Justin Lowe: Three Poems

Watch and Act

today
we have not even seen
the worst of it

today
is not even the inkling
of tomorrow
not even a fraction of tomorrow:
screw Zeno and his fractions,
we haven’t even started yet

today
the ash settles
from yesterday’s fires
I rake up the black leaves
baked shiny as obsidian
and gaze up wincing at today

today
the wind picks up
and carries the fires of tomorrow
that it will set down at every door

**

Falstaff – (for Constable Patrick)

Hank.

can I still call you Hank?
I have bided the hours till supper
watching two doves taunt the butcher’s cat
the cat is transfixed like a young man I know
was once transfixed by an old fool’s stories
and it is a painful moment, King
when the scales finally fall from an old man’s eyes

when the harsh light sears him like a new blade
when he churls like the smithy’s water in his sleep
Hank, the cat is licking its ginger paws now
as the doves coo and nestle in each other’s bright feathers

and the dinner plates clank as only landlord’s china can

we lifted a few roofs off their joists, Hank
made the pale stars blush
but I should have been a firm hand on your shoulder
I see that now, you are the law and always were

now you don all the trappings of state
you turn your back on me like a ghost in the mirror
a creature of the old haunts
but know this, Hank, drunken fool that I am,

I see right through the badge and the gun
the shire hundred’s withering condescension
my heart was larger than any kingdom
now it sets like the sun through a dusty window

where two cooing doves taunt the butcher’s cat

**

Tragedy at Breakfast Creek

the horse seeks shelter from the storm
the storm slaps her rider on the back
but the rider is immovable
lightning shivers over a crag of wet moleskin

the tree they stand under, man and horse
is a gnarled acacia
a wombat has burrowed through its roots
where it will soon be drowned in the rising waters

the brook they stand by is quickly losing its shape
all the elements are mingling
lightning strikes little fires in the mud
the mud belches tiny jets of blue flame

the rider rouses himself in concert with the brook
kisses the horse’s nape as it shivers
at the run of water off his hat
begs the infinite dark for a cigarette

the dark obliges with a lightning bolt

**

Justin Lowe is a poet, editor and occasional reviewer who lives in a house called Doug in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper. His seventh collection, The Picketer, was released late last year, and his latest, Hall of Mirrors, is
currently doing the rounds of publishers. He has had poems put to music by such acts as The Whitlams and The Impossibles, and has published widely around the world, most recently in MeanjinVerity La, Blue Nib (Ireland) The Cortland Review (USA).

 

 

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