SELECTED POEMS

SELECTED POEMS BY BONNEY BOMBACH


THE SHARD

Glazed, yolk yellow
you startle from sand
no passport to declare

Your biting edges
tame now in my pocket,
sun slips behind hill
sea closer with each pulse

We head home,
safe landing for this refugee.

Bonney Bombach
2016




A  LEANING LEARNING: for Peter Porter

And on another day
a meaning finds its place
from verbs and nouns and
syntax sewn with substance,
this madcap learning
leaning like Pisa’s tower
to leave us all 
in praise of Galileo

Bonney Bombach
2015


ERSATZ

Like blood, dark, rich,
chords pulse direct
from speakers to veins.
The music dips and soars,
a roller-coaster of
gravitas and playfulness

Fingers fly over steering wheel
arching,  flexing,
my childhood  teacher smiles
over my shoulder

Right foot planted on accelerator,
its twin taps into the swing of things.
My head bobs and nods on
invisible strings,
lips and  tongue conspire,
sound-waves rush the windscreen

Driving with Bach spins me to elation,
I’m pianist, percussionist, a diva!

Bonney Bombach
2017



FLIGHT
 
And from the air
I am a bird,
edge of land
a skein of light,
islands shrunk to lily pads
in skirts of pink
their ruffled edges benign

I trace a river snaking seaward,
slash though sky, soaring
higher on invisible wings,
shadows cast purple
on tapestry below
 
The roar of engine hauls me back
from windswept feathers
to tangled feet,
a baby grabs at air
 
The bird has flown, perhaps to
reach my destination before me
 
 
Bonney Bombach
2015


PURPLE
 
  It was early in the piece
en plein air
paintbrush in hand,
eyes squeezed as if
that would offer clarity,
when I asked him
about the colour of shadows
though shadows have no substance
 
yet, circling round illusion
I came to think of it as purple,
as of sky, storm brewing,
when green screams.
 
 
Bonney Bombach
2017


THE  SANDS  BENEATH  US: For Robyn
 
An unexpected wrenching
as you fold into that sleek machine,
each time you leave your
natal ground, a tidal suck,
the finale a new bravura song  
oh how I clap…
 
as unexpected as your arrival
hidden beneath sunny accoutrements
to surprise, until
in a cloud of revelation
you emerge to a chirruping chorus
 
and we four
in a summery Matissian  Danse
with olives, wine and laughter
oh how he would rejoice!
and you a clitter-clatter,
hands and arms wind-milling
 
Too soon  the gathering up of
baskets emptied of celebration 
time-robbed questions
packed away
 
And on your departure, raw edge
of your predicament contained, a
riveting moment as our spilling eyes lock.
Beneath us, sands shift and deepen
 
 
Bonney Bombach
2015
 


IF: after Ellena Ferrante & Kate Tempest

  If my words could jostle,
clamour, jump and writhe, if
they would hurl and spring with
voltage, like the rapper- poet
who keeps her name or
Italy’s darling who doesn’t.
 
Prosaic comes cheap for a neophyte!
If only, if only….
 
They’ve rattled me
pulled me closer
tuned me in-
I’m germinating,
bolting at 45 degrees
 
If only
is now
and now is it.
I am
It is.
 
 
Bonney Bombach
2016/19
 
 

 


THE BOOKMARK
 

Insufficiency grips,
the inexorable daily daily
stifles in the waiting,
wanting words – head-beating
doesn’t cut it.
 
From beach walk silence something stirs,
anything better than nothing.
 
On my desk
a Museo Picasso bookmark,
Retrat de Jacqueline.
His signature flares across the bottom,
booking.com and some password
scribbled sideways in biro.
 
Jacqueline’s scarf, a green waterfall,
hands chunky as blocks of wood.
Her shadow-self peeks from wary eyes
perhaps just looking within.
       
And within me, a voice:
Just get on with it, press ESC/
review/ renew/ click. 

No sideways scribble now,
I click straight to renew.

Bombach
2017/19 


TYPEWRITER SEX
 
I’m all at odds.
Is it whirr of fan or
tap of rain on roof that’s
roused me from deep?
 
