The Blue Exercise
Do a sonnet a day not every day
only the days sonnets come the blue
sonnet days when an argument
conjures laughter and witty notions,
joy nourished by sunny weather, the abyss
and my true love's eyes deep as the ocean
girdled by an arch conceit, a touch of firmament
teases, meanwhile the trees are singing
morning magpies and parrots are their voices
the dishes done, hello and goodbye
all part of a sonnet day's charm.
Stray words corralled dream of the wild
and car zoom makes the sonnet true,
sleep and dream, fly into blue.
It’s true, shiny buildings
attract sulphur-crested cockatoos, they
screech and flap their wings,
furies looking for a perch
in the white city.
Plum blossoms hold rain
drops, two chatting rosellas
peer in my window.
9 September: hear ‘rifle crack’
spot Spring’s first gang-gang
on a tree branch, a grey, haunted cockatoo.
Keeping a bird diary’s downside:
birdless days no journal entries,
though there’s always
the hungry warble song
somewhere in the neighbourhood—
an insolence of currawongs.
Thursday, four-thirty p.m.: Wattlebirds
growl like possums and
the arrival of half a dozen galahs,
brings a memory of communing
with lorikeets in Sydney
all green chirp and chatter. Friday morning,
I eyeball a king parrot who eyeballs me,
one eye stares an axis the bird hops around.
A nearby forest was chopped down
flattened into a freeway, many birds
migrated to our street.
Like the choughs. Always fussing,
the cranky choughs, their red eyes
gleam in their shiny black crows’
heads, my presence makes them crankier.
The callistemon on the nature strip
will have to do them for a home.
These days, birds who arrive
tend to stay. Indian mynahs, rosellas
and galahs join the philosopher birds
shuffling in squares around the school oval.
(Remember when a hundred ibises dropped in!)
Late summer evenings, as the old willows
swaying by the stormwater canal turn
to silhouettes, every third branch holds a sulphur-
crested cockatoo. They squawk and mimic the day’s
shouting, trucks and cars, the white city roars;
except Sundays when madness sits indoors
then cockatoos join the other birds’ conversation
and they chat and sing old whistle, squawk,
laughter, quiet talk, and silence. Early
Monday morning, the baby’s cries
bring king parrots (they love his song
and cooing which is like rain just beginning).
Outside the window eight king parrots
forage the Japanese cedar’s branches. Eight king
parrots in a tree: such sweet numerology!
Amsterdam Free City Epode
As is common in the west, there is no cuisine,
just the local food, supermarket and Asian.
People smoke and they toke and joke a lot they’ll
crack on if they can in a coffee shop
Amsterdam Free City. Magic city smoking makes
people healthy, Shout 'Dutchie'
and most people turn around. Grey clouds
hang lazily above the green canals.
The tourists are over the moon sip international beer
eat a fabulous breakfast
and inhale burnt fruit of the Flower Academy
talk endlessly ideas exciting
travel tales, tall or true Burma to El Salvador
Infinity and beyond,
the Mamasan fresh fruit juices keep the dealers
healthy as they chop
and weigh the hashish, alert as cowboys, smart and alien
as the juicy girls in the brothels' windows
performing shameless gymnastics, all tits and crutch and arse,
for all the world to see—sex is on the map—
watching the girls leaves a taste like Dutch ambrosia cheese,
Friesian cows grazed on a stolen sea bed.
Sea wind blows fresh in Amsterdam and for the moment
the ocean is tricked by the canals.
Some places are meant to be under water and the city
was built with Atlantis in mind:
it rains and rains. The trams meander to suburbs like
Led Zeppelin and Wettering Shunt.
The locals are cheerful and eager to give directions to
the nearest bar or coffee shop full of green smoke
and prattling kiff-eating folk who might say, 'get thee to a croissanterie’.
Always cool or cold, the buildings are mostly brown or grey
opaque in film noir rain. The dizzy sleep upstairs in narrow terrace houses—
a steep stairwell you can fall down in the morning.
©S. K. Kelen