Larry Buttrose 3 Poems

Photograph: Geri Johnstone


No-one cares about it.
Let’s face it,
It’ll never buy a house.
Your parents were right.
Don’t even think about it.
You’ll be sorry if you do.
It’s useless.
It’s lines on a page, that’s all,
That even published
Moulder on a shelf unread
Like my copy of Yeats,
Until tossed out
Like the detritus it is.
No-one cares.
Except at funerals.
Yes it’s about stuff,
Ineffable stuff,
That might for a moment
Feel more real
Than a dollar bill.
But isn’t either.
It’s just fucking poetry.
And even if a line from Yeats
Might stir you in a place
You didn’t know was in you,
A tattered coat upon a stick.
It doesn’t matter.
It’s not part of this world.
It’s just poetry.
It’s stupid.
As this.


The Swift

We have our native swifts here,
But they are territorially or forcibly,
And wisely in places we are rarely;
And it’s hard to live in a city without swifts.
One may not be so much a bird watcher
But who could not be entranced
By the wheeling of the swifts
In the piazzas of Italy
Or the squares of Ho Chi Minh City?
It delights the eye to see
Such a wild seeming liberty
The sheer exuberance of movement.
And there is something in their darting shape
And the curve of the wing
That is inexpressibly sublime,
Tipping high toward divinity
Or whatever else may be read,
They tell a story of love and beauty,
Of the swift and the dead.


Within The Veil

Across the world
Planes are not crashing, but flying:
I open the window,
Smell the cottage garden
On the cold spring air,
Matted jasmine and rose,

And fly to parts afar
Smell the scents of fabled ports,
And stroll the souks
And courts shaded with lemons,
Breathe in the narcotic vapours
Of spices in pyramids of orange,
Yellow and red, dirt red,
And smell the tan cow shit
Baked into dirt,
The perfumed body
Of the woman
Passing by my shoulder,
Sense the soul within the veil,
And incense and cooking
Through an open door
Till a bus farts soot,

And here I am,
With the whispered roar of jets
My nose at the window
Alert to the tendrils of soft,
The all that passes in a wink
A single vanished waft.


Larry Buttrose is something of a fringe dweller in the landscape of Australian poetry. He was co-editor of two poetry magazines in the 1970s, Dharma and Real Poetry, and published poems in literary magazines, journals and anthologies. He branched out into fiction and nonfiction (ghost-writing the book upon which the film Lion was based) and writing for the stage and screen. His Selected Poems was published in 2017 by BryshaWilson Press in Melbourne.


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