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Drought 

Flax, faint from the heat

and broken farm machinery 

by derelict sheds,

and a ragged track

wandering between brown thistles.

The drought is cracked paddocks,

fenceposts leaning like inebriates

a plague of dung flies, and

bony cattle like tramps

by the bone-dry water troughs. 

Smoke

Grandfather blew smoke rings.

He liked to sit

in his great easy chair

and fume, mushroom clouds.

He would tell me about

war and loyalty,

and I would chew over

these things, as his

wizened fingers

drummed ash

on the floor.

And his tales swelled

like his smoke rings,

then faded, leaving me

bereft, but warm.

Bluebells 

On a small island

with a ruined abbey,

a field of bluebells

runs right up to the gravestones.

My grandfather is buried there.

Among the tall grasses

there is a fading homage 

his children made him,

which is necklaced with bluebells,

sung over by thrushes,

scrubbed by April. And he has 

these words too,

to buff up the illegible lines,

to make him feel brand new.

Meringues 

Meringues

whipped to white peaks

so you can invert

the bowl

over your head,

and even black misery 

smiles. Top them

with strawberries and cream,

they can heal failure,

mend divorces. Meringues 

are silky, they are sexy.

Spoon me some.

Ash

The joss stick burned

in the painted jar,

thrust in a half-stick of celery,

entwining mysteriously

like river fog.

Leaving

incense ash

on the newspaper,

prosaic, dun-coloured,

no longer speaking in tongues. 

Numb

You were a cranky baby

crotchety and vocal,

we mollified you.

When you grew

you went mute,

we could not prize

a word from your

perfect lips,

and your eyes 

would smoulder 

like embers.

So we looked back

from the sullen boy

to see if we’d done wrong.

While you bit your nails,

crunched your toast aggressively,

staying stubbornly dumb,

resenting our wan smiles,

our awkward banter. 

Autumn Toys

Rose petals on puddles

and squelchy leaf mulch

and sour windfall apples;

these are for me to tinker with,

to work into fecundity. They are

my autumn toys, having

the poetry of wet riverbanks,

and plump blackberries,

sweet as temptation.