Feather on the breath of god


Transit of Venus

Last night at eight, the Earth in its orbit
____________________turned and threw its shadow — the aggregate
Of all our orphaned selves — over half the Orphic moon:
A sack dropped over the head of a god — Siva, maybe,
Mugged by love, in the sacred glade of night.
And dawn today was a tungsten blaze
______________________when I rose to poke my fingers in the fire's eyes:
The morning the fallout from the night before, a godly light turned way down
Low. And tomorrow night, Venus,
_____________who's been circling slantwise in her vestments
Since late May, has her second coming out, her first walk across the sun,
That fading star, since the century before last. We live in numinous days: the Earth
Stepping out of her own shadow,
____________________________love making a catwalk of the sun: so,
How could the city not be tossed about tonight like a salad in a cyclone?
Call it an East Coast Low, if you like: weather like this is the rough love
Planets make — those gods congealed, those tales of our olden days, our wilder
Ways — while we, like children, watch in fright from underneath eternity's bed.


Overgrown wisteria haiku

Blue shadow of wisteria swims
_______________________the open pages of my book:
A perfect haiku — until I try to make it one. Beauty is how
Eternity speaks — hastily — in time. But you'd have to finish finishing
School to learn to dissemble
_________________with such tender, almost sexual, grace. Summer has come home
For the holidays, and the sky's a weatherboard shack on the coast. The clouds have taken vows
And taken them back again in white paper bags.
_______________________And the truth lies, all the time,
_____________________________(somewhere) between the shadow and the flower.


The drama of survival


The slow drama of rain on an autumn
roof. The faster drama of a child's sleep
beneath it. The teleological

morality play of the landscape, one
night late in March. Here. Another moment
in the slowest story in the book. Rain


Reads us the same story over and over,
a tale in which we hardly matter, which
is why it matters so much, but no one

is listening now. Rain taught us how to speak.
It taught the rivers how to run. It taught
the fires how to stop. But no one listens


Slowly enough anymore. Our children
teach us what counts, and they learn it in the
rain that drums their dreams and tries to find

its way back down to rivers we've wasted
in our sleep. Whatever becomes of us,
the landscape will go on sleeping its slow


Saga of cyclical self-actual-
isation. And for all I know the rain
will, too. But what will the children do?

Can we trust them to know how to muck things
up without us around to listen to
and only the slow drama of the rain?


The news (poetry tells)

'It is difficult to get the news from poems,
yet men die miserably every day
for lack of what is found there.'
William Carlos Williams

The news poetry tells
Is that everyone suffers
Like this; everyone delights,
Periodically, like this, remembers
What they'd like to
Forget, forgets the sunlight
In the voice of the finch — all those
Fibre-optic ligatures, which bind
The wound that never wants to heal
And (which) carry news of us to
The world: That is the news,
And poetry tells it,
The way the finches do.

Inside the sometime misery of things,
The engines of death,
The masques of sex, the comings
And comings again of age,
The mystic machinery of weather,
The lie of the land,
A coherence holds,
An impossibly beautiful grammar.
There's a music that fashions the world,
Moment by moment. A music
That's always just finished, but a touch,
A sketch, a chord, a line, now and then,
Seems to recall how some of it went
And carries it home
And dresses it in silence again
And gives it to you. Poetry delivers the news
The way a cat brings you a trophy in her mouth,
This mouse that used to have a head, say,
And lays it at your feet. And wants milk.

The news is that nothing is new,
And that everything is new again each time
It's deeply felt and spoken thick and slant; the news is
That, by the way, you can stop wanting now
And again: heaven's been here
A long while, waiting; you've probably been looking
Too far out.

Poetry reads the book
The beloved has written:
Love songs she'd like you
To sing her when you think
You're about ready
To give yourself up.

Poetry writes the only prayers
You feel free to offer these days.
It is the glint in the eye
Of the god you stopped
Believing, when she started
Causing you all this pain.

But inside the book of songs
That poetry hums, inside
The order it overhears
And remakes in voluble clay,
Retells slant and sly inside
The small rooms of its house,
Lies also what the order is not —
Its nemesis, the possibility
That anything else than this
Might have happened and might happen
Yet, at just about any moment,
But generally doesn't. Poetry,
Like music, contains the chaos
It cures; it tells the devil
In the detail. It finds Eros
In the weetbix pack
And offers you a taste.

For every immaculate pattern
Wants to unpick itself
And will find a way and a day,
And it must, or the circle
Will slow and the music
Will stop. This is the news,
Which you knew all along,
And poetry tells it again and again.
It is the rhythm inside
The pain, the music inside
The intelligence of every thing,
The echo of your lonely cry,
The architecture of your splendid despair,
The perfect colour schemes of love
In all its raucous denominations: everything is
An image of the truth; everything,
Even the worst thing, is how
A small phrase of the music plays,
And you, too, despite the false witness
Of the mirror in your mind, are part,
A very small part, of a very old music,
The sex and death, the feather on the
Breath of the god, of it all. Poetry tells
The big story small, and lets you bear it
As often as you like.

Poetry is an echo
In which your questions come back to you,
More neatly put
Than you could manage in the dark,
Shaped within an inch
Of your life.

Poetry rings its small bell
Inside a crowded temple,
Where the money has never stopped
Changing hands. 

Mark TredinnickMark Tredinnick, winner of the Montreal Poetry Prize, is the author of The Blue Plateau, Fire Diary, and nine other acclaimed works of poetry and prose. He lives in the NSW Southern Highlands.  

Topic tags: new australian poems, Mark Tredinnick



submit a comment

Existing comments

Mark, sometime back, after a writing workshop, I purchased your Little Green and Red books. I have never read your poetry. What a delight for me starting this day. Thank you for every word.

Patricia Taylor | 18 September 2012  

This poet needs to learn how to condense

Liz of Perth | 19 September 2012  

I disagree with Liz, There is so much to enjoy and reflect on in these poems that I want to re-read them in a beautifully published book, with good paper and fine printing. Where are are good poetry publishers???

Christine G | 22 September 2012  

Thank you, Christine. And the good news is: these poems will find their way into my next collection, Body Copy, which should be out in February or March 2013. Puncher & Wattmann will do their best to make it the most beautiful small book they can. Nice to hear from you again, Patricia. And Liz: forgive me, I am a failed minimalist; that's one thing, to be brief, "Overgrown Wisteria Haiku" is about. I write small poems, too. Maybe next time. Mark

Mark Tredinnick | 25 September 2012  

As a reader, I was happy with the poems just as they are! I won't ever look at weetbix the same way again.

kathryn yuen | 26 September 2012  

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