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Geraldine McKenzie

Three poems

Using a line from another poem

bridge and barcarolle

how so sad and not

it seems this music knows the world

and where it opens from a garden

onto birch trees and it’s clear

many of the clichés are true and trembling

in the hand, its own specific miracle

morning’s green

and shapes the messenger

leading a quiet life I speak

of myself I don’t want

to speak of myself

luminous particle

moments at the breast

the wind’s a breath

and drinking

Village life


some were gathered at the well as though

it might speak might say

go back to your lives

remember what you find useful

nothing can be done

and having spoken might then

crack open

and birds there


ditch grace its petty

consolations worn out

banal buttonhole

gibbet tag

a long line waiting to get through

who cheers the hangman

who bows their head and

knuckles down

the details won’t catch fire and through

a lavish mist drift effortless ahead

words stumbling, they don’t know what we’re doing

laden with memory, it’s all past tense


to those who with a roving heart say

god is dead hosanna in the highest

and the children come out armed with

machetes and hand guns, clearly reluctant

to engage the present, as they pile the timbers

flush against some house whose inhabitants

scream into the future, we are christened

nameless, we are Christmas past and

to come, the coins come rolling in

the plastic sizzles a long knife

everyone wants to forget and switch

channels, thoughts, modes of expressions

poetry of obligation

poor poetry of



saying as you that’s we were smattering
this and thattering calling
nip to tuck and blithe to blend
and someone asking do the young still
in their houses coax a green fire
proddle the song prick which now barely
lodges in this throat throttle threnody while Auntie
Apocalypse does another Nellie Melba
the doctor mouthing this is really it
and the flies trawling drops of desperation
coming slick and blasted not inconsequential
trans. act. trans. form
dead cert and shuttered shushed up
not that it’s clear what the truth might be
in any given sit. ripped taken to task
mastered in the mean strikes lights out
and the bodies ’dozed under sand man
or monkey definitely foreigners

Geraldine McKenzie is an Australian poet. Her first book, Duty, was published by Paper Bark Press/ Craftsman House in 2001 and received the Mary Gilmore award for Most Outstanding First Book of Poetry.

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