A green beer bottle sizzling on the road,
as if just broken.
Or maybe it was the porch lights of the houses
that were sizzling.
Or maybe it was the newly-parked cars—warm
under the porch lights.
We all know it was the power lines sizzling
above my head.
So what’s the harm in saying it was the stars
dotted through the sky.
Newly picked bouquets
line a fence, post to post,
by the beach—this must have been
the place she loved the most.
I stop to read inscriptions,
letters to a muted mind;
a last breath, a final footprint
on the Earth to which we bind.
A park bench and a silver plate
the centre of its back.
A loved one's sweet initiative
or a dying wish perhaps.
I read the rusted silver,
message ground in ivory letter:
"Our brightest flower, Jasmine.
Loved by anyone that met her."
'Two thousand six to twenty-ten',
said the weeping park bench tile.
I wonder all the folk who've read
this ode to taken child.
When the beach bouquets are wilted,
will someone take them from the posts?
Those dying flowers, the sobbing ink;
ghostly tributes to a ghost.
When the park bench cracks and faulters
and the reaper plays his role,
will someone save the dedicate
to a disembodied soul?
At the Green Ocean’s Navel
I wonder what place he has
in fish folk-lore,
he who was thrown back in.
They see him swimming around
with a gash in his cheek;
crusted, where the hook tore.
He is somewhat estranged from
the school — it goes without saying
not to talk of the sky.
But every young fishling wonders
what it was like;
what he saw as he choked for air.
Every young fishling almost wishes
it was them.
Title: At the Green Ocean’s Navel
Genre: Free verse
Age range: Any
Word count: 75 words
Author name: Charlie Williams
Why my project is a good fit: This poem is easily accessible but carries a good deal of symbolic meaning for the deep thinking reader.
The hook: I think the hook is in the ending, repeating the word almost will have the reader wondering about the poem after reading.
Synopsis: The poem takes the interesting and hitherto unexplored concept of the fish who was thrown back into the water prior to catching, using it as a metaphor for people in life that have had scarring or traumatic experiences. The other fish (or people) see the victim swimming around, and partly long for an experience that sets them apart from their peers, but not quite. They are not truly willing to go through so hard a journey for a relatively insignificant glory or recognition.
Target audience: sufferers of trauma, poetry lovers, philosophical thinkers
Bio: I’m a twenty year old poet from Sydney who has only started seriously writing in 2020. I have been reading much poetry this year and am currently compiling an anthology, as well as my own first collection of poems.
Platform: I have shared poems on instagram under the name poetoffpaper, as well as owning accounts on Prose and Allpoetry. Otherwise I have been largely undiscovered, and am hoping for a chance to break through!
Education: I am currently halfway through a Psychology and Primary Education degree at Macquarie University, Sydney.
Experience: Inexperienced, but passionate about poetry.
Personality/writing style: I’m optimistic and curious, but also slightly anxious. My writing style is mainly free flowing and attempts to pack ideas into accessible verse. My main influencers range from Ted Kooser, Jack Underwood, Walt Whitman, Les Murray to many other poets.
Likes/hobbies: I like running and reading, going to the beach and learning. I find poetry often comes to me freely when I am in nature. I also love a beer.
Hometown: Northern Beaches, Sydney.
Age: 20 (November 14, 1999).
The winter air bites
the skin on my face;
a kinetic high.
Blood pumps asthmatically to my
hamstrings and calves
as if injected with heroin.
My thumbs sit pursed between my
index and middles
Thick mucus coagulates in my
throat and sinuses
as if mixed with cocaine.
Ascending the hill
my organs burn
as if drowned in spirits.
I run on — my house shimmering
at the end of the street
like a first beer.
All you want to do is trace your finger over
the ribbed outline of Mother Mary, trapped in cathedral glass.
But she is exalted on the wall, the kind of beauty that you can never really reach.
Shapes tessellate the window, like sunlight at the bottom of a rockpool,
but in beautiful cellophane colours, and warmly translucent.
Regardless of one’s religion, who could argue against the extraordinary beauty of cathedrals.
Of course people marry here. The glass is stronger than brittle.
The white light allowed through is first humbled into its constituent colours,
painting the floor iridescent. A holy high roof occasionally blessed by birds.
I was baptised in a cathedral and will likely marry in one; have my funeral in one.
I don’t think I believe in God;
I’m not sure of any Providence.
But for me, Mother Mary is not a spirit,
but the beauty in flowers,
and the beauty in you appreciating them.
Jesus is not a god, but that reminder in your head,
when you’re caught in a downpour,
to smile at the decision to leave your umbrella at home,
because you haven’t had a true shower like this in years,
and you have never felt more liberated.
I think that’s what the disciples were talking about.
The Buddhists, Taoists, Judaists, Muslims,
I think that’s what they meant
when they spoke of enlightenment and faith,
but it all got muddled somewhere along the way.
This old book that my friend stole from high school. He had a penchant for stealing things; Catcher in the Rye (two copies), a nylon-string guitar, loot from old lockers. It was all fair game, as long as you could get it home unnoticed. But this old book; The Lord of the Flies.
