Sunday, February 9, 2020

the last word

the last word

Tug Dumbly - Containment Lines

Containment Lines

It's the grace and nobility of the man that get me, as he speaks of his three children just killed by a drunk. Though these aren't quite the right words. And although he has strength, it isn’t the lip-bitten stoicism of a bloke trying not to cave in on camera and spill himself in a salt flood. He has more, this man, some astounding epicentre of acceptance. He speaks of something irretrievable, but with this air of calm beyond ruin, like an old farm couple standing before the smoking remnants of their home, saying they’ll start again, and at least they still have each other, hey?

Houses and land regrow. But this man and his wife, standing before a crashed wire fence shrined with flowers and teddies, vined with rosaries, cards and photos, have less than a blackened paddock.

How does he do it?

Please don’t show him, I think. Don’t interview him on the news ... But he is mesmerising, with none of the scripted signs of suffering, none of the breast-beating grief to which he is entitled. This is something else. He smiles, yes actually smiles, as he gives a fingernail sketch of each gone child, perfect eulogies in a couple of lines. It’s the simplicity and beauty he says it with that catch your throat. But mostly it’s love. All this brokenness below, but the love and pride with which this young Lebanese-Australian dad speaks of his kids overrides it. It’s like he’s smiling at them on a school speech day, and contains them like a rainbow.

Actually, it’s mind blowing.

How is he doing it, how speaking, how breathing? But there is no bitterness visible for the drunk man who has done this to him, whose car left the road and ploughed through his life. That man is not part of this. There is something more pressing and powerful on the father’s mind, an ocean of loss to be shored by love.

Somewhere, the man who did this got up that day not knowing he was going to destroy lives, including his own. Somewhere the man drank and somewhere, three times over, decided to drive. And somewhere his decision met the decision of the father who somewhere told his three children and their cousin that they could somewhere go for a walk, as long as they stayed together. He said he wanted them to enjoy some responsibility, some independence and freedom. Just as long as you stay together, he said.

If death’s a dartboard, hit and miss, then that driver pricked the bullseye, which scored himself along with those children, and all their families, their parents, their brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents … and on. The circles radiate, pebbles on a pond, lapping out to friends and neighbours, teachers, coaches, shopkeepers, doctors, police and all the emergency people, and all the funeral people ... up into the hundreds ... and still the circles ride out, in concentric waves, to the people marking names absent from school rolls, and to the people making little clerical deletions from government screens, and out beyond to all the anonymous reaches and farther suburbs of people like me …

And we're now in the many thousands as the little sum of one driver, three times over, four children, continues to multiply in a masterpiece of fractal efficiency, into what won’t be contained and radiates out to a huge arena which still grows, to fit all those people who heard the news, and who maybe also saw the man interviewed and who wonder, like me, how does he do it? I wish he could teach me what he knows.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tug Dumbly - Stone


Can’t leave a rock unfisted,        
a stone alone, but must  
Gutenberg press it to skin,                       
Cuneiform its text to palm      

of clay, weigh the cooled
magma tongue of a pebble
in wallet of flesh, wombed
like a coin in a vending slot

snailed to forefinger,
sprung to sinew
of the wrist’s slingshot,   
a siege engine drawn

like Russell Crowe full cocked:
‘at my signal, unleash hell …’
Go on, have a fling,
show us what you got -

the kinetic cleanse
of a raw chucked rock,
jemmying a rainbow,
pinchin’ gravity like a fat

child’s cheek, to crack a gum,
bounce from a pond,
be gulped like a frog
in the gob of a creek.   

There’s not always grace
but can be spectacle
to the Neolithic Games,
as two bushboys lob

sandstone clods from a cliff
into a Tom Roberts afternoon.             
Bailed Up
             they sail
                         the ravine
with the poxy aim
of a Berlin bombardier      
payload floating  
to the rock bed below

and oh the rapture as those   
golden chunks of honeycomb
explode in a violent crumble
of a most sweetly satisfying nature.   

