Geoff Callard – The night you got the moon and stars tattooed on your thigh

Callard LE P&W August 2023

Download PDF Here
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Special Australian Edition August 2023

The night you got the moon and stars tattooed on your thigh,
poems by Geoff Callard.

And then we walked for miles

The decade I went to sleep
the Blue Mountains were
just an outline against
the dark rim of the earth.

The towns I knew became
invisible as they closed
over the hollows of my eyes.

I remember little about
being under the roof of stars
as I peered up from
my dreaming.

Then there was a brilliance
as smooth as marble
and forgotten house by forgotten house
we awoke,
blinking, stumbling.

Still dumb with sleep,
we felt our way
to the light
unaware how terrifying
we had become.

The night you got the moon and stars tattooed on your thigh

On the walk home from recitals
I hum the Nutcracker Suite,
the sticky afternoon heat rises
from the asphalt like a drug.

Our house is empty
so, I sit at the piano,
play two preludes of Bach.
A late flock of birds
fly high over the trees, circling
down to the waterfront.

Glad-hearted laughter drifts
up the drive: you and your
tattooed friends, silhouetted
by splinters of light
from the Casino.

I feel a surge of relief
as your heels clatter
down the hallway,

and as your friends settle
in front of the large screen
with beers and a bong,

we go to water the garden,
pick green loopers
from the leaves.

A tune drifts up the hill – something
we both recognise –

you smile, slow and wide,
reach for my hand

and we climb
a stairway
into the indigo sky,

feel the moon and stars
brush against our skin.


When you were sixteen
you asked if you could get
your ears pierced.

We had been arguing over
you leaving your clothes
lying about after you moved

back from your mother’s place
and I was practising letting
resentment build.

We went to the chemist
behind the supermarket,
and a girl barely older than you

popped each lobe
with a piercing gun
and there you were

with a couple of bright studs
and your mother’s
cock-eyed grin.

We made popcorn and watched
‘The Shining’ to celebrate.
You reminded me how easily

frightened you were
but would watch horror movies
with me, just to get some time.

Now you just shake your head
and say, the women are so fucking lame
in these old movies,

and you tuck your hair
behind your ear,
exactly like

your mother does,
two studs shining like moons
in a private universe.

© Geoff Callard

Geoff Callard is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based writer. He has had poetry published in over 20 journals across the globe and in a number of anthologies including Planet in Peril, Messages from the Embers and Poetry for the Planet.  His chapbook; Other People’s Lives was released in 2021 through Kelsay Books.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.