Creatrix 54–Poetry

September 2021

Selectors: Peter Jeffery OAM and Mike Greenacre

Contributors

Mar Bucknell

mirror, mirror

Peter Burges

A Murdering of Dough
Pale Fire

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Misstep Fell

Larraine Duncan

Bali Days

Derek Fenton

A Sonnet for Jetstar

Margaret Ferrell

Precious partnership

Dean Finninmore

Undergound Miner

Kevin Gillam

lost art of pastels

Candy Gordon

Time Flies0

Mike Greenacre

The Other Version
Magpie Call

Jenifer Hetherington

Timepiece

Chris Hipwood

Choose: Six Voices
Not Quite a Christmas Carol

Ruari Jack Hughes

Cool Water

Ross Jackson

The photo not taken
To an angry young poet

Peter Knight

I believe in death
Gorge-eous

Veronica Lake

Carnaby Cockatoos
Yai Yai

Geoffrey Lilburne

Hope

Mardi May

The Cat Next Door

Chas. Melton

Great Grant SonofAmerica

Julian O’Dea

Remembering
Bitch

Virginia O’Keeffe

Winter journey

Allan Padgett

down along a river
Switzerland disappeared that day

Chris Palazzolo

Nieces on Facebook
Outer Space

Yvonne G Patterson

Borderlands

Mike Pedrana

the publican’s daughter

Ian Reid

The company of milk

Norma Schwind

The Half-Way House

Laurie Smith

The Canning Stock Route

SoulReserve

Not grandmother

Geoff Spencer

Mons d’Elle
sorrow’s gate

Amanda Spooner

Island
What colour are my eyes

Kaelin Stemmler

Weapon of Choice
Grout Spider

Karine Suares

Love Til It Hurts
The Little Jacques Prévert Book

Suzette Thompson

Battle lines

Rita Tognini

Shanghai Suite
Why the Imperative Makes Me Moody

Mimma Tornatora

Always a Good Start

Tineke Van der Eeken

Tomorrow
On the inside, from the outside

Rose van Son

Billboard

Chynna Wilde

The Hunter

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mirror, mirror

enjoy the view
from the side window
but whatever you do
keep your gaze fixed
so you can never focus
on the disaster ahead
it all whooshes by
with such blind glee

the ones in the front seat
will understand far too late
their terrible mistake
they even told you
they liked the mirror
because they could see themselves

you could have said
that you can never see yourself
only what is behind you
but you saved your breath

you knew you were going to need it
for the crash
that will come
the moment you close your eyes

four, three, two, one
              j
               u
                 m
                    p!

Mar Bucknell

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A Murdering of Dough
or A Fantasy for Australian Wives

Still dazed
by last night’s battering
she’s forgotten her apron

peers now
through purpling air
at lump on board

fleshy mess
stuck to hands
streaking sides of jeans

hears last gasps
as she pummels
kneads
divides into loaves.

She struck back
for the first time last night

then fled into shock

collapse

escape from raisin-like eyes
staring back.

Still can’t look at the sink
wash off stains
and rolling pin.

Knows that
left yeasted by hate
he will rise again and again

like dough.

Fingering darkness
and knife-edge
she sighs

becomes lost
in crimson
seeping in
across the kitchen sill.

Peter Burges

Pale Fire

Moon’s pale fire burns
in the dark of internal night
each flame a shaivite inhalation
devouring all
leaving behind the nothing
from which Muses are reborn
to stride expanse of canvas
and page, destroying
and restoring worlds
of artistic aliens in which
condemned as an arrant thief
she serves serial sentences
waxing and waning in creativity’s hell
paying Sun her adherents’ dues.

Peter Burges

Pale Fire: the title of Vladimir Nabokov’s final novel, comes from Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens: “The moon’s an errant thief, / And her pale fire she snatches from the sun” (Act IV, scene 3).

shaivite: of the Hindu God Siva

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Misstep Fall

Light hued doors that clang
and clammy hands that dive
to perspiring walls.
The twisted ceiling that rushes
for the floor as a foot slips
on the rug.

The oomph of air as it gushes
to cloud dust and the harsh grab
of old fibres that scrawl bare flesh.
The slit of world compressed
to one eye, shaved small and close
as the far wall recedes.

The muffled groan from somewhere else
as ears collapse each sound, each scrape
each sibilant wheeze.
A hand stretched grabs what fold it can
grips a clump with the hold of a child
and shrinks the pull.

A slow creep along the horizontal
to standing, married to perpendicular.
The length and width compared to height
and breadth without a bed to make it comfortable.
And getting up can be difficult as on a cold morning.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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Bali Days

I slip through days with ease 
They meander lazily by
Without determination or arrival
I have no means to stay them ..hold  them.. maintain them..
They wash over me…
Then sometimes…
On occasion, they grab at me…
I try slipping by
They hold me…against
a freedom I promised myself long ago…simply to let days slip by.

Larraine Duncan

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A Sonnet for Jetstar

Jetstar finally lives up to its name,
‘Shitstar’, one that’s well deserved and earned
its pathetic parent, Qantas, the same
branded by thousands thoroughly burned.
Hiding behind patriotic adverts
with cherubic children drawing us in.
Nothing but profiteering perverts
and nothing but a scurrilous sin.

