Creatrix 52–Poetry

March 2021

Selectors: Peter Jeffery (OAM) and Veronica Lake

Contributors

Anil

            Gnome Control

Kaye Brand

            To the Universe

Mar Bucknell

            un-rushed

            mister gray and the beauty of a distant land

Helen Budge

            Sorrow

Peter Burges

            Visa Run: Penang

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

            Wring and Waste

            In the Abyss

Derek Fenton

            A New Herman’s Hermit

            Poet’s Nightmare

Margaret Ferrell

            Trust

Sally Gaunt

            End of Self-Isolation

Kevin Gillam

            and yes

            the one of us

Candy Gordon

            She takes my clothes

Mike Greenacre

            Nature’s Calling

            Perhaps Philosophically

Ann Harrison NSC

            Being Dead

Jenifer Hetherington

            Corkman

Ruari Jack Hughes

            The Word Is Out

Ross Jackson

            Bon Marche Arcade

            Incoming front

Rita La Bianca

            Banksia menziesii

Veronica Lake

            Literature Lesson

            Tethys

A.R. Levett

            MFH

Jenny Magann

            A Purpose

            Easter

Mardi May 

            Leave taking

Glad McGough

            Danglers

            Felicity

Diana Messervy

            Meeting the Beach

            The Dunny Man

Daphne Milne

            Map reading on the rally road

            To the friend who was once my lover

Jan Napier

            May 2020

Julian O’Dea

            Bristlebird

            A New World

David O’ Neill

            board up the stately manor

            Kuchinoerabu-jima

Virginia O’Keeffe

            A family’s prayers

            Little things

Allan Padgett

            a dog, a wife & a matter of choosing

            Hyde Park, May 2020

Chris Palazzolo

            Halls Creek

            The Cricket

Francesca Par

            Hold Steady

Yvonne G Patterson

            cul de sac of time

Mike Pedrana

            hey whatever happened to bindy dodd

Jaya Penelope

            The next poem I write

Ian Reid

            Ticker

Barry Sanbrook

            Our Second Kiss

SoulReserve

            Derbal Nara – Six Seasons

Geoff Spencer

            an apology

            Music with strangers

Amanda Spooner

            In the Garden at Joe’s River

Suzette Thompson

            Woman and Dog

Kelly Van Nelson

            Don’t Look Back

Maggie Van Putten

            Beguiled

Rose van Son

            Letter to Vincent

Gail Willems

            Something Philosophical

Chris Palazzolo

            Review – Poems about the House by Carol Millner 

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Gnome Control

If ever a gnome 
should visit your home
don’t spray it with foam 
nor seek help from Rome. 
Just tell it ‘Shalom!’

Then read it a poem 
or long palindrome
and watch it go roam
back into the loam, 
its underground home. 

Anil

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To the Universe

Walk with me
through challenges 
that seep into my days
through the complexities
deprived of pathway signs
through distorted images
loitering in the wings

Talk to me
with the gentleness 
of softly falling vowels
with an intellect enamelled
in clarity and awareness
with a compassion
to cushion my soul

Be near me
to strengthen my capacity
for healthful self-tenderness
to guide my healing search for 
a mellow soothing balm
to enhance this journey
back to my life

Kaye Brand

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un-rushed
after michael dransfield

after you have carefully
followed the instructions
feel the cold
cover your eyes
and learn the grammar and syntax
of howling under water

Mar Bucknell

mister gray and the beauty of a distant land

the shards of the mirror
are daggers without handles

grasp them tightly
for their proper use

you defend yourself
at your own risk

there are limits to how many fingers
you can afford to lose

but you have made your choice
the killing is necessary

you must not fail
but know this

they did not give up
without a fight

and you did not succeed
without indelible scars

Mar Bucknell

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Sorrow

Just when you think
you’ve beaten sorrow
up it creeps
from a kind word
like a small wave
hidden by the dumper
you can see
rising, swelling, curling
from a flat blue sea.
You dive
into the dumper 
and emerge unscathed.
But its smaller back-up
grabs you,
tumbles and flays you
into the deep.

Sorrow is a sneak.
Kindness is its ally.

Helen Budge

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Visa Run: Penang

South of Songkhla: Muslim country.
More smoky, duller coloured
than Buddhist, yet so alive
in brown eyes, tropical blooms
thrusting hugely through layered verdancies
palpitating languidly.

