Jeri Kroll

Associate Professor Jeri Kroll is Program Coordinator of Creative Writing at Flinders University. She has published on Samuel Beckett, contemporary poetry, the pedagogy of creative writing and children’s literature. As well, she is the author of eighteen books for adults and young people, including poetry, novels and picture books; most recent are Riding the Blues (2001) and Fit for a Prince (2001).

Indian Movies

for Selim

Oh those succulent thighs,
those breasts, prime pomegranates,
that mouth, a mango’s blush – you’re ready to burst.
That’s what glows in your eyes at the interval.
Luckily everyone else glints, too,
under the hot marquee.

On the silver screen she flows with zoftig grace,
though her lips are out of synch with the voice
(the richest disembodied voice in the business)
as she sings her western ways to the audience –
the wickedness of slacks and low-cut blouse,
her top lip wet with scotch,
evaporating the hero’s strength.
At home, his wife puts on her newest sari
bought at a temple sale,
lights joss sticks and lays out before his mother
excuses, tea, and hot pakoras.
The rabbits in her eyes turn tail.

You sympathize, but the vamp’s sharpened her nails
on flintier heroes.
Happily you squirm pinned like a moth,
letting your smile dissect your heart,
her teeth unknot your trouser string,
her breath contaminate your moral health.
Then in the dark, swelling collective sighs,
you give up vice for the heroine, soaked in the storm,
desirable through no fault of her own,
her sari clinging like virtue.

Three hours of being wrung, tuned up and mellowed –
even the interval’s magic!
You’re pressed next to a girl buying ice-cream.

Damp and sweet, you leave
free of undue emotion,
loving the dark and light where you now can bear
to wait till a wife is chosen.

From Friendly Street No. 9 and Tuesday Night Live


His penis floats like a white-tipped asparagus,
his tummy swells like a melon.
Turning, he flashes a bum
laced with egg-white froth.

I could kiss his knees
if he weren’t kneeling now;
when he sits they protrude
like peeled potatoes.

Everything about him’s edible,

Curls bloom red-gold over a forehead
clear as a myth,
smooth as a magic stone.
I kiss it and wish.

From Friendly Street No. 11 and Tuesday Night Live

Felis Domestica

She ate the body first, hoeing into the flesh
as if she’d been starved all winter.
No civilised diner, nibbling wings as hors d’oeuvres,
she got right to the point: the heart.
With each shake of her head, the body shrunk,
as she worked it into her mouth.

She knew I was there observing the feast.
Mice she left on the doorstep as a love gift.
But this was a bird, warmer and sweeter.
She wanted me to admire her skill,
to share in the pleasures of conquest.
My mouth watered against my will.
There was no smell. And the sound of her perfect teeth
having something worthy to tear.
My response was elemental as her leap
with extended claws. Or the bird’s fear.
She is a hunter, after all.
She eats canned fish from habit,
prefers the dry pellets. Now I know why.
They crunch like bones.

Soon she was on the wings,
grinding the frame fine as mist.
She sniffed a few stained feathers. What was left?
The head: eyes like unpolished stones.
Then with a nip and a toss that was in her jaws, too.
She chewed methodically. Finally only the beak
lay on the grass like some odd metal piece
you find in a drawer. I went to open the door,
then turned. She was still sitting there on the lawn.
The beak was gone.

From Friendly Street No. 18