5 poems by Jonathan Shaw
Nessie looks up
Past ten o'clock, the possum comes
for nectar from next door's tall grevillea
unnoticed by our neighbours or by us
but something snaps awake in Nessie
drives her from her bed
and hurls her through the dog flap
with a soft, full-throated bay
that threatens murder.
By the time we reach the door
she's locked on to her target --
a shadow among shadows in the leaves --
she's scrabbling for a foothold on the fence
would fly up if she could
barking bloodlust, barking outrage,
bark to burst the night to pieces
bark obsession, bark desire
bark to break her spirit free
(whimper) bark to bark to bark to bark to bark.
Last night (we were out) she barked for hours.
Tonight I grab her collar
shout the one command she knows
shove her rear end to the ground.
She growls as if she's swallowing the storm
and lets me drag her back inside
while the wretched shadow possum
remains untouched and silent
as the moon.
A snorer to his beloved
Each night this dance: I snore, you wake, you poke,
I turn, there's quiet. Both go back to sleep
until I snore again, not waves that break
on sand and whisper, rustle down a beach --
think rather of a cyclone howling through
a roof, nails wrenched from timber, klaxon horns,
my palate's galvo flapping to be free
lungs suck hard to drag air rattling down
and then your weary hand on my shoulder,
one touch, a summons, not enough to wake me
a word perhaps, nothing I remember,
the crisis passes, we sleep on sedately.
Ten thousand nights, my love, these organ tunes
have brought our bodies dancing through to dawn.
This stone was in the midst of all
the others in my yard. Now
I hold it in my palm
shaped somewhere on a creek bed,
streamlined but not polished.
Wet or dry, sunlit or in shadow
it refuses to be beautiful.
There is no god
and yet among these beige, dun,
charcoal, almost ochre grains
bound fast now for centuries
and turning in my fingers
a scattering of pinpricks flash.
Conversation while walking the dog
'JOY 911' he read. 'In the US,
that numberplate would get you in trouble.'
She said, 'Why?'
'See? While my mind flits idly
from fancy to fancy
yours keeps to what's real
frets at agendas
kneads out solutions.'
'Oh no,' she said,
'When your mind's off duty
it plays in the words
that it finds in the world.
whether to kill myself now
or wait two more years.'
From the frontpage news
The expert witness said
she had been pitched over the cliff
by one man
one hand in the groin and another around her neck
as he ran along the ledge
and pushed with all his might
Could she have dreamed
a lover's pushing
one hand between her thighs
another on her neck
would one day send her flying
to such a death?