Waiting for visas to be processed
we breakfast on garlic naan, chicken curry,
dahl, pickles, mango chutney, eggs;
and chai, of course, cup after cup

each slurp across thick-lipped china,
each refreshening kaleidoscope of tastes —
herbs, cinnamon, anisette — so right
morning clicks a bit more into place,
among heightening smells: the Indian boy’s
sweet-and-sour sweat, coke’s acridity,

and sights: greens and browns,
bananas’ bunched voluptuousness
hanging yellow-crescented, bird calls’
blue and turquoise flashings;

make love beneath torn mosquito nets
on blood-stained sheets, bits of wings;
float sky’s expanse, kelp’s long-
stranded bleeding into sea’s
salty placidity; lose ourselves
among dunes’ creamy silences,
burble of voices and thin muzak

blanketing department stores’
high arched foyers where tinted windows
soften midday’s stare while surface gleams
mirror multilayered clichés.

On the Butterworth to Bangkok run
we do not leave our second-class cabin;
sit exhausted, unspeaking, staring out 
opposite windows, picking at peeling paint,
fly stains, waiting to cross the equinoctial
where light changes and hiatus collapses
again into manic frenzy, Thai smiles.

Peter Burges

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Wring and Waste

Troubled smiles and me with deceit
draining over my silent heart.
To be or not is the divide.
It comes in waves to settle

mid-section, the rat gnawing
as the hand craves being still.
How the simple is error 
and the complex delves thoughts.

The over and over as moles
push mountains and the rush
is a waterfall beating on shoulders.
The slow erosion, the slow bend

under the weight when night 
is what I crave. The turning to dark
with the lonely reach of hands.
Sometimes, the noise behind my eyes

batters the silence in a world that
belongs to the deaf. Sometimes,
ink is poison and paper, my burden.
Sometimes, to be held is enough.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

In the Abyss

Pen gouges paper
tears tears the colour of ink.
This black that sweeps lives
on this island            Manus
spills into the lives of many
as the orchestrators 
wallow in privilege.
How the rage is held
by those fed lies.
Who took the impossible step
to brave hell as time’s curse 
works to delete them.
Scour their dignity
while I am water
without a course.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Manus Island (Papua New Guinea). The Australian run offshore processing centre for those seeking asylum in Australia after arriving in Australian territorial waters without authority, 2001–2019.

Manus–Father of the Abyss in the online game “Dark Souls” by Hidetaka Miyazaki 

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A New Herman’s Hermit

There’s a kind of hush all over the world
except for the squelching of sour grapes!
Now his fallacious flag has been unfurled,
there’s a kind of hush all over the world.
Now that his tiresome tweets have un-twirled,
he’s throwing a tantrum behind the drapes.
There’s a kind of hush all over the world
except for the squelching of sour grapes.
The more he crushes with ferocious feet,
the tastier the wine of his defeat!

Derek Fenton

Poet’s Nightmare 
A villanelle

 It is every poet’s blight—

the worst thing they can ever do, 
always at the end of the night 

the opposite of the delight 
when a poem’s finally through. 
It is every poet’s blight, 

when an idea pops out of sight, 
the ingredient for a brew, 
always at the end of the night. 

Til the morning, to wake in fright 
and find out that, that line just flew. 
It is every poet’s blight. 

Instead, it can be a delight, 
the very best thing they can do, 
always at the end of the night 

to take out that notebook and write 
that sublime line, the one to woo. 
It is every poet’s blight—
Neglect, at the end of the night!  

Derek Fenton

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Trust
Time present and time past are both
                      perhaps present in time future
                                                            T.S. Eliot

Trust is a small word, but with the strength
of its five letters full of promise. I ponder

this, unaware of café bustle, chatter, clink 
of cups, my gaze on dregs of coffee. Trust,

the concept sturdy as it is, can still be wrecked,
even by a thoughtless act.  How to heal is the

problem to face.  In fairy stories, like Humpty 
Dumpty, things can be put together again. Not

so easy when trust has been repeatedly harmed 
in past and present, perhaps suggesting that 

present and past will come together in the
future. My thoughts darken as I think of 

distress to come. I look around, notice a woman
on her own at a table opposite. My focus returns

to my empty coffee cup, until awareness raises
my head.  The woman crouches beside me.

Her words – ‘It’s Christmas’ make me smile.  She
follows this with, ‘I’ve just bought these chocolates.

Would you like to choose one?’  Her warmth, her
gift spin my world, lighten the present, open up

the possibility of hope and trust.

Margaret Ferrell

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End of Self-Isolation

There are some lights upon
the hillside,
some stars above the sea,
A beacon marks the channel;
you lie, sleeping, next to me.

In the dark before the dawn
I feel your chest rise and fall,
the rhythm of your breathing
reminds me that we are free
from isolation, home’s ennui.

