Congratulations to October’s (tied) Poems of the Month, as selected by Anthology Editors, Ros Schulz and Karl Cameron-Jackson: The Handover by Sharon Foulkes and Lorne in B Flat by David Cookson.
The Handover by Sharon Foulkes
Friday at sunset,
and the junction diner churns with the weekend influx.
grabbing a snack for bribing the kids into silence, and
steeling themselves for the dazzle and blur that’s ahead.
breathing relief at temporary escape from the concrete, and
filling the fidgeting horde in the hope that they’ll sleep.
But, at a clean corner table,
a woman sits alone.
headlights are streaks in the darkening glass.
football’s a silent dance on the screen.
She stiffens and shifts in her chair,
and standing there, a man in shirt and tie
hands her a bundle of pink pyjamas
and a floral back-pack.
“Tell her you’ve had some special chips.”
Best be done with it quick –
up this close, the chasm yawns between them,
and deep within, the heat begins to roil and spit –
So the week’s events are dropped unshared
(the delight in the puddles, solo flight on the swing).
They fall soft as white ash, as he turns.
The bundle stirs and whimpers, unfurls awake.
Although she’s mothered in welcoming arms,
her heart’s too full of the grief of leaving.
Rock and soothe,
Wipe a tear,
Smooth the brow,
Mum is here –
How long before the hurt’s too deep to reach?
It’s getting cold – they have to go
(judging eyes, suspicious looks).
Her mother gathers all her things,
and takes her wavering hand –
now comfortably encumbered, guides her on.
She is the never-there-yet, the empty-away.
Lorne in B Flat by David Cookson
In the town curled below rain forest
street lights tint rags of mist.
I am the only patron
in a bistro narrow gutted
as an eel
where mine host
in iced-white chef’s hat
has jazz on the stereo.
A brass barnacled J
his saxophone perches in a corner
and when I guess Coltrane on the CD
he must practise Lesson 3 for me,
while from the kitchen
my cannelloni seduces with garlic.
Fork as baton, I beat time for a lullaby
blurred by false starts and apologies.
Unbidden, he pours more wine.
I surrender to pasta perfect as Bach,
as we discuss other jazz greats.
The CD stops;
distant surf a counterpoint
to the sudden quiet.
‘Ah, one day,’ he muses,
fingers already straying to the keys.
He waves away payment,
starts lesson 3 again.
I walk home, the lullaby an echo,
watch the moon chase clouds