Les Murray

L
Les Murray
The Invention of Pigs
Come our one great bushfire
pigs, sty-released, declined to quit
their pavements of gravel and shit.
Other beasts ran headlong, whipping

off with genitals pinched high.
Human mothers taught their infants creek-dipping.
Fathers galloped, gale-blown blaze stripping
grass at their heels and on by
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Self and Dream Self
Routines of decaying time
fade, and your waking life
gets laborious as science.

You huddle in, becoming
the deathless younger self
who will survive your dreams
and vanish in surviving.

Dream brings on its story
at the pace of drift
in twilight, sunless color,

its settings are believed,
a library of wood shingles,
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The Head-Spider
Where I lived once, a roller coaster's range
of timber hills peaked just by our backyard cliff
and cats undulated scream-driven round its seismograph—
and climbed up to us with an indrawn gasp of girls.

Smiles and yelling could be exchanged as they crested
then they'd pitch over, straining back in a shriek
that volleyed as the cars were snatched from sight
in the abyss, and were soon back. Weekdays they rested,
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The Margin of Difference
One and one make two,
the literalist said.
So far they've made five billion,
said the lateralist, or ten
times that, if you count the dead.
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Holland’s Nadir
Men around a submarine
moored in Sydney Harbour
close to the end of wartime

showed us below, down into
their oily, mesh-lit gangway
of bunks atop machines.

In from the country, we
weren’t to know our shillings
bought them cigars and thread

for what remained of Holland’s Glory:
uniforms, odd, rescued aircraft,
and a clutch of undersea boats
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Vertigo
Last time I fell in a shower room
I bled like a tumbril dandy
and the hotel longed to be rid of me.
Taken to the town clinic, I
described how I tripped on a steel rim
and found my head in the wardrobe.
Scalp-sewn and knotted and flagged
I thanked the Frau Doktor and fled,
wishing the grab-bar of age might
be bolted to all civilization
and thinking of Rome’s eighth hill
heaped up out of broken amphorae.

When, anytime after sixty,
or anytime before, you stumble
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