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Books & Poetry

Poem: To Russell in the Bardo

Books & Poetry

This week’s Poet’s Corner contribution is from Mike Hopkins, in tribute to a long-standing friend and fellow poet.

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To Russell in the Bardo

Russell Bryan “Russ” Talbot, 22/10/1960–07/6/2022

And do you have a body Russ?
And is it the same one, but without the neuromas,
the cancers, the ulcers?
And how old are you there, in your prime
or are you timeless?
And can you see us and the gap you left? Is it
like being behind a two-way mirror?
And is there pain and pleasure?
And are you in the first-class cabin, to make up
for the way you suffered here?
And is there a cat for your lap?
And a garden to grow your vegetables?
And how do you get around, because you
could never stay still for long?
Or is there no such a thing as around?
And if there is, how many wheels on your cycle?
And have you shown them your cartoons?
And read them your poetry?
And played them your songs?
And will they let you leave?
Because like in the coffee shop, the poetry group,
the yoga class, the surgeries, the hospice,
you are surely everybody’s favourite.

Editor’s note: In Tibetan Buddhism, bardo is the intermediate, transitional state between death and rebirth.

Mike Hopkins, a previous contributor to Poet’s Corner, has two published collections: “Mistaken for a Real Poet” (Friendly Street New Poets 2010) and “Selfish Bastards” (Garron Publishing 2016). His poem today is in tribute to long-standing friend and fellow poet Russ Talbot, who despite long-term recurring health issues was a stalwart supporter of poetry in Adelaide. Russ was a regular contributor to Poet’s Corner from its early “Independent Weekly” print days. He discovered the pleasures of writing after suffering an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) as the result of brain tumour surgery in 1996. He had poems published in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and US, and in 2015 Ginninderra Press published his poetry chapbook collection “Things That Make Your Heart Beat”, through its Picaro Poets series.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.


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