4 poems

All Too Human

What if you wake up one morning
to find that your horse has melted
and there’s nothing between your thighs?

Nobody carries you,
no-one has your back.
No companion,
no getaway vehicle.

Just you and your two little legs,
bare and buttery on the baked earth.

Suddenly you notice
the other animals sniffing the air
a hair’s breadth from where you stand,
and suppose you have only moments to gather your wits
before they slug over and…

Slug over and what?
Of course you have no idea
since it was always the horse who did the talking.

First published in The Interpreter’s House, 2016

Things Behind the Barn

(Tanka with a song title borrowed from Andrew Bird)

Two rusted car doors,
rotting leaves and a dead crow.

A woman, smoking,
and mustering the courage
to surrender to decay.

First published in Kate Garrett & Robert de Born (eds). Troubadour. Picaroon Poetry, 2017.

The Illegal Practice of Taxonomy

Thou shalt not group and label things.
Chaos Rules! was the maxim of the day.
But I couldn’t help it, felt powerless

to hold at bay what came naturally.
The man said to me, curtains, catfish, clerihew
and right away I thought, things that hang in windows

(except for the last two). Got three months,
no parole. Then a book came out, bold as ball games
and filled with pictures, prints, portraits –

leech, lichen, ox, all lined up
in neat little boxes.
I read that book – once, twice, thrice

and now every time I see a duck, a coot, a budgie
I think, things in the book
and no-one can touch me.

First published in Under The Radar, 2012

Winter in the Room

One of us left a door open,
now a cold wind blows
through the room.

Easy to call it your door (it is your door)
but the gaps in the floorboards
are all mine.

The walls are whistling, air sounding the alarm:
we may never be warm again.

If only we could shelter each other
from our lesser selves.
Instead, they pitch tents
at opposite ends of the room
and we watch, helpless,
passing each other the mallet.

First published in Blueprints for a Minefield, 2016