Adam Stokell’s poems have appeared in various journals in Australia and abroad, including Cordite, Plumwood Mountain, Lite Lit One, Black Bough and Anti-Heroin Chic. His first full length collection, Peopling The Dirt Patch (A Published Event, 2018), formed part of The People’s Library exhibit at the Long Gallery, Salamanca. He lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
To get to the other side
Most days I wade
through knee-high grass and weeds to reach
the highway’s crumbling edge.
Relentless traffic of every stamp
rushes by both ways.
Each time I go to cross,
I get wind in time’s nick of another life
that thought it could outfox the traffic
and now resolves on grisly terms
with the blacktop, the cars too quick
and constant for ravens to recycle its flesh.
Most days the edge is as far as I get.
Other days, few and far between,
a footbridge up and over
has been erected through the night,
the verges mown and smelling like fetes.
I bought a spade and dug a small, shallow hole in the yard.
Any dog might have done better.
I needed the practice. I wasn’t getting any younger.
I found scissors and shredded a pile of loose-leaf pages,
each one covered front and back with words.
So many trees – so few poems.
I crammed those inklings into the hole
and backfilled to bury them. A patch
bald of grass, a slight bulge.
Words never did amount to much.
I lay awake that night,
wondering what those dismembered drafts were up to.
Carbon purred. Stars starred.
The yard didn’t even blink.
A spoon comes with the room,
a metallic bowl,
two round meals and a tired ceiling
that drips when it rains.
There’s all the time you can catch in a mug
How many droughts have I been here now?
I use the spoon between meals
to worry grit from the walls,
spreading the grains across the floor
to blend and give it a boost.
I kneel on the upturned bowl and thread
words through the walls
Yes to those little paved lanes
that slice between streets,
a slalom of steel bollards at either end
to ensure only feet, paws
and painstaking wheels get through.
Especially those lanelets with grassy flanks,
perhaps even a tree or two
to entice birds, break winds,
cast shadowy relief come summer.
Our escapades appreciate their blind spots,
our evasiveness their sidestepping
the gregariousness of streets,
our larceny their weave of ways to skulk.
Yes to the chance they live
to cheat the long way round.
Town planners – more please!