From The Front

Fixed ideas arrive on the beach;
as the storm falters
they disport themselves, will make
colourful patterns for art photography,
even then, fade, become one with their surrounds,
uninteresting edges to be tripped over.

So the mind makes a sequence:
freeze-frame, rusty nail in a gate,
weathered lines radiating, lost
in the whorl of the grain, the iris
disappearing to depths
beyond the back of a head

like a diagram of Garden City
and its bus routes, grey and red-brick
familiarities which make a door-knocker,
a set number of steps, some guide
to location. When streets take a semi-circle
blocks are thrown from perspective.

Hewn wood, chunks of mallee root,
brown against grey palings, carpets
of muddied sawdust, patterns in hard
concrete there for the invention of games:
hop this one, miss the lines, step on
a crack; ridges of moss on broken pipes;

old dog in a wooden box, flesh
lapping against splintering sides,
will sleep through noon, wake
when a downpipe cuts off the sun
and potplants strain forward. Observed closely
this landscape induces vertigo;

the ball spins back from New Right graffiti
to the half-cupped palm, is pitched again
and takes a tangent from a white line across asphalt,
shooting leftward over grass and nets,
and the park's inhabitants, barrelled in prams
or propped on sticks; its language. . . . .

Poet's Note: 1988