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3.0k · Jan 2015
Kitchen Seduction
martin challis Jan 2015
To a friend who shares coffee
you offer sugar,
                          love,
                                 and a biscuit.

Night trained like a metronome,
is a dark lounge astride your kitchen window.

And a cool beacon,
the fridge-light ******* her briefly with the lick of its wake.

Across smooth tiles
the pleasant stealth of bare-feet,
certain rapture
and seductive inclusion is
love like a biscuit half eaten.
2.8k · Jan 2015
The Bully
martin challis Jan 2015
The teeth of hierarchy flash
a scowled curse in quick lightening.

This hard edge does not hunger for food.

His, is a stare into a desert battle-ground:
dry-rasping, gaunt and unforgiving,

A Goliath.
And me - envious of stones in the desert.
The '*******’ in the eye of his razor.

My punishment waits like a
missionary’s head in a bucket
(its smile still praising in a tribal trophy necklace).

His armoured lips sip hot-dipped darkness
deep from the volcano.

The boy in class with my blood in his schoolbag.
The teacher dripping words of impatience onto my flight plan.

Head down, writing escape from the demon
Furiously - until the last bell.



MChallis © 2015
2.0k · Oct 2014
Advice from an Old-fart
martin challis Oct 2014
Listen son
It’s al ‘right to feel
It’s OK to cry
It’s even acceptable to not be perfect
In everything you try

Failure can be positive
If bent another way
A kind of subtle back-burn before
The fire of success comes your way

Its not the end of everything, but the
Beginning of something new
It’s probably the way you see it
Is the shape that comes to view

A mountain so enormous
Never seeming to be climbed
Until you’ve done some treading
Most likely one foot at a time

Some day you get right up there
You’re laughing with the clouds
And at some stage you lose your grip again
Falling all the way back down

So you pick yourself right up
Spit gravel from your mouth
And head to other climates
I’m recommending south

On the way you meet a few kind souls
Perhaps a little wiser than yourself
Some who might begin to question
The state of your mental health

But don’t despair; it’s all good stuff
The journey, the quest, the sport,
Some days you’ll go a long way
On others you’ll pull up short

Just keep going that’s the main thing,
I’m buggered if I know where, cause’
Eventually south goes north
And every other where

Keep treading, keep smiling,
Don’t forget to breathe
It’s important to enjoy yourself
And keep something up your sleeve

It isn’t easy, this I know,
When some old ****** gives advice
You think he’s a little crazy and
He don’t talk so very nice

You’re probably right, he might be mad,
But the thing about this is,
It’s better to keep asking questions
Than be sitting in a tizz

Complain or question or kick or scratch
The ticket is the train you catch
The one for somewhere, the one that goes
Not sitting at the station and picking at your nose

Get on board
Live a life
Have some fun and
Cause a bit o’ strife, now

I’m sorry I can’t say more than this
But I reckon you know why; it’s
Coz you’ve got a good long life to lead
And I’m about to die.



MChallis @ 1999/2014
1.8k · Jan 2015
Affair
martin challis Jan 2015
Lie in the bare-faced sun
savour time
under seige
frittering hours
afor breakfast and

rush ‘round
later
if necessary
under fire
moving appointments
with telephones twitching

anticipation

then forage
the howl
create havoc
hunt the giggling
play for keeps

heads roll
apart
the ultimate shudder


MChallis © 2015
martin challis Sep 2013
With the first awareness of morning
I sense the kind of clarity elusive
at other times of day.

She is a singular breath, formless,
offering insight into the endlessness
of something pure.

Yet she moves away as thoughts come:
those dissenting armies that ***** in
to involve me in the containment of opposites.

She will not be held in place by argument.

I long for her when she leaves.

My intention is to attend to her when I’m able.
To be the gardener who loves the flower.

That she might touch me when she will
That she might find me, often

In the gentleness of contemplation.
1.6k · Sep 2014
Grass
martin challis Sep 2014
Sedge
Rush
Cereal
Turf

Blade
network
Insect
canopy

Viral
fibre
­Pattern
weaver

Earth
fabric
Meadow
aquifer

Wind
dancer
Tribal
m­ind
1.5k · Sep 2014
Colourful Blah
martin challis Sep 2014
A vista
spiels with neon
Non-essential conversation repeating
Humanity hovers at the entrance
In this shopping centre every need seems urgent
Mouths pause their chatter
To sip at coffee or chow down burger
Gestures are reinforced with nail polish,
jewellery on many fingers
and small change passing across counter tops

In here the weather is neither warm nor cool
and everything seems designed to stimulate my mediocrity

Reflection in the shop-front is on sale at bargain price
but today I cannot afford to buy on impulse

