Learning to walk and to dance


Dance steps: For Reuben

Life, for you, is from the ground up. As, perhaps,
it should be for us.
For some months now you have felt free
to walk, confident in your balance, your legs,
your father's ready arms.
When I last saw you, still horizontal, interrogating
the floor, you'd begun reversing Kafka —
undertaking a slow transformation
from beetle to vertical human.

Powered by a new locomotion, you steer
yourself towards the stereo, put into practice
what you've practised back home:
CD into tray, a button to close it — a push
to help it along — and a button to make it play;
a laser, not a blunting needle, working
its magic for you. A magic alive & well:
music erupts into your world, is taken
entirely for granted.

You make me remember a boy — older, then,
to be sure — hanging on every fabulous note
from a wind-up gramophone, hardly believing
his luck. Transfixed by the music and its source,
I may not even have moved my body, though
there would have been no one to see me
in my blissful version of trance.

Now I hear you mimicking a song, following
a blueprint, improvising a dance —
your head translating time, your feet
jackhammering the carpet, a floor
you don't know is spinning.

Michael Sariban



Eating a mango
over the sink, her skin is this gold
because it's summer.

Inside a coat pocket, two cigarettes
are crushed halfways.

A clock's tick inside her wrist
& the day is slow.

Bathwater dried in book pages,
the kettle singing by itself.

Beneath the table's shade circle, the small white dog
sleeps deeply, sides stuffed out
with breakfast.

On the street where magnolias flower indecently,
children are drawing a hopscotch map
in pink & aqua chalk.

Their voices carry inside,
like the neighbour's telephone ringing.
Its stutter of bells, just once.

Jo Langdon


the long ago

in the slow cat's bowl
soaking days

wild bird seed
on the porch

you wipe down a kitchen
where you are now finally dominant

heavy days ordering joy
in wild bird flight

& a cat too well fed
to chase, & a son

at one end of the table
how tomatoes tasted

in the long ago
from a mother's garden

Rory Harris 

 Michael SaribanMichael Sariban is a Brisbane poet and reviewer who has published four collections of poetry. 

Rory HarrisRory Harris won the 2008 Satura Prize. He teaches at CBC Wakefield Street, South Australia 


Jo LangdonJo Langdon is completing a PhD in literary studies at Deakin University. She is joint winner of the 2011 Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize, and chapbook of her poetry will be published in early 2012.  

Topic tags: new australian poems, Rory Harris, Jo Langdon, Michael Sariban



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Existing comments

Praise be the poets! Thank you!
Kay Bushnell | 13 December 2011

Beautiful poem about music and memory Michael. I wonder what music was playing for Reuben, and for you as a boy?
Penelope Cottier | 13 December 2011


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