It is early Autumn in this part of the world and, in 2005, while staying with extended family in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, I started to write a poem in English.  In 2006, I submitted it to ArtsACT, as an entry for the 2006 David Campbell Poetry Prize for an unpublished poem by an ACT poet, where it sank into oblivion, possibly with a Winter Thud, as it was in June.  In December, I learned that there had been only thirty-eight entries in this category, which makes my result even worse.

In 2008, I dug it out and reduced it to sixteen lines, which greatly improved it, and it went off to the USA where it won a second prize, along with a great number of other people’s poems (there were over seventy second prizes, I think) but, as there were many thousands of entries, I thought that this result was not too bad.  Particularly as I had entered this competition many times in the past with no result.  Perhaps they were rewarding perseverance.

The poem was published in an anthology and I don’t think that I have written any poetry since, except perhaps a few haiku.  Poetry is meant to be read aloud and I have no-one to whom to read it.  In France, I had a captive audience several times a year and this gave me an incentive to write.  Here, in the Australian Capital Territory, I have no audience.  And the way things are looking, that is not likely to change any time soon.

So, to give Autumn Thud another airing, I’ve decided to post it here.  It’s Easter Sunday and you are all bound to be high on chocolate, so it might have more chance of pleasing someone today.

Autumn Thud

*

Autumn has fallen with a thud.

The temperature drop is ten degrees.

Cockatoos, magpies, pigeons, galahs

Risk short flights to cowering trees.

***

Waves of rain sputter and stop.

Brown leaves glisten on the ground.

A young magpie flutters down,

Holds out its wings, steps around.

***

Furious, the gale renews.

Rods of water hit the earth.

The magpie tumbles, flaps, screams,

Scuttles towards the tree of its birth.

***

Autumn has fallen with a thud.

It is windy and dark, cold and damp;

A time for my nest, feather quilt,

Cocoa, a book, and the fireside lamp.

(2008 version)

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