14 Charles Buckmaster

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[The New Australian Poetry, page 184]

Charles Buckmaster


Gruyere — is being cleared of its forest — the mountains

become pastures — and carved wastes

and the sub-divisions come — within five miles.

Small farmers die — my mother and father —

cheated — exhausted — There is no dream and death is close and complete.

Grass-seeds — the paths which once led through the forest

at the foot of great mountains — Light through the gum-tips on this — holy ground.

The remaining forest — shot through with clearings — which continue to grow.

The cities will merge.

Gruyere is dying and my dream of change dies with it.

What can be done?

The green walls dissolve.

And there is Satan — who rattles his pockets and laughs — I have

one enemy — And who will die

before me? There is no retreat — you thrust your

obscenities beneath my feet and tell me that I soil your

I scrape at the bitumen of your carnal streets — the soil

[The New Australian Poetry, page 185]

Charles Buckmaster

in which no thing could grow for a thousand years. So much destruction!

A re-birth I may never see. A battle

which has yet

to begin.


Before morning as the sound of slow footfalls
echo down the mountains
and I am tossed in the warm belly of our deepest
and most ancient communion
I breathe in these ripe sounds       which I cannot

the broken poet and his aging disciple speak with me
as we sit at the banks of the polluted river
watching children sailing     plastic toy boats
‘out to sea’

and their singing voices       play over the shallows     to the opposite bank

as the poet     smoothing his long white hair
turns to me
saying ‘this is their triumph and I am of no consequence
and there is nothing that I can do’


along the floodbanks     fifteen-year-olds laughing and shouting

we came to the trees     at the slope

of the first green wall

and we sat and we drank silent in a grove of brown crystal

and for one short moment     our past and future came shining

[The New Australian Poetry, page 186]
Charles Buckmaster

through each others eyes

    as the veneers faded

                        and temples crumbled

this a time for love
if we had only known where   to begin

    and in that realization
          I left her

we had never actually asked one another
what is it that we can do?
and I began to believe   that it was only my concern
and that they did not choose   to become involved

under the iron in a land of black banners and speeches
there are few alternatives

eventually I realized that they would never act
as they sent us back to the classrooms and broke them
one by one

            and I laughed at the end powerless

    I conceded

and fell from their reach

in transformation
an awakened force clutched for direction
having several directions from which to choose
committed mind soul and body to one loyalty
and followed that course through the changing of too
many seasons
                          and fell to the earth
                                            shot down
in confusion

[The New Australian Poetry, page 187]
Charles Buckmaster

having watched having waited long in the grey silting plain
moved out on the rivers following through
to the source

and as travellers would coming and going coming
and going

moving my heart in the direction of my fantasies
and as travellers would travellers go
in the rain     sleeping in barns

and as the grey flowers open and close
there are only the ashes

                    there then

becoming more distant

(I waited days at the fringe of the desert     but no sound
came I saw nothing

here    there is only the sun    heat on my flesh
and the stones cracked stones     of the mile after mile
of desolation)

and in the desert in the cold earth evening
the shadows rise     take form
and the patterns and shapes of ten thousand years
materialize    in flesh
            and hinge    to bone

the lights are high in the house on the borderland
cold piercing light

as the grey procession moves our power is fixed
in frozen cells

[The New Australian Poetry, page 188]

Charles Buckmaster


lain among the warm blades of the forest
in the birthplace of one thousand fathers

totems/red spears rise from black earth

and the sounds are flowers unfolding
                              their petals

slow birth-pain
                    aching           — burst free —

(and these     slow footfalls
                    down trembling mountains echoing.)

and the sun comes
above mountains    shining

as it grows