Young George



Selected poems



Dawn service

But with the paling of the sky
I think on what was left unsaid:

the hubris of a neat half-dozen
empires in decline or rise;
the lurches of diplomacy
(paunches, medals, French champagne);
dreadnoughts slicing northern seas;
those wounds the centuries incised
and then too lengthily remembered.

Further south, around the curve,
we thought about recruitment:
the thrill of knocking rabbits with
the dew fresh on the grass;
the beers bought after signing and
a lack of jobs for fettlers,
the pressure of white feathers.

As now the bugler offers up
his frugal clutch of notes.



Young George

What's he doing in my dream,
that cardinal from Ballarat?
He's in some sort of seventies
presbytery or hardwood hall,
shirt-sleeved but with collar on
and playing ping-pong like a pro,
fully-focused, yet relaxed.
Forehand, backhand, lob or smash,
nothing is beyond his reach.
The other player is unseen
but plainly worthy of attack.
There's just the click of celluloid
foreshadowing the rise to Rome.
No ball hit that's not hit back.



Take that kelpie

Take that kelpie, just for starters,
his owner still on methadone
and liberally tattooed,

a dog who overlooks stigmata,
who brings a discipline that works.
Guess the IQ of that poodle

who licks her plump, indulgent matron
seated at a pavement table.
How proudly she will soon be prancing

homeward on a spangled leash!
Observe with me that smalltown widow
and how her border collie's eyes

remind her so much of her husband,
dead ten years this June.
Note that ever-playful staffie

save his fellow adolescent
every day from fatal angst.
Share the swagger of that dachshund

arriving with her mistress who
the universe has long agreed
is hardly less important.

Note too the fluid blacks and browns
which complement so well her
owner's new Italian bag.

And don't ignore that huge alsatian,
so much nicer than his boss —
who keeps a lever-action shotgun

waiting in his shed.
The breeds, we're told, are infinite
but right now I'm admiring

that somewhat-mongrel, off-leash bitch
who, nosing quietly on her way,
is planning shortly to rejoin

a man with even less to say.


Geoff PageGeoff Page is based in Canberra and has published 22 collections of poetry as well as two novels and five verse novels. His recent books include Gods and Uncles and PLEVNA: A Verse Biography. He also edited The Best Australian Poems 2014 and The Best Australian Poems 2015.

Topic tags: Geoff Page, poetry



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Existing comments

Mr Page, no room for improvement.
Pam | 22 August 2016

Geoff Page is simply our greatest living poet. Salute.
Peter Goers | 23 August 2016

Mr Page, your poem about Young George is superficial and not analytical of his true nature. He may be one of Pope Francis senior finance advisors and he may be a talented ping pong player. But a potential saint he aint.The celluloid click only scrapes the surface. The Vatican symphony is not the only music he should be dancing to.
Francis Armstrong | 25 August 2016

With respect, I suggest Francis Armstrong re-reads 'Young George'.
BN Oakman | 28 August 2016


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