Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flight 91

I look up from my book
to see stewards wrestle a big man into the aisle.
This is it.

A doctor identifies herself,
as the man on the floor gradually unstiffens
from his fit.

Friday, June 23, 2006

San Lazaro

Grizzled hair tight across a dark skull
he taps his way along walls
traversing De Chirico street scapes
bright and Sunday morning empty
near the LA airport.
‘How you doin’!’ voice robust, cheerful
when he hears me catch him up.

‘I have ten dollars in my hand,’ I offer,
‘do you know someone who might need it?’
not wanting to offend his pride.
‘I do.’ he said.

Later I find a small grocery
selling cactus pads among tomatoes and runner beans.
I buy a candle in a glass cylinder printed with
San Lazaro, the dogs licking his sores,
my souvenir, one among the several saints.

© Steve Isham June 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Illuminated Word

‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ King James Bible

Angled obliquely from dim Victorian wall
where cobweb drifts from moulded ceiling
a varnished frame with flowered text,
GOD IS LIGHT, and tangled in calligraphy.
Words pinned like butterflies beneath the glass
far from fields of light where they might fly.
There see a man called Word upon a rutted road,
who steps from his abstraction like a chrysalis.
An image laden Word,
in complexion, breath and sweat,
in flesh, Light’s poetry.

© Steve Isham 14 June 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

First Morning

Light’s first ochre daub,
brush of slivered sun.
Moist earth fragrant,
as first tea on tongue.
At first lap, up leaps cat,
where pencil broods
above a broad expanse.
First musing, first mark,
first unseemly word, evicted
by first diagonal slash.
So the world begins.

© Steve Isham June 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006


Oh, and another thing. On Friday, I added a new word to my vocabulary. Marion had fun this morning with a made up Kath and Kim dialog using the word. It lends itself to broad Australian pronunciation abuse. From the concise Dictionary of Literay Terms:
enjambement: The running on of a thought from one line, couplet or stanza to the next.
Vocabulary is so linked to ownership. I remember first thinking this when I went into a hardware shop while building our house, unequipped with the words for what I needed.
The thought came up again in the publishing of children's books. I think my first letters to printers were left aside by them because I did not know how to specify my requirements. Either they were baffled or thought that so ignorant a client might not be serious and could be a poor account risk too.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What I learned on Friday

I spent a couple of very worthwhile hours with a poetry editor for a literary mag on Friday giving me an intense “poetry 101” experience. Here are the main points I took away:

• Identify prosaic bits of verse and work on them.
• Aim for fewer words. Check each word and phrase to make sure it is making an essential contribution.
• Preachy and pedantic is not poetry.
• Greatly curtail the use of ‘the’ and ‘of’
• Use active voice.
• Use particularity. Show, don’t tell.
• Put line breaks only where meaningful. Follow the natural rhythm of language: iambic pentameter, unless you deliberately don’t use it for effect.
• Starting lines with a capital letter is a generally disused convention.
• Poetry editors receive a huge number of submissions and among them quite a lot of poems about writing a poem.

I have decided to, even more than before, regard the poems already posted on this blog as works in progress and continue to rework them. I have done this to a few already. It also means that I will probably not be posting 3 times a week as I was before. Maybe once or twice.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


That controversial Jew
cast his seed talk and walked his work
striking with sandaled feet sparks so sharp
they lit a slow burn fire
ignited recollection and
exploded in the heart,
conclusion consummate.
This man cooking fish among the coals
is God among us.

©Steve Isham June 2006

©Steve Isham June 2006

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Foundation for the Extension

I’m not sure why
I like to dig holes.
Making empty is,
in some way,
quite fulfilling.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Betty's Illumination

Yesterday I put a safety pin
In mother's curtain
To hold the cord in reach.
By turning just a little in her chair
And extending
What for her is quite a tug,
She lets the daylight in.
Another light, already visible
Illuminates her face,
Shining past the wreckage
Of her fading flesh.
Is it happiness?
I cannot find another word
For what has now replaced
The intermittent years of discomfort and regret.
(At least in part.
And a firmer hope
Was always in her heart.)
Her neighbours down the hall
Nodding and smiling,
Remark about it.
Nor is she reticent to speak,
Nor yet too weak
To tell her faith
Her welcome home to Christ,
The Light ahead.