Creatrix 51 Poetry

December 2020

Selectors: Peter Jeffery OAM and Ann Dyson

Submissions Manager: Jaya Penelope


Ananda Barton

            A Farmer’s Prayer
            Night Fear

Kaye Brand

            A Different Landscape
            Silver Threads

Helen Budge

            After Last Night’s Storm

Peter Burges

            In the Temples [1]
            In the Temples [2]
            In the Temples [4]

Coral Carter

            Love poem to a poet ….
            Bird watching at Fogg Dam

Gillian Clark

            A Full Room

Lisa Collyer


Gary Colombo De Piazzi

            Shift from Up to Down
            Stuck Indoors

Derek Fenton

            Hamba Khahle Mukiwa
            Homage to Edward Thomas 


Margaret Ferrell

            The leather pouch

Sally Gaunt

            White Asian 

Ann Gilchrist

            Freight Train 
            Under the Plumbago 
            Weathered Beauty 

Kevin Gillam

            behind the silence
            Russian dolls

Mike Greenacre

            Love in Lockdown
            Reason to Be

Ann Harrison NSC

            I Am Holding Sadness
            The Day the Soldiers Came

Ruari Jack Hughes

            Undo. UnhaPpen. Unsay. Unremember

Glen Hunting

            Central Desert 

Ross Jackson

            Another Letter to Dog
            Eros Spread Outside


            Things [2019]

Peter Knight

            solicitude upon a lonely planet

Rita La Bianca

            Aqua Alta

Veronica Lake

            in the rain …

Mardi May

            300 steps
            The visit

Glad Mc Gough

            Between the Stitches
            Mum Maketh The Man

Jan Napier

            A Quick Word

Julian O’Dea

            What have you brought inside, Dog?

Virginia O’Keeffe

            Blackberrying aftermath

Allan Padgett

            in the morning as you rise
            spinning blades at 4,000 bloody feet

Chris Palazzolo

            Kununurra Footpaths
            Kununurra Skies
            Remote Highway 

Yvonne Patterson

            chasing dragonflies
            memory of lilies

Fern Pendragon

            Koala has been bitten by moths!

Barry Sanbrook

            The Monsoon

Partha Sarkar

            Never will i flip my thought

Norma Schwind

            my buddhist neighbour

Laurie Smith

            Following Soda

Soul Reserve

            Instructions to cook a stew

Geoff Spencer


Amanda Spooner

            On Wualai Road
            At Yoga

Maggie Van Putten

            a long corridor of forever
            Recurring Dream

Ted Witham


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A Farmer’s Prayer 

Lord, let the rain come soon,
Quickening the seed in the dry womb of your good earth. 
Let the rain be solid, yet gentle, 
Soaking deeply, filling rain-gages and dams,
Trickling into gullys and swelling creeks. 

Lord, protect us from hail, 
Which can destroy a year’s work in minutes.
From searing winds.
From untimely rain,
Which causes the grass to sprout, only to wither before the summer blast. 

Lord save us from fire,
From blackened land, charred house and sheep,
In mass graves.
If the worst comes, let the firebreaks hold,
Help me defend my land. 

Lord, let the bank be kind,
Let them not raise interest rates. 
Thou knowest I have kept up my payments,
Even through the drought. 
Protect us from computer errors,
Let them not repossess the harvester. 

Old Bill, down the road,
Killed himself last week,
Lord rest his soul. 
After the crop failed, the wife left and the bank called,
It was all too much,
Poor old bugger.  

Lord, let us have a few good years in a row,
Enough to pay off the debts, and put a bit aside,
For the wife and kids,
For the days when it does not rain.

Ananda Barton 

Night Fear

Winter evenings, 
When the dark falls early, 
Stars shine like wintery diamonds,
Trees huddle together for warmth, 
And Frost rimes fence lines,
The dog cowers, 
Ears flat against skull, 
Seeking safe refuge in box, basket or back room,
Fearful of something
I cannot sense.  

Then I remember 
Odd stories from neighbours,
Who have lived in the district longer than I,
Night cries, coughing screams in the dark,
A calf, down the bottom paddock, head torn cleanly from body,
Strange shapes, glimpsed at dusk,
Like a large dog but with long tail
And catlike gait,
Crossing the road in the distance. 

And I wonder. 

Ananda Barton

Thanks to my mother for sharing an account of a strange animal she saw crossing the road, and other odd phenomena

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A Different Landscape

the whinnying of the horses
snorted early country breaths
on the autumn chilled dawn,
breaking my mourning ritual.

Alone I leaned fascinated
by the peacock’s daybreak parade,
my hands on the window pane
deliquescing the morning dew.

Steam from my morning coffee
swirled like a dog’s panting breath,
dissipating as clouds of memory 
into the realm of somewhere.

You enjoyed the seasons changing,
the autumnal crunch of leaves, 
summer’s brittle sounds
the gardens changing hue.

different keys are on the dresser.
Boxes are unpacked.
Paintings now hang on other walls. 
By the ocean, you are still within me.

Kaye Brand

Silver Threads

Reflections of us cast images on my wall.
Darkness shadows the edges like smudging
while an early light clarifies a sense
of who we are together.

Our lives not illusive like our dreams.

Shapes form like geese gargles
lifting from water havens
giving credence to a path of migration
where we do not wish to go.

A place where our hands cannot touch.

You permeate my self-worth
making me more than when I was born
illuminating an essence previously untapped 
that moulds cajoles and demands of me

to be and then to be again.

When you leave me my darling
my wings will fold and dampness will ensue.
These wall images will be marked with tears
and clothed in mourning shawls of gold.

I will not fly for some time.

Silver threads will weave our memories
stitching whiskey with Peugeot pathways.
Beyond our knowing and beyond our call
the arras of your life will cradle me gently.

For now we are here.

Kaye Brand

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After Last Night’s Storm

In my garden
it is still.
Ripe mandarins lie
scattered, cracked open
on the wet earth.
A red wattlebird 
uses its curved bill
to suck their juice.
On the brick path
a willie wagtail jigs,
fanning its tail.
Two laughing doves
whirr to the
peppermint tree.
These birds know
nothing of the plague
sweeping the world.
For a while
neither do I.

