Big Bridge #9

Poets of Australia


Ian McBryde

SS Banquet, Treblinka

Mein Gott this is most disagreeable. These chimneys
pervade and stain even the atmosphere of the dining hall.

Surely some method could be invented to make that stink
flow downwind and away. Under such circumstances
no gentleman could fully enjoy this well-prepared repast.

See that the problem is addressed. Until then, more
of this fine wine? Fruit salad? Some cognac? A cigar?

Under Pink Triangles

Spent, one of the senior Kapos withdraws
from the prisonerís mouth, and fills
the young manís hand with crusts of bread.

In the unlit latrine, after the Kapo leaves,
the prisoner washes out his mouth, spits
repeatedly, then eats the dry and brittle husks.

The others dream fitfully on their thin mattresses
of straw. These extra crusts will keep him alive
through the day that awaits him, every hour

knowing that again tonight as the others sleep,
after midnight, the Kapo will be back, smiling,
trousers unbuttoned, more bread in his hand.

Canadian-born Ian McBryde has been a long term resident of Australia. He is well-published both in Australia and many countries overseas, and his poetry has been translated into Greek, French, Spanish and Japanese. He has performed his work in many Australian venues and festivals, as well as featured performances in Canada, the UK, and America. His fourth collection of poetry, Equatorial, was published in late 2001, and he has just released his second CD of spoken-word, The Still Company (, with musical backing written in collusion with Melbourne musician Greg Riddell. His next collection of poetry, Domain, about WW2 and Europe under occupation, will be released by Five Islands Press in May 2004. Ian is currently recording new material and working on two new collections of poetry.

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