A Ranger found
four hundred ghost nets
on a seventy kilometre stretch
of beach, south of Aurukun.
He says ‘the local women, with the subterfuge of
moonlight sharks, collect them to make art for
Goes on to mention they've been substituting
Pandanas leaves and Flax cactus with the strings.
Countless generations of knowledge, an ancestral
understanding of flora trapped in a nylon paradox,
drowned fish and hundred year old turtles, mere
empty shells in days.
They drift over from Aceh, down into Southern
Indonesia, tumble ashore...as though the ocean
tossed up her hair, some of them five k’s long,
like immense Irukandji, or underwater sails.
He’d just come from a conference up The Cape,
listened to some bureaucrats act concerned, said
he ‘may's well believe a mystic who claims to be cloned
from a semen spill on the Shroud of Turin’, that, ‘those
damn men from Canberra, nothin' but spin-doctors,
spectators, a catastrophe of television cameras,
Irukandji are deadly box jellyfish which haunt the oceans in North Queensland. This poem was inspired by a conversation I overheard in a pub in the township of Yungarburra. As I understood it, the vocal man I overheard works as a Ranger in the Cape York Peninsula. First Published by Literature in North Queensland – James Cook University 2012.
CIGARETTES AND TENDING ORCHIDS
Hornrims and quiff
a natural cowlick, untamed as
This of him I will always remember.
In my best suit
at his funeral. The apocalyptic
tramp preacher says that before we
know it the worms will have their
way with all of us.
The Australian flag and slouch hat on
his coffin, a past
I never felt a part of. A child
hood of summers by his side on riverbanks
shorelines and sitting in dinghies.
He always clowned around, never
mentioned atrocities or talked of
war at all.
I have a terrible ear for jokes. He told
me a thousand, but I don’t remember
one, or the fishing stories.
and spoon percussion of Cock Eyed Sue
the intangible web of memory like his voice
when I think of him.
First published by BroadSheet – New, New Zealand Poetry 2014
LISTERINE™ ON SKINNED KNEES
Your whale tethered to a pier,
symbol of the difference between
our generations, this process of
being that fosters experience,
a treacle dimension in which
the unknown discovers itself.
It’s gotten thinner this syrup,
since you ran for your brother
showing the discovery, the dead
docked mammal knocking its skull
on the pylons.
You didn’t mention
it but I could imagine the shrieking
of children, the squeak of swings,
the fact that you could back then
still see lobsters in the rock ponds,
an octopus in the shadows of the jetty.
Where are we going now my friend?
All of us I mean, billions on a
pebble soaring through a void,
circling one another as gulls
around a jellyfish on the sand.
Why do you now cower in the shadow
of the other, under the tongue of
the mirror self, soft as the incest
of wings, the summer when you first
I remember as though yesterday
pouring Listerine™ on my sister’s
skinned knees and the way they
continued to bleed through her
stockings at church.
She screamed so the neighbour
looked over our fence, yet
the world turns on, none-the-less.
First published by Cordite Magazine 2007
A STRANGER TELLS OF HELEN
A stranger in a doorway waiting,
his obvious involvement in the cruelties
of life evident lent me a cigarette, coughed gently
I left her, my Helen, in the Troy
of my bare rented room. So lonely
on the bus today that I cried.
Through the window, steamed
by breathing, upon which I had written
Give me an urban mercy from the tongue
of a silver trumpet o all you heartless!
I saw, sitting like Buddha on a
war monument, a smiling child plucking a pigeon.
Son, there are thunders in a thousand parts of me
and I am living in dread of the rain.
Or another way to explain this would be,
there are winged amphibious creatures
sculpting tear urns in the pale amphitheater
of my heart. And when there is nothing left,
various scraps of marble, the devils lexicon,
dried fruit, nerves entwined in a fitful ballet,
only then will I allow myself to love again.
First published by Jack Magazine 2004
WASHED UP PARTS OF SOMETHING
A dull head among windy spaces – T.S Eliot
Broken things by the water.
Someone put a spark to a straw-man.
Mocking the performers kicked over the
Busker’s bucket laughing, coins clanging in
I am running.
Others are running.
Like a bludgeoned swan we are sunk.
Guitar an amputated limb.
Fear of unnecessary operations,
girls with animals
in the gardens
battle flags embroidered
on the backs
of their cardigans.
Where I met an Actress
who is auditioning for the part that
mass communication plays in the
Standing in I read
for the Fabricated Madman.
Brentley Frazer (b. Queensland, Australia 1972) poet, novelist, academic, literary critic, publisher and editor. His poems and other writings have been published in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, U.K, U.S.A, India, Japan and Slovenia.
He is currently in the final stages of a PhD (poetry/experimental literature/creative nonfiction) at Griffith University supervised by the poet Anthony Lawrence and the writer Nigel Krauth. Visit www.brentley.com for poetry and more.