after Van Gogh
There’s a room elsewhere that’s brighter
where food appears as if from nowhere
on plates so fine you can shine a light
through them: a feast for the eyes
before the palate succumbs to slick
lubricious juices. While here
they’ll have no truck with a dish
that’s pimped and primped.
For as long as the earth provides
they know they will always survive
on what is dug from claggy acres.
For as long as the fire endures
and the pot hangs on a hook
they will gather quietly around
their table. They peel back the skins.
The soft, white flesh blossoms.
CHLOE’S BAR, MELBOURNE
She might have been the muse of what will be –
a girl more used to the streets of Paris
who is on display, naked,
in this faded downtown bar.
Beyond the approval or dismay
of the men who built a gold rush city,
she has turned to face those distances
the enlisted could not see
who came to drink a few last beers and gaze
before embarking overseas
to Africa or Asia. Retaining the image
of her slight breasts, her unobtrusive sex,
would they have known
like some of them that she too died early,
concocting her death
from crushed heads of matches –
her twenty years like pages
from a windblown novelette?
David Cooke’s retrospective collection, In the Distance, was published in 2011 by Night Publishing. A new collection, Work Horses, was published by Ward Wood in 2012. His poems and reviews have appeared in journals such as Agenda, The Bow Wow Shop, The Interpreter’s House, The Irish Press, The London Magazine, Magma, The Morning Star, New Walk, The North, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand. He has two collections forthcoming: A Murmuration (Two Rivers Press, 2015) and After Hours (Cultured Llama Press 2017).