Stillness and Flight

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Jeffrey Smart, "Approach to a City"

Within this mist we could be anywhere:
A grassy knoll sits where the freeway
Meets the the Bridge; the air is frozen today
And the smell of Vegemite hangs in the air.
Chimneys puff in protest or in vapour prayer;
The sky in its veil has nothing to say,
But my father’s taught me in his silent way
To see the spots where grace snaps through the snare –
And there are many. If my mind is still,
I can count in fingerprints of Light
These scattered signs that put the fear to flight.
Schedules muffle anguish. Let them stand until
The day declares: “Not you, not even you,
Can conquer us – we belong to the true.”

Other Places #1: Beginnings of a new project

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Jeffrey Smart, "Crossing, 1997"

Ding the lights of the level crossing red;
The common man is held at standstill now.
He measures plight in traffic lights and how
Great the cost to take the Bridge instead.
The day is long but time spent here is dead,
Growing only lines on furrowed brow.
I will not kneel to son of man nor bow
To what your flashing indicators said…
This is, I’m sure, not how today should go;
Yet everyone’s caught up in it the same:
To dream of other places where we may
Ride out our days without delay or foe,
To cast off self and hurl each other names
And long for streams where stress is washed away.

Haven’t You Heard?

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Jeffrey Smart, "Airport at Night"

Some will sit as though nothing’s new,
staring at the constant sky.
I confess that I’ve done so too
and held the lie.

Some will wait for what does not come
and think that waiting is divine.
Some will fall and some will run
until the time.

Yet in the terminal of souls
a voice cries out. What does it cry?
“Don’t you know?” it calls and calls.
Some will reply.

Northbound at dusk

Jeffrey Smart painted this dying day:
burnt orange in floating smokestack steam,
needle-lights stretching in fluorescent dream,
the sojourn of light sinking in silent sway.
Daytime paints its canopy away
and minutes pass in inches as we glean
each moment, weigh each instant gram by gram.
Apologies buy flowers; much to say,
yet time is rare. I wish that now could be
a canvas on a wall that we could share.
I cross the bridge; I mount the street of bells.
Ascend, descend; the sound within us swells,
and expectation greets the seated air.
No movement; move. I gather you to me.

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