Quick to snatch our bookings and cash
then cancelling our flights within hours,
to the short term money market they dash
just concerned with their interest, not ours.
It’s not us, it’s Covid, is what they say,
as they snatch our dreams and then fly away!

Derek Fenton

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Precious partnership

‘You are so fortunate to have each other’.
Her words halt us, draw attention to
this woman’s demeanour. Her eyes,
bright as ever, change within the moment,
become moist, hands tremble
as she tells us Sunday is the eleventh
anniversary of her husband’s
death. Then she loses control, tears
begin to fall. We hold her, draw upon
our empathy.

Suddenly, the supermarket shopping
becomes unimportant.

We are born with a mutable state of
resilience. Life holds hurdles.
Learning to cope can involve
relationships, undesirable change,
stress. And yet, humans can rise
above their mental suffering.
Marry resilience with hope and this
partnership can work miracles.

Later, we meet our friend again in
one of the shopping aisles. This time
she smiles widely, anxious to stop us.
‘There are good things in my life too.
I have a lovely daughter and four
beautiful grandchildren and they all
visit me’.

We share her joy as we discover
she is not defined by her enduring pain
but by that precious partnership.

Margaret Ferrell

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Underground Miner

As I fly away from home, Into the humid darkness I go.
Ear plugs in, hard hat on, from daylight to darkness
I descend into the hole to start digging for gold.
, I am an underground miner.
Member of the frontline underground mining team. That earn our living deep underground.
I hear a crash and a bang; I see rocks tumbling and stumbling…
Smash!
I don’t want to see light at the end of my own tunnel,
I will see the light out the hole again.
I am a underground miner.
Most important thing to come out of a mine.
Is the miner.

Dean Finninmore

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lost art of pastels

you are invited to fish,
cast a mind out for hope
in five oceans, from one lush island

just a hook, a line, none sinker,
trawling through sly workings of turquoise
and dream, you, invited, fishing

under talc light from far flung moons,
lapped by erratic tides,
these five oceans, on one lush island

standing, sideways in water,
taking in ink blots, scribbles, veins
of thinkings, you, invited to fish

call it the lost art of pastels,
ponds of forget, deep hues of solace
in five oceans and on one lush island

but knee deep, waves in whisper,
hope tugs, hope runs, hope is but horizon
on five oceans and from one lush island
where you stand, invited, fishing

Kevin Gillam

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Time Flies

1970
Carnaby St
patchwork flares
2021
home in bed
patchwork quilt

Candy Gordon

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The Other Version

You said you’d never
put me in a Nursing Home”
she glared accusingly at me,
digging up a conversation
we had had maybe
forty-five years before

as my mother was wheeled out
through the loungeroom
to the ambulance
waiting patiently as a judge
to the resisting subject
whose sentence
was already known.

“Things are different now”
I tried to tell her
and her type one diabetes
was the beast that
clawed its way
into every moment of her day

with her need to be pushed up
and down the hallways,
the exact timing of medications
and my father’s role as
cook and carer tipped the trolley
of health declining days

making the decision
that no-one would say,
one she would never accept
and kept her life as
the other version
from which there
was no escape.

Mike Greenacre

Magpie Call

They know me by name
knocking
at my front door

their voices climbing
up and down
the chromatic scale

raising me from sleep
with the tenderness
of a lover’s touch

knowing just where
to go to lure me
outside like the Pied Piper

and watch me spread
the cat crunchies
before their waiting stares

until one moves forward
then others follow, snatch
and retreat and call

not to invite others
but to carol territory –
this is their feast alone.

Mike Greenacre

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Timepiece

Six pairs of polished black shoes
a casket lowered,
dust blows.

Words on a mourner’s ute seen
clear through the trees,
            Building the future
            restoring the past.

A stooped, white haired man locks eyes
with the young man at his side, mutters,
            ‘Rubbish.’

The youth takes his arm
warning finger at his lips.
Undeterred the old man goes on,
            ‘The Old Clock on the Stairs.’
            Longfellow. Gone, forgotten.

People turn, glare,
stare as he declaims,
       ‘“Forever–Never
            Never–forever!’”

He scuffs his brogue in the sand,
bends, picks up a
handful of fallen leaves,

crushes them between his fingers
drinks in the sweet sharp scent of eucalypt.

Dust blows.

Jenifer Hetherington

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Choose: Six Voices

Choose your persona, Rick Grimes, Robert Neville−Max Rockatansky.
Choose everyman for himself.
Choose a long-range petrol tank—
Choose toilet rolls—ammunition—Ventalin
Choose a diet of non-perishable goods and bottled water—
Choose who you’ll eat first
Choose a Colt Python .357 Magnum
Choose man’s best friend, structure and triple-redundancy.
Choose beyond Thunderdome.

Choose to tap out early.
Choose to take comfort from the thought that you weren’t such a bad bloke.
Choose not to make a fuss.
Choose to leave everything to your cat—including your cat.
Choose eight loved ones to comprise your cortege.
Choose to go quietly into that good night.

