B N Oakman is an Australian poet whose poetry has been published in literary journals, magazines and newspapers in Australia, the UK and the USA and recorded for ABC Classics on Peter Cundall Reads War Poetry. He was awarded a grant by the Literature Board of The Australia Council for 2009 and a chapbook, Chalk Dust: Poems from the Social Domain (Mark Time Books), appeared in the same year. A full-length collection of his poems, In Defence of Hawaiian Shirts, was published by Interactive Press in 2010. A chapbook of new work, Secret Heart (Mark Time Books) will be published in early 2013. He has taught economics at universities in Australia and in England. www.bnoakman.com
B N Oakman
Gazing at the Duero
On the anniversary of the day you almost died
of doctors staunch in service of their errors,
I read how, during the last summer of his
young wife, Machado1 pushed her in a wheelchair
up the ragged hills of Soria so they could gaze
upon the meanderings of the Duero.
Some said her death made him a better poet,
though he wasn't asked to haggle on the bargain.
Come to Castilla and climb Machado's hillside
and we'll gaze down at the Duero, and if I must
barter with some grim arbiter I'll stake not just
my meagre late-found talent to wrest another day
with you - but all I have besides - and vaunt myself
master of the trade, for in truth I'd settle for an hour.
1 Antonio Machado, Spanish poet, 1875-1939.