Sally Gaunt

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and yes

what I’d like to read is not
truth but clouds and not tales but

the stains left by spoons and this
flat earth needs round thinks and a

God needs not a beard but six
legs and it’s love love love that’s

what they sang and there’s three like
in jokes with their two folks same

and one for the punch and did
I tell you these twin kids up

the road at age four spoke a
new tongue that had to be un

learned and yes there is milk there’s
a crock of brine  but not words

Kevin Gillam

the one of us

one is the fret and first on top of zero and
morning is what we drew with the sun in the corner,
at our desks, all urgent, tongues awry and
the fact that ants like fingernails was the
beginning of a beautiful clasp of hours but beauty’s
of little consequence measured against the
summer of all our contentments, for

summer with its flywire slack and stretch, days
of shimmering bitumen and brindled leaves, the
beginning of the bake and rise of us,
the ache and yearning and drip but just
at that moment it was the house, the windows, the clouds,
morning in crayons, our Christian names, only the
one of us, pencilled proud on the back

Kevin Gillam

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She takes my clothes

What does it mean, I ask myself
when daughter takes my clothes.
“I need to borrow this,” she says,
“to stave off fears and woes”.

“You’ve lots of clothes,” I say to her
“and some are quite unused.”
“I know,” she says, “but yours are best
when I’m feeling lost and bruised.”

This knack, this trick always disarms
and leaves me quite unnerved;
yet something tells me in my heart
that we are both well-served.

So frequently she’ll take my clothes.
She says “they’re like no other”.
She’ll travel far again this year.
I stay, her disrobed mother.

Candy Gordon

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Nature’s Calling

The hot summer’s day
sat heavily on my shoulders
as I walked through
the old wooden house

whose floorboards creaked,
marking each step with
determination
towards the back door

looking out to the toilet,
separated by a brick path
and an overhead creeper
to its slated wooden form.

My eyes were suddenly taken
by life’s motion
appearing on one board,
two flies making love

made me peer closer
as if inspecting their performance
to which they froze
until I closed-off this joy.

Didn’t think much of it
until I came out and
saw they were still at it …
“What a way to go!”

the thought flashed before me
as I turned, took off
my rubber thong and splattered
their memory across the boards.

Once inside the house
I was laughing at my 
gladiator’s swipe   and told 
my brother Chris of the brawl 

who looked at me 
with the philosopher’s calm: 
“How existentialist of you”
then grinned back much more. 

Mike Greenacre  

Perhaps Philosophically 

Our two cats show contrast
as does their colour, black to 
white, Minka the athlete 
and Freya the timekeeper
Minka’s sleek black form races
through memory and along
fence-tops, while Freya
takes the day’s moments
one by one

perhaps philosophically
weighing up time’s
possibilities – ‘to do or 
not to do?’ – but rather, 
conserving energy 
for the pursuit of food

while Minka is the wild
imagination, that rushes
thoughts toward the sky
before they’ve had
chance to gather
in their own backyard, 
perhaps philosophically.

Mike Greenacre

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Being Dead

When I die, will I know?  
Will I be in that space?
Alone.
Cut off.
No one knows
what I feel,
what I see,
where I am.    
Images loom.
Bizarre faces appear.
I cannot speak.
I cannot tell anyone.
I look asleep.
My body just another
but deep in the recesses of my mind
fear continues to brew.
Is this death? 
No one to ask!
They are not in my head, what do I do?
How did I get here?
How do I get out?
What happened?
Do not bury me I am still alive.
My consciousness lives on.
I have witnessed death many times,
Is this what it was like for all those people, now souls?
Is this a forever state?
I wake!
Years on I still ask the same questions.

 Ann Harrison  NSC

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Corkman
for John

Not a worry in the world, he said,
our antipodean ears tuned at last 
to the Cork lilt,
the song of it floating to the stars–
swooping back to earth within just a word,
the vowels long and soft like,
Cork like, like no other.

Five years since we lit a candle 
to farewell our friend,
many more since he sat with his 
love at our table, 
told the tale of a man from their village,
a man with not a worry in the world.

Refused by the girl he hoped to marry
lived as a bachelor, 
worked his farm, ate his food,
drank his beer, slept his sleep
with not a worry in the world.

The woman had a daughter who  
grew as fair as her mother, 
took a husband, and–
came a day when he died. 

Too young she was to be alone,
the man went up to the house– 
asked for her hand,
married they were before winter came;
together they were all the years ‘til he died,
with not a worry in the world. 

There’s a story too about our guest
and the woman he loved, though of the wrong faith, 
and his wife, lost to this world for many long years
yet, still in it, breathing.

