Australia and Pacific

A Version of Alcman’s (fl. 630 BCE) “Sleep” poem...

Dormant are pinnacles and streams of the mountains,
Chasms and bluffs and crawlers fed by the dark earth;
Dormant are wild animals and that tribe of bees
And monsters out of the sea’ s dark syntax;
Dormant are clans of birds with wings that envelop.

Blowfly Grass

The houses those suburbs could afford
were roofed with old savings books, and some
seeped gravy at stitches in their walls;

some were clipped as close as fury,
some grimed and corner-bashed by love
and the real estate, as it got more vacant,

grew blady grass and blowfly grass, so called
for the exquisite lanterns of its seed,
and the land sagged subtly to a low point,

Bottles in the Bombed City

They gave the city a stroke. Its memories
are cordoned off. They could collapse on you.

Water leaks into bricks of the Workers’ century
and every meaning is blurred. No word in Roget

now squares with another. If the word is Manchester
it may be Australia, where that means sheets and towels.

To give the city a stroke, they mixed a lorryload
of henbane and meadowsweet oil and countrified her.

Lost to View

A range of clouds banked up behind the peak
Of that apocryphal
Blue mountain, with a wide, oblique
Burst of late sun
Projecting at the east’ s receding wall

A film of what the day so far has done:
A wind that tries to scrape
The breaking waves up as they run
Across the bay
And shatter at the foot of Fluted Cape

In tern and gannet-printed veils of spray;
And trees the wind has caught,
Which seem too self-contained to sway
When they are blown,
And only move as a pleasing afterthought.