All copyright © 2003 remains with the authors.
All copyright © 2004 remains with the authors.



Snapshots
Max Richards






THIS FILM CONTAINS LANGUAGE

The presenter with the lopsided smile
twinkles: 'our hero may look like a loser
but he charms the knickers off the girl,

and that's just in the first quarter-hour...
enjoy.' Before the titles comes
a warning voice-over:

'this movie contains violence,
nudity, and adult themes'.
I'll watch, in that case.

But the violence is ultra,
the nudity antiseptic,
the themes desultory.

The next movie promises
'strong sex scenes, drugs, language'.
I'll watch, in that case.

The drugs cause havoc,
a dreadful warning,
nothing ecstatic.

The language Polish
subtitled in English
pains only the squeamish.

The sex? strangely un-erotic,
or is it me, grown
sadly sclerotic?

Max Richards, North Balwyn, Australia, midnight, 7/03/03

***


Our back-garden winter moss
has been tossed about
by birds gathering lining
for new nests.

Clear, still morning:
a tourist balloon passes
slowly over
advertising milk.

Pouring bubbly
for the lunch guest:
effervescence -
unlike our talk.

The floodlights for
night footy-practice
make the sports-field
glow like a pool table.

At Durrenmatt's The Visit:
monochrome cast
to set off the star,
back from Broadway.

In the foyer:
the star's memoir,
cover photo pretty
and vulnerable,

tonight's poster:
the aged star,
commanding,
ugly and strong.

Clear night sky
with Southern Cross;
Punt Road temperature
going down.

***

Shelf Life

Bookshops make me
fart, as if book-lust
stirs some gut pressure:

here may be the one
long-searched-for
book to save me.

Fearing others' nostrils,
I move to another
section for fresh air.

I atone by re-shelving
all the poets in strict
alphabetical order.

One day I'll nudge in
between Raworth
and Rimbaud.

Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne, 6pm, 7/09/03

***


After-Work Snapshots with Proper Names

1
The roadside sugar-gums of Bundoora
and West Heidelberg

have been receiving homage:
one Mazda car battery

the contents of car ashtrays
slivers of windscreen glass

corners torn from mudflaps
a Ford hubcap badly buckled.

Against the windswept sky
the trees have clean profiles.

2
Were my footing sure I need not
see the rubbish underfoot.

Between Carpenters Body Works
and Spiders Smash Repairs

where concrete pavements and forecourts
are all shattered and uneven

a Target bag bowls ahead
like a synthetic pet.

My freshly-serviced Holden glides
through flat Bulleen as if on air.

3
Driving behind an old Dodge
like a 'mighty Wurlitzer' on wheels

to peak hour for dogs at Koonung Creek:
Labrador greetings and circlings.

The sun is westering behind Eaglemont
from which Streeton and Roberts

of the Heidelberg School (were they
still there) might look our way

and miss us for the panoramic east
of moonrise over Templestowe.

A Jeep-driver's German shepherd, told
'get in', bounds wilfully away.

Sure-footed Kelpies leap high above
the turf of stolid North Balwyn.

6.30 p.m. Wednesday 16 July 2003
Max Richards (laboured over perversely since Monday evening, with excesses of 'product placement' which now needs reducing...)

***


Early Rising: Cold Snap

Being first in the winter morning park
is a privilege, what with the sparkling

white expanse of unspoiled frosted turf -
paid for by chilled fingers and nose.

The dog zigzags on the trace of temptation;
the master, straighter, pegs along behind.

Open-mouthed we express visible huffs.
Inhaling floods chill into the lungs.

This morning's hot-air balloon is high,
slow, pale, enviable - so detached,

so pure! Their early rising outdoes mine.
Their shoes are not soaking up cold dew.

They leave behind no trail of footmarks
shuffling green across the whiteness.

We're out of each other's earshot,
can't hear their huff and puff.

Sky-high - their playground's endless -
they're soaring away without trace.

9.00 a.m. 6 August 2003
Max Richards at Cooee, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Retirement Snaps

My retired friend is back
from Queensland and her winter break.
The sun did her good,
and the quiet time for reading.
Shocking what development
has done along the coast, but still!

Her best day was at the Zoo, commercial too,
but lovely trees, and there she saw
at long last (and snapped) her first brolga.

But Harriet the tortoise! - born
about 1830 - now the oldest
living creature in captivity -
young once in the Galapagos -
sailed with Darwin on The Beagle
(along with other tortoises
which they ate) back to England.

Harriet retired to the country
with a Mr Wickham, a gentleman naturalist -
who after many years retired her to Brisbane
to live with another gentleman naturalist -
who at length retired Harriet
to the Botanic Gardens where she roamed freely
enjoying a various diet of flowers.


For the flowers' sake that
came to an end and now she lives,
vastly broad and slow,
historic, astonishing, phlegmatic,
in her last long retirement on the Sunshine Coast.

'Took lots of snaps, but Harriet -
she'll come out just looking like a rock.'

7.00 a.m. August 13, 2003
Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

Note: The lines sent at 7 just now, adapted 'off the phone' about Harriet the tortoise, give her story how my friend told it.

I then 'googled' Harriet the tortoise and learned from 'crocodile hunter' that Captain Wickham (formerly of The Beagle) brought three tortoises, Tom, Harry and another, with him in 1841 to Newstead House when he was Government Resident at Moreton Bay.

Circa 1860 (discovery.com says 1842) the three moved to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens zoo, where Tom died in 1929.

In 1952 Harry moved to Fleay's Fauna Sanctuary and was renamed Harriet.

Moved 1987 to the Queensland Reptile Park, now renamed the Australia Zoo, which is 'between the Sunshine Coast and the Glasshouse Mountains' and the base of the notorious 'Crocodile Hunter'.

Harriet weighs 330 pounds (180kg) and eats hibiscus flowers, zucchini, squash, beans, parsley, endives and bok choy. Max Richards

***


My Wife's Dream

After my funeral
she went exhausted to bed.

Waking next morning
she found me alongside her.

I stirred and yawned.

'Darling, how are you?'
she asked me.

'Oh, OK,' I said,
with my usual

imperturbability,
'just a bit stiff.'

Max Richards at 'Cooee', North Balwyn, Melbourne, 7am

***


Arcing high over Melbourne
an air force jet projects
a trail of white sperm.

After dark the same sky shows
a new moon flat on her back,
a disembodied lazy smile.

And there's the Milky Way.