I turn away to blend
With colourful  blah


MChallis © 2009 (reworked 2014)
1.4k · Jun 2015
Adolescent Currawong
martin challis Jun 2015
The adolescent Currawong
not exactly stumbling or tripping
is parrot-like as a junior, a
hopper and stepper in
the art of stalking and hunting

In a series of quick-steps and bounces
she moves sideways, most emphatic as
a survival enthusiast

She gazes, investigates and gathers the curios,
insects, rich dark worms
one gesture at a time

She is vigilant and persistent
through the dust
the soil, the grass
with instinct and practise

through her teachers
she thrives

MChallis © 2015
1.3k · Nov 2014
Humility
martin challis Nov 2014
I would like to know you
More than I do

You are a gracious presence that in glimpses I have seen influence the mightiest egos to acquiesce

I stumble across you at times yet would know you more as a constant companion

I forget you often and when in the throes of reaction and defensiveness I catch myself in arrogance or in self righteousness or justification

This is followed by regret

How do I know you?
How do I find you in the moments when I am alone and embattled?
How do I find you in that first breath?
Of surrender




MChallis @ 2014
1.2k · Nov 2014
Raspberry Tea
martin challis Nov 2014
In the heat of the night
When everything is cool    Is when
I miss her
The most

It was raspberry tea
No
Peppermint - I don't know

Lips wet longer when an afternoon
Came after
Noon
And went like clouds before clouds before…

You know
It is interesting to meet some…
Someone you can
You can
  You know
I don't know

We touched, like others
Like all others
Nothing new
Nothing new anymore
You want it so much
To be new
New for old is what they say

What do these old hands hold?
Old …
You want it so much
To hold
It slips
You never did hold on very well
Its like its like

I don't know, you want it so much

I miss her


MChallis © 1995/2014
This poem was the work that initiated the collaboration with Katie Noonan. First penned in 1995. Slightly reworked for HP.
1.2k · Jan 2015
Homage
martin challis Jan 2015
they call us in

the women
who bring us

through the eye
the elder-wise mother
who is sister
daughter, lover, all

holding space apart
for us to enter

feminine shape
at the beginning

brightness resting in
and upon the earth

the tender choice

bringing light
to being

bringing cause


MChallis @ 2015
1.2k · Jan 2015
Camping Trip
martin challis Jan 2015
Perfect with gravity
fuji-like mountain
above which hangs heaven
star full and bursting

beside which she sits with a mouth full of flattery
quipping alacrities with ease
'you’re a man with a very smooth shirt’, she says
‘thank you’, he replies almost inaudibly

The breeze brushes an inner thigh with its lycra tongue
she shimmers
like a clear-lake breeze kissed

He grows to become a campfire on her shores
she laps at his embers
reflecting and flickering

He encompasses the perimeter with stealth
Sniffs the wind for fear and for warning

none comes

they bathe naked, ever watchful, for
a shift in the rushes, for the
fish in their sleep,
for the shadows
in the deep
not yet awakened.

MChallis © 2015
1.1k · Aug 2011
After Cutting Timber
martin challis Aug 2011
after cutting timber
at the top of the hill
I waited for you
not long enough for the magpie’s
wing-feather to fall from the conifer
and then your silhouette
along with the sunset
struck me
and drawing closer
your smile
drawing closer
Martin Challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
1.1k · Sep 2014
Axel
martin challis Sep 2014
Axel, who never had a rocking horse, once rode a bright blue tricycle. He called it his ‘Athenian Rhapsody’. He loved to play the tuba in bed, and when he was feeling particularly happy, would sit on the loo in the outside shed, pants around his ankles oompa-pa’ing till the cows came home.

That was quite a while ago; the tuba and the tricycle have gone, yet he can still hear the triangle sound the bell made on his tricycle, and still remembers the scraping of the old keys on the ancient tuba.

Axel listens to old sounds very well (all the time): he loves Bach, Mendelssohn and Donovan. He loves to eat crumpets with honey and drink a large white mug of milky tea; it reminds him of summer fishing trips to Lake Eucumbine, mushrooms and gnats in the full-sun morning air, (he loves to talk fishing when he’s playing chess with Carl the orderly, often quoting from his favourite magazine, ‘Modern Fly Fishing’).

Axel was once an expert at fly fishing; tying the ‘super moonshadow’ to perfection (he named the fly after what he thought was a Donovan song, written by Cat Stevens).

When the hospital staff remember to buy him a new box, Axel loves to drink Lady Grey tea made from tea bags, he prefers tea bags, he feels that somehow they bring clearer definition to tea making.

Axel thinks a lot about definition, noting how the edges of his bed are very clearly defined by the clean-blue hospital blankets that drop suddenly to the ocean of the grey linoleum floor. He likes the smell of cleanblue, it’s somehow a new sea to sail and sometimes the feel of his favourite jumper when he was a boy: a definite edge of beginning and end. He knows that soon he’ll cross the floor-grey ocean, sailing under a white sheet. But this is not a thing Axel dwells on for very long, he prefers to think of such things as his next chess move and flirting with Miriam the night nurse.



