Stuart Barnes

Double Acrostic

i.m. Mervyn Barnes, and for Gary Barnes

The pure name is fabled as me. Qua-
aludes charmed this unin-
spired town’s Light Horseman’s young — dissolvable elements, post-
man-dispensed in the 1970s. Our matri-
archs strewed carcasses among dolerite boulders — warnings ig-
nored by kangaroo stalkers whose juveniles insist on abse-
iling Bare Rock’s Boneyard. ‘Hrrr … Hrrrrr!

The Coral Sea

frees me, moves me,
beautiful and brightly lit.

The small hushed waves’ repeated fresh collapse
begins to harvest.

A thought comes to me: the sea!
from the sea’s pure and ardent pulse.

Lightning pains

Drinking your father’s greased lightning,
we watched lightning bugs rise from the grass.
‘Lightning never strikes twice,’
you promised, faster than a cat lapping chain lightning.

We watched lightning bugs rise from the grass
at the Fitzroy’s edge. Lightning Boy, I swallowed
your promise, faster than a cat lapping chain lightning.
‘We’ve captured lightning in a bottle

at the Fitzroy’s edge, Lightning Boy!’ I swallowed
ball lightning.
‘We’ve captured lightning in a bottle,
O lightning bird—

ball lightning,
staccato lightning.’
O lightning bird,
I wait to ride the lightning, last words

staccato lightning.
Drinking your father’s greased lightning,
I wait to ride the lightning, last words
‘Lightning never strikes twice.’

Double Acrostic

Three birds mouthed the day moon’s bones and skin; the mesa
hid its last gold spark with a wolf pack’s spell.
Empty katydids howled their tragedy,
a coldness full as stolen champagne.
New stars bled the chords of the dove, the cicada.
In laudanum air the dragon became an albatross, tiger
moths loosed red blossom, the white horse cornered a kiss.

(My) Count(ry)

Does Polygon City still coppice
shrubbery & cross-section lanes
bearing Fitzroy Gardens,
are the speed-veins
of figures willing distance
from rational skies
still congruent with it?
I dare not estimate otherwise.


I justified this country
town’s acute plain s
peaking & naive ranges,
asymmetrical rains
on crimson, mean horizons,
variable jewel-sea
grooming cuboid terror.
(Every factor calculated me.)


Operation Forest
brackets integer-moon
& multiple mountains’
hypotenuse. Noon,
solid gold, brushes
expression, coil
& chord. Treetops’
formula’s constant prime soil.


Notes on the poems.

‘The Coral Sea’ is a cento from Uvavnuk’s “The great sea…”, untitled shaman song (trans. Jane Hirshfield), C. P. Cavafy’s ‘Morning Sea’, Philip Larkin’s ‘To The Sea’, Paul Celan’s ‘With Dreampropulsion’, John Ashbery’s ‘Chinatown’, Gwen Harwood’s ‘A Morning Air’

‘Double Acrostic’ — Three birds . . . — remixes some of the lyrics from Josh Ritter’s The Animal Years

‘(My) Count(ry)’ is a terminal from half of Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘My Country’; Polygon_Cities is Monolake’s 7th record


Stuart Barnes is the author of Glasshouses (UQP), which won the Thomas Shapcott Prize, was commended for the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Award. He is poetry editor for Tincture Journal and tweets @StuartABarnes.
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home