Transparent Words - Poetry
5 poems by Lesley Burt
breakfast radio forecasts sunshine.
Fathers abandon DIY, load the car,
leave the city,
head for the south coast
where they hammer a sequence
of windbreak stakes into sand
on three sides of piled towels and baggage;
double-check stability and line.
mothers grease everyone’s shoulders
with sickly-scented cream from orange bottles,
then recline -- facing the sea --
behind dark glasses and OK Magazine
until it is time to dole out sandwiches.
Children dig, squeal, demand
ice cream and drip rivulets
down gritty elbows and bellies.
the beach is a colony
of diverse immigrants:
baggy shorts cling to wet thighs
beneath droopy paunches;
Lycra clutches taut buttocks;
red breasts balloon over, or nestle inside, bikinis.
watch their neighbours
but speak to none; unless
the blue-and-yellow striped boundaries
require repair; or are breached
by a disorderly football or toddler.
Keep in Touch
Having disordered rows of loungers to shun
shade cast by matching umbrellas, holiday-
makers watch one another from behind their
sunglasses. Heads move on the Mediterranean,
apparently disembodied. Lumpy ladies stroll
and smooth babes strut the sand. A German
with sun-blocked lips sprawls while his woman
occasionally leans across, with a twinkle of well-
browned breasts, to stroke his porcine belly hair.
He remains oblivious of all but his state-of-the-art
mobile phone which is perched - dressed left -
on his trunks. It fails to ring. He must therefore
reach for it often, check its display, see it in his palm
and, reassured, caress it with forefinger and thumb.
Pheasant in March
Guns are silent until October.
He is safe to strut the fallow field,
decked out in chestnut, bronze
and black brocade.
burnishes silky plumage
on the verdant coverlet.
He is dressed to be noticed, admired;
the hen bird - close by.
He fluffs his feathers
to exaggerate his presence;
minces round her
with one wing lowered
as if to embrace her.
he flaps both wings, dances,
hoping she will respond.
She consents, crouches; he mounts.
Seconds later, she wanders away
while he pecks among the grass,
The Beach at Sanur, Bali
I watch Mount Agung become wrapped in mist
all the way from base to crater till it disappears;
meanwhile men holding painted umbrellas stand
thigh-deep to fish in placid lagoon.
Surfers ride across the reef.
Beyond them a white sail advertises Bintang beer.
Women in green and gold place offerings for gods -
rice and fruit on banana leaves - at the shore.
Patrolling traders tout fake Rolex, bottled water, cigarettes,
along the ranks of greased and reddened Europeans.
Wind-chime melodies of gamelan waft to my ears.
Bats hidden in palm trees occasionally squeak.
I am in shade. So are several cages woven like lobster pots,
wicker so imprisoned cockerels can scratch earth.
Nyoman and Wayan moor a glass-bottom-boat.
They come to check their roosters’ wellbeing; open locks.
The cockerels inch forward.
The men restrain them, caress silky plumage;
loosen hold for a moment.
Each bird thrusts a neck; a leg; prepares to charge;
then glares at the other, frustrated by renewed grip.
I breathe again and retrieve my book from the sand
Navy-blue sky cups
morning star beside crescent
Bathroom windows frame
Impressionist portraits: blurred
nudes in yellow light.
Where bare branches scrape,
crimson blisters bubble, streak
across dawn’s pale face.
Tyres emboss snakeskin
trails as they slither from home
on frosted tarmac.
A flock of seagulls
scatters overhead, shaken
from pillows of cloud.