Verse submissions or reviews to mwdavis[at]quarterly-review.org
back in the magical country
the great south land
where sunshine cheers
like the best wine
and more innocent histories
give the search for wisdom
a special relish
Bob Cowley is a retired public servant. He lives in Adelaide, Australia
on behalf of the
eccentrics, court jesters and poets
may I say
if everyone was like us
there may be chaos
but if no-one was like us
would dull uniformity win?
winds blow colder
and wounds heal more slowly
but love and humor
may broaden and deepen
who can explain life?
don’t try too hard
logic should be
a servant of love
Dreams of a poet
will the storms clear
and the warblers sing?
can the love of wisdom
bring the wisdom of love?
A few contrasts
the incredible human mind
and pedestrian powers of computers
marvellous old music
and repetitive pop songs
sometimes grand statements
and messy reality
enjoying the search for wisdom
and the delusion of dogma
Poet BOB COWLEY is a retired public servant. He lives in Adelaide, Australia
Elegy for Minor Emperors
by Michael Davis
No one will mourn Caesar
Not the stiff-necked night-watchmen at the German border
Neither the green nor the black olives
Nor the disinherited crown
The grapes won’t sour on the vine
The cypresses won’t bow low as his carriage passes
The stars won’t reflect his majesty in the heavens
His consort won’t throw herself on his pyre
His sons won’t be seen about in rich black robes
His concubines won’t throw themselves on couches in the garden
His horse won’t rear beneath the weight of his absence
The foreign delegations will pay their respects and proceed orderly out
The women will sleep naked in their beds
The men will stay out and get wildly drunk
The servants will fondle one another on haybails
The barbarians will track mud on mud floors
The dogs will lie down in the kennel
The sheep will huddle on the dark hill
The beetles will hum a disinterested Taps
Michael Davis is QR’s Poetry Editor
One January –
And people come to the sea
To walk in groups, or singly,
At the edge of immensity.
All find themselves here –
But what wishes or fears
Will make themselves clear
In the ebb and flow of a year?
Poem by Derek Turner, the former Editor of Quarterly Review
Suddenly the kids, the car,
the house, the spouse, the local bar,
the work, have made you what you are.
What doesn’t chill you makes you fonder.
Should you stay or should you go?
The thrill you’re looking for, you know,
could be right here at home, although
What doesn’t thrill you makes you wander.
If, avoiding common truth,
you dye your hair and act uncouth,
will you find your misplaced youth –
really, will you if you’re blonder?
It doesn’t matter if you’re strong
or if you sing a pretty song,
something, and it won’t be long,
will come to kill you, here or yonder.
You’re human in the human fray,
and choose between the shades of grey.
No matter if you go or stay
what might fulfil you makes you ponder.
VILLANELLE: I LIKE YOU THE BEST
Of all my readers I like you the best.
You’re sexily well-read, and very smart –
Oh, you’re the one; the rest are just the rest.
Though most of them will think I speak in jest,
It’s you, you know, who’s read into my heart:
Of all my readers I like you the best.
I’m feeling better now that I’ve confessed
That it’s for you I struggle with my art.
You are the one — the rest are just the rest.
I see by your reaction you had guessed
I liked you more, and liked you from the start;
Of all my readers, I like you the best.
You get me — and I like how you’re impressed
That I know Horace comes before Descartes;
Ah, you’re the one. The rest are just the rest.
I like you very much — I’d be distressed
At anything that kept us two apart.
Of all my readers I like you the best;
Yes, you’re the one: the rest are just the rest.
Marcus Bales lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio
He made a show of spitting on his hands;
he had a trowel, a hammer, and a tape,
and eyed the ground as one who understands
the way a wall might possibly take shape.
He didn’t dig a trench or fill with stone,
he didn’t even stake a line with string;
but while he talked to someone on the phone
he scuffed a crooked boot-wide path-like thing.
He kicked them into rows then, brick by brick —
it looked like he had never heard of math —
he’d sometimes give the dirt another kick
along his crooked and unlevel path.
It might have been his girlfriend or his bank,
but on he talked as back and forth he walked:
He’d move one brick, then give his hat a yank,
or wipe his face, or gesture as he talked.
And then the mortar – one place way too wet
another dry as if it were unmixed.
He tells me not to worry — it’ll set
as well as all the others he has fixed.
Unconsoled, I watch it as it grows:
he jams in legos, rocks, and broken wood
to try to even out the ragged rows,
but it’s not even close to being good.
“Being any good?” He gave a stare,
surprised to be confronted with such gall.
“Whatever structure that I may declare
to be a wall, it thus becomes a wall!”
At least two follies stand there, his and mine,
along that ugly length of anti-art:
There’s his incompetence’s little shrine,
and how I could have ever let him start.
Poem by MARCUS BALES who lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio
By Luke Torrisi
The dogs’ chorus draws me to the night sky,
I look up to see the crushed quartz underfoot
Mirrored in the clear black. A ring of onlookers
From the heavens, like an ancient audience.
They surround this earthen altar,
Faintly verdant, streaked with rust,
In the blue light of Mani.
Stepping out from the void, as if disturbed,
Are the gnarled joints and split limbs
Of the oldest residents. Wind sculpt effigies.
What backs have they seen broken?
How many men have they measured?
Whose remains do they shade from the merciless
Beat of Sunna’s drum?
Quiet, now so quiet. And in the still crisp air,
I ask myself – did I hear a calling?
Was that a voice whispered from the earth itself?
I stoop to pick up a glinting shard – the tittering earth-crunch
Incessant. My every move – even a pivot – announced.
Sharp yet smooth – catching the slightest of light
It’s small but ancient curves amuse my thumb.
Words not hushed but echoed,
Strong, indeed determined to be heard
Reverberating through the ages, refuse to leave me.
Is my place in this sliver of vastness? Should my hands
Loosen the crumbling bronze? Splinters, spurs, stings-
Not even housemaid’s taunts out here. The rain furrowed
Driveway carries my eye to its craters.
A barely standing shed of discarded wood sighs.
A breeze, a rusted clang. Winged specks are cast like grain.
Will the dendrite watchers of the land oversee my passing?
The cluttered silhouettes of lives past hang from the distant
Roof of an unwalled lean-to, too precious to discard.
Dented iron, pitted brown metal, flaky ash-grey handles.
Dangling remnants – the inheritance I leave?
The dry-wind brushed fences of picket and wire,
Encompass the testing paddocks. A tough bronze skin
That only gives way to wilful heaving of diesel coughing iron.
What mercy will Freyr grant to any channel hewn
Into this parched firmament so divided from the sky’s tears?
The children’s window, tapped by the fluttering flecks.
I feel them sleeping.
In the common good of this soil I shall sow their strength.
In the bright solar spirit of tomorrow these fields,
Shall receive new life, as new life from old springs in me.
To acquiesce is not to lose one’s self, to fail one’s being,
It is to become, to return to one’s essence.
In this ochre and dusty green I have found my polis
A citizen returned from his Odyssey.
The dogs snap me back to the present moment.
Are the sirens calling me to the rocks once more?
Roused from my reverie, the dark shades of doubt
Whisk about me. Loki’s bag of tricks,
Once loosed an enchanting promise of perfection,
So many dance intoxicated to its tune – perhaps me?
My fate lies now in this ghost-soaked land.
Luke Torrisi is a legal practitioner and the host of Carpe Diem, Sydney’s only explicitly Traditionalist radio programme
Poems by Niels Hav, Hamish Robinson, Anne Stevenson, Rilke and others appeared in the print editions of the QR published between 2007 and 2012, and will be added shortly