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John Anderson

Three poems

Unidentified Bird

Night parcel unidentified bird
barrelling through
on its own god’s business
corpulent and prompt

The hour’s low light
deep green
through its mottle of grey feathers

The hour
when the school oval became
the Island of the Dead

And you were pledged
to that same dark upward current
that is always striking
the turrets of the cypresses

(from The Shadow’s Keep:)

and a pendulum and am loving

I am a thistle with open arms. I caught fire in the valley

Should we have done this?
Hands talking together in the blending street

the power of being attached to somebody just tears some
people apart

my pants in the boom swing
my polar citation of devote

Let ever weaning softness break

at dawn he led the life of the bright of bright red

in the dress of a long flicker across the desert we came to know
more and rhythm of the beautiful fire region

doing it for ages in the termite wild light

all around with dust like a warmth around your face

the leaf in, leaf out of you — terminal

the night climbs the day

the woman soars to Earth

the mermaid. His own mesh with the sea

make court, howling to

the moon. Our sea’s glove

a hard grinder against a lantern like you

I slept like the Welsh coast

love, the cartographer’s way

until we are theirs they are not ours

Every night in Colorado

tomatoes, potatoes, my rapscallion heart

Words forgotten since we last talked. Shall we bake away? Sweet words

When we hold our heads and between us sings the urge of silver

the sang cherry is probably sweeter

— — — — —

the inferior man is always ready for a rebuff. Failing one, he administers it himself

the world as suffered by Sigmund Freud

hurt is the customary invocation of those who cannot yet see

a nice ivory let down

he gave the local smile something to draw from

under the bunion of whom?

they created the eagle for fear of love

Am I a seed, or am I everybody’s valued enactment of both sides?

to self hatred yields a higher dingo

— — — — —

the world is set an illegal grey

the composed red at the traffic lights

the maker of the show biz black duck

John, he has a round struggle before he clears the mystal ring of pickets

but derelict may wind him to unpopular harmonies

he makes porridge of his name

I think you have what Rotty gave Bad before, John

(from The Shadow’s Keep:)

the two of us worked in a boat once, just to keep our sized natures

those who are equal to the boat’s equal multitude and proceed

we both of us know how to take a journey around a bathtub

the famous chatting saint of idle generals

busy hounds use the rush

great bird, have something to do, it might have something to do with decency, there is a wisp that is not a bird, now get back to being a bird

my god, if he wants to move off he’d better chase his fleet

at a party there’s a whole lot of people you have to rev up before you get re blast

many teachers of the new science would not survive if they behaved like that in a rock and roll band. For example, the fire watcher has to know that his profession is linked to the horse’s gallop

in becoming one with the city one creates endurance within oneself for work outside the city

the outside mechanism helps the inside mechanism to work
the inside mechanism helps the outside mechanism to work

the responsibility of the era and on the ardent youths

While sentinel you live

Three years jurisprudence with the Athenians and Red Indians

Whatever hurts will be an exhibition door

even in the ditching the hollow dog makes his cave

Well, the day got through the day without the sun

Do everything as the big tortoise big. There are still places has to go

The tortoise. He lives and smells by streams

Photo of John Anderson by Emma Lew
“Unidentified Bird” is previously unpublished. The other pieces are from The Shadow’s Keep, first published by Black-Pepper Press, 403 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy, Victoria 3068, ISBN 1 876044 12 8

John Anderson (1948–97) was born at Kyabram, Victoria, and lived mainly in Melbourne, Australia. He published three collections of poetry, the bluegum smokes a long cigar (Rigmarole Books, 1978), the forest set out like the night (Black Pepper, 1995), and The Shadow’s Keep (Black Pepper, 1997), from which the last two of these pieces is taken.

Photo: courtesy Emma Lew.

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