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

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

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