A- A A+

My father's memorial service gets edgy

1 Comment
Ian C. Smith |  20 May 2013

In need of goodness and mercy

I am being lulled by visions of still waters
when my father's memorial service gets edgy.
Smoke pours from a meter box outside.
Firemen scurry importantly like comic extras,
unable to locate the smoke's source.
Spaced apart in orderly rows we swivel,
casting sideways glances through tall windows.

Organist and minister struggle with focus,
walking in shadowed valleys en route to death.
My frowning brother once worked as a fireman.
Like me, he has toiled in many fields.
Between wife and sister I can't see directly
but the angled windows reflect like mirrors
so I maintain decorum without missing the action.

Earlier, my nephew watched us parking,
long legs stretched out his car door,
smoking, listening to football on the radio.
I felt uncomfortable, fearing evil when
relatives spoke to my pregnant second wife,
exchanging crafty looks like the pious
as if burdened with shameful news about us.

In the presence of what seemed enemies
my mother told the minister I was a recluse.
Listening to his practiced inflexions
trying to make a stranger's life interesting
from the tidy fiction she has fed him,
estranged by a smokescreen, firemen crying out,
I feel this absurdity must surely stop.

 

Killiecrankie

I should have lingered on my last bay days,
admired the shell-scattered expanse,
the guardian mountain's changing colours.

I knew each walk could be the last
tracking footprints to the far rocks,
working out who distant figures might be.

When the loaded crayfish plane took off,
rising slowly through driven clouds,
why didn't I monitor it until my eyes ached?

I should have waded up the small river mouth
in the lee of dunes, beyond tide-crash,
mind-printing those returning black swans.

Did I dream I carried a pointed stick,
wrote a joking rhyme about leaving,
watched waves wash my silliness out to sea?

Each day I jumped from the flat rock
into the slipways in shivering ritual,
should have kept plunging in until exhausted.

I should have remembered our first summer,
the decrepit shack where we understood myth,
gazing past fishing boats towards Old Man's Head.

Why didn't I climb the bluff once more,
haul on those ropes, breath banging in my chest,
looking, looking over a dark sea at lamplight time?

 

Youth

Here comes Ian Smith, look at him,
whiffy disapproval under a whiskery nose
worrying the rest of his faux-suffering face.
But I knew him as a tattooed ne'er-do-well.
Has he forgotten or is this yet another
example of selective memory-warp?
This poet-dreamer has distanced himself
from the community of one that was him
when he never fretted about the bomb,
wouldn't be bothered about global warming
if polar ice was then as terminal as manners,
didn't care about global anything,
people slaughtering people, rampant greed,
other constants like lies, which he told
if it stoked his needs, which was often
to do with seduction or other solipsisms
on past roads that petered into cul-de-sacs.
Listen to the priestly-wise old fart's cant.
He's whitewashed his blood-red fizz to live.
I know he has. I knew him long ago. 


Ian C. Smith headshotIan C. Smith lives in the Gippsland Lakes region of Victoria. His work has appeared in Axon: Creative Explorations, The Best Australian Poetry, Five Poetry Journal, Island, Red Room Company, Southerly, and Westerly. His latest book is Here Where I Work, Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, 2012.


 



Comments

Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Submitted comments

The strong controlled utterance of a tough imagination. Thanks.

Joe Castley 21 May 2013

Similar articles

Giving stick to incipient police violence

5 Comments
Brian Doyle | 01 May 2013

Policeman wielding nightstickA nightstick doesn't sound fearsome, but when you see one up close you respect the inherent violence of the thing. I stared at it for a while, contemplating how a burly policeman with his feet set could deliver a cracking blow to a head or a shoulder or an arm flung across your face to protect your eyes and brains.


How an advertiser toppled a dictator

Tim Kroenert | 18 April 2013

'No' movie poster; paranoid-looking man looks over his shoulder, word 'No' is emblazoned above his headPinochet's supporters are, with good reason, banking on the populace's fear and willingness to maintain the status quo. Enter brash young advertising executive René Saavedra. His rusted-on socialist colleagues are at first aghast but gradually persuaded by his conviction that rather than wallowing in negativity, they should be selling optimism.


Greece's brush with linguicide

8 Comments
Gillian Bouras | 17 April 2013

Greek letter PiThe label 'crazy script' really infuriated me. The article suggested the Irish were all the better for having parted with their own 'crazy' Gaelic script in the 20th century. But an attack on a culture's language is an efficacious way of destroying the culture itself, and scrapping an alphabet seemed to me to be the thin edge of the wedge.


Perceval's delinquent angel

1 Comment
Various | 16 April 2013

Tricksy angel... is up to something, but will not reveal that tricksy intention ... it listens for the starting gun in the hands of a distant God.


'Naked Jihad' sacrifices feminism to racism

9 Comments
Ellena Savage | 12 April 2013

Amina Tyler's naked protestThe phrase 'white men saving brown women from brown men' derides the use of western feminist tropes to further colonial expansion. The anti-Islamic reaction of some feminist activists to the death threats suffered by Tunisian 'naked protestor' Amina Tyler does nothing to promote global solidarity among women.