power tools

A painting by Hokusai, the ragged tree
curves out and over the water, dipping the tips
of its long fingernails. Beneath its elegant gnarl,
night rain has wet the riverbank. I can’t sit. I squat
then stand. It’s hard

to have a routine, walk, contemplate, what
with children, friends, the weather, the screaming
of power tools, the hammering machine
in my head

This morning’s light is filtered by cloud
but the Hokusai tree is silverlit
by a thousand tiny moons. At the tip of every needle
and the lowest point of every twisted twig
is a round tinkle of rain

The Hokusai tree sings with tinkling moons
of spent, gathered rain
I was going to say it sings
to me, but it just sings

The river is molten glass, scattered
with froth-bits and flotsam

Later I’ll get into my little car
with its ‘No jobs on a dead planet’ sticker
and drive along bare new highways
past bare blocky new houses
to the Christian school
where they’re waiting
for poetry

They’re still building suburbs here
According to the billboards, every family
should own a little estate
even if they don’t
grow any food

My ex installs curtains, primps and paints
the house that was once half-mine,
that one day he hopes to sell

I rent, move when I want
The thin curtains let in the light
Nothing matches, everything’s old

My ex works overtime to pay for the house,
the curtains, TV, pizza maker,
Ipad, pool pump, outdoor setting,
eleven rooms of toys and chairs,
shed of dusty power tools

if I get here
I’ll bring a mat to sit on
beneath the Hokusai tree
by the riverbank

First published in Poetry Matters

The path and I

On the bridge the laned cars
queue like cells in a narrowed artery.
Beneath all that
the river: a broad mirror

After rain
as I walk beside the mirror
I’m poor as an empty can
left on an exiled mattress

The path and I become
more travelled       Our spaces
open       Our stones

After rain       as the light rises
the twigs that hang
by the river       glint
with tiny gems

First published in Creatrix

Valentine’s Day in this city

February 2013

Valentine’s day in this city
has the worst weather, so hot, so
hot, so hot, so hot, the
airconditioner, growling, grinding, rattling
when the vanes turn north,
I can’t think, can’t
breathe, I can loudly cry, like
the mating call of a frog, nobody takes it
among all the motors roaring.
                                                        I kissed him on a train
in the dream I kissed him on a train rattling
down the middle of the freeway, racketing
over the Narrows Bridge, going south,
going to Mandurah going to Margaret River going
to Denmark going to the karri trees going
to Ocean Beach Boat Harbour Peaceful Bay going
to my old boy-watching window in the school library going
to Antarctica.
                          I hate this city
with its violent February
weather, its once-a-year humid
Valentines, its noise-cancelling
Skype-fuckers, its rattling grinding
             I hate this city where I cannot kiss him.

First published in Creatrix

welcoming teeth

In the glass-shielded propaganda frame
mounted on the bulkhead
of the driver’s

a carefully-chosen chubby bloke-next-door
is white     in a uniform     straight     smile

I can almost smell his
cheap aftershave

Someone else
has risked the cameras
to rim his welcoming teeth
with crimsonned lips

First published in Uneven Floor