Nick Powell is a poetry sojourner. Born in rural New South Wales, he gradually moved through Queensland, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Helsinki. A Young Australian Poets Fellowship in 2006 produced a pseudo-book, of Fallen Myth. He is a softly-spoken reader who has charmed audiences across Australia. He has been published in The Age, Five Bells, The Weekend Australian Review, Cordite, and harvest. His poems embody a strange precision and a keen interestedness in all things human and non-human. They are poems from the world, often revealing interior worlds. Nick has performed at Wordplay four times, in January, June, and October of 2007, before making a brief and triumphant return to Australia from Helsinki in July 2009. He still lives in Finland, where he teaches and writes, and as the photo below will attest, he’s clearly enjoying the sunbaking.
The puppeteer of venetian blinds
whistles and sings the sun in â€”
sometimes. But if he pulls the strings
of the characterless â€” descending slats â€”
and twists the stick to dim perception â€”
eighty-eight white horizons greet him.
He has a whale of a mind â€” this beached â€”
bed-ridden mammal â€” and a nevermind
for every misgiving and missed appointment.
The incy-wincy blinds climb the sky â€”
on a good day â€” when birds fly in flocks â€”
extended families â€” vagrant and playful.
When they migrate depends on how
hot-blooded we are. History-wise â€”
it is a far cry from five minutes ago.
The whites of his eyes
turn from the texture of wet sand
to marble â€” again. His puppeteer
is light â€” invisible vitamins â€” unnamable
energy. Sometimes he has a strategy â€”
something in mind for the strings â€” as if
they were an instrument of music
one could live by. After a day indoors â€”
he walks towards slats of streetlights
on the water â€” boats yet to be taken ashore
before the sea freezes â€” and dark columns
of trees â€” lopped like his tired body.
The puppeteer of blindness
is kind to unkindness â€” keeps it tied
to a wide cord of darkness â€”
where dust clings to dust â€” camouflaged
â€” and entire ages drift inside
minutes. The watched pot boils over.
Colour is inevitable â€” occasionally â€”
so long as he slept through. But if he
woke not knowing the time â€”
surely the day was dark â€” and he
had visited a tavern where the patrons
were not sure if the door opens by pushing
or pulling. There are no signs.
He ground his teeth to bits in dreams â€”
and chewed the metallic sand of fillings â€”
plus his tongue. So many songs touched
those shattered â€” stop-gag measures.
He puts struck matches back in the box â€”
and lives â€” happily and unhappily â€”
forever â€” befriending the moss on compost â€”
the rust on his bicycle â€” plots
scrunched into little fists in the corner â€”
possible clots in vital organs â€”
those human organs that sang
and still sing.
He has had so many conversations
like wet boxes of matches.
For that he is sorry â€” but only
Things the Winds Carry
In the contrail-scarred sky,
fumulus weakens, mixes with oxygen,
breaks up into lazy flocks of smoke.
A light breeze engraves the bay,
constantly reshaping the surface.
The kind of silence that once enclosed
the baritone moans of cows
coming from the gully,
and tennis in the distance,
while I stared sleepily
at wallpaper fairytales, is still with me.
Pines forever shadowed that room.
Now, at the table I was made to make
there are two sets of initials, separated
by a hipless, upside-down set of buttocks.
Tonight I find someone
has fashioned a heart-shaped sail
and left it for me to hoist and sail
the piecemeal raft of writing it down.
The Coming Dark
Black splash of birds in the orange and blue twilight.
Flocks are swallowed in the dark, distant forest.
A half-moon moves like an anchor adrift.
Down here in this illusory stillness, I try to tweeze
a highway out of my ear, but how the canal twists.
Who can remember where the dirt road ends
and the asphalt begins, amongst all that wax?
I feel around for a unique truth. No use.
All photos by Kate Powell.
Feather, Animals Outside the Domicile, Dream House, Tablelands, and Kangaroo were all first published in harvest magazine, 2008.