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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

John Kinsella


Wanderer Ghazal 4

The branch that almost fell on me ad hoc, extempore,

is drying-off so its many leaves rustle a different colour

 

I am conscious of its former shape and its withered reshaping

while comparing a prior green-leaf-vigour with a new beige colour

 

It disturbs as I pass with more life after its loss of transmitting-sap,

the many components taken as a whole with variegations in colour

 

As deep undersea pressure will reshape a hollow into a solid,

or the chambers of a shell flatten to nacre or absence of light: sans colour

 

Following systems and motifs or erosion as our systems place pressure

on gradations and ignore the biodegradables, as a branch falls across colour


Sacred Kingfisher Diplopia Ghazal

Sacred kingfisher strikes spectrum into window pane but we don’t know

what’s happened — it duplicates, and we see it this time

 

Sacred kingfisher perches on the verandah rail, tracking insects

which double-image against glass and it strikes its rival, its own time

 

From inside the half-light of house we are part of the reflection

but, standing back, not part of a transparency, slightly out of its time

 

Its time. Subject object, insect. But kingfisher detects us just before

being swooped by a jiddy jiddy, turning to face origins, beak agape

 

Subject-object, angles of flight. Insects high-lit against polarised glass

now transparent with shifted perspective, and other birds doubled in time:

 

rufous whistler’s warning call, yellow-rumped thornbills hopping

sudden over low scaffolds of dry grass; morning of insects and kingfisher time.


Ghazal of the Five Larange Points of the Sun-Earth System

It’s an equilibrium in rotation and we can find those ‘sweet spots’,

as adeptly as astronomers — we lacunae of the ephemerides

 

Neither ascending nor declining, we nonetheless

gravitate in attraction because we rely on more than ephemera

 

I am shaky either side of the earth, but I adore it,

and centring the sun I reach collinear to find more than ephemera

 

The peaks and troughs of our decades together — barely ‘great masses’

to make passionate an L4 or L5 on that vertex, well beyond ephemera

 

And as my journals are pictures and observations of natural phenomena,

opinion is celestial mechanics, and verse charts beyond the ephemeris

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John Kinsella’s most recent volumes of poetry include Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems 1980–2015 (Picador, 2016), Insomnia (WW Norton, 2020), and Brimstone: Villanelles (Arc, UK, 2020). His new memoir is Displaced: a rural life (Transit Lounge, 2020). The fourth volume of a poetry collaboration with Kwame Dawes, In the Name of Our Families, appeared with Peepal Tree in 2020. The Ascension of Sheep (2022), the first volume of his three-volume collected poems has just appeared in Australia with University of Western Australia Press. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University, Western Australia. He is a vegan anarchist pacifist and environmental activist of many years.


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