Kate Maxwell – What I Harbour

Maxwell LE P&W July 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2024

What I Harbour, poems by Kate Maxwell.

What I Harbour

The worst thing
about living near the harbour
if a first-world worst must be set
against a backdrop of comfort
and sparkling vista
isn’t the fat gutter rats
that sometimes sneak across the road
at midday, funk of seaweed
and sewage on a humid day
the timber rot, rust of bicycle
chains, lack of parking, over-priced
restaurants, or even the gloom
of svelte black bats
soaring from the botanical gardens
at dusk to feed in wide fig trees.
No. The worst thing
about living near the harbour
is that horrendous ship horn song
of the ‘Love Boat’ chorus
honking through a peaceful afternoon
but thrilling the cocktail-holding crowds
cruising out to sea, ready for
their promised buffet feasts
casinos and imagined serendipity.

Man Beneath the Mountain

In the old world
when his breath seared strong
yet not enough to burn
a city he still wore skin bled crimson
for his pain and walked among us.

Now in times uncertain
emerald eye scouring all
he rolls a boulder—huge, hermetic—
cross the entrance to his mountain
lair claws atop his hoard

of gleam and glory exhales
a final smoky sigh sweeps third eye-lid
clean of glint and shimmer
before he takes his rest.
Servants stationed at the gates

to warn of any fortress breach
while outside
storms and mortal howls
become mere whispers on the breeze
he’s trapped inside

his vast and air-conditioned halls.
Eyes closed tight he still sees
moves through memory well-paid soldiers
fortifying loopholes sealing tunnels watertight

with labyrinths of legal machinations
all to preserve his mythological
might for, there’s always some
deluded knight who tries to wake
the sleeping giant.

But legends don’t lose sleep
over casual incineration.
Outside we warm work-hardened
hands around small fires
share tales of struggle

dark days of need
and wish for saviours.
His power—wings that span our world
in shadows—could build restore
and yet he reaps and reaps.

© Kate Maxwell

Kate Maxwell grew up in the Australian bush. Now a city dweller, her interests include film, wine, and sleeping. Her work has been published and awarded in many Australian and International literary magazines such as Cordite, Books Ireland, and The Galway Review. She’s published two anthologies: Never Good at Maths (2021) and Down the Rabbit Hole (2023). Find her at https://kateswritingplace.com/

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