Its reeled me back to
love’s early shores,
your passion spent
my night-body sated.
 
On silken sheets
alone I drift toward sleep.
In the next room
the old typewriter clacks.
 
Your busy fingers
now play the keys
that spell out
the smell of sex.
 

Bonney Bombach
2017/19


JUST ANOTHER MASTERPIECE: after Richard Diebenkorn
 
  What is that light
that speaks of landscape
but isn’t?
What the bands of colour
that contain and compress
as Rothko lurks nearby?
 
What the figure seated
fixed within herself,
limbs like semaphore,
a construct like a puzzle,
mirrors of our predicament?
 
A folding chair skews
across the surface in
a danse diagonale
toward a curlicued gate
where once stood Matisse.
 
The painting belies your
second thoughts, erasures;
it’s all present-tense vehement
and you, brave and focused
as a guerilla.
 

Bonney Bombach
2017/19



CONJUNCTION: for my late father (after Seamus Heaney & Pablo Neruda)
 
  Pillow-propped
daylight still a dream away,
an alphabet of poets
rests fat in my hand.
Finger lick, last page flick,
nothing grabs. 
 
As I sink slow toward weary
Seamus leaps from page,
language sparking – sky-whisk
and bristle of the once barren tree
to tear-duct meltdown of
its crabapple jelly.
 
We’re drawn in tandem,
he to his earthlife Pablo
as he spreads the jelly thick,
tastebuds ablaze.
With what gusto dear Pablo
you’d savour such flavour!
 
And I, at my father’s funeral
reciting Neruda-
return me, oh sun, to my wild destiny
remembering the Araucaria
he planted, wind alive
in his beating heart.
 
   
Bonney Bombach
2017/19
 
 
*Seamus Heany, To Pablo Neruda in Tamlaghtduff
*Pablo Neruda, Oh Earth, Wait For Me


BIRD OF PARADISE

Cock crows from lush thicket,
through morning light a dove
weaves its call.
Yesterday a different weaver. 

Seamstress first
she measures with care,
cotton bud cleanses
she marks in red. 

 A hairdresser now, she
combs, parts, gathers and twists
to skilful blond Bantu knots,
the beauty of his
unclothed head revealed. 

Delicate as a bird,
she scoops the paste-
spatula meets scalp at
each red point and, like
a weaver, her small nimble fingers
gather and part fine strands of
purple, green, yellow and white.

One by one they describe
a narrative of wires I cannot
fathom, each chosen strand
pressed into paste,
my lover’s head now
a strange bird of paradise.

Bonney Bombach

2018/19


THE LAST FAREWELL

Something shifted
in that intimate place;
we who loved him and
the halo-ed stranger, gifted,
this angel at our table, full of grace
ginger curls tangle, no fear, no
wrangle with dying and death
she won my heart in          
but a breath.

His washed body sweet again     
breath shallow, no struggle no pain,
hair of silken silver brushed
gently from forehead;
unknowing unrushed.

Beloved wife of sixty eight years
sleeps fragile foreseeing the end,
enduring without tears,
keeping her stoic vigil.

Tending him, breath not yet stilled
the  room fills with talk, even laughter.
With finest instinct, to bid last farewell,
en route another ‘daughter’.

A pallor rises, he slips without warning,
an incredible lightness of being.
Our final embraces coupled with tears
a vast span of years now behind him.

I plant a garden on his breast of ferns,
flowers, photos and feathers, even
sea shells from northern weathers.
And confections for sweet-tooth hungering. 

Now wakened, newly widowed,            
of her former self already a shadow
frail as a bird she comes to his death bed
sparing of words, yet heard.

A daunting test, she has given her best
my mother has lost a precious treasure.
Resignation meets sorrow in  equal measure

Strangely, something unexpected
about his face detected.
As we gather in a deluge of love
an enigmatic smile, as if reflected
from Mona Lisa or perhaps the Buddha,
as if a miracle, we all feel protected

My father would be amused-
an atheist does not believe in
oracles or miracles. 
Still he smiles upon us as we gather
hearts spilling.
The morning unfolds
like a river.