Helen Budge

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In the Temples (1)

In the hour when mists are held
beneath thick-limbed woods —

when birds have not yet risen to sing —

when mimosa — close-fisted —
overgrown — has not begun to open —

sparkle with dew’s bangles and rings —

a seeker’s eyes —
not yet adjusted to vagaries

of stars and moon —

swollen with wanting —
do not see shadows’ prints

or fleeing dreams —

or time and the world —
foetal — slippery — unresolved —

kicking against night’s womb —

but only morphing shapes
of trees and temple ruins —

backs of dawns’ unopened doors.

Peter Burges

In the Temples (2)

It is dark where once spirits
laughed — raged — ruled —
tended gnarled nests in home trees —

danced as shadows upon canvases
in hearts of adherents.

But now Old Ones —

strangled by Banyan epiphytes —
deserted — reduced —
sapless — settle slowly

into the dry rot of years —
leaving only hollow trunks

shaped to echoes of absences.

Yet, on some nights —
for as long as moon or starlight
accompanied by winds’ gamelans:

have power to enliven —
behind Siva’s blue dervishing

Ramayana intrigues, glints,

sighs of leaves suggesting
small presences still guarding
forgotten interstices through which

ancient pujas once drew into emptiness —
seared minds thirsty for home fire hearths

scattered to nearfaraway’s furthest reaches.

Peter Burges

Note: epiphyte :an organism that grows about a plant.

In the Temples (4)

Beneath The Way’s
milky spangling —
fern-gnarled moonlight

fingering — coveting —

faces — mouldy stones —
darker spaces —
chimerical shapes.

And all about — 

soft twitterings caressing —
fronds slapping rocks —
the grey masonry

housing the dead —

thin paths twining
silver between obsidian
obelisks —

a low murmuring peace

as ancient as Time’s yearning
for some nearfaraway terminus —
though uneasy with small shapes

nosing the refuse of day.

Peter Burges

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Love poem to a poet


they said cranky old technophobe 
they said beware 
savage when you least expect it 
your tit in his shark teeth
they said control freak
they didn’t say 
marshmallow mouth 
(i saw myself stuck there)
tease eyes 
surrender flag smile
they didn’t say any 
of the things i saw
so was it really you? 
who are you anyway?


not many men fall 
in love with me
less than one hand 
could count them 
but I think he did
otherwise how else 
am I expected to explain 
why he giggled 
when I kissed him twice


i forgot what i wanted to say
something about 
the cover of his book
something about him 
thirty years ago
 his shirt open 
love me gaze
hand holding on 
in case he floated away 
or fell on through.

Coral Carter

Bird watching at Fogg Dam

Somewhere in the dam hides a crocodile.
This one is big—really big.
A trap is set,
on top in cruciform
a cormorant dries its wings.

We spot all the ibises—straw, sacred and glossy,
egretstheir necks go on and on, 
brolgas—shy as, 
comb-crested jacana—the lily leaf walker, 
a harrier—probably swamp, 
mobs and mobs of pygmy geese—partying hard,
willy wagtails and mudlarks—speak the same language coast to coast,
kingfishers—lookouts on power lines, 
and the lifting kites.

Lotus are bright spots on dam water,
fat buds the colour of young nipples 
bloom into skirts of silk.

Petals fall 
pink boats 
on pink water 
in the pink sunset.
In that still moment
dry seed pods rattle
dead lotus leaves rasp.
Is that you crocodile?

Coral Carter

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A Full Room

They can’t bottle-stop the bubbling laughter.
The room resonates with reverberations
over a shared suggestion;
in a blind spot of innocent innuendo.

Trilling tributes in the air,
Zests of hearty Hallelujahs!
Rejoicing in relationships again;
more fun than with the forthcoming festivities.

There’s no calm coming-down.
Cacophonies of cajoling have cast their nets.
Mellow moments alone, are a memory,
as our unity exudes renewed energy and engagement.

Gillian Clark

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he came ooh-ing and aah-ing
fiddling his doorknob
thighs glad, drunk, broke

evil fleece, stay home, 
some mistake
a nightmare
a dumb box

why are girls here?
keep in their rooms, a body 
a crime, bold girl
to dare exist

her blood like some natural dignity
a grave, another dick
choked and loved

a woman’s behaviour is wrong
he was just honest
women want 
to give sex

she said, I was beaten
the problem was 
the legs, the ass
downstairs to snack on

Lisa Collyer

Note: dishonour is Found poetry with all words and lines from On the Road, Jack Kerouac, Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Pleasures of the Damned, Charles Bukowski juxtaposed with words and lines from A Woman Like Her, Sanam Maher.

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Shift from Up to Down

This memory that strives to live,
to surface through the labours of day.
A glimmer of remission when every surface
is hard, glassed, as if mouths lack
the shape of words.

It is the silent moments between sighs
that carry the most weight—
the collected breaths beyond number
that collapse the reality of existence—
of permanence—how it all drifts,
a drop in the ocean, separate
and yet, not, as hands work at survival.

The day to day routine punctuated by night
where dark and light alternate
and each step is preordained—
or not.

A rock on the shore pounded 
by waves to become sand.
Each life a reflection of the Almighty
in a world that is heaven and hell
and feet bound to the clock.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Stuck Indoors

It is winter, a smear on the window
collapses with the scent of rain
to a depth that creases
the unwedded night

until there is only wind
batting the silence.
It is as if breathing
can be normal and 

silent cries hang on
too many mouths coursed
in oohs and arghs as eyes 
strike against dark

bathed in childhood fantasy.
One breath, two steps
and a funny laugh
catch on the window sill

against the faint red dream 
of sunrise. Thrown into cycles
that stitch lives to one and more.
Where one is against the other

in a world overloaded with choice.
Left/right, yes/no against the yawn
while TV glamour becomes the judge
and role models step beyond grasp

as twenty million eyes blink.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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Hamba Khahle Mukiwa*

We never really wanted you at all,
you just pushed your way in and took over.
Forgive us; you weren’t able to enthrall
and we don’t really want you at all,
so don’t be expecting a farewell ball
or for us to shower you in clover!
We never really wanted you at all,
You just pushed your way in and took over

Derek Fenton

*Goodbye white man.

Homage to Edward Thomas*
With thanks to Edward Thomas’ Adlestrop.

