Woone Smile Mwore

O! MARY, when the zun went down,
Woone night in spring, w’ viry rim,
Behind the nap wi’ woody crown,
An’ left your smilen face so dim;
Your little sister there, inside,
Wi’ bellows on her little knee,
Did blow the vire, a-glearen wide
Drough window-panes, that I could zee,—
As you did stan’ wi’ me, avore
The house, a-parten,—woone smile mwore.

The chatt’ren birds, a-risen high,
An’ zinken low, did swiftly vlee
Vrom shrinken moss, a-growen dry,
Upon the lanen apple tree.

Without Looking

Either at my friend's daughter's
sixteen-year-old body dumped
on the morgue slab, T-shirt
stuck fast to one ripped
breast I identified quick, and then
got out of there

or at the old gentleman
with tubes in the living room, spittle
stained in his wispy
beard, out of
the corner of my eye I hardly
notice it, how

could I, drink in hand
at five-thirty, at the least
sign of pain one of us always itches
to turn away, another turns
over in sleep, groans
O, we who are so lucky

Wisteria

The first purple wisteria
I recall from boyhood hung
on a wire outside the windows
of the breakfast room next door
at the home of Steve Pisaris.
I loved his tall, skinny daughter,
or so I thought, and I would wait
beside the back door, prostrate,
begging to be taken in. Perhaps
it was only the flowers of spring
with their sickening perfumes
that had infected me. When Steve
and Sophie and the three children
packed up and made the move west,
I went on spring after spring,

Winter Complaint

Now when I have a cold
I am careful with my cold,
I consult a physician
And I do as I am told.
I muffle up my torso
In woolly woolly garb,
And I quaff great flagons
Of sodium bicarb.
I munch on aspirin,
I lunch on water,
And I wouldn’t dream of osculating
Anybody’s daughter,
And to anybody’s son
I wouldn’t say howdy,
For I am a sufferer
Magna cum laude.
I don’t like germs,
But I’ll keep the germs I’ve got.
Will I take a chance of spreading them?

Widows

My mother's playing cards with my aunt,
Spite and Malice, the family pastime, the game
my grandmother taught all her daughters.

Midsummer: too hot to go out.
Today, my aunt's ahead; she's getting the good cards.
My mother's dragging, having trouble with her concentration.
She can't get used to her own bed this summer.
She had no trouble last summer,
getting used to the floor. She learned to sleep there
to be near my father.
He was dying; he got a special bed.

My aunt doesn't give an inch, doesn't make

Wide Lies Australia

Wide lies Australia! The seas that surround her
Flow for her unity – all states in one.
Never has Custom nor Tyranny bound her –
Never was conquest so peacefully won.
Fair lies Australia! with all things within her
Meet for a Nation, the greatest to be:
Free to the White Man to woo and to win her:
Those who'd be happy and those who'd be free.

Free to live fully and free to live cleanly,
Free to give learning to daughter and son;
Free to act nobly but not to act meanly,

Why We Tell Stories

For Linda Foster


I
Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery

Who is Kator Anyhow

Why, oh why was Kater lifted
From the darkness, where he drifted
All unknown, and raised to honour,
Side by side with Dick O'connor,
In the Council, free from row?
Who is Kater, anyhow?
Did he lend our armies rally,
Like the recent Billy Dalley?
Did he lend a Premier money,
Like -- (No libels here, my sonny. -- Ed. B.)
Was he, like John Davies, found
Very useful underground?

Not at all! his claim to glory
Rests on quite another story.
All obscure he might have tarried,

Where is it Clean

when your mother can rise from her place
on the pew during the early service,

early enough that the sun barely fills the sky
with its weak straw, but row after row

in the auditorium is flush with folks who want
to be home before the football game gets underway

or hate the slower pace the later service takes
but still got to get their god on

before starting a new week: when she can rise
and tip down the aisle, three-inch heels

pointing a warning at hell through the plush

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