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Carol Novack & Stefanie Bennett

 

Fairy Tale Feast
by Carol Novack

1.
once as hansel cooked slowly surely
gretal sobbed into her dollypop
for how would she find her way back
without his hand?

the witch herself tasty as moonpie
silver as a crow's bone
offered an eye fresh she said &
cracked it open like an egg
to break the fast of walking
too far & on too many stones

she said

a bit raw the eye was & too full of
image but so is the case
of small boys who run from home
in search of fat
black witches' magic
ovaries & their walking stick
wands

& after they'd garnished his body
with sister's salt they feasted
well until mountains swallowed
sun & birds flew moon into orbit
too fat to shine a light
upon the path of stones

2. after many years she remembered
her father &
since she did not need the stones
she carried back the heart
in a basket woven from witch's hair
tenderly for she did care
as he lay still within her body cells

& when she met a poet gave him
her hands to eat
& much more but
did not cry as she was much too
old when he left to hunt
dead flesh of patrons
in the banquet halls

3. at home the house did not look
as large & odd
her father remembered
her
name.
  - 1975

 

Tally
by Stefanie Bennett

They stepped lightly about
The indelible divide
- Past the voiceless harp
And into the parlour of days

Where a drift of incense
Encircled the hat-rack
And the begonia,
Grim and proper
                          Dropped
Its truce.

None came out.
None stayed.

~

 

Carol's publication credits - along with most of us in those days - were pretty thin. [In fact I was pestering her to send work to Martin Duwell for the Gargoyle Poets’ series & ended up as the ‘go between’. Carol was not as tough & sure of herself as many believed.

Hell, I got to see her most days; she lived just round the corner from me in Glebe, Sydney. Like Janis, ‘she hit the streets at noon!’ We'd share coffee & whatever we'd written & occasionally find an egg or two for breakfast. Back to where I began...]

Khasmik Quarterly magazine came into being in 1974 & extended into the Khasmik Poets' Series [I also began the Cochon Poets Series about 18 month's later & moved to north Queensland].

Carol Novack's poem “Fairy Tale Feast” was published in Khasmik Quarterly [Khasmik Enterprises] p 28-29, 1974/75. The 1st Edition was dedicated to Ken Slessor & opened with Ken's lines:

Time that is moved by little fidget wheels
be always on our hands and not our heels.

 

Khasmik's editors: Margaret Mcmann & Stefanie Bennett.

‘The Novack’ & I had other things in common. My father was from the US [came out as a serviceman during ww2 & married my mother & had me in 1945] - Ohio - but I'd never been to the US (not then, any- way). I had lots of questions & Carol never tired of answering. We discussed my mixed family [2004 I think it was] & by then I'd been 'home' twice & got to stay at the rez in CT & the Plantation in Maine. But - back to where I was.

Here's a piece I wrote about 'those times & those poets including ‘The Novack’:

 

Then and Now
by Stefanie Bennett

Those were the times, Nigel.
Bohemia at its God-forsaken best.
Chinese tea and gin chasers
Down by 'the quay'. We set the world
To order with a chant and Buddhist-bell.
Those were the days. Sundays stoked
With Robert wanting realism and surrealism
All at once. And us, scoffing the lot
In the shallow rooms off Forsyth Street
Where Dylan was king
- And Baez his queen...

We'd perfected the art of buffoonery!
Pete had an almost perfect
Love affair with
A third-hand printing-press.
Carol spoke of
'Dropping-in on Lesbos'
- While Vicki made Nepal her
Marked Nirvana.
We dreamed our infantile dreams.
Crusaders, 'poets', would
Rise up and swat the mote
From the earth's eye.
Clearly, we saw then
- In sagacity
What trills the mind to sobbing, now.

Was it enough; to play at being toughs?
The sacrificial years swept us
Down and under a carpet
Of tutelary-exempt tomorrows.
You became...
A lay-preacher.
The 'others?' I couldn't
Hazard a guess. And I? I go on
Marking time -
Occasionally word-knitting
A new bullet-proof vest.

 

—The Foundation for Australian Literary Studies & the poetry volume Woman of Straw by Stefanie Bennett 1996

 

Machiavelli Revisited
by Stefanie Bennett

No one lives here any more, so how
Is it you found me
Slap-happily accosted by chores?

Yes, it's the Sabbath, and dare
I objurgate your
Sunday best's just too solumn

For my taste. Wise up. The young
Could do with a good rumble
Just ask that

Punk berating parrot how Homeric
Underpinnings took flight
The day I evened old scores.

But, why not
Cut to the crux

Of the crime...

Ah! Mentoring is narcissism's
Elixir. Naturally
I'll give it spin,

Only next time
Send me
A newborn.

 

previously published in Famous Reporter - issue forty one 2010 & the poetry vol. Black Spring (Ginninderra Press, 2011)

 

Scan
by Stefanie Bennett

Just as light dips its corona
My lodger - an echidna
By any other name -
Zigzags the curved terrace
To forage her banquet,
Leaving furrows
Between iris and sage.

Sighted, our eyes interlock.
I blink; make hexagrams
From antiquated toil,
Shout
            Eureka... !
The Buddha's been
A long time
Coming.

 

(p.39 "Black Spring", Ginninderra Press)

 

The Wall
by Stefanie Bennett

I own too little; it's my defence.
The artillery I keep
In my left-hand drawer.

For half a lifetime I talked
To the angels - the rest
Lent, red-
Bawling the nation.

Don't call me 'Commie'.
I'm as green as you
And by far less tragic.

I offer you this ever-new
Blue tongue and
A sneak preview
Naked in the white dawn...

You mustn't
                   Be confused:
I've taken up sky-writing
Without plane or landing lights.

 

(from a work-in-progress: "The Vanishing")

 

 

 

 

Stefanie Bennett has published 18 books of poetry & one novel. Over 40 years she has acted as a publishing editor, tutored in The Institute of Modern Languages at James Cook University & worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Her latest volume of poems, Black Spring was published by Ginninderra Press in 2011. She is currently completing another volume; The Vanishing. Contact author.

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