Felicity Plunkett has published poems in Heat, Southerly, Hermes, and anthologies including Calyx: 30 Contemporary Australian Poets.





metastases – (friendship poem)

pieces of me fly back and forward through time

an oncologistís blades have made fragments of me      this bit cauterised
                                                this one excised
                                                and this for the traces – poltergeist shadows
of what we might eschew
this last a dose of poison most of me will abhor

well might we eschew the things that eat us:
your name on my class roll, a name
that can touch and re-touch my heart
this is touching the gods send
and the institutions punish
it is your mind colliding with mine
it has no street address
it enters through the window, never the door
it spells its name in ouija red
it is embarrassing to the legislators, troublesome to name, kind to hold
it sleeps alongside our lovers, whom we love
no safer berth
we didnít book it a room as colleague, friend, stranger
no room at the inn for the miracles

            at some angle, on some plane
truth is its middle name

will we cauterise it? – it doesnít fit with the rest
of the body of our lives
paul celan has love flying above/between
Ďyouí and Ďmeí
and invokes it: Ďour metastasesí

beauty is big and strange as grief
love is all through me, a disease
i donít always know where it has planted itself
its hide-and-seek charm woos me into forgetting

you wrote that your lover had died
                what clasped me at twenty-five
                loosened its grip and stuck in her craw
                great black bird in the large white places
                of terminal healing

the grief in me is for you,
                for subtle friendship
                so sweet you imagine it is a figment
                                for your love: who feels today like the woman the gods took
                                or took me for
and me, a cheat, stealing someone elseís life
winging it, always
in the strange nounless world made for someone else
that i inherited from myself when the bird flew






advent

i am opening french doors at night
is this a dream too?
conte de printemps
advent curls around my thighs
they are white under the full moon
            rare as tusks


the click of the sunrise
like bones after thirty
day starts itself up
your whole life could be eaten
by the recurrent pitch and pull
                        of other tides
you sincerely, faithfully, cordially:
making your way across the unforgiving plains,
your regards could drown us both
there are too many machines in the morning
i want a crust of bread and a sliver of apple

i am watching myself
sitting here on the cusp
so sure the world was washed by
venus, keening
in the landscape of a nightmare
i crawling between the flatlands
into the last space not buried under landfill

after her waxing, a pause
then the first hint of                                silvery forests, free passage:
immigrant
lunatic afternoons
love the tumbleweed rolls up to you
in some street of a western clichť
                                                        climb
on this rollick of hay and dream






Night Departure

at night
the dark is a blanket
over a womanís departure.
at night
a wedding ring
tings on the cold hand basin:
she washes her hands.
at night
her own pulse
sounds loud to her
thrubbing away at disguise.
she has counted
the number of steps
she will need.
tonight
she will carry herself
out of this house
in several suitcases.






anxiety

(i)

first phase: still murderously sober
at the terminus of numerous sharp vodkas:
disguising my peering by interposing the glass' little bottom/
anything to discern what must be approaching this stop
the pulse of thinking is flickering on & on
with quick nimble slicing feet skipping
blithely through my out-bailing veins:
this cocktail makes me ever-smarter, quicker
quick-tripping over the various trip-wires; flick
& my too-perceptive heart gets ahead of itself;
flipping through the hand i imagine i've been dealt;
face revealing nothing; pulse at the jaw ecstatic
flinching/ grimacing/ pre-empting any strike
against me: everything
flashing past restless relentless eyes, quipping syncopated heart:
ever-agile/ strategic, waiting hands


(ii)

with you in mind, i'd have selected less-apparent glitches:
something a bit more fetching, less aberrantly disingenuous:
but fear held my hand & stroked my wrist
& made me think
together we had it made, what with my quick unlikely brain
and his animal cunning and sheer unavailable charm
& we decided i could evade everything that made me ordinary:
make me ordinary for a day &
i could rebuild the sandcastle
i stomped through, trying to get across/ through to/ over you
i'd scoop out sweet soft melting flavours
of my erstwhile & putative selves, for you. for you
i'd make a sandy sandwich of my charms; homespun, unfractured, wholesome
i'd leap into the sea with you, happily ludicrous
with a blow-up pool pony well out of its depth
instead of this dark hungry self-consuming smile
of mine: this perpetual dark wave of breaking.


(iii)

night-stretch of inexorable thinking:
light too bright and darkness irresistible, impenetrable
pandora's coming up with handfuls of frippery for me
to put into words for her: lassos, fetters, restraints
keys to all the vehicles of my escape-to-freedoms,
fresh-minted numberplates for new lives
beyond the scrutiny ≠ mine, yours, the Country Couples' Curious Convention
where my foibles make a light trifle to be examined fastidiously
wrapped in gingham, providing pause over dehydrated scones & tea


(iv)

stop, spot, stop! see spot stop
atop the spot where i used to run
my finger cutting the scar under each word
as you taught me to read
and i stuck my tongue between my teeth
to stop the words forming, and learned to spin
out some cordial hiatus: some crystalline answer


(v)

you steel yourself to lie in bed
while night's tide comes in & the hemlock rises
engorges itself like an unwanted erection
up & up until there's no sand to stand on
you scale the sea-wall, skinning your fingertips
hoisting yourself above the surges of poison, just
you talk yourself through every step:
you're intelligent: you've read the instruction book
& bought the gear: the ropes, the hooks
you can pull yourself over it like a corpse;
ride it out like flotsam, like a cork
you know you can, but the lapping sound
becomes interesting, comes closer: you can hear its rhythmic slap
you are paralysed, mesmerised: analytical.






sleeping with insomnia


thoughts with clicking feet like dogs on lino
tap through the roof of my brain
possuming into communion with one another
bad joins/non sequiturs/strange bedfellows
rioting on well after closing time
hurry up please itís time

if a picture paints a thousand words would you hold it against me?

feelings ajar letting in snatches of ancient conversations
itís not me, itís you: iím not in love with sleep the way i used to be
sorry i canít make it (are you?) iím washing my hare
before i stick it in front of the greyhounds of dreaming
i canít be bothered listening to you any more
but iím happy to efface the usual suspects for us both

if i said you had a beautiful body then why canít i paint you?