Choose to be the fifth guy in the elevator.
Choose 1.4 metres—
Choose to be that prick because some armchair-epidemiologist told you it’s all a load of
bollocks.
Choose to know more than the World Health Organisation.
Choose to ram your unsolicited rhetoric down everyone’s throats—
Choose to know that you know best.

Choose to rally round.
Choose to always look on the bright side.
Choose to check on Doris, the old lady next door.
Choose to put a teddy bear in your window—and one in Doris’s window too.
Choose to knit face masks for frontline workers at Great Ormond Street.
Choose to take the expert’s advice over the pundit’s.
Choose to ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.

Choose hysteria because your hair salon’s closed.
Choose to lament the collapse of the injectables market as the world is brought to its knees.
Choose to play out your vacuous life through an endless pantomime of histrionic social
media
posts.
Choose a diet of junk values and a veneer of tat.

Choose a novelty Zoom background.
Choose to drink on the job because it feels good and because you can.
Choose to make your internet service provider the scapegoat for your being a lazy bastard.
Choose ‘skip-intro,’ —choose one more episode—choose one more—choose another.
Choose to do it t o m o r r o w.

Choose your future.

Chris Hipwood

Not Quite a Christmas Carol

Marley was dead…dead as a door nail
So begins Charlie’s festive tale.

‘Give to the poor your ill-gotten gain
For you, Old Scrooge, are a right-royal-pain!
Learn to do good with that which remains
Or walk eternity bound in chains.
Tonight, Penny-pincher, you’ll be visited by three.
Heed their warning or in hell join me.’
Such was Marley’s warning to Scrooge—
This Karmic time-bomb his to defuse.

When the clock struck twelve that Christmas Eve
His senses Scrooge did disbelieve:
Before him appeared a pimple-faced sprite
With a perilous warning, cold as frostbite:
‘I am the ghost of Christmas past.’
Said she to Scrooge’s flabbergast.
Choking on his whisky mug
Scrooge spat back, ‘Bah-humbug!’
To this the sprite yelled, ‘Listen, you miser
I am your miserable fate’s reviser!
Sent here to help you right your path
Quit turfing out orphans, you sociopath!’
Hand in hand down memory lane
The sprite showed Scrooge he’d wrought great pain.

The second to challenge Scrooge’s worldview
Was a giant that came when the clock struck two:

‘I am the ghost of Christmas present.
Neither card nor gift have you yet sent—
Start writing and gifting, you Skinflint—repent.’
Before him appeared the Cratchet kin,
Among them the sickly Tiny Tim.
At the coldest heart could that dear boy paw
But not one degree did Scrooge’s heart thaw.

The ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Spoke not and did not succumb
But pointed only to a crumbled headstone
Untended, unremembered, and overgrown.
Upon the stone Scrooge read his own name…
But walled and icy was his heart
So came his riposte quick and smart
‘Casper, you must all think me a mug!
You’re the effect of a hallucinogenic drug.
Administered, no doubt, by rival landlords—
Here’s a penny, buy some vocal chords!’
Heads then tails spun through the air
Until Scrooge awoke in his wingback chair.

Neither hindsight nor love rewrote his tale
Avarice won out, his great white whale.
And so chose Scrooge for what remains
Sealing his fate—eternity in chains.

Chris Hipwood

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Cool Water

Down to the river, intending a swim
A day fiery hot, a pool of cool water
Out from the bank, the jetty shot forward
Crumbling old boardwalk, covered with slime
Quick dash down the grass, long strides on the wood
Jump high in the air, arc out to the stream
Carve down through the water, curve under the skin
Down to the bottom, kick up to find surface

Rise beneath pier, planks slumping on water
Breath near exhausted, unsure of direction
Sink down to the sand, probing for light
No sense of an exit, panic takes hold
Darkness comes quietly, darkness in me
Silently floating, through the cool water

Ruari Jack Hughes

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The photo not taken

a story of a real event*

oh, the photograph I’d have taken
if I’d carried a camera back then
had been able to train my lens
on the large congregation
of swans
milling on lakeside water
swilling with blown leaves
shed down and froth

if only I was camera ready
when stopped on the path
circling Lake Monger Drive
I’d have had visual proof
of a single white swan
in the middle
of a flotilla
of black swans

a white swan in Perth?!
I hear you say
where is the evidence
of that so called ‘real event’?
but I swear that I saw
(Forgive the cliché)
with my very own eyes

a wonder of acceptance
an undulating black circle
a bullseye of white
a sight interrupting
my stroll around the lake
where no shot taken
of that single, exotic swan
settled cosy as you like
amongst a glide
of native, black swans

a natural wonder
of acceptance
by Jove

Ross Jackson

*A week or so prior to that actual event, I sighted a pair of white swans at Jackadder Lake and I presume that they subsequently became separated and one went on alone to Lake Monger. I also presume the pair had journeyed down the Avon River from Northam.

