Thursday, April 29, 2010

The River Seine

(after Paul Celan)

Tonight of no stars, only clouds —

a city wrapped in crumpled paperbag.

The cigarette, a cork in your mouth

like traffic in a bottle-neck

longing to get out.

You can see the horn-sounds

as colour above the river.

This dark-houred clock, your flawless water

will only embrace the open ones —

those who've thrown a stone in their eye

and felt a ripple from the pupil out.

In hesitant hope

your cigarette smokes a thought… ‘rebel’.

But to turn this world to verb —

to hurl yourself in the river

and feel the razor-tooth skeleton bite.

No, something invisible

has summoned the wind

to warp the word into ‘sober’.

O all this hoarded time

gluing elbows to our sides.

Only semi-submerged, barnacles

have formed on the bottom of our souls —

words not worth uttering anymore.

Our reckless abandon is derelict

with insouciant desires.

To turn this world to verb, get a life…

No, not to go out like a firework,

red flower in wilted sky

to pitch yourself in the river like a stone,

disintegrate and drift,

wash your mouth out in the ocean

where sea-wave and sea-roar,

ssssshhhhh —

even in a whisper

will never cease trying to shut us up,

though we’re saying nothing really at all.

To stub out your cigarette on the vertical stone

and sink into the river unnoticed...

O in the deep upon deep

comes the caesura —

the break between worlds.

(previously published in Southerly, 2007)

Reaching Out

You can wait

like a great sad wolf

for the moon to rise,

or you can launch yourself flat

across the sky:

a pebble released

from fingers

to skip across waves,

clear the jagged white tips

of a shark mouth,

turn the tides


on aquamarine wine,

gawk at the beauty


chained to a rock,

spit, scream,


whatever it takes

to tear off that carcass

of a shell,

slip through


falling trident and

wonder at your wake

as you scale the ocean’s abyss,

soar up, above,

beyond the last port of call

and leave behind

a thousand thoughts,

a hundred hearts,

ten nicknames,

six degrees,

skim one


two last,

three lonely skims,

countless in all,

to the cold horizon

before succumbing

to the gulp

of salt,

a pebble sinking

just short

of the pink


(previously published in a UTS Anthology, 2005)