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...making a road by walking...

Year 12 poetry
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One rainy day, we shut down the World Economic Forum.

I wrote these for my year 12 creative writing assignment... in 1999. I'm still quite proud of them.

I fixed up the ending of 'Paradise Valley' recently- as I never quite worked out how to do so.- previously the last 4 lines were suggested by my older sister, but they didn't fit into the thematic structure of the poem. Now the last 4 lines are much better, I think.

Many have lost their vision.
The flames in their eyes doused.
Smouldering in the rubble.
Conforming to the world of the shallow-sighted
whose fear of fire is all-consuming.

Paradise Valley

From my vantage point
on the pinnacle of a hill
I behold a bustling suburb
a fortress in the fold of the valley
emerging from the menacing depths of the jungle.

A profusion of brand new, pink-bricked dwellings
in clusters like fig inflorescences
with landscaped, monocultural gardens
glowing in the half-baked sunlight.

Expanses of emerald kikuyu
colonise the bare foothills
beyond the barbed wire fence
whilst a disorientated river, burdened by silt, weaves past.

Upstream, the teeming rainforest is pulverised by bulldozers
the raucous chorus of chainsaws 
smothers the tinkling of bellbirds
as weeping gashes in the scarlet clay deepen
reddening the river as the settlers move in.

Silent streams of gleaming city cars
glide through the gates.
Refugees, seeking solace from the chaos of the concrete jungle
in the comforting confines of conformity.

Hopelessly estranged in their efforts to maintain seclusion
acknowledging fellow inmates with icy stares
living their lives transfixed by the exterior world
the city soapies, the fairy floss clouds and the tinted river.

From this steep eroding precipice
I weep bitter tears
for myself, us and them.
looking back to my bare hands.

NB: fig inflorescences are encased in a spherical rind- what appears to be the fruit is actually the flower. Also, in Australia, figs are jungle trees, especially the Strangler Fig.


Ficus Urbanae

An exhausted metropolis
is shrouded in afternoon shadow.
A shaft of eerie sunlight 
splinters from a glaring molten monolith of glass
illuminating the twisted bough of a fig tree
soldered into the grimy brickwork of a crumbling woolstore
-the cavernous haunt of smog-smudged pigeons-
excreta encrusting the glossy leaves
cauterising the margins and delicate copper shoots
to leave it stunted, unable to reach the open sky.

The windows murmur in an icy breeze
as a man and his shopping bags
crouch in a marble doorway
amongst a drift of litter, blown in by stinging wind gusts.
Aromas linger: steaming onions, 
mingled with the pungeance of the underground railways.
Passing commuters in step with eachother
remain in self-absorbed apathy
oblivious of the tortuous struggle
of life on the edge.

Who is liberated in this chasm of frustration?
the boundaries are inpenetrable.
The tree's sinuous and mangled roots will continue groping the air
estranged from the motherly clay
by swathes of concrete, seven floors below.

One day the truth will be revealed
after the roar of the last bus
and a lull in the whining of sirens.
Voices will echo in the subways,
leaves will unfurl
and the street will dissolve into the night.

NB: this poem was prompted by a tree I saw growing on a building in Kent street, Sydney.

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