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Hi, my name’s Larry Buttrose and this is my poem “My Country”.
Beside a slate grey Massachusetts pond
I watch leaves of maple, oak and plane
Summoned back to the black earth.
Trees that trust in a distant spring
Shed life in a silent firework:
Gold and scarlet leaves acquiesce
In drifts down the byways of heaven,
And naked branches, knotted-thumbed,
Arthritic-fingered, farewell a fading sky.
Yet here, in this hushed perfection,
Unspoken words come: this is not my country.
Back in my own country I know the names
Of politicians, actors, the makes of cars,
Know my bank PIN and my internet password,
When the news comes on and the garbage goes out.
But I do not know the red ribbing of my country,
The lay of valleys, the course of creeks.
I do not know each leaf, root, seed, fruit,
Have never chewed a roasted grub or moth,
Bitten the sweet of a honey ant,
Stirred the wallaby stew.
All these things I do not know, as I could know,
As perhaps I should know, of my country.
But yet as I stand by this grey lake,
With all the leaves settling into the sombre
Green of these dank northern woods,
I know that this is not my country.
Here I know my country is my country.
A COAL TRAIN CALLED JOHN
Struggling for breath with a cold
In the night I hear the coal trains
Shuttling down the line to town,
The jazz of each passing one so
Lonely and dolorous I call it John;
I lie listening to the silence
As it settles in the garden
You can’t hear silence they say,
But I listen to it anyway
In its perfection of absence.
Then from the line
The sound chills down
The valleys and gullies,
Another coal train humping
A blue note in its wake,
Its trucks abrim with brine,
Beating time on the rim
For a coming day so very near
Yet imaginary still as all
The else we fail to hear.
ABOUT LARRY BUTTROSE:
Larry Buttrose is a poet, novelist and playwright living in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. The author of 16 books, as a young poet he travelled to Spain to seek out the “Poet’s Blessing” of English poet Robert Graves, and received it. (This poetic lineage of “Blessings” is said to go back from Graves to Swinburne, Tennyson, Wordsworth, to the 11thC). His most recent major project is writing a new stage adaptation of Don Quixote. He received his PhD in Creative Writing from Adelaide University, and teaches at the University of Western Sydney, and James Cook University.
He is a regular participant at Varuna and has been involved in judging Varuna Awards.
One Steps Across the Rainbow (Dharma, 1974)
Random Leaves (Fitzrot, 1976)
The Leichhardt Heater Journey (Friendly Street Poets, 1982)
Learning Italian (Foreign Books, 1986)
The King Neptune Day & Night Club (Angus & Robertson, 1992)
Cafe Royale (Flamingo, 1997)
The Blue Man (Lonely Planet Journeys, 1999)
The Maze of the Muse (Flamingo, 1998)
Sweet Sentence (Scribner, 2001)
Finding The Shelf Within (New Holland, 2009)
Tales of the Popes (New Holland, 2009)
To find Larry’s books:
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