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The ambiguity of touch

Cinema Como

Instead of glistening lake,
    there are midnight mirrors to swim through.

Instead of open sky,
fifteen satin suns are shaped into Louis XV armchairs.
Heavy curtains gather like storm cloud.

Instead of mountain,
a carpet of flowers bloom,
and that soft glow of lamp is tree.

My imagination begins to flicker,
goes wandering inside borrowed dream.
I try on new clothes

to walk a lonely highway with my protagonist.
I'm seeking that fine line of horizon
just as much as he.

It could end badly,
but for now it's about faith.
Revelation sits in Row D.

The darkened cinema soon works me loose.
I become a cosmos of stories
and slip through fingers

to fall into the scuttle of light —
    pure radiance that builds suspense.

–Libby Hart


At airports, your hands
print the double glass windows
as if you are da Vinci.

I smile into Styrofoam-cupped coffee
& turn the pages of a Francoise Sagan novel
as planes glimmer & land outside.

Twelve months later, I wake you in my sleep
& demand to know about A380s & 747s; those
mystic metal machines whose physics elude me.

As a child, planes in the sky filled me
with inexplicable terror, but only
if there was no one to tell.

Earthbound by the swing set, steel wings
breaking sky 30,000 feet or so above my head
were equated with German Shepherds;

letters lost in the mail; being locked
in shopping centre toilets; & God
knowing my atheism.

At 23 planes become what I fear again
when mapping our way from Bratislava
we're hit by lightning & emergency-land.

The white flash is somehow metallic
& my mouth fills with a taste
that recalls losing a tooth.

Our first night in Austria & you
delight my three year old Au Pair charge,
teasing that she has yogurt on her nose.

I watch her fall for you, giggling into
the cup of her fingers, her affection

Dialling plus-six-one home I wonder
what the skies hold for her, as she names
four of her dolls in your honour.

–Jo Langdon


When is touch
invasion of privacy
quick pat
impulse of compassion
light or lingering caress

To touch another
is to send
some intimation
subliminal blatant
casual or deeply meant

At a tram stop once
I tapped the shoulder
of a woman slightly known
In her swift turning and
her startled eyes
fear asked Whose touch?

When is restraint
the protocol
and when
is reaching out
the act most right

by skin and nerve
and separateness
we touch
or don't

–Lerys Byrnes

Libby HartLibby Hart's latest collection of poetry, This Floating World, will be published this month by Five Islands Press. Libby was the café poet for the Palace Cinema Como in South Yarra, Melbourne, from MarchSeptember 2010.

Jo LangdonJo Langdon is a literary studies PhD candidate at Deakin University, Geelong. Her published (or forthcoming) fiction and poetry includes work in Mascara Literary Review, Poetrix, Wet Ink and Voiceworks. 

Lerys ByrnesLerys Byrnes is a Melbourne-based poet. Her work has been published in Australia, USA and the UK. Author photo by Rosa Lamberti. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Lerys Byrnes, Libby Hart, Jo Langdon, touch, planes, cinema como



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