I have stopped at countless little dorps*
when no-one gets on or off.
Just a few moments as the train rests
and its hysterical hissing is replaced
by sounds of animals and birds.
Every time I travelled from Rhodesia,
my doomed, damned and devastated home
to South Africa, with its turn to come,
I passed through thousands of lives lived,
as important to them as mine to me.
They sped by in a blink
as my parents had from the world.
Now my last train ride down to Cape Town
to board a Union Castle liner…
As I leave Africa forever
I vow to visit Adlestrop.

Derek Fenton

*Small towns


After twenty-seven years in a cell,
you forgave and welcomed your oppressors
even though they had put you through hell.
After twenty-seven years in a cell,
you sold them the impossible to sell,
asking them to sup with their successors.
After twenty-seven years in a cell,
your example swayed your predecessors!

Derek Fenton

*Nelson Mandela

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The leather pouch

is tiny, wrinkled with mystery,
heavy with memories and meaning.

She kept it in her dressing-table 
drawer, took it out from time to time
and smiled as she removed the contents:
linked together a miniature cross, anchor
and heart made of gold. 

These three pieces signify faith, hope
and love, ‘the greatest of these’ being love –
the essence of my mother’s life,
although she was not overtly religious.

Keepsake or inheritance, a gift from 
someone she would not name?
Always a curious child, I must have asked,
remember no answer – only her smile. 

Her secret lies in the leather pouch,
a secret which, strangely,
I’m glad now she withheld.

Margaret Ferrell

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White Asian 
For Jilly

Our teachers urged us: Look North”, Australia, part of greater Asia, not Europe. Gough visited China; kita berbitjaya Bahasa, 

This ‘lass of Aberdeen’ who never saw its fishing fleet; never stood on Westminster bridge to see London
in the beauty of the morning. 

On an Irrawaddy ferry, the mothers sat on chests, smoked black cheroots; watched cheeky children – I recall the lawyer whom I met on the ferry,
told him I was an Australian Law student,
asked about being a lawyer in Mynamar 

his sad, sad, smile. 

Look, I was there in the pasar malam KL
near the setasiun kereta api,
the one that looked like a fluffy meringue.
You saw me with the other Aussi students didn’t you? 

Peeling Rambutan, that soft, sweet fruit (the juice ran down my chin). 

You and I haggled over floral umbrellas in Penang, laughed together at the antics of the brown bear who danced for coins,
below the Red Fort near the Taj. 

.II was the young woman you saw
.IIclimb to the highest level of stupas of Borobudur: .IIIMy shadow cast on the rice paddies of Djawa. 

I close my eyes: smell dry fish, Durian, canals of Djakarta roses of Chiang Mai; I taste pink and green jelly cakes. hear chatter of monkies, hawkers, Bangkok traffic. 

So many breathless steps to Shwedagon pagoda 

Rangoon gold; the sweet calm . Buddhist bells of Sagaing 

where we linked arms (c) 

Sally Gaunt 

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Freight Train

after midnight the freight train taunts the dark,
brakes play rusted rails in long slow notes,
trembling like a violin as the air horn howls,
steel grinding steel over the old railway bridge

white lights hang like lost souls in a carbon sky,
an ink pad, dimpled, frayed, tufted and torn,
then, slowly the train is blotted by distance,
across sleepers, lovers and the wild awake

Ann Gilchrist

Under the Blue Plumbago

she shelters him like a refugee
he waits for small rations
the morsels she spits down his throat
under paper petals and sticky seeds
the husked mash she carries to him
as he sits under the blue plumbago

the coo of her slips between the stems
he listens, blinking his jet black eyes
she searches dawn and dusk for him
hidden in a treacherous undergrowth
as much a home to hunters as it is to refugees

all day he sits, crouched like a stone
clothed in a camouflage of grey down
spiked with a crew cut of unquilled feathers
silent and scared, trusting her to return

today, tomorrow and the next day
the ground is a landscaped battlefield
death hovers in the skies above
and assassins pass close by
their union is a dangerous liaison

my son comes in before morning rush-hour
he releases the chill from the refrigerator
rifles the shelves for last night’s leftovers
raids the fruit basket
leaving finger prints on the bananas

I see the torment in his jet black eyes
the sticky seeds of her sickness
clinging to the grit in his jaws
and the front door remains ajar as he leaves
the draft licks me like the tongue of a cat
his struggles claw at my core
shredded like the scattered feathers
under the blue plumbago

Ann Gilchrist

Weathered Beauty

does my bum looks big in this?

she laughs and creates her own reflection,
she is no raw rookie lost on the seas,
her ancestry was captained by traders and conquerors,
Vikings and pirates in hit and run raids

see, how the water trembles around her,
she’s a mobster’s Madonna, a getaway boat
a giggle of grandchildren tugging loose lines
scales stuck like sequins to small fishy hands

undressed by the sun, she putt-putts through weekends,
roaring with laughter, wheezing with smoke,
a droll diesel dame, just a little bit flaky,
obligingly sweet, goes along for the ride

she wears her curves in all the right places
and when she rocks, she really rocks,
clinker built boards smiling like crows feet,
between red-necked ripples and gossipy quays,
she drifts in a tide decked out with dreams

Ann Gilchrist

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behind the silence

if I were to read what
I am speaking to you
you would realise the words
‘hope’ and ‘smear’ and ‘bleak’ ap-
pear more times than you hear

if you were to run your
fingers across this text
you would feel a relief
map of fret and yearning
not apparent in words

if you were to hear be-
hind the silence in the
spaces between the words
you would hear a song of
neap tide jetty dreaming

Kevin Gillam

Russian dolls

the threats, fretting,
mother inside smother

the stunted,
clocks and logic,
father inside farther

the looping,
feeding on light,
moth inside mother

puppet strings,
the hand of cards,
fate inside father

Kevin Gillam

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Love in Lockdown
for Tracy

Coffee lags behind
the flavour of your smile
at once enticing us
to sip the sweetness of the day

with magpies carolling winter’s song,
their cries becoming almost human wails
as they quick-step their way towards
the waiting hands of their care-givers

and I return to your welcoming smile, 
the blankets of memory
wrapped around, to hold us
fast in lockdown’s uncertain hands.

Mike Greenacre

Reason to Be

Two dates last November
I let pass, as if they were
just numbers on a worn page.

