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Despite dementia

The man who never forgot how to dance
for my father

When you tried to walk through the wall you were still
living at home. What did you see beyond
the opacity of brick? You were so sure
it would absorb you that moments passed before
reality kicked in and, furious, you pushed the boundaries
of that curious borderline, grazing palms and skinning
knuckles. Taking your arms — just like they'd said to,
or perhaps I'd read somewhere — I put one of my hands
on your shoulder, one of yours at my waist
and clasped the other, hummed a little.
You calmed and smiled and started waltzing, me
following and following your unfaltering lead towards
the armchair by the window where you sat
and, quite suddenly,
fell asleep in the afternoon sun.

–Virginia Jealous

Chooka's got gift

Susan Boyle was first
and who heard of Chooka Parker
except his shearing mates and dad
beating rhythms on oil drums;
the dad who let Chooka grow
in open hands pointing to a limitless love
no ego, no standards.
Chooka did you proud, displayed
and played his soul across the keyboard
I saw his heart open wide, keys
percussed and loved to life
Chooka drew closer, his nose on the keys,
eyes shut in intimate embrace.
He did not see their jaws drop.

–Marlene Marburg

A plague of persistent happiness


We are old enough to discover pleasure.
Not wise enough to bury it.
All have been in training
louche lips sink ships
stretch them till the fillings shimmer
each tongue is a long distance swimmer.

Can I rest yet? Never ...
the extra mile of smiles
goes all exponential,
a drink at the local bar graph
with 16 friends, real friends
who love you to stasis.
Grey abandon. Pip the epiphany.

Lip-gloss on a grassfire. Be aware,
the next step involves dance,
underwear pulse
sport of our fingers
tapped over, look, ah,
eyes soldered to the ceiling.

This injury of enjoyment ...
the mind tinkles
like an Indian jewellery stand.

Work-worn knees will forget their appointment, disappointments —
a knobby spectacle up a lavish Mother Brown —
towns frown but still the wild content —
cheese in please, tactile tentatives to
priapic pyramids, resolutely relished.


A fundamental wrongness of longness
fatigues the soul. Guitar scar
mandolin terrapins
shrug off their shells, sprinkle
wrinkles like star-splay.

Five days later the mouth is dried & the jaw is maw.
Beg for the balm of odium,
maybe a diminutive boredom.
We are born to swing but the muscles set.
Seems even harmony is a habit
with a rocket
but burn,            burn
up. The solace of ash ...
our crash in the spheres
will be historic.

–Les Wicks

Nursing home visit

My mother waves away greeting.
Despite dementia she has learnt
the elusiveness of thought.

so beautiful ...
blonde hair!
curls, you know,
blue eyes
and he wears the
loveliest of ...
what are they called?
gold, all gold, white ...
He's blonde …
time for everyone
speaks speaks to
each one even
that thing over there ...
(she points with a vigorous
subtlety) blue eyes ...
did I say that?

(That dashing ever so handsome
lieutenant — American —
accompanied always by a sigh
is as if he never was and
no mention of her crimson dress.
Is the War over? At last! She seems
to have no plans to break out tonight.)

She is waiting. Her face crinkling
out of eagerness. As ever, I'm too
slow on the uptake. 'Yes, of course',
I say, 'You may ... yes, the bread
a sip of wine ...'

The Lord comes to us in many ways;
most of us are not so lucky
as to find him blonde, blue-eyed
and sexy.

–Kathryn Hamann

Virginia JealousVirginia Jealous is a travel writer and is on the emergency relief register of several international NGOs. She lives out of a suitcase and on the road when not at home in Denmark WA. 

Marlene MarburgMarlene Marburg is a spiritual director and PhD research student with the Melbourne College of Divinity. Her area of interest is the relationship between poetry and spiritual direction. 

Les WicksLes Wicks' eighth book of poetry The Ambrosiacs is available from Island Press.

Kathryn HamannKathryn Hamann is a Melbourne poet. Her most recent collection, A Slight Fuzzing of Perspective, was published by Mono Unlimited in April 2011. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Virginia Jealous, Les Wicks, Kathryn Hamann, Marlene Marburg, Susan Boyle



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