Published in Overland Issue 225 Summer 2016 Fair Australia Prize Poetry winner: Chalcedony South Joel Ephraims Castlemen are slowly moving out Of the towering, arranged forest centred In the rain part of the island land. A powerful few castlepeople benefit Measurably from the density of expansive Accumulations from purchased mines. Castlewomen are only just being accepted As a force in the long scorched and tiered canopy. Still in ascension they are shot at brutally. Castlemen can afford to move slow with panache, Colonial quickness packaged far behind them, Their bracken path sturdy as they decipher gold rise. I feel I cannot afford to. Everything moving forward So quickly over the largeness of the ringed land. My mind lashes back and I fall into loneliness. I was sitting on our veranda contemplating The castle that was also a house And the infinite traffic moving around it. It was a house with no front door and The longer I watched I realised that the traffic was Actually windows darting and drifting, Lying flat sometimes like windows are supposed to But also overlapping or sitting diagonally like diamonds, Or airborne flapping and folding so they looked at times Like paper planes and at times Like lines of silver when they caught in the sun. Some were obsidian and others were darkly transparent And some were glowing transparent but shot through With obsidian cracks like spider webs or a scrunched jigsaw. There were people who came to contemplate the house. They had stepped out of the traffic And become suddenly inflated so that they Were so stretched they could lift it up. Not being able to enter became irrelevant. They saw that there was a stringy ladder On the left side of the house tangled with vines. They saw that the roof was a canopy. When they shrunk back to normal size They tried to tell the darting people About how the house had looked when they Became stretched out by stepping back For a moment from their busy days. A lot of them said it was inaccessible. ‘That has already happened to me too but It was more like having a jumbled mess Shoved in my face. No door.’ ‘How are you supposed to get in?’ ‘I don’t have time for obscurity, mate.’ But why not present everything at once? Isn’t that how it occurs and is made to occur? In density shot through from their canopy? There was a collection of sticks And a collection of circles. There were those who partook In the practice of stick to circle When in fact it was the circle of a stick And not the circle of a circle. Leaders appointed themselves As purveyors of this malpractice. Centuries old traditions were in place. A solution was hazarded on a national scale. It was not right for the leaders themselves To decide. The union of stick to stick That is the practice of stick to stick circle And vice versa was to be decided by the population At the cost of one hundred and sixty million dollars. Democracy is about the people deciding What is right after all, like in those gladiator games In Ancient Rome where the audience could sway The lowering or lifting of the emperor’s thumb After the bloodbath. It is now centre left To say things like this. Am I one of the happy ones? It is hard to believe that attached to these shapes And their improper combinations are lives. The innocent sufferers of disease. In the outer reaches of the solar system A forest house orbits with tall walls and turrets. Its young foundations grow from the outside. It is surrounded by a great tributary moat Which feeds materials out and brings light in, Sprawling with correct fingers right up into the desert. Moatpeople and aboriginal peoples drown and bleed In the lucky dream. The moat, which could also be called A moon with its fragments and molecules flattened out, Is utilised to sweep them into centres and crannies Where their days are crammed into their minds And children locked to metal chairs with bagged heads. Read the rest of Overland 225 If you enjoyed this poem, buy the issue Or subscribe and receive four outstanding issues for a year Joel Ephraims Joel Ephraims lives on the south-east coast of NSW. He recently had a suite of poems published in The Red Room Company’s The Disappearing. More by Joel Ephraims Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 4 December 201919 December 2019 Announcement Fair Australia Prize 2019: the winners Editorial team Announcing the final results for the ten categories of the 2019 Fair Australia Prize. Hearty congratulations to all! First published in Overland Issue 228 13 November 201919 December 2019 Announcement Fair Australia Prize 2019: the shortlists Editorial team We are pleased to announce the shortlists for the ten categories of the 2019 Fair Australia Prize.