JAMES WALTON is an Australian poet published in newspapers, and many journals, and anthologies. Shortlisted twice for the ACU National Literature Prize, a double prize-winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition – his collection The Leviathan’s Apprentice was published in 2015. He has been a Librarian, a cattle breeder, a farmer, and on the other side of his working life an elected public sector union official. He lives in an isolated community of dairy farmers in the Strzelecki Mountains in far South Gippsland.
LYDIA HARRIS‘ first pamphlet ‘Glad Not to be the Corpse’ was published in 2012 by Smiths Knoll. She holds a 2017 Book Trust New Writers’ Award for poetry and lives in the Orkney island of Westray.
Made in Milk
The cattle have grazed through the wait
anxious at the gate getting noisy
throwing heads shuffling feet in the dark
udders tight with the thought of grain
this winter icy frigid as despair
in your hair a faint elixir of that secret smoke
the pack of Old Jamaica you hide
behind the grease gun where I don’t go
enough rain to bring in Spring dams full
if you must get up I’ll have early lunch ready
a special gourmet treat from my menu of eleven
probably number three the Mexican beans
although I’d rather you stayed awhile
listening to the river play La Nina’s nocturne
there’s nothing unknown to discover outside
under these blankets it’s as warm as hello.
Flint Tool, Papa Westray
You choose a knuckle of flint and knap it,
the flakes fall like nails from the fingers of corpses,
stack at your feet, little parters of skin.
The core between finger and thumb
is the chip you’re saving, the paring you peck
with the hammer the old man gave you,
until it stands without falling, holds its breath on your palm,
like the stone at Quoybirse, the one you see on the skyline.
Annie’s Uncle retires from Dunnett Light and brings his button box accordion to Westray
He’d hauled it like the staked coo,
from Bass to May to Dunnett.
He’d whistled ‘Kirrie Kebbuck’
and Lucky Scaup’ from the plank
roped to the gallery rails
as he whitened harled walls.
Flick, flick, flick , the light’s swing.
The old lungs grew wheezy,
the paper split and the tunes
were blown across the Firth.
They paid him off. He sailed
to Breckowall, stowed the old thing
in the byre cubby and the buttons
turned yellow. He wasn’t Jimmy Shand
but he was no stranger to any o’us.
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