Rae Desmond Jones

Rae Desmond Jones is a poet much published in the olden days.  His most recent book was Blow Out (Island Press, 2009). After many years spent in the wilderness of local government, including a period as the Mayor of Ashfield, a tiny Principality near Sydney, he has returned to poetry. He does not fear death half as much as being boring.

                                                             Photograph by John Tranter


The Kindly Ones

Mid Summer in the South

            When ice shelves slide softly

Off the edge of Antarctica

            & start to drift North

In the merciless tides,


Three cracked old women

Nudge each other

            Along the broken brick footpath

To the little table outside

            Michelle’s Patisserie.


There are only two chairs

            So the shortest stands in the sun

Beneath an umbrella hat embossed

            With the Australian flag,

In grimy Koala bear slippers.


            The other two slurp Coca Cola

With ice cream, dabbling their straws greedily

            In the brew while the short one

Plants her arms on her waist

            (wrists folded in) & complains –


The large women smile

            & one rolls a cigarette & lights up,

Allowing the smoke to collide softly & inevitably

Against the frozen glass door.


            Through the cloudless haze

The mad women hear the distant hiss

            Of roiling ice & they nod

As a Southerly wind spins & whirls                     

            Across the burning tarmac

Into the light


Silvio the God

Perhaps there is such a thing as a national psyche,

Even when the world is trussed like a turkey

In satellite bands of electronic steel


But have the Italians never shifted

Their long allegiance to Caesar (every woman’s man

& every man’s woman) or Mussolini,


Incarnated in a tanned old rooster

Crowing while caressing the polished boot of Italy,

Parading his erection as evidence of immortality?


Silvio the God will never die while the riches

Of television & the State pile up to choke the doors

Of the courts & the throats of Judges,


He will live forever with his cloud piercing penis.

If he was a woman he would become invisible

& tough like Angela Merkel –


Not that ordinary woman who grows old

Hiding her need for warmth, who instead will plod

To the Church to perform works & pray


To that beautiful male stretched out on the cross

That he should come down to whisper

Gentle words in Latin but instead she must


Bake sweet cakes for her Grandchildren –

Become the carer of the family history (Because

Nobody desires her unless she is useful, or wealthy)


Then she becomes tight fisted & hard,

Dry as a plaster crucifix.


O great Silvio, count your riches & beware.

You may yet find yourself hanging by the heels

In the breeze beside a row of your pretty girlfriends



Three little vampires in blue school uniforms

Sit around a table on the edge of a park


Beneath the trembling leaves of a tree,

Light spattering their lovely hungry faces.


Beside them the concrete path is washed

Clean of all (except a thin crooked line).


It is going to rain soon & the darkness

Teases, as it dances through the weeds.


Eagerly they champ & dribble & clamp

Their jaws, waiting for the starving moon.