the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Ian C. Smith


Dawn, the end of Daylight Saving
the sound of birds like scarred children
currawongs, black beaks bleak eyes
another night of portentous dreams.

Earlier light now, I yearn to recall
spent seasons of innocence
those dreams so slyly evasive
like government liars language abuse

the selfish belief that youth
is inexhaustible unlike oil
its black desert wells bleeding dry
these cocks darkening the sky

above my sundered fence line
gorging on glistening poison berries
me silent while Iraq burns on TV
the looming sun reflecting red.



In youth his ship steamed to war
where he was wounded by what he saw
excepting places of antiquity
their half-hidden songs and stories.

Riding his luck on his return
he recalled how he always yearned
for knowledge tantalising
beyond the docklands' reach.

Fair swap, tuition for war service.
Just to borrow books was bliss
and ready access to salient minds
first prize in his Golden Casket.

He found it acceptable there
among such privilege, to air
his socialist slant. Poetry, plays
and philosophy secured him.

Rolling his own, he dubbed our leaders
The Hollow Men, no believer
in Australia's heartless politics.
Whitlam, alone, escaped censure.

His students buzzed with zeal
discussing artists in any field.
Brecht, Copland, or Francis Bacon
he saw their work with clarity.

He loved literature's truthful freight
gently nudged open the magic gate
for those who shared the urge to learn
his night classes free theatre passes.



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