Evening after evening
the tinted glimmer enlarging
of Mars as if heading this way.

Each morning we point
to where we peered last night
for close-ups of Mars - between

our gum trees and our roof-tree.

7.00.am Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


I admire those who can do the spontaneous snapshot verses. This week, with sad unspontaneity, I offer this: a Saturday image:

The Old Aqueduct Trail

The winding aqueduct
on the hillside shadowed by pines
was long since made derelict,
succumbing to wild green growth
splitting the concrete.

The trail winding alongside
is sealed smoothly for joggers,
cyclists and dog-walkers
breathing hygienic pine aromas.

Just walking beside
a dry watercourse
one senses pathos,
intensified by the drought.

Elsewhere the day might
be scorching, but here
filtered by the old pines
patterned more dark than light.

Strollers, as if sharing
much, smile real smiles.
Dogs meet dogs decorously,
or sighting a slow rabbit
lollop after it
like players, not hunters.

Here is a place to ponder
one's neglect of a friend
now in hospital,
immobilised
in pain and uncertainty.

The long drought broke;
today water stands
in lengthy stretches or moves
slowly forwards as if
seeking the long-lost reservoir.

7.00am Wednesday September 3, 2003
Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Watching out for Cygnets
(Spring: November 2001)

August mornings, walking to where
I've long taught reading
(and lately also writing),
from the footbridge I would see
the stretch of waterway below —
the moat that keeps the campus drained,
sanctuary for standard
ducks and geese — adorned
this year with a nesting swan,
its heap of reedy stalks
well above the waterline,
but close, so close to the edge
where walkers might cause damage.
Was it safe?
One afternoon, walking
from my office, I detoured round
and down and stood peering down.
How many eggs might there be?
The swan arched glossy-black neck,
hissed. Sorry, I said, and retreated.
Days passed; no sign of a second swan.
Don't they mate for life? Don't partners
take turns on the nest?
One morning: yes,
gliding nearby, a second swan, cruising
watchfully. Were they safe?
Thanks to the weir downstream,
flooding was not to be feared,
but foxes were famously rife,
interlopers ravening
at night on eggs or hatchlings
whenever their guardians
kept insufficient watch.

September, warmer weather;
one Monday morning my glance down
meets no swan — an empty nest.
Was it weekend vandals?
I detour down: among the stal
ks are eggshell fragments. Next day black
water-birds peck over the ruined site.
Well, I'm told, other years swans have
bred with great success, lines of cygnets
have paddled back and forth.

Wednesday at two, first
student to arrive is Melissa.
She's from Long Island (last week
it was the terror of hijacked planes,
towers falling, thousands lost,
horror and pity; her finding out
her folks were safe, but still in shock):
'I saw swans with babies! So cute! —
six with their parents —
I took lots of photos.'
Promise me one, I say.

An hour before, arriving late, I'd seen
from the bridge the former nest,
and in the open-air theatre
the 'multi-faith' meeting mourning
New York's tragedy, affirming
the unity of faiths in grieving,
and in opposing terror.
How do you oppose a flood of hate
loosed against half the world?
With a show of solidarity,
you watch over the vulnerable:
this now means us all.
Lacking
a faith, lacking faith, about to teach
ways of reading metaphor,
I held aloof, steered clear:
from my distance, only saw
contrasts of plumage, guessed at
the many faces of their God,
readings and misreadings of His Word.

My own students number Turkish-
Australian, Lebanese-Australian,
you-name-it-Australian. Behind
Melissa's Long Island is Bombay.
While the terror lasts
(fears endlessly renewable),
they speak at times of Scripture
that has required assent,
not metaphorical but the Truth;
at times, of hard looks and worse
given and returned. We don't all
look alike, speak alike. We speak
of tolerance, acceptance of
difference. Others, to serve their God,
speak of Crusade or Jihad.

My fellow-citizens are still phoning
Sydney's thriving 'shock-jocks'
on talk-back radio complaining
of 'rag-heads' (in turbans), the rednecks!
calling refugee boat-people
'cashed-up queue-jumpers';
denying them sanctuary.

How (asks a Shakespeare sonnet)
with this rage shall beauty
hold a plea, whose action
is no stronger than a flower?
Melissa's poem sags with the burden
of speaking for her nation,
the forced eloquence of anger.

Ruefully accepting the strengthening
of police and other force,
all I can do is practise arts of peace,
seeking out the ways of metaphor,
watching out for cygnets.

I tap this out now at dawn,
as radio-music switches on;
through the house the solo cello Swan
of old Saint-Saens
glides, its once assuaging
beauty now forlorn.

p.s. Melissa returned to Long Island with an envelope addressed to me, but the snaps still haven't come. Meantime, Afghanistan...Iraq...and a bombed nightclub in Bali where many victims were Australian. All beyond my pen.

Max Richards, Melbourne

***


The Feral Pigeons at Auburn

Auburn! wasn't that the name
of Goldsmith's Deserted Village?
'Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.'
Forgetting it was all about decay,
some home-sick migrant
Irish land developer
hustling by the Yarra,
succumbed to his nostalgia
and named you Auburn.

Auburn, unlovely village
by the Yarra, Goldsmith
were he writing now might envy
your prosperity,
patronised by the sorority
of the race-going community
who flock here to the shopping-
drag with three milliners in a row.
Millinery! millinery! millinery!

Auburn Road is such a plod
as I search for cheap dog-food
past edifices 'Erected
1891', and no wonder
my poor old feet feel tender,
and my ditto heart dejected:
my credit card's rejected.
And how so?
on a dog-food merchant's say-so:
please do not ask for credit
as a refusal may offend.
The cashless economy
stops short of the brothers' granary.

My admiring eyes dwell
on the well-fed pigeon squad,
twenty- or thirty-odd
that forever pertly patrol
the corner citadel
of Murphy Bros Grain Merchant
and bulk dog-food agent.

And so I'm lamely loitering
with ambivalent intent,
though Murphys' granary is full
while brilliant birds are pottering
and cooing and canoodling,
strutting the brick battlements
and the concrete nether regions.

O successfully scavenging pigeons —
sustained by the Murphys' spilled
seed, spilled (o sons of Auburn)
on the ground, the barren ground —
your hearts have not grown old.
No hungry generation
treads you down, you pigeon nation.
Away, away, my card and I
will delight some other merchant's eye.
Care to offer me a quotation?