Axel has just beaten Carl in a game of chess. He’s said goodnight to Miriam, a long quiet goodnight, a good long, good night. He won’t wake again, he senses this  –  and is peaceful.

When his last breath comes he hears; a faint scraping sound and a single precious note from a triangle bell on a bright blue tricycle.

They’re good sounds.

They are old sounds.

They bring him…
1.1k · Aug 2011
Drown in the Blue Sky
martin challis Aug 2011
Drown in the blue sky
the blue sea
the green land
and all the while, white waves, of wash,
cloud or smoke arising, and
on this rock I am every particle
I can see, and more than I am,
none of this, and separate is
my life a paradox continuum
inexplicably explained as
stable passing impermanence, and
if I could drown in the blue sky
I would do it flying.
martin challis © 2011
1.1k · Jan 2015
Take It All
martin challis Jan 2015
take rain from sky
take the way tall men straighten your stance
take the students of dance
see the little ballerina stretch her toes
see her mother warm with the floodlight

take your plea to the judiciary
take your eye to the statue of David
smear on the dust of Somalia
rub raw the frost of Croatia
refresh your aim in the heights of Angola
but do not stop only at this

breathe every impediment
trust every promise of clemency
stumble if you will
fall under cease-fire
take it all

take the watchmaker
bent over time
with fine tools
clasp each second

take the sculptor who
chisels and scalpels for the grandiose

later in your armchair
fold creases in your newspaper with care

be with every nourishment
be with the cloth of your nakedness
make sail for your harbour of origin

remember the milk of your mothe?r
warm or cold or sweet if it is so
appease hunger
with the ambidextrous mouth
of a soldier
fed with death in his jungle

be the bystander, be the bi-partisan,
the *******, the timeless,
the dancer
be it all

breathe each increment
do it now
measure the infinite
the possible


MChallis © 2015
1.1k · Mar 2015
The Illusion
martin challis Mar 2015
Like you perhaps I am the heathen who sifts through the
hazes of a blood soul sentence. One that is forged in an emptiness
that cannot fill or find space between remembering or forgetting past entrenchments.

With the shackles and shapings of exemplary upbringings, coupled with history's ancestral machining hands I am defined by, predictable to and quintessentially fixed in most certain consciousness.

My thoughts are parabolas of yearning sent in all directions to past and past participial futures. As each return without geometric certainty they are repeatedly sent again - missives to unknown or perhaps unfriendly oracles: what is known is that all go unanswered.

Perhaps endemic to each lived experience is the perfect folly of presumption that it is possible to rewrite the past. The angel's kindest mercy being to reveal the conundrum for which a state of equilibrium can only be reached by one anointed practice; which is, to accept that transcendence is in and of itself an illusion.

MChallis @ 2015
martin challis Nov 2014
...and going to state...action.

The jade edge of the writing compartment showed luminescent in the venetian-split rays of an afternoon sun.

Pillar Vas-Gurta gestured a heavy mop like hand towards the cigar case.

Take as many as you like, he mouthed. But everything suspicious
caused in me an urgent decline.  You are always too generous Pillar,
I uttered with feigned diplomacy; the dense undertow carrying off the forfeit.

Why are the Arm-ericans not displaying a greater sense of co-operation,
Pillar questioned the telephone in thick Polish, and to me the single nod of a telephone rung off, his reply was as good as a grunt.

As he finished the call; Ah now, come sit young Valentin, if you’ll none of my Cubans come sit and sip Cognac with me at least, spend a moment with an excellent mint.

Untroubled by the American question, Pillar, eyes like hurricanes, hair curled on his forhead with the oil of a whistle, teeth forged, as if by a village blacksmith, patient and keen to devour conversation, was not a man to be declined twice in one afternoon.

Pillar was a man who’s stubble grew as he considered each of his thoughts: and the skewer fed silence that connected fear with steel.

I sense Valentin you are withholding something, are you troubled, rumbled the Polish border, is the Cuban smoke a little too dense for your sensibilities, My friend, my friend you are troubled, so tell me.

Please. I answered for the cognac. And for the writing compartment.
I see it is from Gabriella.  His flash, dense and swift as a school of minnows turning their escape into silver, caught me unaware; the weight in my question.

He loves this woman. Here it is then. Even Pillar is vulnerable.

You do not answer Valentin. No I’m sorry, I mumbled. Something troubles me. Please tell me Pillar, why am I here, why have you called me.

Ah the question that cuts to chase the rabbit. As you say. Or something like that, no. You are here Valentin because I like you. You may think, there is nothing I like, and that also may be true. But the cigar must be smoked to appreciate its fullness.

