Michael Sharkey


Two Abecedaries

Nudge Nudge

Any nuance, any gesture gets me back to this,
Back to the human, back to thinking how it
Comes about I’m here and why, etcetera:
Does it matter? Destined to be dusted into urns, we evoke
Ennui in others. Evening creeps on pads of silent feet on city roofs.
Fat ugly autos prowl the suburb, driven by fat ugly folk.
Get out? Graffiti says ‘Why look up here? You are the joke,
Hell isn’t others, it’s yourself’.
In 2010 all poets were aged thirty, even all of those long dead.
Just joshing. That’s my business: I go fishing for bright words,
Kick sounds and ideas round, score goals, get into touch.
Life is after all no graceful sentence but a word.
Most spell it out. A micro-story.
No amount of saying yes negates the fact that no is underrated.
Over time, the mouth that is the origin of trouble
Proves that statues have the best time. No use
Querying their accent. They have earned their right to silence.
Reach no further for the why and how, etcetera,
See life steady see it whole, the gemlike flame that burns us up.
To burn, to live: we tidy up our mums and dads,
Usurp their thrones, their little plots, a little while. The children smile,
Veins full of juice, skin taut: they pole vault over us
While counting: vault or wall-niche, what’s the cost?
Xylem feels like that when phloem tips the wink in passing:
You-tube action, up they go, while we go down to sink cells,
Zip from zenith. O the circulatory zing.


My Life as a Cowboy

Aurochs are not ibex
But they sound so close to oryx
Cataloguers can be flummoxed.
Don’t be hoodwinked. It’s not onyx.
Everywhere you find it, it’s a black rock. So is ebony.
Flow gently traffic in the gulley till I end my song.
Great pits of fashion have I known in modern life. Some
Highlights also. Say, reverse initial letters. That’s me, guys.
In any case, it’s iffy. It’s a wonder Weil’s disease bypassed our farm and
Jumped our neighbour’s kiddies. As my father’s cousin said, I reckon you can
Kiss your feet goodbye if you like standing in the cowpats on cold mornings.
Last time they’ll write home to brag of life in the bucolics, saying boo-sucks.
Mostly we don’t muck round with manure. Nor do old friends in Aystetten.
No fun taking chances with the picturesque conditions you can contract
On a farm. Hansi gave up wading in the Mist heap when he had to
Pump it out. Pure gold for maize. Ringworm, anybody? Anthrax?
Queen of spades each time, straight off the bottom of the deck.
Robert Frost was not a cowboy. Neither is Les Murray. Cows
Stand by in Gruner’s light at Bellingen and Bowral looking  
Tired of holding poses. Boring. But when Martin asked
Us to Te Awamutu where he ran the butter factory,
Vowing never to go back to lighthouse keeping
When he married Ally, who said watching
Xemes and boobies wasn’t her idea of
Yearlong fun, we said, considering
Zoo or zoetrope, no contest.



Michael Sharkey lives in midland Victoria and edits the Australian Poetry Journal.