11pm, 17 September 2003
Max Richards, Melbourne

***


Tree-House

The neighbours' back-garden is littered with planks -
the tree-house straddling their high back fence
these last few years, has been pulled down.

I watched when it first went up: boy next door,
and friend, same age, from over that back fence -
they built it together, overseen by two fathers.

It was strong all right, almost weather-proof.
The boys decided who was welcome -
girls were warned off by a sign.

During the month of inauguration
I was privileged to climb their ladder
but too tall to step inside and share.

Now they have both 'shot up overnight',
and climbing in, no doubt they sense
how small it has become, their tree-house.

I heard them pulling it down, the two tall boys -
voices deeper than I recalled - surely enjoying
this latest joint effort; but did not go to look.

6.00 am, Wednesday September 24, 2003 Max Richards Melbourne

***


First thing, check the fruit-stand:
has the occasional
silent invisible
night-visitor found it again? -
nibbling discreetly at just
one piece of fruit? (mandarins
preferred) all without disturbing
the sleeping dog nearby? -
and never leaving scats
we might identify...

Not last night. Just scaling
the stand (it's two wicker
discs in strong wire
on a slim spine)
to the second tier
was a feat that baffles us. - Flew, maybe?

But how enter and leave
that part of the house?
No sort of animal we know,
not in a part of town
with possums, yes, and fruit-bats,
but a house well enough sealed against these...

Not last night, but then - no
mandarins beside those lemons
and the last darkening banana.


6.30 am Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Her e-mail ends: Thinking of you all,
with much love, Sophie
(or as I'm being called in Chicago: Sophia —
I love the way Americans say it,
Australians say S'fear and I hate it).

Dear S'fear! Max here, and look
what I've just written for you:

Sophie's laugh rang out in the bakery cafe
in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn.
But Sophie's in Chicago!
We survey the faces nearby.
Easy to place the face —

the handsome smiling woman looking intently
into the eyes of her older woman friend —
some vibrant exchange
about the sharing of lives.

S'fear's laugh rings out again
in Hawthorn, Melbourne.
Also, we trust, Sophia's in Chicago...
we're listening intently; give us a tinkle.

- Max Richards, Melbourne, Australia 6.30 a.m

***


Our Trash Their Treasure

In New Zealand they call it
the grass verge, and I still smile at
the Aussie term nature strip.

Time just now for the council's
kerbside hard waste collection,
when the mighty cruncher comes.

Everyone but us is clearing
houses and sheds of broken bunks,
last generation white-goods,

defunct tv.s and fax machines,
children's furniture outgrown,
lumpen lamp-shades, grotty garden gear.

Could they ever have loved these things?
Clapped-out vehicles with trailers
bring scavengers from poorer suburbs.

They're welcome, provided they're not noisy —
our trash their treasure. Knowing
my hard-up friend's requirements,

I nearly pounced on my neighbour's
discarded bright-blue drop-side cot.
It vanished before dusk. I've seen the cruncher

four streets away, strong gloved men feeding it.
It hurts to see last decade's ruined patio chairs
vanishing between the giant jaws.

I can't bear to throw ours out.
I never loved them but they seem
still to bear our shadows.

Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne 6.55 am Wednesday 15 October 2003

***


At our last class, week thirteen, and a small turn-out,
we joked about the Monday test: tick the correct answer:
which of the following characters are NOT siblings, or step-siblings?

Oliver Twist and Monks, Oliver Twist and Rose Maylie, Cynthia
Kirkpatrick and Molly Gibson, Rose Maylie and Agnes,
Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie. Ye gods!

I couldn't have told you the twists of the Twist story
on the day I finished it, and I was giving the lectures! —
which paid no attention to siblingship, may I be forgiven!

Then Sinead pointed to her name and mine (the tutor)
on the cover of her essay. Max, she said, when Mum
and my grandmother saw me writing your name there,

they said: Max Richards, he tutored us!
The others knew I was old, but that old?
Oh, I started in this job when I was about fifteen.

But was your grandmother young back then?
No, in her forties. She came when Mum came,
having had no schooling in Ireland and legally blind,

ten per cent vision: held the book right up under her nose:
Mary, so happy to be studying then in Melbourne.
Carmel, her daughter, studying alongside;

and soon she'd mother Sinead, proud of her Irish ancestry.
Tests! I say. When I began here, English One ran three terms,
from March to November, and ended — after all the essays —

with three three-hour exams. Write on all the books!
Wore ourselves out with assessment, we did.
And what authors! Donne, Austen, Conrad, Lawrence.

Well, Austen survives. The reading Irishwomen survive.
A Bildungsroman is: a novel about building? No, not exactly.
What is Marner's profession? Folk-doctor, homoeopath,

foster-careré? Not exactly. In which of the five novels studied
do we NOT see the death of a mother, or mother figure
IN THE COURSE OF THE NARRATIVE? Victorian fiction,

so many sick-beds, death-beds, dangerous excursions,
hang on to your siblings and your grandmas, everybody.

- 8.55am,
- Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***

Apanage - the word came into my dream as if it means
“the science of treating sewage” - the dream
(the rest of which escapes me) concerned
cultural studies as currently practised.

Is it in the dictionary? Not likely -
I know enough etymology to sense
it won't mean anything of the sort,
will mean nothing at all, most likely.

Old Concise Oxford is all that's at hand -
at least it's small. Apanage - yes - a word,
to my surprise. Just after apache.
“Provision for maintenance of young children

of kings etc.; perquisite, subsidiary title;
natural accompaniment or attribute.”
From the French “roughly endow with bread”.
So? What was it doing in my dream?

The god of language warning me perhaps
not to sniff at cultural studies,
however much it seems like handling sewage?
Oops, the prejudice peeped out again.

Only yesterday, meeting a retired
English teacher, my second remark
concerned The Young. How trapped they seem
in their youth culture. Doesn't it blind them

to the interests of maturity? Maturity!
Who uses that word nowadays?
When we were young (ominous phrase)
there was no youth culture for us.

We wanted what the grown-ups had, the mix
on offer of good and bad. Then - what
ought to be kept short - adolescence
was renamed the teenage years

and given money. Culture gave it crap.
The young were now all princes and princesses
maintained with perquisites of vulgarity.
Vulgarity! Who uses that word nowadays?

Apache: violent street ruffian, a vigorous dance.
And now I see behind me several
aging generations nostalgic for their youth,
creakily reviving their decade's apache styles.

