Justin Lowe


     for Steve
My life
as any other
has been a series of accidents
not so much a curtain in the wind
as the exponential curve
of a dog’s tail before it bites
what do I know of truth?
well only that it titters
when you catch its eye
I talk too much, I know
of death especially
I’ve tried arguing degrees until the barrage lifts
my comrades call me “the Russian”
because I talk so much
I make them stiffen like a Kulak caught riffling our dugouts
out there beyond the wire they grumble with two mouths
one in their head and one in their belly
where our shrapnel caught them
but our gunners do not seem
content with such a harvest
two million, three – why stop there?
the river is wide here
but shallow, the eddies chatter
I can hear the Russians whispering
as they blast the shattered birch stands
fences, walls, anything left standing
anything our gunners could use as markers
I know my orders
I crank the great light open
its shutters screeching like night in a world of iron

and for the first time I see myself
what a small and opaque being
like a cloud of wings humming in the light
and yet how unyielding
a great conductor of energy
heat and cold: my madness and my genius
I dream of death
I am not a puzzle seeking play
but a final resolution
the Russian guns creep faster than ours
they have markers we cannot see
and the light soon dies, the chatter stops
I swim back to shore
to the jeers of my countrymen
who let the wire catch me
leave me dangling
my shadow dancing
under the ice-blue flares

Justin published two collections of poetry, as well as penning songs for such diverse musical outfits such as The Whitlams and The Impossibles and Sydney jazz diva Lily Dior and composing dithyrambic text for the annual Mascon Festival. He currently resides in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and recently completed a poetry commission for the 2004 Sydney Festival. Justin is currently negotiating the rights to a film script based on Henry Lawson’s tragic marriage to Bertha Bredt. He is also preparing his second novel The Wordman for publication and working on a third novel set during the East African campaign of 1914-18. He has just started up his own poetry blog, BLUEPPER.

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