Sun Music (2018)

Sun Music

 

Sun Music was published by Giramondo in 2018.

On this page you can read the following three poems from the book:

  • Peterhead
  • Walking in the Reserve
  • Driving to Broken Hill

 

PETERHEAD

(east coast, Scotland)

Far out—whitecaps, wind, a few boats, gulls
as querulous as orienteers in bleak weather.
The moon a fillet of whiting lying in a sky
of sour ice. Stone houses, side streets

with shadows limping like cruelled dogs.
In corners, light is stacked—obsolete weaponry.
But I’ve come here to be with the shadows,
the wind and the cold, dark harbour

and the clouds more shabby and broken
than the council flats. There’s history
in the fissured cliffs, in the light the air rusts
at dusk. I can see my father in the armoury

of his youth, striding along these streets.
But the town that sinks, sinks us all, someone
said. And the future settled in with its awful
weather, its injuries, and its sea-breath.

 

graphic divider

 

WALKING IN THE RESERVE

The casuarinas and apple gums are full of honeyeaters,
chaffering finches, crows sounding their adenoidal kaar-aar,
kaar-aar, and currawongs with bubbling sub-songs and mellow
silver flutings. It’s summer, the cicadas pulsate as loudly
as the council’s irrigation sprinklers turning with jet propulsion

over the grass. We all ache for an off-button—but turn
the bend and everything quietens: a heron looks as if it’s within
contemplative striking-distance of an ineffable mystery.
Wood ducks daddle, settle where a runnel thins and trickles,
scat-sings over pebbles. An egret takes off, creaking like an oar

just as a boat’s wash shepherds swamp hens upstream,
and wind in the reeds whispers jeezus, sweet jeezus,
I’m short of breath and sleepless
. At the next turn—round,
silver webs—as if someone had lasered a stack of CDs
into the finest openwork, then tossed them into the branches.

Butcherbirds call rusty stuff, rusty stuff as if trying to high-tune
a stretch of old fence wire; then they flip sagas and twang
open a riff of bluegrass. But it’s the magpies I love, calling
as if lowering a bucket into a creek, pulling it up, cool and welling,
then tippling there. A sound on tap in the morning and at dusk.

 

graphic divider

 

DRIVING TO BROKEN HILL

Distance—continuous, ungestured. Crows
on fence-wire-watch stretching into a haze.
When a kestrel hovers it’s an abundance—
like water, or a horizon with a hill.
We pass towns, streets written-off by dogs
and half-asleep dreamers. Those who live
at the edges here must have put aside
all satisfaction; mile after mile of paddocks
full of saltbush and wrong conclusions.
The heat keeps drawing wobbling lines
parallel to forgetting. We think of rooms
by the sea as we drive, no props in this theatre
of emptiness, only a whistling kite
or two, trucks hurtling on interstate haul.
At dusk, more kangaroos, unblinking,
holding their pose, stunned into road kill—
the highway’s only intimacy. We hear insects
smack against our windows with thwarted
wanderlust. The horizon glowing red
is not what we can attach desire to, though
perhaps a sky strung with starlight, a vault
of curative silver, will be enough to ease
the choking flatness, the ubiquitous dust.