Stiff-jointed me, I stumbled with my decade
through the foxtrot and the Queen Elizabeth Waltz.
After all that, Elvis the Savage God.
Oh but wasn't the waltz once thought vulgar?
Then please could we bring back the minuet?

10.30pm
Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne


***


After the funeral, the toddler we were minding,
while his mother grieved among the chief mourners,
ran round the back of the church and found

an overgrown sandpit, capsized
rusting yellow bulldozers.
Rescue begins...resurrection?
Why not save this one's life?

Toddler and minder are quietly walking to the road
when the vicar, farewelling the very last mourners,
intervenes. Oh no, the toys are still needed there.
Sorry, vicar, sorry.

What should we have said?
Forgive us our trespasses?
Suffer the little children?
Charity begins somewhere near here! 

8.00pm Wednesday 5 November 2003
Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Waking, young and old

Waking shouldn't be so difficult:
open the eyes, engage the morning light,
slide out of bed—soon you're talking,
breakfasting, reading, even singing.

Oh that's how it used to be. These days
the mouth is a problematical organ:
take it to the bathroom (an exercise in
tottering), treat it to spring-cleaning.

Avoid the mirror — the comb knows its
meagre job; move about the house as
tentatively as the body requires —
yesterday walking was natural,

today it needs to be learned again;
sit near a window and practice looking.
Daylight is a boon; the garden survived
correctly green — and florid — and with birds.

Yes, all as I remember it, and more.
And looking brings to mind so many words.

6.30am, Wednesday 12 November 2003
Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Slug and I

Last night, first hot one since last summer,
we left the bedroom window open.

This morning I see across the carpet
a silver snail-trail. Which way did it go?

Do I have to hunker down and track it
under the bed? Forget it. Later I see

in the wall-corner furthest from the window
not a snail — a houseless slug, stalled at eye level.

Having turned tail on the lush back-garden,
it's seeking lusher Lebensraum in the front.

Only our dry roofed boxes, bathroom
excepted, foil the transition.

Good going, slug, but totally futureless.
Excuse me now as I take a tissue,

delicately detach you from the corner,
take you to the front door. No garden

deserves you — your clan here are
numerous enough already. Penalty, death.

Creature like me, defenceless. The morning is
overcast, the execution un-witnessed.

Powers above, if not blind and deaf,
grant me stay of execution.

Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne
8.30am, Wednesday 19 November 2003

***


November 2003, Warrandyte

Spring afternoons by the river
(where once the Yarra
yielded gold, it now offers bush tracks),
you see more walkers than joggers,
more dogs than humans —leash-tangling
affable tail-waggers.

Spring floods surge
shadowed under the bridge:
the current tests the ducks.
Rare is the dog that trusts itself to the flow.
Watch that big lab —whatever its master flings,
in dives the dog, brings
it back, swings
wetly up the bank, barks for more.

Spring afternoons by the river
thirty years (half a lifetime) back,
I was the one
trusting body to the flow,
cautious always, being really no
swimmer, but submitting
thrilled to the surge to the rapids,
slip through the gap in the rocks,
dawdle then in the shallow
where a sheltered beach had formed
and the daylong sun kept the water warmed.

Stolid now we pace the bank path:
off-leash time for dog and me,
cautious always; water
beckoning with its old spring glitter.

Max Richards, Melbourne
7.30pm Wednesday 26 November 2003

***


New Moon

After a long day
facing darkness

working through
her latest heartbreak,

she is enticed out
for a change of scene.

Above the jagged
rooflines of shops,

there's a new moon
reclining palely,

in company with
the steady evening star.

Max Richards, Melbourne
11.00pm Wed 26 November, 2003

***


The dog still trails her mistress
everywhere round the house, concerned
her bed has been displaced.

The master ponders the fungus
sprouted on the guest-room wall.


The mistress clinches deals
for cleaning and flooring,
wondering what she can wear tomorrow.

'Remember before the flood?
Life was so quiet and easy.'

'Positively antediluvian,'
ponders the word-fancier.

- 10.30pm, 10 December 2003
Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


On A Snap of Christmas Whispers Past

Twenty-plus Decembers back, I took my toddler
to sit on Santa's lap, whisper in his ear
her wish, smile for the camera,
toddle off home to dress the Christmas tree.

As she smiled and whispered, Santa
whispered: Hi, Max, recognize me?
Alan! I whispered back. It was the poet Wearne,
our Browning of contemporary Melbourne.

Young still for the task of Santa,
but nodding and ho-ho-ing worthily.
What he earned in our sweltering December
funded more monologues next year.

Decembers come and go,
I'm shopping still where
that snap was snapped in the hot mall air.
Santas of the warm south still show

toddlers how to whisper Christmas wishes.
The truest art is still the most feigning.
Alan and I —our time shortens,
our art —especially his —lengthens.

8.30am Wednesday 17 December 2003
Max Richards, Melbourne

***


[with season's greetings to both Poetryetc &PoetryEspresso]

In the name of community
and Christmas festivity
we've been letter-
boxed by our local Inter-
Church Council. Carols,
Candlelight and Nativity.

In the warm south this means
al fresco, en-plein-air, in the park.
At the summer solstice
it's bedtime before dark.

Come early, six-thirty
for food and good fun.
While sausages sizzle
Boroondara Brass
will serenade the grass
where the little boys tussle.

Hocking Stuart fireworks
are promised. Hockings!
Estate agents extraordinaire!
I see a set-piece manger
glowing: position! position!

A coup for the inter-church council —
draw-card feature supreme —
is —Stunt Rider Dave Russell.
Dave! On your gleaming machine!

Since children are 'encouraged to dress
as a nativity character',
Dave has a choice, I guess,
of highflying Star of Wonder,
or camel-mounted magus.

I fancy myself as a grass-fed ass,
while the massed might
of the Boroondara Brass
pound out 'Silent Night'

We poets in our youth
begin in gladness,
but thereof come in the end
despondency and Christmas.

But night will fall,
there may be stars,
and children will hold candles
'for peace - for peace'.

Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne 19 December 2003
My Backyard 12— Co-ordinates

***


Christmas Eve snap: carol singer

It was Christmas Eve all the fine day long and into the night.
In Melbourne's moneyed suburbs &151;Mont Albert, Camberwell,
North Balwyn, Carlton &151;the child-buskers were out.

Against the pedestrian current, jostled by the hustle and bustle
of shoppers, they'd propped their music-stands, stationed their hats
near their feet, and now sang, fiddled, trumpeted, and fluted.

