POETRY

Poetry Matters_Issue 24_cover_201507 s

Golden Point

One night, too hot
to sleep or stay indoors
too wild in love
we drove to the reservoir.
Car lights off
moonless
we felt our way
to the water’s edge,
knowing the slope of the land,
slid into black liquid,
slippery rocks beneath,
mud between our toes,
our limbs submerged
in coolness.
We swam blind
knowing only where each was
when the other spoke,
our voices the rim
between us and out there,
our eyes gradually adjusting
to darkness perforated,
sparkling lights be-jewelled
across the sky
and mirrored below.
We floated on love’s infinite well
immersed in stars.
It took everything not to fall in.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Poetry Matters Issue 24
Winning entry Sixth Annual Poetry Competition (2015)
Love & Death in Castlemaine Mark Time Books (2016)

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Avebury

I went to Avebury
to see Neolithic stone circles.

I saw a black and white cow
in labour
in a lush green field
of black and white cows.

Their calves watched
from the other side of a fence
eyes wide open.

They came as close as they could
to the groaning body that arched
as the bloody sac
fell to earth.

They watched the mother
tongue-wash her newborn
as it wobbled first steps
toward its mother’s teat.

Hours later, her thirsty infant –
considered refuse
in the trade of milk –
travelled by truck
on the road to slaughter.

The black and white cow
bellowed for days
trapped in a brutal cycle
cold as stone.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Blue Giraffe 14 (2015)
When Embers Dance MPU (2015)

Seppings_Katherine_Your Beautiful Names_cover s

The first poem ‘Why’, by an asylum seeker in Our Beautiful Voices, is followed by my poem ‘Why’, written in response in Your Beautiful Names.

Why

Why they don’t want to remember
they come by boat,
stealing land?
Why they don’t want to remember:
people in prisons, convicts —
their families who they first called Australians?
If they remember,
maybe they will remember,
we are human.

A. (17 years — detained 13 months)

Why

(after ‘Why’)

They who wield immigration law
do not remember coming by boat.
Not because they have forgotten pain,
or fear, like a mother forgets
enough to birth more children.
They do not sit together
to re-tell stories of ancestors and their trails
the way the first Australians do.

They who wield immigration law
must barely remember their families,
those they first called Australian –
some who came by boat
to steal land, or gold,
some as indentured slaves,
called convicts, and famine orphans,
to build a new nation, non-indigenous.

Maybe with honest words and talking,
about explorers and pioneers and squatters,
they’d recall more than heroes in books –
the acrid aftertaste of superiority,
its requirement of inferiority …
reasons they may have lost sight
of being human
and are still trying to forget.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Your Beautiful Names 2015

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Boat People

Who would come in a boat to these shores
girt by shark nets?

Navigate a new wave of life,
in creaking, crowded vessel, clutching children,
stench of diesel, fish, fear

brave the tides and swells and rips
of the heart
tear cultural continuity apart?

Who could aspire to our colony-acquired
affluence and arrogance
and white policy play?

Who should confront our apathy –
an attitude built on all who came on boats before
and took what they wanted
and did what they wanted
and called that democratic.
Look at the demographic –
is there no more room on our multi-cultural palette?

Who would come in a boat to this end-of-the-earth land
plot a course against immigration’s ebb and flow
last hope of all
to seek a humane hand?
hope that keeps some boats miraculously afloat
hope sometimes dashed against the cliff edge
of a wretched island
futures flung like flotsam
hope that sinks like the heartless sound
of a stone dropped
to the bottom of a well
dark as the world.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

http://rightnow.org.au/artwork/boat-people/ (2015)
When Embers Dance MPU (2015)

Poetry Monash_89_cover s

Leaving Alone

A kiss
can lead to
two sleepy bodies –
one washing,
the other drying
dishes.

It can lead to
a whole rainy day spent
in the middle of nowhere
under the car
looking
for what went wrong …

A kiss
can still lead to
not knowing
who I am anymore
or who I was driving home to.

It can only lead to memories …

and I have enough to carry
without those.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Poetry Monash 89 Summer 2014

Page Seventeen_11_cover_2014 s

SEVILLE

It was Seville.
I needed to post a letter.
Couldn’t find the post office,
or where to buy stamps.
Had a map … didn’t know how to ask
but this woman took me
by the hand
through streets not on my map
and my letter got posted.
All I knew was ‘gracias
which I said, squeezing her hand
and she smiled.

