LOST SIGNATURES (BOOK OF JACK GILBERTS & FERNANDO PESSOAS)

Fernando Pessoa lives in a drawer

The drawer is the only place to write.
Life there is a selection of all that is chosen.
Fernando Pessoa is in there with a pen.
Shutting him in or opening him up
makes no difference to his scratchings.
He’s the kind of guy who’ll invent a life
outside the drawer.
And you’ll be the one who lives it.
Already you can feel sadness and, yes,
even despair.
The poet has dug a little hole in the tip
of your longest finger and in it buried
his heart.
Next time you touch something it hurts.
Outside the drawer, pain is on both ends
of everything.

 

Signed

He has written his name in the corner crowded with himself. There is much attention to this. At least until everything gives way. The tree to the receding shoreline and the man’s claim to the wrath of the little girl. His signature then resembles an insect spinning on its back. Perhaps it is a sign of the circumstances.

 

‘What the good used to be’

after Jack Gilbert

They all have nothing to say
and keep asking where you get ideas from.
Tell them they come from
what the good used to be.
Trying the other side of the body
during sleep or catching hold
of a thought before you fall.
Wiping yourself with your clothes
after going in the grass
and then burying them before worrying
about your distance from home.
The long flat cloud that led
the birds out of the trees
and the ghosts of those tall
and full of the old sky which
had more truth in it than
the sky these days heavy and empty
with myth that has become
just myth.

Tell them the good refused
to change its path from the storm’s path
and lived patiently in the bodies
of those who did not have time.

Tell them the tiny spider put together
like a square brings the message
of yellow and that thinking goes beyond
mere thought.

They keep asking where you get ideas from.
Trying to open everything
with just one key.
If only they knew what the good
used to be.
That one key is enough
only if you’ve first learned how
to pick locks.

 

When the sheep stop feeding

for Fernando Pessoa

Little sheep with their trusting forms of address,
a dozen of them grazing placidly
on fine-spun clouds you left in stalls for them
all over the space of winter
and the fragile years of sojourning.
Nibbling on the very least a shepherd might give –
grain from an open hand, sun and water,
the tough resilience of a gaze that walks
between the starved moon and night’s emptiness.

Nourished from the same soil
as your own wayward fracturing,
they feasted long on sun-ripened air
but then, like innocence itself
once it bathes and takes food among us,
slowly and strangely they lost themselves,
became boulders on a mountain pass,
an old car abandoned in a field,
a cypress caressing a waterfall,
shrinking and glittering
as distance transformed them.
On the day they stopped feeding
you offered them the fingers of your hand
while their eyes travelled past you
uncomprehending
dwelling already far ahead in the past.

 

Jack cheers up

On the day they blew up the monolith with a bomb made entirely of happy cucumbers, Jack cheered up. He wiped his feet on the night mat and came back inside grinning like a clam battle. ‘If any stand away’ he cried ‘it will be now’. And we all so wanted it to be now, really now for a change, that we ran off as if from nothing stable. Jack was suspicious enough of this to become frosty again which was just as well because his next poem had started on its glacial path up top and was threatening to crush the cerebellum.

 

It’s true Mr Pessoa

It’s true. You are.
It’s not true that you are not.
Your horror is truly horrific
though you have communicated it improperly.
It’s true that you are now
historical having lost all your tomorrows
in this game that we that remain
are still playing.
People here are smoking and drinking.
Eating sugar that’s been hardened to last.
No one wants to find you really
but are happy to look for you
in the words you left behind.
People like puzzles. Up to a point.
} Beyond that their humanness
degenerates into a search for what’s true
in what’s not.
For it’s simply not true that you are.
However horrible.
It’s true Mr Pessoa that you are not.

 

My two husbands

My two husbands were Jack
Gilbert and Henri Michaux.

In all the photographs I am
by them, by their sides.

When they went to live their lives
they forgot me unfortunately.

But I went on loving them
with my wifely little poems.

I say ‘Jack, Jack’ and ‘darling
Henri’ and that’s enough.

Because when they dream
of all they missed it is me.

I am truly what they never had –
the longing beyond longing.

The most beautiful adored never
in all they were unable to create.

Beyond longing, longing.
Mrs Gilbert and Mrs Michaux.

 

‘Who will I be when I am no one’

for Fernando Pessoa

I awake without history,
touching strange hands.
There are mirrors in long corridors
that no longer give back names.
Like a portrait in which the background
so dominates only a faint cry
is there where a fleck of whiteness was,
I am the room without me.

