Henry Briffa

Henry Briffa

Henry Briffa, born in Malta, runs a Psychology practice in Melbourne Australia. His chapbook Walking Home was published by Melbourne Poets Union in 2019. In 2018 he received a special commendation in the Queensland Poetry Festival Elder Emerging Poet Mentorship Award. His poems have been published in local journals and overseas.

 
The George Cross Għana*

A duelling guitar, tuned to the key of G
accompanies a slam poet of the ‘50s.

Battlers from St Albans,
havin’ their go at Melbourne establishment

this pair keen to show
the’ re a better poet /guitarist than the next.

Lyrics lace impromptu rhymes on Maltese proverbs.
folktales of Ġaħan slaying the giant,

so the little guy gets a fair go.
The scale somehow Abyssinian,

heavy with historic battles
while some riffs express

longing for home
the voice, sounding like a wail

a signature of this
regular competition

about who can best
express pain.

Living relics
of a post-war pop culture

now viewed on U-tube back home
as some quaint Aussie joke.

*Traditional Maltese impromptu poetry with accompanying folk guitar
still found in the Maltese diaspora but now rarely heard in Malta.

Ġaħan is a wise working class hero in Maltese folktales

 
Il Baħar revisited

              in response to Gaetan Briffa’s ‘Il Bahar’

your death leaves mouths of angry
foaming whitecaps

Daqqa imbaqbaq
Bir-rgħawa f’ħalqek

the storm lingers a decade
leaves a mirror in its wake

slick
Tranquill bħaz zejt

our chats and books
on Sundays

helped me survive oceanic swells
Southern Ocean, Tasman and Bass Strait

you and me in the white-matter sea
two hobbled healers

bet you still miss the Sliema front
where you were sure to meet old mates

 
translations:
Daqqa imbaqbaq/ Bir-rgħawa f’ħalqek
(sometimes angry, foaming at the mouth)

Tranquill bħaz zejt
as still as oil

 
Poetry in this post: © Henry Briffa
Published with the permission of Henry Briffa