Bread and stone – from Cathy Altmann’s latest book – “things we know without naming”
I have been reading poetry
instead of praying
or was it through those
darkened corridors I pursued
God? His face like the hole
in the plane trees, but
by the power lines and fringed
with thin branches, thrashing
their seed pods. Something
about bread and a stone.
A bird pushes its beak
into the marrow of a bone.
St Luke’s, Toowoomba.
A weary way I walked in noonday heat,
then saw a door, an invitation to come in.
Within, the church awaited, quiet and cool,
vaulted roof and carpet floor
empty pews aside the aisle –
all this my eyes took in –
the brilliance of stained glass
jewelled the building dim.
Remote within the chancel,
altar high and altarpiece
extolled God’s grandeur –
and I felt so small
I could not pray at all.
But as I softly stepped
along that aisle I saw
a transept door, and above
a tri-part window, which proclaimed
Faith, Hope and Charity,
and there the message clear:
Love never faileth. Here,
within the transept set,
beside the wall, a chapel small
invited – here I crept.
I prayed and stayed awhile,
then, as I turned, I saw:
O thou of little faith,
the tempest, Galilee, the sea,
and a saving hand outstretched
and to me.
(c) Joan Ray (from Wonderment)
Now I am old
and my body fragile:
skin so fine it ruptures
with a slight knock;
hair thinning (though
my stylist denies it),
and I grow
breathless when I walk
the hill outside my door.
In a hot midsummer
I don my black bathers,
smart with white trim,
and drive to the ocean.
The sand burns,
gritty between my toes,
and the green sea heaves,
wild waves rushing
to the shore.
I do not hesitate;
on my aching legs
to the edge of the
the cool caress
of water on my
how my eyes drink in
this unhampered horizon.
Then I plunge in head first.
I forget about my pain,
my flabby figure, and I float
and dive like a
Who says I need a stylist
to make me a prison, when now
I have discovered
how to be free?
(c) Vivien de Jong (from Wonderment)
Watch blue cosmos depth.
Without pregnant birth
wisp builds fragile wisp,
white on white on white,
tumble on tumble.
Such svelte artistry
mystically clouds minds.
Communes of mist stray,
happen, shape, resolve
shadow without sound.
© Don Helmore (from Behold!)
The Crabapple Tree
We stood beneath the flowering crabapple,
the pink and white blossom
like clusters of cream and strawberry icing
sprayed throughout the slender branches.
Plentifully sprinkled with frenzied honeybees
the old tree, backlit by the morning sun,
triumphantly glistened –
a dessert prepared for Springtime.
(c) Peter Stiles
Upon holding a brand new person (womb-fresh and yawning)
Give melodies to everything you say,
new life must be sung into this world.
Let your arms be a lush valley.
Sway like a grove of she-oaks in a fresh sea breeze.
Watch their eyes.
Whisper ‘open sesame’.
Study the red river deltas on their eyelids;
follow them all the way to the sea.
Stroke their downy hair
as if it were the ermine fringe
of a sovereign’s crown.
Blow gently on the bouquet of dandelions
that is their face.
Smell them like you would a new-blooming rose,
aware that thriving comes with fertilising –
the scent of poo, itself a miracle.
Be the librarian.
This soft-covered story with blank-page eyes
shelved on your forearms needs your shushing.
Quick, sharp shushes for boisterous visitors.
Soft, slow shushes for lulling and loving.
Fill your mouth with colourful marbles,
surrender your vocab,
and let your tone
do all the talking.
Let your sighs be fairy floss;
let your hums be jester plums.
This warm body in the corona of your love
carries heat passed on through generations;
it is the hot tip of an iceberg –
the cold bodies of myriad humans
the submerged mass
of traits and immunities and adaptions.
Hold this vital, restless tip
it can burn through
flesh and future.
(c) Cameron Semmens
This poem was Runner-up in the 2015 Poetica Christi Press Poetry Competition
and is published in the recent anthology ‘Imagine’.
Deep in a sea of golden staves,
tincture of sun on a summer sky.
Strangely blunted distant sounds,
and a whisper of thanks
met with peace and gladness.
Why come to me for so little, Lord?
A sheaf of grace
for the husk of my scribbling,
Wheatfields of love
for this kernel of praise.
© Peter Stiles (from Trumped by Grace)
1952 : Survivors
War had been hard, though six years down the line
in Adelaide, the pain was fading off.
But letters came from Europe; there, the crack
of pistols, rifles, bones and caved in skulls
still echoed at the borders, where the wire
and occupying flags staked out new worlds.
They echoed in the ears of children who
had seen and heard too many bitter things –
had dined on rats at tables in Berlin
while mother pulled her skirts back down
and turned her head to watch the Russians leave.
Their homes knelt down in piles of ruined bricks.
Sometimes a lonely slab still stood; revealed
a splash of flowers on a bedroom wall
bombed-out and on display, for all to see.
Their fathers never made it back to towns
where patriotic flags once fluttered stiff
in summer breeze above the proud town hall.
The telegrams had ticked them off the list.
A million childhoods throttled by a war
that wrapped its dirty fingers round their throats,
before it left to seek new nurseries
in Kabul, Mogadishu or Phnom Penh.
In after years, imaginations plucked
some keepsakes from the fractured growing-up.
Our cousins’ memories would sift the wreck
like treasure-hunters passing magic wands
across the post-war silence and decay,
until a moment gleamed from early days.
Snapdragons on a wall. The scent of starch
in mother’s pinafore upon their face;
an uncle’s figure pointing to the sky
where aircraft droned and slid into the clouds –
in days before the sirens howled and sobbed.
A stamp collection like a tiny world
inside an album, where the nations lay
in neat serrated ranks, before their fall,
and, on the farms, the clicks of breakfast plates
downstairs, as they lay warm in bed – those days
when hearts could lift, as cocks called up the dawn.
©2015 C Ringrose
Winner of the 2015 Poetica Christi competition and used by permission from the recent anthology Inner Child.