How, smiling eyed, he strode out one night
across his fields through falling snow
out to court the woman he loved,
strode out he did­– backwards– 
and claimed her, 
with not a worry in the world.

No village tongues would clackety clack 
of his toing and froing, 
the imprint of his feet in soft deep snow 
showed only his going,
with not a worry in the world.

Jenifer Hetherington

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The Word Is Out

The word is out

Sure of it
Impossible for anybody
Not to know
What an idiot
I made myself
Trying so hard
To be cool
To love him
With no ties
Not expecting anything
Not asking him
To love me
Wanting nothing more
Than his body
Next to me
Holding me close
Just being there

The word is out

He’s not coming
He’s never coming
Not any more
Gone from me
Now and tomorrow
It’s all over
Don’t know why
I ever thought
It would be
Different from this
Always the same
It doesn’t change
Love goes down
Only a brief
Moment of ecstasy
Before the turn
And the sadness

The word is out

It’s very obvious
That I should
Give up now
Stop the pretence
That anytime soon
Or anytime ever
Love will come 
Stay with me
Wrap me round
In enduring delight
No, not me
He didn’t stay
They never do
Happiness is not
Something that happens
In my world
It will not

The word is out

Ruari Jack Hughes

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Bon Marche Arcade

off stream, a front entrance 
not just anybody will find
a back entrance, maybe no one will ever find
a cool place if you feel 
ramshackle’ s in vogue
for all the tenants at Bon Marche arcade
a joint operation making lovely, dusty piles  
out of what’s left 
in Perth’s past 

man, come in from the street
large red buttons in his ear lobes 
knows to use the stairs 
to reach the upper floors
where all the windowless 
wooden doors off the windowless 
narrow hall are painted black
secured by lock boxes 
or need to be opened by punching in a code

so, what is there to hide 
in this closed in
Raymond Chandler kind of space
potential location for a Viceland film?
do we need to ask the man with large red buttons in his ear lobes?
or maybe, he’s one of the incorporated poets 
seeking wisdom on level two
(though shouldn’t Perth’s poets know 
that wisdom’s only smoke for dopes to inhale?)

Ross Jackson

Incoming front

windiest winter morning 
for your Thursday beach walk
cumulostratus along the coast

sea only half sunlit, shoreline 
pounded by bombs of white water 
exploding around your unshod toes

you look out at heaving blocks 
of fluid greenstone, in stippled greys 
liquid granite tosses nearby 

marbled agate in spittle fields
kettle drums set to play 
above a seemingly 

deranged ocean 
you stagger on in fear 
of the blast of the last trump*

cling on to life 
as if it might be blown away 
like a well-loved hat

Ross Jackson

*”Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-52, KJV

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Banksia menziesii  (commonly known as firewood banksia)
Bulgalla ( Noongar name)

The Triangle in Inglewood Bound by Walter Road, Hamer Parade and 8th Avenue

Banksia menziesii.jpg

Pick a tree write it into posterity
Within cooee of the city in a bush reserve
stands a Banksia named for Banks and Menzies
a botanist and a  surgeon-naturalist back then
in Captain Stirling’s time when we were just a speck
on the maps of explorers from everywhere
Mungyt was what the Beeloo Whadjuk Noongar called it. 
Rugged and yet stunning 
its gnarled single trunk forks east and west
its bark like grey pebbled concrete 
beneath a canopy of grey-green leaves

Like flying foxes 
some spent cones hang
from pewter branches 
as if nosediving mid-air 
between the cloudless blue sky and 
the undergrowth of grasses flowers 
multi-trunked jarrah occasional stunted mallee. 

Lofty sturdy blue-green full of life   
amidst a graveyard of
dieback and climate change 

Winter showy vibrant banksia flower spikes everywhere
inflorescences more precisely 
a mere six thousand single flowers 
opening dark pink-red with a hint of yellow 
set against elegant serrated grey-green leaves

Fallen cones what a magnificent find
velvety chocolate brown 
woody yet impressive in their symmetry   
six follicles like open mouths 
release their seeds      
that in time become
seedlings full of purpose and 
resourcefulness
Such tiny seeds such long roots searching for
water deep in the sandy and
nutrient-poor coastal  plain
Every seedling in a race for survival
to tap the ground water  before 
the long hot summer of Perth arrives

Sixty million years their fossil records show
of persistence through wildfire and wet 
whose rugged features epitomise this
Great Southern land that we call home
And in a tiny triangle 
my Banksia menziesii stands tall and proud

Rita La Bianca

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Literature Lesson

Papers rustle, they settle into seats
and early morning lethargy prevails. 
To rouse them from such stupor I must assail
their minds. It is the reason that we meet.
Engagement with the text is my desire
To see eyes spark with clarity and light
Watch understanding dawn, perchance insight,
perchance ideas, perhaps minds set on fire. 
Is it to hope too much that they will see
meanings and connections to be found, 
that by tradition they will not be bound,
their thoughts will fly with creativity.
Words are but seeds, coaxing minds to flower.
As we all know, Literature is power, 

Veronica Lake

Tethys 

The goddess of the sea 
rises from watery depths,
unbinds her seaweed hair
casting it wide to sweep across oceans 
and catch the flotsam of experience.