And it that moment, Pillar reached for the razor in his sleeve. Before he was aware, I had seen the gesture. The heel of my shoe captured his nose. The cognac glass filled slowly; a distortion of colour. Pillar sat motionless at his desk. Draining with the final swill. The jade edge of the writing compartment offering a seal of approval; Gabriella's last kiss.
The cigar case remained open and untouched.

I had taken as many as I'd liked.

...and Cut..
This was an attempt at a 'thriller' poem written a while back.
martin challis Jul 2015
the crescent moon, bent
like Arjuna's bow
draws her ink-dark arrow across all heaven

she is first to intersect venus, then mars,
then on in one omniscient arc to trace
the centre of being

across skies, across eons
across all beginnings, endings,
all that is and was

long to outlast all human experience
and all that can be foreseen


MChallis © 2015
993 · May 2015
The Simplicity
martin challis May 2015
Wake Up
To the simplicity, to
The essential stillness
The natural breath
The calmest force
Weaving
Weaving
Dancing

Skilfully
Delightfully
At the heart
Of the heart
of all


MChallis @ 2015
990 · Jun 2014
Saigon Battle Children 1972
martin challis Jun 2014
While i was learning to savour the new taste of cashew and walnut in the autumn of that year
you were learning to eat the bones of your neighbours' dog as you fled from an earth gone moist
the leaves of war were torn from the jungle as a cavalry of shrapnel burnt away the air
you were learning to hold your breath while i was doing the same in a suburban swimming pool

when the dust of your family filled the lids of your eyes
being left to see for yourself held quite a different meaning
while your skin seared from the heat of warfire
i was feeling the warmth of a shopping centre in winter

when you went without feet, a landmine exploding your underneath world underneath
i sprained an ankle at basketball
the words of an american god spat forth from an automatic weapon
and you saw the tongues of the lamb inviting you to feast in a foreign language

and while i drew in crayon on the kindergarten wall
you were drawn in the crosshairs just before the smell of cordite
Used as a lyric by Elixir
974 · Feb 2014
The Experience
martin challis Feb 2014
Whatever experience you are having
Know that, it too shall pass.

Know that at times it will be okay to be not okay
And that, this too shall pass.

Within every experience
something will be there for you.

It will either touch the truth of who you are
Or it will ask you to look closer to find that truth.

On looking, the truth of who you are will draw closer
With patience, with acceptance, with courage, with love, with practice, you will touch it but not hold it.

Whatever experience you are having,
It too shall pass.
961 · Aug 2011
Olympic Colour
martin challis Aug 2011
There were painter’s clouds that day;
broiling, tumbling,
moving inner silence across an easel.

Beneath them
a concrete mind mixed and etched
one long brush-stroke:
the tarmac before us.

Excited engines carried us along
and carried by us
an air befriended...
with the convertible top thrown down
your hair streamed
olympic colour; a spectrum of extraordinary.
You threw back a sunrise laugh,
the wind and all else
belonged to exhilaration.

The horizon captured another sky,
a mist-green hail filled sea; a quiet litany.

A pallet knife scratched its lightening
and the danger of no potential
that kept us moving on.
Martin Challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
952 · Aug 2011
Rainbow
martin challis Aug 2011
Looking to the west I see a perfect rainbow
Tucked under and lifting a symphony of cloud
The sun beams in lay-lines from its horizon.
Yet, the scientist who explains this phenomenon
Cannot describe my feelings for such a spectacle
Cannot describe the song in me that dances
The miracle of light and spectrum.
—-
You are mighty, you are ethereal
Your many fingers rake aberrant their spatulas of light
Your beauty makes all else ghastly or at least ordinary.
The trifles of each day’s turnings are insignificant in comparison.
A conscience of orb, mist, shadow, light
The Gods derive pleasure from your presence
Else their thunderous growls bemoan your magnificence.
—-
There is no darkness just the absence of light
There is no cold just the absence of heat
There is no disbelief just the absence of your benediction.
Uncapturable, delicate, infamous portent.
In the implausible silence you are where I worship
Without beginning or ending
Yours is an ultimate mantra.
Martin Challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
929 · Aug 2011
Folding Colour
martin challis Aug 2011
The colour of towels
hang in my house
down, like waterfall
from door-corners and window sills.

Some outside
some on wracks
All open mouthed
spread welcome.

I have paintings also. They are static.
The towels move around.
They’re the colours of angels
blessing a clothesline
or bedroom floor.

If I’m wet they dry me
if they’re wet I dry them
It’s a good arrangement.

