Today I’d like to share two fantastic poems by WA poet, writer, editor and publisher Nathan Hondros. Nathan is one of the founders of Regime Books and Regime Magazine, which I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of in its first three issues. He has been a great supporter of my work. Aside from poetry, he also co-wrote and published a brilliant collection of short stories Man and Beast with his mate Damon Lockwood in 2009. I will be posting one of his stories from that book in coming weeks. Nathan is a powerful new voice in Australian poetry, one I’m following closely and eagerly awaiting more from. Also check out his poetry over at Masthead and The Drunken Boat. My sincere thanks to Nathan for allowing me to publish these here.
Man in decline regards the river in detail
the dirty swans should have their wings clipped
out in force, rough nails in the river’s surface, hungry
making it at last to the river’s edge
the children chase them, careless, angry
out of the bloody blue murk, into the heart of it
and who would be surprised if tonight
their fishermen’s nets turned up a body?
pale dead skin the viscous colour of milk
white petals against the water, don’t think Ophelia
it has a five o’clock shadow and a necktie
to think children will grow into that watery death
uploading their discontent into the atmosphere
and dragging their nets anyway
catching nothing but the wet and the cold
I watch from the grass, from a dead end
recalling a bookshelf in Paris, Seferis in hardback
the apes yawning in the Jardin du Luxembourg
now I have ten percent off The Book Depository
and I’m looking for anything by Kenneth Koch
do you think we’ll stand there again, everything
we ever were, there on the rue Henri Barbusse?
do you remember how everything changed for good
after I wrote Frank O’Hara was here on a wall?
and only you knew it was me, and we laughed?
I was the sharpest point of the longest pencil
do you think we’ll find ourselves there again
looking into the black angry Seine and waiting
not quite believing it reaches an ocean somewhere
and the woman who loved me enough
standing tall above the rue Gît-le-Cœur
who took me in her arms, she was not your wife,
nor mine, and freedom stalked her, the cry in her ribcage
rolling within her, thunderous and symphonic
she couldn’t control it so she took me in her arms
and for a moment that was enough, the two of us
strong as lions and as hungry will we return there?
sitting in a café she photographed me, did I smile…
I thought of those who came before me
some Greek, some German, but I have no country now
none of us do, not really. I like the islands they came from
and I felt at home, but what do I care. And what do they.
Whatever I was I left in the river, in the sea.
the children fish the water, not knowing right or wrong
not knowing Dostoevsky, chasing black swans
on Monday I’ll drive to the ocean and dissolve like salt
hear it all in Greek and German like my ancestors did
for now I watch her in the dark in her bare black dress
Henry Miller was caught with a note, I’ll pass it on to her
Fold it up, hide it in her purse: Sie ist wie eine Blume.
it’s a disguise, this infernal sleep
night’s death head on a spike
crystalline dark in my mouth
faltering submarine dreams
taste of salt water at 3AM
I was falling, effortlessly
waking, what I find is you
it’s not, but the voice knows itself
the timbre, its reflection off the walls
I find other masks instead
where diagonals intersect, contradiction
I speak for all I’m worth, the first time
picking up kindling, stones, fruit
to build the senseless structure of day
against which you’ll fall asleep
you wear it like a nameless robe
that hides the soft dimensions of who we are
so no-one sees the burning skin
then you hurl yourself into bright morning
barely there with hair loose, undone
and sleep, useless clothes, falling to the floor
Find out more about Nathan and his writing and literary ventures over at the Regime Books site.