The goddess of the sea
whispers to wild unruly winds 
breathes life into air
and with the moon 
draws streaming oceans to her bidding.

She garlands her head with stars
and turns her face from the sun 
weeping torrents
for the lost and lonely, 
for those adrift on her heaving waters

The goddess of the sea
laments days long gone
gathers scant tribute
and sinks down to her silent realm 
where only dim eyed fish swim. 

Veronica Lake

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MFH

Ancient home
nestled amongst
gum and pine
shelter from
real-world responsibility.

Your quaint design
mirrors imagination’s maze
paths seeks illumination
connections hidden
within your murkiness.

Literary types gather
beside your fireplace
steaming mug in hand
blank pages
awaiting inspiration.

Sunlight shines
through stained glass
highlighting confused phrases
muddled ideas
concealed nuggets.

Perched on veranda sill
magpies squeak
awkward sounds
their own journey
towards expression. 

A. R. Levett


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A Purpose

My granddaughter has a porpoise.
It is a secret that she shares with anyone
not just Nana. But Nana’s always keep secrets.
It is a grave responsibility.

Heading for three her porpoise is ballet.

I watch her in the swimming pool
pirouetting in the weightlessness
dancing relevé down the sloping bottom
en pointe as she keeps her nose out
then the luxury of a backward leap.

At two and an extra something 
she is my purpose.
A to the grave purpose.

Jenny Magann

Easter

Pleading atheism
and avoiding sermons
you and I set off on our pagan quest
seeking eggs to paint.
We found a brown triangle
in an time-worn milk-crate –
the old hen’s secret manger.
All were warm from her flesh – 
we had unnested her 
with our blundering search.
Cross, she ruffled black feathers,
cackled her annoyance, 
looked at us side-ways,
red comb wobbling.
But despite her broody desire 
to safeguard her treasured triptych,
her ambition of motherhood
would be thwarted by virgin eggs, 
now to be spirited away.
Still, it seemed sinful to take them,
today of all days and I put one back.
You laughed. ‘Like saying you don’t believe 
with your fingers crossed.’
Laughing with you, I lifted crossed fingers.

Jenny Magann

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Leave taking

My friend of forty years,
a woman of philosophy, 
is taking from this life
its one final lesson.

She has chosen not to eat
lightening the load of death,
lays in a foetal curl, shelling 
wisdom and memories.

She opens her eyes,
mutters, sets free a laugh
as if to say to me:
life was one big joke.

My hand around hers maps 
the architecture of bones,
feels the ebbing heartbeat,
the letting go.

Mardi May

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Danglers

It is a fault, I believe, of humankind
To want to add the last few words:
(With no account of subject or a verb.)
We want to make our message clear
In doing so, without a thought,
Or clear constraint,
A dangler may appear,
An innocent particle – like misfits in life’s story
Just dangle there: a fragment fulfilling not intention
Of what the author really meant:
A miscreant distraction.
The red pen wields; 
the author’s voice in anxious dissertation,
‘The little phrase is meant to be 
Affirmation of my statement.’
‘But can’t you see,’ the red replies,
‘like sugar with grilled bacon, 
It’s out of place.
Use if you must, but put it in its station.’
But be aware, dear writer, computers type in green,
A fragmented sentence can never stand alone.
It has no sense of meaning if whispered to a friend,
You run the risk of being judged as:
“going round the bend.”
Just let your writing flow…
An easy read without the “Tell” and loaded with more “Show”
An ending phrase must have both subject and a verb 
To grow dependent as a clause
And not with acrobatic skill
Remain up in the air.
And so your writing, then my friend,
Becomes  rhetoric and renown
May win a prize or two, or three
And give you satisfaction your fault is history.

