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J A C K E T   #   E L E V E N   |    A P R I L   2 0 0 0  


Leith Morton

Two poems



                    For Sachiko

pollen is waiting in the forest
for the unwary
eating the sharp air in
solid gulps, a gulf between
wishing & wanting, that too
a kind of plant, brown
in the yellowing sun
cellophane is the usual metaphor
but seeds take few prisoners
as the night lengthens into
day & white breaks into
the endless cloud of decaying
foliage, an empty sign
preceding the eye, the throat, the breath.

      Current Affairs

                    in memory of John Forbes

'instead we are caught
half-way between
a European sense of style
you can always be at home in'

from a long distance away
into John's voice, a lily-
white dove caught in
his throat speaking lies

grey legs shadowed a
barely opaque fog of logic
as the house emptied
loss into the street, town

alone in the vast country
taking into its heart men
and women bereft of sense
or a place to sleep

at night or in the day the
house closing  its mouth on
the couple embracing gently
as the willows touch the water

but man is free, whimpered
mother: the born speak, as the unborn sing
because in town, cows low & moan
when the silos lay lost in the sun

the wind has a presence, on the
trace of air, the birds seek
passage or serenity to another, better
time when the depression left nothing

it was the war that made
the town, wild lilies grew in
broken groves, lilting tunes remained
unsung as the coffins drove on & on

of what does John sing, his
eye a screen to the world
CNN a bird blue on
the black bough as light fell

in lamentation unmourned, his
requiem less than the nation
black on the golden sands
asking not taking but there still

John cannot abide our version of bliss
he spurns our pretence of charity
out of blind indifference, we
drift through the trees like dreaming


Photo of Leith Morton
Leith Morton teaches Japanese literature at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where he holds the Foundation Chair in Japanese. His books include: Tales From East of the River (Melbourne: Rigmarole Press, 1982); Divided Self: A Biography of Arishima Takeo (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1988); The Fox (Tokyo: Kumon Publishing Co., Ltd, 1989) (illustrated by Murakami Yukuo) Published in the U.S.A. 1992 by Northland Publishing Co., Arizona; Editor (and translator with three others) Seven Stories of Modern Japan (Sydney: Wild Peony Press [Univ. of Sydney East Asian Series], 1991); (Edited and translated) Mt Fuji: Selected Poems 1943-1986 by Kusano Shinpei (Michigan: Katydid Press, 1991); (Edited and translated) An Anthology of Contemporary Japanese Poetry (New York & London: Garland Publishing 1993); The Flower Garland (Sydney: Island Press, 1993).


J A C K E T  # 11 
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