Driving on a February Night (a poem)

ahead, red eyes glare through the dark
as overhead, bulbs burn brighter than any star.
great wheels roll and rumble, beneath and behind
and the rattle and scrape of a hundred gears pulses away,
relentless; unaware and unmoved
by your restless writhing.

behind your eyes, that broken mind
and bleeding heart beat on and on
in stubborn time with some pretense of strength,
but that’s gone too, you fear.

outside, the frozen tundra sifts
from white, to blue, to grey,
until the austere sky reflects
and swallows whole its solid self,
leaving wisps of winter dancing in its wake.

how long now til familiarity fades
and you might breathe some novel air and smile
at the shapes and sounds of things you’ve never seen?
those echoes everlasting might soon die,
if only you could feel some promise below your feet;
the world with all its weightlessness pushing back
from underneath.

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In the Rain (a poem)

she smiles.
nose pressed against my neck
as rain dives all around,
clapping the soil
with moisture;
filling our breaths
with the sweetness of spring.
I kiss her head as hair,
wild in wind,
envelopes my face.
I used to convince myself that
beauty and cruelty came only
as accomplices.
I was so wrong.
I love you, I whisper.
she smiles.

Return to the Fjord (a poem)

as a child I watched those hills
rippling and shivering in an emerald haze.
the mighty birches swayed with the breeze,
the ancient tides sloshed in on kelp-dressed granite shores,
the sun melted lazily into rocky, barren peaks.
and in the coldest dark, the moon would come to dance
on the water

and I came back one last time
to scrape my heels on salt-stained rocks,
to feel the feathered fingers of mossy twigs brush my face.
aching to taste the earth on the wind and remember,
remember,
the breath of owls in the night;
the sweet stench of shore at low tide;
the warmth of the garnet sun as it chased away the stars.
but now the trees are gone;
the hillside scarred;
the waters grey.
where ground had been, now lies the floor
and walls, fences, climb higher each day
to keep out the world.
fumes fill the heavy air and the stones succumb,
as if to fear,
as engines roar to pave the road
through the land that man should not have found.

Where Home Used To Be (a poem)

there is a place by the sea
where unburdened timbers jut from the ground
in neat little rows;
blades of grass in a field of stone.
monuments of mothers, fathers, children, stand
all weathered by the salt and wind
and laced with wild roses.

silence, here, is holy,
broken only by the waves that wash the shore
and spray the air,
and fill the space with echoes.
gliding softly over all, from hill to hill
and back again, like all those happy voices did
so long ago, when I was young.

Birds, or: The Circle Unbroken (a poem)

a ruined bed, two lovers lay,
outside, the first slow breath of day,

a song is sung – a bird, up high,
born years ago, somehow survived

the rip and tear of tooth and claw,
hatched from a nest that did not fall,

a slender limb that did not break
on sleeping earth that did not quake

grown old and tall and straight and wide,
a withered seed that never died,

blown from afar on autumn breeze,
stirred from the ground with careless ease,

a little boy raking the ground
looked to the sky, and heard the sound
of birds

Tim Winton’s “Dirt Music” (a review)

71quu9mnv5lI’m a lover of many things, but music is special.

Music is immediate. Direct. It doesn’t take study to feel music. There is something instinctive about the rhythms and melodies that, even if you can’t sing it, you get it, somehow. That’s what reading Tim Winton’s “Dirt Music” is like.

The story follows Georgie (a former nurse living with her tough guy fisherman boyfriend and his sons) and Lu (a silent musician making a simple living poaching) in Western Australia. The two have a chance meeting and, of course, become involved.

Except it’s not that simple. When I tell people about the novel and they ask “what genre is it?” I always struggle. In its most basic form “Dirt Music” is a love story, but it’s unique because for the majority of the story, Georgie and Lu aren’t even in touch. Instead, we are faced with the personal journeys of each character, and how love and connection with each other changes them in different ways.

The way this book is written is just as important as what is written. Chapters trade off between Georgie and Lu, ranging from weeks worth of time to sparse pages that capture, beautifully, a single moment in shocking detail. Opposing tenses launch us immediately into the mindset of each character, with Georgie’s chapters in past tense and Lu’s in present. It works so well that, on my first read, I didn’t even notice until about a third of the way through.

There’s a real sense of space in “Dirt Music” that permeates both the story and the writing style. We cover hundreds of kilometers, passing through country that is so open it makes you feel small. Brief chapters and short, realistic dialogue result in white space that sometimes engulfs the written word. Like the moments of silence between beats in a song. There’s quite a lot of emptiness in these pages, and that emptiness is important. Like the land, it divides and makes the scope of the novel’s setting all the more real.

And the prose is wonderful. Stark impressions of the landscape. Sensations that thrill and frighten and disturb. At times the writing becomes almost surreal, forgoing concrete reality for something more poetic, more musical. Winton uses the sounds and shapes of words to convey what’s happening and, like all great music, you just get it.

Love. Death. Music. It’s all there, and it’s worth a read. Cheers.

Things on the way.

The subtitle of this blog is “poems, prose and ponderings” and the last part of that subtitle is what I’d like to bring attention to. Between posts of my own work I’m going to periodically post my thoughts about other works that I’ve read. I hesitate to say that these will be reviews, but that’s what I’ll be calling them. You can think of them as my personal impressions.

I may also share my thoughts on writing as a process from time to time. These aren’t intended to be guides – I’m not a published author and writing is not my “job” – but I always find it interesting to hear other peoples’ take on writing and the connection they have with it.

I can’t say whether these ideas will become recurring topics on the site or not. I may change my mind in time and stick to only posting my work, but we’ll see what happens. Cheers.

Daydream of a Tired Mind (a poem)

shaking while walking, I look past the streetlamps
and over the rooftops at the hidden hillside.
endless anxieties await me this morning.

I’d be over those hills by mid-day if I tried.

daylong time crunching and endless deciding
and all I desire is the sunlight outside.

birdsong and wind are the sounds of the traffic.
the land at my feet and the sky open wide.

in time I’ll succumb to this life without living.

my name and my items have been left behind.
the pain of my hunger is life’s only torment.
the pulse of the earth and my own coincide.

Running at Dawn (a poem)

breaking morning with the birds,
she glides beneath the rising sun,
a vapor trail of sweat and spent breath
drifting in her wake.

muscles taut, brow poised,
a stream of hair – airborne ribbons,
and stones shudder beneath her feet.

thundering along the hillside,
she beholds the world as it fades from grey
and the truth of things is shown
with the death of night.

another mile and she’ll turn around,
set course for home,
return.

maybe.