width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses
Winter / Spring 2013


Helen Koukoutsis


Stopping at Rookwood: Orthodox plot 223

Memorial Avenue:
of muted graves
PO box Crematoriums
of sulphurous decay
marble monuments
with inscriptions etched
in gold
crows caw
back and forth 
from the tops
of ghost gums
and a café
'to relax
unwind and meet 
with family 
and friends'.
I want to pull into the café
order cinnamon toast
spy on coffee drinkers.
I want to smile at the girl 
trying to swallow whole 
a muffin.
aren't they ashamed 
interrupts like a bullet
from the passenger seat.
She doesn't ask,
she rebukes.
She wants
to say more
but she made 
the sign 
of the cross 
as we drove 
through the gates.
Even the car radio
was hushed.
a crow echoes 
with short 
Whip-crack wings
pull up and up.
What about
the spinach pitas,
the aniseed biscuits 
olives, coffee
at dad's wake?
That's tradition,
she'd say. 
Greek tradition;
and why do you
always argue 
with me?
I guess a café 
at a cemetery 
is capital
at the expense
of people's grief,
except the only
one grieving
is mum
and she's never
liked cafés
never sits in one,
hates those who do;
and I don't always
argue with you, 
I reason with you.
The cacophony
noisy miners

gets harder to find
each visit. 
His headstone's small,
white, granite. 
Black lithochrome 
once exposed 
name, dates, epitaph.
Only a tiny portrait
featuring his sideburns
resists time's corrosion. 
Mum pretends
to know the way,
until she takes
a wrong turn. 
Her calico bag 
is split
at the seam.
She likes it
that way.
In an instant,
out spills
oil, wick
like cymbals
in an orchestra.
Orthodox plots: 
rusted bicycle 
leans against 
a row of conifers.
© 2013 Helen Koukoutsis


At the Station

A solitary dragonfly peek-a-boos me
from behind rusted rail lines. 

No squeal or clackety-clack 
of steel-impending-wheels threaten its dance. 
After all, what does it know about trains 
and schedules that keep little rhythm? 
© 2013 Helen Koukoutsis


First Quarrel

After the first quarrel, 
a phantom feeling comes;
the nerves – wound tendril 
like spools of rusted
wire – glare rapaciously
at silence. The last desperate retort
still hangs, like a noose: 
fine, I'll just leave! 
After which, 
calculations are lost 
and panels of a comic-book life 
take over – a moving
paper reel
fashioned with cuts
and black and white velocity 
(like a Spiegelman or Sacco story). 
You've never been here before,
but to take notes now
(for the next quarrel, and the next)
will reduce the very fabric of your lives
to performance.
© 2013 Helen Koukoutsis


Rainbow lorikeet bathing; noisy miners count the seconds

A flash of red,                           Seven noisy miners
some spectral blue                                            jump
tumbles molten –                       from clothesline
gymnast                                     to fence boundary;
jewel.                                         hop, dance; plunge-
                                                  dive like raptors;
Green velvet                             
wings spin                                 shrill, chatter;
turbine,                                      flap…
powered by                                                     one
God                                                                 points
or gall.                                                            its bill.
On birdbath's edge,                  Displaced
tiptoes                                      confused,
as if                                          they scream
gauging                                    at their
depth,                                       uninvited
or algae –                                 guest –
Plop!                                       leave!
© 2013 Helen Koukoutsis


Helen Koukoutsis lives in Sydney, Australia. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies and teaches literature at the University of Western Sydney. Her poetry has appeared in Poetrix, Eureka Street, Nebu[lab], Melaleuca, Buddhist Poetry Review and is forthcoming in Studio: A Journal of Christians Writing. Helen says her work is influenced by her research in Emily Dickinson's poetry. Her article on Dickinson's encounter with Victorian-American Buddhism was published by The Researcher at Jackson State University.

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