And some of the music was atrocious, and some sublime.

And I saw the money clinking in, and even paper money.
Nostalgic for the "choirboy innocence" of cliché,
I looked in their faces. A boy soprano, solo, took my fancy.

His smile, for every coin, repaid us donors
as much as his lilting voice had drawn us to him.

Surely he came from afar, bringing gifts "beyond compare".
He shone, he was there because love had made him,
fostered him, filled him with song, kept pure his voice.

To separate his angelic face and smile from his music,
I loitered behind a pillar and listened. Still the song
glorified the space before the shop fronts —
like the best BBC telecast chapel moments.

I saw the smile on my wife's face.
It answered his. His answered hers.

Had he lived to be born, her first
might have been this child.

- Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne
24/25 December 2003

***


Menorah, Melbourne, December 2003

The shows of Christmas lights in our street
continued to grow, though not to excess like elsewhere—
streets which compete to attract gawking traffic jams.


This household consisting of an old agnostic
and a Krishnamurti-admiring Jew
wasn't lighting up for the season.

Still, Hanukkah, a family tradition she reaches
high to the back of the crockery cupboard and lifts
down her minimalist glass candelabrum.

Its nine little sockets require candles
of rare skinniness, and we shop around in vain.
We have only enough for the eighth day.

Besides, drawing attention to themselves as Jewish
has never been her family's style. But a drive through town
to glimpse the new giant civic menorah &151;

reclusive decades give way to a coming-out —
gas-fed flames trembling in the evening wind,
roaring steadily as the nine flames flare.

Yes, her own menorah shall be seen:
perched in the front window, lit at sundown.
(Krishnamurti would say: mere distraction.)

Come see them! Aren't they beautiful!
Come see them from outside, from the road!
They can just be seen through the overgrown front garden.

She photographs them from the footpath,
and again inside, and poses her blonde dog,
our holy fool, beside the flames. Snap.

Slowly the candles are burning down to zero.
All this time scarcely a car or pedestrian passes.
None, I think, pauses.

28-30 December 2003.
- Max Richards, North Balwyn, MelbourneThrowing out the Old Calendar

***


New Year's Day dawns dimly —just as well.
You wonder what needs doing today.
Throw out the old calendar for a start.

But lifting it down to expose the new one,
you think: bad year it was, but those reminders,
pictures, scribbled comings and goings —­

take a last look before you bin it. Yes, o-three, mostly bad, but twelve glossy views of New Zealand helped it along.

Sent by my sister, as January shows: our childhood mountain, Egmont, Taranaki —­ symmetry, snow; and foreground tree-ferns.

January —almost unmarked: one long
slow morning at our hairdresser, then
that hot weekend: folk music at Chewton.

Ah, Chewton —sometime I'll write its poem.
(We're going back.) February, month
of book-launches: standing sweltering while

authors toasted authors and you almost
caught up with long-lost friends in the crowd.
(Overdue tax returns stole half the month.)

March: more folk music: Port Fairy, the big one.
All now a blur, benign, sun-baked, beery.
Play-going resumed, with Albee's 'wicked' Goat.

April: our house-guest the Shakespeare scholar,
whose talk and talks everyone enjoys.
May —but its picture! Whitianga,

where (eighteen) I first went giddily up
in a small plane, up from that smooth beach,
out over Mercury Bay and giddily down.

May, first time at the Johnson Society —
met in the dim English-Speaking Union —
where sexy Boswell hogged attention.

June's already saved: my Portarlington
verses (please see). Scribbles now note outings
intended but often as not missed. July:

in that little theatre Kaspar Hauser
lived most strangely. August, photocopier
problems. September —at least we wormed the dog.

October's Sundays of glorious memory
strutting at the Gallery for art's sake
(and ours) among the Conder paintings.

November: gardening. December: that
damn flood, not noted till the aftermath:
assessor, drycleaner, carpet- and floor-men.

Slant and partial our calendar life. Bin it —
but please, memory, save what you can.

- Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne
- sketched 1 Jan 04, edited 7am, 7 Jan 04

***


Solitary Walker: Old Song, Overtaken

The dog and I, returning from the park, notice
we're following a grey-haired trousered person,
walking not the footpath but the middle
of this quiet tree-lined avenue.

We can overtake her (approaching,
I register hints of a female shape)
without the little worry of dog lurching
and intruding on a stranger's private space.

Almost alongside, I hear crooning,
not a language I know, not a melody
I recognize, but lilting A definitely Asian,
and so, I see now, is the lady.

Hereabouts there live many Asians,
but A strolling in the middle of the road,
singing! Will no one tell me what she sings?
No one's about but us. We glance her way.

She's not glancing our way. Our paths diverge,
she's out of sight, but whiffs of exile
and lost time flicker privately in me
long after she is heard no more.

Max Richards & W. Wordsworth
North Balwyn, Melbourne
8.30am, Wednesday 14 January 2004At Heide 1, 2003-4

(for Rosalie Dance, and Nolanıs 'Rosa Mutabilis', 1945)



***


Heide Museum

[Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne began as Heide Farm where John and Sunday Reed fostered young artists like Sidney Nolan]

I stole an hour from my employer, parked
near the side gate to the old farmhouse,
intent on taking in all its gardens,
at their peak this green November.

For years I passed by unaware
the old place was still there.
Fresh pink now the weatherboard boxy
house, spotless white each old chimney;
signs everywhere to guide the curious ­
Wild Garden, thatıs the one for me:

the Reeds employed as gardener Neil Douglas,
giving him this as his sanctuary.
Last month I read his obituary,
a long good life: art, plants, wilderness.

I found its shadowed small still pool;
trod the curved walks to the main gate,
took in the whole square modest front,
an outhouse marked for restoration,
the kitchen garden burgeoning with beans;
the Heart Garden, tiny and enclosed,
where Sunday Reed knelt among her herbs;
looking up to where, in legend now disproved,
young Sidney Nolan trod the galvo,
painting an early Kelly on the roof.

Restored, the garden thrives again;
art? ­ lingers here in relics,
but has moved on.
Heide, homestead of creative passion,
spreads wide as an endowed museum.

In high summer I came again
for Rosalie's education talk.
She gave us each a Nolan postcard
and took us on a Heide walk.

