New Column: My Favorite Works: Robert Maddox-Harle

Robert Maddox-Harle
(An occasional column that features select eminent poets, authors and visual artists and their favorite works, published or unpublished. Editor)

Five selected poems from my four books, poems which I think have special poetic quality and I personally like. Robert Maddox-Harle (aka Rob Harle)

Sandstone To Ink

Of sandstone dust my spirit formed
a love of stone and water in
the dreaming of the Hawkesbury rift;
I dared to shape this nature's art
to carve and grind and penetrate
and share the vision of our primal source
to fire the soul's of others.
Inspired by sculptors past
Noguchi, Michelangelo and Moore
driven by a sacred muse
whose face remains illusive,
This spirit of the stone in silence
demands an awful price.

To dance on high with spirits fierce
is fraught with danger's sword,
Though double is the razor's edge
when dancing with the naked ape
whose tongue is sharply forked
and heart is hardened with desire
for more and more and more.

Art circus schooled in sabotage
adorned with superficial smiles
you couldn't violate my dream
nor change one mallet's thrust,
But coupled with these fragile bones
disintegrating far too soon
a transmutation of the means
has traded chisel in for sharper pen.
Now once more the ink will flow
or is it boiling blood
to trace its tracks across a page
instead of through the sandstone dust.

Logic’s Thin Disguise

Professional exorcists grinning
sway to rhythms of primal harmonies
laughing loudly to discharge the tension
as the clouds cover the dangerous moon.
They recite the old magician's almanac
the rotting pages fall like shards,
as you listen to the sudden silence
you realise even choice is an illusion
draped in logic's thin disguise.

The shadows all wear lipstick
to hide their masks of pity
only powder white - you look like them,
and even though you hate them
they still control your mind.
Kneeling easily at the altar of ecstasy
bits of perfumed flesh and bone
penetrate the darkness of your tongue
as the world turns, your thoughts burn
and the slaves of passion perish.

You have paralysed yourself with beauty
thinking creation knows no end
but the lost artist runs naked
across the landscape of your soul
sketching you, that evil's night
is more desirable than virtue's day.
The canvas writhes with flying archetypes
as fate and free will crash,
only your tortured lips can save the world
so you discuss philosophy through the night
then read about your Daguerreotype of death
stained in black across the morning paper.

The Transfiguration Of Calliope

Welcome back great muse
morphing into fine pixels
existing everywhere, yet nowhere
taunting digital poets
code heads
key-stroking virtual bodies
wandering in unseen, unknown worlds
where reality turns reality around.
Your alabaster complexion
transfigured to digital geometry
the roundness of antiquity
transmuted into Android angularity.
Cyborg hybrid rage on.

Inspire those of digital provenance
oblivious to the evolution of thought
philosophical eunuchs
socially connected everywhere!
always on!
always available!
Yet without you they are empty
their utterances
empty lines of meaningless code
disconnected, disassociated
vacuous interjections of dust.

Great muse
show us how to turn this dust to gold
to glow again in timeless brilliance.
Oh Horace, Heaney, Homer.
Help us raise the dark veil
the “black dog” of postmodern hopelessness
so once again we can uplift our spirits,
to fly unbounded
with greatness flowering from passion
drawn from the unplumbed depths of existence.

Behind Closed Doors

The abandoned building beckons
paint flakes the wall
falling like downcast eyes,
an eerie dull light seeps insipidly
from a crescent moon,
a flickering dull-bright from
the cracks beneath the antique doors.

Shadows engulf me as I enter,
the long hall intimidating,
muffled sounds and screams 
escape from behind locked doors,
sentinels to unknowable lives.

Damp musty scents waft over me
the presence of coal gas menacing,
somewhere a clock ticks loudly
reinforcing the curse of mortality,
broken glass litters the cracked floor
jammed with bits of ambitious rust.

Ahead a door swings carelessly,
pushing my way into the fading yellow light
an owl shrieks in my face,
penetrating eyes perched atop a broken harp,
twisted strings entangle the future
like the tangle of a psychotic mind.

The room curves sharply,
in the dim gloom a figure sits aloof
she raises her withered arm and rings a bell,
the tolling muffled by a discordant dirge 
the broken harp incessant,
pushing aside the cobwebs and homeless dust
a naked hermaphrodite appears from the damp gloom,
s/he moves a chair and beckons,
I sit uncomfortably 
torn cane pushing into me like needles.

Welcome to the House of Herculine Barbin
croaks the ancient crone,
a scythe tattooed on her forehead,
the stone in her necklace pulsates
a sinister laser-like beam, bluish
hypnotises me, seduces me.
All dreams are possible,
a distant voice echoes towards me
all dreams are possible,
all dreams ....

The Printery

The door protests angrily at its rusted hinges
shifting gloom seduces my eyes,
cautiously I enter the abandoned printery
closed since the War – dusty and dirty
printing presses, ink vats, racks of assembled Type
like little dead soldiers
– waiting for commands:
racks of discoloured paper in their shuttles
– waiting:
cracked and peeling paint hangs motionless 
faded metal operating instructions balance precariously
bare electric globes sticky with spider’s silk
- waiting to be energised:
machines, tools, motors in suspended animation
- waiting:

Treading carefully I climb a steel ladder with rusted rungs
the mezzanine floor’s rusted checker-plate steel groans,
I step softly holding my breath
a red storeroom-like door arouses my curiosity
deathly silence rings my ears,
nudging the door to open – creak – creak,
pallid light descends from a yellowed skylight,
the room obviously a foreman’s office
dust coat neatly folded on the chair
cap and once-white-gloves neatly sit on the timber desk,
intrepidly I enter - adrenalin pumping
brushing against a large metal switch
the power of a tornado slams me to the floor
rolling over I gasp for air
I lay wondering if I am going to die
the electric shock merciless.

The light in the office glaring at me
I hear machinery starting
click, clunk – click, clunk – click, clunk
the printing press running up to speed,
I stagger to my feet
looking down I see the bare globes glowing,
the main press drags in paper
sheets of print emerge like clockwork
click, print, slide, stack - click, print, slide, stack.

Frightened I descend the rusted ladder
the press is furiously printing
mesmerised I stand waiting for the run to finish,
fifty pages have emerged ink stains on the edges.
“The Final Works of the Comte de Lautréamont”,
impossible - Isidore Ducasse died at twenty four
many, many years ago
a mysterious literary genius,
all extant works published and acknowledged?

Sitting on the filthy bench I read,
possessed I read faster and faster
indeed – must be his last lost literary work,
numb with disbelief I wobble to the door
the manuscript safely stashed in my bag,
slamming the old front door – thud,
I head for home shivering and shaking.


  1. Kailash Nath KhandelwalJuly 25, 2023 at 10:28 AM

    Among the five poems, 'Printery' stands out by virtue of the gothic-type atmosphere suitable to the theme. Other poems too are worth reading.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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