★ Four Poems by Allan Lake

soft cartel april 2018

Addendum :

It’s all prep for death these days.
Children dish advice; dutiful grandkids
tag along, distant family members
send birthday greetings via facebook,
scores go unsettled, my Will be undone.

Only one battered goldfish – the other died –
but no pile of gold. Families are regularly
riven over such pickings or perceived
slights but mine needed even less.
The D in DNA might stand for disdain.
Not everyone has an iron will but fewer
find a way through this maze that
depresses. Oh, to avoid such messes.
No farewells for estranged rels,
no bequest to her, no hymn, no final
note unless perhaps a B flat, a bit
of Nobel Bob if there’s occasion.

My apartment can be sold and split
too many ways after expenses.
The financial accomplishment of a life
of work can be blown away, Bali holiday.
Put the once-were-precious books
and curios on the footpath if nobody
wants them. For what remains of me,
a no-fuss fire and on a calm morning
before the second coffee then toss
ashes into the murky canal.

This ash was my body, hungry fish;
feign some enthusiasm. I didn’t when
I devoured your kind with chips
but I’m only human and
we are an ungrateful lot.

One Woman Show

Medical waiting rooms provide
momentary captive audiences.
The woman is knitting a blanket
pink, purple, white, pink . . .
and is focussed in a kind of off-hand
manner as she mentions the death of her
ex-husband who was 66 and, she assures,
going on 67. They’d been divorced 3 years.
Heart attack. Just like that. just like that
She walked into his place – despite
being divorced – and there he was
in his birthday suit. Sitting in front of TV,
in his birthday suit. Not watching TV,
of course. Dead as a what? Door nail?
Sitting there with eyes wide open.
She hadn’t needed him to tell her what to do
every 5 seconds. Three years ago last June.
He was very religious. She’d be in the middle
of something and he’d demand a cup of tea.
If she’d had a heart attack he’d have been in dire
straits but she divorced him anyway. Divorced
him but still went round daily. Took him 3 years
to undress and die but that just goes to show.
She bought nine balls of wool, catches the bus
on Chapel Street which is half hour away,
sells the blankets only for the price of the wool,
also knits scarves, will return home if she ever
sees a doctor, not her regular doctor, sometimes
gets a lift, got a “short stitch” so must unknit
while explaining that her ex never made a meal
in his life but always had a good appetite
right up until, y’know.
Continues to knit. It makes the time go.


You never know when you leave
home if you’ll see a poem outside.
None stirring, often. Who knows
what hours they keep, where
they look for companionship.
Then at some odd time/place
you make I contact. Poem,
who reminds you of your
self at that age, sits down
at your cafe table, park bench
or cliff edge and, typically,
starts to speak, has a secret
to share. Invariably you settle
into intercourse, which can be
fun and painful. Many poems
are a bit demented. It’s complicated
when you encounter more than one
at a time. You want to satisfy
both, without running short
of you-know-what and –
god knows – you may never
meet another poem in your life.

Planting a Thought

Under certain conditions
a seed germinates, becomes itself,
grows in all directions, feels sun, wind,
rain, guests, enemies, bears sweet or poisonous
fruit and with luck spreads seed, while taking
as much space as it can before growing
feeble and dying back in that womb
tomb, the earth. No reason to be-
lieve plants hope to slip to
another world after this.
They make the most
of finite lives
and never
waste a

Originally from Saskatchewan, Lake has lived in Vancouver, Cape Breton Island, Ibiza/Spain, Tasmania, Western Australia & now calls Melbourne home. He also often retreats to Sicily. He has published two collections; Tasmanian Tiger Breaks Silence (1988) ; Sand in the Sole (2014) plus the chapbook, Grandparents: Portraits of Strain (1994). Lake won Elwood Poetry Prize 2015 and Lost Tower Publications(UK) Poetry Comp 2017. 2016 – 18 : poems accepted in Australia by Meniscus, Plumwood Mountain Journal, POAM, Poetica Christi Anthology, Verge, Yours&Mine, Poetry Matters, The Mossie, StylusLit, Cordite Poetry Review, Underground Poets, Pink Cover Zine & Landscapes(ECU). Lake has also been published in USA, UK, Italy, India & Canada.

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