lanes are the best thing
about Surry Hills
The Cross and Darlinghurst
contain the heart
of migrant Australia
what all the migrants
have in common
in Australian paintings
bring the old countries
into the new country
dark with dim street lights
of the deco apartments
of Elizabeth Bay
the novelists who travel there
now the ghosts of trams
Good grief is when you learn
that the school bully who tormented you for six years
grew into a policeman
who died from gradual dismemberment of his limbs
at the hands of the higher sector
of your local motorcycle gang.
Bad grief is when your mother dies
in a nursing home in another country
and nobody tells you until you’re on your death bed.
Average grief is when the tadpole you caught
at the creek and carried home in your school lunchbox
dies a few hours later before it could turn into a frog.
Interminable grief is being a cheer squad member
of the St Kilda Football Club.
Suffering grief is when you keep on spreading
your grief at the loss of a loved one
while all your family and friends around you
just want to get on with their lives.
Collective grief is when the party
you vote for wins the federal election
but the major policies remain the same.
It’s like a spring cleaning
the wind sweeps clouds across the sky
It’s time for giving them back to the sea
where waves are bulging are making bumps trying to catch
the white masses above
it’s time for the laundry to be done great style
it’s time for draining the gray remains of winter
shift to a new green instead of dirt
make the eyes saturated with vividness which will
rinse out all traces of smokes for
from now on
each day might be a poem.
C’est comme un nettoyage de printemps
le vent balaye les nuages du ciel
il est temps de les rendre à la mer
où les vagues bombent et bossent essayant d’attraper
la blanche masse au-dessus d’elles
c’est l’heure de la lessive à finir en beauté
il est temps d’évacuer les restes gris de l’hiver
pour les remplacer par un vert tout neuf
que les yeux soient saturés de vivacité qui
lavera toutes les traces de fumées car
à partir de maintenant
chaque jour pourrait être un poème
white cockatoos graze
in the ruins
You pinched out the blistering heart
of our last summer together, turned autumn’s head
craggy before its time, went then into a winter
of staring into the stiffened scenes of your future
tattooed on death’s back, and front.
How you managed to squeeze your way back to us,
when we’d visit your extruded body in its hospital bed
during that winter of one too many returns from the dead –
and once you woke to find yourself surrounded by my azaleas
crawling with the friendliest, most concerned
insects from my garden,
far too many for intensive care to permit –
they threw the pests out together with you. They
got one thing right, at least. You lasted
not a second longer than the twelve months they said.
It would’ve been ten months,
had they not kept dragging you
back from the dead
to fulfil their inescapable prognosis.