Michael Sharkey has taught writing and literature in many universities in Australia and abroad for the past thirty years, and has published over a dozen collections of poems. He lives in Armidale, NSW, and travels between Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.
John on Patmos
(Hartman Schedel, Poland 1440-1514: Queensland Gallery)
Real estate is wound up here:
where a path spills down to the sea;
no magnificos’ villas encroach:
the fish are allowed to be free.
An eagle, head bent like a quizzical heron’s,
keeps watch as the writer,
inkwell in hand
sits by a Matisse palm tree.
Above, remote, a child on her lap,
a woman’s enthroned on a cloud:
the writer sees no strangeness there;
his head and eyes are bowed
toward the text upon his lap
where stranger things appear:
the world in flames and children
weeping as it disappears.
Dreams grow refined
but hardly appear to get better:
the plot is the same:
the window or door
that silently opens
and two hooded figures
come in through the dark
of the room
to the side of the bed:
the dead siblings or parents
or children approach once again
to steal sweetness from sleep.