Ralph Bleechmore

Ralph Bleechmore is a motorcyclist and fern-grower who organised the trains for Nimbin in 1973. He dances the salsa and cumbia and likes jazz and travelling, anywhere, especially by motorcyle. He is a criminal lawyer and spent several years in central and South America, and in Asia and Africa.

He has published poems in many Friendly Street readers and been anthologised in Tuesday Night Live (1993).

Nuns in Panama City

Poor Little Sisters

White nuns footless ghostly glide
Spotless cross the city-square
Straight of back and eyes to front
Sweeping past like punctuation
Correct in their articulation
Pressed by neither will nor want
Shapeless blessed by force of habit
They disappear, in evening air.

From Tuesday Night Live and Friendly Street No. 12

La Companera Dos

The Nicaraguan militiawoman

I glimpsed her from behind
in a group of soldiers
her head thrown back
  as if laughing.
She was collared in khaki;
her rifle slung, oiled and ready
barrel black, bristled, nestled
muzzled near her ear,
among long locks
forever falling,
  shining and coiling…

From Friendly Street No. 18

Between Them and Us

It came to me,
lying in the half-awake,
that all that lay between
them and us
was something membrane-like –
a skin. And I could stretch
my hand into the dark
to touch the dead.

In the night,
palm-up and slightly cupped,
stretch out your hand
and feel, in time,
a distant touch returned.
Dwell on the one you choose
whose hand you wish to touch;
feel those many things
you left unsaid.

Sometimes, in the day,
I have touched the dead
and felt that same membrane.
Sometimes, I have touched
the living, and felt the same.
One time, I touched myself
in the center of the palm
and felt that skin –
a sign, perhaps of death nearby
or ever-present hastening.

Stretch out to touch the dead.

From Friendly Street No. 22