That night, in a bar,
a beautiful girl
taught me the flamenco
while a group of young men
playing drums
searched for a song
we all might know.
Out of all the songs
in the whole world,
we sang ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

By midnight,
I had joined a group
of touring opera singers
and laughed at their jokes.

I understood the laughter, not the jokes.

This was Seville.
I had just learnt bueno
and calliente and frio.

It was New Year’s:
my sister would give birth
to her first child
any day.
My tears fell, missing her,
as the baritone sang deep
from his heart,
his arms gathering in our hearts
to the swelling embrace of his voice.
He walked toward my tears,
touching my cheekbones, his hands
and eyebrows asking
why?
I smiled, feeling loved,
shrugged my shoulders,
shook my head,
let it hang,
let the tears fall even more,
missing her even more.

All I could say was ‘gracias.’
This was Seville.
I can’t remember language
being a problem there.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Page Seventeen is published by Busybird Publishing, Melbourne (2014)
When Embers Dance MPU (2015)

A Lightness of Being Anthology_cover s

COMING TO REST

When all is equal
you and I
nothing owed

not wanting more
of you, more than you can give
more than you are.

When all is just
as the first snow falls
and eyes wide open,
eager as a child,
I lean on the edge of tears
full of laughter
finding a place to land

not concerned
with the way that it falls
only that it does
only
that it does.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

HOME

Once upon a time
all loneliness
and restlessness
was on the outside
and inside
was a place like home.
Not of bricks and mortar,
walls,
fitted with doors,
fixed;
not somewhere
I had to move on from
to find where I belonged.
It was a place
more like the sun trapped
on a long day
amongst sand dunes,
more like
the sound of something:
distant,
long-awaited,
almost forgotten,
finally returning.
More like
the beginning of rain
before dawn
when the last thought
is relinquished,
bedded down,
laid to rest.
Home.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

A Lightness of Being edited Janette Fernando, published by Poetica Christi (2014)

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A HIDDEN APOLOGY

We were always hiding
in the interim
living on fool’s edge
of love’s abyss.
Open places we could fall
in love
were hidden from full view
in the echo of precious words
that came too late
and of words
that came unasked for
in a time for listening unheard.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Poetry Monash 88 Winter 2014
Love & Death in Castlemaine Mark Time Books (2016)

Seppings_Katherine_The Mozzie_cover_201405

THE BITTER COLD

The wind blew cold
across the lake,
cold wind
blowing white powder
off roof tops,
laden spruce lightened
bending,
cold gusts
of unashamed memories
blowing beneath
my distance, all rugged up,
my winter meeting this winter,
not enough distance
not enough forgiveness
never enough understanding –
I search for,
find myself
standing alone
on yet another mountain
looking down upon your empty house,
the children untangle my arms
keeping my blizzard quietly contained.
It is time to go home.
It is getting dark.
It is cold,
they tell me.
It is bitterly cold, out here,
on my own.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

The Mozzie Vol 22 Issue 4 May 2014

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FAMILY VIOLENCE

Fast, weighted footsteps
hurricane down the hall.
Handle grabbed,
the door blasts open.
A thunderous yell
smashes the air,
breaks how simple things were.

My heart thumps dread.
Mouth shut firm in fear
of swallowing word splinters.
Breath held in terror
of inhaling shards of hate.
My opinion is locked away
but a look escapes,
demanded to be wiped
off my face.
I am flesh, bone, motionless,
emotionless,
all traces of humanity
shut down.
My ears ragged by inner howling,
my gut throbbing,
inside an axe, splitting.

No one sees the fissure
when I go back into the world
and say nothing.
No one hears my shallow breathing,
fear of taking a deep breath,
existing.

Out in the world they think I am shy.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Rhonda Jankovic Poetry Award – Highly Commended (2013)
When Embers Dance MPU (2015)

Seppings_Katherine_The Mozzie_cover_201403 s

VOLCANO HEART

Volcano heart, say nothing.
Pretend to be sleeping.
Keep only the ascending eye open.

