After beginning his writing career in poetry, Tony Abbott has for the last three decades written novels for younger readers — ((@FSGbooks, @HarperCollinsCh, @LittleBrownYR, @Scholastic)) — his latest being the novel-in-verse Junk Boy (2020).
He has taught graduate-level creating writing and has now happily returned to writing poetry for adults.
Here You See
From the wall-top, my wall-top, hewn of holy λίθος,
my own wall: three square miles and a half,
temple, claypit, farm stand, brickworks, date-grove.
We invented the square. I mean, by the way,
the idea of corners angling walls. Before them, well.
And look beyond, the deserted acres
where the cult-association lurks, their frenzied drumming
on skins god knows what from, hands clenched in prayer,
sizzles my insides.
I have watched all this and the whiny sons of ants
that scurry among them wailing of loss year on year,
and here’s me, chin on paws, paws crossed, numbing,
ten years now, that is ten years plus
what it takes to sail half the world to our docks.
And there see there as if forty centuries poured like water
from a mountain ewer down between two banks,
a brace of chariots inlaid with ivory, horn bits, one pair
of wheels bound with bronze, unfit for service,
while young men and old boys jabber about why,
let’s speculate no oil for axle tubs,
all for war, that angry tendency of men feverous
to want fewer of themselves so they can hey you’re
not done with me sir I will record every damn thing look
there is a bone graven with crude arches sharpened
to an upwards point to postulate a god or mimic shelter from hot rain to serve as a crypt of unfinding,
the cave that was our first possession and tres good
reason to slaughter oh we refine the reasons
but they reduce so quickly to a simple give me a place
to stand in now more flooding and the frantic
plight of birds searching our furnace world
for moisture there’s a rope for that
how unnatural are mouths twisting I see earth
moving over earth like shifting plates,
one overtaking another then falling back,
it’s the migration of souls sullen and thinned out
barely paper anymore, as paper that has been wettened
holds only a figment of what it might have been,
integrity abandoned, to be plied apart
between pinched fingers, but stubborn,
unendable, like interminable rivers of pus oozing
beneath the holy brickwork of my wall
here you see a godawful man.