Poetry by Justin Lowe

WOOLWICH ARSENAL, 1915

beyond

what passes for amusement

here

the none-too-subtle

pound-of-flesh Jacobeans

the penny-dreadfuls of the belle epoque

beyond

tart whispers of equipages

and of the leaching of manners

by the modern diktat

of the mess hall queue

and the Zeppelin’s feline shadow

beyond

the knuckles of sulphurous fog

in the estuaries

beyond

the sly mockery of a porpoise

painted on the pub shingle

casting its blind eye

over the rotting hulks

of the musselmen

bobbing on the poison tide

DAWSON CITY

I knew prairie cold that never really left me

I knew fingers of ice clutching the panes

the fire refracted there I knew

from the centre of a room whose every inch

and every dark dusty crevice I knew

I knew the baying of the wolves at the solstice

and the ewes kicking in their pens I knew

like the cough of a pick in the frozen ground

I knew the mute plea of the milky sun

bound to those bare distant hills bleeding gold in the dawn

I knew the flicker of prospector’s fires in the leeward crags

the owl’s lament I knew all too well

the chilblains it sang of through the nights of fever

when the room filled with a chattering horde

taking turns to run their bony fingers

down the length of my one thin blanket

their pity I knew and the soft parade

of their faces in the snow drifts

days too short to be worth counting I knew

and nights that are still inside me

Poetry by Justin Lowe

Justin Lowe is a poet, editor and occasional reviewer who lives in the Blue Mountains. His seventh poetry collection of poetry is The Picketer (2019). He is published internationally, including in Meanjin, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Cortland Review. He edits poetry blog Bluepepper and has had poems put to music by The Whitlams and The Impossibles.

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