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Books & Poetry

Poem: Kayaking on Lake Conjola

Books & Poetry

Glenn McPherson draws parallels between poetry and fishing in this Poet’s Corner contribution.

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Kayaking on Lake Conjola

South Coast, New South Wales

for William Stafford, 1914-1993

Bill Stafford said poetry was like fishing. He never
Lived to read that critics of poetry thought him clever
But careless, too moralistic at times, and prolific.

Half an hour into an outgoing
Tide, burgundy seagrass throws
Itself into reverse catching mullet, whiting
And a handful of tiny black and yellow striped
Fish by surprise.

Our souls take
On water whilst the children jink
And sidestep over clear shallows
Where rays lie across deep channels
Spread out from sandbars. They laugh,
Racing each other to ridiculous facts
And what-ifs, bobbing like tight balls

Of tin foil.
We skirt islands. We sit between
Boats intent on colliding. We are seen
Out the window of a house on stilts
As ‘bloody tourists!’ A lit cigarette
Is flicked onto a cold
Concrete boat ramp three metres from
Which a pale ring of spines and skulls
Move with crabs.

Well, Bill, I like your poetry.
It seems, like us, inevitable. Timing for a fisherman
Is everything.

On the way back along the estuary a flathead is unsettled
By boat noise or some other shadow,
Who can tell? It’s great, drunken motion is slow, quiet with memory.

Glenn McPherson lives in Sydney. Published in leading Australian poetry journals and anthologies, he has worked as a teacher for more than 20 years. Growing up in small country towns in Central Queensland and North Western NSW, he received his teaching degree from the University of New England, followed by his Masters in Education, then Masters in Creative Writing, from The University of Sydney. He helps run a school creative journal at Broughton Anglican College, assisting students in developing skills in journalism and creative writing. They published their first edition before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and an interview with the celebrated Australian poet, essayist and teacher Mark Tredinnick was the first to be included in the journal.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments.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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