Three poems by Kate Lumley

Cloudcatcher lives up to its name
IM Aidan (1996-2018)
………………….Swim in the white free abyss. — Malevich

For three hours I slog up Wollumbin as the mountain rolls its sleeves up
skyward. After a sleepless night, the summit at dawn may be a fool’s goal —
I wish I’d worked out more and wonder if birds in the cedars and giant gums

hear my madly ticking heart. Helicopter landing sites and signs that warn
do not climb after midday don’t reassure. Then, the final haul up rocks and chains
to the crown that from a distance could be a jester’s three-cornered hat.

But the summit has stood me up. An austere mist yields a whiteout worthy
of Malevich — I can’t see if I’m in infinite space or bordered by cloud.
It’s almost a relief to know there’s nothing I can do to change a thing.

*Wollumbin, meaning Cloudcatcher, in northern NSW, is the first site on the east coast to catch the sun’s morning rays

 **

The time we met at Callan Park, Rozelle*

 Like Jonah, we sway together in the belly of a whale,
a baleen carved on rocks that sweep up from Iron Cove.

One edge is water, high walls another, that hemmed last
century’s insane into place. I wonder are we mad? as we embrace

where Gadigal drew whales, stars and their creator whose
stone eyes watch as rain coils over us in this last meeting place.

Rozelle Hospital, originally named ‘Callan Park Hospital for the Insane’ was in operation 1878 to 2008.

**

Calls from the kaze no denwa

Through the wind, Josh Frydenberg rings JM Keynes.
Beyond the glass-paneled booth, across the garden,
the sea appears calm as it laps on duplicitous sands.
‘Mr Keynes, hello! Are you there?’
For a while, silence broadcasts from the disconnected phone.
In time, Josh hears a voice tinged with Bloomsbury.
Hello my boy, sorry for the delay, I’m a little dusty.
‘Mr Keynes’ implores Josh. He tries to suppress or eliminate

(he can’t decide) the despair in his tone.
‘I was that close to a surplus. I had the merchandise ordered
and the Cubans for Mathias and me.’
Speak up young man, your voice is muffled!
commands the eminent economist.
Josh furtively removes his facemask
‘I come here to lament the budget’ he sighs.
‘My heart is in the coffin with the surplus.’
Now, now, my boy, rejoins Keynes, his plummy vowels
juiced and smoothing. This is your chance to escape
from the trickle of the Iron Lady and that Hollywood Actor
who could never remember his lines.

Embrace a dangerous idea young man.
You can call it laissez-faire with levers.
You don’t have to use that word most
abhorrent to you and your party.
‘Socialism’.
The word slithered from the phone, coiled

around the floor, and caught Josh in a yellow-eyed glare.
Josh felt winded, like he’d imbibed
a draught of brine and vinegar.
Be wild Josh and release your animal spirits.
A return to my General Theory will breach the corona recession.
Government spending is A Good Thing.

Josh worries about a tsunami. Wasn’t
the Sanriku coast overdue for another monster?
Remember, says Keynes sagely, capitalism
is the astounding belief that something wicked
will be done for the greatest good.
Josh thinks of Rio Tinto’s blasts that powdered

the 46,000-year-old Juukan Caves in the Pilbara.
‘Mr Keynes’ he implores as a rare insight detonates in his brain.
‘How can I embrace a dangerous idea when
my whole country is based on a paradox?
I mean, the Aboriginal Heritage Act is an oxymoron par excellence.’
Your problem, replies Keynes, is you think like an accountant.
You must behave like a philosopher, Santa Claus and a wizard, all at once.

Keynes continues theatrically: There is a tide in the affairs of men.
I never recovered from the harshness of Versailles.
Too punitive. Just remember, the long run misleads in current affairs,
for in the long run we are all dead.

kaze no denwa - The phone of the wind, in Otsuchi, Japan, allows the living to ‘speak’ to the dead

**

Kate Lumley’s poetry and prose has been published in journals Studio and Not Very Quiet and anthologies including Australian Love Poems (2013); Prayers of a Secular World, (2016); To end all wars, (2018); Avant la lettre, (2020); From the Embers, (2020;) Australian Poetry Collection (2020;) 9000 miles away, (2021); Australian Poetry Collection, (2021 forthcoming) and a chapbook View from the Bridge, SMSA, 2018.

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