Kerri_Shying_R

Common of Garden Poets #12 – Kerri Shying

 


Where the bees rest where the butterflies play


                                                                  “What we most need to do is to hear within us 

                                                                     the sounds of the earth crying…”

                                                                                     – Thich Nhat Hanh



from October the trees are all betrothed        each

to the gardener                        in nets  white gauze    

figs      peaches sequestered from the busy beaks

and teeth          of bats and birds

the day            sultry as a girl in her slip swimming     

waiting on the Southerly Buster

cicadas  heat from the city      a brown bubble popped

by flat-iron cloud-banks                      

high and sharp as the beaked head of a kookaburra

tall sky and 

gratefully I’m small

 

up the hill 

march the white

agapanthus                  forcing genetic breaks

onto our purple beauties          scrambling the misty blues

to hybrids        there is no 

            one garden       in my street

 

I see     the Ice flower

nipped out on a beach walk    mini red-fringed suns

succulents  rescued from places where old age gave way

to builders’ aspirations            pieces of old friends

the Mentone red geranium that Gaagang saw from his pram

Hoya from the balcony           back at the flat           the boys had

in Drummoyne            your tree

  a pencil planted just before

you died

 

begonias like Mum’s   pelargonium from The Redemptorists 

a fine piece of Menken’s building   lotus out of farm dams

mingle a floral beer garden    with tin peacocks

and galahs                   turmeric  galangal  Vietnamese mint 

vanilla orchid                         mustard greens

are you hungry            thinking how to mow around 

the condiments                        and if you’ve ever seen a chicory flower

mauve and  delicate as tissue 

 

 

I see a garden built by birds by bats   

 bullrushes

flown in  yonder          from Ash Island 

White Cedar    loquat  air mail

in a sweep of feathers

    the odd drop of oyster shells           

beside the Jizo statue

bark     depends from gum tree           piling around roots

mandarin and finger lime        lemons            parsley

all engrossed with weed         with blue tongues

pushing up in pots       in tubs in cisterns

 

anywhere

these tiny         hair-drawn feet

can tread





Kerri Shying – part two..

Kerri Shying is a poet of Wiradjuri and Chinese family, publishing across many journals and anthologies. 

She is the author of a bilingual pocketbook of poems “sing out when you want me”,2017, Flying Island Press,   “Elevensies”, 2018 Puncher and Wattman and “Knitting Mangrove Roots”2019, Flying Island Press.

Kerri held the Varuna Dr Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship for 2019 for her current collection  ‘Know Your Country” 2020, Puncher and Wattman, and was shortlisted in 2017 for both the Helen Ann Bell Prize and the Noel Rowe Award. 

Kerri has been convenor of Write Up for 5 years, a free arts/writing group for people living with disability.

She lives with disability in Newcastle, NSW with her famous dog Max Spangly. 

Kerri is a nominee in https://theaspireawards.com.au 2020, an activity of the Human Rights Commission, for disability activism in the arts. 

Gumar

Speaking – Uncle Ray Kelly snr

what i’m doing   today    wishing i was 

with   the bronze winged pigeon   cousin
she’d make me laugh   the hairless cats

the dachshund made of ball bags  pickled
grey pink asked her once if an animal with

hair arrived   at their place would they shave it
she made that face  that went back years

crossed the generations   we are the arms
the legs the bodies mouths speaking gumar

spilling laughter    hiding  feathers

Emptying tea leaves in autumn

this half moon   golden   stuck

by mist along the nest side 

of the yucca tree   night

calls winter       one quilt

        nestling animals   grown indoor

in weeks


books and porridge 

talk to me from behind

say  its time for fire

we’re waiting on


the other side

Nothing like Nimbin

suffering   the climate doesn’t

lend itself to   real hard  scour

for the poor   see the bastards
loll   about in board shorts

growing veggies  like the climate

eggs them on  a failure

to participate  is no great thing
the ferals    like the old blokes say

some in every town  back out where

the dairy farmers were  before the soy
the nuts   the milk that went the way

of lard
I’ve been running round all week

on the chase   for how much heroin

it takes to kill a normal person

just try coming out with that   and

they say decency

is dead
I wish it was you
before you get    the wrong end

of the stick      in my own defence

I have to say   love is

consensual    the underclass

could mind their business too
I’m knitting mangroves    root by root   surviving

night and day    the inrush of the tides  i’m 

waterlogged I’m dry   I’m all the decades  of fringe sitting

knitting  and unwinding   telling    keeping secrets

all the words destined to wash up    this
kitchenette my laundry  torn apart by crabs
sluiced to sea    relying as I do on you   the moon

aiding and abetting   sun   if they can prove it    

so many other crimes    I live between the heat the bats

this under over     day and night    the leaves the 

tips the roots the air the water   knitting    all the time

parental advice

you can disguise the way

your past stinks

            fake a shallow grave      just

            halve the normal depth   so your decoy

fuckwittery can be inserted  

as a gravel bed   to divert a nose from

sin        guilt      shame  

your belief that

others ought not  look your

            way

            again    
you

take the corpse of something small       a

crime of less significance                       classic

            is the body of a dog

            to hide the remnants

of a man 
let

the finding of the one   account for the stench

of that it pains you to explain    admit 

account for nothing
who digs 

deeper anyway

Kerri Shying

Kerri Shying is a poet of Wiradjuri and Chinese family, publishing across many journals and anthologies. 

