A- A A+

A cassowary in Tinbuctoo

1 Comment
Chris Wallace-Crabbe |  16 October 2016

 

Selected poems

 

Through the looking glass

Our dreams and mirrors meet in cousinhood.
Their language can't be quite the same as things
but each rejoices in some vividness,
the bright machinery of metaphor.

Since life can become as sad as All Get Out
some of us hoard dreams;
we love a looking-glass
which can be coaxed to flatter us to death,
just when changing in a trouser-shop.

Otherness takes all mickey out of the Real,
pretending to dismantle transience,
reassembling lots of splinters as pure form,
more delicious than hot buttered toast

or avocado. Thriving by similes
we look for likeness, parallels ... whatever.
The mirror reprimands me when I shave,
wrinkles and whiskers turning cousins, then.

So I turn back to rigorous aesthete,
reject the living world for, say, Vermeer;
yet when all the blinds have been pulled down
another me treks greenly through blue dreaming.

 

 

Timbuktu

When I was a kid, I certainly knew
That a cassowary in Tinbuctoo
Was able to eat a missionary,
Cassock, bands and hymn-book, too.

Because it rhymed, it had to be true
But what on earth were those bands doing?
Nothing musical, I'll be bound,
And a cassock, what sort of jigger was that?

There's a famous library over there
All a-crumble, dry and falling into dust —
No, there are lots of facts, in fact,
Surviving the gloomy ills of history

On the site we now spell Timbuktu.
Famous for books in the olden days,
And culture continues to crumple there
Like everywhere else, but more.

The women? Beautiful and glorious,
Enamoured authorities gravely informed us,
Though the town has run short of salt
Every year or three.

So, there we have the golden city
With its miles of mellowed pise houses
Swayed under billowing fables, too.
What was it that I thought I knew?

 


Chris Wallace-CrabbeChris Wallace-Crabbe is an Australian poet and emeritus professor in the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne.

 



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

Dear Chris, I enjoyed your poetry, but my version of the rhyme about Timbuctoo spoke of the missionary with his bible, prayer book and hymn book too!

Jean Sietzema-Dickson 22 October 2016

Similar articles

My last poem

8 Comments
Max Richards | 10 October 2016

Max Richards'You'd be on the beach with me, dearest, and your favourite birds nearby as if making gifts of themselves to you. Sharing was what we were doing, and there seemed no end to it, though there would be, darkness coming on, no knowing when but not yet, not quite yet.' Poetry by Max Richards, who died after sustaining head injuries in a car accident in Seattle on 21 September.


Bobbling their way from innocence to experience

1 Comment
Barry Gittins | 13 October 2016

Queen Elizabeth II bobbleheadI attempted at one stage to lodge snippets of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience into the minds of our children. Emily complained that 'symmetry' didn't really rhyme with 'hand or eye'; Ben was and is more into dragons than tigers. The question later pondered of Blake's tiger 'Did He smile His work to see? Did He who made the lamb make thee?' regularly confronts me, as my wife semi-mourns and I embrace the maturing process that is taking our children towards adulthood.


The heart heals itself between beats

4 Comments
Elizabeth Smither | 03 October 2016

Heart diagramI read it somewhere in a journal of cardiology. Sometimes I mention it at dinner parties. The use of time, the clenching of the heart that can be no stranger to the beats of a clock, and all that accompanies the emptying and filling of chambers where silence must be an unknown but still love sluices and cleans and restarts as the surgeons did in the old Middlesex.


Refugees returning home

5 Comments
Jena Woodhouse | 26 September 2016

Sudanese refugeesAcross the black hole of my solitude, the self-indulgent pit where I lick self-inflicted wounds, lightly step returning refugees. They know why they trek through forest, crossing rivers, day by day, on bruised and lacerated feet, in rain, on clay, on sharp-edged stones. For them there is no other way, and they are going home ... They have no doubt where they belong, the dying and the newly-born, no time to squander on regrets: they are going home ...


My life with dwarfism

5 Comments
Julie Guirgis | 22 September 2016

Julie Guiris baby photoBeing unique has its pros. It has made me a compassionate person able to see past the differences in people. And although I am a dwarf by birth I don't identify as that. Being the creative free-spirit that I am I have come to reject any labels put on me. I haven't let my medical condition define me; instead I have created my own identity. As the writer Helen Keller once said, 'Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.'