No Rhyme, No Reason – Poetry
Cold is the moon that shines down on this night
Spreading green fingers across the hill where she stands
down the cliff face out onto the wild ocean
where the tall sailing ship takes her love away.
She feels not the wind that whips her long hair
away from heaving shoulders
nor it’s cold fingers that snatch at her dress
as if to expose her pale body to a heartless moon
Her eyes are fixed on the ship fighting waves
that wish to suck it down into the dark freezing depths
The prayer that leaves her lips is carried away
into the black abyss to be heard by unknown gods
Hand to cheek she can still feel his touch
that so warmed her such a short time ago
They had lain on soft sweet hay
not a word needed to be said as their bodies
spoke in their own music
Go he must and this she knew without words they said goodbye
With memories she must survive until his safe return
Tears flowed forming a mist that covered the hill with fine green diamonds
Under an uncaring cold moon she held her hand aloft in the last farewell.
©John W. Kelly
The child wanders the shattered streets
Twitching at every sound
Alone, except for a broken doll
One armed, single eyed
Dragged behind skinny legs
Bruised and battered feet
Stumbles over shattered glass
Between two walls
That once held a roof
Now open to the sky
Against a splintered door
A mirror leans
Reflects the red soaked dress
Then shows a crumbling wall
Across the stone strewn garden
She finds a warm grey stone
And, mouthing silent words
Talks to the damaged doll
Into the quiet
Thrilling, trilling, warbling
A bird so small
Sings just for her
She stares in wonder
As it stands so close
Into her eyes
Comes a brightness
©John W. Kelly
Warm air drifts through the Wattle bush beside the creek, where a honey bee darts between the flowers, seeking nectar to take home to the honey queen.
Water sparkles, splashes over small rock ledges, gathering in deep pools to cool the trout that linger there.
The mid-day silence is broken by the whirr of tiny wings.
Swooping across the top of the long grass that lays along the creek bank, Dragonfly settles on a dry stone in the circle of dancing water.
It pauses for a moment, whirrs to the right, then to the left, lifts off, then alights on the stone.
Under the willow tree, yellow green eyes study its every move.
With flickering tongue, the toad waits, unaware of the Eastern Silvereye poised on the opposite bank
Uncaring of the busy bee above, the Silvereye, its green feathers matching the moss under fine spindly feet, steps carefully to the edge of the bank.
Through one black and silver eye, it studies the time and distance to where the Dragonfly quivers in the sun.
Transparent wings a blur, the Dragonfly is airborne.
The toad slides forward, closer to the water.
The whirr ceases. Dragonfly lands on the wet rock beside a deep, cool, clear pool. Water spills over, dragging it into the rock smooth hole.
A moment it lingers, web fine wings try to flutter.
A brown headed trout breaks the surface, glassy eyed, opened mouthed, fine sharp teeth and is gone with the Dragonfly.
Toad blinks and looks elsewhere.
The bee, satiated with nectar attracts the attention of the Silvereye.
Warm air drifts through the Wattle bush beside the creek. All is quiet.
©John W. Kelly
Very Highly Commended Grenfell Henry Lawson 1997
The Horse, Thunder
She can feel the power between her legs
As the wind whistles past
The ground beneath his hammering hooves
A blur of clay and grass
Her body smooth, relaxed, at ease
With Thunder holding her
neither touching ground or sky
Mind racing in time to the beat
Of Thunder racing to timbers high
If only, went the thought
As she leaned to the wind
I could have a lover like Thunder
Then my life would be complete
Strong when he is needed
Gentle when called upon
Loving without restrictions
Always there when I call
Never try to be the master
then I’d be happy ever after
©John W. Kelly
The laneway, narrowed from years of neglect
held the snow long after the winter had fled.
Blackthorn bush to the left, holly to the right
stark against the crystal sky
stand silent as the stranger walks by.
Tracks follow where the feet
drag through the shallow snow
back bent from too many weary years
a gnarled hand grips the smooth pole
that holds more life than the body it supports.
The stranger stops and listens to the cry
that carries across the still frosty ground
then tries to hurry to what lays ahead
beyond the bend of the lane.