Volcano heart,
do not break open the secret I hold,
as in a poem,
tranquil as the different shades of green.

Volcano heart,
keep silent the beating,
do not bleed,
not even in the language of the rain
or the waves or an echo.

Be as quiet as the lake is floating.
Like a breast filling with milk,
remain
unconcerned with the way you appear,
risen,
ready for the child.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

The Mozzie Vol 22 Issue 2 March 2014

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SKY-CASTLES

The thread of a dream
is lowered within my grasp.
I look into your mid-tone,
sea-blue eyes.
They hold me, invite me;
too early to promise,
too late to deny.
The thread is fine,
misleads in shadows play.
The dream is mine,
light wanders, lingers.
My turn to climb,
to reach for high towers
unstable, unsure, unresolved.
My life to choose –
sky-castles grasped
I gasp.
You say ‘Come on, come on,
you can do it.’
I pray – just be there.
I am not afraid of heights
but of something inside me
urging to leap.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

The Mozzie Vol 22 Issue 1 Feb 2014
Love & Death in Castlemaine Mark Time Books (2016)

Memory Weaving_book cover_2014

MY FATHER’S VOICE

I remember the warm smile of your voice
as you spun ordinary words into song
as naturally as a bird chatting to its young
hungry for play.
To you, life was one continuous musical –
you were the lead; I, an extra
or a startled member plucked from
the audience of normality.
You’d hold my hand and twirl me into dance.

I don’t remember why I didn’t understand
when you called to say
the medication you were on
made you unable to sing
or why I didn’t visit you more often
in the nursing home I placed you in
where the cds I gave you went missing
or what I had been busy doing when the phone rang
while you laid choking on the floor
turning blue for ten whole minutes
while we waited for the doctor to arrive
to stick her fingers down your throat
to dislodge the chocolate still in its wrapper
which you’d swallowed while dancing with a nurse
a move that metamorphosed you
from a passionate piano player
into a pair of shaking hands
dancing over keys.

I will never forget the day the doctor
declared dementia had disabled
your ability to swallow anything – food or water
and how you would die
by dehydration and starvation.

Amongst your inherited possessions
was your answering machine.
Me calling you to see how you were.
You only breathing.
I’ve never wiped it clean.
That’s all there is.
That’s all that’s left.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

‘My Father’s Voice’ in Memory Weaving, an Anthology of Dementia Journeys, edited by Carolyn Vimpani. Published by Poetica Christi (2014).
When Embers Dance MPU (2015)

Castlemaine Poetry Prize_Commendation_2013

Forest Creek Goldfields

Under my house is a big hole,
locals call a mine shaft.
At the back of Lucy Dawe’s house,
a pine tree disappeared
down a hole in a mullock heap.
Across the road, she told me,
a pregnant woman,
hanging washing on her Hills Hoist,
fell down a hole and got stuck,
saved by her protruding belly.
After it rains, holes open up
along Golden Point Road.
All through the ravaged hills,
small craters, with holes,
disguised by leaves and bark.
Large holes filled with old cars.
The deeper you go, the older they are,
dating back to their invention.
Dogs have disappeared down holes,
even a man’s body was found.
I show visiting friends the mine shafts,
some three hundred feet straight down.
We throw rocks in,
listen to them hitting sandstone sides
on the way to a muddy pool.
Bits of red rusted metal, cans, nails,
more plentiful than gold,
lie strewn amongst white quartz
and wasted earth.
They say the whole of Chewton
has tunnels and shafts beneath.
We live on the surface
of a collapsing world,
the past, like memories,
a labyrinth of hidden selves.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Judged by award-winning poet Ross Donlon, ‘Forest Creek Goldfields’ Commended in the Castlemaine Poetry Prize. Published in the Castlemaine Mail 29 Nov 2103.
Sarah Day (Hobart) and Stephen Edgar (Sydney), two of Australia’s finest poets, awarded me a ‘Castlemaine Cup’ for my poem ‘Forest Creek Goldfields’ at the Castlemaine Poetry Reading, May 2014.
Love & Death in Castlemaine Mark Time Books (2016)

Painted Words_cover_2012

OUR BRIDGE

We have learned to bridge
a chasm
so wide and sudden
so full of sadness and suspicion
so empty of chances.

