A verse novel update!

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Progress has slowed a little this month thanks to the holidays but here’s another little taste from a draft piece. The intent here is to capture a small town falling apart as the world does the same around it. As always, feedback is welcomed.

As things fell apart

some talked of going underground,
of burying themselves alive
in doomsday bunkers dug
beneath the red and waiting earth.

Some just walked off into landscape,
shouldering packs heavy as the sky,
to cabins and hunting shacks to wait for it,
whatever it would be, to come and to pass.

Some stood struck dumb and watched,
as the town turned to the gun,
trapped as static, lost in the loop,
moving only to keep in motion

while power shed all politeness, cast off
its clothes and stood, a rough beast naked,
hammer cocked, barrel smoking in the street
and declared its slouching self the law.

In which the Derwent River turns out to be haunted

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When looking for traces of yourself in landscape,
go to where the water comes in diesel slick
and meets the city, linger at the dock under a grey sky,
watch the morning cruise boats loading their cargoes

of champagne, oysters and the middle class,
see the pewter clouds above, rolling off the shoulder
of Mt Wellington, shrugged off like some trivial thought,
and the child sunk somewhere high in the boughs

of your family tree will come to mind,
a ghost conjured by your own, as a bundle
of still grief wrapped in linen, cast in a shroud
weighted with shot, and buried at sea,

imagine a mother’s loss as a suddenly softened belly,
the promise of a new life distant yet in lands still warred for,
and of another child born from the same womb on the same voyage
who would live, blood still running a loose thread in your veins,

wonder what songs were sung as the bundle was cast to water,
how quickly a body sinks, how eulogies are just long iterations of
one question and how quickly a story can bleed out white, 
decide then to remember more clearly and start writing a poem,

under light breaking at last across the Derwent,
the gulls above wheeling and knifing finally east,
the tour boats backing off the dock,
the slow shapes in the water moving out at last.

Monuments to Hubris #1-3

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#1 MONA Roma

having paid your two bob fare
be sure to strike the correct pose
(what would be the correct pose for this?)
be sure to gawp at the fibreglass cow
that is/is not you,
whisper secrets in the ear of the sheep
who you see is metaphor or something or,
like, nothing, or a metaphor
for nothing or something,
and wonder if getting the joke is the pose
to take or not
((interobang here))

#2 MONA

Mt Wellington sits,
a fist at the back of your
               departing,
the Derwent welcomes you,
mermaids whip silver through water
brushed by wind and wait to flay
dreams gone overboard,

here a bridge fell interogatively,
there, some place to do with empire,
to your right 40,000 year old ghosts
(you imagine)
watch you go,
to your left earth is turned zinc
in the alchemical belly of an octopus pinned
to shore by smokestacks and colonial flags
that wave as well as any other,

here where nothing is possible,
where rust walls rise a monument
to deferral of the end,

and we come ashore,
shutters clicking,
entirely unlike an army of white.

#3 spiky bridge

You may have come through hail and sleet
(praise be to climate control),
brandishing your maps,
guided by digital gestures,
marvelling at landscape and
the remnants of territory,
having struck the correct pose
at Spiky Bridge and imagined
convict bones ground into the mortar
but when the wind hit you side on
at the crossing and the wheel kicked
in your hands conspiring with the slick road
to throw the hired van in a just sufficient slide
to remind you not to lose yourself in metaphor,
that moment…
            is the closest you will get
to finding yourself, a wreck of
twitching meat and metal,
lowing at the bottom of the gully
while Major de Gillern barked
and whipped the convict boys above
and built a road across your bones.