I just spilt some tea on it, a liberal amount. Accidental of course, but probably the best damage that can be done to a book. Darkened marks bordering the pages, still slightly damp, but soon to dry out and harden; soon to resemble a crispen old map. A lucky strike for the book’s next holder.
Some previous reader has neatly highlighted a passage on page 15. Not my friend; the highlighting is far too perfect, and the passage far too insignificant. Likely a notation by a young scholar, in search of critiqueable technique. Perhaps a guidance from their teacher; “Now I shouldn’t be telling you this, but these lines may help for your exam.”
We would clear out old lockers for detentions; cut off the padlocks with rusty tools that made us feel like men. Inside was a mystery, sometimes empty with nothing, sometimes empty with something. Items that are masked with the enchanting allure of discovery, but soon reveal the reasons they were left behind.
That nylon string still plays well. I strum chords inevitably when I wait in my friend’s room, as he puts on his tennis socks and for a few minutes I savour the refreshment of playing a foreign guitar; it always feels nicer than yours.
I was born again this morning
I saw seagulls for the first time
Their flight never so graceful
I saw the thin sprawl of waves
The limbs of the sea
Multiplying as far as earthly possible upon the shore.
I felt a smooth stone, cold against my cheek
Encased by a salty fragrance
Absorbed by every pore of my skin.
I was concerned with nothing
Save the patterns of nature
Its habits and cycles, tendencies
I have a towel, but I shall not use it
Out of respect for the sun
I sit patiently and let the droplets of water find their way from my body to the sandy ground from whence they came
Ready to begin their unconscious cycle of life once more.
As I run at a wave, I feel the power of the system that is my body return once more
Endorphins released, my mouth reacts with a smile
I am in my body again, no longer a clear mind informed by the senses
But a slave to chemical imbalance, emotion.
All you want to do is trace your finger over the ribbed outline of Mother Mary, trapped in cathedral glass. But she is exalted on the wall, the kind of beauty that you can never really reach. Shapes tessellate the window, like sunlight at the bottom of a rockpool, but in beautiful cellophane colours, and warmly translucent. Regardless of one’s religion, who could argue against the extraordinary beauty of cathedrals. Of course people marry here.
The glass is stronger than brittle. The white light allowed through is humbled into its constituent colours, painting the floor iridescent. A holy high roof occasionally blessed by birds. I was baptised in a cathedral, and all the rest, and will likely marry in one; have my funeral in one. I don’t think I believe in God, and I’m not sure of any Providence, but for me, Mother Mary is not a spirit, but a warm blanket on cold nights. Jesus is not a god, but that reminder in your head, when you’re caught in a downpour, to smile at the decision to leave your umbrella at home, because you haven’t had a true shower like this in years, and you have never felt more liberated. I think that’s what the disciples were talking about. The Buddhists, Taoists, Judaists, Muslims, I think that’s what they meant when they spoke of enlightenment and faith, but it all got muddled somewhere along the way.
Fruit of a tree (at a local park)
A man of possibly Pakistani descent. A boy really, somewhere in his low twenties. Tall, dark, tracksuited, serious. He’s on the phone, relaying his membership number to someone, somewhere. He starts with the first two numbers, pauses to ensure comprehension on the other end, continues two at a time.
A mother and her children, flying a kite with an absurd face constructed of pink crate paper. Bright and ugly, and magnificent. And it flies! Harness the wind, harness the world. Relief for the mother, joy for the children, even when it falls.
An old lady, steps as steady as navy. She wears tan and currant, dressed wonderfully warm against the Autumn air. Another old lady, wearing sunflower yellow. Her cardigan drapes her forearms, to a typical stroller. They greet in passing, friends unacquainted, and follow opposing sides of the same pavement loop. Separate paths to an end.
The one in tan-currant stops and speaks to me, too, unaware of her new life on my paper. She praises the sun, and I praise the wind. We both praise autumn. She smiles at my gratefulness and walks on in knowing.
Fruit of a tree; sitting in the sun, counting our blessings.
Slight as a butterfly, you landed me. The Italians call it ‘farfalla’. La farfalla è bella.
There’s something beautiful about that name - like it embodies perfectly how a butterfly floats; swims in the ebbs and flows of the wind. And here you are - my fullest flood, the end of all ebbs.
Feet pink and small, eyes wide like you’ve never seen the world before; on this rare occasion that is no exaggeration. From pain you were birthed, and until you go, that is the last of it. Oh beautiful! Oh butterfly!
‘Papillon’ say the French - papillon pappilon sweet like a pitcher of pink lemonade. I’ll hold you ever so gently, like water from a river, in the cup of my hands - that river I’ve been seeking along the trail of my life. Parts of you may slip through the cracks, my hands are only human - but every droplet that remains I’ll treat like prize.
Spain calls them ‘mariposa’. From (virgin) Mary + ‘posare’ - alight, as it alights and rests, flies and rests. Yes, that is you - she who alights and rests, she who portrays the beauty that generations have idolised. Mary.