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Jennifer Compton  

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


Approaching Firenze

A manifestation on a piece of waste land, a thousand men
in uniform, all of them young. Some of them will die soon.

In the scheme of things some of them are dead, have died.
We all die. Some are old men. Living in Mondsee or Ulm.      

But in this moment, lifted out of what is called time, they are
young. The stink of their success, their prowess, evaporates,

diffuses like a mist, a heady, foxy, delicious, momentary thing.
They stand easy, the whisper of the cloth that folds them sings. 

Soon they will eat. Soon they will sleep. They took the city, now
they can lose the city, and they will. But they spare the old bridge.


First published in ArtsAct



Open City

Like breathing out forever we announce our imminent absence.
The oracle told each of us at the same time in a specific voice
that the great conversation of armed rhetoric and counter-attack   

that the flags and insignia, the fine, high step, the articulate whelp
we groomed as a mascot, the port of the mess, the broadside, dog
help us, the grunt and the mud and that lost night when we slept

were ridiculous. Would haunt us. That was the last night we would
sleep. Like anyone else in this city we look to the snow on the hills.
And consider our options. Or rather, what we must do. Our retreat.   


First published in Cordite




Local Knowledge

Our fire siren can sound at any time and it gets all the dogs in the village barking.
If you can hear the siren down in Upper Ferntree Gully as well then it may be serious.
The stretch of Burwood Highway down out of the Yarra Ranges is called the Mad Mile.
In 1916 my village wanted a street lamp removed because it was 'Made in Germany'.
A man with one arm can often be found drinking in the beer garden of The Bell Tavern.
There is no post office in Tecoma. We have a new postmaster (and his wife) in Upwey.
Upwey is named after a village in Dorset in the Wey Valley near the source of the Wey.
Thomas Hardy used it in 'The Trumpet Major' and 'At The Railway Station, Upway.'
There are some things I can't tell you because I live here. They are my neighbours.
I just won't go to that restaurant again. Although it is usually busy as I walk home.
Once a year buckets of cheap daffodils appear for sale outside places of business.
We have daffodil farms close by, grown for their bulbs, the flowers are surplus.
I arrived in this village as the buckets of rare blooms appeared on the pavement.
They are my marker, one year since I arrived in Upwey. Then two years, and so on.   
Our roundabout is a death trap. And the careless way cars swoop down Morris Road.
I saw a car full of young lads nearly lose it as I was waiting for the bus to Oakleigh.
They were drifting, about to roll, but somehow kept going and shot off unrepentent.
Twice in our first week the Give Way sign was smashed flat. The second time it broke.
My husband saw an older chap come in over the bridge going the wrong way around.
I have seen a cop car lurking up by the Fire Station. Poised to intercept offenders.
But enough of traffic. Enough of the boy racers up on the hill roads of a Saturday night.
The kids in our village smashed the myki machine on the station. It has been replaced.
Every week, fresh graffiti. The man in the overalls with the paint pot keeps on painting.
The kids smash the shop windows too. Why? We should sit them down and ask them.
The bus trip up to Mt Dandenong is a cheap thrill. You look down and see Melbourne.
But of course, we are Melbourne too. Look on any map. The hills are part of the city.
Our garden is vertiginous. We can't do backyard cricket, we go in for bungy jumping.
The Mountain Ash forest, a parade of lofty, beautiful sisters, is an abiding presence.
As the fire season approaches our siren can go off at any time and all the dogs will bark.


First published in Writers Connect   




©Jennifer Compton