The Picketer (Justin Lowe)

Posted on April 21, 2017 by in Heightened Talk

I am told there’s been trouble at the plant.
they tell me this with that strange mixture
of fear and relish so characteristic of the beaten.

I am at a loss as to why they come to me,
but they seem to seek me out,
as though they regarded me as some sort of bridge.

but when they come like this
with their dark, beseeching eyes
to tell me there is trouble at the plant,

something in me folds,
and all the distance I have put between
myself and their worries, so assiduously maintained

like a prim hedge,
the kind of hedge that states more emphatically
than a strand of razor wire

KEEP OUT!

suddenly all that distance melts away
and all my loathing turns inwards,
like when I spy the boss’ daughter in her summer skirt

and I realise in a flash I am not the prince of my mother’s songs.

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Justin Lowe was born in Sydney but spent significant portions of his childhood on the Spanish island of Minorca with his younger sister and artist mother. He developed a penchant for writing poetry while penning lyrics for a string of bands, successful and not so, and has since been published all over the world. Justin currently resides in a house called “Doug” in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper. His selected, Days of Wine and Bruises, 1996-2016, was released in April 2016.

Breaking News (Justin Lowe)

Posted on July 20, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

turkishthere had been
no end of rumours of a coup.

plates kept clattering in the palace kitchen,
the linen-beaters worked strange hours,

people began to talk of a giant
stalking the city at night,

its rhythmic footfalls
lulling the dogs to sleep.

the linen would then be folded
and heaped in a cart

that left by the old gate,
grumbling over the mossy stones.

for days and days people waited,
reading every little incident as a sign,

until they could no longer discern
their sleeping from their waking state.

but nothing changed.
the lights burned brightly in the palace.

the clumsy girl in the kitchen
was finally let go.

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justin Lowe
Justin Lowe
was born in Sydney but spent significant portions of his childhood on the Spanish island of Minorca with his younger sister and artist mother. He developed a penchant for writing poetry while penning lyrics for a string of bands, successful and not so, and has since been published all over the world. Justin currently resides in a house called ‘Doug’ in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper.

Days of Wine and Bruises
(Justin Lowe)

Posted on April 22, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

FullSizeRenderGod Drinks at the Sandringham
(from From Church to Alice, 1996)

He usually comes
to sit by me
in the grainy light
of 4 o’clock

He will often
sit on His hands
He is kind
but nervous

I don’t think
He has very much money
His conversation is minimal
He likes to sit

like pity
in the crook of my arm
He watches people
come in, smiles

they are of Him
somehow
they nod and pat His
back, He is what

we call
in our sinecure way
“alright”
He has time for everyone

He drinks slowly, deliberately
from a schooner
that always looks
half full

what He does for a living
is anyone’s guess
and needless to say
everyone

has their own version
of how He came to be here
walk down King street any day
and you will find Him

waving at you
it is utterly spontaneous
a simple gesture
of recognition

at certain times
on certain days
He could almost be a white flag
in a brisk wind


Our Child
(from Try Laughter, 2000)

is painting a picture
I am hovering over its left shoulder
you over its right

we are watching its tiny hands
drift over the page
like the skeletons of wings

watching its ghost head rock
from side to side
humming to the flower in its mind

and every now and then
we catch a glimpse
of a pink little tongue

as a line is drawn straight down
between the elephants and mice
like some quiet demarcation

leaving you
on the left side
me

on the right


Sultan Mehmet receives a new set of quills
(from Glass Poems, 2006)

the jackdaw is a violent bird a little unsteady on its feet unsure
of its size unable to quite fix the parameters of its world, it
builds its nest in early spring out of stolen moments snatched
glances sighs caught on its graceless wings, in northern
Ethiopia the jackdaw is chased off as soon as it lands,
Schwabia also, the Armenian uplands, Georgia and the lush
Hungarian plains, on the island of Madagascar they have only
heard of the jackdaw through the thin lips of the Portugese
who warned of its evil never to meet its steely gaze as though
the bird’s arrival on the island was imminent, but the Latins
fuss and the jackdaw mercifully has never ventured that far
south, the Great Turks have a recipe for jackdaw attributed to
Saladin who liked to hunt them with his hawks, the Arabs do
not eat birds as a rule due to their abiding reverence for the
sky, they are a strangely passionate inveterate people whose
greatest wish seems to be wisdom peace and prosperity for all
the world, the Chinese have no strong opinion on the jackdaw
except that it steals from south-facing windows and will brain
itself to death if locked in a cage


Thorn
(from The Great Big Show, 2007)

the Kikuyu gardeners
who finally found the time to rake my path
are shaking their heads at my roses

