The lattes have been had

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Selected poems

 

The Misanthrope’s Sonnets

1.

I’m not too fussed about the news

or panellists with stupid views.

I’ve been around. I’ve paid my dues.

I like the sound of cockatoos.

 

I like a band that plays the blues

but not the ones you ply with booze.

I like straight ales, not boutique brews.

There are some drinks that I’ll refuse.

 

Don’t book me on a boating cruise

unless it’s on the River Ouse.

I’m not a fan of blue tattoos.

They say I’m deaf as Billy Hughes.

 

These days I don’t get billets-doux.

Why is it all my wives were shrews?

 

2.

I’ve done some things I don’t excuse

but feel no need to grace the pews.

I don’t like damsels and debuts.

My name’s no longer in Who’s Whose.

 

I’m told these days I don’t amuse.

It’s true, at times, I’ve done a fuse.

I’d rather talk in ones than twos.

By three p.m. I need a snooze.

 

And, yes, I’ve broken some taboos.

My mother told me: ‘Don’t use youse’.

Love ‘s not a word I’m prone to choose.

My car’s a brute on kangaroos.

 

A man should need what he pursues.

I don’t read books. I read reviews.

 

Teenagers

Not unlike the teenagers

they were so long ago

 

they feel a shyness and a fear

taking off their clothes.

 

Gravity has had its say

regarding shape and size.

 

Their bodies are a narrative

permitting no disguise.

 

There’s been no rush — or just a bit —

the lattes have been had.

 

They’re caring less each minute should

the children think them mad.

 

No longer shy between the sheets

their craziness makes sense.

 

The universe proved complex but

they’ve found the present tense.

 

Half-decent

You’re well away if you are born

in some half-decent age and country

 

half-decent parents too

a chromosomic Y of course

 

half-decent stretch of education

a few small early disappointments

 

to stop your being smug

while swimming in the larger pool

 

rejoicing in your genes

a kid or two with someone who

 

is not too short on humour

recurrent gigs or sweet career

 

with something extra done quite well

and recognised as such

 

four score years of this and more

with nothing too drawn-out or dreadful

 

waiting at the end

quietly off to bed one night

 

and stone-cold in the morning

not long undiscovered

 

the send-off you don’t live to see

fairly well attended

 

your few half-decent anecdotes

tellingly re-told

 

and maybe some half-decent god

to check you off the roll

 

Imperial

The bakery is Vietnamese.

A little shy and smiling,

the woman at the counter

 

tells us later she

has recently flown in to help her

hard-pressed aunt and uncle. 

 

She doesn’t quite let on from where

(Hanoi? Old Saigon?)

I think about the French and how

 

all empires in their lazy turn

contrive without intent

the one small thing that locals take to.

 

And so in Kandos, New South Wales,

this half-deserted morning,

we’re ordering a warm escargot

 

and risk the cappuccino.

From all that talk about la gloire,

a taste for well-made pastry

 

and fairly decent coffee.

 

 

Geoff PageGeoff Page is based in Canberra and has published 22 collections of poetry, two novels and five verse novels. His recent books include Gods and Uncles and PLEVNA: A Verse Biography.

Topic tags: Geoff Page, poetry

 

 

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Existing comments

Has Geoff Page become a misanthrope in his old age? How delightful - there's no grump like an old grump (and I should know, being more or less a contemporary of his). Keep them coming, Geoff.
Rodney Wetherell | 12 September 2019


Geoff Page is a sage and our finest poet.
Peter Goers | 13 September 2019


I fear your 'misanthrope' label is misplaced Geoff. No misanthrope would have such a keen eye for the foibles of our common humanity or the wit to exploit them lest we think too highly of ourselves. I'm sure the Creator whose sense of humour is hidden in so many of those foibles will be glad to tick you off the roll when the time comes; and I dare say, admit you to that great company of those whose work has celebrated the human enterprise. Thank you for the delight these latest poems contain.
Rodney | 13 September 2019


The ABC Radio and Television has become a creator of news rather than a reporter. It no longer sticks to the facts but presents headlines taken from gossip mags like New Idea and Royals.
BREW - Brian | 17 September 2019


I like it Geoff. A touch of Keneally and a brush with Slim; your paraphrasing is perfect
BREW - Brian | 17 September 2019


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