Dreams make liars of us all.
I am crimping my nose at her morning coffee,
as a worm turns in the magpie’s beak,
and her little dog shivers as she screeches
at the cold tiles on her dancer’s feet,
like my hands she’d dreamt out of her mind in the coffin dark.
I should have left then,
when the stars were high and buttery,
and the magpie ruffled in his nest
and the worm slept easy.
for added comfort
this poem will have a wall to lean on,
brownstone toasty with late afternoon sun.
for added frissant it will be late September
when the taut air quivers with the sting of frangipani
and a small bird chirrups at you about its travels.
the poem leans nonchalantly,
it may have been drinking,
its grey eyes are glassy with similes.
it seems to gaze over the heads of the passers-by
as though their indifference
were a spur to it to aim higher.
in a moment of doubt it shifts its weight,
lithe as the shadow of a passing cloud.
a breeze is about to steal its hat, but the poem cannot see this
for it is too nonchalant, too glassy-eyed.
may you find happiness from time to time.
may you be spared the gift of eloquence and a childish heart.
may a branch never scratch at your window.
change your locks often.
plant nothing in your garden that may outlive you.
correct no-one’s grammar but your own.
brush the hairs off no-one’s jacket who you have not seen naked.
give grief its due, Ophelia:
the thing must play out,
the dead must be allowed their dance.
avoid shouldering another’s burden,
for you will only ever be pretending.
avoid counting down, even in jest
because numbers that stop are not time.
remember, daughter, not every choice is a blessing.
and that bad neighbours will move out eventually.
never sleep by a river, my love,
and always lie with your feet to the door.
love without thinking.
my body sheds its tired cells.
much of the dust on my tiles
is me, the dead me.
if I didn’t dust for seven years,
I wonder would I see myself?
such detritus is a biological imperative,
the price of a body replenishing.
you don’t discuss it in polite company,
but even as politicians shake hands for the cameras,
smile and nod their knowing nods it is happening,
the body shedding the spent the redundant
in order to maintain some sort of equilibrium.
this is the body I live in,
the newly-manifest and the freshly-dying,
the laws of entropy and hope,
all in a perpetual spiral,
the way ideas flash and flicker
in the small hours
in the coffin dark,
when some loud noise from the compound
has set the dogs all barking.
* The site where Indonesia recently executed nine drug dealers, including two Australians.
it is a mixed blessing,
this warm slow afternoon,
the chairs tipped against last night’s rain
murmuring of past, crowded summers
in the soft autumn breeze,
all faded now,
the light slowly fading
between the dusty shutters,
the crowd nodding its assent behind
my eyelids as I write,
not at the words but at the impulse
to make manifest something lurking in the moment,
like the face within the stone.
Justin Lowe was born in Sydney but spent significant portions of his childhood on the Spanish island of Minorca with his younger sister and artist mother. He developed a penchant for writing poetry while penning lyrics for a string of bands, successful and not so, and has since been published all over the world. Justin currently resides in a house called “Doug” in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper.