James Walton

James Walton

James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, and the James Tate Prize. His poetry collections include The Leviathan’s Apprentice, Walking Through Fences, and Unstill Mosaics (forthcoming). He is now old enough to be almost invisible. He lives in Australia.


The Leviathan’s Apprentice
by James Walton
Format: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 78 pages
ISBN: 1326166514
Publisher: Strzelecki’s Lover Press (20 July 2015)

By Drought Bidden/The Fall of Troy

The bite to the knuckle by a stinging Diamma
caused the doubting turn that hesitant shiver.
A horse sends in mare’s commands a language
where ears write the air not this fulsome belly.
The centipede fleet oared itself from the bay
fires out smoky regret rising the steed moored in sand.

I am not familiar with the slipperiness of blood
or a thumbnail dipped in ash to mark the cross,
of how subjugation is the greater good in living.
I’ve seen hands move across the fluxing moon
opening reflective in containment as a virtue
that scrapes away the crimson summer evening.

Unsullied walls a wind shield to trap grief
wailing from the plain the corn flowers wilting.
Hoplites played their lances fluting for ceremony
hooves that wouldn’t dance found the gate.
In the captured prance so still within the everlastings
lives collapse in moments of idling joy.

This dry sermon bakes the catechism of vegetables
weeds interred dust before the fork can turn them.
Piles of the collected dead shed signals to the wind
mistral these seeds, fog the day, catch in flight.
Tall gums parade their colours out of a wan season
drawn swaying in torn frescoes running in the blue.

Counterfeit sails return the cargo chameleons ashore
stealth drops like coins on muffling leather.
Padded feet rip open the arteries of sleeping streets
turn homes into tombs and the city a graveyard.
Some lay trapped in irrigated maize equine breath
consumes the air an army winnows its crop.

Watching for Paris the tomato stakes break in the ground
the spittle rain gains no hold in earth like wasted slag,
fraying remnants of erstwhile Spring desire catches on a thorn
buds fall. In the intangible wisteria Helen’s hope is preferred.
It is true then, those whom the Gods wish to destroy
they first make mad in acts of stone and fire.

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Poetry in this post: © James Walton
Published with the permission of James Walton