15 Wisdom Street


Number 15















15 Wisdom Street

the woman next door
is not talking to her husband
she rakes a garden argument
punishes leaves, brawls with flowers
frustrated by the strength of weeds
kneels on a stone and swears

inside the house
her husband smokes
and reads the paper, turns
each urgent page amazed
that he is not news

he wonders who writes
true histories of pain, of hate

newsprint stains
his fingers like guilt


The sphinx at your door

at this pebbled frontier
steps a lame man
singing heads I win
tails I win

free of the leaping herd's
nostalgia for the precipice

in the dusty interval
between the bubble sun
and bubble moon
(those liars)

all that is outside
him torrents in him
but he sings

I am a porous man
heads I win
tails I win


Little Oxford Street

old men sleep
in the back
of abandoned cars
warm in muscat
dreams under dirty


plastic garbage bags
torn by dogs reveal
tin smiles, ash,
rotted fruit, letters
not worth keeping,

small bones

old men wake like Thomas
who had to touch to believe


Everyday masterpiece

on their cool verandah

the old ones

of light and shade

all problems
of proportion

each fragile gesture
a brush-stroke
in a self-portrait

nearing completion

John Ellison DaviesJohn Ellison Davies lives in Gosford, New South Wales. His poems and short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers including Southerly and The Australian. Selected poems have been broadcast on ABC Radio National's A First Hearing and Poetica.

Street number image from Shutterstock

Topic tags: John Ellison Davies, poetry



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Existing comments

Everyday masterpieces. Ah, The wisdom of the elders. If only more attention could be paid to " those connoisseurs of light and shade". John these are beautiful and jarring visions embodied in words on which we can reflect . Thanks
Celia | 17 June 2014

Great poetry!
john frawley | 17 June 2014

Good work John, great to see more of your work online
gary fletcher | 17 June 2014

Such clarity and simplicity - and so much depth. Just beautiful. Thank you!
Rose v | 20 June 2014

I enjoy poetry that shines its xray light on the everyday so we can see the structures of meaning and beauty beneath prosaic scenes. Thank you John.
Rod Horsfield | 26 June 2014

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