Three years before, on the third
mum snuck away from us
and we weren’t sure
if this was another escape
from her war-torn London

darting through the bombings
and shrapnel misses
as swift as a fox,
with the doodlebugs
whistling their piercing tune 
of terror, before gliding
silently, taking lives
completely unaware.

Then there was dad
who remained for two years
and twenty days
before trying to catch her,

armed with his 78s – classical
and jazz records   
and a mindful of war-time 
Penguin Paperbacks

racing to where they first met 
face to face on the dancefloor 
at a friend’s wedding – doing 
the ‘Hokey Pokey’ and then, 
turning their lives around.

Both in their nineties
their will to keep going 
the world they knew

and when she had left us
he’d say his “raison d’etre
              was no longer there. 

Mike Greenacre    


‘Close the door!’
I can still hear my mother’s words
shrill and piercing the night air
as if the few minutes
you’ve gone to the fridge
or out to the other room would 
suddenly freeze life forever more.

‘Close the door!’
it must be three or four
decades since I’ve been tracked
in my movements through
winter’s claws,
but realise I’m now married
to the same reminder
that seeks closure to all.

Mike Greenacre

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I Am Holding Sadness
for Jeanie

The stone is cold,
rough with jagged edges,
specks of glitter break the greyness.
The shape, heart like,
it fits my palm
a comfort.   
I am holding sadness

Ann Harrison NSC

The Day the Soldiers Came

They rode their horses like madmen.

We cowered on the ground,
sword and bullet flying
we hardly made a sound.
Our blood flowed like rivers,
hate, bigotry their cry.

Mobs murdered.
No remorse.
Prejudice profound.
Our blood is red
palms white
just like yours
but our skin is brown.
A crime?
No answer.

Generations now past
hindsight in charge
how could this have happened?
No answer.
Ignorance in charge.

Ann Harrison NSC

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The slap was not hard
It wasn’t the blow which hurt
But the betrayal

Ruari Jack Hughes

Undo. UnhaPpen. Unsay. Unremember

I will not. I will not go there again
Never will be the day
Before you could even hope to find me
Where all that ever mattered, ever held me up
Just left

Do you know how to undo
Have you got a trick or two
Some spell, a bit of prestidigitation
Anything will be acceptable
Just undo

It happened. In one moment there it was
No way to get away from it
Clocks only travel in one direction
Tick tock tick tocking forwards
To time’s end

It happened. And made me part of it
Not expected, certainly not planned
An accident
Pushed together in the muddle of living
And I cannot make it unhaPpen

All the things we say
Speech struggling against language
Statements adapted from what we hear
Said by someone else, some other place
Countless words piled up to say me

Poets and priests cast verses, mutter invocations
Words creating from nothing: wonder, love, beauty
And suffering, why the suffering
Do the words twist, malform in the saying
How can I throw words back, let me unsay

How far back are there no more memories
I remember songs and music
I don’t remember hearing
Was I listening in my mother’s womb
I don’t remember my mother

How do I forget what I don’t want to recall
How reset the program of my life
Is there an update to fix the bugs
Memories wind through all the files
Must I switch off the system to unremember

Ruari Jack Hughes

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Central Desert

Branches claw 
in breathless space.

Granules shimmer
in waterless gullies.

Ridges hold
their heads aloft,
resigned to time.

Surely, creatures
have burrowed 
unseen beneath the 
daylight furnace, while

a mile above,
Old Fella Eagle
wheels unheard,
still celestial within
that inverted chasm.

Glen Hunting

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Another Letter to Dog

Dear Dog,

I am not God.
You should not be worshipping me.

Just look in a mirror at your own name 
written out letter by letter
and you’ll easily see 
that you’re much closer to it.

Don’t treat me as a saint either. 
Surely you remember 
when last Thursday, 
I plated your dinner ten minutes late 

and when it rained today, I curtailed our walk 
even though you 
would have much rather puddled 
right through it.

No, I am not God
and I’m not a saint.
In fact, if you treated me as a postman, 
it would be just about right.

Your warm smelling companion,


Ross Jackson

Eros spread outside

it begins in a bush clearing reached by a narrow ride
she’s weighted forward
her palms to a tree trunk, readied for his approach
her pale cotton dress
strategically disarrayed 
the back of her neck, a disarming whiteness 
brittle, waist high, native grasses 
encircling the roundness 
of her thighs

splayed on a log, that cliché 
a spray of wilted wedding flowers 
which wind’s almost despatched 
fastenings of white lace dancing 
on a sharp spur of gum
each moment
more intensely white against 
the gently glooming green 
of the glade

by the time he has reined in the horse 
his mouth has filled with saliva
a juicy promise granted, who knows 
how long 
when Eros spread outside?
with a ping in his pants, he senses 
a text from his wife
and the fantasy obliterates
before his feet have met the ground

Ross Jackson

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Things (2019)

Coffee three dollars sixty while
my washing’s in the laundromat
Six dollars a wash plus one
for a plastic tub of detergent
We recycle them, the attendant proclaims

The washer can do nine kilos
but I don’t own three weeks’
worth of clothes, only one
I need my dressy tops next week
Working four mornings, smart casual

Kathy, whose house I’m living in,
has sold her washing machine
She’s building a place in a new
subdivision, wants a washer-dryer
And those are expensive, she says

I carry my wet things back to her house,
hang them on the drooping Foldaline
There’s plenty of sun, as usual
Crossing the highway on the footbridge
I can see a fire on the horizon

When I was working in China
parcels kept arriving at the office
If it’s useful and cheap,
said our American,
I’ll buy it

His favourite pastime was Taobao
One time he ordered a gadget
to hang up under a shelf
to facilitate pulling out tissues
from their plastic packets

When his landlord wanted him out
he took several days to move
Carried his possessions bag by bag across the streets
Chelsea would have helped you, I said
She has a car

Today I could have knocked on a door
and asked to borrow a washer
I might have been offered tea,
a seat at the kitchen table,
maybe even a phone number

Kathy’s Hyundai pulls in at five
She dumps her bag of reports and flops
on the pale grey leather
of her new bespoke sofa
I get so tired, she says

I light the gas, steam rice,
tofu, vegetables, hand her a plate
I sit with her watching
Antiques Roadshow, its hopefuls and experts
We marvel at all the intricate things

the Victorians and Edwardians bequeathed
If I had that, I say, I could sell it
and spend the money on a holiday
or stay at home and make nothing
but art for a year

or donate the cash to the Climate Council
or Extinction Rebellion, or the Carbon
Neutral Charitable Foundation, who
are bravely planting native trees,
trying to cool things down


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solicitude upon a lonely planet

i’m done with this long day, alive, but
not yet ready for the night that must arrive.

shadow, like dark liquid spilled, lengthens and spreads,feeding into that space vacated as the light of day retreats.This bald planet is now diminished of its rude red,the glint of its ferrous pigments dimming to drab.

night blooms steadily into its season
of enforced abstinence from light.
The dominance of rust-red dirt is swamped with gloom,
relieved only by stars that hang in their infinities
from eternities above,
their needles of long-travelled light
penetrating my uplifted eyes.

it’s easy to succumb
to the downward tow of the Sun.

