Andrew Leggett – Four Poems

oldscriptwatermarkOLD HAT

Rainbow lorikeets and mynas feast
on palm flower nectar and the red stellate flowers
of the umbrella. I turn from the window,
rise from my desk, pack my notebook,
my laptop, mobile phone, wallet,
half-devoured tubs of hummus and taramasalata,
an intact packet of brown rice crackers
and a pinot gris in a lime green cooler.
I reach for my panama hat, a white fedora,
softened with sweat, with salt lines on the band
and blood stains on the crown no number of runs
through the dishwasher will ever render clean,
those well above the rent in the brim
where the fibres have begun to move
towards their own unraveling.

My old hat and I are driving across town
to a meeting in a tall apartment building
just across the street from the hospital
where my friend died last night, a couple of hours
after we left her. From the living room
the view of the old brown river is good.
On the day they drained her pericardial effusion,
the river was rising, just about to burst
its banks. The rain was lashing me and the wind
was so strong that I almost lost my umbrella.
Along the covered way between the buildings,
plastic buckets kept the drips from the carpet.

When I enter the room, I am informed
of the decision for White Lady Funerals,
their rooms just streets away from my place,
at Seven Hills, near Morningside. Those ladies
buried my Aunt, took her frail body to Hemmant
from Cannon Hill and never brought it back.
I lift my hat and place it on the table.
I will not throw it in the ring, where the widower
deliberates between burial and cremation,
mentions the virtues of a plot on multiple levels—
one for her, one for him, and one for their girl,
who plays with her iPad and is not dead yet.

I open the crackers, distribute the wine—
the body and the blood. I’ve brought the only food.
I wish I’d stopped to purchase loaves and fishes.
I am assigned the music task, all on account
of my vast collection of Leonard Cohen.
I agree to help collect the coffin, flown in
from New Zealand, strapped to the roof
of a Volkswagen, and driven across town
to be customised. I offer to feed them all
at the wake before the wake
for my friend who will never wake again
at my place next Sunday. I collect
my computer, my notebook, the lime green cooler
and leave to shop at Woolworths,
wearing my old panama hat.



I cast my lure into the confusion
of foam strewn up in the wake
of the launch departing Tangalooma pier.
This piece of speckled orange polyurethane
spins, trailing a pair of barbed tridents,
I wind the ratchet-set reel
Jarvis Walker made for me in China,
land the fish and, in the thrash of spines,
relent of filleting its life. I rush
to dislodge the hooks and throw its dying form
through seas of air. The splash disturbs Japan,
whose citizens stand behind me, bent over
a bucket of two wrasse, caught unawares.




Passing the pawn shop, I am drawn
to the Conn saxophone in the window display,
tagged at just over a grand
but cash in hand could be had
for a grand, with a price drop,
or laid by with three months to pay—
a long wait before bebop
Why, brother
did you sell your soul
did you sell your horn
your tenor sax?

You could not save your soul.
You would not hold your seed.
There were no oats to sow.
She would not have you
have your way. You could not
be the man with the horn.
She would not let you blow.
You would not blow her way.





When we go to the theatre
in the midst of the languor
of age and decrepitude
I want you to be wearing
your high-heeled sling-backs
a black backless frock
with a plunging halter
and that choker of pearls
you stole from your mother
for a secret liaison
with a crushed hibiscus
lewd as the mangroves
when the tide recedes
under art’s concrete bunker.



© Andrew Leggett

Andrew Leggett is a Brisbane poet, fiction writer, editor and author of academic papers. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Queensland and is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Griffith University. His published collections of poetry are “Old Time Religion and other Poems” (Interactive Press 1998) and “Dark Husk of Beauty” (Interactive Press 2006). His work has won prizes or been shortlisted in numerous awards including The Arts Queensland Val Vallis Prize for Unpublished Poetry, The Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize, The IP Picks national poetry manuscript competition, The Bridport Poetry Prize (UK), The Tasmanian Poetry Cup, The Melbourne Poetry Cup and the Gwen Harwood Memorial Poetry Prize.