… the wrecked thing that could
not bear the light nor hide
hobbled in its own blood.
—Gwen Harwood, ‘Father and Child: I. Barn Owl’
Acceleration. First lesson. ‘Don’t
be nervous: your vocal cords’ll
constrict even more. Game for a
duet?’ Creased, grey sky-silhouetted, taut.
Electrocuted as if it were a criminal.
Fruit bat (Pteropus alecto). Alecto: Fury.
‘Guilty!’ Power lines’ night-verdict. No jury.
—invertebrate—is fated to wreck things.
Just take Harwood’s barn owl.
Knuckle-white, I grip the wheel.
Lurch of vehicle.
Machine gun-fire from the hood.
Now it could be a faun’s umbrella, inside
-outed in a snowstorm. Cloudburst. Im
-patiently I wait, hazards’ orange
queering the bodgey bitumen.
RACQ’s haggard feller
sneers about timing belts,
tensioners, pulleys. My
unease rises. Wolfish Agriopas’
viscera. One of Geryon’s lost
wings. The mane of
Xanthos. A hearse strains, black and
yellow. I curse the mechanic who,
Zeus-like, strung up the Subaru.
note: ‘The name Subaru is Japanese, meaning “unite”. It’s also a term for a cluster of six stars in the Taurus constellation, named Pleiades by the Ancient Greeks’ (https://www.subaru.com.au/about/meaning-subaru)
Stuart Barnes is the author of Glasshouses (UQP, 2016), which won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and was shortlisted/commended for two other awards. From 2013–2017 he was poetry editor of Tincture Journal, freely available online (http://tincture-journal.com/buy-a-tincture/). Poems are forthcoming in Island, POETRY (Chicago) and Rabbit. Twitter/Instagram: @StuartABarnes