Good Looks

for Max


Here you are again; your handwriting, at least.
In my copy of Good Looks, page twelve, you’ve underlined

in pencil: The bodies are weapons, someone will die of them.
Did you just think it a good line? What did it mean to you

twenty-plus years ago? Against You must abandon
your pain, it is someone else’s (also underlined),

you’ve written a bit like 1965-6 Dylan
— as it is. There was a time, a long time,

I’d have rubbed it out as I started to in my Seamus Heaney
Selected Poems. But now all’s past amend, let the faint,

wavering marks stand, as though you’d just written them
— you’re smoking, of course, flicking ash, just like I do,

excited at your own thought, at the act of trespass,
still quick with promise, still friends with possibility.

Les Toits Rouges


Hans Neuermann in the preface
to his provocative study
Die Moderne und ihre Vorgänger

(1974) claims that the dark-blue,
oblong smear above the red roofs’
jumble and glow in that 1912 Vlaminck

hanging in the AGNSW
suggests the shape of a huge bird
of ill omen, wings spread wide,

or even (in the 1980 revised version)
the wings of a plane, presaging
World War 1. This latter theory

became something of an orthodoxy
until recent eco-critics like Stieffel and Bridge
pointed out that the smear more closely

resembles the rudderlike tail
of a blue whale about to submerge
into the white thrashing surf of the sky. ​


Harry Ricketts has published ten collections of poems, most recently Half Dark (VUP, 2015).