To an angry young poet

one of many young poets
whose only fun
to share with others
that they’re very annoyed

you’ll remember these moments
as the only time
in your poetry life
you’ll know for sure
absolutely all the answers

and be so
bloody well clear
on who deserves love
and who deserves hate

it would be better to seek wisdom
pursue it hard
though it retreats
ad infinitum

tune into
bee intelligence
where there’s that line
of bottlebrush in blossom

dig it out at your local café
sit at that table
facing the window
consult someone
minus a smart phone
who’s looking out

in a contemplative way
though be aware

that when it comes to
locating wisdom
you’re likely
to get hopelessly lost
if you’re relying
on Moi

Ross Jackson

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I believe in death

for ever and ever

I believe in death,
that great certainty,
overshadowed by the unknown.
I sense a thumb poised
on a stopwatch knob
that on an impulse will press
the end of my run.

I believe in death,
that event by which
that which is animate
is rendered inanimate,
for all time and even longer.
I don’t deny death
just because it hasn’t
sunk me yet,
or see it as being
not life ending but renewing,
as in Heaven.
Death will be
however it cast itself to be.

I won’t deny death
just because it is beyond
my understanding.
It may prove to be
a beginning
or nothing at all.
While alive, I believe in death
as my inevitable parting from life.
If death does not come to me then, then …

I believe in death.
Others may mock the notion,
but birth does not mark
a newly hatched eternity.
And I’m not assuming
that immortality for myself
that I do not wish.

Peter Knight

Gorge-ous [an inner voice]

By gorge! Hey-ho!
feast, binge, bolt down all that you can,
swell your overburden, spill your reflux,
feeling uneasy, purged, regretful,
but ah!, the life
of driving thirst and appetite.

Life, to be fruitfully savoured,
may not reward you as you would like,
by eating yourself to taste oblivion.
Yet overeating, indulgence, treating,
extravagance, obsessing food and drink,
seem so necessary and pleasurable
even while experiencing indigestible pain. 

Amid carousels of appetisers, entrées and main courses,
you may choose desserts first, so sweet, to cushion your discomfort.
Then fillings of pies, toppings, sauces, baked treats, all appealing.
Try, try again! growing oblivious to taste.

Constant cravings work at your mind,
you may even consider eating your children, as Cronus did.
Are you moved to do so, but for the criminal sanction that apply?
Feeling emptied, for you there are no just desserts.

2.
Roly-poly, fat and jolly, [yes, given in to your desires again,]
you spread outward to plump, paunchy, pudgy, portly,
tubby, beefy, rotund, obese, any of these or all.
And yet you remain nauseous
at the thought of missing out on more.

By gorge, you taste, savour, relish, degustate,
you need feed faster to pork and down as much you can.
Later you can spew out what troubles you inside,
the vomitus, if not quite quieting the lingering pain.
But for now, eat, drink, again and again!

Peter Knight

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Carnaby Cockatoos

Cruising over the suburbs,
a clustering flock of refugees
wheel in from the wheatbelt.
Carnaby cockatoos,
bunched together in funeral black,
lamenting in chorus,
wee-lou, wee-lou, wee-lou.
Rain is coming.

Thousands once filled these skies,
feathering the sky with dark shadows.
Now breeding sites are destroyed,
forests logged by governments,
jarrah, marri, banksia, all sacrificed
as suburbia comes creeping;
a disease infecting the land.
Habitat is lost.

Heralding change, spirit guides,
they bring enlightenment.
Today, so few of them remain,
poached and sold, eggs stolen.
Survival looks slim, future bleak.
Sweeping across sky, seeking sanctuary
their calls drift in melancholy appeal;
wee-lou, wee-lou, wee-lou.

Veronica Lake

Yai Yai

Squat and dark,
She sits solid,
Soaking up the sun
Like a vast solar panel.

Legs planted firmly,
Immovable force,
Blinking in the brightness
A gargantuan bird of prey,

A gravid form
Draining energy,
Flesh pooling into space
Like a nuclear meltdown

When she rises
Cities shake
The earth trembles,
darkness shrouds the land.

Veronica Lake

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Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul…. Emily Dickinson.

Fires to the north
travelling towards beloved farm.
In lockdown I brood
for there is nothing
I can or cannot do.

Cancer in the throat
slowly choking my son in law
whose treatment could kill.
Corona bound, there is
nothing I can do.

Oh yes, you can pray
but what use is that?
There is nothing prayer
can or cannot do,
so I wait in hope

the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul.
has its task to dowhen our works are done,bodies must bide and settle.

Geoffrey Lilburne

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The cat next door

In the grey chill
before sun lights

the distant city,
I am wakened

from dreaming sleep
by the 7 o’clock cat.

Prompt with hunger
it needles the doormat,

eager to wind its sinuous
self around my heart.

Mardi May

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Great Grant SonofAmerica 

To hell with the world 
and truth unfurled
by patient search, 
or going to church,
and brotherly love 
and God above, 
somewhere up there 
at the end of the air, 
and being employed 
and elsewise annoyed 
by anything more 
that I but abhor. 

Nothing matters  
but you, love, and me. 
And not even you, 
but me. 
Me
My country tis of Thee. 

Chas. Melton (aka Anil)

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Remembering

The bumbling bear of memory
ambles through the orchard
of the past, tasting, tasting,
savouring some,
ruining others,
rumbling, remembering,
stumbling along,
gathering the harvest
of long seasons, some
bitter, some overripe,
the best as crisp
as a new morning.

