After eyes tight shut

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Selected poems



Social distance


It is like flowers falling at Spring’s end,

confused, whirled in a tangle.


                        E Pound by Rihaku [Li Tai Po]


We have always lived thus, in our heads

bone domes, impenetrable to others, we

might project animus, animation, add to

Duncan’s questioning, the mind’s construction

in the face, enigmatic, Rubik cube with

sixteen squares on each face, so any signs

I give are laced, graced with ambiguity. Now

we are parted by decree, isolating ourselves

by more than two axe handles apart, too far

to hit a target whether by axe head or spittle,

intentional or otherwise and in true selfless

fashion, better than Marx could have devised,

we share and spread invisible bad karma,

d’Artagnan’s — one for all, all for one —

and then like bowling pins in an alley, we

tumble noisily, quietly, it matters not, we

follow the ball down the gutter for our

reassignment. Touching stuff this non-

touching stuff, as we yearn for tactility

from our memories, they too relive the nerve

tingling of touch, skin on skin, yearning even

for rubber fingers just to touch us somewhere,

anywhere, a shower in a raincoat is better

than no shower at all eh! Time when even

a blow to the ear, solar plexus, arm, was at

least a sign of reciprocity, better than no

touch at all. Cooped up in separate cells,

but no womb like security, more a lost life

laced with memories of touch, gentleness

caress only a glimmer. Interacting with

projected images has the same sense of

distance of cyberporn, plasticity without

emotion, blow-up dolly distance, zoom zoom,

meet meet, hang out connectedness without

connection, masturbation emptiness, no

olfactory awareness, essential shortfall,

like adopting children. Hoarders of toilet

rolls suggest anal fixation, reversion to

insecurity, flour hoarding for security,

homebaked bread, boulangerie buffer,

the French have always known this French

Connection, and still they have died in piles,

in ordered temporary echelon graves.

If I absentmindedly touch one foot with

the other, scratch my privates, is it

subconscious yearning for another’s

motivated hand and fingers, toes, to give

reassurance. We fall like autumn leaves in

a variety of twisting descents to our landfall,

and we begin to understand our mathematics

class, random numbers, probability, percentages,

how we failed each other in our unpreparedness,

our false sense of security, our unwillingness to

accept our ignorance and overweening pride.

Leaves settle on the same earth and the mulching

process begins.





Next door a large square red tractor

and plough is making the damp paddock

darker and darker, ten metres bandwith

at a time, like shadows encroaching from

the outside perimeter moving in, the roar

of the diesel power source buffers across

the autumn stillness, the local ibis flock

have gone to peck and glean the paddock

plough painted yesterday. The black and

white string of Holsteins has perforated

the edge of the green holding paddock

and the stainless steel tanker has already

sucked up the slapping swirling white gold,

off up to the city. Two days ago swooping

kites noiselessly removed two black free

range chickens, well before they had begun

producing. Last night the waves were roaring

gnash gnash into the sliver laced sky, almost

daylight bright, we were told the moon only

gets so close when       I forget. Trying not

to forget the number of dead and infected in

this state, this country, other countries, Trump

country, where untruths spread faster than

virulent viruses, suck us in, suck us up, eat

into hope, make fictitious dystopia a new

reality, a daily proposition. Looking out

the convoluted snake of distant mountains

is still gaunt, somehow reassuring, as it was

yesterday and the ripe tomatoes and fruit

we cradled in our hands, just picked, made

hope and patience a possibility manifest.



Burning time


This country            it’s turning

                                                          it’s burning


other side              up north                    it’s raging

devouring country in hungry kilometre long bites

all connected                across the landscape

mountains             flat lands      all country



and people are waving arms     water     

flailing at a devil

who strides across country like a running giant

turn your back you get devoured   hide away

you get devoured     wide mouths     dry       hot

no salivating                   just devour and devour

no rain man rubbing two white stones together

like grey haired Darby    or his bro     or his bro

only make dry tears on dusty smoke smeared faces

without water tracks                   dried river beds.


I can see a smoke cloud growing above

the northerly mountains    billowing    stretching

its arms    shouldering away   piss ant rain clouds.


There is a roaring down in the valleys

fur ball creatures               make themselves small

no frantic wing beats for escape        beware Icarus

rocks absorbing red orange heat    making new cracks

new hairlines for cold winter splitting      anonymous

response for night time cold seasons.


Snakes might find holes   

interlopers will get their just desserts     fiery ends

devil talk      sun darkened daytime    eerie endings

and beginnings     story lines smudged by carbon streaks

smoke haze       monochromatic imagery      denuding

elders will be able to trace lines          gentle delineation

marked deep in pulsing memory                    to be shared

before the time of confusion    comes in like a smoke screen

smell of barbequed death hanging in the nostril hairs

eyes squinting in the bitterness

that lingers                 after eyes tight shut.




Tony LondonTony London has had poetry published in various literary journals and newspapers and broadcast on the ABC. He has worked for 12 years as a self-funded volunteer for Tibetans in India. His book on the Tibetan diaspora, High Hopes, was commissioned and published by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, in Dharamsala, India, last year.

Topic tags: Tony London, poetry



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Existing comments

Every so often the magic of words and phrases twirled, plaited, elongated , consolidated , colourful and rhythmic, meaningful and evocative, "hit the spot", at the right time. Thanks Tony for your 3 verses that make "hope and patience a possibility manifest", here in a country where we have experienced fires , virus and great loss . They remind us deep down of things of value and that"leaves settle on the same earth and the mulching process " can begin.
Noela Arthur | 12 May 2020


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