At the foot of the old cow-pasture hill
still stands the wooden post-and-rail;
we stood by the blooming Rosa mutabilis
(the buds are pale but darken their pinkness),
looked back up past the well-treed
slope once planted by good John Reed,

seeing the chimneyed house through Nolan's eyes,
where Sunday waited for him with love.
Sunday amid the painted roses still
glows with bright blue eyes, immutable.

- Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne
Wednesday morning

***


At the Bold Garden Cafe Nursery, Castlemaine

She being nimble hares off
through neat nursery spaces
after big bushy begonias
and rampant raunchy roses

while I, near the cafe, plonk
myself down on a garden bench
made from an old iron bedstead

and refresh my eyes
on peeling paint radiant
in the afternoon sunshine

and sprinkler-drops sparkling,
tuning my ear to water
fountaining the way

to a sense of life
where nothing dies
but is forever recycled.

- Max Richards
back now in North Balwyn 9.15pm(as snap-moment occasioned flashback, this got out of hand...M.R.)

***


At Stonemanıs Bookroom, Castlemaine,

where the angled street-corner door
sags now under a vast brooding? Ken ­
statuesque Ken, the late great shop cat ­
few bargains, but among them Harrison,

Tony, 'Permanently Bard':
the 'baker's boy from Beeston'
with his 'books, books, books'
has ended up a set text himself.

'This edition is suitable
for "A" Level, college and university
courses' ­ implying his other
books are unsuitable ­ could be.

In Leeds, circa 1964,
I met Harrison one day;
both of us scholarship boys,
me from Auckland, he from nearby.

He'd been in Nigeria,
I in darkest Scotland.
He was going places, lots to hatch.
I was vaguely seeking my homeland.

Why shouldn't I have his future? ­
as if, leaving Derry Jeffares' house
that night, his feet might be
in my shoes ­ mine in Tony's.

Poetry was our choice, beckoning
both ­ equally, by my then reckoning.
Wrong, of course, but still I'm curious:
why shouldnıt I have had his future?

Looking back, it seems divided England
gave him both theme and motive.
My own spring of action was left unwound
in one-class New Zealand, tame, derivative.

So does young England read him now?
(theyıll need his editor's kind notation
more each year) and if so, how?
To read Harrison you need an education.

You'll get an education reading Harrison.
His Englishness seems newer than Larkin's,
or Geoffrey Hill's, but already superseded.
(May all three continue to be needed.)

Or so it seems to this old Kiwi,
brooding on his paper clutch in Melbourne.

Max Richards ­ 9am 25 Jan, Castlemaine/9am 4 Feb, Melbourne

***


Weekend Snaps: Two Melbourne Public Gardens

The Williamstown Botanic Gardens
have many gates which are never closed;

the tree-hungry eye registers
here more symmetry than variety,

a frock-coated municipal statue,
an aviary without labels ­

much dark wire and a few
birds, unrecognisable;

an ornamental lake all stone
and concrete, without water:

'under renovation';
cylinders of clean perspex

embrace the trunks of most trees,
deterrent to possums no doubt;

almost nothing labelled, except
the Liquid Amber Lawn

where I recognize
no liquidambar.

Our home suburb has a Native Garden,
high-fenced, everything labelled,

free-ranging birds and possums,
promiscuous sprinklers,

and most days it closes at four.

- Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne
3.00pm Wed 11 Feb 04

***


Workouts Gendered

At the gym, when
I glance at the women, each seems to be involved in
sex with a brute contraption,
a giant sex-gismo,

while the men train
enduring self-inflicted pain.

I turn away forlorn,
intent on my own
sado-machismo.

Max Richards, Melbourne, 2.20 pm

***


The Other

Neither of us
got a wink
of sleep
last night

because
the other
was snoring.

7.30am
Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


More on Snoring

Barbara says
that as a man ages
snoring is normal (the drone
perhaps of fading testosterone?),
in women less so; her David now ­
voluntarily ­ at bedtime puts on
a plastic patch across his nose.
Looks a bit odd but stops his snores.

My wife says she's off to the pharmacy
to get me one immediately.
I play up to them: OK, and later
I may even wear it to the theatre.
(Where a discreet snore may however stop
others from dropping off.)

But I imagine asking at the chemists' myself:
I want one for my wife,
her nose is quite small.
Oh, they'll say, one size fits all,
staring hard at my long strong nose
which when blown
has been likened to a foghorn.

By day I am a formalist uttering
inhibited formulations; at night
express myself from a deeper level
in open form.

9.15am Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


A Silent Afternoon
[begun Sunday, finished Wednesday]

Saturdays, after work,
a slow late lunch is in order,
then a drive to overlook water,

or among dark tree-ferns, or
along a ridge between eucalypts
glimpsing some wide vista.

Kangaroo Ground has a lookout tower
we both recall as fraught with our
former separate lives, but oh the view!

­ north, to the Great Dividing Range;
east, to the Dandenongs; south
over city to bay and bay-mouth.

Finding ourselves at Watsons Creek,
we browse among objects
brashly claimed to be antique;

or else, should restlessness rule,
we drive by properties for sale,
inspecting any that are open ­

if good theyıre unaffordable;
if affordable, unlivable.
Besides, the effort of moving!

And recent houses look so vile ­
dominated by their garages,
bright bricks clash with garish tile.

Best then to cruise for pleasure,
a silent afternoon of leisure,
and maybe the western sky colouring.

Yesterday was such a time,
familiar roads turned away from,
gold and green fields surprising

with shiny ponies grazing
or with children, being handfed;
a golf-green peopled by a hundred

or more complacent ducks,
a flight of other birds? swans??
turning where the river turns.

Soon, seeking lower ground,
we skirt sports-fields on the flat land
where winter once meant flood

but cricketers are now spread
looking quite as archaic
as their pavilion is historic,

soothing two pairs of tired eyes, one driving, the other gazing and smiling and then dozing.

Home to the flaking weatherboard,
roof-tiles chipped and lichenous,
a 'knock-down job' in developers' eyes.

'The mind that has put its house
in order is silent.' She holds hers
until greeted by her dog's noise.

8 pm Wednesday 10 March 2004
Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Old Romeo

Tybalt didn't harm Mercutio,
and wasn't hurt by Romeo ­
him, the son-in-law, old Capulet
soon learned to tolerate.

They settled down into a long marriage.
In time she saw his limitation,
mentioned it. Desire, now as then,
(which she'd outgrown, called it
'possessive' ­ 'why marry?')
would wake him after midnight.