Still they do not come.


i lapse into sleep, digging myself deep into worm-holed dreams.
Upon early awaking, i emerge to the bite of a frost-crusted night sweat.

now, godforsakenly awake, i am racked with black imaginings,
wishing to distance my mind from thought of what may yet come.
My debilitation will certainly run some time more.


day, when re-kindled, is a shimmer,
thickening to a thin pall of pink,
bright enough to define the cloudlessness of the sky,
barely shrouding the black of the cold dead coals that were night.

Still they have not come.


stranger, it seems that i am all the life there is to this domain,
and will inevitably so remain, left to be to my end.

what is now strange to me will endure within me some long while
becoming less strange when exposed each succeeding 
unearthly day.

peter knight

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Aqua Alta

There’s a bookworm’s dream
In Venice
A second-hand bookshop 
Named Aqua Alta – HighTide
Stacked to the rafters
In no particular way 
Are books from everywhere
About everything you can imagine
Where once or maybe more
the rising waters of the Laguna
glued forever the pages of great works into steps
that lead you to the top of the shop 
and a magnificent view 
The entrance to this high tide of books
Is an ancient blue and white boat  full of 
Books, scrolled maps and souvenirs jumbled together
Between the oars the seat and its tiny sail
Welcoming tourists from everywhere and elsewhere who are
Searching for the written word 
In the uncatalogued chaos
Of the world’s most famous bookshop
Stepping over baskets of trinkets
And half-written  manuscripts
Tracing a finger down the spines of books stacked 
From the floor to the ceiling in no particular order or genre 
Or language or style or reason
As if they were dropped temporarily 
and stayed
In the company of Giotto or Whitman, Orwell  or Trotsky 
War and Peace and A Streetcar Named Desire nestled next to 
Mein Kampf or Lolita
Illustrious or humble its all good company at Aqua Alta
where the treasure is in the hunt for the word and
Il Gatto dell’Aqua Alta fat and contented
purrs in the sun on his window seat
occasionally casting an eye over his domain
and the gaggle of fossickers fossicking for hidden gold
between the leatherbound or dog-eared yellow cover
of a prized Aqua Alta acquisition

Rita La Bianca


A young man, from an ancient people,
Delivers his monologue, as if tapped into  a powder keg
Of bottled up anger, abuse, death,
And centuries of pain after
Millenia forty, or was it sixty
Of peaceful peoples and their Dreamtime land. 


Their welcome to country betrayed by
Pale “spirits” in gaudy plumage and 
Shiny buttons and pointing sticks
With flying fire held 
Like bone pointing,
The fire from the pale people’s stick tore their hearts out 
Before they could reach for their spears
Or understand that their brave response
Was no match for the maelstrom of constant fear 
They would be facing evermore.


He delivered his fiery monologue in white man’s language –
His own long ago denied.
His people could and would no longer sit and wait 
To die from the abuse and neglect  and  discrimination,
Metered out without measure –
Since pumped up with power –
The “spirits” landed on their shore
And declared it  “terra nullius”

Rita La Bianca

Respectfully for Meyne Wyatt and his monologue on Q&A –  ABC – 8 June 2020 

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in the rain …

in the rain
thoughts teem, 
like fat wet drops
that hiss when they
fall in a stream, 
fall out of my eyes, 
fall out of my heart
through which blood beats 
quick through veins
dark and red  
thoughts make me sad 
on a grey day 
when clouds loom dark 
rain drips down my face
with salt tears to scald skin 
make me catch my breath
catch cool rain on my tongue
as it falls through air…

Veronica Lake

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300 steps

The 300 steps between
reality and fantasy,

the daily walk to my 
husband’s wavering world
where muffins are llamas;

his days in a wheelchair
with wombats for arms. 

300 steps away from 
a meal to cook for one
dishes to wash, a bill to pay;

only takes minutes to walk 
this impossible distance. 

Mardi May

The visit

His abandoned tractor
flakes the earth with rust,
tyres crack and shred,
an ear of wheat in a wheel
waves a last defiance.

He tilts a battered hat 
against the lowering sun,
paddocks blown to dust,
sees in the oil drip stain
the blood he gave the land.

Mardi May

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Between the Stitches

I learnt to sew on a sewing Singer
And hand-peddled mum’s with childish fun,While she sat and sewed, for each new babe,As all our clothes, were then, homemade.With my sisters we numbered five,All dressed alike filed in floral pattern,Stopped the traffic as we crossed the streetFor city-dwellers on homeward beat.

Glad McGough

Mum Maketh the Man

‘Can I have a taste?’ the child enquired.
‘You can lick the dish,’ his mum replied.
‘I love the taste of chocolate cake,
It’s even better than when it’s baked.’

‘What a mess, my dear, you’re in,
It’s on your face: your cheeks, your chin.’
The boy replied with a cheeky grin,
‘You should see what it’s like within.’

Glad McGough

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A Quick Word
With apologies to William Carlos Williams

It was me 
who threw out
those peaches that
you placed 

the paper bag,
then forgot  
for a week.


They were awful,
so soft, 
so squishy.

Jan Napier


down splintery stairs
into dusky honey
drizzle of alto sax
oboe soloes floaty
and low 
piano tuned indigo
vamp women
slinking dance floor
cleopatra fringes
red lips
wet mouths in the dark
men in al capone hats
diamonds on pinkies
chewing stogies 
and smoky blue riffs
drifting …

Jan Napier

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What have you brought inside, Dog?

