B. R. Dionysius ~ Five Poems

br-dionysius

Jesus & Gordon

(i)

The lady behind the counter at Lifeline who
chased his own children off the second-hand
lounge suite, said that her grandson believed
in Jesus & Gordon; & that the little boy accepted
human beings were created by the Son of God,
when Jesus & his best mate piled up animal bones
into marrow middens; bulldozed the ossuary into
cartilage & tendon pyramids, tough & stringy as
beef jerky. From those pale ribcages, he & Gordon
got busy, frankensteining human beings in a Meccano
frenzy of building & fastening bits & bobs. Entranced
as beach children constructing a shell castle, these
two worked cooperatively; one selecting a bleached
bone, the other screwing each strut into human form.

(ii)

Jesus is well known to us. It begs the question:
Who was Gordon? They sound like an early law
firm, Jesus & Gordon, Nazareth’s best workplace
& anti-discrimination lawyers, whose days would
have been spent tying the Romans up in red tape.
Jesus is respected for his good works, sound
industrial advice, small miracles made on behalf
of powerless plaintiffs against the Latin state.
Gordon seems more of a silent partner, a go to
man, well-connected in Jewish circles of influence.
Perhaps with a foot in the Temple of Solomon’s
door. Jesus was their band’s front man, with
the intrapersonal skills & the charisma to rattle
the world; Gordon is the name of a fifth Beatle.

(iii)

After each miracle that Jesus performed, Gordon
lagged behind & took the names & addresses
of each new convert. Some ladies he visited again.
In the lost book of their youth, Jesus & Gordon
raised hell between Bethlehem & Nazareth, but
this was a new kind of militancy. Gordon thinking
it a bit of a lark, overturned the trestle tables in
the temple’s entrance, but Jesus, always reading
more into a situation than Gordon did, spied
the political angle & off he went. When Jesus
disappeared for forty days into the Sinai desert
& was tempted by Satan, Gordon couldn’t resist
the temptation to go through his friend’s stuff.
Jesus knew; that it wouldn’t be his worst betrayal.

(iv)

There is no Book of Gordon in the Bible. He was
not listed as one of Jesus’s disciples. He did not
lend Judas thirty pieces of silver. He was broke.
When they came for Jesus in Gethsemane’s garden
Gordon was off picking olives & missed the ruckus.
He was not there when the Romans squeezed Jesus
until the pip of his conviction slid out of his mind.
He may have been in the crowd as Jesus struggled
like an ultra-marathon runner up the steep incline
of Golgotha, but he didn’t offer his assistance.
He melted into the crowd on the place of skulls.
He flinched as every nail found its home. No one
can blame Gordon for his shoddiness; after all
he was only a journeyman to Jesus’s carpenter.


Grief is a Small Animal That Needs a Home

Grief finds him again after thirty years
like a lost dog tracking its way back home.

It’s a miraculous story of a pet abandoned
by its owners or accidentally trapped inside

a truck, stalking their scent; the automatic
pull of being that leads the beast headlong.

Thousands of miles are crossed. Seasons
pass, but still the small animal scavenges.

When it reappears after so long, he is not
ready. It has grown, though the journey

has wasted its hindquarters. It can hardly
walk on its back legs anymore, which drag

along the ground like the keel of a land-
locked boat. Its ribs stick out like oars.

With its last bit of strength it jumps
the fence, for this, this was its territory.

Its nose is wet as tears. The holes of its
nostrils blow warm air onto his fingers.

His is the right scent. There is recognition
in the eyes. There is a breeze of whimper.

It nestles on his chest, pawing at his skin
trying to dig up the hard bone heart that

let it go. Its ears are flat to its skull as
if it cringes from an expectant blow.

There is a low growl. Grief starts in its
throat, it is a machine with a throttle.

He got it when he was a child. His mother
kept half tame half feral cats around the place

but they were always cautious of children.
He chased them, but could never pet them.

One grey & white thing he chased under the
stumps of the house until it wet itself in fear.

Once in a one in a century flood, they locked
grief inside the house, where it shat on the lino.

Another time, grief took on a black snake
hopping sideways with each leather belt strike.

He remembers why he let it go years before.
It had once belonged to his father, a familiar

that followed his dad until it was handed down.
An unwanted thing that found a new friend.