I am consoling them
a little west of where I sowed them
the same colour as the ground

sharp mbwana!
the tall one answers to my yelp
tsking the red bud on my thumb

he was married, that tall one
the same time Lionel left for Voi
the railhead there

took the name Simon
for my sake, apparently
in case I had to call for him

chased a jackal off my pup

I am lost somewhere
in the mist of the short rains
the dust finds me, asleep on my back

Lionel has been silent
for two weeks now
the roses were my first clear thought

I do not get lonely
I am simply not accustomed to waiting
I am like a child amongst these people


Archie Roach
(from Mistaken for Strangers, 2009)

I am
what young girls
think of each other
by the firelight

in some dark corner
of this island’s soul
I am that ancient grudge
shiny as a trooper’s button

as blood on dust
or as pennies
in the eyes of the dead
the no-longer criminal

I am
the exoneration of defeat
we have always clung to
black or white

when the smoke rises
to crimp our noses
when the locusts come
like a knife in our bellies

when the drought night
is empty but
for the pitiful mewling
of the lost lamb dying

in the dry creek bed
as the laughing crows
peck out her eyes
I am both

the magic and the terror
of that tiny lamb
the great ships brought
to my country

 

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MyLULUPhoto
Justin Lowe
was born in Sydney but spent significant portions of his childhood on the Spanish island of Minorca with his younger sister and artist mother. He developed a penchant for writing poetry while penning lyrics for a string of bands, successful and not so, and has since been published all over the world. Justin currently resides in a house called ‘Doug’ in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper.

His Selected, Days of Wine and Bruises, 1996-2016, from which these poems are taken, has just been released. Justin will be launching Days of Wine and Bruises on Wednesday 27 April, 7 pm at Rhizomic Poetry in Glebe.

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The Sleepwalker (Justin Lowe)

Posted on August 28, 2015 by in Heightened Talk

FullSizeRenderon the tacit understanding
that you will not
repeat this to anyone,

Artemis walked with me for a while,
in the early days
when the fire still burned.

dust and dogs and the drone
of some distant war
could not deter me.

I was all sinew then,
my measurements were as constant
as my convictions.

Artemis remarked on my gait.
she seemed quick to flatter.
our shadows mingled.

when the road began to straighten
Artemis bid me farewell
and pressed me for a few bent coins.

the days grew short,
my heartbeats quickened,
I watched the night give birth to a star.

in the end nothing came of it.
my dreams overtook me,
as you can see.

Artemis?
well, she is the least lonely
of all the gods.

 

___________________________________________________________

Justin Lowe was born in Sydney but spent significant portions of his childhood on the Spanish island of Minorca with his younger sister and artist mother. He developed a penchant for writing poetry while penning lyrics for a string of bands, successful and not so, and has since been published all over the world. Justin currently resides in a house called “Doug” in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper. His most recent collection Nightswim can be purchased through The Bluepepper Bookstore.

Three Poems for Ariel
(Justin Lowe)

Posted on February 6, 2015 by in Heightened Talk

Lisbon_(8624459624) (4)Parvenu

like all self-made men
I carry the hallmark
of earlier experiments.

cavernous days, ghosts
rattling their chains in my pocket,
the haunted smile of a man caught rifling through bins.

as you may have noticed

the frown of the autodidact
hovers somewhere between
a tattoo and a scar,

a strange bird
sat on its gilded perch
promising any moment to break into song.

They keep me here

that was my going rate then,
a warm hand on my cheek,
a musky promise and our backs turned to the world.
I was easily encouraged
which is why I so often faltered.
actions seemed to carve great letters in the pavement,
the one time my years were analogous to the fashion.

words came later,
like a delayed reaction to some vague betrayal.
perhaps why my eye is so often
drawn to an unmade bed,
as though truth slept there.
always sceptical of patterns,
I fumbled my first three loves,

acquiring tenderness in hindsight as a kind of occlusion.

Tram 96   – for Ariel 

in the poems I write you
there is always an element of waiting.

a symptom, perhaps
of the years between us,

of a world that has not
yet conceived of you,

like a taut sky
awaiting the gift of a bird.

many are the dreads
of the birdless sky, the childless man

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

each night with its own signature,
its own cradle of echoes and whispers.

you have walked through me, friend.

but this is not a love poem,
it is a song of ghosts,

elemental as the hiss of traffic on rainy Spencer Street,
the clang of the bell that will herald you home.

 

*These poems are from Justin Lowe’s latest collection, Nightswim. You can purchase it, and his previous collections, at The Bluepepper Bookstore.