Geoff Callard – Desert Life

Callard LE P&W 6 Nov-Dec 2023

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

Desert Life, poems by Geoff Callard.

Desert Life

This is how I travel
from our home in the desert,
a celestial commute

as the sun spreads its bright fleece
across the morning sky.

Later, on the journey home,
the moon is in the fields.

Carrion birds that wait
on the yellow ribbon of the highway

understand my journey.
Home to work, work to home, home to work,

fighting over roadkill
bubbling away on the tarseal.

Recently, when I’m driving,
I’ve been tapping into generations
of disappointment.

Recently, our rooster
crows so crookedly the hens
lay stones.

That’s the way you fail out here,
one cock crow at a time.

In the meantime, I pack up my briefcase,
say to my wife, wow, look at that sunrise

and as I drive down the shimmering road
I cry like a chicken.

David on the Seawall Welcomes the Godwits

David on the seawall
watches the moon rise and fall
over the fields,
hears the migrating birds before he sees them –
low along the beaches
through the crimson
membrane of the morning sky.

Thousands of calling godwits,
a giant cloud
rolling across the water,
black silhouettes
settling into
mud and sand.

He knows their journey by heart:
Alaska to the Yellow Sea,
roosting where mudflats should be,
settling around
wind turbines and power stations.

Sometimes he wants to wade
through the estuary to the channel,
float amongst the coloured fishing boats
with their diesel coughs and rippled wake.

Godwits standing
on the yellow ribbon of the beach
understand that sort of joy.


David sits on the seawall,
looks up into the dawning sky,

knows that loneliness is such a delicate thing,
waiting for a tide
that will never come.

He wishes for feathers
and enough faith
for a ten-day flight.

© Geoff Callard

Geoff Callard is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based poet. 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.

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