David Gilbey is Senior Lecturer in English at Charles Sturt University (where he teaches Australian Literature, Children’s Literature and Creative Writing) and President of Wagga Wagga Writers Writers. His new collection of poems is Death and the Motorway, (Interactive Press, 2008). In September 2008 David is writer-in-residence at Bundanon. He is currently editing fourW nineteen, to be published in November 2008.
My former students take me downtown
for Japanese food and drink
through postmodern fashions of Kokubuncho,
the entertainment district.
Hisae is suffering a post-Hawaii virus
after her sister’s wedding.
Bikini flu? I ask, after the swimsuit photos –
then I have to explain the joke.
Chiharu shows phone pics of her new budgie.
Call him Red, I say,
you know how Australians like opposite nicknames –
It’s because they live upside-down. Antipodeans.
I can’t stop being the English teacher,
even after eleven years.
Akane comes late, orders beer and hoya,
daring me to try this Sendai specialty: ‘sea pineapple’
a soft shellfish whose orange flesh
you eat with vinegar, a dash of soy and ginger to taste.
‘Sea mango’ would be better: more accurate for size
and flesh colour, more palatably oxymoronic.
I want sashimi and order tarakiku,
the soft, whitish, brain-textured convolvulus
of the male codfish genitals. Oishi.
Yuko settles for maguro – burgundy tuna –
with aromatic shiso leaves, and only pretends to choke
when I hail it as ‘marijuana tempura’
Akane asks me for some words for this month’s
food ‘n fashion mag’s slogan ‘Exeo’ –
Japanese latin wanting a youthful urgency.
I suggest ‘break out’.
I write in my shadow
a fool in nature.
Curves flatten to lines.
What’s a good word?
She’d climbed a eucalyptus fork
over a dead stump,
stretched her arms along the ghost gum’s
half a world away
from the snows of Japan.
That was summer –
dryer, browner, greyer.
Now, in winter’s nervous sunlight
a single green blade splits a crack
in the lichened rock.
We stand on the hill
like silent haiku: strange
birds in dead branches.
Writing Class Sonnet
One day I was watching TV
suddenly I saw a illustration of a biscuits.
I married a rich man. And my friend won a billion yen in the lottery.
So I plan to go to Australia.
And I am without passport. So I need to obtain it.
The hotel there was more beautiful than our imagination.
At the lunch I eat crocodile and lasagne.
I go to sea and swim enough with a shoal of fishes.
We saw many famous animals.
If I have a driver’s licence I drive Ayers Rock,
Great Barrier Reef, desert, and so on.
Finally I would like to play the star watching.
Of course I buy souvenirs for my family and friends.
Maybe one day I become English teacher.