Peter Frankis is a poet whose work I first met when he began hosting at dVerse Poet’s Pub. I learned that Peter is an exceptional poet that has his roots dug in deep to where he lives, the small town of Port Kembla, NSW. Peter has a downloadable link for “Shorely” at his blog, “Peter Frankis Writes” which is so very generous of him. On Sunday, I finally had a chance to make time to spend with, “Shorely.” It felt like going to church.
The first thing I noticed, aside from the beautiful cover, was the acknowledgement page, which states that, “These poems were written on unceded First Nations lands…” and goes on to pay respects to “Traditional Custodians and Elders.” It felt like burning sage, as it calms and cultivates a state of mind that is open to receiving the spirit of the intent of the poetry.
“Sweet potato,” the first of the fourteen poems, honors the sweet potato, where, “every slice [is] a sun god.”
“Holt (17/12/67)” feels like hieroglyphics etched into stone, but only after my curiosity got me wondering what the title meant. The words are wonderful enough without knowing the history of Holt but they positively glow if one takes the time to learn it.
“Harbour city’s fucked” is minimalist but gives such potent imagery that the story is told; and again the curiosity is piqued in just a few words. It makes me want to know what Harbour City once was and how it became fucked.
“The early swimmer” has a line that burns into one’s consciousness:
“speedos snagged on the horns of his hips.”
Imagery doesn’t get much better than this.
“Bucolic, MM beach” is one of my favorites. My takeaway from it is that the will to live, despite all barriers, will not be denied. A passage that shines for me in wise knowing,
“You know how when the drug … kicks in everything … is glazed to potential;”
“The bodysurfers’ “ “as if…” hones in on those two words as if one’s life depended on them. And who is to say it doesn’t?
“8 ways to look at a Lego® block” uses the toy piece as a symbol of the plastic that is slowly suffocating the ocean and describes looking at one, “like a juniper in reverse.” When I read it, I thought of how quickly a 500 year-old oak is turned to ash by burning and it’s haunting me.
“Sonnet” describes a process that sounds a lot like what happens in the Consumer Energy generators on Lake MI, where huge amounts of water are sucked in with the unfortunate fish that get caught in the pull and are grinded to bits.
“Floodlands” describes the devastation of flooding and what feels like a powerlessness to stop it from happening again. It’s a lament for what we are doing to our mother earth.
“Arcadia #2” is lovely with intimate reminisces. A favorite passage:
each day from now on
though suffused with brilliance
carries a winter inside
“Autumn fucking leaves” is a lovely existential autumn poem with such a wonderful line:
insist you wise up: tomorrow we’re compost
“Autumn heart” is one I didn’t want to make sense of, just wanted to enjoy.
“imagine … jisei no ku” captures a moment. To me it felt like looking into a black hole.
The final poem, “Sonnet on an unmade bed,” has an achingly beautiful intimacy to it. Its last two lines make me hope that such feeling can exist for each and every one of us.
I truly enjoyed reading, “Shorely.” It highlights particular moments in particular places at particular times, like the memories each of us carry around with us and hold tenderly from time to time. There is also a strong love of place that is felt in each of the poems and a protectiveness of each place in time and space.