Yvette Walker

Dinner Companion Poems


Your resemblance to Odysseus
Becomes horrible and horrible.
You acquire the sea length beard
And the ship bones, the old dog
And the promise of a bent bow.
I haven’t bothered with tapestries
For months now. I have no words
To say to you. I write you like
A lyric, like some god awful
Disabled poem and you can only
Stand there at the entrance
To my doorway like you will
Never leave and never return.

Your breath walks the tightrope
Of something ominous.
Memory beckons.
Your throat hooks
Onto something unspeakable.
You say a single word
But I cannot hear it,
You grasp at it with a closing fist
But all you manage to keep are your
Own fingerprints.

Time bites like a flea
And I scream at you,
To leave, to stay, even to remember,
But you don’t, you drag
Your fatal gender
Out of your mouth,

And as that rough old man’s
Flesh and bones begin to fall,
I see there is a woman’s body
Under the case of Odysseus,
A mother’s map
Drawn but not made, specific
But indeterminate, fully frightening.


We lie back to back,
The ashes of our love
Fall onto your eyelids
Like metal dust,
Arranging your sight
Like soldiers against
A wall – what you see
Is the absence of me.

The barcode of my spine
Morphs into yours, reading
Names, dates and histories,
Sucking the information
Out of you as you sleep –
The hum of my humanity
Keeps me awake.

Let us be grateful that we
Do love, love, that time
And sweat and space
Don’t crush us like test
Room dummies. Let us
Know that what we do
Is not fallout or famine;
But revered resistance
To the physics of bodies.

100 things I hate about writers and their lives

Shakespeare’s cadences/ Allen Ginsberg’s ravings/ Sylvia Plath’s oven/ Virginia Woolf’s river/ Tennessee William’s closet/Andy Warhol’s fame/Lou Reed’s three chords/Nick Cave’s third testament /Leonard Cohen’s curbs/ Charles Bukowski’s fridge/Kafka’s writing block/Elizabeth Bishop’s alcoholism/Theodore Roethke’s schizophrenia/Leo Tolstoy’s misogyny /Kit Marlowe’s stabbing/Beautiful snow that hurts your head/Writing that is written that is already dead/JRR Tolkien’s gold ring/William Burrough’s walking stick/William Wordsworth’s dog/William Faulkner’s one thousand word sentences/Don Delillo’s baseball/Alexander Pope’s perfect meter/Marion Halligan’s oranges/Alice Walker’s muffins/Kathy Acker’s blood/Oscar Wilde’s loneliness/Les Murray’s insurance policy/Peter Porter’s chair/Elizabeth Jolley’s cricket bat/Caryl Phillip’s beauty/Craig Raine’s typewriter/A sky ahead of itself/A diary alone on a shelf/Ben Jonson’s teddy bear/Tori Amos’ ruby red slippers/Bjork’s cello/Jane Austen’s cheerful teacups/Germane Greer’s x-ray/Bryce Courtney’s dust jacket/JD Salinger’s deer hat/John Lennon’s copy of Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell/Will Self’s kettle/Sam Shepard’s cowboy hat/Bob Dylan’s steering wheel/Toni Morrison’s pen/Paul Simon’s America/Helen Garner’s nails/John Pilger’s night light/Clive James’ balloon/Ruby Wax’s candy red lipstick/Michelangelo’s sonnets/Salman Rushdie’s beard/Joyce Carol Oates wastepaper basket/Peter Hoeg’s icepick/Ernest Hemmingway’s mini-series/T.S. Eliot’s crumpet/Janet Frame’s chocolate Easter bunny/Jeanette Winterson’s compass/ Dorothy Hewitt’s kitchen table/Archie Weller’s commodore/A paper full of ciphers/A rat amongst pied pipers//The jealousy of writers/

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