I talk to them at 3am, my children, I tell them about the Doomsday Vault in Svalbard, how it’s beset by melting permafrost; I talk about the hairy frogfish, the predator- prey cycle of life, how humans keep birds in cages, and how travel to Proxima Centauri b would take them 6,300 years, a little cosmic joke, ha ha; I explain that the gang-rape of a mother in Kyiv next to her child and dead husband is called collateral damage, that the weight of a butterfly of uranium destroyed Hiroshima, and that no single wild species depends for its survival on the Freak Show that is the Human Race; I tell them that we fail to learn from human history and how they are blessed never to have been born. ©️2022 K Price
As I ride pillion through this primeval forest, I don’t think
of the ancient trees, how they give us the smooth paper leaves
on which we love to press down with granite
made from the centre of the earth;
nor of the fungi beneath, how one fruiting body brings us certain death
and another alters our consciousness
with its saprotrophic strangeness;
nor of the native bees, how their furry-bodied industries
sustain our food security and survival
as a species;
of Mr Tait, whose smile
was a warning, and how he taught
us to bookmark a book with its own pages
without damage, and how he showed us how to mitigate
injury from possible falls when using a chair
as a ladder, and how he use to call
all the boys Fathead!
©️2020 K Price
Astride the KTM beast, we ride
the country roads of New England, passing mini
country churches not big enough to swing
an axe (other than the verbal kind). At the crossroads
in one hamlet, there are two, along with a pub
and a servo, and I wonder if on Sundays
the population of around 150 evenly splits
itself between the green fibro Catholic and the beige fibro
Anglican House of God diagonally opposite. Or do the agnostics
and atheists muddy the holy water? Truth is
I’ve never seen any flock
to attendance, so who goes there? The farmers
praying for rain? The fossickers praying
for that nugget, the alcoholics praying for forgiveness
for beating their wives and children senseless after one
too many at the public house on a Friday night?
Or are these houses of worship mere relics
of the past along with the town’s faith
on account of all that flood, fire
©️2020 K Price
Leaning into corner after corner on a wheat-
fringed country road, we come upon
a pair of vintage Renaults sitting side by side
in the paddock, like an old couple enjoying
the sun. But age has wearied them and the years
condemned to a slow rusting death, the for-sale sign
long faded. Who drove them to their final destination
full of hope they would go as a bonded
pair to loving home?
©️2020 K Price
I’m riding pillion on the KTM beast
when our silhouette on the damp bitumen paints my scarf flying
like a Siamese fighter’s tailfin in the slipstream
and I think of you
and wonder if in that nano-second that the forces of the universe conspired
to smash you into the cobblestones of the Riviera
you had a chance to think:
I tuck in the delinquent ends
I wouldn’t want your spectacular end
to be in vain.
©️2020 K Price
Autumn steals in like a quiet
cat, looking for a warm place
to settle. On the mountains
in the copses and through the forests, the trees rustle
amongst themselves, and blush
at her touch. Do the beetles know
of this? I do not know, they talk
to their gods in tongues.
©️2019 K Price
The sea knows
loss, its ancient suspirations inhale
terra firma grit by grit
The sea knows
abyssal hobgoblins well up
from their deep-rutted trenches
even on sunshiny days
they manifest their stinking grotesquery
on sabulous shores
The sea knows
is always sighing
Like you the sea knows
© 2018 Karen Price
Now, this makes my heart glad 😄🥂🍾
On my return to blogging in April, I was deeply saddened to discover that one of my favourite poets of all time had died in December 2016.
Cynthia Jobin was a blogging friend and a masterful poet, whose art was superior in form, structure and rhythm. But what I love most in her work is the way she infused it with mischief. Her intellect and humour shines through her poetry.
Sadly, Cynthia’s WordPress site is no longer up. I hope her unpublished work will not be lost.
I will miss you, Little Old Lady. You were a beautiful light in the darkness.