 

 

 

Peter Boyle is an Australian poet living in Sydney. His first three collections of poetry Coming home from the world(1994), The Blue Cloud of Crying (1997), and What the painter saw in our faces (2001) have received several awards including the New South Wales Premier’s Award, the South Australian Festival award and the National Book Council Award. His latest collection of poetry, Museum of Space, was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Prize in 2005.

He has read his poetry at several festivals including International poetry week, Caracas (2004), the Medellín International Poetry Festival (1997), and the Festival de Poésie anglo-français, Paris (1999). His poems have been published in such magazines as slope, Verse and Three Candles in the USA, Heat, Island, Southerly, Salt, Overland (Australia), Poetry Review and Shearsman (UK). His poetry has appeared in translation in La traductière and Poésie / Première (France), Prometeo and Revista Casa de Silva (Colombia), Hoja Verde (Chile) and Alhucema (Spain). His translations of French and Spanish poetry have appeared in such reviews as American Poetry Review and Jubilat. A selection of his translations of César Vallejo, I am going to speak of hope, was published in 1999 by the Peruvian Consulate, Sydney.

In 2004 a collection of his translations The Trees: selected poems 1967 ­ 2004 by Eugenio Montejo was published by Saltpublishing(UK). This is the first bilingual edition of the poetry of Eugenio Montejo.

As an editor of anthologies of Australian poetry, Boyle has been co-editor of Midday Horizon (Roundtable, 1996), Time¹s Collision with the Tongue (FIP, 2001) and Australia Poesia Contemporanea (Trilce editores, 1997).

Peter Boyle was born in Melbourne in 1951 and has lived most of his life in Sydney where he works as a teacher.

 

MTC Cronin was born in 1963 in Merriwa in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia and grew up in Caloundra, Queensland. She has published fourteen collections of poetry as well as several in translation including her 2001 book, Talking to Neruda¹s Questions, which has been translated into both Spanish and Italian. Her work has won and been shortlisted for many major literary awards among them the Pushcart Prize; the Gwen Harwood Memorial Poetry Prize; the Stand International Poetry Prize; the James Joyce Foundation¹s Suspended Sentence Award; the John Bray Poetry Award, South Australian Festival Awards for Literature; the Jessie Litchfield Award for Literature; the Judith Wright Calanthe Prize for Poetry, Queensland Premier¹s Literary Awards; and the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry. In her native Australia, her 2004 book-length poem, 1-100, won the 2005 CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and in 2006 won the Award for Innovation in Writing at the South Australian Festival Awards, as well as being shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry at the NSW Premier¹s Literary Awards and the Age Book of the Year.

Cronin has studied arts, law, literature and creative writing and after working for the decade of the nineties in law, she began teaching writing in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. She currently lives in Maleny with her partner and three young daughters and has recently completed her doctorate ­ The Catastrophe of Meaning ­ which consists of eleven interlinked cross-genre books exploring poetry, law, justice and desire. She has four books forthcoming in 2007: a collection of prose with Ravenna Press,USA (Irrigations (of the Human Heart) ~ fictional essays on the poetics of living, art & love); two poetry collections in one with Soi 3, Australia/Thailand (Our Life is a Box. / Prayers Without a God); a poetry collection with Shearsman Books, UK (Notebooks of Signs & 3 Other Small Books); and also with Shearsman Books a book of poetry jointly written with the Australian poet, Peter Boyle (How Does a Man Who is Dead Reinvent His Body? ~ The Belated Love Poems of Thean Morris Caelli).

 

Available books

• our life is a box. / prayers without a god: (price to be determined)
• notebook of signs (& 3 other small books): (price to be determined)
• irrigations (of the human heart) – fictional essays on the poetics of
living, art & love (prose poems): (price to be determined)
• the flower, the thing: $25 with postage ($28 overseas)
• the ridiculous shape of longing ­ new & selected poems
(macedonian/english): $25 with postage ($28 overseas)
• 1-100: $27 with postage ($30 overseas)
• beautiful, unfinished: $24 with postage ($27 overseas)
• my lover’s back ­ 79 love poems: $22 with postage ($25 overseas)
• talking to neruda’s questions (spanish/english edition): $24 with postage
($27 overseas)
• talking to neruda’s questions (italian/english edition): $27 with postage
($30 overseas)
• bestseller: $24 with postage ($27 overseas)
• everything holy: $19 with postage  ($22  overseas)

Deals offered if ordering more than one book. All prices in Australian dollars.