Europa Poets Gazette No 200, December 2020
Before his easel, he stands,
Brush and palette in his hands,
Staring at the work taking shape.
He is wearing a black beret and a long black cape.
He dips his paint brush into the green
And adds some more details to his scene.
He cleans his brush and adds some azure blue.
He is painting a picture of the view
From the window of his holiday-cottage in Corfu.
When covid’s darkness breaks on our shore
And sneaks into our bodies through the air
When no-one knows the future that’s in store
And no-one knows what’s good and what is fair
Then we can hide behind our masks to filter air
And keep apart and wash our hands with soap
And watch suspicious strangers who go bare
And so we struggle and attempt to cope.
To immunize our bodies and our minds.
This cruel pandemic’s pandemonium
Will feast on us as if we were its food
Then social contact turns to minimum
And we live lives within our sinking mood
The poet sees a future that is bright,
Where we are saved from this corona’s blight.
They float as lambswool
Within a blue abyss
At times turn by tors’
Wreathed in grey mists
Others stretch like elastic
From north to south
And gather to play
Aloft the river’s mouth
Some reign on high,
Shadow the Earth,
Then shatter and clatter
With devilish mirth
When, with moisture
Towers douse the land
Then blithely retreat
To hide amongst hills,
Sail over the sea,
Soar above deserts
Or vaporize completely.
First, it is the eye, dilettante as a butterfly,
scanning the field,
assessing just that shape or form,
the juxtaposition of perhaps bright blue and green,
pinks upon purple, aqua or vermilion,
yellow on flaming orange;
these arrest the gaze.
Interest grows intense.
All unknown to me,
my pupils grow
as black and deep
as secret pools
within a forest I have never seen,
and pleasure follows.
Then comes desire:
to capture, hold, encircle
and possess, for more than just a moment:
make it mine.
For this is what I saw.
Perhaps I share with friends that joy;
‘Hey, take a look at this!’
the image turning in my mind,
I analyse, assess, discard unwanted parts,
and it becomes my vision.
But now the hand, perhaps the darker hand
of Tommeginer child beside a morning-cold,
tracing with blackened pointed stick,
on a piece of bark, or rock.
Or in a classroom, where a teacher is inspired,
the guided hand upon the paper,
and the colour from the crayon or the brush,
reveal a talent.
That is my friend, and that his private vision.
Maybe I will show the world,
or just my friends:
this is what I saw.
(from Proving Flight)
We look at history and see the pieces of decay,
Pieces that eventually ruined their way,
Leading to great losses of humanity,
Messages left from our yesterday.
Although we see the decay in our way,
We still think it won’t happen in our day.
We forget one simple thing, it’s true
This is what people in history thought, too.
Sparkling blue, her old eyes shine,
Few wrinkles for 99.6 years.
But there was beauty of truest joy,
Lines like a velvet rose petal.
Childhood memories past come and go,
Her lace shawl covers her tiny shoulders.
Mother Mona Lisa smiles,
Her eyes held mine, so much enfold,
Sitting beside her I am privileged,
My mother, my birth,
My life, all belong to her.
The genteel, sweetest voice says, ‘Yes, dear’,
She speaks of dreams, hopes and yesterdays,
Today, tomorrow, I see her peace,
Love and joy of life,
Her sparkling blue eyes are memory.
I fell in love then a pandemic came.
We moved in
And per the German premier’s advice,
We stayed home, to stop the spread.
You became sex-crazed
And then you hit me. I rang the cops
But they were only attending urgent calls,
So I fled to my shack at Hellyer Beach
But the coppers were waiting for me
They had hired a helicopter
To track me and deployed
Six night-shift sergeants
To wrestle me to the ground.
‘You’ll not send me back. He will kill me.’
‘Stay at home,’ they roared, ‘it saves lives.’
The Stand-In Receptionist
For the want of being bored,
I am bored,
Not by choice but in desperation.
I was chosen to guard this box
of bells and blinking lights.
I watch the very secret life
Of bees and birds,
In bushes, beyond the automatic doors.
The snowy gum beyond the curtains,
The cars cruising, carelessly and carefully
In colours of chamois and crimson,
Chartreuse and cobalt,
Chocolate and cream.
With leaden clouds in grief,
Weeping in flood,
Wailing echo on damp, still air,
Torrent of sorrow, uninhibited,
Tears in relentless deluge,
Waterfall explosion in tirade,
Gush in ache of regret,
The grey, uninterrupted.
Through the tempest.
When sun breaches night sky,
Climbs, eager, at distant horizon,
A yesterday bleached and forgotten,
To renew in uneven balance,
Shadows, askance, unwilling to
dance in virgin radiance,
Song in dulcet tone, unsure,
Dawn colours, muted, undulate, reluctant,
Hope, in trepidation, stutters ’neath bask blue.
In roaring disharmony of night and day,
Discordant cries in the pure still,
Rampant, consuming cacophony in
the loudest silence,
The spectrum of exuberant joy
and euphoric despair,
Mocking of death’s call in lonely black,
Shattered dreams in garish white,
All of and nothing of, savage extremes,
Beautiful image, touching, receding
in fragile momentum.
And beside you,
In a hail of sensations,
Tremulous blink of eye as colours fade,
Sweet nectar of dissipating perfume,
Softest breath of pure, cooling breeze,
Sound of laughter, honest, ebbing,
Multiple of delicate tastes in division.
