John Kinsella

November 10, 2014 Kinsella John



Ancient river bed hacked and carved whittled deep

by winter run-off river as sudden as a dust storm

in the long summer red bed red dust caves haunting

level best upper storeys where sea breeze ratchets

off ocean and estuary black bream spiky and petrifying

in their pools cut-off omphaloi each and every one

an oracle of seams and joins worked by heat rising

and stretching to breaking point the ripple and crackle

of segregation; onto the sandy riverbed soft and cool

to feet when waded through like frothy low-level surf,

encapsulated by shadows crosshatching from red

river gums in nooks and crannies down down

from ledge, onto sand the flung sack came down on,

its pulsating and cavorting arc, aerodynamic mischief,

anomaly in flight to parabola and plunge to thud

and be absorbed into white sand reddening as hessian

soaks up last breaths and catfights and mews into grey

currawong and red-tailed black cockatoo distraction

and camouflage, seed-eaters and carnivores mixed

to a pitch of blur. And witnessed by teenagers mucking

about after school: sack wrenched straight from car

lurching on dirt track a lover’s leap moth-eaten or chewed

to disappointment, the sack hurled up and down down

with such force the face of perpetrator lost or encrypted,

the type and colour of car forgotten, number plate

unthought of; just the sack now twitching between pools

shallowing with heat and red motes and litotes in the air,

choking and irritating, down down onto the cool sand

(sandals kicked off), to cut open the stitched-up sack

with a pocket knife (be prepared), and reveal the mince

of kittens all trauma and extinction and two or three

with mouths carelessly wired together, half-open

half-closed so their noises would come out all wrong.

John Kinsella’s poetry volume Insomnia was published by WW Norton in the US in 2020. Norton will publish his new selected poems in 2025, and a new collection of poetry, Aporia, will appear with Turtle Point Press, also in 2025. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University, and an Affiliated Scholar with Kenyon College.