” a bonea piece of death hot and darklike a black sunin my mouthour home must have somedeath a hard thingto gnaw on “

Julian O’Dea


After the argument 
we found a quiet spot in a 
where mushrooms pop up
with that earthy smell
when you split them
popping like your
lipstick, like a push-up bra,
there was no great hurry
to return to our car.

Julian O’Dea

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Blackberrying aftermath

I think of my Dad when blackberries swell and creeks run shadily over the stones,
when the snakes slid quietly under the banks and the sky was a robbed blue egg.
Tangled in the truck was a mob of kids, buckets and one dog from side to side, 
rampaging, as we trundled up the gully road.
It may have been a startled roo or a rabbit in the bush; the dog flew off the tailboard
rolling fur and flying feet and was away. Six kids screamed and banged on the roof.
My sister howled, ‘He’s dead, he’s dead,’ and sobbed into her new Christmas towel
but Dad drove on, oblivious.
A slow grinding up the hill, us kids disbelieving an adult could be so unfeeling.
Down the driveway a horrible quiet, the neighbours faded out- thongs flapping hastily home
while we crowded round berating the driver. ‘He fell off Dad,’ we cried, ‘you wouldn’t stop.’
‘He’ll be alright I reckon,’ said Dad
And sure enough around five o’clock dog returned, feet somewhat scarred
stinking of rotting flesh and fur full of burrs. Oh Put him out!  Put  him  out! Noses held
but dog, pleased to return prodigal to the fold, was hurt. 
‘You kids wash him…then he can come inside.’
That night we dined on blackberry pie
while dog licked out the dish
and all Dad said was: ‘Put him on a rope next time.’
but I saw him lean over and rub his head, gently. 

Virginia O’Keeffe 


My mother has returned to gaol.
Released for one day on parole,
she fled with her accomplice
up the valley to her old homesite.
Sadly there was little to see.
The may bushes were just in bud
and her roses, ‘Well you know,’
she said, ‘you cant kill them but
they haven’t flowered yet.’
They ate at Shanos: fish’n chips
and bought new slippers in Robyn’s.
The covid police were closing in.
‘I have to take you back,’ he said.
She waited, longing, while he
did some chores around the place
then they were off,  back through
the pines burnt and stark on the ridges.
‘It’s not the same,’ her mind is darting.
‘We eat at five, I hate the little pies
and something like a pastry cigar.
‘Boring!,’ she sniffs.
‘The dessert is ALWAYs icecream.
I miss my fruit puddings and 
a whiskey on the verandah
watching the evening slip away beyond the river
we prisoners have to hide our hooch.
You know,’ she sighs,’  in gaol at least you’d 
have a cell mate who’d wish you

Virginia O’Keeffe

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in the morning as you rise

add water milk & salt
to a pot of dry flaky oats
stir on a stove—
see & taste a total transformation

sprinkle olive oil & salt 
on a thickly sliced tomato
spread with freshly picked basil—
bite: utter magic revealed

feed green clover & paspalum
to a beautiful jersey mother
see how grasses turn to milk—
as her calf suckles warm & living 

spread a hot piece of grainy buttered toast
with a slash of jar-bred vegemite
feel it bite its way as you gnaw—
into your fading memory bank

lift your bleary eyes to the sun
discern the warmth & caressing
of rays that sizzle from afar—
& fall with joy upon your furrowed brow

getting older is nearly as much fun
as being born
as your cord is cut as you are released to be—
with something of the gloop & struggle

Allan Padgett

spinning blades at 4,000 bloody feet

when i was in that helicopter with fuel gauge set
to close to zero
chopper set to 
desperately spotlight searching in broad daylight
waiting for the glint
for a reflection any flash of light bending skyhigh
from a 44 gallon drum of av gas 
to a fretting well-mannered pilot man’s searching eyes
pommie is my (nick) name flying choppers is my (work) game
hey shit arthur can’t you remember where the drop was
where are we now mate
o i see now i know
why you’re not saying much
we’re spinning blades 
at 4,000 bloody feet
it’s a better view!
but a shitload further to fall
fuck this mate wish i’d stayed in carlton
biggest danger there was getting pissed at watson’s wine bar
or the uni hotel where a man opened a suitcase in the dunnies
one night & made me an offer i couldn’t refuse
so i did 
drugs laid out like a shop full of lollies
o where was i o yes in a helicopter about to plunge
to brittle earth 
anyway i thought that inner melbourne was likely far safer
than way up here on a stratosphere’s edge waiting for the fall

a tiny glinting set our hopes on fire
a quick (controlled) descent 
as fuel gauge flattened on a zero line
it was nearly as empty as my bowels
a very scary moment
counting down without knowing exactly when 
auto rotation would automatically click in 
& get us to ground alive if we were lucky
not broken by a cliff-face smash & disassembly
at this early stage of my life 
i didn’t yet feel like splitting into atoms
it was nicer by far just landing
it was even nicer just standing
here we were sucking gas from a metal drum
under a blazing west kimberley sun
on a sunny late spring afternoon
& at this brief neurotic hyena laughing instant
felt far more alive than death could ever be

Allan Padgett

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Kununurra Footpaths

Black feet, white feet;
they all resemble camel feet
on these streets – the deliberative tread,
and the pale cushioned soles,
an ankle, not quite a fetlock,
but an articulated bolt and swivel 
of bone hoisting an animal 
whose thoughts up there, 
closer to the sun,
shielded by centimetres 
of hat brim, extend to no more 
rarefied dimensions than the next step, 
which is of course a matter 
of the purest metaphysics
to the camel – I walk, I am; 
for the beings of camels and men 
synthesised a century before
these streets were laid, the flyblown
union of hoof and sole trudging 
a hypostatic desert floor.

Chris Palazzolo

Kununurra Skies

The way the cloud bunches up 
behind the bluff makes me realise
we’re so far away 
we might as well be miniatures; 
squeaky-voiced Lilliputians 
in exquisitely rendered 
mini-clothes, tapping the pointy 
ends of eggs and putting about 
in dinky cars on streets 
of a matchstick town a man 
in rubber reptile suit is going 
to stomp and kick to pieces. 
The cloud augments cloud 
in fluffy cloud fashion, intimate 
as cream smoke from 
a magician’s hat, propagating itself 
out of absolutely nothing. 

