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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 |


 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.
 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