The Clothesline

The rotary clothesline had stood
In a moat of water and mud
Ever since the day it was delivered
On the ute, when the wire lines had quivered
Like motion lines of helicopter blades
Threatening to lift the car above the traffic lanes,
White flags on the metal bar tips waving a fond farewell.

Ever since then it had not quite landed.
On a concrete stub of an island it was stranded
While the cavity of the surrounding earth
Had filled up with rain.

The installation job was left unfinished
And the act of hanging out washing was diminished
By the water trough hazard, as in getting too close
To a drain.

Symbolically, the notion of cleanliness was incongruous
With this marriage of soil and unsoiled, a congress
Of mud-filled depths and fresh sunlit air

Til a year later the hole was filled.
The clamourous cry of opposites was stilled,
And the worms slept gently under a conventional-looking line.
Hanging out the washing was a safer task.
The cool wet clothes, and the eyelids basking
In the warmth of reaching up to feel the sun.

And though the pole in truth was no shorter,
Only less exposed at the base –  in some quarter
Of heaven the angels dimmed the lights again.
For before the clothesline had been an axis mundi,
A Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, not just for Sunday
Washing day, but a place betwixt earth and heaven.

The serpents slipped away from the chthonian moat.
A plastic basket was placed where a castle had stood.
The rod of light sent no messages to the starry skies above.
No boots lapped the edge of a clift by the waters.
No horizons were scanned, no king’s ransom or daughters
To rescue, no moats to cross, no quests for love.

No  fear in reaching skyward  with branching arms.
No helicopters in heaven in a day-dreaming balm.
The stretch between earth and the angel’s roosts was ended.

Ten minutes it takes to peg out a load of washing.
I’m thinking ahead not dreaming, and my shoes not sloshing.

25th September 2014


The rock that sits
that waits in the corner
Behind the door
should it be needed
As a doorstop.

The picture of my guru
arms upraised in blessing
That never tire;
the fullness of that moment
As a constant reminder.

The tan underside
of the guitar strap
Turned to view.
No shoulder needs
To stretch its weight.

The droop of the lily
over the horizon of the pot.
My mind resting enough
to note its want of me
With a little water to revive.

Six Passers-by

Middle-aged, papers clutched against her chest, fingers entwined.
As though her life were undelivered, although apparently sealed and signed.

Pear-shaped body, swaying hips, hands hooked inside long black sleeves.
Hair tied into ponytails, handbag swinging, to and fro she weaves.

Thin white shirt, rippling in the wind, pasting against bare skin.
Long unbuttoned cuffs signal the end of his business day, evening begins.

Small Asian face almost covered by wrap-around sunglasses.
Earrings flash in flaxen hair, flared jeans reveal high fashion shoes as she passes.

A double exposure, two dark-haried women, each holding a hoisted handbag.
In smiles and hair heads nod together, but one seems lighter, feet white sandalled.

Chinstraps frame a silvered beard, a cyclist in yellow windbreaker.
Speeding by, his smile is surprisingly permanent, the freedom in this cocooned caper.

27 – 11 – 07

Great White Shark Flight

The eye the blanched meat of an acorn pressed into flesh.
The nostrils the triangular gouge of a knife flicked suddenly.
The nose as hard as the indentation – the punt – at the base of a broken bottle.
But around the mouth, the rim of folded skin as white as cooked chicken or tripe

Is loose, wrapped like a shroud around its prey,
While sea water surges from runnels between the rows of its two hundred teeth,
Now hidden from view. The force of its pursuit has lifted the beast
Clear from the surface of the ocean, and exposed the great white breast to the sunlight

Like an ancient albescent albatross launched into the heavens above,
Its ragged-edged pelvic fins two wide wedges of dark-tipped wings.
A rough line runs the length of its five metre body, marking like ripped paper
The threshhold of underbelly, white like soft pastry, and the broad dark back, crooking

Left and right where the missile cone head becomes the body, and the body
Narrows like a twisted torpedo end, such that a saddle of silvered black flanks
The vertical force of the dorsal fin’s arching pirate’s sail. And the great fish tail
Sealed like a secret, a thick rubber sweep of fierce water, catches the light

Like a batwing caught by the moon at midnight.
20 – 11 -07