My work meeting finished at 4pm. I still had minutes to type but was also due to meet a friend for dinner and the theatre at 6:30pm on the other side of The Bridge.
Anybody who lives in Sydney knows that trying to get across the Sydney Harbour Bridge by car into the city from 5pm onwards gobbles time. So I made the journey at 4 and typed the minutes here. A lovely way to end the work day.
I’m in a city of 14.50 million
(give or take a few, including me)
souls. I know no-one
here. I’m a nano-human, a speck
in the smog. I make myself big
riding the subways with no-one
with light-coloured hair. No-one notices
the gweilo; the ghost-person, I think,
until I step into the deluge at Shanghai
Library, and a dark-haired
girl steps in time beside me, her umbrella
banishing the rain, her words, my ghostliness
“Where are you going?
Can I take you there?”
Cynthia Jobin, over at littleoldladywho.net, is one of the finest poets I’ve read. Her poems are exquisitely crafted, evocative, and at times wonderfully mischievous.
A recent poem of Cynthia’s – The Palpable Obscure – is a spine-tingling evocation of the ongoing mystification endured by those of us who have experienced the death of a loved one. In it, she writes:
“Once a day, at least, I stop to wonder
where you are.”
Is this puzzlement not at the very heart of the Human Condition?
If my father were alive today, the 27th November 2015, he would be 83. I started this blog mainly as a response to the lingering grief I felt about his dying. And this poem, which I first posted on the 27th November 2010, is about the day he died.
Like Cynthia, I still wonder…
Eternal Mysteries ( a repost)
With the ring back on your finger
you sighed and slipped away
but forever it’s a mystery
where you went that day
Did you see them watching you
and whispering in your ear?
When you took your final journey,
did you know that they were there?
Did you sense that we were not?
No-one can ever know,
yet child-like we still ask ourselves –
that day, where did you go?
She’s there every morning, glaring down at me, when I open my eyes.
“If you’re going nowhere, neither is that extra chin”, she seems to say. “I have limits, you know. If we’re to ever get any closer, you should be out there, not hitting the snooze button repeatedly!”
She’s right, of course, my ideal dress size. I breached her boundaries a long time ago and won’t be fitting back in any time soon, unless I get out there and move. Every single day.
“And cut out the champagne while you’re at it, lardarse.”
By my calculations, transforming Matilda’s reproach into rapprochement is about 720 km away.
When the sun turns
away to southern lands
we find ourselves awake
on a strange, familiar shore
where those who’ve gone
before sleep beneath moss
in forest graves, and wild apples
jump the fences
Across the Baltic Sea
history comes full circle.
Eyes send the message;
Aliens failed to read
rage, despair, defeat.
This year, I avoided the poetry
bashing workshops at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and attended a couple of interesting panel talks, one of which—Secrets from the Crime Scene—I reviewed, and I thought I’d share it here.
Crime, it seems, pays handsomely for crime writers, not necessarily in hard cash but in endless material on the peculiar machinations of the criminal psyche. And mid-morning on this glare-bright winter’s day at the 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf is packed to the raw, high rafters with an eclectic audience, from school-goers to retirees, dying to know more about what the panel facilitator, Tom Wright, refers to as “life as they imagine it might actually be led away from their fairly safe existences”.
Competing with the hiss of the venue’s overworked espresso machine, the conversation nevertheless flows easily amongst the Secrets from the Crime Scene panel: Kate McClymont, Fairfax investigative journalist, known most recently for He Who Must Be Obeid, an exposé on Sydney businessman Eddie Obeid’s corrupt dealings; Sarah Hopkins, criminal lawyer and fiction-crime author, her most recent novel being This Picture of You; and Michael Robotham, Australian journalist turned successful international crime writer, his latest book being Life or Death.
