Andrew Lansdown: Four Poems


The Doomsayers

If, as doomsters say,
the end of the warming world
is but years away
why are they so frantic to
tear everything down today?

The doomsayers claim
the frying, fast-failing world
must be saved by them,
which explains the need they feel
to bring the rest of us to heel.

Andrew Lansdown


Barking Geckos

As a boy I’d never have let them go free,
the pair of geckos I rescued from the campfire,
holed in the hollow of a grasstree’s chimney trunk.

Dinosaur saucer-eyes set in mongoloid heads;
absurd obese tails stuck on against the lean times;
white and yellow dots spot-firing scaleless grey backs …

But now, only days since I caged them, I regret
I no longer have the vitality to give them
the devotion and adoration they deserve.

Andrew Lansdown


Aboriginal Rock Art

Possibly just graffiti
at the time—that hand stencilled
in faded ochre-spatter
on a rock-face in the range.

But how noble it seems now,
how much like a testament
to an artist and a tribe
long vanished without a trace.

Andrew Lansdown


When They Came

When the Devil came to tempt him with a deal
in the desert where the untamed donkeys die
he refused to turn the starving stones to scones,
and let the kingdoms and the power pass him by.

When his mother came with her swaddling fondness
to bewail the failing of the wedding wine
he rebuffed her claim, but all the same he told
the hands, “You bring the water—I’ll be the vine.”

He knew them, every one, when they came
—mother, servant, deceiver and donkey—
he called them all by name when they came.

When the demons came with their captive to plead
to be spared awhile for yet more ghastly gigs
he unchained their prey as he chased them away
and styed them in the guts of legions of pigs.

When the herdsmen came complaining of their loss
and harried him with their ledgers and their whine,
he howled that human worth cannot be measured
in sheep or sparrow flocks, or in herds of swine.

He knew them, every one, when they came
—demon, herdsman, demoniac and sparrow—
he called them all by name when they came.

When the man without vision came for his touch
he was filled with pity and spat in his eyes,
rinsed out the darkness but left a distortion,
then made him see clearly the world and the skies.

When the angels came to wrap him in their wings
unmindful of the smears from his sweated blood
he surrendered to their care and was strengthened,
as if he were their fellow, and not their God.

He knew them, every one, when they came
—blind man, rebel, bystander and angel—
he called them all by name when they came.

When the rooster came to herald with a screech
his disciple’s foretold threefold denial,
he smoothed the heckles from the hackles of its ruff
and rent the traitor’s heart with a ruined smile.

When the soldiers came to hammer in the nails
and lift him high for all the world to see
he spoke their names and forgave their crimes, saying,
“Moses raised a snake—my Father’s raising me.”

He knew them, every one, when they came
—soldier, ruler, cockerel and traitor —
he called them all by name when they came.

Andrew Lansdown

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