Joel Ephraims

The Aviary

It was only a matter
of building the stone cage
in the shape of a cathedral bell
with secular picture windows
plaiting its curve
for the flying trams to come.

They came slow at first
and warily,
like established patients
to a new hospital ward,
but in less time than it takes
a young woman
to pass through the state’s
many educational systems
and embark upon her desired career
the optimal amount
had lingered for the drawbridge
to be lowered.

To wake up
at the bottom of that bell dome
to the brass elm-splash
of their spiralling chimes
is like discovering you gave birth long ago
to a celestial no-time
far, far, far above
your undressable mind.

And then later, outside
in nighted day
a bob-haired bird came up to me:
‘You look better than you did before.
That it's you makes me feel
a whole lot better myself.’

The Spiral Way


Vision Through the Neo-cortex

The cranes which absent themselves
at night appear at all points of morning.
You know that that which
is capable of sleep
has all prerequisites for life.

As books are taken
from supermarket shelves
the people accrue
in the questions posed them.

‘Submarine battles in ear canals,’
many onlookers say.
‘Gahhhhh…my labyrinthitis again...,’
the governess with charity investments
in stolen baboons trails away.

Gold-coated stone bluffs
continue to Rolex-pace
with ever more revolved faces.

We continue our etching
under shadow
of our adjustable fantasy trees.


Interstice Blues

August 8th 2017 7:30pm

Callistemon scattered former sea bed.
Japanese girl’s off-season Halloween
love elbow quiver.

                                                                                                                   April 29th 2016 1:33pm

                                                                                           The Rocks:
                                                                                           penny-farthing walked.
                                                                                           Circular ghost tour advertisement
                                                                                           clipped to front wheel spokes.
                                                                               Paved courtyard hat catalogue shoot.

            February 12th 2017 6:04am

A room of wine glasses:
Cabernet, Burgundy, balloon, flute,
stemless, aerating, rose, Zinfandel;
and a single whiskey glass
with a pattern of winding windows
getting smaller towards the base.
Each smeared with lipstick
faint to almost dark.
The ineffable pride
of having been chosen by them,
their traces living forever
in my dreams where no walls stay.
Neon, pastels, all the primary colours.

   November 23rd 2018 8:02pm

                                                                           Walking down the escalators
   onto the underground train platform
                                                                           Ben said, ‘they are like Dorylus ants.’
   ‘But why,’ I said, over-thinking his point,
   ‘do we always do that?
   Ants have six legs, we have two.
                                                                           In terms of networks
                                                                           the differences are dwarfing.
                                                                           Ants can’t say anything of us.

February 12th 2017 7:02am
                        Climbing a spiral stair.
            Going up or down.
            Legs turned to spiralling jelly.
            No landing except
a field of psychal energy,
warm, too bright or freezing
to the touch.
Geographical terms
turned to water.

May 22nd 2016 12:57pm
                                                                        Summer candidates,
                                                                        cardboarded Mcdonald’s latte–

      June 3rd 2016 5:30pm

                              I saw a poster I had seen
                              of Hugh Jackman
                              framed like an oil painting
                              but glassed over
      on the outside wall           
      of an opulent French-styled
                              shopping mall in Ho Chi Minh City.
                              Now, it was Wolverine
                              behind the glass on the poster
                              with trimmed sideburns
                              and subtly applied blush
                              beckoning with manicured claws,
                              platinum wrist watch and
                              irradiating smile
                              to a Vietnamese woman
                              slicing hair-matted coconuts
                              on a pre-schooler’s chair.

              August 30th 2018 6:32pm

                                                              The new Prime Minister pets
                                                              his jumping spiders.
                                                              To secure the future,
                                                              intelligent metal wads
                                                              for the sky.

                                    June 7th 2016 7:03pm

                                    Lime green,
                                    incising night-barred trees.
                                    Leaf blower sweating on carpet.
                                    New American ground missile
                        defence site in Romania.

  June 20th 2017 5:59am

  A nude photo of Oprah Winfrey
  and a time machine
  doubling as a flying artificial womb.
                          The photo was autumnal TV static sepia,
                          Oprah was uniformly covered in plastic hair
                          like vacuum cleaner brush bristles
                          except of every colour imaginable.
                          In the background of the photo,
                          over which the time machine-womb
                          cast its shadow before it disappeared,
                          the BFG from the Disney adaptation
                          sprayed plastic hair stimulation
                          aerosol leaflets from rooftops
                          while saluting okra-shaped
                          Australian jets razing Raqqa.

      July 17th 2018 7:00pm

      Amnesty International
                                          labels the US-led Coalition’s
      Raqqa casualty figures ‘artificially low’,
      not credible, their denials
      ‘knee-jerk reactions’,
      extended families wiped out
      in a ‘horrendous toll’.

       December 1st 2018 5:34pm
                                           Things grow smaller
                                           and more complex.


       There, Shadow!

       On the perimeter wall
                                           of Daniel’s Engineering,
                                           by the self-heal wreathed
                                           five-foot high, head-warning tunnel
                                           going under the railway tracks,
       by a line of Islamic green,
                                           antique brass, Air Force blue (USAF),
                                           copper penny and atomic tangerine
                                           coloured, unlabelled oil barrels,
                                           a 4-chan-style graffiti version
                                           of Bart Simpson’s face melting.

                                           Oasis's of holding
       in narratives of decay
       where skateboard parks teeter
                                           and machines transmute
                                           consumerist visions.
                                           Predictably, they have used the wrong shade
                                           of yellow again.
                                           Would that I could
                                           depart for a record-breaking,
                                           abandoned ghost city skyscraper,
                                           lack of body notwithstanding.
                                           Chick beaks sparkle
                                           in the jumpsuited jumpsuit tree.
                                           Tutankhamun's dagger
                                           was made of meteorite metal,
                                           his mask first of all
       most likely by collision
       of neutron stars.  

       [A few held moments of silence.]      

        In the town
        where everyone is Shakespeare
        the sun sets five hundred times
        at roughly a quarter past six in the evenings.
        A great chute is carried
        on Medieval-mutated shoulders,
        long evolved
                                            it is used to carry gold from the ground
                                            making vast vortex swamps.

         [A brief pause not long enough to collect full silence.]

         Voices flap like skyscraper windows
         tangling on an all-purpose clothesline in Heaven:

                        PEPPA PIG
                 Never send a human
                             to do a machine's job.

                       AGENT SMITH
                It’s freezing and snowing
                In New York – we need
    global warming!

                        Pressurized lips and squeezed eyes
fish-sucker golf-course time.

                                    Shard of solar panel, ion lithium,
                                    marsupial areola, shaving of safety mechanism...

If you'll sit down,
I'll bear your logs the while: pray, give me that.

The challenge before us is real,
                                                 the questions we grapple with
                                                 as real as life and death.

                                                I'm not making a salad!

Joel Ephraims is a NSW South-coast poet. He has won two national awards and has been published in many Australian places including Griffith Review, Cordite, The Marrickville Pause, Australian Poetry Journal, Verity La, Overland, The Red Room Company, Mascara, Seizure and The Australian Weekend Review. In 2013 his chapbook Through the Forest was published with Express Media and Australian Poetry as part of The New Voices Series. He recently edited a guest issue of The Marrickville Pause.
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