Kate, with her permanently quizzical left eyebrow, is an expert on the depths of Sydney’s criminal undercurrents, from the murderous mentality of organised crime and bikie gangs to the sociopathic undertow of white-collar crime. The audience roars when she says, “One of the things I really love about Sydney’s criminals is they are so stupid”. And vain: one of her regular informants, who was jailed for abducting Terry Falconer (subsequently murdered), whined to her that the actor portraying him in TV’s Underbelly: Badness “makes me look like a gay porn star”.
Michael says his books “tap into everyday fears” and that he often has to tone “down the truth to make it palatable, because people will not believe it in a book of fiction”, even though “truth always, always proves to be stranger”. Tom remarks on the frequent prescience in Michael’s novels as is exemplified by the story Michael tells of The Wreckage, a novel that was based on the idea “that $250billion of drug cartel money was laundered through major western banks, because during the Global Financial Crisis, banks were so short of funds, they waived all money-laundering laws simply to stay afloat”. The novel was reviewed by an incredulous Joe Nocera, financial writer for The New York Times, who said that no major Western bank would launder money for a drug cartel; it simply wouldn’t happen. With a larrikin air of perpetual amusement, Michael says that now every time there’s a factual report of such events, he sends Joe a tweet: “Say it ain’t so, Joe, say it ain’t so”.
Sarah, who has the demeanour of a meditating monk, rather than someone professionally mired in the mess of criminality and the constipated bureaucracy of social institutions, is more serious than the other panellists, but no less interesting. Through her creative writing, she questions who in our society gets to define what a crime is and the fact that, until recently, “criminal law wouldn’t reach its arm into the home” because “a crime, traditionally, has been about transgressions in the public realm”. As Tom notes, her books are now very much focused on the notion that “the place where your body and mental health is most likely to be at risk is in the home”, an unsettling thought.
In response to a question from the audience, Sarah says she’s never been threatened by a reader, but Michael’s tells of his stalker and many “angry emails” from Americans who objected to this line in an early novel: “something didn’t quite look right, like seeing Bill Gates in board-shorts or George W. Bush in the White House”. And then there is the intrepid Kate, who has had her fair share of legal action and life-threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.
Crime writing—it’s a dangerous but thrilling life.
I like to do things backwards, don’t ask me why.
When I read a print newspaper (yes, some of us still do), I often start at the back page and work my way forward. Same with magazines. I can’t help it. (Although, I haven’t yet acquired that peculiar habit of reading the end of a book first. Horrors!).
Anyhow, I don’t like the thought of taking a blog break without announcing it upfront, but, somehow, my unintended break got away with me. So I should have told you that I was taking a blog break. But I didn’t. So now you know.
I’m back from behind.
As if you’ve noticed.
End of a Dream
plays through the eaves
of this house
wind-cold emptiness, the ambient noise
where laughter once lived.
Shoji, last opened
to plum-blossom whispers
now lachrymose with silent
a bird singing
3/11 – The Japan Times
Beauty at scale rarely seen
by human eye, but inbetween
lush blades of grass daily spy
a microworld of strange small fry
As this mini-jungle wakes
from dark of night, a lone ant slakes
his thirst from fresh dewdrops bright
reflecting snails in love’s delight
Airfields of apian craft at ready
take flight from rouged poppies, heady
with blue jewels sparkling far and wide
on backs of bees on buzzing ride
A mighty dung beetle battles
sticks arresting rolling chattels
from onward journey, this daily testing
to construct his place of resting
Inkblot-eyes of springtails watch
(in somersault) nymphs slowly hatch
themselves from deep and watery vault
and caterpillars as they moult
A miniverse that’s quite astounding,
with creatures, strange and weird, abounding.
For more entries to last week’s WPC, see The Daily Post.
What is one thing nobody knows about you?
This question is posed for the 27th January by my 3-year sentence-a-day diary, a gift from a dear friend. Since I started the diary 5 months ago, it’s the only page that remains blank.
And it’s not because the answer is something I wish not to put on paper so that no-one can ever find out; it’s because I don’t have an answer! What a strange thing to realize. Perhaps I need to get a secret life. 😀
Would you have an answer?