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The Jugglers

In the warm dusk, pink and purple arcs

appear above the old town’s lanes

as jugglers toss their clubs outside

a gallery’s bright, acrylic interior.

Petunias lean from baskets like cheerful spectators,

carriage horses wait in plumed rows

for tourists from the ship that dominates the wharf

below. A couple and their son pause

with the laughing crowd.

He allows himself to be photographed

against a fresco, along with trappers, traders and explorers.

How thin he seems beside those ramparts…


His parents, under strict instructions not to look back

to see if he is following

look back

but he has turned away

he has become hard to find in the shadows

at the audience’s edge. 


Lights flicker and shift on his face

as he stares at a juggler’s jeweled midriff.

But he too is conjuring

glass constellations that glitter in his mind

an arc of possibilities thrown across the warm night sky.


What are they worth, those dreams

if they don’t burn like acid,

if they are not as heavy as uranium,

if they don’t scatter like quicksilver, only to return

when the rain, like a child,

brings its neighbourhood to your door?

Australian Book Review, 'States of Poetry' website March 2017

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