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An ode to thunder




your words are stuck
somewhere dodging a tide

where every emotion
was sung with gusto

& you rattled the night
around kitchen tables

water glasses filled
with new wine healing history

roses on your cheeks
& thunder in your heart


again the road on out
a rubber rhythm closed in a bitumen kiss
to the open pasture through us

stringy barks & dusk dead roos
& the weatherboard puff of smoke
in the timber country dusk
green on the verge to nibble on

the beer sign main street a cannon to the highway 
& the damp morning army blanket gray
the world dripping around yard buildings
wood stacked & paths brick broken puzzles 
every table has an ashtray
& a single beer bottle from last night
& a thousand cigarettes float

country dreaming the hum of a waking main street
a renovated tasteful history 
looking for a pub in a city of lanes

smoking on the street lighting up the air
day break eggshell heavy stone history
the street sweeps itself brush against stone 
high vis & hard hatted a rumbling dawn

a rural shuffle sockless
shorts against the cold

outside the seven eleven
a bent ballet to sort through a scattering of butts
another taps The Age against his thigh taxi dreaming
we have drawn poles strung them in Holy Week

travel, sleep & don’t die
shadows cast over fitted sheets
beds where weariness stretches the morning light

a black uniform treeless landscape
magazine racks line an imagination
buyers hip as tomorrow & a sun rise in her eyes

a spray from the gutters through predawn shuffle
a day hung on a moment to a cross
suitcases & rumble
a fold of timetables espresso morning fountains of light

a Christmas lights tangle of roads out
industry lands in the countryside
a palm opens

a town in the shade of the mountains
drinking the night sung in the past
ghosts rise out of the land
strings of vines around us
the wine down our throats
pastures quilted hugging the coast
a seaside port of Auldis & Mercs line the high street
while a Liberal MP plays UNO with his family
dreaming of winning from the floor
he doesn’t leave a tip

snake road Coorong
ferry crossing the damp earth
my grandfather is buried in
his double barrel in the living room
& I still sleep on grandmother’s duck down pillows 
their quills needle the living all that which has gone before
this sun behind the trees
bringing the temperature down to a prick of cold


with his head against
the boy’s shoulder

a father has shrunk
he marks the pole

on the high street
as if all that growth

& filling out
had just happened 

while shopping one
Saturday morning

rust & white 

Christmas meant
painting the wrought iron fence
eighty percent is preparation 
my father said
a scraping & rendering 
back to a base metal of a history
until the half dead lawn
speckled rust & white
& if it hadn’t been so hot
you could have imaged snow
those shirtless freckled browning limbs 
& later bent on canvas chairs
my mother & I would dab 
hunched & dab hatless
with thickening paint
& touch over each other’s mistakes
the job lasted forever & was inspected 
in the late first beer
cooling long neck afternoon

Rory Harris

Rory Harris teaches at Christian Brothers College Wakefield Street in Adelaide.

Thunder and lightning image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Rory Harris, modern Australian poetry, thunder, Christmas, Easter



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Existing comments

Rory, The essence of poetry is words set to a rhythmic pattern ; iambic, dactylic, trochaic et al. Which one have you used in Easter either completely or as a basis for variation? Perhaps I am tone deaf. I discern some clever use of words, but little control of rhythm. Hence little sign of the poetic.

grebo | 28 October 2014  

Customarily glorious poems from the fine Rory Harris...made my day. Thanks.

Peter Goers | 28 October 2014  

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