Dawn, April 25, Bendigo

In the shivering hush between bugle calls the dead
outnumber us – apparitions risen at the ebb of night,
faces smooth as those staring from silver-gelatin
photographs, imagined from crumbling letters,
oft-told stories, summoned by a hand’s caress;
not always done-up in a uniform, so many swamped
by history’s scarlet waves, not always loved or good
or brave or noble, no more than we who muster
on barricaded roads by stones mortared against
forgetting to wait for a bugle to rally the sun.

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in pencil on blank paper

Perhaps it was the years. But I know I
thought often of Hemingway, his belief
in luck or none. Such simple words. So I
thought my wise nineteen years were as complete
as his were—with grace enough and pressure
to buy a typewriter, only to write
in pencil on blank paper and ensure
the dialogue was typed, flowing and right
and overheard by that bearded, hurt man
whose early books were wounds he knew about.
Forgive him for the bullfights? As blood ran
with matadors and soldiering? And how
so much was blown apart with a shotgun?
Luck could begin when poetry begins.

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Snakebite

I’ve cut two x’s into my wrist
with my pen now I suck
the venom hard the blood
and yellow bile are bitter
the hardest suck I’ve ever done
I’m watching the poison
mercury up the vein
toward the chest pump
but I’ve stopped it
with steady pressure my lips
are hurting the venom
burning exposed tissues
they say you shouldn’t move
keep the limb immobile
if you lose your way
stay with your body
someone will find you 

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