They smile at me, and often
break into laughter
when I attempt folding
they think it’s a hoot
trying to fold away colour
Martin Challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
899 · Feb 2014
Enact
martin challis Feb 2014
When i act to heal myself
I act to heal the world

When i act to heal the world
I act to heal myself
883 · Jun 2015
Ant Hymn
martin challis Jun 2015
I saw
An ant
A walk
Along
A grain
Of yellow
Sand

And as
He walked
I sang
To him
An ant-hymn
To him sing

Oh ant
Oh ant
I see
You crawl
As here
I stand
So straight
So tall

Oh ant
Oh ant
Yet as
You crawl
I am
Not seen
By you
At all

Oh ant then
Ant then
Who is small?

MChallis @ 2015
Standing in the corner for 'not taking it all too seriously' - today at least!
855 · Aug 2011
Black Vacuum
martin challis Aug 2011
I put my lips to your face
and **** in old skin.
Your face changes colour.
Becomes pink with new complexion.

Your mother calls.
You can’t tell her about this.
Instead you tell her ten, for coffee.

After coffee. At shopping. She remarks,
'my daughter is so very beautiful.’
The salesman nods in agreement.
She purchases a new appliance.
It matches the colour of everything;
it's the most powerful and efficient vacuum in the world.

She is happy. Brings it home. And plugs it into the socket.
It ***** up everything, including the paint from the walls,
the curtains from the window and the telephone from its cradle.

Your mother is pleased, it’s everything the salesman said it would be.
Along with her furnishings, it ***** both of us into its black belly.

Surrounded by the comforts of home we start a new life together.

One day you say, we’ll be very happy.

But it’s so dark I can’t see your face.

The phone rings.

It’s your mother.

She wants to know how we’re settling in.
Martin Challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
836 · Nov 2014
Loss Makes Us Grateful
martin challis Nov 2014
'you only know what you've got when its gone'*
J Mitchell

at first learning
grief brings the un-returnable message
there is no un-reading
no un-learning
only unbearable immutable fact

in solitude there is no escape
in connection there is no solution

over time the seven stages are traversed
and while there can be no forgetting
with acquiescence
there can be acceptance
and with it
the gentle light of loss
to illuminate
the deepest gratitude


MChallis @ 2014
788 · Jun 2015
Take a moment
martin challis Jun 2015
and
you will know space
as an intelligent resource

so discovered
through the power
            of the pause



MChallis © 2015
770 · Oct 2014
A Fish Out
martin challis Oct 2014
A fish out of water slaps
for the wet familiar
as first rainbow gasps
for all colour beneath
evergreen eucalypts

and boy becomes hunter.

White flesh in the pan
rainbow now grey;
a dull eye pops in the fat.
The first meal of camp

"We're all about survival"
says the voice from the beard.

In that first howling night the tent holds no echo:
a cocoon of down
muffles the want of a scream
for mother’s goodnight.

Terrain is now is real and not just a geography lesson.

When morning arrives
relief and sunlight slap awake
the face of survival.
Mosquitoes frustrate the zippered gauze, march-flies marshal to march.

Wisps of gum-smoke, the smell of the wild, steam from hot-streams on tussocks, beans in the pannikin, dust in the billy, leaves of tea and gumtree chase the boil.

Longer walk today; boots even more ready for rubbing off skin.

Fourteen miles to the next creek and next water.
Ache in the pack
No rest only winter.
The dingo pads on.
Wild boar root en mass. Wombats rummage the banks.
Wallabies thump up the ridge-line.

"We’ll circle our tent-line and raise tonight’s fire after dark."
Says the beard and walks on.

The hunter
Seeks now no quarry
Dreams the snap of a soft sheet
and mouths words
for the water of home.
749 · Aug 2011
He Was Big On Tea
martin challis Aug 2011
A little empty that morning
she sat on the top step
of the verandah
sipping tea, sipping thought.
Three steps down to the pavement
squares of sandstone
lay in even handed rhythms;
flatly refusing to contour.

He’d moved away last week; big bloke, big smile
could clasp four pavers in one hand,
laid the lot inside ten days,
maybe a record, who could say.

Completed, the pavement was now empty of him,
no more scraping back, no more chipping out,
no more broad smiling hands
reaching for her cups of tea.

She missed this; as she missed the slightly flat renditions of
‘midnight oil’ and ‘fleetwood mac’, the **** of his straw hat
and the farewell call of... "see you sometime in the morning suze..."
(always at exactly 6.30 a.m.)