The whole long night's moonlit
silence was punctuated by a quiet
night-bird stirring twice on the roof,
by the sleeping dog touching a claw
on the wall, by the rare slight snore
of Juliet beside him, by the pulsing vein
near his ear on the pillow,
by the first traffic on the hill,

then a whisper of a breeze
by the window briefly lifting leaves;
day now silently resumed.
The bird of dawning had eluded him
again. He must have dozed.
They were together still.

10.30pm, Wednesday 17 March 2004
Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Tagging an Insect

[Sic transit gloria mundi:
so passes the worldıs glory. Old tag]

In the first light of morning
a dark shining jewel ­
what's it doing in my house
sparkling on the glass-topped dining table?

It moves, on tiny legs,
with fine antennae, and is ­
a splendid cockroach
between table-top and glass.

Yesterday in the museum
I saw many handsome birds
and insects all under glass,
tagged with hand-written Latin words.

I scan my short-term memory:
is that the Latin name
for the Melbourne cockroach
scuttling away from my dim beam?

The jewel is on the move,
rowing to a precipice.
Moth ­ butterfly ­ spider, even ­
I might usher outside alive. Not this.

I aim, I spray,
I conquer: its glory
dies with it. Sic transit
gloria — cockroach? ­
the tag may fit
though the name be gauche.

Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne
8.30pm Wednesday 24 March 2004

***


Listening to Conundrum

This next jig, said the flute-player,
I learned in Peru,
from an American banjo-player.

They launched into it, full-tilt,
him, fiddler, guitar, bodhran.
Oh when Conundrum played the 'East'

in Lygon Street, Brunswick,
we warmed to their charms.
This was Melbourne, and their

Irishness was all in their veins
and their hearts;
and their feet, and their blurred

fingers playing so fast
none of us could tell this
jigıs melody from the rest.

They've been too busy to get out an album,
but are selling a short sample on disc
for just five dollars.

Enough no doubt to get us
jigging in our heads all the way
to Ireland via Peru.

Max Richards

6.30 am, Wednesday 31 March, 2004
North Balwyn, MelbourneBR>
***

Passing the Harp

That dent in the bonnet of my wife's car ­
I might press it back straight from underneath ­

soft metal, simple task.
No, she says, I think I'll keep it.

Passing the Harp Hotel the other night -
thump! ­ she smote a drunk jaywalker hip and thigh.

He rolled off, called from the kerb "I'm OK",
and his mates told her the same.

At home soon after she didn't feel OK.
Over it now? ­ almost, but happy

for the bonnet to represent
her slight lingering depression.

Passing the Harp with her these days,
thump! I mutter ­ by way of therapy.

(The Harp, with its tall ads: "Tonight
on the big screen the big fight"...)

8.00 pm Wednesday 7 April 2004

Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne Skinny-Dipping Recalled

Humid autumn afternoons like this,
I used to slope off on my own

through urgent prickly heat
to the great good river place,

where Iıd strip, breathe sharply in,
wade out steadily chest-deep,

contemplating the banks upstream,
and down, checking the solitude.

Rocks, weedy stretches, over-
hanging trees, perhaps the glint

of some cast-off drink container
drifting my way from the remote

picnic ground; my pleasure to angle
for it, bring it ashore; river-servant.

Reward: the long slow complete
embrace of the whole extended scene;

sink backwards, cool my head, all
but my face in the current, tilt

two big toes upward, point them
to the sea, sensing the gradual traverse

of an unfolding panorama
of bush, water, sky. Slowly

the summer-depleted current
curves with me over depths

of stillness, between backwaters
of leaf-litter towards a shimmer

of translucence, a glitter
of broken water, rock-littered

rapids. Water rustle amplifies
to rattle, drift becomes bustle,

curves shape into angles, rocks marked
with canoe-paint flash past.

Soon passed. Steadiness resumes,
a prospect shapes of much-visited

swimming hole. Time to slip out,
press back up and along the bank path

panting and shy, bare feet vulnerable,
flanks slapped by wattle fronds,

to the cache of clothing,
a farewell already nostalgic

to the westering sun lengthening
river-gum shadows from bank to bank.

4.00 pm Wednesday April 14, 2004

Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


A Reminder

In the park this morning
the autumn sun is kind,

dog and I are walking towards
two high school uniforms,

young lovers enjoying
their first kiss perhaps.

Walk further their way, just to
remind me what it's like.

Closer, I see them, heads together,
lighting up cigarettes.

After a kiss? instead of? ­
at this (fifty-year) distance

I sense a shared inhaling
of what's delicious and forbidden.

Not that way, dog, today we'll measure
the other length of the park.

8.45 am, Wednesday April 21, 2004

Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne

***
Primroses

While I drove her to the train she recalled
a journey once from Kent to London.

'I was leaving Nick. I knew it was
a day when anything might happen.
I had with me primroses taken from a wood,
roots and all, for a London friend
who pined for some to grow. Oh there were
primroses in such abundance ­
the wood could spare just these.

The carriage was quite full; no choice,
I must sit by a man travelling on his own ­
not what a woman travelling on her own prefers,
but it was afternoon. We spoke of primroses,
at once on the best of terms. Date of birth,
height, colouring: identical. But: orphan,
uprooted, transplanted, now embedded
deep in family. Past or present,
none of that resembled me.

We drew into London, exchanged
names and addresses, went our ways.

I often heard from him. What did I know about him?
He remains a mystery. We never met again.'

I dropped her near the station, picturing
a man her age, already on the train,
watching her step lightly up and in,
her straight back, her dark hair and eyes,
looking for a vacant seat, basket
filled with primroses, about to speak.

Max Richards
North Balywn,Melbourne

10. p.m., Wednesday April 28 2004

***

A Free Afternoon

The seal at Point Henry is announced
by orange plastic fencing and placards

saying: This seal is sick. Please leave it alone.
Apart from this, the convalescent eludes us,

either there, but out of our line of vision,
or gone ­ healthy or not would be good to know.

Locals might say, but they too are elusive
or shut inside the vast aluminium works

which cover half the Point. The other half
is signed: 'artificial wetland' and 'no shooting'.

A tower for birdwatchers seems derelict.
One windsurfer is jousting with the gale:

his black wetsuit glistens ­ like a healthy seal;
he's so out on his own ­ couldn't be more alone;

he has lift-off ­ strenuously contradicting
the fenced-in full car-park beside the works,

each car poised for the shift-workers' knock-off time.
Today I'll feast my eyes, and work tomorrow.

