James Walton – Blow Your Trumpet, Gabriel

Walton profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume Two, December 2020.

James Walton is published in many anthologies, magazines, and newspapers. He was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He resigned from an elected position in 2014 to write. His books include ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ 2015, ‘Walking Through Fences’ 2018, and ‘Unstill Mosaics’ 2019. He has been previously shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, The MPU International Poetry Prize, The James Tate Prize, Jupiter Artland, The William Wantling Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Prize for “Abandoned Soliloquies’ to be published shortly, but as a full-length collection. He lives in Wonthaggi, Victoria, Australia, in a Federation house which was once a maternity ward.

Blow your trumpet, Gabriel

The wind here peels skin
hones out the truth
birds stall in the veracity of physics

knowing the full irony
of a mad obligation

that long leap of colonial decades

leaving the river turned out
stench of mud howling condoms
dried out take-aways

look to the south west

where the clouds churn for hail
prepare to scrape calcium
make high cheek bones of panther

the unbroken gather there
an exhibition curated
by a jigsaw of lives

survivors of age and penury

and the small people
flecked at by society’s tail
smile at what they can

one day a gentler hand
may arrange the pieces
patch the dreamy enamels

float the bottle into each House
rub the sides in new earnest
whisper a downpour of votes

if you stand into the gale
all it takes is breath

By election psephology

for two days it rained hearts

they came down steadily
no overflowing gutters
a saturating throb an ultrasound

some closed doors and windows
others recalled things

a chocolate mousse
a puppy licking faces
the first broken love
a child’s hand
a pulled curtain and daylight
the nod of a bearded iris
a joy in a promise

by then it was Monday morning

a sticky red mess went smelly
hoses were turned on
big brooms pushed back

the streets were empty and proper
it was normal it was safe
a rainbow of oil slick

how far can a tear fall?
all the way through a sob

as far as a one-way apology

I cannot go into the world again

I have been retooled, visioned
fresh tasked
My mission statement lost to blue sky
steering not rowing

Getting some rubber on the bitumen
taking it upstairs
In need of a lateral dichotomy
but the cost benefit analysis

There, you see
It was all reciprocal obligation
someone has to pay

All that spreading grey
nomads of the fifth estate
lost to the Treasurer’s advance

Told you it was aesthete but you heard atheist

I thought I saw a puddy cat
Just a sunset clause
only hear bass these days

Yell louder if you want me to hear

Penny Opera Impromptu on the Count’s Journeys

As white as Poland in winter
a man on Main Ridge
checking out the memorial obelisk
mutters that Pawel passed again

within eight kilometres of this place
a bare frown line circumnavigates
the knobby places beneath his knees
latitudes mapped by gumboots

edged from distant plantations
slapped to conversion in a crucible
fired by oaths of the dispossessed
each atlas ring a determined step

of his many overt sightings
following the marked out trail
where seven bronzed plaques meditate
a verdigris of tarnished seasons

brought naked into the sweet note
of bisecting currawongs summoning markers
opens his arms as he begins to sing
in a voice as wide as Kosciusko’s plains

Mall views

There is a woman
A violin in her hair
Because the wind insists

If you do not listen
Something louder will come

Three steps too far
An unlistening pedestrian
The tram bells

An abandoned pram
Street sculpture for the sane

Texting walks into itself
Police lean their way
By the no exit lane

A shoe on its side
A seeking ice cream cone

Smokers protest the rules
Own ends all stubs
A shaky peace wanders

The post office
Older than the gold rush

A nonchalant memento
PMG extension post modernism
All steps for weary bystanders

© James Walton