Storm and Honey (2009)

Storm and Honey cover

 

Storm and Honey was published by Giramondo in 2009.

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

  • Tackle
  • Delancey
  • Rain
 

TACKLE

     “I love the heavy crackle of an old ’50’s spinner,”
Davey says, pointing to an antique bakelite reel. “That one
           was made by a dentist, or a locksmith— 
I can’t remember, but it’s a good clacker, you’d think
   you heard a clinker drop anchor at Rickets pier.”

     Just then rain ticks on the wheelhouse roof
as though Kalahari tribesmen had gathered, all chatting
in their clicking dialects. Davey, oblivious,
continues, “I like a reel to sound as if it ground shell grit.
   I like it to bitch-box its hisses, I like the full

      clack and brattle and not just have it chitter
like a sorry crab.” Then he spits phlegm onto the deck,
points out his favourite—a zinc bakelite
antique with an adjustable crank and wishbone brake -
   made, he claims, by a machinist who built parts

     for the bomb. “Listen to that,” he says, giving
the reel a few turns. Grennan says it sounds like gamma
ray flak, that perhaps its maker left
in parts meant for the bomb. I say it’s no different from
   the rain, or a vat of Davey’s home brew when

     it starts to spume and scum. Davey spits again,
turns back to work on a rusted engine bit; then in the same
gruff register of a motor he’s been revving
above the rain, Grennan says, “Listen to this,” and gases
   the engine again, “better than a burst of cranky

     surf running crab-wise up sand.” Davey spins
a metal mooching reel whose sizzle seems to climb all the way
to the hot-tin roof. Turning towards them
and trying not to sound alarmed, “That whirler there,” I say
   pointing to the storm, “isn’t that what we ought

     to be reckoning with?” Thunder drums its set
of slag-hacking hammers, clouds discharge yellow
like a ruck of panicking cuttlefish.
Just then our boat lunges. I look towards the bluff
   and see the lighthouse glow sharp, neat, and clean,

     “A whale’s tooth,” I say, “etched by the scrimshawing
lightning,” but no-one laughs, or gives the storm a look.
Davey spins a graphite reel with machine-cut gears
and a locomotive level-wind. Joking, Grennan says,
   "It’s just a cicada croaking in the throat of a bird."

 

graphic divider

 

DELANCEY

He lived in a shack on Bennetts Creek.
The mudflats were black and always stank,
he said it was because they were full
of bacteria that stripped the oxygen
from the sulphate compounds and gave
off toxic gas, but it was a beautiful place.
The crabs would come out onto the silt
at low tide and feed like a regiment.
You could hear the flacker of the ducks
as they took off through the mangroves,
those roots you thought might almost
begin to smoke. We’d sit and watch
the crabs, or mend some nets, or he’d rub
away at a spark plug yellow as a dugong’s
tooth, or we’d watch the stars come on
close as town lights. I liked his manner,
the way his expression would inexplicably
change, the way he’d turn his head this
way and that as though before he spoke
he was trying each thought like a key.
He told me once he thought the moon
was as beautiful as a find of Turkish
meerschaum. Eventually he left. Kids
burnt down his shack one night, stalking
the derelict track. We saw those flames
from as far away as the wharf. I never
went back to the creek, but I think
often of how we’d listen to the crabs
sucking out their morse from the mud.
I can still see him walking across
the marsh flats, fervently stropping
his hands through a mist of mosquitos
and gnats to reach me and our spot
by the fallen logs. Delancey had told me
that the creek wasn’t the place to get
answers, but that it would give me 
questions as fine as the sediment burrowed
from the mud by the yabbies and crabs.
Sometimes I catch myself shaking
my head the way he did — just working
it slowly — like a sieve at the water’s edge.

 

graphic divider

 

RAIN

      Rain bubble-wrapping the windows. Rain
falling as though someone ran a blade down the spines
   of fish setting those tiny backbones free. Rain
                     with its squinting glance, rain

      with its rustle of descending silk. Rain, rain, 
the cascading rain outrunning its own skeins in the lilting
   dark. The loquacious rain, glissading across
                    the drip-garrulous leaves. Tipsy

      rain, puddling, wetting its own socks. Rain’s
swirl at my feet smelling of leaf musk. Rain falling
   like seed-gobs in the street-light’s tumbledown gloom.
                    Sifted rain, purling, paying

      its way while its veil makes a thin distance.
Rain spiccatoing over wavelets and their hilly crests.
   Rain cashing up along the skyline of gold-minted lights.
                    Rain nibbling at the grass

      with broken teeth. Crestfallen rain leaving
the road, then riffling through the lop-eared treetops.
   Rain tanglefooted, half out of its clothes. Sweeps
                    of rain like hair,

      like pampas stalks, wind-tarried, bending; or tall,
ornamental, moving louchely and skew-whiff. Rain’s
   drops when they begin to fly as though they’re being 
                    shuddered off
  
  a shaggy dog. Rain wayworn in the slippery
night, drumbling across awnings, gutters, windows, walls
   and slowing down those tittupy drops until the sky
                    like a new god glozes

      with a little rollicking thunder and lets the first
light through in luteous gloops. But then more rain, more
   clouds stacking up, rain that will come down fast
                    again, like grain from gunnysacks.