From Unmanned by Stephen Oliver

Cultural Misappropriation

is that what I hear you cry, citizen?
If a delph-glazed moon with its O so
delicate pattern pans over Holland, flat as
a tack, it also comes by way of the
Antarctic circle right to your door-step
in equal measure. If the sun clamps
its golden torque on mosque or synagogue, pa,
cathedral or sacred site does this endorse
any one people over another? Is it your wish
to head off the cultural bandits at the
historical impasse, citizen, by placing a
patent on your mana? Beware the polemicists
who define and so divide, who aggregate
authority unto self where before lay none.
Symbol becomes the circumference of
time & custom. It is not the thing itself,
but the beautiful echo of a people's harmonic
which cannot be bounded nor weakened.
Here lies the camouflage that protects the
ancient matrix, the silent memory of our
blood's journey & sound leads you to it.

Words to Lure a Ghost

an exile's soliloquy

Henley Pub? I am one year from
your death, and a mad mile from your
                    twenty or so years
down the track. I think you may have
killed a few of us off, brother,
who rejoiced
in your thicket of sorrows.
                                        Jim Baxter,
if a cabbage tree marks your spot by
the river,
                    I am glad of it.
After you went, we were too eager
for another Apollo, and the laurel
was tossed from
hand to poetic hand like a hot kumura.
Most dropped it. A number were swept
by the winter river with the eels
into the Underworld.
                              The God Love
and the God Vengeance sat down
in a burnt out warehouse to share out the
small morsels
                              of pain.
The poets
                    are playing hide-and-seek
with each other in and out of marriage.
The sharing
                    is done.
                              A southerly
whistles up over the gun emplacements on
Brooklyn Hills,
                    Jim, scattering
the unposted Autumn leaves.

©Stephen Oliver