Les Wicks Poetry

SURFSIDE AVENUE

We sat around the kitchen table

a parliament of pleas.

Then a rat — huge —

almost the size of a possum

came through the louvred windows

& grazed the formica like an entitled guest.

Three damaged men lived there —

one abruptly jobless, another

Kawasaki-smashed on bitumen

the third so politely dropped

from the One Great Love.

Our cat at the far end of the table

watched us gravely,

then nodded towards the visitor

who stood still as a commandment

over a loaf of bread.

This place — depending on the wind

you could hear the waves

or the roar of highway traffic.

The swamp out back

cackled in its busyness.

Some cloud pillowed the sky

of that flawless day.

Despite the upper body cast

Matt rolled a joint with a placid deftness.

I opted for cider as usual, bleeding condensation,

the droplets caught light & promised.

It has always gentled my head & contains vitamin C.

Mosquitoes got dressed for work,

our guardian spider primed her filaments

as neighbours argued at the dusk.

The cat yawned.

Each thing could see clearly

in opposite directions.

Something new, acoustic, seeped out from the speakers.

The paintings in the lounge were just sugar on the light.

There was no hope

so no worry.

That day refused to plan.

Perhaps immobility is grace.

INTERPENETRATING GYRES

When the captain gave up plunder

he began inscribing

a memoir of consequence

on the shell of a lime-green snail.

Carrying the burden —

those notes on the nature of treasure —

this marauding mollusc ate through

the passivity of upland forests.

Oaks, finding themselves naked, withdrew their roots

& followed that hungry speck

down to a river where a hymn of water-lilies

promised shelter in an end.

Staunch cattails applauded,

those trees with a century of project

discovered that all along they were lumber

hiding within their weak skin of life.

He had tried the pipe & cuddle

but our captain saw that truth bore a harder carapace.

As logs bobbed up against his jetty

the crew returned because

this was the single path they recognised

even though it led only to the next atrocity.

There is epiphany here

but is it seaworthy?

MARJA

What does she think?

Left before the war, everyone said she had a knack.

Within a year of arrival here

she had a business importing those olive oils

we’d previously thought were just medicine.

It was on the news…

her village was scoured with excuses, geopolitics.

People scattered, Marja claimed in an interview

we were her people now.

The instrument she plays

was traditionally reserved for men, strokes

strings with a disloyal intensity.

Last year someone burnt the Sydney warehouse down.

Her husband was deeply loved

as much as his flaws allowed.

He was inside at the time.

You make your own blessings.

The children mourned his passing

except one who challenged the will.

Australian police, Australian insurance —

she occasionally shakes her head at this ordered society.

Much remains beyond comprehension,

she wears her black lightly

& drives a new Audi.

About the contributor

Les Wicks is widely published and has performed widely across Australia & internationally . Les has edited various projects over the decades, latest being To End All Wars (Puncher & Wattmann, 2018) & runs Meuse Press which focuses on poetry outreach projects like poetry on buses & poetry published on the surface of a river. His 14th book of poetry is Belief (Flying Islands, 2019).

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