Big Bridge #9

Poets of Australia


Laurie Duggan

Difference and repetition

The sheet darkens
with added ink, lightens
when the contrast eases.
Enlarged, a comma
becomes a bent lake
on a map, diminished
an impurity in the paper.
From a distance a world
of ruled margins and neat
habitations, closer
it’s a mess, repeated over
and over, nearly
but not quite a replica,
a simple pattern with variations,
pier of small black crosses
invisible, almost, against
a sea of hyphens.


Those husbanded fields
a shaped and worked landscape
where colour is no accident
unless rust on the moors,
the tops doused with soft rain.

Through Lichfield the sky breaks up

spectacular gathering cloud,
the glare, travelling backwards
and south
                           our manners
predicated by speed.

The vocation of doubt

(birds on the roof)

(a broken cup)

rain beating in from the southeast

(what I thought was a bird turned out to be a lizard)

poems from elsewhere
a log jam in the mail

the distant rumble of a clothes dryer

(a face in the trees or light on a wall when shadows recede and you step out into a different place)

(steam rises from the mouth of a human who turns into a factory)

the low clouds boom
a movement in the sternum

(hospital light, the space dematerialising above a bed, the haloed visitors)

dirty windows
prime time television

paranoid response

(an umbrella and a sewing machine on an operating table
‘somewhere in the Gulf’)

‘golf!’ he said,


Laurie Duggan lives in Brisbane, Australia. His Selected Poems came out in 1996 and his most recent collection is Mangroves (UQP 2003). He has also published Ghost Nation: Imagined space and Australian visual culture, 1901-1939 (UQP, 2001).

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