Featured Poet- Peter Boyle

Figure in a small icon

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My royal robe is full of blue crosses.

I am looking at you as if into

an anonymous camera that has commanded me

to lay myself open – my short beard, my

clipped black hair. I have just arrived

or am about to leave, and my royalty

or sainthood or status as marked prisoner

gives me the vulnerability of one

who will be eternally fixed – precisely so.

If the earth explodes this night

and I am all that is left of humanity

any future sentient being

will judge us to have been creatures

given no other means of defence

than the nakedness of their gaze.

They will see only the godhead buried

at every moment within us –

not the deceit, the violence, the greed

that ruled our days.

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The parade of moments

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In the here and now I am restless,

In the here and now I am scattered,

In the here and now it is cold, the sky is a purple tinge of grey and,

            outside, a heavy green foliage blankets the trees,

In the here and now a great distance opens between myself

            and the simplest shape of beauty, of joy.

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And yet I have just been meditating,

And yet I have just been sitting, holding tight to breath-awareness,

And yet a moment ago my life lay before me, threaded together

            by long strands of radiance, of certitude,

A moment ago I said, inside myself I am Buddha.

>

Meanwhile my eyes sting from onions chopped

            half an hour ago,

Meanwhile my head throbs for no reason, slightly, persistently,

Meanwhile I squeeze my eyes shut till a quiet pulsing

            erupts from the still sadness at the earth’s core.

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And today I have listened to Mahler,

And today I have walked by the river,

And today I have filled pages with words broken loose

            like chipped stones.

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It grows cold in the heavy depths of my boots.

Autumn spills quietly into winter.

>

Today I may be lost

or today I may be stumbling, more sideways than forward,

while daylight’s ebb and flow

tilts a little more into darkness.

With no time to assemble them,

messages arrive from the vanishing world.

>

Today the house is still

and, in my shirt pocket, memory places

the note to collect from the Dry Cleaners the trousers

                          with the hole to be mended

in the right pocket where my life might

                          any moment slip through.

About the contributor

Peter Boyle is a Sydney-based poet and translator of poetry from Spanish and French. He is the author of eight books of poetry and, in 2020, won the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize with his book Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness.

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