We have learned to risk
taking the next step,
to test how close we could be
travelling toward trust,
turning mortal peril
into resurrection,
returning to our bodies
where words unspoken
remained the link, open,
still willing to be coupled
through touch
our bridge
for understanding much
of what we could not otherwise share
nor speak of.
No words could be that direct,
that certain.
No language could fill
the splitting, aching gulf.
Only love
held in the quiet
of our two beings, restored.

We may only have touch to bridge
those dark, devastating rifts
as they come to us
as they do.
We may only have us
to reach out to.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Painted Words
(2012)
Love & Death in Castlemaine
 Mark Time Books (2016)

ATTEMPT

Grey as the weathered
red-gum gate post
that props you up
your tired form just woken
you ask what day it is
you remember
we were meant to meet yesterday
you went to sleep, early
the night before.

Frail as the pale sky aftermath
of wind, storm, downpour,
you gather your limb’s trembling
into the passenger seat of my car
we drive through rivulets
crossing the slippery dirt road,
white quartz glistening
golden balls of wattle luminating
the Bush saturated
by rain that fell
all day and all night
while you slept.

I talk about the rain
the sodden ground
the intensity of colour
the new life it will bring
the renewed hope in our hearts …

You are disappointed I found you.
Disappointed the sedative wore off.

On the way into town,
I give you water to drink
to replenish
your thin grey weathered flesh
I give you my hand,
in squeezes,
to bring your feeling back
I want you to understand,
the nightmare is over,
the rain has come
to break the drought
to live again.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

PETER WALLACE

It’s not right
for you to be dying
as the yellow mass of Cootamundra and Black wattles
paint the buzzing-with-life landscape
of Barkers Creek Bush with joy.
I bring you plum blossom
from my garden humming with bees
competing for light-filled blooms.
The whole of Castlemaine is bursting
with pink and white;
birds chirping, swooping.
It is their festival of feasting,
mating, building, creating.
It is a day of transformation,
all wide awake from the stark,
long grey sleep of winter,
each home brought back to life
with magnolias, camellias;
the optimism of daffodils and jonquils,
it is the first warm, sensuous day of the season.
I sit by your dam dotted with goldfish,
I call your dogs away from your bedside,
keep them outside while the doctor tells
your thin, cold, grey-yellow, crumpled form
it will die.
I hear you grasp for hope – what about the stent?
What about the possibilities of being fixed,
of springing back,
of dusting off and sharing
the remnants of past achievements,
of doing again,
of getting up,
of driving into the bright new day.
It is not right
to be wilting away
with the world so full of
fresh beginnings.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Judged by award-winning poet Ross Donlon, ‘Attempt’, ‘My Father’s Voice’ and ‘Peter Wallace’ Commended in the Castlemaine Poetry Prize 2012. Published in the Castlemaine Mail Nov 2012.
Love & Death in Castlemaine Mark Time Books (2016)

ADIEU

It is as if
our faces are now invisible,
our voices buried,
our names erased.
It is as if
we’ve become a thing of history,
some hastily scribbled notes from another time,
a memory hard-bound as cold fact.­
A memoir made
frozen by winter,
silenced by fear,
buried by an unbearable weight.
The heaviness in our hearts,
a sudden collapse
of sturdy rocks, hard as change.
An avalanche of intolerable ideas –
violent as love hurled across the room
and into the past.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

HUNGRY FOR THE FUTURE

They parade the streets
hungry for the future
pushing their shopping carts
down the aisles of opportunity
finding shelter
in a disposable world
of plastic coverings.

They beg for mercy
behind every sip
of spirit
they lack.

They get through each day
as normal as possible,
still unable to pin down
exactly what normal is.

It is their Karma, their fate
their choice,
their helplessness
that makes them that way.

Welcome to the Western World –
they are Human Doings,
not Human Beings,
partaking in the Human Race
acting
on automatic,
accelerating,
when in doubt.

How can they survive?
Concrete holds no secrets.

They just dropped in,
they saw the light on,
they just came along for the ride.
But the light is growing dim;
they can no longer see the stars.
And who would wish upon reality?
This is California Dreaming
dot-paintings in the desert.
Living on the edge
of an unprecedented meeting
with truth.