When all else that is matter
When every earthly need
is shed in a murmur,
Without cognitive response,
The consummate being of.
Michael Garrad November 2020
Everything seems so much shorter in winter
Days are diminished, light is reduced,
a low cloud base
Even your temper appears to shrink
and without care
Your tongue, without control,
can cut right through to the quick.
While a hard rain lashes your window pane
With summer’s languid length only a faint memory
Winter’s dark pale lemon dawn of uncertainty
Reminds us of far worse things to come.
Far out in the congealing grey channel
As the light lowers over the black restless sea
A storm-drifted bird is trying to make landfall
That bird could be you, or even more certainly, me.
A Winter’s Day in 1986
I remember my city that winter’s day so long ago -
It rained and rained - and rained!
Streetlights illuminated wet asphalt - like shining rivers of iron.
Winter boughs splintered the darkening sky
Gutters spilt over,
Empty, discarded cans rattled across the streets
Playing their own hollow, distorted, music,
Buildings, grey, normally soul-less edifices, stood weeping.
People, robotic in their haste to escape, pushed and shoved -
Paper rubbish tumbled on the pavements,
Then was whipped in the air by a fierce wind - like mock kites,
Cars were snaking, weaving, overtaking, sounding their horns
In a scramble to return to warm, safe havens -
And my mood matched this miserable winter’s day,
For along with the city - I was mourning.
June Maureen Hitchcock
Henry Hellyer (a novel)
Previously: Hellyer, the VDL surveyor, with some convicts, had begun to build the road to Surrey Hills into the bush, from Emu Bay, against the will of the company. Lieutenant Barnard, who is ex-navy and also a surveyor, has come to take everyone back to Table Cape.
Lieutenant Barnard sits opposite Hellyer inside the latter’s official tent near the beach of Emu Bay, sipping from his glass of whiskey. ‘And how do you think you’ll be managing this road, or track to Surrey Hills? This, in part, is so thick that one can only crawl through it, as you know.’
Hellyer nods as he ponders the glass in his hand. ‘We have no tents nor bedding. We’ll have to build shelters from bark and sleep on ferns but eventually supplies will arrive by boat.’
Barnard takes a swig of whiskey then says, ‘We’ll have to get the bullock wagons up to Surrey Hills. This will be difficult cutting the huge trees to make way.’
‘We’ve cut through the bush before,’ says Hellyer.
For a while, Barnard looks at him thoughtfully, ‘It would have been easier from Table Cape.’
Hellyer shakes his head. ‘Too much swamp for the bullock wagons.’
Barnard raised his shoulders and screwed up his face. ‘At least let us think about it.’
Heller nodded. ‘We’ve been having difficulty exploring. On the way back from one exploration, we only had flour left and could mix it with water. Further, we had already boiled our sugar bags. This was earlier this year and then we found the Arthur River again. Then we found a mountain of slate and I engraved the fact that the slate belongs to the government and was not to be stolen. Then we went along a rocky ridge, which was narrow at the top, and usually a large tree occupied the top of it and we had to crawl along. To one side was a rocky ravine hundreds of feet deep. There was a river and it fell 20 feet, and it made an astonishing noise. We went higher up. There were lofty forest tiers which were perfectly level on the top then followed an impenetrable espalier of scrub that a dog could not get through. It had rained all day and the water streamed from our finger ends. We were obliged to go on or starve. When we got back, we found that two of the three horses had died and the third one died in my arms.’
(To be continued next month.)
(to be continued next month)
(Written 40 years ago when Kim was 7.)
I am sorry about yesterday when I was taking a bite of my sausage roll and I bit you. I hope it didn’t hurt because if it did I apologise for it. I hope I am not bringing trouble to ask this question. I want to know how come you open my mouth and talking about me and getting me into trouble! I don’t want any excuses. I want to know how come you get me in trouble.
Reproduced by Robbie Taylor
Sprawled on a threadbare carpet
in front of a TV set,
A small fragile child is mesmerized by
the scene before her:
A mother, dressed in silk, is descending an
Endless staircase towards a Christmas tree,
Partially camouflaged by numerous cloaks
Of Coloured tinsels and blinking lights
The heap of parcels under it.
Not far away, a small plump child is dragging a large doll along the floor.
Through the window, outside can be seen a
Naked tree as snow gently falls.
At the sound of her mother’s voice,
The fragile child turns back to her own reality Where on Christmas Day, she hears the sounds of buzzing aerobatic flies
over silver cans that have splashed amber fluid onto the floor
And where the aromas of cigarette butts
Compete with the fragrance of eucalyptus trees outside the window.
The fragile child’s mother,
Dressed in housewife-uniform and
A sloppy No-Name tracksuit,
complemented by fake fur slippers,
Walks melancholically towards the child
‘Here’s a parcel from me to you
from the Salvos.’
With eyes un-engaging, the fragile child
Quivers, ‘Thanks’, and then turns her head back to the world of fantasy, back to the world that she hopes will become her reality -
A Christmas Day of glitter and cheers.
Joe Lake’s Opinion
Michael and myself would like to thank our faithful readers who have stuck with us this long. We have been trying to publish anyone who supplied a poem. Further, we will continue to do so in the future. I set up the gazette and collect the poems and then Michael edits. Michael is also the main distributor of the gazette and deserves a special thank you from us all.
Wish us a happy 200th edition and remain faithful!
Michael Garrad and Joe Lake