the kiss

You find me in the secret place, that corner of
Rodin’s woods where his statues begin to thin,

forlorn in a sparseness of tourists who never
stray from the path or their first language,

where I’ve begun to wonder if I’m visitor
or visited, the wax heartbeat of a hot day.

You drag me to the shade where we hide from
the curator, wait for her to chain the gates,

lock us up in some out-of-hours limbic limbo,
insisting I’m a real boy: that an original rhythm

still thumps in me. — there’s room for two more here,
is what you said — already our skin peeling,

unfurling around ankles, discovering each
other’s earth.

The last light meets an unfettered moment, burns out
on our Balzac bodies, verdigris busy on new bronze.

Miguel Jacq (Victoria)


Where do you go?

Where do you go at night?
Do you wonder where I go? Whether I am really here?
Yesterday I rode the train but wasn't really there at all.
Years before I took a boat but all I know is that I did not drown.

Where do we go, if we go anywhere at all?
I know where I want to go, where I have been.
Why can I not tell you where I am now?

I roll into you. You roll away
                                                  into another
                                                                            space between us.

Leila Rahimtulla (Western Australia)

Bad Faith

Most often I spot them way off in the distance:
something in the gait and the weight of their symptoms
is bearing the stamp of repeat prescriptions.
Alarm bells screech, I turn on a sixpence
to cross roads inventing a previous engagement,
catch a flower arrangement, bend to tie laces,
bury my head in shop windows replete
with cheap trinkets. I tread light on my feet
for dejected spirits make cock-crow visits
and patches of ice combine with the rain
to throw me off-balance; I clutch at displacement
before facing ex-patients again.

Or maybe my elbow shudders at fingers
as a “Hello, stranger!” wraps round my shoulder.
I spin to a name that I can’t remember;
a drug, diagnosis or simply disorder.
The furrowed flesh of distress and despond;
their failure to bond and exasperation
with trial separations from errant husbands,
the scars and bruises borne by the infants;
a rooted abhorrence roared at the parents.
I am emptied of empathic slaps on the back —
all my unconditional regard is packed
into yellow plastic bags for waste disposal
alongside the attire of the non-judgemental.
What’s once contemplated can’t be unthought;
they take me at face value; I sell them short.

Raymond Miller (UK)


Orahovac poem

The man from Glasgow, surprisingly dull
and quick, like a sunshine of partial cloud,
stops near us and asks “These people, Serbs —”
We say they are Croats. It's not the same
to them. Take care. Think Scotland and England.
“Bugger that,” he says. “Do they have liquor?
Good stuff. Liqueurs and that?”. And we say Yes.
We are drinking Orahovac. Walnut.
We've had two litres in the last ten days.
We were surprised when we counted it. It is
delicious. He practices the name with us
and smiles: “Right then,” he says, walking off,
leaving his wife to speak apologies
and say that she prefers a glass of wine.
He returns with a brown bag: “Is this the one?”.
We say it is. “Right then.” He pulls the cork
and swigs a large mouthful; holds it; grimaces;
turns sideways to us and spits everything
on to the piazza. “Jesus Christ! That's bad.
What's that?” We say it's walnuts. “Is it now?
Nuts? I hate the bloody things. You have it.”
He pushes me bottle and top; and strides
towards the hotel bar, his wife following.

Lawrence Upton (UK)



I went to another dead end town
just to be somewhere else.
It was quiet
a few women in shops smiled at me
and i even got adventurous in Nando's
ordered something different.

There was a table in front of mine
about 10 young men on it
and time after time the girl came up with food and shouted it out
but they couldn't remember what they ordered
and some took other people's food.
Eventually they got it all.

As i was about to get up for a drink
one of the men got up
He was carrying his plate of chips
but as i got up behind him
he went for a drink
I thought he was going to put some sauce on his chips
but he didn't he just went back to the table
with his drink and plate of chips
I guess he didn't trust the blokes at his table
I can't blame him
sometimes it is hard to trust

Marc Carver (UK)