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Election week poems

Two triangles
We were just leaving Singapore for good
when the Tiananmen Square thing happened.
The Singaporean Chinese know what oppression is
and what to do about it
and for days they lined up for miles outside the  Bank of China
which was next to our office

to take out their life savings (and maybe get a better interest rate somewhere else).

We were busy finishing things up and
I looked down from my office window and
I saw four Chinese Singaporean bank guys
on the roof of their building doing Tai chi
out of sight of the queue on the street.

Now whenever I see that Tiananmen square guy on the TV
in front of the tank with his shopping bag or whatever
I can't remember what happened to the three of them
the tank the guy or the camera man or
who backed away first.

All I can see is the silent line
and these guys doing Tai Chi.
Mark Carkeet

Election time in Derbyshire
The surprise of big blue skies hung out
to dry, the old spa town of Buxton
just a sunlit slab of limestone,
laid out cold in the moors' deep ditch,
inscribed with windy streets, three stories deep.

The slopes are steeped in springwater,
chilling the air where the Duke of Devonshire
once declared there had to be an opera house,
pleasure gardens, and the world’s biggest dome
over his stables, like some provincial Kubla Khan
in tweed and jodhpurs.

The dome's still there — a big white wonder
of glass and steel, but if you try to take a picture,
guards in fluoro jackets will 'ask' you
to delete them, calling you 'sir',
like some fallen superior on remand,
as if the Duke still ruled the roost;
which he does, in a way.

It's election time, after all, and the town's awash
with posters of the local member, the new Chancellor
of the Exchequer, come three weeks time.
He went to Eton, did our George,
like three-quarters of the future bench.
Down here, that doesn't even seem unnatural.

Up on the hill, outside the blackened town hall,
the markets are out, and between
the cut-price toilet rolls, the cheap wet wipes
and the stovepipe polyester florals,
two actual human beings are standing firm
against a cruel wind, clutching
a cardboard 'Labour' stand, handing out papers
which look quite blank in this washed-out,
colourless Derbyshire sun.

They're elderly, unstable, probably a couple,
their cheerful eyes sprung like steel
against the cold, their hands arthritic, resigned;
their grip carrying no conviction.
Concentration lapses. People fail to see.
This has never been a Labour town.

Eyes water. Wind leaps. One leaflet escapes,
cartwheeling down past the Town Hall
and on past the Public Art Gallery,
all the way down to the old spa font,
a freefalling message from on high,
looking for wet stone
to slap its face against
one more time.
Graham Kershaw


PoetMark Carkeet is a Brisbane Lawyer. He lived in South East Asia in the late 1980s.


Graham KershawGraham Kershaw is an architect and writer living in Denmark, on the south coast of Western Australia. He is the author of two novels published by Fremantle Press: The Home Crowd and Dovetail Road.

Topic tags: new australian poems, Mark Carkeet.Graham Kershaw, two triangles, election time in derbyshire



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