Zbigniew by Justin Lowe


I chose this life
it wasn’t thrust upon me
there have been enough conscript poets
it is what the poor of spirit
would call ‘a luxury’
all that others accrue I have jettisoned
to slow my sinking into the earth
what the impish of heart
would call ‘flying’
I have honed my life
like I have honed my art
down to a fine point
come too close and I will peck you
like a songbird
it is what the dilettante would call
‘a poetic temperament’
they would tell you that my heart
is all sinew, no muscle
like the hemp that dragged broken Hector
around the stern walls

The Forest

Tacitus gazes at the spluttering candle
and then over at the limp arms of parchment
dangling from the lectern

Tacitus can make shadows dance in the Teutoberg
but he cannot make shapes on the parchment
words vanish like the legions at the first cry of the curlew

Tacitus frowns at his slave and his slave splutters like the candle
holds the quill poised at the ready
he is like his master’s failure carved in stone

Tacitus wonders whether he should send the man away
he would like to spare himself this humiliation
but the slave is a learned man who condescends rather than obeys

Tacitus likes this about the man
this and his tendency toward candid appraisal
of his master’s account of distant events

he looks upon misfortune
as the domain of others
a foreign country

like the past

but he feels compelled to ask himself
while he awaits his master’s first word
on the matter

what exactly are the Romans’ plans for this shadow world
and how vast do they imagine this world to be
because it seems that every time they venture out into it

that world grows like a man’s mind
when he turns back to his maps and scrolls
after a long day in the fields

About the contributor

Justin Lowe is a poet, editor and occasional reviewer who lives in a house called Doug in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper. His seventh collection, The Picketer, was released late last year, and his latest, Hall of Mirrors, is currently doing the rounds of publishers. He has had poems put to music by such acts as The Whitlams and The Impossibles, and has published widely around the world in such publications as Melbourne’s Meanjin, The Sydney Morning Herald, and New York State’s The Cortland Review.

Related Articles

Luminous and other poems. Brenda Saunders

Brenda Saunders was awarded the 2014 Scanlon Prize for her collection 'Looking for Bullin Bullin' and in 2018 she won the Ooodgeroo Nunnucal Prize and the Joanne Burns Award ( Spineless Wonders).

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...

Wild Quiet- Derek Kannemeyer

Derek Kannemeyer was born in Cape Town, South Africa, raised in London.

More Like This

Poetry by Peter Mitchell

Peter Mitchell's poetry is inspired by the character of the birds of his native Australia.

Matt Dugan- Poetry

The Modern Pasquinade  Knack to all gamesmanship  is to always let the enemy  feel they are winning.  Become the ashes that keep burning;...

The scandalous mathematics of grace

Susan Howard writes about what affects her and what she observes in NZ and on the world stage.

A Field for the British Isles. Nigel Jarrett

Nigel Jarrett a double prizewinner: the Rhys Davies Award for short fiction and the Templar Shorts award.

Poetry by Angela Costi

Angela Costi's poetry is rich in both metaphor and meaning. In Jill's poem she recalls the tragic events surrounding the rape and murrder of Irish woman. Gilian Meagher.