Justin Lowe – Xanadu

Lowe LE P&W April 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing April 2024.

Xanadu , poems by Justin Lowe.



this town’s main export is bad advice.
oh yes, and the young
and the dreams only the young can dream.

I moved here after a brief conversation
with a scion of the town.
like any tiny god he worried over the words his world was losing.

he thought maybe I could help.
there was no job offered, no sinecure,
just a schooner’s worth of bad advice.

it is a tourist town,
so they also import stupid by the day,
the kind of stupid that laughs at the fauna,

and not in a kind way.
this town is so pretty it defeats its own purpose.


there is a sign on the highway boasting the town’s elevation,
and a sign the other side boasting its distance
from somewhere else.

this town sits high, very high.
you would think you could see
the whole world from this high.

but the mist doesn’t lift until the first siesta,
and then there is lunch
and then there is dinner.

Las Ramblas


we just thought we would come for the summer.
people made such a fuss,
but really it is not our war,
they are fighting amongst themselves, as usual,
and our navy is guarding the straights.

the train stopped at Bilbao in the small hours
where men were stretchered on or stretchered off,
I really cannot recall now,
except that I remember being roused from a lovely dream
by all the jolting and by some horrid smell,

like when Agnes, aunty’s favourite mare,
gave birth to that still born
and duly slumped to her knees and died with a final whinny.
do you remember it, Hatty?
we had all put so much hope in that foal.


on our first night in Barcelona
we heard a flurry of bombs toward the water
but nothing after that apart from the occasional firecracker
and the screams of children down the Ramblas,
you know how the Spanish are.

one of Daddy’s foreman saluted us,
right there by the cafe where we’d been staying.
I thought it the height of mendacity!
he shouldered epaulettes, dear Hatty!
when he should have been home where he belongs helping Daddy,
certainly not here, knee-deep in mud,
and the sordid inference of their comrades and thous.
I tried to leave a tip for the waitress with the blue-lipped baby
but he stayed my hand,
actually touched me, can you believe it, Hatty!

Oh Hatty Hatty! this world of ours,
as Daddy would often say
before that German shell took half his head away,
is not quite where we left it.
and it is still such a struggle at home.

© Justin Lowe

Justin Lowe lives in a house called Doug in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits international poetry blog, Bluepepper. Justin has just completed a collection of short stories while his ninth collection of poetry sits on the publisher’s desk.

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