Bonney Bombach

2005/19


FROM THE LABYRINTH

Life’s warp and weft
has robbed me unexpected,
not so much time poor
as distrait, the sitting focus
pledged elsewhere.

A patient wait for Ariadne’s thread
spread red to lead me from the labyrinth,
that words become unprisoned
and leap once more
to fill the page.

Bonney Bombach

2015/20


TIGER TIGER

(not quite William Blake)

It just about roared at me
that large soft tiger in a
cut-price Melbourne store.
Impossible to ignore,
I paid up.

The handsome beast, awaiting
eager children, was closeted
high above my neatly folded sheets.

Snapshot – little Zoe belly down
propped on elbows watching telly
red hair flaming, Tiger
snug on floor beside her.

He’s lived a mostly solitary life
barely noticed until errant tail
caught my eye and I wondered why
I’de so long left him entombed, unloved.

I pulled him down, perched him on
bed’s end, facing my jungle garden
so he could burn brightly day and nightly
and feel at home.
Do tigers purr?

Bonney Bombach

2020


THE GEM (after Alex Skovron)

I fell upon him really
in that city-hit stroll down
grubby Brunswick street
trolling bookshops for poetry.

Scanning impoverished shelves  
a slim volume catches my eye,
author’s name edging toward familiar.

Next day, through early eyes 
I know that this ten dollar second-hand,
signed-by-the-author first volume
is a gem to treasure and befriend!

Bonney Bombach

2015/19


FALSE STARTS (After Louis Lintermans)

I jived and grooved my way
through lust and wonderment
scouring book spines, LP jackets
art galleries and the smell of skin,
searching for the glue that might bind,
unsteady waves rolled in
after heady days.

Miscalculation, the vast reach of it
plumbed the depths of it,
the long and short of it, a misguided dog
barking up the wrong tree.

I didn’t understand, until I found
the real deal, that false starts were
mere rehearsals.
The dog no longer barked but wagged its tail!

 Bonney Bombach

2020


MIRTH: AT THE NGV

Close-up shot on small screen,
an index finger poised.
A slow deliberate push takes us
on a filmic journey, camera angle
low to ground, a measured
click-clack-sound-track.

Brick by falling brick, neatly
angled tumblings  snake past
blue green flaking walls along
cobbled streets and alleyways.

The slightest rhythm change
translates to sound as the tumbling
line rounds corners,
countering all expectations.

Bricks splay sideways in a
comedic drunken display
accompanied by my giggles.

The lurching line performs
an impossible feat, ascending
stairs to climb a wall.

With breath held, we watch
as the first brick suddenly topples
over the wall, plunging to
a weird, hilarious suicide.

Bonney Bombach

2015/20

*NGV  -National Gallery of Victoria


THE  BEAST

A snarling grasping thing
sits heavy, dark as the surging sea,
fangs sunk deep to render inert,
a pitiless beast to mask the sun.

Bonney Bombach

2015/19


THE TIGHTROPE

Was doing well a full hour into sleep
until the phone rang, and just as I would
haul myself from bed, stopped.

Sleepless now, the minutes stack one
on top of another, night silence disturbed
by a plaintive concert of curlews.
My racing thoughts spill to hours.

Who calls at midnight? Once such clamour
would thump my heart- fragile parents,
bad tidings? But now I pass it off as
unintended, strange in Covid times, when
media updates, replete with daily see-saw
of omissions and contradictions, pile to
tipping point and even clowns
slip off their tightropes.

Bonney Bombach

2020


THE VISIT

Awaken early from a tossing turning night
on autumn’s first day, an imposter in
a strange bed. Gritty eyes take in the
sleeping river and rain-sweet cane fields,
the distant Border Ranges still capped pink.
A  plover calls.

Egrets draw through sky, their unfixed
numbers count the passing hours.
Trees and clouds embrace the satin water
twinning the flight of birds.

Cicada song now settles over evening,
the moody river, steel smooth,
drifts slowly into night.

The dancing dogs of day and the two-legged
creatures, have taken to their familiar
and unfamiliar beds.
Soon I will follow, to draw a curtain
on this revisited geography

Bonney Bombach

2015/20