It won’t rain. It never rains 
(until it does), but that’s another life 
on a scale for towns in outer space.

Chris Palazzolo

Remote Highway

Driving so fast for so long
I feel afterimages
slip off me
like the old cartoons
of foiled predators; 
seated spirits startled 
by their disembodiment, 
dissipating like
steam in sunlight,
watching a car they thought 
they were safe in
leave them behind
on sections of highway
only mulga, hummock
and kangaroo carcass inhabit.

I’m tired and sore.
The images must be a fright, 
showing ribs
through translucent shirt 
and flaps of skin, 
skull-teeth sneer – 
my eyes have wandered off
the road again!

Seek the roadhouse – 
pergola shade
and black coffee magic 
to rob my future vitality
for another 200ks of rolling 
bitumen and bolting white lines.

Chris Palazzolo

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chasing dragonflies

in beauty salons
private stories have a way
of slipping out

fragments slip
like wisps of unruly hair
shampoo sliding into ears

— a stomach band, slimmed down
at first, Botox hasn’t lasted
planning surgery — hooked

on exercise regimes
anti-aging creams — chasing
dragonflies of youth

— a stylist’s brother
special forces, three tours

keeps his secrets, but
fragments slip – it seems
special forces recut

his contours
his paramedic job re-dyes
highlights, a surrogate

for colour in a place
no longer home — he
signed up again

Yvonne G Patterson

memory of lilies

it was the lilies, they waylaid me, reaching from bouquets
inside a Basilica, mosaic lined, in Ravenna

fingers of their scent took hold, caressed my face
gloved my hands, saturated breath, muted sight

familiar, intimate, unearthing memories
– their wedding photo hangs within my childhood

I’d been mesmerised by her bouquet
long stemmed white lilies, long, long stems, coolly elegant

white bells, manicured, enfolding gold dipped stamens
– our New Zealand garden – lilies, disappearing 

into long, cold months of sleep, re-waking, most years,
replacing winter’s breath with bright, white summer life

– redolent scent clothed our childhood, witnessed our hurts
our love, our lives, whispered stealthily inside my DNA

– bouquets of lilies held vigil at her funeral – fragrant bells
keying memories to scented chimes

Yvonne G Patterson

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Koala has been bitten by moths!

Her knitted skin unravelling to reveal her fluffy interior
She’ll fall apart soon
She’s too precious – we have to help her!
I am a needlewoman of no renown 
I consult Those Who Know and buy the right sort of needle
And many shades of felt
Should we try to make her the same again?
Or cover her with different coloured patches?
Grey! The same!
A whole evening cutting, pinning, sewing
With big clumsy stitches
Three small holes on her chest
 all one patch, heart shaped
I come to love Koala

Fern Pendragon

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The Monsoon

Monsoonal deluge
gushes from heavenly aquifers
above in the greyness and black

A sudden release
like sluice gates opening 
pouring steely connecting ribbons
to earth for a brief encounter
filling rivers and paddies
soaking scarecrows
their despondent faces
running like dripping mascara
from a woman’s tears


The gates have closed momentarily
until a beating tattoo resumes
pummelling the ground
as the monsoon marches on
to its death and reincarnation

Barry Sanbrook


The battles of life evolve
a tribute to continuation
thought processes that delve
into niches of our brain
searching for meaning
sometimes evoking shouts of celebration
as the onion layers peel away
moving toward the inner core
the essence of our being
the place we reside.

It feels like a scuffle won,
as only part of a greater struggle
it will need to be refought
over and over
never fully resolved or understood.

We are a tribute to ourselves
a continuation of secret forces
a mélange of mystery
an alchemist’s concoction
of the precious and the base
a mishmash of spells,
a minuet of magic
that has enabled us
to reach trembling certainty
so easily overturned

Barry Sanbrook  

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Never will I flip my thought

Don’t think 
As I have seen so morbidities 
I will flip my thought.  
Still embrace the lungs 
The stowaways to obtain free passage 
As they want none to breathe 
And very often I protest, 
Very often I flee. 
But where will I be housed? 

I meet 
The spark of the fire 
I talk to 
The wall. 
They show me the weapons 
To get rid of the stowaways. 
But where is the photosynthesis? 

‘None are greater than the trees’ 
And never will I flip my thought. 

Partha Sarkar

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my buddhist neighbour

powerwalks on the path
beyond my fence

circumnavigates the park—
purpose bent—to where

the wooden bridge begins
its span across the lake 

in a gauzy rise of morning
mist she slows then stops 

her walk becomes tai chi—  
meditation in motion 

movement reflected in the
slow glide of a lone duck

Norma Schwind

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Following Soda

‘Soda’s on a mill run he’ll show the way’.
Impassive on introduction
two words is all we get — 
‘foller me’.

Soda grabs his grubby hat
and we’re off flat tack
tailing swash and buckle Soda
in his little yellow Suzuki
as he zig-zags through the scrub.

Protruding pipes and wrenches 
rattle like cannon on their trucks
as Soda shows the way.

Each mill required attention. 
A tinker here, a curse or mumble there. 
Mystic incantations or a ringing wack —
whatever it took to get water  back. 
Then the jingle jangle wrangler’s off —
a lap record on his mind perhaps.

At one hot stop Soda grunts  ‘grub’, 
the signal to grab a blackened sunshine milk tin, 
a handful of tea and knock up a brew.

Lunch is a packet of Raspberry Waffles. 
Square, latticed pastries laden with jam.
Soda’s first bite is a bit off-putting
as a host of red worms squirm through the holes 
to seek refuge in his whiskers.
We settle for strong black tea. 

A jerk of the head gives us directions. 
Not much of a track,
over a rocky ridge,
a crushed spinifex here,
a cracked rock there.

Less than we expected.

Glad we asked.

Laurie Smith

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Instructions to cook a stew

I push open your belly
wide and shaking with hunger, I wonder
what kept you for so long?

the sounds your body makes
as it lays – borborygmi of rumbling and growling 
– quivering beneath my fingers.

I peel back layers and layers of skin from onions.
and fleshy tomatoes, plump on my cutting board
I dice them – exactly and without a thought.