He’d grown up trying to catch the wild things,
Bearded dragons & Apostlebirds, he picked

up their chatter, once a lousy jack got caught
in a cage; its noisy family never left its side.

When grief visited the small animals, he put
their bodies inside matchboxes or shoeboxes

with tissues for shrouds & buried them in the
black loam. He was curious then & afterwards

dug them back up to look at their deceased state.
Grief was all mucous & the smell of Myall Creek.

This time, his daughters take up the tiny beast.
It lies in bed with them, curled up, soaking up

their warmth as a green shoot stretches for sun.
For many years it had no name, the girls even hid

it from him. He thought that grief was an old thing,
that no one wanted, but sorrow attracts the young.

They are growing up with it. Getting used
to its new routines, the constant demands.

Often it trips them up. The leash snagging
their feet; the trick is getting them to feed it.

At night the youngest daughter will pluck it
from the top of the couch & take it to her

room. Next morning he will come in & find
them asleep together, their breathing synced.

When they walk to the park it follows them,
& has to be scared back home. Throwing his

arms up into the air is a sign that he doesn’t
want grief to follow them anymore. But,

even after all these years of abandonment,
the small animal remains so blindly loyal.

Lamprey

They hang over the strong jaw of basalt rock
Like a bushranger’s slimy beard, after the rogue
Has latched his thirsty mouth onto a river’s neck.
Pacific breached, they are swimming upstream to
Breed, elbowing salmon out the way, until the wild
Velocity of the falls pummels the snake-like fish
Into cold paralysis. Here they have to climb with
Their tubular mouths like a leech hauling its way
Up a swimmer’s muscular calf, by latching onto
The cliff face. The drill bits of their teeth could
Grind this rock into dust if they stayed attached
To these mucus-slicked walls; as inexorably as a
Tunnel-borer grinds out a new inner-city bypass.
They always known; stones do not have blood.

Poor Big Fella

stay inside
i’m in my car

to frightened to get out
best to go somewhere

they can be aggressive males
he’s looking for some affection

omg he just came right up to my car
i had to beep the horn to get him away

hope this fella doesn’t get hurt in the suburbs
Maaaaaad

OMG scary big
he’s probably hungry

poor big fella
he needs to be out of suburbia

so he doesn’t cause a car accident
assert your dominance

fight him
poor boy

hope he finds his way somewhere safe
let us know how you go

poor big guy must be scared
in most situations

he will not be aggressive at all
give him space and he should go about

his vego diet in solitude
poor fellow

he needs some help to find his way again
he doesn’t look scary to me

whilst not a direct threat to people
he must be scared

even though he stands so tall
i don’t think of him as scary

he’s come up from pooh corner
behind the jails

he will find his way back
he won’t hurt you

give him some water
he will find his way out

he is at our front door now
holy moly lol

so cute
a few streets away

he just stayed for a while
he was very calm

he definitely lifts
he’s a big boy alright

call the police
he’s trespassing in my yard too

hopefully they’ll arrest this scumbag
before he breaks into any houses

or scares any more old ladies
queensland correctional services

have a crew that look after them
that stray from the prison

not sure if they will come out that way
but worth a shot

gosh – poor thing
somebody do something to help

A found poem from the 4074 community Facebook page.

Wacol Station Road

His son said animals have emotions. That elephants
mourn for their dead like we do. Each morning they’d
survey for roadkill; a counting game of dead eastern greys
& swamp wallabies that overnight crashed to the ground
like rotten branches downed by a thunderstorm. Often,
they’d be sprayed with a single, pink, paint stripe; some
cartoon mammal, marsupial-skunks, their wedge-shaped
snouts caught in a cup of stillness. As though death
was a graffiti artist who needed to reaffirm their existence
by tagging the dead’s unadorned carriage. Brightening
the boomers’ grey faces for the carnival of decay.
Or mortality as a kind of male penal shaming, sporting
this genteel colour to emasculate those imprisoned
in the underworld. At times, in the fog-blinkered
mornings their dozy eyes would betray them; a dirt
mound mistaken for a body would leap out, a trap
to capture their imaginations; middens left by Fire Ant
patrols bent on their own miniscule extermination.
By then it would be too late, the real carcasses would
be gone; a miraculous ascension missed by all. Evidence
of an even closer surveillance than the job they’d been
contracted for. Some black bagger at the very top of their
secret game. Where one day there’d been a furred lump,
airbed bloated, now they passed only teams of crows
in their immaculate dark suits who searched the ground
for clues, tweezer breaks probing the long grass for
bloodstains, crying in frustration over the lack of stink,
tampered evidence & a lead gone cold. & one morning
in front of them, two skippies bounded down a dewy
easement, paws slipping on the bitumen, claws frantic
for purchase, until gravity spilled the roos across the dark
blue tarmac, their black nails obsidian bright. An obstacle
evolution hadn’t thought through yet.