He was big on tea,
said he was glad
to meet someone who knew it
wasn’t merely the dis-colouration of milk.
She’d smile at that, he was right,
things like tea were best, given time to infuse.
She sipped her tea, sipped her thoughts
and the deeper taste that came with a little time.
Martin Challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
747 · Jan 2015
After Rain
martin challis Jan 2015
Cedar Creek
a moonlit evening
looking up into sparkling eucalypts

After rain
The moon is reflected
In every droplet
On every leaf,
Simplicity has sent her messengers

With the brush and rustle of an evening breeze
These celestial missives begin to fall

To leave
the moon more eminent



MChallis © 2015
719 · Dec 2015
Deeper
martin challis Dec 2015
for Dennis Lee*

By the river
at night

burned stubble
of sugar cane
feathers the air with a lick of caramel

a quiet earth underscores
crocus and chorusing cricket
as curlew weep their distant sonorous calls

******* the stillness
we pluck a string of starlight

to pull a gentle breeze closer
we tug on orbiting moons

in the darkness of deep
we become motionless
intent to watch worlds
and enter the symphony


MChallis @ 2015
714 · Sep 2014
Shadow Music
martin challis Sep 2014
I am a craftsman. My hands are made of clay.
They're soft and wet and mould silhouette.
The last I made were without shadow,
The next will be more musical.
They will be spin around me -
Chimes in a western wind. Chimes of a different figuring
perhaps to hang in branches, simply as decoration.

If I rest, there will be no forming.
I fear this.
I fear the unmaking and forever sleep.
The chimes will awaken me with their shadow-music.

*
Squalls and storm clouds move inside me.
I hear thunder. Some say
they see change coming.
I see constant weather. There
is purpose in their forecast,
no in-decision and in a precise moment
the exact snap of thin ice.

*
I awaken before a bridge - reaching far across a rocky canyon.
Going to the edge and leaning over I see
the darkness of endless sleep. I hope to hear
water song and the expanse of rain-dreaming.
I wait at the bridge for a traveller like me to pass -
I will ask him to describe his journey and
The way ahead which I have not yet seen.
martin challis Aug 2015
When the sound of life is anything
before the music begins
before there is time to listen; when
a child coughs in the next room

I wake carefully, pressing an ear
to the last beat of a dream,
and find: you're not here now
and you’re not in the next room.

Carriages of wind move past my window
move disturbance above the pool of a tortoise
who periscopes to the surface,
expectant, in the least, for a gulp of air.
I swim and sweat somewhere beneath my bedroom ceiling
somewhere beneath the air I prefer to breath.
But your not here now
and you’re not in the next room.

When children sleep in the afternoon
when grey breezes whisper away the sun,
when an avalanche of crow-call murders the dove
perched on my sill, there is nothing and none to tell
and no circumstance worth repeating at a later time.

You’re not here now.
You’re not in the next room.


MChallis © 1998/2015
#rework
707 · Aug 2011
A Choice
martin challis Aug 2011
A change of mind
a change of heart
a step this way
or that
a moment held
or given
a step away from light
naive or dark.

Is choice
an invitation
and if so
by whom
or what?

Those million
thoughts that lead to actions
now or
down the track:
and then this
what if that
to pick up
to put down
to left to right
to leave to stay
and on until
a path or paths are found
or trod
or followed.

If everything is choice
what is not
- to step from instinct to intuition
- to love my wife
- to love my children
- to love the god of life
- to write this.

The barometer of
heart
the judge and jury of
the mind
the guides
the angels
assisting
and the thoughts
that tend to lead
to actions
that tend to lead
to feelings
that tend to lead to more
thoughts which sometimes
are discoveries
that tend to lead
to choices
down the track.

The map of my life
can be seen
by turning
my head to the south.
With the benefit
of hindsight
I see I am and have been
passenger and pilot
messenger and message
drawing and drawn
but with this
I must ask
is it that I am also
a choice
and if so
by whom?
martin challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
706 · Oct 2014
Milk the Light
martin challis Oct 2014
My father shouting at me
loud enough to wake my dead grandfather, the
red air is frightening     I try not to tremble,
it makes him worse,
he hits me with a strap -  but his anger soon passes

Tonight the moon seems old,
if it cries it can cry for me because
my sadness is deeper than tears and
the old man I will one day be    will remember this.

--

My mother,  happy in her freedom    swims naked in the bathroom
Swims an olympic record from the tap end
to the end where we keep the shampoo.

Beneath the waves she can't hear the
crashing and shouting from the next room.
The bathroom light is  turned out,
the moon fills the bath with its soft-milk.

--

Sad is my sister crying tears like wet feathers.
Crying for a pain she wants to, but can't feel. Her tears
are starved birds that never learn to fly.

--

My sister cries the guilt of an expert,
My mother tends herself with soft lotions,
My father, a helpless bystander to his own rage,
wears spectacles passed down by his father.

--

Tonight the moon is my quilt
Heart-beats are held and all is muffled
The rage is the sea
My skin milks the light now.




