Valerie Volk is an Adelaide writer of poetry, verse novels and prose fiction. With more than a hundred poems published in journals, newspapers, anthologies, and seven books, she at last feels entitled to put the word ‘writer’ as her occupation on official forms. Her first poetry collection, In Due Season, won the Omega Writers’ CAEB poetry prize in 2010, and she has been a regular contributor to the Friendly Street Poets meetings and annual FSP Anthologies.
The writer’s jungle
For writers are the scavengers of life.
We prowl the wasteland of our past experience.
Sniffing carrion on the air, we raise our heads, alert,
circling, narrowing down the hunt,
until we find the moment that we’re scenting,
quietly decaying, then we pounce.
I’m minded of the Garner story, and the notes she took
standing at the graveside of a friend.
So many others shocked …I nod my head
in decorous agreement, but all the time I’m thinking
‘I could do that too.’
Once there, we do not treat the flesh
with proper privacy. No, instead we burrow in.
Compelled by need – or greed – we ravage corpses,
then pick the bones with a disgusted gusto
’til soon another poem is completed,
and we sink back replete.
There came a sudden gash of crimson, gold,
that briefly tore the veils of green apart.
Caught unawares I looked up with a start
of wonder. They were gone. But then a bold
and joyous screech slashed through the air, and told
in incandescent glory all the art
that bursts in sound from the full-throated heart
of birds exulting in the dawn’s hushed cold.
It is too easy to miss moments rare
when life’s accepted monotones are riven
by fleeting glimpses of another world,
for in the cool grey of the morning air
an unexpected happiness was given
and shining transient rainbows were unfurled.
Lunatic leaves whirl
in wild fandangos
along the rain-swept pavements,
then, spinning in abandonment,
cavort to gleaming tarmac.
The headlights of my car
capture the dervish frenzy
as they twirl and swoop
oblivious to danger.
they die in wind gusts,
then spring to life again.
Paper thin, torn scraps,
their madness lasts,
until they swirl to death,
beneath my wheels.