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Best Famous Dale Harcombe Poems

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by Dale Harcombe | |

Prospect NSW (For Anita Cobby)

 The hushed dark hugs the streets.
Somewhere a cat snaps the silence.
Dogs begin to bark, like a pack moving in for the kill.
Women shrink in their homes.
Shadows slip through the night and stars dim their lights as cars flash past.
When they disappear, silence, heavy as hate, descends.
Hours stretch like elastic that finally snaps.
Dawn spreads its stain over the sky.
Seven years later young women walk again through lonely streets.
Screams taunt only those who remember.
*first published Northern Perspective Vol 17 no 2 – 1994 This poem was included as part of the exhibition in memory of Anita Cobby held at Q theatre in Penrith 2003


by Dale Harcombe | |

Mollymook

 All week, in this rented house, 
 sea spray and whispers of wind 
 weave through the eucalypts, 
 like a Sondheim melody.
Through the pewter leaves the sea glimpsed from the wooden deck is, at times, teal silk.
Other days it is grey.
Longing stirs like waves about to break on the shore and sometimes they lift and swell like hope, as they pound the sand.
From this wooden deck far above the beach, the sand has lost its power to cling and irritate like problems unresolved.
Other times the waves rise and crest, only to evaporate, the way dreams do upon waking.
But I know, when I go home, the sequin of sea spray will linger on my eyelids, sleek and beguiling as a promise.
© November 2002 Dale Harcombe First published in ‘My cat cannot have friends in Australia,’ the anthology of the 2004 Wollongong poetry workshop.


by Dale Harcombe | |

Bruise blue

 Frail as smoke, she drifts
  through the crowded train, 
  bringing with her 
  the cold ashes of poverty.
Without a word, her bruise-blue eyes try to niggle each passenger to part with coins or a note.
The sign pleads her story: Three children in foster care.
Like promises of happier times, some passengers toss hard-edged confetti at her, before hiding behind newspapers or over-loud conversations.
Others dismiss her like an errant child with swift, silent shakes of their heads.
I look at her canescent face and know I have seen her before, on a grey, Sydney day in George Street.
‘Homeless, hungry, and cold’ her sign read then, as she curled like a cloud on the footpath near Town Hall.
In the dusk of a blustery day, people, toting bags emblazoned with designer labels, walked past.
Their gaze sliding away from her like water, they turned toward the nimbus of lights across the street, glittering like angels in the trees.
I walked on too, then wished I had turned back.
But the tide flowed against me.
With nothing else to give I came home and wrote a poem.
© May 2003 Dale Harcombe First published Artlook February 2005


by Dale Harcombe | |

For Joseph

 Your ears will never hear sounds
  that to me are ordinary as air.
From the hour that you were born the tight white shell of silence closed around you.
You edged away from friendship.
Silence clung and stung like sand, smothering words before they could break free.
Sand has a brittle sound as it stutters underfoot.
But you are no longer like sand.
Though your ears will still never hear, words gather, demanding as seagulls.
Now, you stretch wings towards the sky.
Glide closer to other lives.
Reach them with the rising tide of your imperfect speech.
*first published Westerly 1993 - Republished Central Western Daily January 12, 1996 recently republished in ‘On Common Water’ the Ginninderra 10th birthday anthology


by Dale Harcombe | |

Brass Kaleidoscope

 My daughter raises the smooth
 brass kaleidoscope
 and watches as coloured glass slivers
 conspire together.
New worlds create themselves before her eyes.
Garnet spires flirt with sapphire and turquoise.
Topaz and amethyst meet in harmony, a selenic mystery.
A melody of stars singing a tune only she can hear.
Eclectic patterns shiver and shimmer then splinter, sparking off at tangents of tourmaline and jasper.
An image complete in itself.
I had a kaleidoscope once.
Sometimes I still see oblique patterns.
Slowly my daughter turns the wheel, finds a jewelled tapestry to her liking, and hands the kaleidoscope to me.
For a time I see the world she sees and it is good.
*First published LiNQ October 1990


by Dale Harcombe | |

Homes Kid (For Glenn)

 This time I know
  I will never see him again.
For a time he played the game, like a child experimenting with blocks, building towers and fortresses but never bridges.
Bridges are hard.
Invariably his feet would slip, before he found the acceptance parents had denied and other children refused him.
Acceptance he couldn't recognise even when it came, like waves gentling in his life.
Institutions, foster homes, he knew them all.
Fourteen going on ninety.
Knowledge gleamed in his eyes.
Though he has since been swept out of reach, particles of sand cling and memories are water-cold companions.
*first published Westerly Autumn 1995