She is the author of a bilingual pocketbook of poems “sing out when you want me”,2017, Flying Island Press,   “Elevensies”, 2018 Puncher and Wattman and “Knitting Mangrove Roots”2019, Flying Island Press.

Kerri  held the Varuna Dr Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship for 2019 for her current collection  ‘Know Your Country” 2020, Puncher and Wattman, and was shortlisted in 2017 for both the Helen Ann Bell Prize and the Noel Rowe Award. 

Kerri has been convenor of Write Up for 5 years, a free arts/writing group for people living with disability.

She lives with disability in Newcastle, NSW with her famous dog Max Spangly. 

Kerri is a nominee in https://theaspireawards.com.au 2020, an activity of the Human Rights Commission, for disability activism in the arts. 

Here’s some Elevensies from “Knitting Mangrove Roots”

saw his hands  stimming over lies

and thought    it’s good you’ll be gone

soon   those buckled bulbs  for

fingernails   the giveaway  of a heart

about to blow   the eloquence of illness
far surpassed the itchy dogs that fell   limping from his mouth
nothing he said worth a dollar on the

open market   no exchange rate    for

who’d pay  some stories   ought

to die   those names for things  rubbed out

in the sand   the beginning    it was the word
why can't you whisper  it to me 

has it got to be this  shout from

one day to the next    every sinew

pulled up hard   each movement

 effort to caress what  ails    the
buttress on a falling wall  with sticks
is how i see my mind  these days

one more  pill in the phalanx  that wheels

across the week  this skirmish  or another

there is no battle    just a little less

 nothing  can be won
someone   mentioned  relativism 

in a tv show and    i thought that’s

about as café as the conversations

get  if you aren’t working   maybe

if you are  pissed you get a chat   to live  
in the revolving door  of commerce
the life social  that’s the glitter the

edible gold  in your champagne   stand

here and watch   the yearly immigration

like koels  the cab doors slamming at

2am  we raise them then they go
cream blossoms  take a drench 

beside the house the lotus pond

refills   a season  grows we have

no thought to name    the fifth

among   the too cold   too warm
here where people of the just-enough-land
pride themselves on  common

ground   this anomaly unsettles

like the lady doctor  speaking

in the house   today  answer  best

to turn your back and go the other way
three  o’ clock all i’ve had   is one cup

of coffee  soy milk     i try to imagine

eating    the fridge  is full    so full the door

fights back   listen  to my tongue   stinging

a rebuke   go on   eat your tea
beside my heart i hear   the acidness of hollow
space   pause   if i have grown to like the gnaw

my juice on flesh  my spine  a pinion to the bed

go  now hear the lettuce see the ham all wrapped

in calico  boil  rice  at least    it’s the anxiety of pain

i tell myself    you don’t have to make a meal of it
drought is in our faces now   the sea

the blue distraction   no help from

the dusted wind   i hear the back door

slamming   like a drummer    why

not rub it in    where did we think
the topsoil  of the country  would stay
not a drink to wet it down   roots

so far forgotten  they are frailer than a

thought   death lasts longer   the whole place

is on the move   still we  can’t modify

a thing   until our nostrils   cake

Some covid-19 poems; us lot had to isolate more and for longer but had more experience of isolation. Maybe we did better?

Mr Whitmont

jam your hands

in your pockets

of your suit

at the lights
I wanna see

your arse-peach

tight against

woollen superfine
business men

come back

with the right slits

shroud hips
zoom has let me down

I'm ready for the show

wakings

whether 8am or midnight lately

have been calling for attention    where

none is due      no bus to catch and still the

call to regimen a stump jump plough    persistent         

hooks   the tender lobe skin   skull bindings
         lacking that flying buttress    others
strain against demands   that ping in on

the minute       insistent  spruikers  

human potential      what a movement

what a trip to nowhere    sells you a police 

hat and cuffs     says here    arrest yourself

emperor of nothin in the land of nowhere

quaking in our boots  by the billboards 

gather   too much too late         wickedness

and words   that change directions like the

swallows  of that facebook viral video
we all sought  to marvel            lost to hard work

holding out for images  seated in the

deckchairs        with one hand full of helium

balloons           fantasy of forward 

upward   sky-high    imaginings of riches 
what's deserved is        never what we get

yesterday I swapped  a metal headband and

a floral garland  for three large lemons  at a

table up the street       they were out of

lemonade         I           fresh out of coin   the true

transaction                   that we met