Category Archives: Art

Zerfallender Kampfgraben ~ Collapsed Trenches

In the aftermath, in Dresden
my new objectivity was too real
and confronting for the Weimar Republic
and its brown shirt undertow.
And as their tide reached high water,
my teaching post, lost
lest I infect the young with truth
I moved to the south to Lake Constance
ordered to paint peaceful landscapes

But this is the landscape of my life
the landscape of war that etches itself
in my nightmares and dreams
it itches my skin in the scars and puckers
of my shrapnel pitted wounds

After the nine day barrage at the Somme
everything we’d packed into the trench wall
buried out of sight and scent
cascaded like a muddy, bloody waterfall
and bathed the corpses baking in the sun
nibbled by the dainty, tearing teeth
of Hamelin’s scourge, the only living thing
apart from me, it seems.

I am posed in a still life
bleeding slowly beneath an uprooted tree
languid limbs are draped or dangling free
spines scoliosed in curls and loops
prison bars of rib cages cracked open
skulls rotted clean to greasy marbled bone
this landscape is my legacy for you.

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Poems and Shadows

Poems

make shadows

hold their breath

© M.L.Emmett

1-robert-mapplethorpe-hand-in-fire-1985

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Nannultera

Portrait of Nannultera, a young Poonindie cricketer

J.M. Crossland (1799 – 1858) Oil on Canvas 1854 Adelaide

Governor Gawler said survival was plain and simple
all they wanted was to make you happy
your trade was imitation of good white men
and above all you had to love God
Archdeacon Matthew Hale’s God
the one to be found north of Port Lincoln
in the Aboriginal Mission at Poonindie.

An institution of happiness training
like English grammar boys, sport was the key
to civilise the beastly and unpleasant urges
curb and control unhealthy thoughts
and learn the rituals at the wicket.

Cricket’s sacred pitch drawn on dust
white-lined boundary on the ochre earth
the pock and crack on solid willow
red leather ball echoing the steady beat
of strokes, of swing and sweep
guiding, gliding and glancing off
the drama of the lunge, loft or leave
and always, in district matches
the sound of gentle clapping.

Poonindie boys humble yet heroic
bowlers grass juiced and polish striped
with scarlet rippled thighs
batsmen strong, supple with deadly eye.

Nannultera you were hand picked
for this portrait, just edging manhood
with your first fine fluff and stubble
handsome, healthy and desirable.

Cossland posed, you bat held tight
your strong muscled arm raised
not taking aim at any ball
not ready at the crease for action
just held as instructed, art-positioned

Black shiny hair, tamed by a comb
your unstarched white collar and cuffs
beneath rumpled swathes of red jersey
tucked into tough and yet soft moleskins
held by that sturdy broad, brown leather belt.

Your face and wistful eyes tell another story
of lost, lost boys, dying lonely
in crowded and cramped rooms
in filthy, flea pits of places
their scars, sickness and despair
used, abused by these men of mercy
and the sadness of your dreaming
lost forever.

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Filed under Art, Australian Poetry, Poem