Welcome to the Western World –
it has no centre.
Enter the freeway…
the streets are open
to indiscriminate shootings
where the music
fails to blast
through the pretense
of harmony.

Welcome to the Western World –
there will be no war.
They are pre-occupied with paradise,
of Eden lost and found
and lost again once more.
They hold a white flag, waving,
so long, fare well.
Generations of united victims
retreating north
behind the Canadian Shield.
They apologize for the mess,
for how time flies when you’re having fun
for how time runs out
when you’re so busy
making all kinds of useless ends meet.

Welcome heroes of the front line –
there is no real action.

Welcome the women
prepared to travel
out of their homes and over the mountains,
across the Rio Grande,
and into the jungle of hope.
Welcome the men
prepared to abdicate from high towers.
Welcome the minstrels.
Welcome the meek.

Welcome, hungry you may be.
This is your inheritance –
this empty bequest
this tragic stage
this home of the free.

(c) Katherine E Seppings

Painted Words (2011)

17 of my poems appeared in The Small Times No 1, No 2, No 4, No 5 (1988); No 15, No 16, No 17 (1990).

Poetry Readings

Harcourt Applefest – Featured poet (2017)
Poeticas, Castlemaine – Open Mic (2017)
Bendigo TAFE Painted Words launch (2016)
Love & Death in Castlemaine Mark Time Books launch (2016)
Mother Tongue, Melbourne – Featured poet (2016)
Girls on Key, Open Studios, Melbourne – Open Mic (2016)
Poeticas, Castlemaine – Open Mic (2016)
Tago Mago Club, Melbourne – Featured poet (2016)
Dan Poets Featured poet – Dan O’Connell Hotel, Melbourne (2016)
Melbourne Poets Union Xmas party – Featured poet, Melbourne (2015)
When Embers Dance MPU chapbook launch, Castlemaine (2015)
Castlemaine Wordmine poets – exhibition and reading of poems from Your Beautiful Names. Castlemaine State Festival (2015)
Page Seventeen 11 launch – Busybird Publishing, Melbourne (2014)
Bendigo Writers Festival Finale ‘About Our Place’ – The Capital Hub (2014)
Castlemaine Poetry Reading Open Mic – Winner of ‘Castlemaine Cup’ judged by poet Peter Bakowski (June 2014)
Castlemaine Poetry Reading Open Mic – Winner of ‘Castlemaine Cup’ judged by poets Sarah Day and Stephen Edgar (April 2014)
Rhonda Jankovic Poetry Award – Frankston Library (2014)
Memory Weaving launch – MC², Doncaster (2014)
Castlemaine Poetry Reading Open Mic – ‘The Winds of Barranquilla’ Highly Commended by Ron Pretty (2013)
Arts Fields – Castlemaine Wordmine poets – Castlemaine Mkt Bldg (2013)
Castlemaine Wordmine poets – Castlemaine State Festival (2013)
Australian Slam Championships – The Maurocco Bar, Castlemaine  (2012 )
Castlemaine Wordmine poets and Atmos – The Maurocco Bar, Castlemaine (2012)
Arts Fields Opening – Castlemaine Wordmine poets and Atmos – Castlemaine Market Bldg (2012)
The Comma – Open Mic – Commercial Hotel, Castlemaine (2012)
Castlemaine Wordmine – Open Mic – Anglican Church Hall, Castlemaine (2012)
Guildford Poetry Reading – The Guildford Pub, Central Victoria (2012)
AP Cafe Poets – South Melbourne Commons Food Festival (2012)
Australian Slam Championships – The Maurocco Bar, Castlemaine  (2011 )
Bendigo Regional Institute of Technology (2011 )
The Albion; Goldfields Library – Castlemaine, Australia (2005)
‘Writers Read’ – Castlemaine, Australia (2002)
Mekka – New York City (1995)
Café Creole – New York City (1995)
Dianas – New York City (1994)
Dixon Place – New York City (1994)
First Street Café – New York City – Featured poet (1994)
Nuyorican Poets Café – New York City (1993)
Bellas Artes – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (1993)
The Subpub – Nelson, BC, Canada – Featured poet (1992)

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