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These poems are from Girl With Green Hair

Available from:
Papyrus Publishing
c/o Post Office
Scarsdale Victoria 3351
Australia

Phone: 613 9758 9395

www.papyrus.com

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Liz Hall-Downs Liz Hall-Downs


Texas Separation Poem

I wake in the night/and roll towards your skin/ your long
thin limbs/ but the bed is empty and you are sleeping in
some hotel room/ or maybe flicking the clicker to the
late-night news/ it is only money that drives this wedge
between us/

Over the miles and miles of desert, open farmland/ I am
thankful for telephone lines/ though we speak of little,
in monosyllables/ How sad it is to be bound only by
tenuous threads of technology! But you have
responsibilities/ I, separation anxiety/ and the need
for the money drives this wedge between us/

There must have been days/ when lovers were free/ Today
my insides bleed/ especially for you/ for our nights together/
curled like small animals/ Breathing evenly/ weak and
bloated/ I’m feeling sorry for myself/ and for you/ hauling
bricks and lashing timbers on a building site/ smiling at
the foreman and pretending to enjoy yourself/ while
money drives this wedge between us/

I would exercise/ or read or write/ mop the floor or even
clear the kitchen/ make strong coffee and watch
television/ but I’m tired and can only lie/listening to
the jolting of my purple heart beating/ its rhythm
strangely alien without your counterpoint/ I miss you and
so will send this letter of defiance/ because our love is
bigger than Texas!/ Let money/ keep on trying to drive its
wedge between us!

8.2.94, Austin, Texas



Firing Goddesses from the Murray River

In the bush takes hold
the bug to make
little goddesses of clay
from the river's banks.

A kingfisher circles
our morning camp.
Yellow-crested cockatoos
screech the dangers of firesmoke.

For evenings the joey
bounds up close for a look;
its grey tufted mother
watches through the distant bloodwoods

as we ember-lay five goddesses
full-bellied, breasted, wise as clay
but faceless, for no hand could make
the knowing shine of a goddess' s eye.

Christmas 1998



The Unborn

In the 50's-style flat/ with the mad comedian/
whose madness and genius seemed so co-dependent/
where I worked to understand/his creative
drive that/ so different from mine/ thrived
on annihilation, not nuture/ but I would cook
and play wife to his strangeness/ until the
day I held in my hand/the red sponginess
ejected/ the two-month-old remnant of
the new existence/ I'd thought I wanted/ and sadly
flushed/ and entered the winter/ living room/and
said the word ‘miscarriage'/ and watched him
scoff/ and tell me I smoke too much/ then
slam the door to his study/ one week later/
I packed all I owned/ in the back of my brown
Honda/ and drove away to a place of no security/
singing to myself/ even after he'd hit me/ thinking
I too would have aborted rather/ than endure
a world as difficult as this/ with the added burden/
of a crazy father/only much later/in a room of
my own/ did I let myself mourn/ for the loss/ of
that little one/


Your Oedipus Complex

I'm unwell/ in my head/ today/ drove to town/ without acci-
dent/ somehow/ braking on bends/ a fraction/ too late/ my
dog/ barking in the back seat/ for several moments/ I want/ to
kill him/ but stop/ on a dirt shoulder/ instead/ and roll/ a big
fat cigarette/ I have to appear/ sane to do/ the radio
show/ I promise myself/ I won't be unwell/for the next hour/

He's unwell/ he writes me/ frantic letters/ all smudgy/I've/
fingered his artist's scrawl/ many times/ words of blood/ the
decay/ of love/ pouring/ of emotion onto canvas/essence of
being/ maybe/ madness/ creation/ depression in the brewing/
thought/ escalating/ of impossible/ dysfunctional families/the
pain of/ his mother/ standing/ at the gate/ a flower in her
hand/ waving/

I'm unwell/ I tell things to people/ then wish/ I had never/
trance dance/ hot maniac/ my turquoise silk shirt/ catching/
the light/ my feet beating/ tribal dance/estranged from my/
true tribe/ unless closed-eyed/ whirling/ when I see their/
no-faces/ still one or two I can/ recognise/ childhood friend/
old man writer/ loving aunt/ my father/ dead/ they were/
unwell/

He's unwell/ is pure lyricism/ fireflies/ forest smells/
the beauty/ in these hills/ in the green/ rain/ steam rising/
mulch and leaf-litter/ steam rising as he/ thinks of me/and
not-me/ only/ the plasticity/ in my almost smile/the humid-
ity/of our beings/ telepathising/ empathising/with the sui-
cide/ in my unwell-day eyes/ his words/ in my hand/ turn to
flowers/


Sitting

for Joanne Kaspari

Can you sit again?

She says
'We have a bit of an arm situation.
I've been
rearranging you like a jigsaw
but just can't seem
to fix the angle of that broken wing'.

I've been
sitting, watching her painting my
physicality,
my brow-furrowing memories onto canvas,
smearing
my ramblings,my nervous edifice.

It's like
staring in a mirror, only better;
the slick paint
insinuates the shape of my face, and the one
to come.

I will grow into its carapace.

I'm drinking
red wine while she looks intently.
A brush slides
out a lipsticked mouth—my red scar,
my city armour—
then eyes that stare blue perturbation.

I've been
sitting for Joanne and seen my face
come through
her hands. It's an older, wiser me
that sees me
seeing Joanne seeing me.