Tag Archives: Death

A Serbian Cemetery in Country Victoria

It was surprising, the brick church sat at the end of the remote boulevard
A little slice of the Balkans, outside of Europe
Beyond Melbourne’s south western suburbs

There seemed to be no one around, except the puffing groundswoman who was moving flowers from patch to pot
Inside, wrapped in silence, we crossed our hearts while she took us back in time
Old habits evident, superstitions like walking backwards out of the door

In a messy little nook around the corner we burned votive candles
There had been a fire in the church so now they kept it away from the pulpit
I lit two, for my parents, but I didn’t ask about the others burning

Back out the gate we followed the dog-leg road to the community cemetery
A pair of friendly blonde ladies were cleaning graves, washing marble with holy water
They come every Saturday, praising young love where they see it

On the headstones (many garish) are head shots – all model relatives
Near the entrance was a fresh mound of earth
Another baba interred, waiting with infinite patience for the full regalia

More rows had appeared from the last visit so it took a minute to find our place
When we did, we poured our own libations
Setting in vases the small orange roses that we bought at the beach

I left the two of them alone, walking to the tree-line
In the fading light, the Magpies were in dogfight flight
Swooping from their eeries

White-tailed rabbits were holding inter-paddock summits
Holding up their end of the pact to re-populate the planet
While all around them, rock-like sheep chewed grass

Over the opposite green field, where the sacred buildings sat, came the sound of folk music
So the men were there after all, circling an old radio, playing backgammon and smoking cigarettes
I couldn’t tell you what brand they were (maybe Dunhill) — the butt I saw in the rusty urinals was sodden and faded

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Blood Is All I Can Think About

Old blood that was in me soaks a hand towel on the bathroom floor
New blood is being made, though it’s blue and too much of it is in one place
That same blood that’s within me races in her presence
A rapid tattoo loud in my ears
This blood went cold when he called
Pumping slow and thick through his heart instead
My family blood that is me will soon be in another
Maybe it will have superpowers

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The Fright of Jules Verne

At the altar a diving bell clangs
The broken seabed of marble gangs
Bares its pillars set stone in sand
That tonnes of pressure and weighing hands
Buried dark in the silent deep
In hell-sized holes dug with sailors’ teeth

And under them, muted scales of rust
The honeycombed bones, and the sunken bust
Of an echo, a broken shell throne
A well-spring of tears whence the ocean did grow

Shine the torch and hear her song
But see no mouth, no eyes sidelong
With fevered tugs signal “ascend”
Leave these shadows, but ware the bends

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After Reading Ballard

There’s nothing loftier than loss
No higher plain
When shoulders shift the mantle
And yokes run a stream, tributaries into the primordial soup

That’s assuming souls float
What if they sink?
Passing through head to foot like a draining bath
Carrying silt and guilt and hair into the forever black hole

That wouldn’t solve the soaring feeling we get
Through faces well met, children laughing, wetting a dry thirst
…even little wins have wings

I think when we die we must just disperse
No ups and downs anymore
Away from the push and pull of gravity
And the swirling mortal coil

It’s just everywhere, everything, and everyway
And all at once

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As I Lay Like a Leaf

If the leaves are turning then I’m going too
Featherlight we lay down
Carpeting the grass in the same roar and hue as flame
No headstones need planting because our bodies are all in bits
Spread thin and no longer ourselves but what has always been
The dust blown from a pin prick explosion
It’s easier than ever, returning
Gliding by gravity
You could do it by accident really
And people do just that – all the time

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