Tag Archives: Brisbane River

River (part x)

river gull

[two fragments]

*

thief, thief
the gulls call
while you rush on breathing

*

only you are able to make
your way back from that
voyage toward death

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River (part ix)

Brisbane river

[two fragments]

*

a human being, is nearly all water:
this might explain why I feel so alive
when you slam your body into mine

*

you are all boom & rush
while every other living thing
loosens its grip and slips away

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River (part viii)

brisbane-river-in-flood

[two fragments]

*

when every wave is a suicide
the body hardly makes
a sound

*

there is the river, and there is the story
of where the river goes, and then
more river

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River (part vii)

brisbane-floods-aerial-view

[three fragments]

*

yesterday in a different voice
discussing emptiness
you flooded with sunlight

*

with the water flowing
out of your body
you understand you lost direction

*

you lift your head
and the sky rushes in to your mouth

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River (part vi)

brisbane_river

[two fragments]

*

in your rejection of flight
you pinned the sky’s
legs to the bed

*

salt settles into the wound:
a quiet moment before
the sharks begin
to circle

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River (part v)

Brisbane River City Reflection

[three fragments]

*

it was like this before speech
a sliding body that sounds
like silk

*

voices of the drowned
rise so whitely
they salt our throat

*

the ruined parts of yourself
wear the city’s wake like a scar

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QLD Writers Week Feature #5: Gabrielle Bryden

Day #5 of QLD Writers Week, and this time we are pulled from the big sky country of the west by the current of the mighty Brisbane River… Gabrielle Bryden reflects on her lifelong love hate relationship with our city’s river.

The Picnic at Hanging Rock Effect

Place has its place in my poetry. The observation and description of places, the creation of images, the use of references to places, similes and metaphors utilising places, sensory exploration of places – all of these things are important in my poetry.

However, to be honest, my poems are more about the inner space between my two ears (concepts and issues), people and the person, than particular places. This is not surprising given my background as a psychologist. On the other hand, grounding a poem in a real space is an effective way to concretise a conceptual idea and often I will find a specific place for the idea or issue to sit. In other words, the place is the setting to make the idea blossom into life.

This is not to say that place is not important to me. I feel a strong relationship, bordering on the spiritual, with the Australian landscape. I have an intense love of this ancient, worn down land – the bald hills, the volcanic remnants, the wallum, desert lands, rainforest and the list goes on. I have lived overseas several times and each time, after a few months, I felt a great longing to return home – I really missed the natural landscape, particularly the Eucalypt trees.

I can’t explain it very well but I have sometimes felt overpowered by my surroundings out in the bush; insignificant, in awe and in danger – I call it the Picnic at Hanging Rock effect – an eerie feeling that I could simply disappear into the landscape, swallowed up by the spirit of the rock. I like to recreate that feeling in my poems and to highlight the insignificance of the human race, in their place, within the universe.

The Brisbane River would be one specific ‘place’ which has strongly influenced my poetry. I have a love hate relationship with that brown, strong river, which has permeated my dreams for as long as I can remember. I literally dream about the river all the time – flying over the river (hands flapping), swimming in the river, clear water, muddy water – it changes depending on the subliminal message of the day.

I grew up in Indooroopilly and the Brisbane River flows along the border of that suburb. I grew up with stories of the river leaking into my subconscious:

‘Your brother nearly drowned in the Brisbane River when he was four’;
‘It’s impossible to swim across the Brisbane River – you’ll drown trying; the currents are too strong’;
‘John’s sister killed herself, jumping off the Walter Taylor bridge, when she was twenty’;
‘The river water came right up to the Jindalee Bridge in 1974’
‘They found his body on the edge of the Brisbane River’.

The river looks beautiful and powerful and I admire and respect the river but I have never trusted him.

Gabrielle Bryden

********************

Brisbane River

Brisbane River isn’t petite and pretty
like the Cam of Cambridge

he won’t invite you
to gondola

won’t even tell you to take a hike
you are the clichéd flea on bear

he’s got the monumental on his mind
how to shoulder bash Moreton Bay
day after day

how to carve out a name for himself
in ancient sediment
with no sentiment

he won’t care if you
go under.

********************

Gabrielle Bryden is an Australian poet published in a range of books, print and online journals including: Short & Twisted 2010 and Mystic Signals; Ripples, Aspects, Speedpoets, and Extempore magazines; Cherry Blossom Review, Red Poppy Review, Verity La, Asphodel Madness, Sorcerous Signals, Lunarosity, Bolts of Silk, Third Eye, Specusphere, and Poetry24 ezines; and on local and national ABC Radio. In 2009 she won first prize in Ripples magazine’s poetry competition.

 

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