Julian O’Dea

Bitch

Flopping on the bed
our friendly white Samoyed
happily blows phlegm
into the air
like a tiny Moby Dick
disgorging precious
ambergris.

Julian O’Dea

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Winter journey

We drove along Canning Mills Rd between orchards and bush.
Over the serrated rows of peach and plum bridal veils of white net
flapped soddenly in the relentless rain, sagging like discarded wraps
of fast food. They twist tightly, shrouds of summer safety now forlorn.
Returning at dark on the corner where deep bush green meets packing shed
and lycra bikers straddled coffee station benches in past summer heat,
the Moon Cold Store rang in stars and winter travellers. One year
we stopped the car, sent out white breath and gazed in awe at
the Milky Way, crystal sharp and hovering above Japanese
exchange students who’d never seen one star let alone a bridge
of heaven gloriously stabbed in bruised coalmine dark.
But this afternoon black wattles formed a golden tunnel defying the rain
and grey spinning clouds; coming home has never felt so good.
At Karragullen the old man’s house is still upright, fibro and lath,
its valiant stairs house sharp potted plants, surprised they’re still exhaling.
The packing shed where his sons and daughters rattled fruit down the boards,
has been scraped from the ground, replaced by persimmon trees
which draw foreign tourists to flutter like butterflies beneath the orange globes
and pose giggling for photos sent home to families who if they could,
would colonise Canning Mills Road believing we, who quietly live here,
couldn’t really hold it dear.

Virginia O’Keeffe

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down along a river

a curving bitumen footpath facing pond or river
led through winding times & barely breeze –
to rippling skyflecting surface with coots-a-scudding

watching the still feathered bit above water
thinking of the whirling musclefed parts under –
how or why or where is a webbing

listening to middle distance jet blasting to troposphere
feeling a warmth of autumn sunrays facefilling –
ducking to avoid lycra-clad cashed-up bitcoin men on flashy bikes

gazing at a bunch of horses galloping hard to finish post
heard a belting scrum of jockeys screaming –
tried to not hear a sound of viscous whipping

(nearly lost my way there)
walk along a little further see a tangle of threads & tiny flowers –
adhering close to hostplant trunk & welcome branching

a knowing grin at evolution’s clever pathways & invention
later was thinking slow & tuning mind to time & nomenclature –
how i’d nearly lost my way then found a cuscuta

this first half of a longago binomial flashed to conscious mind
then a feeble frown brought on by memory’s dimming capacity –
a searching for but missing the second part of the nomial bi

but then an erupting grin on recalling a common name
all he could blubber in a moment’s joy was toddle dodder –
it seemed to make a lot of sense in these trying times

Allan Padgett

switzerland disappeared that day

we perched among teasing reams of wildly-tinted zinnias
bursting into zurich’s bubbling skies
as he joined with me and smoked away
so quietly all we could hear among the lapping
shores was a tinkle of silly giggling

trying to hide our reverence. but it wasn’t quite that way
as i crossed the border into Deutschland
(where is germany) and the border
guards looked like stiffly-standing henchmen from
an age just passed. i might have thought they

were stasi if i had known then what i know now, they were
that serious and worse, threatening, as inside my rucksack
cringed silver-wrapped foils of dusty darkened sticky brown
smelling sweetly of experimentation and adventure
bought from a man in amsterdam’s bustling square

whose big sack full of dopey illicity selling at a decent price
for this poor traveller, sucked me in. meanwhile,
back on the breezy warming shores of lake
zurich we yarned and laughed as the day dispersed
and far too soon, this american traveller and i were

arm-in-arm at the station where he was catching a train
to vienna. we said our sad goodbyes and that was
the last we ever touched, by word or skin. i trained to the outskirts,
hitched to hospenthal, met a beautiful english woman, talked
& kissed till dawn. switzerland disappeared that day, and so did i

Allan Padgett

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Nieces on Facebook

The names are disquieting;
flags on a thread of hate and hugs.

What responsibility do I have
to extended family
beyond the rare post
about some disinformation
that’s fired her imagination?

How reluctant I am
to go back into it again
and knock on that plastic skull
to whoever is on their cloud flitting,
scanning, clicking, scrolling,
thumb-in-mouth staring
through two sweetly stupid pupils
at malice in a lollipop meme.

Chris Palazzolo

Outer Space

Some words on any square metre
of highway bitumen you care to think upon,
out that way, or in that direction,
past the last lights of town,
and beneath the ragged hem of stars,
a sublime and arbitrarily singled out
mat of modern human industry,
which once knew the back of a shovel
and the sole of a boot – but that’s the extent
of intimacy with its fabricators – now
knows tire tread, kangaroo and goanna foot,
the sun during his blazing hours
and night black as the ink
                           that dries on this page.

     Now, why; why the hyperfocus
on a huddle of tarred bluestone – 
Is it safety you seek? Or is it the infinite?
Or can only the astronaut behind
                    those high beams answer that?

