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Sport 41: 2013

Marty Smith — because I am short-sighted the distance shimmers

page 170

Marty Smith

because I am short-sighted the distance shimmers


bands of wild horses moving like wind patterns
across the steppes, always moving forwards

inside each of us beats the heart of a tiny carved animal

one ear always up, sifting through sounds
and the scents of shadows
one eye over our shoulder, gazing up at the moon
as if someone somewhere can save us

like, the cavalry is just over the hill


you never leave a man working with big machinery
on his own, Dad tells me, worried
I have to go to the two-tooth sale, I’ll come as soon as I can
I’m watching the edge of the heavy blade on Harry’s Case, the big one,
caked earth shakes loose, oil and grease roaring off as hot noise
You just stay and watch, and if anything happens
you ride like hell—
the bulldozer hangs on an angle the tracks of the cat
clank as they rise and crush ride over the top of the scrub
and slide like a minor tank sideways as he jerks the levers
then surfs forward on a wave of soil
I’m watching and working out
the fastest route the fewest gates, the easiest latches
the stretches where I can gallop
page 171 the dozer clanks, screws, clatters
the muscles in Harry’s arms jerking like wires
as he pulls the levers; he’s showing some white
in his whiskers

I’m saving Harry but after hours, he sends me home.

3000 feet above sea level the wind stings
straight off the top and out to sea
more than a mile down to the valley floor.

Go! I race out my race, watching my watch
me and Blackie blackly flying along the skyline

Dad’s tiny car jolts to a crazy halt
he has to wait for me to ride into range
What? What? he’s yelling


though her husband died of a set of strange events
of an accident at home on our farm
she insisted on having a Saviour

my grandmother wore God like a glove
to church, He was something she put on

and I was married to the beautiful words
I am the resurrection
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die

for us, he was just outside
echoing round the heavens
Oh, for—Christ’s—Sake!

page 172 2.

in 1210 BC, a heavenly body slipped out of its orbit
and passed too close to earth

its huge mass blotted out the sun
rocks and cosmic debris rained down

haematite from exploding volcanoes
made rivers run red

the earth wobbled on its axis
until it tilted, then tipped on its side

the sun no longer set in the east


What are you to do when you’re home from saving the world?

We watched in atmospheric silence
through hissings, static and stasis

anger rushing everything else aside

followed by a hollow quiet
he couldn’t save or unsay


The fox went out on a chilly night,
he sang, and he prayed for the moon to give him light
for he’d many long miles to go that night,
before he’d reach the town-O
to-ow-ow-n Oh

page 173 dark went springing out the car window
small stones spitting from the wheels
as we rattled across the night

the moon laid a finger-line along the quiet hills
slid shadows into the gullies


perched on the arm of my chair, he leaned in to point
at the dashing Prussian, touched the page
Look at his moustache!

Baron von Munchausen, he said, relishing the sound
How silly! He tied his horse to the top of the steeple!

(but he shot through the reins with one shot)

You wouldn’t do that, would you, Toodles? he asked me
Tie your horse to the top of the church?

The Baron climbed up to the horns of the moon
—to the moon, he must have been mad—
to search for his silver hatchet
where everything shimmers of silver

he was four or five miles from earth when it broke
and he fell with amazing violence


wind throwing small stars from one sky
down to the next