Glad McGough

Felicity

As trees grew older reflected in the water
Breeze wrinkled the mirror of the pool
Flowers nodded, basking in early spring sun
Their scent wafting in tune with distant carolling birds
White, white silky fur humped and stretched sinuously
Her tiny petal pink mouth poised to languidly lick her paw
In daily toilette ritual 

Glad McGough

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Meeting the Beach

Reaped from bumper wheat seasons back-to-back 
their first beach holiday
bickering kids
wedged in the back seat 
each spies the ocean first
we’re here!
thighs peel from the vinyl 

the fibro shack hunkers behind dunes
rusted roof – grey-mottle walls 
they haul their swags up
three splintered steps bisecting the front

inside desiccated flies underfoot 
crunch of sand blown under the door 
smell of seaweed and mouse

small brother yells from the lean-to 
tacked to the end of the sleep-out
Hey look at this. The bath’s got paws!

noses zinc creamed 
they wisecrack and tussle
track through the dunes 
bare feet on blistering sand

sight the surf
ranks of breakers 
billow – curl – crash in turn
turquoise – cerulean – foaming white 
incessant pound and suck

Tom breathes a soft slow whistle
hopping foot to foot
silent stare 
till Pete leads whoop and holler 
careening down the sand

gasp – the ocean’s chill
duck dive under a breaking wave
first thrill of tumble and spume. 

Diana Messervy

The Dunny Man


Each Christmas we left 
a tall brown bottle of beer
for the dunny man 

you could set your watch by him 
Monday mornings six o’clock
white plimsolls no socks
he jogged along the side fence
empty canister over his shoulder 

although our mountain winters were frosty 
the man’s lean brown chest was bare
his grimace fixed as his ritual
I used to think it was the stink 

sometimes I waved from the back steps 
but could never deflect 
his attention from the outhouse 
once my brother was on the dunny 
when the man swapped pans


loping back to the truck
with the full can 
he never spilt a drop – perhaps 
he’d refined the rhythm of his gait 
to keep the contents in place

I wondered how he fared
after our neighbour Christine 
and her six siblings
suffered a weekend of gastro

perhaps they left him a bonus
tall brown bottle. 

Diana Messervy

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Map reading on the rally road

There are no maps
no compass points
to guide us through
our tangled memories

crispness of new ironed sheets
vanilla scent of skin
laughter and lust and    love

The world’s more crumpled now
wrinkles like contour lines
hills where valleys used to be

Some things remain unchanged
he’s a comfortable man  
neither keeper nor a one night stand
a gosh it’s good to see you friend

Daphne Milne

To the friend who was once my lover
[the scent of your skin]

I am trying not to write a poem
about stewed gooseberries.
cooked with vanilla sugar

In my cupboard rows of little pots
translucent pink with tadpole spots
gooseberry seeds turned black when boiled
a bouquet garni of elderflowers and lemon thyme
sharpens any tendency to saccharine

All those years when we were young
come back to saunter through my memory
I unscrew a lid    inhale the scent
of summer 1993

Daphne Milne

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May 2020

Rush hour crowds in the CBD are memories 
grandkids will call lies and riverside St Martin’s 
bells rung during old London’s pestilence are silent. 

Stay at home. 

Skies shine sootless, lit freeways are their own horizons, 
stray trains silversliding alongside.

Keep your distance.

In the ‘burbs there’s no bustle. Rows of red roof houses
look like toy town, but where are the kids throwing 
a yellow ball, where are the yap yap dogs?

Wash your hands.

Teddy bears tied to railings hold out helpless arms, 
storms blearing chalk rainbows to smears on pavements.

Stay at home.

Turning birds curve their fractals, and for the first time
in years we stop to watch what’s always been there. 

Keep your distance.

Footy scarves huddle with beanies among jumpers, 
dead spiders and browning apple cores reside in school 
rucksacks happily abandoned.

Wash your hands. 

Borders close, while in bedrooms and backyards
others long unexplored open like sun struck daisies.

Stay at home.

In the sixties neighbours swapped home-made relish 
for fresh lettuces  and spoke over back fences too,
but only the Lone Ranger and Zorro wore masks.

Keep your distance.

Jan Napier

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Bristlebird

being a secretive prick
deep and smug among the spines
hunting for insects in the gloom
with his bristles as a guide
very little known still 
I think I caught a glimpse
as another birdwatcher danced
around the heath frustrated
by this notional bird with
its possible range
and its song like an automaton
poor man with his up-close
binoculars 
that bird observatory at Barren
Grounds is now gone
leaving the bristlebirds and
ground parrots alone

Julian O’Dea

A New World

A lamb baptises
himself in dew.
An angler miscasts
and snags 
another cloud.
God laughs aloud.
He is never angry
at this world,
sprinkling cicadas
in the trees to serenade 
the lamb.
Effects without cause,
Joy without laws.