MChallis © 2014
www.martinchallis.com
699 · Jan 2015
Insanity Completed
martin challis Jan 2015
complete insanity       and time ignoring the clock ticking       backwards
and forwards a child shunting a cart full of       blocks tumbling      down a cliff       face at the window  where I see a river running through   to the end of year specials where christmas    cake always made with old dough before baking should be let to        rise and fall of the capitalist       approach to sand mining in Kakadu and lead poisoning in tuna       fishing on the lake before breakfast slapping at mosquito’s exploited by greed overcoming the rest of us who are just as hungry and        waiting at the table where i’ve waited for       days has nothing to do       with me can we please take the attention off me        it’s all i ever       here and there is a way forward follow me this way        down children in the deep dark woods lived a little dwarf with a pocket full of thumbs cut from little boys who didn’t keep their noses clean and out of somebody       else’s business to come here today and talk to you about the theory of relative *******       which as you know was discovered by Captain Jimmy the cook or Captain courageous Columbus or Hugo weaving    its way into history before being    put out to pasture to grow fat in a paddock full of Nowegian Wood       isn’t it good that your father is coming home after all these years i’ve waited        so long  for the time to wait       for a cup of tea would be very nice       thankyou very much for coming ladies and       gentlemen please start your       engines of the new age       old methods of brewing       handed down to you on a platter and what do you do you throw it back in our faces       made of broken glass shattered by the news crowds stand outside the palace for days mourning the nations       lossst and found is this way sir broken feet repaired daily  broken hands twice daily  broken hearts sir that’s down the hallway second door on the left in the cliche department sir   thank you sir your time has come i’m sorry it had to end this way      look i’m sorry       enough of that sir       button up       there’s a good chop to the bottom of the neck       cuts air supply and results       instant lotteries are the way to think of the       future is what you make of it       son before you make any rash decisions       go and stand in the poet’s corner and fill in the forms you’ve been given make sure you answer every       question is you must understand the rules of inquisition        without question you must answer every question and make sure you complete every form you’ve been       given make very sure that       every form  is complete 
insanity.

MChallis © 2015
698 · Jan 2015
Equipoise
martin challis Jan 2015
Neither this nor that
A perfect in-between

Spirit breath
Cosmic stance

The compression of a universe
Into one indivisible point

An expansion of a universe
into all points

A noun for oneness
Unanimous stillness

The experience
Of now


MChallis © 2015
A rework for review
677 · Jan 2015
Mortality
martin challis Jan 2015
You fly high
in the night
seeing nothing below
or above
but the absence
and abundance
of light

Ancient wing;
stroke of genius,
deliberate cruelty,
you preen each red feather,

particular to the
last breath
before flight

MChallis © 2015
664 · Jan 2015
Rest With Me
martin challis Jan 2015
The ebb and the ebb and the ebb of your sad heart dear friend.  The
smooth wet weight of river stone;  those sleek dark ears in their grey-green window.

Clear-water sadness all the way to the bottom of the bed
where small grains furrow over the nose of an inquisitive predator.

I know so well your course and turn and how you stir
like an eddy above the tail of a hungry fish.

I see you rise and move. And swim
to another bend to curl into fronds that stroke you.

When you reach the surface, I fin-tickle your belly as
you stop the wing of a succulent dragon fly.   I do not...

I do not want you to go just yet; to the drenching wilderness,
stay a while and bask in the shallows.  Rest,

before you turn to the deep to hunt the elusive figment.
Stay a while and rest with me; empty your ears of whispering watery ghosts.


MChallis © 2015
662 · Mar 2015
shadow of the beetle
martin challis Mar 2015
with the shadow of the beetle
comes the simplest truth:
everything has its season

just as the cast will lengthen
to fight change, ultimately
will overwhelm you



MChallis © 2015
*Inspired by Joe Lassiter*
652 · Feb 2015
Ten Commendments
martin challis Feb 2015
One

The body is a song
Beat after beat the drummer keeping time
Saves one beat for you and one for the heart of the world

Two

When humans care for orphaned gorillas
They are human beings – being human
The gorillas
Witness to an endangered species.

Three

Three wise men arrive in Las Vegas. They're confused. The city of stars accepts their gifts in return for chips and exchanges their camels for Pontiacs.
Eventually the three men run out of goodwill and are asked to leave the star-city.
Now each of then wears self-correcting sunglasses, far more cautious when following the brightness of artificial light.

Four

The world is a box with clear sides
Through this we see the sky dark and the sky light
We see four directions on all horizons
And constellations that rise and fall
Shut your eyes and listen carefully
You can hear the lid open every time one of us enters
And one of us leaves.

Five

The lad in the schoolyard solves a problem with the same
Mathematical precision of his father
He counts on his five fingers and divides them
Into one tight fist
With this math he gets a perfect score and
None argue with the result.

