I play the perfect cover drive
Easing on to my back foot
Saturday early early Summer, elevenish
a sound of cork like popping
the axe fall of linseeded willow
throughout the mowing suburbs
My spine straight as a lithe picket
Plane trees shady stalled on shutter
a mottled reminisce of Cazneaux
our border/kelpie Sophie
trotting back the drooly ball
Her jet coat a reel
in stoppled light from Van Gogh’s head
a thwack in the fence holding on
the still of tactile breeze
my children, Shot, wanker,
can we have lunch
I could tell you of the hard hail of sixpences
on this speckly jumper with its barbed wire holes
and the elbow gash from knowing’s use
where the mousing cat snoozles in,
or the sudden whack to the face
the first-time words stub into you from love’s slammed door,
a teenage death before experience cures.
But there’s a black cockatoo on a drawn branch
one eye primed ready to launch if I move,
a jerky breeze would be the dissolution of me.
I could sing you of the soft rime of an artichoke’s glory
wrapping the curate’s tonsure in unexpected daze,
where below the unspeaking tongue of my leathers
the cut down stalk shouts out with new emphasis
biding a season in just two steps away.
How love has no redemption date or return to sender
no use by in a business envelope without address,
the withdrawal notice pinned within these vestments.
That wind and wing have the measure of the duty in us all
taking the hat with loosed sun glasses,
the stuffing falls through the stake goes over
pantalooned chickens fossick the seeds of my charge here.
And way down, in the remnant of a once cyan sweater
pushy prickly leaves will weave their rise again.
James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, The William Wantling Prize, the James Tate Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Competition. His poetry collections include The Leviathan’s Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, and Unstill Mosaics 2019.