Departmental Party

By the time we start making the third round of Caipariñas
The glaciologists have gathered in the kitchen
And started showing interest in the ice we crush
Grinding it glass by glass to smithereens like stones on a shore.

“Tell us,” we tease “What is the history of this cube?”
They rub their chins in consideration
and lament the absence of their machines that go ‘ping’
“The blue core,” says one “indicates a quick freezing.”
PhD students are summoned to provide further commentary
and an argument ensues over dominant chemical isotopes
Before it is agreed that, given all visible indicators
and the taste of the cubes when added to the South American concoction
– We’d better try another, just to be sure –
the likely source is the petrol station on the corner.

(They swear this educated guess
is reached by powers of deduction
and has nothing to do with the labeled bag of ice in the chilly bin by the door.)

“Impressive” we say, as we fill our glasses and slide the crusher over in their direction.
“You sure know your ice. We’ll leave things in your capable hands.”
Needless to say, the fourth round’s on them.

Winfly

Winfly dawns like any other
For those of us who are accustomed
To the gentle rhythm of day and night
That rocks us through the months and years.
We eat our breakfast, we put on our coats, we go to work
And strangers in the street slip past unnoticed.

Planes come and go.

Down South the breakfast, coats and work
Are joined by trepidation, anticipation, and the spectre
of strangers not yet in their midst
but taking up space all the same.

Peter Pan

McMurdo Station
Is a pile of Lego
Discarded in the dirt
Beneath a playground swing

Tracked vehicles
From a meccano box set
Have sprung to life
Here at the end of the world

They trundle back and forth
Ferrying food scraps and fuel,
Feeding the cycle of
Eat, work, sleep.
The longest day passes.

Meanwhile,
Discarded dreams lie dormant
In primary coloured crates
And perfection is located on the outskirts
Neatly encased in timber

Robert Hunter (Homo Sapiens)

1. Lateral Rectus
These eyes have seen many leaves, mapped many ecosystems. They have spotted butterflies, observing them in their natural habitats for hours before stalking them and pouncing. The insects fill his drawers, locked away from the world’s gaze in a perpetual night time. Once upon a time they spotted a young woman.

2. Depressor Anguli Oris
This jaw has birthed a wealth of words and described the intricacies of flight. It has swallowed sweet nectar, composed sweet nothings, sung tunes to be carried on a whispering wind. Once upon a time the young woman whispered back.

3. Abductor Pollicis Brevis
These hands have sketched many wings, drawn countless lifecycles. Many a caterpillar has supped on this palm, many a wing been carefully embalmed by these fingers. Once upon a time the young woman took his hand to be her own.

4. Flexor Digitorum Brevis
These feet have hiked up many peaks and through towering valleys. They have danced for joy in a time of transformation. A girl? A boy? Monarchs may be sexed by a dark spot on their dorsal wing. Once upon a time the woman’s belly was ripe and she was bound to her bed.

5. Heart
This heart has beat for only one. She hid, constructed a chrysalis around her swelling until the fever peaked. He touched her face. A butterfly catheter, a swarm of white coats, two tiny shoes, perpetual night time … Mariposa Fernandez.
Once upon a time she broke his heart.

What Lies Beneath

Whispers of whale oil
And promises of 28 minute self serve dry cleaning
Adorn brick walls
Proudly proclaiming the wares of history
And urging the audience to
‘Protect your investment’
With a lick of paint.

This paint’s long dry,
Buried behind designer developments
And the promise of a brighter future
The signs decay
Until one day
They are awoken from their slumber
As walls tumble
With an almighty crash…

Come September,
They find a different world
With cents, not pence
Where nothing makes sense
Anymore.

Grandpa is a Scarecrow

Grandpa is a scarecrow
He guards our peas and corn
And greets incoming visitors
From his place out on the lawn

While straw is sorely lacking
He has clavicles instead
And seasonal blooms to decorate
The sockets in his head

Grandpa’s out there all year round
His bones are bleached all white
He stands out in the garden
Giving errant birds a fright

Our neighbours won’t come near him
They think it’s rather odd
That we should use a skeleton
To guard our turf and sod

But Grandpa, he’d be happy
He always used to say
‘So long as one’s a gardener
He’ll live to see another day’

For Magritte

the day sounds lullaby blue
and fills the mouth
with horizon

through the
hush-hush of the lapping water
the wind is holding its breath
quiet
serene

faraway silence
thickens
in the summer noon
everyone is sleeping
(waiting)
just a moment in time

a leaf comes to rest
gentle
on the windowsill
time a looped
de ja vue

and She
still as stone
Madrid Red stains her temple
Salty, tepid

She,
alone in the blue

After

That night she slept naked and alone,
waking to a diluted sky
and swollen eyelids where mascara should have been.

Double duck-taped and boxed in the corner,
shelves full of memories
The lives between the pages fading sepia,
draining colour year by year
as time sped up.

The walls were bare
yet the ghosts of building blocks,
of family bickering and of laughter filled the space,
stifled the room and she had to open all the windows
just to make room to think.

If only all ghosts were so easily banished
But her worry dolls had gone missing in the shift
And with no one to talk to the words ate each other,
Ate themselves,
Then ate up her tongue

If Only

If only, if only, the South wind moans
I could penetrate coats, get right into bones
I’d take over bodies from deep inside
As the glint of the chill crept into their eyes
I’d banish their warmth and then, in lieu,
I’d tinge their flesh with a blueish hue
Though they may shiver and protest
It’d be too late once I’d made my nest
Once I’d found a hold for my icy tooth
I’d still their hearts and preserve their youth,
If only….

The Man in The Desert

The man in the desert lay on the dunes
It was hot
A hot day
So hot it made him shiver
Oh, for a breeze…

Then he dreamed.
For a while the man thought he was on cruise ship
That seemed like a nice place to be
Tuxedo Suit
A different lady for every dance
He smiled as he sipped his champagne,
Clark Gable of the Seven Seas,
Breathed in the salt on the air
Tasted the ocean

If only the light were water
He thought to himself as he awoke,
As the white plains shimmered in the heat
Then I would never have thirst again

When the sun spoke
The man listened
Sing me a poem
Said the sun
And so the man sang

He sang of valleys
And battles
And ancestors
And ghosts
And the rain

And when he was done
The sun cried

‘Did I make you sad?’
asked the man
but he got no reply

So the man shut his eyes
Shut his eyes
And listened to the thunder