Chris Palazzolo

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borderlands

murmur, just outside hearing, voices
            weave through evening, louder now

                        call from unmapped territory
            almost glimpsed

as with kohl, brushed deftly into eyes, blurs
            the edge between a cup, my fingertips

                        my face, its reflection
            refracting in the ripples of a pool –

unnoticed years, recontour every line
            – in night-light its breath quickens

                        restless shadows flow from skin to sheet
            subtle hues mediate, mute borders –

as if the edges of my hands
            are disappearing into time

Yvonne G Patterson

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the publicans daughter

some publicans didn’t like the thought of me sleeping in the back of my parents
yellow ford parked out front where
mother served beers
and father bashed the drunks.
this one was no different.

(since he owned the most violent pub
in our small town)

he made sure i slept indoors until closing time.

on the outskirts
east it splintered.
legged with numerous snake-drunk dirt tracks.
a pub in the middle of no where with tentacles;
red strips of foot-fat scaling pathways sprawling into the spinifex-pregnant levee banks
that mothered itself into the
squinting sharp chirping heat.

built beside the slim-dusty-glass-smashing-blood-splotched pub stood
a double story regal homestead. the publicans house.
it shadowed haughtily like a rook on a broken chessboard.
and thats where i met veronica.
the publicans daughter.

i was eleven and she was fifteen
and as she led me to the family room,
i was excited to have company instead of echoes and thuds and pillow-less cold back seats.
she was tall and broody and i was lean and head bowed.
what i remember most that night was veronica telling me a story.
her younger sister, a shirley temple mantle-piece picture was preparing for bed when she
heard it too.
she burst into tears and trampolined her heavy fear
through the creaking mouth of the hallway passage
into the slamming chamber
of her room.
but me,
i glowed warm like a mothers smile.
under the dim undusted light of a chandelier
veronica convinced us that the world was going to end soon.
excited I asked when.
perplexed she repeated soon.

later that night I was back into the cold stiffness of the back seat car.
as always,
he would drive home drunk and knuckle scarred and
she would be pleading her innocence to his slurring accusations.
as always he begins to hit her.
her soft head thuds against her passenger window.
her screams normally cause me to urinate as i
spring up from that back seat,
and with my little vinyl patterned imprinted arms,
begin splintering him with little fists of nothings,
but all to protect her.

but this night i didnt.

this night i curled up tight, trying to squeeze her screams and tears out of my head and
replacing it with hope!

i was thinking of what veronica,

the publicans daughter 
told me.

that the world was going to end soon.

                                                 and then finally, finally,

                                                                                              he would stop hitting her.

Mike Pedrana

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The company of milk

Each morning, music would rise up to the office
of the Dairy Superintendent: he’d hear the usual
sing-song of churns trundled over wet concrete
for loading onto the trays of lined-up trucks
and a higher note too, the ping of water
jetting from hoses against the huge steel vats.

Proud of his role in ‘the second-biggest
milk company in the southern hemisphere’,
managing the whole process, he liked to recall
where this work began for him: the milking shed
on his family’s Hawera farm, and then hard years
of yakka in a cheese factory down the road.

Yet the calling may have come from further back,
beyond his conscious memory, the merest
dreamlike trace of a lingering sensation:
the primal bodily comfort of an infant
nestled calmly against a soft warm breast
and sipping the creamy juice of nourishment.

Ian Reid

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The Half-Way House

Have you eaten? Come in
a disparate group of men on the pathshuffle forward eyes down

an old Aboriginal looks me in the eye,
gives me a whiskery smile, finds a
place at the table

roast lamb, veg, a glisten of gravy,
intent on filling bellies the men
eat quickly, in silence

sticky date for dessert, popular with
everyone, without pause plates empty,
back for seconds

Sunday night dinner over, a scraping
of chairs, stacking of dishes, the men
trickle out, fan into darkness

the old man walks up to me, thankyou
missus you’re the best cook

Norma Schwind

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The Canning Stock Route

We cross a Dune.
Cross another dune,
one kilometre from the last.
Cross dune after dune
in a world of shifting sand.

Swing west.
Dunes becoming jumbled here.
Skirt the sinking tail of the next,
beat east to recover direction.

The next sand hill is a monster.
Continue east, flat out,
hard right, charge, foot to the floor,
ignore what the engine says.

Slapped in the face
by a flowering Grevillea eriostachya
through an open window.
Shudder to the crest.

Blue sky –
can’t see the bonnet
as we drop into a windward blowout
and wait for the trailer’s whiplash.

Laurie Smith

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not grandmother

I have always known them
as Babushka, dolls
nesting – one inside
another. me inside my mother
my mother inside her
mother inside her mother.

us, echoes of our past
selves. passing into
one another, like a river
channels into arteries
of its delta.

our voices, our form
growing increasingly
smaller. taking up
lesser and lesser space.
reducing. shrinking.
diminishing to a point.

But my Russian friend
insists, they are Matryoshka
not Babushka, not grandmother.
not grandmother inside
mother inside me.

