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Time passes and turns black But only in between the gold, the jewels: Where nothing of its decoration lingers The wood is a dark night. Sky gods appear as falcons: Horus, the divine, is one of them. After Rembrandt lost his wealth He could still paint the frothed and combed Delicacy of light on gold, The texture of gathering darkness Made manifest by the gleam That it contains and somehow seems to flaunt While dialling down.

An understated festival, His energy came back to him through memory As mine does here and now, as if lent power By the force of its own fading. That figure with its finger in its mouth Is meant to be a child.


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Only the children suck their fingers As they look toward you Waiting for their turn At life, the long plunge into doubt. On TV at night, direct from Rio, Olympic divers are hydraulic drills When they go in and flatten out To lie above the bottom of the pool On palettes of specific bubbles.

At Rio, Ren Qian, plaiting her silk thread Of falling and revolving light Through thirty feet of air, Goes in without a ripple. Seen from inside the pool, her impact Is a shout rewritten as a whisper, A bomb exploding inward.

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But Ren Qian now Spearing through my screen Like a goddess reaching Earth Is only a touch more beautiful Than what I can remember Of a human girl whose face I have spent my life forgetting. If you want to see a better joke Than young desire Just look at an old man First gambling without chips And then without a single steady picture Of the silver ball. At the destruction horizon The last wall of the temple Crashes into the water And, pulled apart, a fresco turns to dust: A cup of coffee gone back to the bag Of beans by the long route, An aeon reassigned To form the towpath now Of the river of my memory.

This is a river song, Linking the vivid foci Where once my mind was formed That now must fall apart: A global network blasted To ruins by the pressure Of its lust to grow, which proves now At long last, after all this time, To be its urge to die. But this was in the future.

Two thousand years later The pieces join up again As now my soul does Lying here so ill, my memories— Which, you will have noticed, Are stoked with countless deaths— Could fuel a nebula. For my nets of recollection shine Like the treetops of Kokoda Late at night The phosphorescent outlines Assemble, interpenetrate Where our fathers and our uncles Looked up into the ceiling Of silver gods— Imagine Michelangelo Confined to chrome and diamonds— And wondered where the enemy Lay cradling his guns In the darkness of the jungle floor.

And in Adelaide I met That other blessed flier, Kym Bonython himself, The squatter who had everything— The galleries of paintings, The properties the size Of Luxembourg, the wives Out of a classic fable—the only Connoisseur at his exalted level To have driven in a demolition derby.

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It must have seemed the wrath Of God, yet Kym came back As full of joy as always. You have to be that way And, above all, stick to your real speed, Which was, for him, the way the Perspex windscreen Of the Mossie ate the miles. It was the tempo of his life, Visible again in how he decked The grille tray of his Bristol With a set of bullock horns. Ira shaimase I go and I come back. We have been married now so long Vinyl is back in fashion. As if burning cakes of peat Were once again the chic Way of making fire. If my ashes end up in an hourglass I can go on working. Patterns of gravity Will look like writing.

Memory in Silhouette : Poems

Remember me, sings Dido,. Wind shapes the dunes Above which swallows stream To Europe, with a pit stop at Gibraltar Reminding them that Africa was soft With sliding surfaces of singing sand. The whole world, if you wait long enough, Is full of falling. By Clive James. That figure with its finger in its mouth Is meant to be a child Even when dancing in the caves Of the Kimberleys All painted adults seem serene— The Dreamtime Dancers. Only the children suck their fingers As they look toward you Waiting for their turn At life, the long plunge into doubt On TV at night, direct from Rio, Olympic divers are hydraulic drills When they go in and flatten out To lie above the bottom of the pool On palettes of specific bubbles At Rio, Ren Qian, plaiting her silk thread Of falling and revolving light Through thirty feet of air, Goes in without a ripple.

Seen from inside the pool, her impact Is a shout rewritten as a whisper, A bomb exploding inward At Ramsgate Baths on Botany Bay I waited half an hour For the girl in the blue Speedo To do her simple dive From a mere three metres The dive was one step up From a peanut roll. Two thousand years later The pieces join up again As now my soul does Lying here so ill, my memories— Which, you will have noticed, Are stoked with countless deaths— Could fuel a nebula For my nets of recollection shine Like the treetops of Kokoda Late at night The phosphorescent outlines Assemble, interpenetrate Where our fathers and our uncles Looked up into the ceiling Of silver gods— Imagine Michelangelo Confined to chrome and diamonds— And wondered where the enemy Lay cradling his guns In the darkness of the jungle floor.

Ira shaimase I go and I come back We have been married now so long Vinyl is back in fashion. As if burning cakes of peat Were once again the chic Way of making fire If my ashes end up in an hourglass I can go on working. Remember me, sings Dido, Wind shapes the dunes Above which swallows stream To Europe, with a pit stop at Gibraltar Reminding them that Africa was soft With sliding surfaces of singing sand.

Trading victory for identity. Do not fight. Not with weapons unskilled in the past.

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Your photograph has started to bleed. Drip into old calendars. Do not wipe it, because it has spilled into the past. Lips are sour. Wine turns to water.

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Water returns to tide. Rise, she demands, with your unfulfilled past. This poem was originally published here. The scent of a name swiftly rent by tearful chords shreds hung in the air, just out of reach. Biannual torrents of dayspring rites when payasam and prayer flash-flooded the neighbourhood — baffling me for nine years…. Shadows from laughing eyes I had found frozen on cellulose strips and long thought were mine crypted within the covers of velveteen books on a high, unfriendly shelf. You stayed sketchy, all dots, shades and split helixes — a silhouette behind a shattered pane, touching which made thoughts bleed.

A head among tousled monsoon clouds your gaze on the burnished afternoon earth the voice in local summer tides. The name, the name grew everywhere: in myths and magazines, or family trees, fiction, television — any one I chose could wipe out another possible you. You walked with me, travelling through childhood, teenage, voting-right-hood… I changed templates, crafted new ones through the ride.