On the Dial

A February day

cracked by constant drizzle

like a thin glass in hot water

penguin piss that finally came

with the so often delayed Antarctic front


I’m making dhal

Jackson Browne is on loud

songs about the minimum wage

and small town shows running late

crowds with thinned liquor and smokes


You’re in the city

trammed back from Bennett’s Lane

and espresso chocolate martini gigs

I’ve lost the sheets to the sudden gales

caught and dyed blackberry in the fifteen acre gully


Walking the horses

laughing at the sling gate

how they stared trying to tell me

that a bark is different to a squawk

as the eagle’s droopy nonchalance casts away


They swoon new grass

pass me in Miles Davis jamming

spurt their tails in plumes from paddocks

my jumper is sodden with details of Munich

your bed was next to the shower and how the door opened


Humming To Love Somebody

the moss on the roof is years away

leaning on the Norfolk Pine watching snotty clouds

curdling native blueberry along the crusty valley road

trying to avoid something country and western escaping


Mr Tambourine Man creeps in

and I can’t help it but my feet are moving

the fields are pages of ink dirt and parched white feed

tractors score lines dragging thistles out of a misty fleet

in a swarm of noise shallaying the truncated new horizon


I read it somewhere

the previous generation’s music

imprints in hidden vacuity occupies secret places

washing through ethereal surrounds exposing intimacies

leaving you hanging like a paper lantern at the end of a stick


Nina arrives suddenly

hitting a flat discord that doesn’t matter

and I’ve caught on to a Maria Callas fly by

of such ascendant laddering through the maze of days

that I can remember all the things I forgot to be who I am


Back in the kitchen

the only reception is Triple J or Classic FM

sometimes there’s a crackle that hints another state

unearthed doing dishes whistling Beethoven’s seventh

kilometres away the neighbour’s kelpie stretches pawing at the stations


—James Walton was a librarian, a farm laborer, a cattle breeder and mostly a public sector union organizer. He has published in many anthologies, journals and newspapers.