Reading Poetry again


I had a great time performing some of my poetry (about half an hour’s reading) at this event recently: The Sydney Readings: fiction from Michelle de Kretser and poetry from John Tranter, sponsored by The English Association and “Southerly” magazine, on Saturday, October 12, 2013 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT), at The Footbridge Theatre, University of Sydney, Parramatta Road, Sydney, New South Wales 2006. Among the dozen poems I read were two sonnets from my chapbook “Ten Sonnets”, published recently by Vagabond Press. For photos from that event, see this link.

Here are the two sonnets from that reading. The first has a title taken from poet Pam Brown, and is based on the Shakespearean sonnet form. It was written en route to LA in a 747, 24 March 2013:

747 Sonnet

A, tint of ash, pastel grey
And pale amber flakes, E, a feast
Of emerald ice-blocks at the break of day
When blood and gold tincture the mystic East.
I, less an order, more a hint
Of Eau de Nil, flavours the local square
Where cobblestones hacked from the local flint
Bear a skin of ice that dazzles the air.
O for a beaker full of the warm South
Where tourists faint in the sticky Roman heat
And U offer purple promises of love
To be redeemed the next time we meet.
Qantas perfects its algorithm for seat yield;
a truck dumps rakes and shovels onto a field.

The next poem, read last, uses the so-called “Pushkin” sonnet form, a quirky tetrameter form used by Pushkin in his novel “Yevgeny Onegin”. It is a tribute to T.S. Eliot’s notable poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, first published in 1915 in the Chicago magazine “Poetry”. The poem also gave me a chance to use a rhyme I had concocted a year or two before for the word “winklepickers” (a sharply-pointed shoe fashionable among Teddy-Boys and popular music performers in London in the 1950s). The supposition that J. Edgar Hoover was secretly a cross-dresser or was gay (or both) has a weird aptness, but it is probably untrue.

The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover

Punish me with jugs of honey
Tie me down with bramble twine,
Stuff my mouth with wads of money –
Please be mine.

Kick me with your winklepickers,
Gag me with your wrinkled knickers,
Make me lick your brutal shoe:
Love me do.

Garnish me with couch and fescue,
Dress me in an acid dressing,
Telegram your roughest blessing,
Be my howling search and rescue –
When I’m lost and all alone,
Take me home.