Who knows, the local paper has perhaps
already snapped the seal basking reunited

with its cousins round the Gellibrand Light,
sunstruck, tide-tossed, gale-smitten, free.

- evening of Wednesday 26 May, 2004
Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne The Moon in June

From the Geelong Road we see a vast moon
in a sexy scarf monitoring
the Altona oil refinery and its tall flame.

From the Westgate Bridge we see the moon
above Station Pier presiding over
the safe loading of the night ferry to Tasmania.

From the Bolte Bridge the gilded moon,
elusive good-luck medallion,
is skirting the casino towers at Crown.

From Alexandra Parade we see the moon
over housing commission
blocks supervising the encounters

of addicted persons and their dealers
near the North Richmond
community health centre.

From the Eastern Freeway the moon
is beaming on the sprawling suburban
fortresses of supporters of law and order.

At Harp Junction the moon is benign
over Dunnings the old wood merchants, and
stands reflectingly over the shiny new police station

currently under investigation
for entrenched corruption,
and over the quiet East Kew home?

of the police informer
who with his wife recently died under
their executioner's revolver.

And then we're home. Light the fire,
bless Mr Dining's red-gum delivery,
drop the blinds, shut out the moon.

7.20 am Wednesday June 9, 2004
Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Turning 67 at the Celtic Festival
[Portarlington, 13 June 2004]

Having helped perform "poems
of love, exile" the joy, sadness,
anger and resilience of the Celt:
part one: The Scots' (with some Gaelic translated),
he's about to take his love to bed.

In the bathroom of their festival accommodation
he's wearing nothing but his performer's wristband.
She, though wearing her supporters' wristband,
glances in less than admiration.

The shower, as vacation showers
often are, is rousing, but: "sleep
well". He dreams prolonged
consensual harmony and wakes
to pain in the small of his back.

In the dawn he descends to the port:
on the pier's furthest tip
a stick figure shakes his rod
over midwinter's ebb-tide.

A dozen sea-anglers squat
in longsuffering hope,
killing more time than fish.
Mr Mussel's metal punt signals
Fresh Farmed Mussels Daily.

Some local wag has changed Mr
Mussel to Mrs Mussel.

"Happy birthday to me ­
and a few good returns."
Today "part two: The Irish", who taught him:
"the best music in the world
is the music of what happens."

Also there's the music
of those almost at home
almost anywhere.
In Nova Scotia, New Caledonia,
new everywhere, they "in dreams
behold the Hebrides".

Nostalgia, fresh farmed all weekend,
even for those three generations removed.
Or two, like him ­ Donegal, the Shetlands.
At a centenary session for Bloomsday
they end up singing "Dublinıs fair city"
and "cockles and mussels alive alive-o".
At the Pier Café (Spanish cuisine)
the mussels make an entrée
out of this world.

evening, Wednesday June 16, 2004
Max Richards
North Balwyn, Melbourne

***


Dream House

House Open for Inspection, a big builder's demo-house ­
you find the land, we build your dream house ­
all glass and pastel panels.

The wife stays in the car, too tired to look.

Please take off Shoes to Protect special Floor surfaces.
(Shouldnıt special mean unscratchable as well as smart?)
Opening the front door activates a recorded voice:

Welcome to our new-century dream house.
Observe the raked ceiling, etc. I turn
to inspect the grand front rooms, all so tasteful.

Oh, hereıs the man on duty, to chat me up.

Just looking, thanks. Twenty-seven different colours,
he proudly mentions, then leaves me to it. I drift smoothly
in my socks to the picture windows, the pastel sofas,

the creamy shelves awaiting one's favourite books,
the widening at the back to the open-plan kitchen, the family space,
and to one side the new necessity the home theatre,

already with big screen ­ showing dream houses to a voice-over
caressing me with up-to-dateness in pastel tones.
The back garden has an oversized "water feature".

Upstairs, fondling the warmed metal banister,
to bedrooms worthy of royalty, and a voice saying:
note the raked ceiling, the panoramic vista,

the extra lounge space easily converted to a fourth bedroom.
Bathrooms as in some luxury hotel,
creamy shelves, cupboards, walk-in wardrobes,

thoughtful concealed lighting, ventilations--
I breathe in perfumed air, breathe out sighs.
None of this is meant for me.

Home to a waiting pile of essays: on the top, Emily's:
sheıs chosen Keats, Coleridge, Whitman, brave girl!
Topic (from Auden): "a poem that attempts to follow

the motions of consciousness will have to organize itself
into a whole in ways which consciousness itself suggests,
not as logic dictates." Iım hopeful she has felt her way in

to Kubla Khan, the Nightingale, Song of Myself--
not too logically. What's this? -­ "a psychoanalytic model"!
Emily! Must you? Some recent "Introduction" has told her

the conscious self is only "the tip of the iceberg".
I freeze up, too tired just now to look.
Later I find Whitman's soul is really his unconscious.

In Balwyn North do Condo Builders stately homes construct.
And hereabouts in air I too will build my home,
piping words that paper every elevated room.

Darkling, I will project a garden full of singing birds
with word-spring jetting, and coloured lighting.
A charmed magic basement will house my whole sole self.

7 am Wednesday 23 June 2004
Max Richards, North Balwyn, Melbourne

[And from another essay: 'Every poem was like a tiny micro chasm...']

***



Poetryetc is a listserv relating to poetry and poetics which provides a forum for poets to debate their critical and creative work. The list has over the years run a number of projects for its members, of which Snapshots has been the most enduring.

Every Wednesday, Poetryetc members were invited to post short poems on any subject or in any form they chose. The idea was to make a poetic collage of instamatic “snaps” of that day that reflected the international membership of the list. The project has generated an astounding number of poems.

The first two runs, of six weeks each, and the first ten weeks of the third run, are archived at Wild Honey Press www.wildhoneypress.com under Poetryetc Project. The rest - amounting in all to a run of a year - are archived here.

Poetryetc, like its affiliate Salt Publishing (http://www.saltpublishing.com), was founded by Australian poet John Kinsella. Salt is managed by Christopher Hamilton-Emery (cemery@saltpublishing.com), while Poetryetc is owned by Alison Croggon (ajcroggon@bigpond.com). Poetryetc is now archived at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/poetryetc.html. and anyone interested can join from that url.

To contact the listowner: Alison Croggon


These pages are designed, maintained, and hosted by Rebecca Seiferle, the Editor of The Drunken Boat. To email.


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