Peter Boyle

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Peter Boyle Poems

Who had children. Who died.
Who found himself lucky after thirty years
and stumbling home realised
it was a simple error.

Seven years old,
on loan to an uncle
and a bundle of cash went missing.
For three days locked in a room, beaten

You in the high-walled fortress of sleep
I on an island of wakefulness
bird-haunted, trapped by mist

The mountain beyond that pass has no name. It is too old for us to name it. The sea has the same colour as the sky but the mountain has the same colour as sand. Sand is not earth but a fluid shoreline that leads to the great cities.

I don’t know how many things there are in this world that have no name. The soft inner side of the elbow, webbed skin between the fingers, a day that wanders out beyond the tidal limits and no longer knows how to summon the

I am learning to see:
Long dark streets, a certain wall,
The intestines of houses left open to the sky,
Pipes hanging like disconnected throats.

When you wake again
the donkey will be standing idly in the road,
the old man will open his shop,
the seagulls will tread critically

Examine the candidate’s state of mind
as he inscribed the answers to all of the above
and estimate the temperature of his brain cells
as he lay awake in the cubicle at night

They opened the dikes five times that year to flood the land.
Cities were torched, the inhabitants bound and gagged,
then forced at lancepoint into the frozen canals.
I was executing yet another portrait of the public trustees of an orphanage

It’s three am in the morning
of a day you won’t enter for so many hours.
Where you are
yesterday’s sunlight still bathes your feet as you walk

The inhabitants of Phokaia are quite clear that their ancestors came from places far to the east, arriving in long ornately carved boats propelled by oars and a single sail. Yet the Phokaians possess no boats and had no

In the time of the great emergency Enobius, the Emperor of the Palmyran legions, was banished beyond the Ister on the charge of necromancy. Yet it is well known that, rather than contacting the dead, he was simply a man haunted by

Anaximenes was the first to calculate accurately the size of the universe. Whereas Nepenthe, daughter of the mathematician Ptarchus, devised the constant for the weight of the sky. Her cousin Mystra proved the different

Among the ancients of our people, the Hellenic homeland and its numerous colonies and sister cities, the poet was a figure uniquely admired and deeply feared. It is well known that poems can always be altered by a poet and that

In those days the sun was always sliding off the edge of the visible, vanishing then reappearing in the least likely places – a locked cupboard, a woman’s sandal, a darkened mirror or the shallow mound of earth where a gardener

At the front of our house is dawn
and the mist of the sea that enters our valley.

On tree-branches

In the feast laid out at Alcibiades’ house Terpander posed for us the question, “Why is it that time flows backwards?” Discussion continued on this topic for a while till the much-travelled Timon broadened our understanding with his

In Africa not far south of Kitezh, only a few days journey from Ebtesum, in several rich and spacious valleys can be found the most beautiful language on earth. The sounds of this language so enchant all who hear them, the rapture is

By morning
three women, an old man
with a cart, two children.

In Kitezh and the kingdoms nearby, though they know of stone and timber and partly use them as conditions require, they prefer to build with water. The most prized houses employ three or more interwoven waterfalls for their walls

Peter Boyle Biography

Peter Boyle is an Australian poet and translator. Peter Boyle was born in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1951. He has published nine collections of poetry, including The Blue Cloud of Crying and Coming Home From the World. Boyle has also published translations of Federico García Lorca, Luis Cernuda, Eugenio Montejo, César Vallejo, Pierre Reverdy, and others.)

The Best Poem Of Peter Boyle

The Unknowable

Who had children. Who died.
Who found himself lucky after thirty years
and stumbling home realised
it was a simple error.
Who ruled behind the scenes in the Department of Misinformation,
who was later conscripted
to underwrite Armageddon.
Whose hand was lost in a sawmill
and was met again as the strange dust
of a new-found galaxy.
Who migrated to the other world
but came home to bury the dog.
Who divorced and died of alcoholism
in the country town where destiny misplaced him.
Who topped high school, failed everything else
twice, married money, then slept through
the death of three children.
Who was invisible, became a wall, became a street,
entered real estate, bought a city,
retired into owning world opinion.
Who saw his son indicted for reluctance, shackled and maimed,
blamed for the colour of the sky.
Who inscribed his name in the old script,
the one no one reads anymore,
the one where things inscribe themselves
so what they are
reads itself back
in us.
Who was my shadow when daylight was.

Peter Boyle Comments

jackie 11 January 2018

robotic reading sucks :

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Carole Trickett 10 May 2014

I have to think about your poem a lot. It is wild. Many of your images just pop out. I am thinking about the thread of the story.

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