SoulReserve

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mons  d’Elle

good  morning !! 

it  will   be  “good afternoon”  by  the  time  i  send  this, 
while  savouring  a  late  Flat  White,  and,  more  than  enjoying 
re-reading   “Hearing  Fred  Williams”

the  view  from  North  Beach  Deli
is  of  a  silent  Sun shining  over a  
turquoise-blue-grey-nestled-down-dampness  of  salted ocean
observing   an   even  greyer  quilt  of  solitude  sky  ..  .. 

clean   looking   birds  of   the  sea  hang  in  the  faint  zephyr
designer  females  escort  even  ‘more  designer’ 
manicured  paws  along  the  promenade
..  ..    oblivious

silhouette  ship,  without  sails  
dreaming  of  setting  course  for  Neruda’s  Valparaiso
sits  on  a  fractured  horizon

all  is  good  with  my  world  ..  .. 
listen  for  a  new  door  that  may  open
following  a   most  exquisite  one  that  gently         closed

i’ll   read   “sand  words”   for  the  umpteenth  time
as  I  

lumber  towards  his   infinity

tomorrow’s   Sunrise   ..  ..  dawns   a   fresh   Winter

Geoff   Spencer

sorrow’s   gate

reef   to   reef
washed   by   salt   and   solitude
wind   that   draws   strength   from   possibility
an   idea

horizon   limited   by   understanding
tumult   gathering,
an   expression   of   time   bowed
by   the   stricture   of   departure’s   gate

what   remains   of   love’s   memory,  
consumed
in   a   violent   sea   of   sorrow
wrenched   as   a   torn   ligament
shoulders   its   burden

gathering   cloud   prepares   a   cascade
..  ..  envisioned     ..  ..  unwanted

what   will   follow   before   the   storm   abates

a   wounded   darkness

sweeps

Geoff   Spencer

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Island

A photo, dog-eared,
more-so on the top right,
removed from the album so often
it knows the path
bends to accommodate me,
recalling memories.

A glimpse of somebody’s life
between the borders
as this island once enclosed me
with rippled turquoise
sea spray, sand, waves.
The photo holds time and space.

 separation

Pieces scatter
child becomes adult
now a larger island
surrounds me, afloat
in a different ocean
in a changed world.

Yet still my body dances
to the rhythms of the calypso
beat, pace, tempo
sounding board of the mambo
steel band combo
taking me home.

Amanda Spooner

What colour are my eyes? 

Why the fuck did I put on my best lipstick,
my prettiest skirt and brush my hair to smithereens?

We amble down the path and through the gate
caressed by roses.
The road stretches and disappears into gentle hills
covered by evening mist.

 I sashay, swirl, navigate the potholes
and glide towards the old Holden
parked on the street.

He moves in front of me and opens the car door.
I smile, get in. He smiles too, talking.

In mid-sentence he halts,
peers behind him to the fading light
straightens, lets the door slam in my face
turns and walks into the shadows.

 Neighbours have returned
from their evening bike ride.
He’s over there, welcoming them home
chatting.

He returns and climbs into the driver’s seat.
Then without a glance towards me
resumes our conversation where he left off.

Tell me again

why the fuck have I put on my prettiest lipstick, best skirt
and styled my hair?

Amanda Spooner

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Weapon of Choice

These days I wield caffeine as a sword!
It sits on my belt
dripping the blood of tasks we’ve slay’n
I unsheathe her more readily than I once would have
our eyes growing callous from the things we’ve seen

All those years I stood by
let brutes with unfair advantages trample me
unwilling to stain my name with the grinds of war
Sure we’ve gone on rampages
not unlike the men of which I speak
underserve’d and unapologetic murder
returning with only a vague sense of our deeds
but hoping that the ends justified the beans.

Perhaps I am the very evil I strive to undo.
Maybe it’s best for my sharp-edged friend
to retire to the mantle
and search for weapons of peace.

A good night’s sleep is the bow at my back!

Kaelin Stemmler

Grout Spider

Little grout spider
Crawling along the road between shower tiles
Does he know where he is?
Struggling to hold on when the humidity rises
Does it bother him?
The little grout spider

Little grout spider
Builds a web in the corner of the bathroom
I attempt to shoo mosquitoes into it
Of benefit to us both
I don’t mind him
The little grout spider

Kaelin Stemmler

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Love Till It Hurts

Never a dash of milk with passionate people
They don’t dilute their drinks nor their feelings
They like things fully, in their purest form
In fact they don’t like, they love

They love their coffee black
Their chocolate dark

They love being hugged till
They can’t breathe
Being kissed till
Their lips bleed

They love till it hurts

Karine Suares

The Little Jacques Prévert Book

The little voice in her head
Recites those lines
From Jacques Prévert.

She learnt them in the class of Mrs Meyer.
Or was it the year before, with Mrs Lecouteux?
She just remembers the desks, the blackboard
And the lines.

She’s thinking it’d be nice to teach them to the boys.
This weekend, she would show them the little Jacques Prévert book.
They would laugh at his humour.
The boys will repeat the lines
And memorise them.
Will they see the same images in their heads?
Theirs will probably be more modern.

Karine Suares

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Battle lines

The battle lines are drawn
Won’t listen anymore
Don’t wanna hear ‘bout resilience
Ain’t got hope
Keep your wrap and recovery
I’m sticking with my dope

All I’ve got is anger
I’m holding onto that
Ain’t no positive outcomes
I’II always feel just flat

Tired of the same old same old
How’re you feeling now?
From 1 to 10,where are you?
There ain’t no scale, blue is blue
Black is black
I’m not coming back

Keep your groups and positivity
I’ll hold onto negativity
A future bleak, no friends, no sleep
Just endless days with curtains drawn
And phones not ringing anymore.

