21st century hermit


He carried no phone
and sent no text.
He took holidays
but no photos,
downloaded no jpegs,
burned no CDs,
got no snapshots printed.
He maintained no blog.
He had no email address,
deleted no spam,
subscribed to no mailing lists,
unsubscribed from no mailing lists.
He downloaded no songs,
and ripped no music to mp3s.
He created no playlists.
He carried no camera or iPod.
He recharged no devices.
He never backed up.

Optics Before Dawn
Trees their own shadows,
lone cars test the streets.
colour seeps in like arousal,
or useless knowledge
filling the brain’s catchment.
Trees stand in their own shapes and fidget;
dark stationary cars imperceptibly rust.
Colour like pain kicks in
at a certain intensity.
Shadows in photographs are wrong:
the world comes out too bright.
Flowers wait for water,
stagnant traffic dispersed in driveways.
Wet spots on road or fabric are darker.
The eye works tirelessly.
There are always thresholds.
Dawn’s barrage
ignites the trees with detail.
Small birds chirp their barcodes.
We use yellow crayon for the sun
because shadows are illumined
by the clear sky’s scattered blue.

Cosmè Tura: St Dominic, c.1475
The theme is those dry wrinkled hands,
The stark high-contrast folds of white
And dark cloth, how the knuckles glint,
An emaciating holy blight
Upon the spirit, one lean face
That pities all the world, he stands
Jointed in diamonds, in iron hurled,
To intercede between God's wrath
For Man, and iconise belief,
Minted in an abstract space.
The metallic backdrop of gold leaf
Makes it plain this is no scene
Of earth, or what earth can ordain.

The marks he made
In Florence a spirit had said clichés must go,
so he’d broken a toe off the left foot
of the David by Michelangelo.
And then there was that time in Prato:
in the darkened duomo he had added
with a marker to a Lippo Lippi fresco.
In Rome’s Gallery of Modern Art
he used a marker again to attack
Jackson Pollock’s ‘Watery Paths’.
One man’s war on abstraction: he’d planned
to wreck a Manzoni, but had found
one ‘equally ugly’ to damage.
Moved from prison to a psychiatric ward,
he’s now on day release and has a job
working as an art museum guide.

David Lumsden

David Lumsden lives in Melbourne and works with the design of large computer systems. He used to edit a now defunct literary magazine, and spent several years living in Poland. His poems have appeared in journals in Australia and overseas.

Hermit image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: David Lumsden, modern Australian poetry, technology, St Dominic, Michelangelo



submit a comment

Existing comments

Re "Hermit" - I like the sound of the "no's" in his life.
Pam | 26 August 2013

Love the "Hermit" - defined by what not.
Vic O'Callaghan | 27 August 2013

Congratulations, David! Beautiful and insightful works. Am I right in reading "The marks he made" not only as biography but also as metaphor? Either way I enjoyed both.
Uncle Pat | 27 August 2013

And in the 'no' is the 'yes'. Thank you for these.
Jorie | 28 August 2013

beautiful - thank you David
susan bassett | 28 September 2013

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