling, older maybe than he looked, the guy who feelingly achieved, while reaching for the aphoristic wisdom of his people, the verbal train-wreck we remember so much better than than the 'issue' or his features as they pleaded with the swooping of a lens: I'm torn between two places and a hard rock?


Hardline on soft drink

8 Comments
Isabella Fels | 02 May 2017

Glass of colaIn my late 20s when I became seriously unwell and diagnosed with schizophrenia, Coca-Cola was like an ever flowing fountain of happiness for me. How I loved sipping it. I would even quickly down it with my meds. I could feel life getting better and speeding up. Having Coke was magic. But lately, with all the publicity surrounding the dangers of drinking fizzy, sugary soft drinks, I am trying to cut down. It is not easy trying to fight an almost lifelong addiction.


Poems for John Clarke

4 Comments
Peter Gebhardt | 18 April 2017

John ClarkeIt's a bleak sad day, That special voice has been taken away That voice that saw so much, Waged war against the witless and their wrongs, That smothered our lives and hopes And that voice will still sing his songs. Which we are free to hear for ages on.


This intimate proximity

8 Comments
Peter Evans and Brian Doyle | 10 April 2017

Judas IscariotYes, you did follow him into the palace courtyard. You had boldly vowed to follow him to the end. Now you are there. They are torturing him within as you sit with the guards without, outside in that damned courtyard and wait by the dying fire. 'What am I doing here?' you ask yourself, uneasy and lonely in the dark glow. 'But at least I am here.'


Learning to love not needing men

9 Comments
Isabella Fels | 11 April 2017

Iron heartIn the sorry past when it came to men I could hardly say amen. I had really been messed up, not blessed, by them. I'm well over 40 now and no man has ever gone down on bended knee. I was always being put to the test. Not just in looks but in the superwoman contest. I tried to be everything to them and more, yet failed miserably as I was shown the door time and time again. Nothing worked no matter how hard I worked. But lately, I have changed my way of thinking.