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Petty Testament | Toby Fitch

(after Ern Malley)

In the thirty-fifth year of my age we elves

find ourselves waving not droning, allergic to

dairy and trolls who never run short of oases and

having despaired of obsessing a little too gently

over our make-up we are content at last to be

a soloist uncorking its morphology. In the year 1981

I resigned myself as collateral to the living

imagos of other men, their sad right to alienate

my multipennate tail. In the same year

I said to my life (who is also my lover): Dreary,

we should make a verb of the word peach the way gums

burst into flame, weep and drop bears; as in future

Frankie and me when we knocked some frazzled cherubs

out into the bright world. Ding! went their heads

and in the face of my fear for theirs I continue to live

and sleep carefully, like an arachnid spinning

freesias around the bends of a banked-up bloke swamp

whose shirt-fronting’s the same old chilling Reich.

My feet still get stuck in the clefts of my tongue but

it is something to at least be mouthing a no-man’s lingo

ague even if knowing all the coordinates of existence

would mean also knowing how to reverse an explosion,

so I trace along my exes and why axes

and in conclusion implode back into my pelvis. I

who have lived in a shade that throws down skyscrapers

can only now emerge between the puff and shrivel

of each new season as spilt infinitives. Beyond

is almost anything, which isn’t everything

it’s cracked up to be.

Toby Fitch is currently poetry editor of Overland and a lecturer at the University of Sydney. Books of poems include ILL LIT POP, Bloomin’ Notions, and Rawshock, which won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry. A new book, Where Only the Sky had Hung Before, is forthcoming with Vagabond Press.

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