Ian C Smith


Anti-clock, wise

I clumsied my second-hand clock from wall to floor,
batteries skating over crumbed tiles.
When the second hand moved forward,
those batteries snugly re-nooked,
the clock re-hooked, back to despot status,
I day-dreamed about time’s durability.

Listening to a train tracking to the port
I remember a lake flickering through pine trees,
long languid nights on slow-moving trains,
shadows swaying, never to be repeated,
present becoming instantly irretrievable.
Yet I squander it dreaming of the adroit past.

I notice my clock’s hours are reversing,
travelling absurdly through time past.
Nine o’clock has become eight o’clock,
arousing a vague idea of the perfect trip
from age to youth, reliving train whistles,
back to laughter, music crying out, love.

I am stuck with old and clumsy,
neither I nor magic clock setting speed records.
I ponder other less than ideal time-travel aspects,
such as the clarity of grief growing ever wilder
or nothing happening again and again.
Mocked by a clock, my enthusiasm wanes.


Once upon a time in Calulu

I drove our Moke fast over the cattle grid
lickety-split bunkety-crunch, foot
poised above the brake, straight through
the open doors of a shed that became my office
to stop just before smashing into the wall
where tyres gripped oil-stains where carpet now
muffles the past’s rawness when we moved
in, possessions piled in two vehicles, or
was it three plus a trailer, grass unkempt, hum
of insects, a flowering forest so wild fences
hid from view, our rescued dogs pointing
towards freedom, remember that air’s
intoxication, our far-off mountains, the
future held at bay, perpetual possibility?

Gates guarding that dangerous grid, I park
my sensible car before the extension at
the correct angle for reversing safely on
my green drive, inside, rooms where time dwells
filled with things, outside, graves, dogs’
beloved wild grass tamed like a park, those
mountains unchanged, hiding the slipping sun.



Ian C Smith lives in the Gippsland Lakes region of Victoria. His work has appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Rabbit Journal, Regime, The Weekend Australian and Westerly. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra Port Adelaide, 2014.