Poems by Christopher (Kit) Kelen

Kit Kelen

my flag 

is a beach towel, heavy with sand
whole tribes tangled in it

involuntary sky – heart’s refuge
in the true of dark
mind’s refuge in the heart

the flag
must be all things to all
a mirror aloft, reflection unfurling
that should make everyone happy

in a room with queen you’d see the queen
and she’d see you, her subject
one among the many flags

in the bush would be magpies to fly in and tangle
catch them like that when they get territorial

on the front of the big boss’s car
more of chrome, dark tarmac

in the night you’d choose the stars
bright pinpricks from another sky
in which the true flag must fly
be windblown, limp
from the accustomed pole

a square cut of heaven
and so strings attached

a calling

the same words
summon me often
because –  to put it simply –
they know what I mean

the bush 

which is the wild out-of-order
snakes hunting under tin left lie

garden too thick for weeds this un-naming
it chorus birds commonly bright

minds its business we make ours
yields to spirit its sustaining
best model from democracy
dark wordless turn, self tending, ruthless
              absent of law it breathes to burn
this one tree left cut down to size
so when it’s mine it is no longer

flimsy instinct joins logic to one wish
the guiltless having of all this

another sun spun, a next dicey sky
of maverick opinion, told you
    inscrutable polysemy

song between the cityfolds
come clumsy in its own confiding
all unfinished business
all neighbouring and all horizon

the bush is a trap sets camouflage
falls in and all it catches        bush

blade hailing the forest     legend made failing
memorabilia: smug of stockwhip, blanket

gathers as a blowfly to what was once meat

takes no convincing – its job to go nowhere

team of madmen tied to one tune
    a tidemark shows where we retreat

midst of limits, most natural of histories
gospel uncut in the wood

a waste of pages cash scrawls down
the bush beside my means as such
pack up but where you come from’s
as gone as what was here
so we among all animals are party to

take down each sky made out in ribs
     a cross hangs bright above

one species relieving the others of hope

barks at the edge of night a dog burning
the hinge of sentience it mourns

much admired the passage of rites
because once you were my besotted
a frightened face to rouse such love

leaves tracks to run a course paws take
this shallowest of burials

the bush is an animal gathering home
and our great Ark unmeaning


Blokes are always coming over, in their droves
or in their ones. Wear thongs in summer, boots
for weather. No one says mind my clean floor love.

Arriving in their utes and vans, they’re always
round here, day and night, courting our Penelope.
They know what’s next, what’s what, when, why.
Blokes know what to do and what you need
and even if you can’t decide. Blokes’ll sort your
trouble out. If it aint broke it’s easy fixed. Take
care but not responsible. They’re always late
and rude and wet. Blokes like to be outside
the best. They dare the ozone at their backs.
Sleep with someone else. They say things you
wouldn’t. Feel less, do more. You’ve got to love
them though. Hide in their frothy beards to weep.
You feel for them, the camera shies. They won’t
be tied, won’t be predicted. But cuddle them
and know they’re bad. Take them all for granted.

Blokes won’t take hints. Needn’t tell them.
They slink away to shed when glum. Grow darker
in the moody scrub and shed their lacks among
the fauna. They won’t be caught, they get away.
Get down to pub and dob and dob, until they’re
almost in the clink. They tell their temporary
comrades. Blokes tell the truth and when they
don’t they’ve got the story all worked out.

They know the pecking order. How to fit, not rock
the boat. Blokes make a play for the affections.
Trust the passing moment, loathe permanence
of plans. Blokes are slaves of circumstance. They
can’t help being rough with stuff, have to give it
all a test. See if it’s well made or not. It’s not
their fault the way they are, was done
to them as blokelings.

Blokes are mates or so they say. Won’t let
a bastard down. The blokiest are your best mates.
Your mates are blokes if you’re a bloke. Women
can be mates or ladies. Can’t be blokes. Mate
with them to make new playmates. Blokes or no.
If you’re a bloke you mustn’t mate with other
blokes. It doesn’t work. Dreadful thing.
Unblokemanlike. Besides, how could
you tell your mates?

Some things are better left unsaid. And out of
earshot of the nagging blokes won’t need
your looking after. Dinners tabled, washing done.
Blokes go lean in filth and glue their rotting jeans
together. They know it’s bad luck to speak
when gesturing would do the trick.

As insects lead the faster life, they’ve lost a leg
before you’ve finished telling the precautions.
They’re enemies of labour saving, scoff at
ingenuity. Do a thing the hardest way. Clog noses
and their ears fall off, eyes are full of filings.
Drown in beer to build a gut. It shows what
blokey blokes they are. They suffer beef to have
the dripping. Sneak from the ward at last
for fags, and curse their curtailed freedom.
That’s with a final breath.

Bloody this and bloody that is what your bloke
ghost says at last. And when the dirt’s all spread,
well sifted – where are those blokey souls all fled?
They’ve gone to blokeland – hellish spot. The
Shed Celestial. Dim or Bright to their deservings.

Still, there’s more. Never was a drought of blokes.
Not since the war. No – blokelings grow to
blokehood’s full bloom. Bloke’s abound and pull
their weight. Show some leg, offer beer.
Call for blokes – they will appear.
When all else fails no need to fear.
Just stir him up. Your bloke is here.

Magyar idyll

my ancestors are burning
across an endless steppe
somewhere out of Asia
they harry the poor and the weak
on their way
they’re torching the lowlands
they’re putting an axe to the forest
they’re making the Great Hungarian Plain
the woodland creatures they turn into gulacs

of course I have other ancestors
but these are the ones I like to remember