Caroline Cleland

Caroline Cleland was born in 1950. She has a Welsh-Italian background and had a South Australian country childhood. She was a high school teacher of English and French for 20 years and is now working in administration for adult community education. Her poetry and short stories have been published in a variety of anthologies, magazines and newspapers.

Going Out Dancing

I want to dance the cha cha cha when I’m ninety-two
to laugh and flash my dentures, barndance my way to you.

To foxtrot fierce and feline and nibble at your ear
whirl wrinkling on below the twirling mirrored sphere.

I want to turn and twist in tangos, flaunt neck cords strand by strand
to fondle wine glass stems like ankles with a gnarled and leathered hand.

I’m going to rhumba past the band and bar, shriek out for more and
more and quickstep from Time’s chariot lying waiting at the door.

I want to nestle close for slow ones to slink and slide and swoon
to take your arm and sneak with you outside to stars and moon.

To powder cracks and touch up lips in loos lit up like flares
to swish back breathless, bright-eyed and brazen out the stares.

So take away the old folks home and church on Sunday please
I’m going to jive my way to Jesus and show Him I’m a tease.

From Friendly Street No. 14 and Tuesday Night Live

Blue Moon

Through a bathroom window in blue July
she sees the moon hang low and swollen,
cellulited in a winter sky.
Below the acid scent of depilated underarm
she shaves bristles from her legs
and her eyes steam up with tears above dark circles
like scum around the inside of a draining bath.
Her thoughts hand sad and sullen
like stubborn stalactites of soap
and thick and slow her words seep out, fixed
mid-flow like paste from uncapped tubes.
He smells of spice and pine.
His words are sharp and clean
like needles stinging from the shower
and in his eyes she sees the gleam of hotel mirrors, motel tiles.
His hair slicked back, shines silver in the light
and as he strokes the smoothness of his cheek
the gloss of soft moustache, she waits to hear him say
“I love to see the changing seasons in your face
to chase the shadows from your eyes
to stir the summer in your soul.”
And as the mirror clears
she peers to seize the drift of what he sees
to watch the moon-made mood run off in rivulets
like water down the walls
and when he calls
she dries herself, to dress and follow him
to take his arm beneath the high gold rim
of man-made sun
and walks with him
into the moonlit night.

From Friendly Street No. 14

Poetry Suitable for Radio

Simple narrative is best
you said
We must respect our listeners
Don’t mention indelicate things
you said
Like periods
Or should that be
you said COMMA
like periods
And there must be
no f words or c words
it was a fair cow of a job
getting rid of all the periods

From Friendly Street No. 17