I add a fistful of salt
to taste, every grain as rough,
and coarse as the edges of our very soul.

then I grind pepper and your tongue retracts 
your face turns upwards – disdain 
clear in your blanched eyes. 

I caramelise words of comfort,
my tone coated in vinegar
but my eyes are kind, a blend bitter-sweet.

I soothe you with a pinch of this and that, 
I build as I go – a nervous cook, I
so very unsure.

now that love is brought to a boil, simmering
stew-like, and we are swimming
limp in liquid broth that extracts all essence,

hunger still quaking,
you leave unfinished from the table and 
spill before my eyes.


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what  is  the  colour  of  my  soul

a  practised  piece,  
its  timbre,  
shivers,  dampens  the  load  i  carry

dark  velvet,  the  shroud, 
extends  the  trombone’s  slide 
plaintive  oboe
piccolo’s  shrill  attack
bassoon,  ivory  and  ebony  wooded  fugue
            wrenching,  wounding

pizzicato  plays,
tears  the  strings  of  vital  organ’s 
metronomic  beat  
            shredding …melting …

notes  echo  across the   branching  arms
of  some  distant,  ancient,  walnut  tree
heavy … hanging …
            with  sustenance
not  yet  will  they  fall
upon  the  common  ground 
of  antipathy

            russet  tone,  fragile  as  any  thought
no  balance  sought
a  symphony  of  timpani
drums  out  the  distant  beat
soliloquy  of  Smetana
sound,  softly  semaphores  the  dissonance
of  a  distant  chorus
strings,  taut,  highly  strung

souls  of  spheres,
shadow’s  tenor  shifting

Nick  Cave …  
            what  colour  would  choose

…     my  soul

Geoff Spencer


white  powder
not  what  it  was  cracked  up  to  be,
exits  the  young  life

he  carried  the  tree’s  name,
branching  across  vast  Mojave  Desert,        
her  daughter’s  brother-in-law  dead  
from  heroin

an  old   man’s  son  wears  uniform  green,
the  sign  of  Malta  on  his  shoulder,
restores  a  young  addict’s  life,
rewarded  with  Covid19  spat  in  his  face,

should  the  old  man  grieve  for  

Geoff Spencer

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On Wualai Road 

Monks glide through saffron mornings
accept offerings from busy people
who stop and smile for prosperity  
a red-brown pheasant steals through
dim light in the sleeping yard
squirrels tug spanish moss
from the calabash tree 
while we are still yawning 
                        Chiang Mai dawning

Pink flowers float
among green fishpond weeds
fish tails wrinkle water surfaces
a gentle breeze stirs the yard 
and the cobra-grass shivers       
the sun-birds have gone 
they went with the earthquake 
it came without warning, one   
                        Chiang Mai morning

A girl chases the dog up the pebble drive
friends on bikes drop in with beers
cigarette smoke blows over heads
whirring of the fan
a guitar twangs
out on the patio we sit 
we cook pork on the Thai BBQ
sparks fly, weave into the 
                        Chiang Mai evening

People snake through the walking market
a colourful scarf pulled through the street 
How much for the jade with the pearls? 
On my lap under a banyan tree 
noodles with deep-fried flowers  
banana pancake, no chocolate 
from the temple the Golden Stupa watches
rising lanterns light the sky 
                        Chiang Mai night  

Amanda Spooner 

At Yoga

as a Tree I fell 
into the wall    
bent tentatively into  
Downward Dog 
collapsed into Cobra 
more resembling
a green tree lizard 
and sank into Plank
I sought tranquillity for
several hours it seemed
suppressing the thought
of how to rise again 
under a mantra of Oms 

Amanda Spooner 

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a long corridor of forever 

With age my horizons shrank
shrank into boundaries, hard set.
Set by self or circumstance
circumstance my fault, or not.
Not wanting to look ahead 
ahead to the unknown, I look back
back at the thoughts of yesterday
Yesterday, a good day was promised – 
promised and now here, today.

Maggie Van Putten

Recurring Dream

Lost in a maze of rooms
Some nights in a stately home
other times a rundown share house
I’m searching, asking old friends,
long gone parents
random folk from everyday
I’m always the same age
though the year might be now
or then, or never
 can’t find the answer
don’t remember the question
yet I wake up knowing
I can’t stop looking 

Maggie Van Putten

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A Whitefella Wonders in Noongar Country

Bull ant     Scientific name: Myrmecia cephalotes
Noongar: kallil

Praise be for the buffed bull ant, 
whose mandibles like Samson a mighty machine, 
red, black and green glossy between 
brawny thorax, abdomen and head. 

Huge arthropod, godly name,  
Myrmecia cephalotes exudes
acidic praise of formic broods, 
a vast defensive display.

His tracks his prey with high power 
multiplex eyes. Delighted, 
he sees his world as good and 
smells the honeydew in the flower. 

The First People show the respect 
to Kallil, the bull ant, he deserves,
whose almighty bites transect
and jaws of steel crush nerves.  

his abdomen swings and stings:
his venom can inadvertently 
bring down and kill a man.

Best to worship then.

Herimosa albovenata, the white-veined skipper
Noongar name: bindi-bindi

In a close fly-by the white-veined skipper 
Explores my nose and forehead. 
The curious butterfly does a spinner 
And brushes the pores of my ear.

Her wings fan languidly belying the speed 
she darts as she swims in the air. 
– butterfly stroke, or something like – she 
stoops and takes nectar from the flower. 

Her wings flash gold as they open and shut. 
The First People welcome their bindi bindi, 
Wind made visible, caress that lazily soughs, 
Fragile angel, messenger of the deity. 

A Minor Third, The Brown Honeyeater
Lichmera indistincta
Noongar name: kyeat

A bird’s insistent whistle, ‘hooo whee’, 
A minor third its notes descending, 
Growing louder, the siren approaches, 
Sweet and sharp, a word intending. 

My eyes sweep the trees as I pass by, 
Dappled green and grey, light rippled, 
The bird hides, self-isolates, still calls, 
‘hooo whee’, the volume tripled. 

My eyes switch between leaf and sky, 
My sight by airy nature blurred. 
The song continues with its teasing, 
How can this tree so hide the bird? 

Then as if to bless me the tree reveals 
The little bird the social tweeter
On nearest branch a metre distant, 
Dappled green and grey, shrewd honeyeater. 

Ted Witham

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