Rae Desmond Jones
Rae Desmond Jones is a poet much published in the olden days. His most recent book was Blow Out (Island Press, 2009). After many years spent in the wilderness of local government, including a period as the Mayor of Ashfield, a tiny Principality near Sydney, he has returned to poetry. He does not fear death half as much as being boring.
Photograph by John Tranter
The Kindly Ones
Mid Summer in the South
When ice shelves slide softly
Off the edge of Antarctica
& start to drift North
In the merciless tides,
Three cracked old women
Nudge each other
Along the broken brick footpath
To the little table outside
There are only two chairs
So the shortest stands in the sun
Beneath an umbrella hat embossed
With the Australian flag,
In grimy Koala bear slippers.
The other two slurp Coca Cola
With ice cream, dabbling their straws greedily
In the brew while the short one
Plants her arms on her waist
(wrists folded in) & complains –
The large women smile
& one rolls a cigarette & lights up,
Allowing the smoke to collide softly & inevitably
Against the frozen glass door.
Through the cloudless haze
The mad women hear the distant hiss
Of roiling ice & they nod
As a Southerly wind spins & whirls
Across the burning tarmac
Into the light
Silvio the God
Perhaps there is such a thing as a national psyche,
Even when the world is trussed like a turkey
In satellite bands of electronic steel
But have the Italians never shifted
Their long allegiance to Caesar (every woman’s man
& every man’s woman) or Mussolini,
Incarnated in a tanned old rooster
Crowing while caressing the polished boot of Italy,
Parading his erection as evidence of immortality?
Silvio the God will never die while the riches
Of television & the State pile up to choke the doors
Of the courts & the throats of Judges,
He will live forever with his cloud piercing penis.
If he was a woman he would become invisible
& tough like Angela Merkel –
Not that ordinary woman who grows old
Hiding her need for warmth, who instead will plod
To the Church to perform works & pray
To that beautiful male stretched out on the cross
That he should come down to whisper
Gentle words in Latin but instead she must
Bake sweet cakes for her Grandchildren –
Become the carer of the family history (Because
Nobody desires her unless she is useful, or wealthy)
Then she becomes tight fisted & hard,
Dry as a plaster crucifix.
O great Silvio, count your riches & beware.
You may yet find yourself hanging by the heels
In the breeze beside a row of your pretty girlfriends
Three little vampires in blue school uniforms
Sit around a table on the edge of a park
Beneath the trembling leaves of a tree,
Light spattering their lovely hungry faces.
Beside them the concrete path is washed
Clean of all (except a thin crooked line).
It is going to rain soon & the darkness
Teases, as it dances through the weeds.
Eagerly they champ & dribble & clamp
Their jaws, waiting for the starving moon.