Saturday, January 11, 2020


(apply liberally)

in the afterlife
there’s only Tug

didn’t notice the party was over 
that the rest of us were sleeping it off

here comes the dreamer
home to tell the forgetting

which is always where we are 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Tug Dumbly - Stick

I cop a nervous eye swinging
a stick down Glebe Point Road.
No menace meant, ma’am.
I can’t pass a nice limb
without fondling its physics.
Some sprite in the wood
invites me to pendulum thinking,
to pivot the wrist and dowse the blood
like a diviner
                    walk, swing, cane the thing
sweet whackulator
animating some balancing act
in my nature
nail that texture,
tongue with a thumb
that stubbled rough,
braille a bud, finger a groove,
get tactile as Barry White
with that Stick & Stickability
scab bark from its knee,
prawn shell it back
to clean white flesh,
to silken caress of a joint
duck-arse Tally-Hoed
or string it like a green bean,
strip a vein from a limb
down to callow bone.
No don’t be alarmed ma’am,
it’s just the thrill of the whittler
whipping a willow,
swooshing a gum club,
striping the arse of impertinent air
with a bamboo rattan.
I’m just mucking here,
golfing a coke can,
stabbing a chip wrapper
with the sticky beak
of my oyster catcher,
xylophoning a fence
in a small unlicensed show
of urban exuberance.
… unless it’s Bush we go
then Whoosh! sword bracken,
brokeback weed,
breaking bad a path through
that bleeding green fecundity
like Sinatra swinging hard
through the jungle with a
sharp tongued Lantana Turner.
And then when done
fling that stick
like it longs to be flung,
with the centrifugal begging of a dog,
end over end, ape-thrown bone,
ass-jaw boomerang.
Kiss my primal arse
with your sheeny cane
and Joycey ashplant, with your
prissied, bevelled mansmoothed bat.
Get me to grips with a good stick, with
where it all began.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Tug Dumbly - Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics
A calendar of grease monkeys
cheesecaked over bonnets,
popped and glistening
as hot oily nuts,
all sultry with jacks
and pouty with spanners,
in banana-peeled overalls
and virile bandanas, dirty rags
blooming from big easy pockets.
Here’s Manuel, Mr March,
at the hood of your hatch,
dark souling your manifold.
October is Mario, wheaten mane
of a lion, dripping gold
to tease your timing chain;
November’s Juan whistles
his eye along a dipstick,
a matador primed to sword a bull,
and no question Pablo, Mr May,
will drain your sump to the dregs
and refill you real full.
I like Gordon, Mr June,
a man for the cooler months,
overalled in green, a string bean
relic of the BP Empire,
furrowed head balder
than your flat spare tyre;
concave chest over speed-hump pot
and chicaning vertebrae
clapped close to the grind.
He Charles Bronson squints
from a face hard won
as your duco’s baked-birdshit enamel;
the keroed smuts
splintered deep in his thumb
say he won't steer you wrong
or sweet-talk frilly extras;
He’s in the game for love,
not glamour.
Whenever he resurrects your car
from the dead it’s like he sucks
its wounds into his own battered
body, like a shock-absorbing Christ.
He’s no Mustang, like Mr December,
but he’s a steady finisher,
and as he brushes a fly from his
cooling tea and peels a pink slip
for your bomby Corolla, you know
your nipples have been greased.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Gillian Swain. Collective notes, Last Hurrah #68

Collective notes, last hurrah
Gillian Swain

When the moment sits with the circle
things come to completion
the story turns
voice arcs
becomes distilled
note by note

and the voices are stanzas
all alone and slip across
the curl holds
and in the centre
the poem

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

‘How good’s the cricket?’
--- With apologies to T.S. Eliot (1888–1965).  The Waste Land.  1922.

Summer is the saddest time, cracking

Gums fall on scorched land, yielding

Despair and outrage, starving

Koalas beg riders for water.

September gave us hope, covering
Earth in surprising snow, feeding

A soil with little life precious water.

Drought overwhelmed us, coming in from the distant outback

For showers of rain; they prayed in vain uncertainty,

And went on in sunlight, around the Circular Quay
And drank beer, and texted for hours.

And when we were children, staying with the great aunts,

My husband’s, they took him out to a shed,

And he was not frightened. She said, Mark,
Mark, hold on to the barrel, and fire

In the mountains, here we feel free.

We read, much of the night, but go east in the summer.

