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He rang


Selected poems


the jungle
for Dennis Spiro Livitsanis

high school was red brick, old style, pre-prefab
with a panelled assembly hall dignifying the upper floor
where senior students flirted with private study
while lounging on tattered leather near the stairwell

one day, no idea why, I walked to the banister and let fly
Tarzan's throbbing two note animal rallying cry
and heard the glorious acoustics of my lofty lair
bear it bouncing through the murmurous air

come lunch-break everybody talked of how
a stick of chalk shattered in mid word
teachers forgot what they thought they had to say
how a sudden silence drowned in surging waves of mirth

the headmaster stormed from his study muttering of anarchy
the head prefect sitting alongside me disapproved
but couldn't stop laughing long enough to reprimand me
and nobody ratted

my gilded name (below Our University Graduates)
is fading on polished panels in that assembly hall
none is likely to remark upon it nor squander
a thought on who I am or who I might have been

but if I am to be to be remembered for anything at all
I want to be known as a young man
(and a much older one) who'd seize every chance
to go swinging through the jungle with Jane



he rang
for Don Ross

a voice made for poetry
asking of you post surgery
your whereabouts in the labyrinth of cures

I spoke of blind turns and errors
of kindness, though mainly your courage
he recalled his one big scare

and declared he'd not want to swap
we talked of our teams' disparate fortunes
his more uplifting than mine

he said he was determined to visit
when he was over the 'flu
and insisted I tell you he loves you

of course I promised I would
that's when he said he loves me too
and I hung up for fear I might sob



the ball
for Ross Gillett, fellow member Western Bulldogs FC

We took heart to hear
our fierce young onballer,
an extractor with quicksilver hands
and flying feet,
is studying
American literature.
You say you'd like to discuss Dickinson.
I favour WCW.
Sound choices both
if he reads on devices
(as the young undoubtedly will)
lines squeezed
LH margins,
line breaks
annihilation by
a bedevilment awaiting Whitman with his long-line neo-biblical iambics,
The runaway slave dismembered thus:
And gave him a room
that entered from my
own, and gave him so
me coarse clean
And our resolute onballer
will not be bamboozled
by Williams' urgings
to Say it, no ideas but in things
for in his trade
it's known by all
what matters
is the ball itself,
not the idea of the ball.



B. N. OakmanB. N. Oakman's poetry has been widely published in Australia and internationally. Recent collections include In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts and Second Thoughts. In 2016 the actor John Flaus recorded 25 of his poems for a CD titled What Did I Know?

Topic tags: B. N. Oakman, poetry



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