Six

When all the world clocks stop ticking.
They will each tell of a different time: during rush hour, before the interview, at the moment of martyrdom, just after take off, when war is declared, the date and time of your birth.
On any given day each one will tell the truth - at least twice.

Seven

Seven sons were seven suns a'shine on everyday
Yet seven suns one day went dark to shine another way
Seven dwarves in darkening hue imminently benign
No longer to bright any sky and none would see the sign

Eight

Eight accounts of starving populations
Eight charity organisations seeking aid
Eight million raised per quarter
Quartered by eight reasons to extract a share
Before the rest is shared to the rest
Who continue to starve.

Nine

Nine millimetre cannon kills you with a slightly larger calibre than eight millimetre cannon. Makes a slightly larger hole, travels slightly quicker, has a slightly longer trajectory, provides a slightly louder thud or thwuk when it hits the target.
This knowledge may not prevent you from coming to harm; but at least if killed by nine millimetre cannon, you'll die well informed.

Ten

How many cynics does it take to change a light bulb?
As many as it takes to be satisfied with this as an ending.



MChallis © 2015
647 · Aug 2011
Blue to You
martin challis Aug 2011
Blue to you may be a room with a view.
To me it’s an ocean turned sideways.
It’s the colour of air gone thick with the sea,
it’s the largest and highest of high-ways.

Blue to you may be one without two,
and all of the times you’ve landed,
feet thick with dew – stuck to each hue
where you thought for a time you were stranded.

Blue to you may be a day that is new, to
me it’s the place where I’m standing.
It’s the home of the eye and the reach of the tree.
It’s the wave of the wind and the wave that is we.
Blue is the deep and the shallow the same,
it’s just where I’ll be when you’re calling my name.

Searching and spreading. Dividing our wings.
Soaring the gentle, the sharing of things.
Come endless, come empty, full with your sound
call the vast harmony and arms that surround.

Come to the blue that touches all things
come with me gentle, come let us sing,
sing the high rising, sing the low mark
sing the blue heaven that covers the dark,
and chorus the carol, the carol of being,
and the blue that is given to those that are seeing
Martin Challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
martin challis Aug 2014
inspecting momentarily
the visiting sulphur-crested cockatoos
leave our pine-tree for another, further down the hill

en masse, they fly towards and just above us,
their screeches, loud and unmistakeable
are full of enthusiasm and intent

some, slightly smaller in size, are silent
I wonder if they’re the understudies of the chorus
closely following flight-lines of their elder’s character and bravado

these beautiful creatures, so independently defined
raise a cacophony that exhilarates
every fibre of the soul and fills the heart with laughter

self-less, expanding and enraptured
I briefly lift to the massing of their flight:
a complete and joyful glimpse, of full participation
*for sophie and for ollie*
martin challis Aug 2011
The three of you
waving your brave little hands,
smiling love and mischief at me
through the tinted glass
of the big green bus.

I’m standing tight to the kerb
screaming at the concrete
as I smile
waving back with gusto.
‘I love you ‘
mouthed in silence
‘have I failed you?’
a silent question.

I wave until you’ve turned the corner -
gone in a juggernaut like
stolen children;
the street where we laughed
only a minute ago
now more empty than a new coffin.

I walk back to the car knowing we will go through this
again and again
- every time you visit for the weekend.
martin challis © 2011
www.martinchallis.com
620 · Feb 2015
Isness
martin challis Feb 2015
Past and future mirror one another.
Fixed at their crossing point
Is an infinite and uncombustible present:
Isness as an endless ocean.

An ocean made of words
Fluid words endlessly mobile, where
Anything can be described
Anything foretold.

In deep and shallow utterances
Live all the metaphors
In cycling currents
All allusions ebb and flow.

Some tales are down for deep remembering
Some swim fertile yet unborn,
All the while the ocean shares her stories
Allegoric and relentless as they wash ashore.


MChallis © 2015
Dedicated to the HP poets who inspire me daily.
You know who you are. :)
618 · Jul 2017
Make Love the Way
martin challis Jul 2017
Fire the candle
Crack the day
Light of life
Lift and sway

Up step up steep
Up there lit
Up to where
Archangels sit

Make ready song
Septets and airs
A vital throng
To catch our cares

Make ready step
Make ready light
Make peace within
Give love with might

Call an angel
One then two,
Call to bring
The world anew

Fire the candle
Crack the day
Bring love alive
Make love the way



Martinos © 2017
613 · Apr 2015
Morning Reverie
martin challis Apr 2015
Between grey sheeted sky, and
Grass green covered fields

Among dips and contours
Of clear rain water pools

Magpie and Currawong
Engage the other in carol and furtive call, in

Clear precise statements, morning reverie,
Tuneful trill and soulful segue, their

Full repertoire of robust conversation
Brings song, community and particular joy.


MChallis @ 2015
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