Graeme Miles

Three Poems

Skilled Vacancy

“More skilled vacancies on offer.” And I
aspire to be a skilled vacancy,
always to know the right thing not to do when
anything enters my orbit, just how
to side-step it or guide it over
my shoulder like a well-mannered boy
practising Ju Jitsu. A skilled vacancy
will reply to “Occupation?” that it’s “just
someone” and that even that is two words
too many.

Occasionally: the idea

Occasionally: the idea of the frozen moment,
constant youth, constant growth,
money and jobs always springing up
in mushroom-time forever.
The city too, a nomad camp
turned to stone.
Or there’s the frozen story of the year,
Easter to Christmas,
and Books of Hours
with only the Office of the Dead
to let the wild creep in.
For now,
the days of the week
murder each other cheerfully
in a sort of Valhalla.

Who hammered

Who hammered out his arts
like a bouncer making order with his fists?
Who hollowed a chamber underground,
squared and packed the walls, mining
geometrically? Who sealed
the mouth, nose, ears, eyes
and arse of a killed cow so that none
of the liquid organs could escape? Who
distilled bees for the liquid summer?
A singer of cicada songs, endlessly
repetitive, songs where no verse
can be allowed to fall away,
where nothing can easily come in
or out, a parody of its totem insect
clinging to now withered things.
The spirit of skint, he brings along
his own grudging famine, its own
cause and effect, feeding only
on itself, dry as long nostalgia.
So of course the bees had died. Quiet
in place of humming in the ultraviolet
bushes. Quiet in the hives. Quiet
in the cells of unhatched eggs.

“Skilled Vacancy” and the one beginning “Occasionally: the idea …” have appeared in print in Empowa (Emerging Poets WA) issue 2.

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