The land waits in silence for the cry
to come again.
And again it comes
long, mournful and full of pain
The stranger shudders as ancestors
close in as if willing for greater speed
The white lane disappears around the bend
and then too, the stranger.
Behind, a vast land strewn with memories
Ahead, on top of the hill it stands
silhouetted against a black, black sky
where the white lane stops
at it’s step
No windows scar the outside walls
nor holes upon the thick thatched roof
The door lies open
reflecting fire flickering within
calling to the stranger
to quickly step in
The lone occupant stoops over the hearth
stirring the embers sending sparks
spiraling up the chimney dark
The voice, deep and youthful
greets the stranger
“Welcome – come in.”
Red, green and yellow flames
dance a greeting with the shadows
across the naked rafters
trapped in the eyes
of creatures shunning light.
The hand that held the sapling pole
now resting against the mud filled walls
grows smoother, agile, without age.
Pulls at the leather thong that holds the grey cape
The body bent, straightens
light steps across the earthen floor
A three legged stool before the fire
warmly awaits the stranger.
A black pot simmers upon the hob
inside bubbles a deadly brew
steam rises to the rafters above
Where creatures noses twitch
“A bowl before you trek a-new,”
the youthful voice fills the empty air
No fear is heard as the cowl falls down
as the traveler takes the wooden spoon
and puts it to bloodless lips.
The colour of a ravens wing
long hair falls from alabaster skin
hot broth does not change the hue
as the mix moves from bowl to spoon
to thin lipped mouth.
Again the leather thong is knotted tight
and stands the stranger to face the night
The cry creeps in through open door
Beckoning once more
A painful call of long lost souls
sends the creatures scurrying
for deep dark holes
The fire flickers and slowly dies
The gnarled hand grips the pole
into the night the traveler steps
Again, death walks the country roads.
©John W. Kelly
As I sat outside my tent, I noticed across the inlet, high on a rocky outcrop, a tree. This is my salute to her. JWK
She knows she is dying, yet she is not sad.
From her rocky balcony she can see
the hills and valleys where her children
have lived and grown to raise their own.
She has seen many seasons
Cold east winds carry salty spray,
that trouble her feet
Impatient south winds
chase her children from her arms.
Hot west winds dry her skin.
The most loved is the northern breeze
gentle, cool, quietly rustling her skirts,
loving her into song.
Her children’s children join in,
waving with the wind.
She knows she is dying.
No more will her leaves greet a spring morning,
sap no more rises from her roots
that cling precariously to her rocky home.
Her trunk, bare of bark,
reflects white in the setting sun
and across the hills, trees bow farewell
as she sways one last time to the northern breeze.
©John W. Kelly
Dust whirls along the barbed wire fence,
lifting fat flies from a sheep long dead,
as the heat haze distorts the flat horizon,
where nothing moves in the noon-day sun.
A yellow eyed crow sits,
on a hardwood post tongue lolling, seeking moisture.
Flaps his wings – ruffling his silk black shirt, seeking relief.
The spindly Gum, ghostly in the dust leaden distance,
hangs disconsolate leaves toward the ground
while a Kookaburra sits on a bark-less branch, waiting
Below, uncaring of the shadow cast over the rock, a red belly soaks the sun
Beneath the earth a rabbit stirs,
nose twitching in the heavy air,
beady eyes staring out the warren hole at the darkening sky.
A thump breaks the silence.
The Kookaburra lifts his head from his daily snack
and laughs at the electric green that splits the sky.
First his nose,
whiskers waving, long ears turning, the rabbit leaves his home.
Lightning cracks the clouds,
stabbing the earth – disappearing in silence.
The first cool breeze ruffles his fur as the rabbit sits up to look around.
Above, a spot, darker than the sky hovers,
then swoops, wings stretched out, cutting through the charged air,
the eagle eye never wavering from the grey bundle on the ground beneath,
talons reflect the approaching storm as the ground rushes up to meet him.
Thunder kills the cry of pain, and drops are welcomed by the parched earth.
©John W. Kelly