First Things RSS Feed - Les Murray
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60The Genghis Firmamenthttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/06/the-genghis-firmament
Mon, 01 Jun 2015 00:00:00 -0400Suspended archery of night
keeps a resplendent distance
slowly circling the Earth.
Jesus Was A Healerhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/03/jesus-was-a-healer
Sun, 01 Mar 2015 00:00:00 -0500Jesus was a healer
never turned a patient down
Sun, 01 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0400 One who’d been my friendly Gran
was now mostly barred from me,
accomplishing her hard death
on that strange farm miles away.
My mother was nursing her
so we couldn’t be at home.
Dad had to stay out there, milking,
appearing sometimes, with his people,
all waiting for the past.
Hiding from the grief
this day, I dropped off a verandah
and started walking
barefoot through the paddocks
until the gravel road
gave me my home direction.
Cool dust of evening,
dark moved in from the road edges
and the sky trees, penciling
across the pale ahead.
Bare house lights slowly passed
far out beside me.
No car lights. No petrol.
It was the peak of war
but no one had taught me fear
of ghosts or burnout streaks
from the stars above my walking.
Canter, though, gathered behind
and came level. The rider
pulled me aloft by the wrist
Now where are you off
Back where a priest had just been
cursed out of the morning room,
I was hugged and laughed over
for the miles I’d covered.
Years later, it would come down
to me that Grannie’s death had
been hidden away, as cancer
still was then, a guilt in women.
One man was punched for asking
Did Emily have a growth?
]]>The Plastic Eaterhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/05/the-plastic-eater
Thu, 01 May 2014 00:00:00 -0400Back to the hospital again,
on the meals list, on the drip,
in for yet another stay
over an artificial knee
put in to replace a
born bone sideways wobbler.
Nurtured by mother cow
I have no idea how
a clunky knee can stop
your breath in pure pain,
unstring you as with a nerve-chop,
millions have jumped at prostheses:
a week, and they hip-hop
delightedly. Even you had six
weeks’ cure, before return of agony.
Since then will have cost us a year.
Just after you were born
Europe and her limestone cities
swirled with last-breath calcium
blasted into the air
yet you tell of chewing plaster
out of your nursery wall
and how at your
first refugee-child Christmas
you ignored the candled sweets
and gnawed the pine tree’s base
of calcareous brittle.
No wonder I became a teacher! But after five children, I’m Perhaps chalk just down so far.
I, butter boy, sipper of vinegar,
am amazed as ever how you,
dear pardoner, kindest wife,
always blame yourself
as now, beyond hospital staph
and the overworking knife.
]]>The Glory and Decline of Breadhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/11/the-glory-and-decline-of-bread
Thu, 01 Nov 2012 00:00:00 -0400 Sliced bread (sic)
a centimeter thick
staling on forty surfaces
fit for soggy sandwiches
real bread excels all this
high top, Vienna, cob
baguettes three times daily
breads poignant as a sob
Jewish rye and German
brothers from the hob
Tall grass waving gluten
its unbloody skin-oil scent
displaced the hunting tent
for prayer and work in season”
Rice eaters do not yet disdain
all meals centering on one grain
but potatoes came, and pasta
and boi meat from old Masta
and bread put butter on the heart
the idle svelte would dine apart
once designer chefs had risen
bread turns to landfill on the shelf
or, like salt, gets smuggled in
to sit below itself.
]]>The Death of Isaac Nathan, 1864https://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/the-death-of-isaac-nathan
Sun, 01 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0500 Stone statues of ancient waves
tongue like dingoes on shore
in time with wave-glitter on the harbor
but the shake-a-leg chants of the Eora
are rarely heard there any more
and the white man who drew their nasals
as footprints on five-lined paper
lies flat away up Pitt Street,lies askew on gravel Pitt Street.
Jumping off startled horses come men
and other men down off the horse-tram
which ladies stay aboard and cram
their knuckles in their teeth, because a
grandson of the last king of Poland
is lying behind the rear wheels,
lying in his blood and his music sheetswhere he missed his step and fell
to be Sydney tramways’ first victim.
Byron’s Hebrew melodist, driven
out of London by Lord Melbourne,
by the inked horns of Lord Melbourne,
is now being lifted tenderly,
he, the Anglican who used
to pray wrapped in a white shawl
is being wrapped in a tarpaulin
and carried in catch-up cadence
with crotchets he might have scored,
carried over streets to his residence
to lie in state on his table:
Our Father and Melech ha-olam,
then to go in a bourdon to Newtown
and sleep near the real Miss Haversham.
Tue, 01 Jun 2010 00:00:00 -0400 What did you see in the walnut?
Horses all harnessed criss-cross
And a soldier wearing the credits
Of his movie like medal ribbons.
An egg there building a buttery
Held itself aloft in its hands”
The horse-straps then pulled the nut shut.
]]>Eucalypts in Exilehttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/03/eucalypts-in-exile
Mon, 01 Mar 2010 00:00:00 -0500 Theyve had so many jobs:
boiling African porridge. Being printed on.
Paving Paris, flying in her revolutions.
Supporting a storks nest in Spain.
Their suits are neater abroad,
of denser drape, unnibbled:
theyve left their parasites at home.
They flower out of bullets
and, without any taproot,
draw water from way deep.
When they blow over
they reveal the black sun of that trick.
Standing round among shed limbs
and loose slabbings of bark
is homeland stuff
but fire is ingrained.
They explode the mansions of Malibu
because to be eucalypts
they have to shower sometime in Hell.
Their humans, meeting them abroad,
often grab and sniff their hands.
Loveable singly or unmarshalled
they are merciless in a gang.
]]>Port Jackson Greaseproof Rosehttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/10/port-jackson-greaseproof-rose
Sat, 10 Oct 2009 00:00:00 -0400 Which produced more civilizations,
yellow grass or green?