Poetry by Paul Scully


I scavenge for breath, swallow electricity, dream ice.

Snowflakes kiss the brow of the window

            on the captain’s bridge. Filigreed skeletons


of crystal emerge from this slurry

under the massage of the wind. Growlers

scatter the ocean while the chasms below

sing with blue whales and giant squid.  King penguins

hug landcusps channelled by glaciers rich

in imprisoned oxygen. The gas slips its knots

with a turquoise grace when the glaciers

calve and marry the sea in sculpted rituals.

I wake to heat beneath the skin. 


The newly haloed-couple before us, tuxedo

and tulle gown like nuptial plumes, their wedding dance

once precise steps become as breath; ours is hushed.

I recall a brolga on a visit to Kakadu, in legend

a young girl who gambolled like an aurora and dreamed

herself wings in the fledgling dawn. Stately in courtship,

she bobbed her head, bowed, flexed, launched

a cloud-skimming leap and jeté of continents.

(Saint Thomas the Apostle, the Doubting Thomas)

                             An itch to unshackle the world led me into late night

                             trawls through libraries and textbooks. A sentence tripped

                             me up.  It swelled into a credo I sang as a miracle in a choir

                             I joined courtesy of a poster on a telegraph pole.


                 We marched the streets, knocked on doors and proclaimed

                 salvation on Sunday afternoons on step ladders in the shade

                 of a buttressed fig. The light glinting off the nearby

                 gallery’s sandstone haloed our earnestness.

                                                                                     After cycling

                 unheard through the dutiful years that followed, we began

                 to argue over split infinitives and irrelevance crept

                 in like a mist.


                                         I hitched a ride on a mainstream bus

                where, while shepherding wayward voters through banners

                and leaflet litter, I was schooled in the virtue of achievement

                and unearthed a talent for parsing the middle ground. Persistence

                awarded me a seat of suburbs and handshakes, a weekend

                of dedication stones and the confection of heroes.


                Now my life is undulation,

                                a sea of moods,

                            ears of wind,

a self I submit for appropriation.

           In the chamber they once knew me as combative and relentless

           when on song,

                                    whereas I now nurture within a dancer’s form,

                                    a rhythm of silken steps and wind-ribbon limbs.

           Even when the speeches are drought-inflected,

             my face plain as curtain,

             I am warmed by heel-spark

             on a flinted floor.


           There is a man not of this world             anointed for us,

            who was also

                           trammelled by quarrel

                                                                                       and doubt, who parted

                                                                                       his leader’s ribs

                                                                                       and thrust into the maw

                                                                                       in search of truth.

                        But I tremble at shaping myself to his choreography, for I seek 

                                             more what is kind than what is true.     

About the contributor

Paul Scully is a Sydney-based poet currently undertaking a Doctorate in Creative Arts at Sydney University. He has two published collections, An Existential Grammar and Suture Lines. His poems have been commended and short-listed in major literary awards and published in print and online journals in Australia, the UK and USA. His website is www.paulscullypoet.com.au

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