Garry Gillard > writing > poems

Demonstratives: Poems 1971-1976

Garry Gillard

for Diana - & EWS and ALP, who were there

beach poems
Betty Grable
body's code
bridge town
[Can you comprehend]
conversation I'll have with her
the evidence
the exile
geography examination
mixed media
near you
Sandy Cape
speech night
[Ted, yellow]
[this morning]
[when you're twenty]

beach poems

sand becomes the sea
as opals at dusk
littorally lie

these rocks absolve me
and the dissolute sands
guilt-edged at dusk

body's code

With you I broke the body's code
we talked across the infinite space
of otherness
but when you asked the $64 question
I was afraid of giving the wrong answer
and the fragile tissue of code
flared up in ashen nothing
and I flew into space alone

bridge town

we leave the city together
bags packed for sleeping we head for
the bright little town nestling
like a mediterranean village

in the folds of the jarrah forest
our own house near the bridge
is full of sun and stovewood
I chop near the orchard and you

cook the good vegetables and the fallen
fruit an Act of God our friends are
the blue sky and the horse next door
the house piles climb from the red

earth among the goats and cats
we sing sometimes under the sky and
the nights are quietly full of
frogs and the garrulous stream

awaking the dream blurs the desire

20 April 1974

Can you comprehend a cup
a blue cup with flowers
in another kitchen with another kind of love
in another time?

Those dim mountains half seen through the watercolour mist
the soul's attempt to reach the ecstasy of sky

Into this cup I dip dim memory
and suddenly the cord takes hold
pulls tight and I tip
back over down the shaft of time
to the dark then

Those dim mountains half seen through the watercolour mist
the soul's attempt to reach the ecstasy of sky


conversation I'll have with her

(but that futurity extend -
blurring the image at the end -
the line extending through the time
we might have filled, I now intend
to climb the actual steps above
the flat projected path to) Hi!
and how the hell are you (my love ?)


corpses are almost
human their implicating
silence is dreadful

21 August 1974

the evidence

late morning but
the college dining hall allows little sign
only the high white light
above the brown panels
fixes space with its level gaze
weighs down the prisoner room
with white undifferentiated light

human heads however
against the epiphanic light
reveal their still essential beauty

& the only she
sorrowing against the light
in the brown mourning
is the prism
that shatters the room
into spectral significance


the exile

escaped the newness of his old land

(into the bright history of mothercountry
perspectives now fixed and horizons palpable)
once gluttonous at the old dug
he now digests the hard landscape

(difficult meal
constipated memory always pushing
at the same deadbrown sum
the desire for vacuity
grinding at the base of the spine)

while his spirit
released into the vast air over this country
seas where time
not reckoned from wave to wave
is unaccountably strange

16 September 1972

geography examination

to say an island is to say a sea
unknowing, vast, container nominal
for space, the massive sky from which there skein
light trails of seabirds, spots of consciousness,
minutiae, sad, irrelevant, remote


the wind there is blue and then
the wind is red in the morning
but later the wind
smells of the waves' sparkle
and eucalyptus smoke
is a sign by night


On the death of Betty Grable (3 July 1973)

The bubbles draw so quickly round
another tiny stone; a thou-
sand pin-up pictures suddenly
accomplish immortality.

mixed media

by its nature sympathy
a thankless cur that nips the heels
draws within its own confines
the hub that holds the spokes
                                                the wheels
the weld the image in the mind
that fix the plate relentlessly
that prints the circuit in the spine

near you

turn the world over
just a few degrees I want
to be near you

9 April 1972

Sandy Cape

sunday night at Sandy Cape soft music of
the soughing surf Tilley's hiss sizzle of
chips in the pan soft pop on the radio

strands of copper over the reef late this
afternoon as the last birds take meagre
pickings from a clean swept beach

sky a banner of threat as the sun
struggles to set among chocolate-
crackle clouds

elusive time slips through our fingers
avaricious for more of the sweet
pleasure of being

9 July 1972

speech night

talk of resources headmaster
the cicada on the wall
is more resourceful
than your voicebox of tricks

the headmaster talks of education
the cicada on the wall has
learnt his lesson
he ticks off the time

key phrase touches off the blue paper
audience implodes
sucked through the vortex in the chapel lawn
flies through its collective orifice
spat out into double dutch

education is for cooperation
the boys listen straight in their white shirts
under each one the message
it's time

the headmaster approaches his peroration
but a cicada flies into his crux
and bites him in the vital statistics

Ted, yellow creeps into my life
like a bird into song
and the sky on the wall blinds me
with daring.

this morning the air
as in so many poems
is soft clammy almost
warm in its cool claustrality

this will lead to the revelation
of my soft clammy centre
my yearning for a ditto dame
a ditto bed

this makes me impatient
I don't know about you
my self-reflexivity I mean
because that seems to be all

I mean I mean

19 May 1976

when you're twenty
and it's rain outside
and there's a fire and friends
and you're somewhat sleepy
and you have a biscuit maybe
and you curl up your toes in your high-heeled boots

then doesn't the room suddenly fill
with jungle and tigers and dream?

22 July 1972

Garry Gillard | New: 12 December, 2009 | Now: 17 January, 2018