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Manoa 18.2 (2006) 43-44

Two Poems
John Jenkins

Skyline, Burwood, 1954

Day by day, the big screen climbing higher
above the scrub and flood plains, the worker
ants atop, above Gardiner's Creek and swallowing
the blue up. A new skyline had broken,
the low Southern Cross eclipsed every night.
The parking spots: with accents from the squeaky
speaker-boxes mounted on six hundred
wind-up windows. A little bit of Burwood was America—
it seemed official now, thanks to the Yanks we could
visit California or bust, every Sunday night.
Soon, almost half Down Under was in
an fj Holden, the all-Aussie crate
from an outpost of gm, its new star on the flag.
The Skyline Drive-in, Burwood, first in Australia,
was built in 1954—in a natural ten-acre bowl,
for a perfect view. The Skyline had a playground,
duck ponds, and striped boathouse. At interval,
a giant frog called Mack croaked among the lilies,
buffets sold hot snacks, or "car hops" on bikes ferried
them to you, dressed in white coveralls, with blue
berets, gold ties. Our lives shimmered in this stardust.
Much bigger dreams projected down against a screen
on to every one of us, brilliantly erased our lives. [End Page 43]

Seduced By Starlight

This simple poem is a raft
of words afloat in history.
The waves don't beckon here, they
simply break and lift you up.

Ideas in your mind are not
the mind itself. Do not ask for much
among the sheltering palms,
a warm tradewind, a mind at all.

Your hands are poised and bright, stars
equations above your swaying arms,
and reduce the night to a frame
within a thumb and index.

The watchman is seduced by starlight.
He dreams of intricacy, a final scale,
and ignores the simple perfume
of a tranquil beach.

Stars shaped our craft and took us to a
random shore, our instruments an
abstract art. The course we set ourselves
is clear. We could end anywhere.

John Jenkins writes poetry and nonfiction. He was the 2005 winner of the James Joyce Foundation Suspended Sentence Award, which took him on a reading tour of Dublin, Paris, and Beijing. He lives in Melbourne.