The April event was bursting at the seams with words, with 30 Open Mic Readers and 3 sizzling features. And from this swirl of words, emerged our April Call-Back-Poet, Carmen Leigh Keates with her poem, Nature Reserve. Carmen will now join Jo Brooks on stage in November, when they perform for the right to be named SpeedPoets Open Mic Champion for 2012.
Carmen’s debut micro-collection, One Broken Knife is part of Brisbane New Voices III which is being launched at Riverbend Books this Tuesday, April 24 at 6:30pm alongside readings and performances from Tessa Leon, Brett Dionysius & Andy White, so come on out and support local talent!
We were in a nature reserve
owned by the airport,
filming a corporate video
on environmental responsibility.
The unseen vertical extension of the runway
cut again and again up our backs
as we hiked through the salt-addled straw
with our tripod, camera and esky,
trying to see how we could make
a greenie video
out of a petrol-covered death.
The three boys and me.
I stayed quiet, wanting them
to just do their thing. To roam
like bears or chimps,
peer at a map and use a sextant,
and to then plan space travel and disappear
as I stood there loving them and keeping quiet.
One of them, I think
it was Steve A, had a little
magazine of German porn.
They were all happy
that I didn’t get angry.
I just sipped from my bottle
of thawing orange cordial.
There was no winning a fight out here.
The land was so white
it was like peering out
of a space-rocket’s louvre
at a neighbouring hot star .
Or like a death transition.
Straight from the operating table
to the yellow deserts of Mexico
where you’re met by ancestors who help you
cross the burning border to heaven.
But this was Australia
and in the middle of a clearing of hay
we sat in the car with the boot
and all the doors open
like a wasp trying to dry.
This was on the coast of Moreton Bay.
The sea foam so pre-settlement
but land so dry and
invisibly irradiated, like a fresh divorcee.
Home only now to the slyest
insects and sparrows
and King Brown snakes.
And the Red-Belly Black. We saw them
stretched on the road like the road
meant nothing. To us the road was
a punctuation mark, a signal to say drive here.
To the snakes it was just a warmer bit.
A failed stone.
Steve B sat in the car,
cleaning the camera lenses.
Kaine went for a piss in the grass
then bounded back, sure he was stalked
by another snake. He smoked
by himself to calm down.
The boys were now in a triangle,
uneven distances from me at the middle.
Over there was Steve A,
newly without his wife, and tense
with the serious girlfriend
he’d jumped straight in with—
her text messages pinged all day
like a depleting smoke alarm.
The creeks were shallow
and rainbowed with fuel.
Stunted toadfish nosed about
in the slime-coated sandy beds.
We loved to hate what the airport
had done. The boys held
that we were convicts, not settlers.
We walked to the remains of a jetty.
Just five uneven cement pylons
holding up the air
like a hand gesturing
that nothing can be done.