What are the roots that clutch, what buds shoot

Out of this black grief? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken promises, where the sun beats,

And the charred trees give no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry beds plead for water. Only

There is shadow around the red rock,
(Note this is the Rainbow Serpent's shadow),

And I will show you something tragic from either

Your shadow at morning obliterated by smoke

Or your shadow at evening rising like fireworks;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

Chrysogonus #last

after the tombstone
poetry continues
in patches of grass
in breeze, in between

in derelict gravestones
dreams and memory
taking over the poet’s pen

Kerri Shying R #- 603 - so fast becomes a prison

some part of sitting in the dawn alone round    
christmas feels ideal  I'm as unpacked   as any person   
who spends months running headlong into brick walls   
tantalising to recall the energy spent
madly building             how     protection
so fast becomes a prison

I study on the inside of my eyes             listen
your soundtrack adds    it smooths
off edges          adds in honey   to bitter juices
forced down     here     intention is to heal  
befriend           find flora          ever    grow

(The last poem on the blog 
Where everything happens oh my darlings) 

KA Rees #73 - The Art of Kintsugi

The art of Kintsugi

For my fellow 365ers

The pieces were swept up

and placed in a box. There they remained

till the dust came, the colours muted

the bone exposed, a white

gash of shin. This is how age

gets in—remembering the art of Kintsugi 

is an art of broken things, understanding

a piece that is broken and mended

is more than the unbroken whole,

watching how the last jacaranda

panicles cling to the branches

in a smoky six o’clock sky

this, the last day in December

on the last day of the decade.

Remembering the sound of bees 

in jasmine from long ago.

#Project end game

#Goodnight Bill. Goodnight Lou. Goodnight May. Goodnight.

#341 red cone- vanity


you would never leave
always be there

I am sad
up in flames

red sky
day light
floating orange
pushed by grey

no  one to  blame
but myself


Coalescence Part 5 # Claine Keily 145

Storms encroach then shrink away. The days are thick with smoke and dust. The river cowers from the embankments and blackbirds hobble about with gaping beaks. The wattles break with yellow flowers. Kangaroos move in closer, braver now, so as to drink the water in the cattle troughs close to the street. Beer cans rattle across the neighbour's garden. No one walks in the streets. The horses push their noses determinedly into the water, breaking the sludge of the surface thick with algae blooms.

I am contracted to this place for two more years.

Here I have become a witness. I speak truths to the fat eared children so as to evoke in them some dreams.

Jeffree Skewes #145 Oh pair

Without listening
hearts beat poetry
stepping through
par deux polarity
thickening clouds stir
irrigating veins and hairs
could this ever be known
had we not spoken


Sarah St Vincent Welch #above 370 or so - Just past Solstice

just past Solstice
sweeping my neighbour’s gutter
he jokes in his old white bloke way
'You're doing the street sweepers’ job'
we both know they're not coming
it is New Year’s Eve
he is cleaning his car
got his priorities straight
cleanliness is next to godliness
after all

there’s a lot of fuel out here
in our gutters

the winds are coming

at our corner a char 
small campfire in the dust
an enigma we walk past each day
maybe guys chatting in the night
when it's too hot
we speculate

a discarded wheelchair
we don’t understand

sixty new fires sparked overnight

I eye Ganesh at my open door
washed out Hanuman beside

we have a Sacred Heart somewhere
an Ouroborus around our fingers

I carry with me
grandmothers’ rings
it seems sentimental now in this heat
they will always be strangers

we’ve packed our prescriptions
a little water
a couple of changes

Frances Carleton #77- One Last Mango

tender bruises
tongue flicks flesh
ripe and soft
warmed by the sun
as you open to me

juice stains my chin
fingers sticky
licking lips
to cleanse and taste
you all over again

I’ll revel later
in the memory
of your sweetness
as I pick
tiny hair from my teeth

Rob Schackne #1047 - "This is serious" (redux) - To All My Sister and Brother Poets…Fare Well, Fare Forward!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Rob Schackne #1 - "This is serious"

"This is serious"

This is serious. It knocks
At places I don't usually visit
Let it in. The machinery of the brain
I go deeper into my own nature.

The rain asks me to sleep
Dreams then ask me to come
With her. We'll fly. Let it happen
I'm serious. Nature is a machine.

Daytime so different. See it
Missing the components. But
That isn't really where we'll go
Let all the good air through.

Let it happen. We let nature go
Let the rain that's so indifferent
Supersede what is missing
Wet with tears again.

