Two poems from Viv Smith…

The nature of loss

My elderly neighbour tells me
he was brought up by the nuns…
remembering small coloured chairs
strange daily habits, and the school bell
calling the boy down from the hills above
his now red-stickered block house.

“They say this is an Act of God
but it’s the stone churches gone
first, and always, with the pleas
and lives of those gathered in them
seeking salvation. Why is that?”

I look up at the bright lang-ta –
the prayer “wind horses” fluttering
from my timber balcony and know
that while stone cannot bend
I so wished it had, defying what is.

Our foundations are shaken and today
as we grasp our tea cups tight,
blessing hot water in blessed sun heat,
we know it is the nature of clay to break
yet we still seek rocks to hold us fast.

The weight of water

In this year
of the golden rabbit –
the year for a safe,
peaceful, lifestyle –
our survival learning leaped
orders of magnitude
as our assumptions
shattered
with the ground.

We now know
the wait for water,
the weight of water
more suffocating
when absent.
And as for power,
what use it’s trappings
when the electrons
fail to flow?

There’s autumn yellow
hot-piss heat
under the cooling sky
the quiet of abandoned
neighbourhoods.
Not the peace sought
but the gods
don’t hold back
contempt for rabbiting.

Get on with it,
they say, the lives
of stuff are not
the lives of substance;
as clear as water
from the tankers –
aqua viva –
carefuly handled
bucket to mouth.

Transparent need
to sweep aside
detritus, borrowing
the normality of others
as we prepare
to rebuild our own,
removing the lifestyle
known, brick by
deconstructed brick.


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