Julian O’Dea

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board up the stately manor

when my friend died
I thought tears would bring her back
I stood very still by an open window
reciting every deed of goodness 
to scrape up a bond, stand surety

I never saw the willow in my garden
slowly lose its birds

I could line my pockets
with wild forest ash
but the trees, oh 

this side of the fracture line
I pour the tea, break bread 
and stand by the window
mono no aware
tracking the movement of the sun

David O’Neill

Kuchinoerabu-jima

the poet enters the caldera 
beyond us now 

one we cannot graph, quantify
until his return

a gunfighter entering a saloon
handing over his gun
knows himself momentarily undefined
stepping into no man’s land
where protocol suspends the passions of men

but a poet in the caldera
everything firing

is a poet in the caldera

David O’Neill

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A family’s prayers

Do you think we could have some rain Huey?
Could you send her down right now? 
there’s a very angry fire out there Huey
and its breath is black and foul.

The firefighters are exhausted Huey
they need more planes up in the sky, 
but some rain would touch those spots Huey 
unreached in difficult lies.

So break the heavens open Huey
let the fat clouds grow grey 
deluge the land beneath their shadow Huey
soaking rain can save the day.

        —————————-

Please don’t let Grandma burn.

Virginia O’Keeffe

Little things

I have a book, it says give thanks for everyday little things:
black cockatoos with red wings is a start; a bandicoot.
It drinks at a clay dish in the dawn, I watch with secret pleasure.
Mango sunset flares behind a blackened wattle.
Its death was long ago but sprightly honeyeaters
dance the light fantastic along cracked branches
a tree can live another way.    I go wandering
in the early light, when galahs are on wet grass. 
The birds up here are friendly. Scream. Warble.
Watch shrewdly but make no move to move…
now that’s a wonderful unimportant thing.

Virginia O’Keeffe

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a dog, a wife & a matter of choosing

first of all my wife’s brain blew up
then just an awful day after this arterial eruption
our kind-hearted kelpie who already had insulinoma caninus 
got stabbed in his soft pink belly by an accidental stick 
or with a knife by a someone grimmer
so here i am a man with a sick wife & a dog on the edge
of dying i failed sophie’s choice & took the boy instead
yeh nah just trickin’ i took him to the vet
& left the her for later… she was in good hands
the nice man told me that
so rather than attend charlies & wait alone in glacial time
as very brainy people worked another raft of magic
inside her head i had to drive him to the 
emergency cases only please vet hospital
as she was undergoing arterial penetration
a life-saving tube guided from wrist to brain

both came home but one didn’t last all that long
& certainly not long enough
the other came home two weeks later & still she barks
& wags a tale like our beautiful dog used to do
then a year or so later we got our home busted into via splintering window
& goods & memories got streamed down the street
in my wife’s bloody gym bag 
& around same time an ugly virus injected fear & loathing
into this our world why did it take so long
what is mutation’s death-filled calendar saying
whatever
given the other shit in our lives
it did come rather late to the party

Allan Padgett

Hyde Park, May 2020

Over there on a feverish inner-city corner is a snaking queue
of cashed-up youngsters yabbering fast & mostly free
seeking top-end pastries recommended by flashy magazines
& almond-milk lattes frothing wild while paid with tap & run

Nearby is a lake ribboned by sky-seeking English trees
& jaywalkers strolling hand-in-hand & grinning with gusto
as clusters of picnickers eat & drink at one point five
as curling swans beat off swathes of sticky mud & dip their spindly necks

through crusted layers of scum & junk
praying for autumn rain to fall & fill
seeking food & faith & continuity in evaporating shallows
just like the people bound in groups by shadowy doubts

Over there on a sloping green
is what I’m guessing is a family
wired by genes & skin there are 17
& they all look the same at first – but some

are clearly very older wrinkly wizened & thinking
others are transparently younger far & grizzling
& with a little bit of grade three calculus
my calculated mean is just under 33

Scanning ducks & scudding coots paddle every which way
as the lakes wait dry-mouthed & weeping for falling weirs
of wet & cool – there must remain enough to eat
because they are all alive & kicking

A hint of time of year a fizz of falling leaves
waiting for green to migrate in low gear to a burnished gold
hoping hard for hints of mandarin-bright orange & slinky magenta
there must be a faith like autumn’s willing death before the rising sap

& heralding birth of spring as we saunter in home’s direction like a flock of pigeons
along a crowded footpath ducking covid clash & grinning at youthful expectations 
while ambling awkward the other way toward one’s unknown end with hope 
& fading time on our minds as we step in awe toward tomorrow’s rising sun

Allan Padgett

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Halls Creek

This is the one hand clap town,
the one you wonder is it really here;
a hush so deep on these wild wide streets
that bloke in the mulga
              could be the last resident leaving.

