Author photo by Peter's son, Walter Bakowski

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Portrait of Diego Rivera, December 1955

I will paint

my eroded mother,

surrounded by tiny coffins,

trying to climb a ladder to heaven,

her feet

made of wet sand.

 

I will paint

my earnest father,

trying to juggle sacks of money and his heart,

his hands on fire.

 

I will paint

the two lovers,

the selves they cannot learn or flee,

the time between kisses growing longer,

the time between lies growing shorter.

 

I will paint

the sky raining blood,

villagers anxious beneath it,

some wiping the blood

from their children’s foreheads

with shreds of the Mexican flag,

others trying to catch every drop in soup bowls.

 

I will paint

what Spain, Paris, Detroit,

California, New York City, Mexico,

each sampled woman, grain and fruit,

have meant to me,

king of gluttony, seated at table,

reaching for knife and fork

as a skeleton waiter whisks away

my unfinished heart.

                                                            (from Beneath Our Armour)                                          

Days that we couldn't rehearse

Third collection.  Contains poems set in Paris, Dunkerque, Sarajevo, Transylvania, Uzbekistan, Russia, outback Australia and the Melbourne suburbs of St.Kilda and Richmond. Contains autobiographical and philosophical poems, poem about Freya Stark, poem about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. $22 post-free within Australia.  

The heart at 3 a.m.

Second collection. Includes poems set in Rome, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Egypt, Sudan and outback Australia. Also contains ultra-short poems. $15 post-free within Australia.  

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sylvia Plath writing in her journal, 23 Fitzroy Road, London, February 1963


7 a.m.

Beyond the bedpost

no mirage of glad husband

moving tall towards me with his English offer

of toast and marmalade,

a cup of tea.

He’s with another.                                                                                                   

 

She has mongrel blood,

a Knightsbridge accent,

can turn a man into

a spinning top,

an arsonist in the house of marriage.

 

One day she’ll become

a book that my husband

has tired of reading.

 

I’ll go soon, far from

Massachusetts, Devon, London,

the zoo where my selves are caged,

venomous snake,

sacrificial lamb,

sleepless monkey examining its fleas.

 

Outside snowflakes fall,

drafts of a poem torn to bits.

 

In the night sky

I see the Zoo-keeper.

From his starlit belt

important keys hang.

 

He moves towards me,

I towards him.

 

We’ll embrace

where it’s black.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

At Brunswick Heads, New South Wales, September 2006

The river is brown-hued, wide.

In its shallows small black fish appear,

hyphens of life,

pleasing barefoot children.

The river is pelican-ushered to the sea.                       

 

The beach curves south to a crop of hills

where a white lighthouse stands,

its spiralling stairs now climbed

by camera-burdened tourists.

In the sky, there’s a small plane, silver-bellied, 

gone when you turned 

to a Ruth Rendell paperback.

 

This coastline asks you to name yourself,

fisherman, beachcomber, surfer, retiree,

to examine whether you’re more than that.


 A gull,

eases from rock to sky,

becomes a speck and miracle

to a small boy, a sandcastle lord,

standing sandy-kneed, squinting.


The wind, the waves, play their games of give and take,

the horizon searches its deep pockets

for the makings of tomorrow’s weather.

 

In the human night

Winner of the Victorian Premiers Award. Represents first 11 years of poetry. Poems set in Melbourne, Berlin and Cairo. Contains Charles Bukowski, Billie Holiday and Janet Frame homage poems. $15 post free within Australia