for Gabina Funegra
and the white lilies are born
By day I am carving men in stone;
of a night I bake pastry
where the fish might swim
and settle their bones
like new fossils.
I have notoriety.
they have been calling my breasts
and my body pregnant.
I never have been on my knees
and capture the sun
with my hands wrapped about
my own creation
and my face like clustering
There is no blood here I say
to the prayerful, but all the same
a bloodless war.
Carnation of Spain
for Federico Garcia Lorca & Richard Mohan
Because of his deafness
he misses the fighting of the cats
(on the stairs). What else
does he miss? All
the other flesh-colours
for this one flesh colour,
the excellence of its hunting
blood, perfect condition,
pink; on the thirty-first day,
bodies kept only the allowable
thirty days; things not written,
fleeing (in to and out of
the throat) the vanity of the limited
edition fountain pen, the
cenotaph of paper? I turn to his brown
face, his ordinary grin. I hadn't
been close enough to him to know
he had chipped a tooth. It
upset me more than it should.
Who was he? It
wasn't until fear registered
in their faces that he recognized
them. Those people are recognized
by their fear.
Garden Flowers (Las Flores Del Jardin)
for Peter Boyle
In Spain, the Bougainvillea entered
by smell and sight and filled his body
with attention and a sickness for home;
carried him to a Sydney garden
where in the night behind his eyes
a yellow flower glowed.
Just to the left of it had been
the cover of an apricot tree -
cut by his wife to open the yard
to the invisible face of the sky.
While along the fence and in the cracks
where the concrete denied its strength,
was the everywhere pink
of a beautiful weed
that left him cradled and careless
with names. And he a poet!
What are they, the wild bright yellows?
The reds and the blues and the purples
jostling for precision and ancestry.
His is in this latest book -
and what a remarkable life!
Working on nothing right now
but finished a few short things
a few weeks back - waiting
for something to germinate...
for Octavio Paz
Little plant without electricity, my
heart is full of heat and dust and
what is left. Everywhere
I see what I love but all is restricted
to risk. I don't know if you are drawn,
captured or computer-generated. You
are like the mystery in the mirror
under the steam; the flower
in the flower; the gaze to where
I take myself... Your time is different
to the living and dying. To those
eternally born with the visceral smile
of mauve-petal gums. To those
that toss their heads like first shadows
to the ground after showing their faces
to the homeless moon. You find
your place with the arbitrary hands
that paste you to so many walls and
windows. With the advertisements,
missing persons posters, rock
bands and rooms vacant. Looking
at you I wonder if there is a world
of thought to support me. Who makes
a flower like this, stolen
by so many eyes?
for William O'Daly
Some smells are like a question
to which you know there is no answer.
The brilliant burning oil of the star jasmine
caught like a miniature swimmer
in the blue glass bowl of the sky today
is asking all the other flowers why
they have dropped their petals
in my poems. We will settle with the book,
I say, and see if these words can shake
themselves loose as musical notes; can pattern
themselves as the mathematics of love.
But the star jasmine will not sit,
joins the nervous creeper on the fence's
doodle-edge and freezes the drunk cat
with its stark white scent.
It is the most jealous of all the blooms
I have captured in language and delights
in giving frights to the little white ghosts
of the savoury and pulling the lamb's ears
until all their rosy purple flowers fall
into the margins of my page.
Should I untype it? Take its vanity
by the delicate line and shake it?
Alas, these questions smell sui generis.
My nose is, quite simply, in love.
for César Vallejo
walking on water scenes!
Nine monsters are crawling up out
of the pond.
All but all are evil.
Each loves us.
White, yellow, rare -
pain is in flesh like moisture
gathering for an unknown
Whip and laughter, the woman's noise
and song; lightning weeps
and the scream is long.
O this is too hungry, too much
thirst without the tongue
working and too many breaks
in the skin through which we see
and hear and feel
the walls of a distorted
Float by me torpid boat
for the human monsters are rising
from the womb.
for Pablo Neruda
The baby's hands on my leg are like
wet clover. Like Neruda, I want to lay
my head on it, a pillow, a new earth
that sees only stars along its wobbly path
to sleep. That sleep is like my shadow who,
knowing I am lost, has come to find me
and explain -- in riddles to be solved
tomorrow -- how I came to lose my way
in the business and brightness of the day.
I shake a bit when first it touches my hand,
the skin instantly paralysed and dark,
but release my nerves to the cool rest
of its head when the dimensionless body
embraces me. Turning my eyes to the utter
blackness of an inner sky, I see small
white flowers which explode sonorously
into the striped vibration of a field of
bees. The dew on my face is like tears,
but cool ones, tears that had their birth
in a waterfall and have grown smaller and
smaller until they have no more memory
of sorrow. In these dreams, suddenly, I
remember the baby's hands and wipe them
with a towelling cloth. Like Neruda,
every action becomes a poem.
for Pablo Neruda
travels with the adventurous thorn
and this life began in randomness --
on a day when every colour
was practising white.
This is the way to understand
how the world was here
and there are variations
on this discovery --
only one person lives an age
that has never been lived by another
you do not need to know you are learning
and you cannot cut
mirrored flesh. Beginning
always encompasses mastery
and this rose too
is attracted by the names of life.
Its appointment is with the birth
and the stems of its plant hide
in something old that mimics death
our debt to time.