I nod and smile, you think I’m fine
Don’t know what’s in my mind
Just nothing, just an empty space
But know enough to look ok
Don’t wanna stay
Don’t wanna stay

Answer questions, discuss the future
Been an improvement you say, what rot
Ha, how I wish you’d go away
Leave me with this anger
That’s all I’ve got

Suzette Thompson

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Shanghai Suite

East to West
Planes bank in smog-smudged
sky, target the Pudong
runway. On garden-
edged freeway, taxis race
the Maglev train to Puxi.        

Window View
A muddle of cables
strung across sooty concave
roof; a hot pink T
shirt dangles at the wall’s edge,
hung out to smog-dry.

Shanghai Sequoias
Tall, slim, tender green,
triangular—the Sequoias
reach for the heavens;
mimic this city that
levitates above the sea.

‘Box Lunch’
I lift the lid—crumbed
fish on rice bed, tofu, duck
liver pieces, fried
spinach and mince-stuffed dumplings;
Pandora’s Chinese lunch box.

Dream of Poetic Invasion
The Japanese came
in nineteen thirty-seven,
destroyed land and life.
Instead of tanks and soldiers,
they should’ve sent poets—and tanka.

Rita Tognini

Why the Imperative Makes Me Moody

(i)
BRACE!
Some verbs hurl themselves from the tongue,
demand the imperative —
CUT! SALUTE! MARCH! SHOOT!
REPENT!

But ‘ENJOY!’?
That’s a gauntlet
flung down by the cappuccino,
Veuve Cliquot, Waygu beef,
absinthe-poached marron,
marrons glacés.

ENJOY!
—feels like an open hand
on collision with a face.

ENJOY!
—tenses the body
as an interrogation, duel, battle,
a guest appearance before a firing squad.

Past, present and to come
can be rolled around the mouth
savoured on taste buds sucked of sweetness
between tongue and palate

Enjoyed.

(ii)
Queuing to buy a coffee
the wall-screen menu bawls out—
ENJOY!

I escape
to a competitor’s counter.
Order.


Wait for experience’s lottery.


And enjoy.

Rita Tognini

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Always a Good Start

Always a good start 
to set the scene
for sweet surrender

with enough time
to nourish your day

get cracking
stir in a measure of kindness
& feed the soul

speak volumes of happiness
don’t worry if spilt milk
leaves a big mess

stand out from the crowd.

Mimma Tornatora

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Tomorrow

Tomorrow you will tell me
I am your continent
the one who makes you
long for home

Tomorrow I may tell you
of the things you never asked to know
Of my wanting to be alone

Tomorrow you will buy
flowers I waited for
too long

We’ll cry for who we are

Tomorrow we’ll lie
closer together
Maybe we’ll make up
Maybe we’ll make love

I will retreat
I’ll write this poem

And after tomorrow
it’ll be the same again
We’ll sleep
backs turned to each other
You on your island
I on mine

Tineke Van der Eecken

On the inside, from the outside

For Annamaria Weldon

Woodgrain hardened by time,
softened by touch,
a lyre’s voice,
young women’s dreams.

You move my senses
to the island of Malta,
your mother’s skin, the Mediterranean,
ancient Pinjarra country.

You navigate by stories,
sing back country
on the inside, from the outside
until boundaries disappear.

Tineke Van der Eecken

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Billboard

I see you in half light
so I can transpose
transmit the word to you
so you will understand

(in)stead you find the murmur
when light is not enough
when dark finds (it)self locked out
you leave a note
a (mess)age text
a voice (no)longer activ(ates)
as if it does not work

nor does it hold a hand
(trans)lucent billboard blend
when one is not enough
tell me how it is
when one is not enough
tell me.

Rose van Son

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The Hunter

Night is hot, Air is thick.

A dark shadow is casting over the land.
The Wolfs are out hunting.
Eyes wide, snouts sniffing and jaws watering.
Want to taste my flesh, do you want a bite?
Are you out hunting?
Sink your teeth into my skin.
Ripping deeper and harder.
You don’t even flinch when you hear the cries.
You’re in for the kill.
Tonight, you’re out hunting.
Tomorrow you’ll find another sheep.
But tonight, you’ve eyed the wrong pray.
I’ve seen many like you before, I know your hunt.
Tonight, you’ll be the hunt that’s hunted.
I’ll leave you with scars and wounds.
So, let me ask you dog, are you out hunting?
Couldn’t you see that you are a sheep?
Trying to lure your pray with your fleeced wool.
Too focused on the hunt you didn’t see the trap.
Now I’ll take what you’ve stolen from many others.
Heartless sheep.
How’s your hunt, did you savour fresh meat?
The moon told me you’d be here.
Return to your flock, look for bones in the scraps.
Howl on the mountain at the distance moon.
Foolish sheep.
You don’t have the strength to build a pack.
Little sheep, are you out hunting?

Chynna Wilde

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