The Old Painter

by Ian C SMith

Mantled by a grey cape of loneliness
abstinent, loved by an ex-feral cat
he thinks, this colour, these days, must end.
He listens to birdsong, or stillness.
Eating skewers his gut, his digestion shot.
In dreams he drinks, smokes, stalks lewd sex
wakes hard as a teenager, but at first light.

Speech stripped back now, he connects
via email, hand hesitant on the mouse.
Heavy art journals bear his name.
Locking doors on a binge of nudes
he guns his old wreck to town
calls at the Post Office, the hairdressesr
where, like a purging, his skull is bared.

Backbent, his bones ache, old hurts
but his mind sits steady, knowing now
except memory, infuriating tease
suddenly pulls down her black blinds
triggering mental alphabetical groping.
The recollection of scenes stuns him
his antics as bizarre as surrealism.

He trawls the vast lake of his past
triumphs, love’s hubris, jobs, choices
the moves to situations of new hope.
On fingers he counts conceptions
stares at hands like a supplicant’s.
Fifteen descendants share his DNA.
The quiet, out there, seems accusing.

Ian C Smith's picture

Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in The Best Australian Poetry, Descant, Island, Magma, The Malahat Review, Southerly, & Westerly His latest book is Lost Language of the Heart, Ginninderra (Adelaide). He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.

Last updated June 04, 2011