Jonathan Cant – Dalai Lama on Speed Dial

CantLE P&W 1 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Nov-Dec 2023

Dalai Lama on Speed Dial, poems by Jonathan Cant.

Dalai Lama on Speed Dial

HE chuckled as he tipped the cab driver. There he stood marooned
on Petrie Terrace in his maroon robes—but he wasn’t there to barrack
for Queensland. He had an art gallery and minds to open. I watched him
float along the red carpet, reaching beyond the bollards to shake people’s hands.
I was high on speed that day; I’ve since wished I hadn’t been. False happiness?

Winter’s cold crystals:
artificial paradise—
the snow melts too soon.

HE then gripped my hand and I felt a warm, electric shot of energy enter
my system. He nodded knowingly—eyebrows raised—and continued to shake
other hands as he maintained a firm, reassuring hold on my right hand; while
giggling to the crowd. I still sense his presence. I call him up telepathically
from time to time. He usually answers; and always has the answers:

Happiness is not
something readymade—it comes
from your own actions.

NOTE: “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
is a quote from His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

The Greyhound

Anubis: Ancient Egypt’s God of the Dead,
Nubia’s jackal-headed embalmer.
This cursed dog, a god reversed by time.

Dynasties today are built in different ways.
The Pharaohs’ holy guard dog is reborn into
a hellish kennel where live rabbits are dangled

before him to drive him rabid. Possums
and piglets wriggle and squeal on the lure
so that bloodlust will give him the winning edge.

This canine king, once noble and pure,
is running to live and living to die
for the profit and sport of owners, trainers,

punters, race callers, and so-called battlers.
Anubis, how much would those cold souls weigh
against the feather on your scales of justice?

Trading one Underworld for another,
an Undertaker forced to preside over
backyard burials in betting’s mass graves.

And now, at the rescue shelter, racing a bad
memory—the name “Phoenix” on your cage—
you cringe and cower in the corner

when the vet enters the enclosure.
The sour smell of stale piss hangs
heavy in the air. You glance sideways

with watery eyes and ears tilted back.
For an eternity, you ran in circles
pursuing this impossible prize: an afterlife.

Stasis, 2020

for family and friends

Dotted… dashed – – –
the Queensland
State border
travels dead

it reaches the
One Ton Post
near Mungindi.

Then rivers and
ridges run it east
to the Scenic Rim
of sacred Wollumbin,

before dropping down
from Mount Cougal’s twin
peaks toward the Tweed
and the sea.

But a fence is manmade,
its meaning imaginary,
and now, accomplice
to a tragedy.

On Google Maps,
this hardline
semi-splits a nation…

like a perforation…

the tearable divide
on a ticket
to somewhere
you’re not welcome.

© Jonathan Cant

Jonathan Cant is a Sydney-based writer, poet, and musician. He won the 2023 Banjo Paterson Writing Awards for Contemporary Poetry, was Longlisted for the 2023 Fish Poetry Prize, and the 2022 Flying Islands Poetry Manuscript Prize, Commended in the W. B. Yeats Poetry Prize, Highly Commended in the South Coast Writers Centre Poetry Awards, and twice selected for the Ros Spencer Anthology Brushstrokes. Jonathan’s poems have appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Otoliths, and Booranga Writers’ Centre’s four W thirty-four. His short stories have featured in publications as diverse as Playboy to Australia’s leading flyfishing magazine, FlyLife.

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