joanne burns


spin the platter and the used
meal falls into consequence’s
lap a choir of gnawed duck
bones an abandoned colloquium
on the roll of legal judgement on
the sandy stone of state affairs:
meters of the delegated taxis
squeak with the flatulence of
virtue tar sleeps with feathers like
there’s no tomorrow crumpled
napkins grow divine in the augur’s
quarry submarines are resonating
within reach of botany bay


                why does there have
                to be an explanation
                for everything
                scientific toga
                               i know it i know it because i
                               it       easy
                               as walking
                               a gelato


                               they were indignant with the
                               gossip that they all wrote
                               the same way not a pdf dissident
                               among them       are you a photocopy
                               or a plagiarist       a clone or a row of
                               paper dolls       how blonde is your

                               they disappeared through
                               the small canyon between the
                               octave and the sestet
                               scanning their breaths for the latest
                               therapy the barcode just
                               a few metres from their fugitive


a plane flies through three chimneys easy as a view
as a child’s picture book with no damage done how far
can you stretch the empirical dream; how many layers
can a logic sandwich support, the chalk always squeaked
during lectures in philosophy I; i’m not going to consider
trains exiting from fireplaces today now that time is being
served on the carved table       clothes are returning from
the laundromat covered in fresh stains this is reality not irony
— or oxymoronia, the stain economy is a growth industry
even in this age of stainless steel, books on unwelcome stains
have become best sellers, would you rather have a new bible
a folio copy of macbeth or five hundred handy tips on stain
removal it’s a difficult decision; the essay asked how can
X be black and white all over, the slick answer is too grey
how many streaks can a river swim before it’s a beach

joanne burns is a Sydney poet. Her most recent book, an illustrated history of dairies, Giramondo Publishing 2007, was shortlisted for the NSW 2008 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize. kept busy, a cd recording of joanne burns reading a selection of her poetry, was also released in 2007 as part of the River Road Series.

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