5 Poems by James Walton

Modern love tales

I’ll put on After the Gold Rush, Sgt Peppers, Blue
how much a graph of me this gives
is best left for speculation

But I can tell you it’s no different to fifteen
in a way, hold on to this avocado of a heart
wait for the slower beat 

I can’t make promises about days
because decades submerged by nature’s balance
are a hidden rip in resurgence

That still water, here’s my hand waving
always at my best with the light behind

There’s a chance of rain
the way sense trawls a ripple
divining the way in or out

This fraught peace, all things being considered
flotation of a gentle principle
some of my recordings have the bends
elliptic on now band less turntables
while each replay travels on echo forever

Noice in Nice

I bought the Russian girls breakfast
so poor they were from work,
and coming down the hill pretended
a little English for the couple seeking
Matisse and Chagall. Later, the crepe maker
told me I’d been churlish in keeping secrets,
but then no taste of banana enveloped me
at the olive oil distillery as it was supposed to.

(Apparently the Canadians pick it every time.)

I’d sat on a rickety pew before the stained glass
and piano. And surrounded by suspended lovers,
the magic of goats, colours that strained,
to hold their surging fancy, could think only
of the elongated eucalyptus leaf. How perfect 
the Art Deco reverse teardrop, the teasing 
smelling salts of home in the curling fingertips,
of the eavesdrop waiting in background.

(Aromatics in patina of a silver smithing caesia.)

Adding to the exhibit in The Modern Art
jumpers and scarves mixed to the clothes pile,
the ebony beauty of traveller students turning back
from the bad boy fifties sepia photographs
smiled to wonder at the growing of number 23.
A grimacing attendant handed over my blue cable,
the slightly shredding goretex, the beanie of many hues,
destined too soon for the cat’s warm bed.

(The listener had finally joined the conversation.)

Open pages, by the numbers

someone said
poetry is sky writing for the blind

my curvature a broken horizon
bundled marionette
the rheumy strings entangled 
for hope to unravel

having outlived
most who have been
corrected by a life span

thoughts drawn to the neon of fireflies

whoever it was
knew the ecstasy of reach
the anatomy of Icarus

the downfall of angels
a condensation point of reference


It’s the thing with touch:
the searing keening tingling of a slow passing finger to the head
as on walls and urns and frescoes,
leaning back bodies stretch it out
extending the reach of the moment.
I love you for who you are – 
not this inanity of struggling prose or wit.
But the way I can hear you thinking 
when you’re fencing alone in the night,
hooking the whole argument in the tide between the lines.

When Michelangelo made the levels,
of us looking to where a prophet or God looks back,
along the length of salvation’s hope in arms bequeathing,
I suppose he thought it mattered which way was down – 
or up those immortals wanting more in life as something goes.

The sentence of omniscience takes away surprise.
To never know the thrill of chance,
the gliding mystique of coincidence in the foetal déjà vu,
of staggering to fail and the sheerness of success,
when you’re turned around to the feel of it.

Unshredded Banksy

The only milk bar left
is up Dairy Lane
on the hill in the Catholic side

where the gravel road
runs beneath flowering grass trees
their creamy spikes

sway a cartoon hula

they made a footpath 
at Wishart Street
but only a few metres long

people wrote in it before setting

Johnno, dog paws, ring this number for sex,
even an old Foo.

By the culvert in the dip
the caviar piles of yabbies
speak of other things

the dark in chocolate
the smell of a barbecue
and how the best moments

are always falling
where the years
step aside.

Find Leviathans Apprentice by James Walton on Amazon

About the contributor

James Walton is published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and newspapers. He was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He resigned from an elected position in 2014 to be able to write creatively, having not done so since 1971. He is the author of three collections of poetry published since 2015. The Leviathan's Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, and Unstill Mosaics 2019. A fourth volume is in production with Uncollected Press.

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