One Poem by Judith Steele


I found a magic island once, or chose to think so.
I encouraged poor people
to tell me stories of old powers
who transformed trees into cages,
women into water, islands into mist.
Did I think I was Prospero
garnering magic?
The old powers knew nothing
of the world of money, nothing
of the power of dynamite
mass-killing fish once singly caught by islanders
gliding quietly in bark canoes.

The fishermen were transformed
into cleaners and cooks,
or gigolos telling stories
to lonely tourists.

Prosperity, like Prospero, transforms,
for better or worse.

On this large island I return to now
rough magic is performed
by smiling politicians
joyously extravagant, enriching the rich,
sternly parsimonious, depriving the poor
of hope. We are all transformed.
Either cruise ship wallowers,
or up the creek
without a bark canoe.


Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry or prose has appeared in journals in Darwin and Adelaide, and on websites including Strange Poetry and Nine Muses; and with translations in past and recent issues of the print journal Gobshite Quarterly, (Portland, OR.).

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