Artan

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The park is situated on the highest point of the town overlooking the Corinthian Gulf. A multicoloured bed of roses lines one perimeter and tall conifers and fir trees are scattered over the grass. Asphalt paths, edged with wooden benches, lead to the ornamental iron gates located on each side of its four perimeters. A small bridge stretches across a lake hidden by pampas grass and shrubs. The townsfolk, who live in the surrounding high rise apartments, gather in the park to walk, talk and relax. The boys find an empty bench and Artan twists off the caps of two bottles of beer and offers one to Bekim. They take long gulps and wipe their mouths with the sleeves of their work clothes.

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Nineties Suite

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Burly grizzled man with foreign designation seeks compensation
Suffered work place accident troubling hurt recalls healthy youth in village of birth
Life unfolds within the claws of legal and medical dispute his character in disrepute
Three members sit aloof listen peruse submissions scribble question direct interrupt deliberate
Why can’t they anglicise their names? A senior member berates
Time to do something for Australians too! Another sceptic asserts
If I were king for a day I’d grant to all!
The cynical majority considers him a shirker unlike the dissenter who affirms the injured worker

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Sprig of Silver Wattle

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Fur encumbered women swing designer label bags
hold sprigs of silver wattle push into Caffé on Condotti
walls lined with burgundy damask wallpaper
settle at marble topped tables seated under ornate gilded mirrors and
framed memorabilia – Goethe Stendhal Milosz Liszt Keats Shelley Byron
heavy curtains cocoon grey suited man who fondles his young blonde lover
the resident artist Baccellieri sits alongside the espresso machine winks at the couple
he wears silver glasses shabby hat and a thick woolen coat draped with a long red scarf

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A Torrent of Angry Words

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Torrential rains and winds thrash us as we alight from the bus and negotiate oncoming traffic. Cars – windscreen wipers on full speed, headlights full beam, begrudgingly slow down to allow us to cross to the hospital. There are no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings. As we reach the other side of the road and step on to walkway, the umbrellas snap in our hands. We wade through spreading puddles of mud, splashed by water from the footsteps of other commuters. I fear slipping so, head down and bags tucked under my left arm, I tread warily. By the time the warmth of the hospital heating hits us our clothes are dripping wet. It is 8.45 am. We left home from a nearby township at 7.40 am.

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I’ll leave you now so you can read

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Perched on hearth’s edge we sip mountain tea in silent companionship as flames sculpt the olive tree stump slowly reduced to charcoal like her black dress & scarf tied over her grey hair & pallid face mother in law Maria lived through poverty hunger wars miscarriages birthed six live infants laboured on the land harvesting grapes olives corn gathering wild vegetables cooking baking spinning weaving cleaning

Eau de Cologne a luxury Should widows wear perfume? she’d asked after I bathed her minimal primary education reliance on the spoken word unlike my pen that rekindles village experiences – the procession of goats that paused & stared at the stranger reading in the square disheveled farmers who asked Why do you write?

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Epistrophe: The Return

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charred tomb parked outside police station
blackened mudguard shattered tinted windscreen
hang over cliff’s edge opposite soccer stadium wall
farewell seascape of his youth

parents died without seeing their émigré son again
he served rich diners in New York saw the twin towers fall
dreamed of retirement reunited with siblings
and friends in village of his birth

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Amulet

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Years pass prise open tomb of migration
Amulet brown roughshod stitched leather
Nestles in palm of aspiration
Flaminia buffeted across seas Piraeus to Fremantle stormy weather

Amulet brown roughshod stitched leather
Loving maternal hands prepared it in sorrow
Flaminia buffeted across seas Piraeus to Fremantle stormy weather
Her son leaves for the antipodes tomorrow

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Chestnuts

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chestnuts brood in embers of cynicism
hiss their anger

weeds engulf railway lines
supplanted by unfinished road works
lone cinema hotel closed
denuded shops plastered with yellow For Rents signs
hospital staff unpaid closure rumoured

decaying rural properties entice foreign takeover
austerity measures elderly recall famine
hooded masses protest politicians grovel to EU
youthful gloom lines coffee bars overlooking
the bay of Nafpaktos

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Anecdotes after reading Ritsos

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They sit at the table on the balcony, stripping virgin vine stems of leaves, buds and stringy bits. Their voices, with the rustling of the sprouting pine needles, echo in the breeze across the platiea – until the final stem is stripped. Then the aromas of the boiling saucepan – aniseed, garlic, spring onion, olive oil dressing – that blends with the breeze.

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Saltwater in the Ink: Voices from the Australian Seas

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Lucy Sussex gives public voice to the private thoughts, experiences and observations of selected nineteenth-century seafarers to the Australian colony. These seafarers kept a record of their voyage either as letters to loved ones left behind in England or in journal entries. The white glossy cover of Saltwater in the Ink, composed of a chair covered in red patterned fabric, a red quill, a laced decorated fan, pewter cup and barrel, is aesthetically appealing and invites exploration.

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