All of this drama occurred along Wacol Station Road.
On one side, ‘Pooh Corner’ a 140 hectare red gum forest
fit for a philosophising bear, celebrating a decade of near
obliteration by developers who wanted to clear fell & erect
more concrete hangers. A small army of activists opposed
the state government; making a stand against corporate
warfare & won. A rear-guard action, buying time for
these last inner-city habitats in the great western corridor
clearance sale of woodland for industry. This forest, one
of the last remnant eucalypt biomes in Brisbane, ex-DOD
land, that once saw a million US servicemen call its paperbarks
home. ‘Camp Columbia’ that stockpiled boys from the mid-west,
Brooklyn, all corners of that wide brown land. Triple the war-time
population of Brisbane, GIs put down sewer roots; water
treatment plants more advanced than the carts of nightsoil
that local residents still lugged away. A war-brokered
modernism, that spread as a great convulsion throughout
the Pacific, like a series of depth charges bucketing the sea
out of their explosive blow-holes. A spawning of new tech
that secretly housed ‘Colossus’, a Turing machine in Qld’s
capital, when you could count all the computers in the world
on one hand; which broke Japanese naval & army codes, folding
billions of numbers over & over to spit out a true sentence,
like a samurai sword bent a thousand times in a forge to give
it the power to cut a human hair in two, the first thinking
machine only conceptualised positions & troop strength;
sending countless men to their deaths in the tropics,
where crab feasts went on for weeks, months, years.
Who’d have thought he & his son would live in an age
where robots killed people remotely. When he was his
son’s age it had only been prophesised in books about
the future. Now ‘Christopher’s’ great grandchildren had
all grown wings & learnt to fly for hundreds of kilometres,
their blunt heads loaded with combat computers, cameras
that moved in unison with the rapid flick of human eyes.
Undetected, for twenty-four hours at a time, a new kind
of whispering death where joysticks & triggers guided
missiles to the everyman’s manure-daubed compound.

& on the roads’ other side, Wacol prison, its razor-wire
strands twisted like oversized DNA molecules, blades
alternating along the filaments like chains of protein cells.
The buildings stretching an aircraft carrier’s length, everything
dull-steel, dour as a wartime-painted ship, grey as the fur
of the roos, that belly flopped on the jail’s crewcut grass.
Grey besser block outbuildings, triangular aluminium roofs,
so no one could land a chopper, a monotone of colour,
a depressed cohort of prisoners kept on a perpetual war
footing, nerves shot, numbed to the Alsatian’s guttural bark.
Here, the eucalypts cleared around the institution’s immediate
vicinity, a killing ground’s clear sight where wardens might
enfilade a mass breakout, trees providing no cover.

His son asking why the people in the row of 1970s double
-story fibro orange houses, would live so close to the jail.
& why the a large fence around them & the ‘Keep Out’
signs. Was this to keep the prisoners out? How could he
explain these half-way houses for released paedophiles
easing them back into the community, like a swimmer
dipping one foot into freezing water to test their conviction.
These men who slouched up Wacol Station Road to the 7-11
to buy their ordinary treats. These ordinary looking men,
who you couldn’t pick, unremarkable, living with their own
mob, behind 10ft fences, penned in by fear, the trees partly
obscuring their presence from the road, a camouflaged life.
His son’s emotional commentary from the front seat.
His futile effort to respond to unanswerable questions.
His foot tensed to hit the brakes at a hint of greyness.
His fear of hitting something on this short-cut street.


© B. R. Dionysius

B. R. Dionysius was founding Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival. His poetry has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, newspapers and online. His eighth poetry collection, Weranga was released in 2013. He lives in Riverhills, Brisbane.

 

BKPJOLstamp