Kit Kelen #1460 - farewell my lovelies - a poem for the last day

farewell my lovelies

the last day
the fond farewell
the ‘friends, this has been…’

who’s counting?
I’m well slept for it
see some ache recede

‘the end of days’

(a body is always reporting back
and takes the messages as well)

still, worry I left the water on

and having not heard from some
this many a year
shall assume what I damn well please

last day
still no rains
but call the leaf to green

the smoke again
you stand through it
can’t see the fire from here

but you can feel the sunset claws

did we wake the world?
were we aware?

can you spare the time?
fancy meeting you here
and often

a little lime?
it makes the end bitter  
no need to keep up now
slough skin of words

here we are
this is it
a year runs out

we live in the wrong age
someone else should be in charge
we are making an example
being made of

one worries it will all be gone

today is the last day
time to shut down the system
call quits

poetry was the answer!

how many in a piece of string?
and what a ride it has been

archive me, won’t you?
and I’ll search for you

so many questions left

is batshit really crazy?
is it just a thing we say?

head only hurts if you think

it may seem like the end for many
but we survive for now
and will

the last day is a quotidian thing
here we are again, hard at it

we are always surviving something

they’ll never scrub the place clean
but paint the world so it can’t be graffiti-ed
light it so well no one hits up
special blues

then one day had to be the last

how many even notice such things?

I was like your parents
always at home
if you cared to call
‘treat me like your private hotel’

not for praise or blame
but it was sweet
we’ve sung together
must do it again sometime

if we can help the fire and fled
then can’t we help each other?

those whom we live to impress
are all gone

this is not the last word
break staff, bury
drown my book

a pretty pass things come to
here at Tether’s End

the only way to find the next door
is open a window and out

we are the vanguard of the species
waiting to be read

here’s one skin left
go on

remember please quietly close the door
if they have not woken yet
we must not stir them now

Monday, December 30, 2019

KA Rees #72 - Year of the Horse

Year of the Horse

Intrepid adventurer in the seventh
position at Buddha’s side
caught the sign of dare devil devil
may care all rivers
run through your fingers freedom rings glitter
on your hide
you do not speak but shout
the ride the rushing on
the river song, energy from
the sun, all
shimmer—fire in the hearth at night.

December 31, 2019

I sit in one of the dives
On Katoomba Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the political hopes expire
On a low dishonest decade:
Waves of smoke and fear
Circulate over the hazy
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obscuring our private lives;
The unmistakable odour of fire
Offends the December night.

Careful research can
Prove the whole offence
From Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin
Until now  a science driven mad.
What happened in Madrid
The great crime of delay
A psychopathic ideology.
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil and deceit is done
Will rise in anger and revolt.

Exiled Thunberg knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy and Science,
And what pretend dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic population;
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The air conditioning must always hum,
All the media conspire
To make this seem obvious
The fake prosperous future;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a burning wood.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The ignorant lie in the brain
Of the average person-in-the-street
And the lie of corporate power
Whose buildings grope the sky:
This goes far beyond the State
And no one exists alone;
Climate allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love the Earth or die.

With apologies to W. H Auden and ‘September 1, 1939’

Kit Kelen #1459 - choosing not to see

choosing not to see
a swim for it

it’s often in the mirror so
Dark Ages!
thinking day a cave

a face erased
no either feet
a wisp of blow-me-down

bearded with wisdom
so told

in the all-beyond of borders
how I’ve fenced me in

all around, just things
and I, a motion, among
note only the extremities

other elephants in the room expire
something must be done

time is brittle till
do it anyway

climbed into the highest branches
but couldn’t bear
don’t look

o Gorgon’s head
and tell it on a mountain too
in clouds have called to touch

I bury the head so it’s mine
a continent discovered
a waving field of grain
to loot, it wasn’t there
not me

and tails you bet they dance
hearts of the savages, scones the same

a good look
I chose not to see

the emperor’s new car
grass greener where this Jones kept up

where I have filed myself away
under just these few… possibilities

raise a beaker to thee, eyes tight
a blind man in the buff goes better

ignoring the forecast as well
how far down in the bottle we are

around an idiom
pathology reports by
say nothing meant by it

hide under a bed in dreams
talk pillow peekaboo                                   

it always was a choice and darkly
shut up shop
and can’t see me

can’t look
was the short straw mine?

still all aglow with spark within
a fuse lit to begin