You find others; eat fish and chips
and drink coke in a beer garden
with a desert beside the fence;
you make the AGM with minutes spare,
    deliver the reports before ‘God’s Work.’

But you never completely unwind;
the to and from is too long for that;
the here too small to really exist
and work stress absurdly 
disproportionate to its size,
while always on your eardrum 
the engine thrum from the shock 
of kilometres that never get shorter, 
for a town that never gets closer, 
                                     until you’re in it.

Chris Palazzolo

The Cricket

That is a very simple machine
stripped to three basic components— 
spring-latch legs to spring it away
attached to a libido like a battery
with five days of life in it
generating energy 
for an enormous voice-box 
which emits a mating call
so loud, so unflagging
and needling, my ears 
are ringing whenever it stops.
The sound drills my eardrums 
relentlessly. It drives every thought 
that’s not of it from my mind.
But I can never find the bugger.

How furious is the universe 
in the smaller life that inhabits it – 
this creature will never know quiet
never know rest or play 
or ease of any sort; call call call 
with all its might for a mate, 
unspring the torment to an offspring.

Chris Palazzolo

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Hold Steady 

Grasp your hand around my ankle
Tether me to you
My fingertips brush the stars
Toes pointed towards the earth 
Weightless body arched;
Reaching for the divine

Angels upon angels beckon
Singing my own sweet lullaby
Intoxicated by heaven’s perfume; 
A thousand roses for my weary soul
The temptation of surrender 
A constant companion

Adrift, I float through time and space 
Ethereal lightness born of defeat
Behind me – a trail of stardust 
Beneath me – a colourless world
How insubstantial my vanishing form
Flesh and bone – but dust and ashes

Night sky reflected in my eyes 
Constellations in the shapes of loved ones
Reaching hands pull me upwards 
Suspended between heaven and earth 
One foot in this world and one in the next
Only a breath away from eternal rest

Make heavy your anchor
Tighten the pull upon my heartstrings 
Bind me to the earth, to your solid form  
Hold steady
Hold steady 
And don’t let me go 

Francesca Parr

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cul de sac of time

stone heavy heat echoes from All Souls’ cemetery, murmurs
next door through Tarxien Temple halls, bleeds

into a dusty, pebbled cul de sac, littered
with tourist debris, shrouded in solitude

Neolithic Temples drowse — and in that sleep
perchance to dream, who knows what dreams may come—

padding out from spindly shrubs, broken slatted benches
temple grounds—a clan of cats

arouse the cul de sac, ancient avatars, wriggle in
through secret gaps between today and yesterday, prowl

the boundary at the street—two stand erect, listen—
a hand-pulled trolley’s wheels chat, chat, chat, interrupt

cobblestones, interrupt evening slumber—it’s owner settles
on a bench, unpacks, apportionss meat on plastic plates, watched 

by hungry cats, twisting tails around her legs, nuzzling
at her feet, kneading with insistent paws—

soon, just one cat purrs, stretches out, springs
away, melts through veils of dusk, returning into yesterday

and soon, steeped in dreams of sleeping pantheons she walks on
into tomorrow from the cul de sac of coalescing time

Yvonne G Patterson 

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hey whatever happened to bindy dodd?     

i remember when we were sun blotched kids
and life was just canteen lines,
girls with fresh bra’s
and who had the biggest bruise from the old man the night before.
in our town the aboriginal kids took your lunch money
and threw rocks at you on the bush track paths home.
their half-starved
rib protruding barking mad dogs
nipping at your skinny ankles as you leg it
to your cul-de-sac
red bricked duplex homes – out passed babbage island they all looked the same, 
so when you realised 
you entered the wrong one nobody seemed to notice.

in our hot fan rattling demountable classrooms we used to play a game that
became synonymous and custom with us white kids. 
it was our revenge for the stolen lunch money and sneaky rib punches from the
morgan town darkies just passed the quadrant most days.

if you wanted to be degraded and humiliated you
tell your classmates they have bindy dodds germs.
she was the largest and most hideous black girl in class and 
came from the boar st mission way out of town.
her knotted black mass of hair covered
her solemn face
and when she walked the corridors by herself she
would waddle like she was about to fall from left to right. 

and so we preyed upon her cruelly.

if you were late for class you were screwing bindy dodd in the toilets
we would all call out openly.
or if you were not seen on the weekends
you were doing bindy at the levee banks we would tease even louder.
everyone laughed and we all hung that medallion around our
necks like the school emblem.

as we got older we got braver.

we would reach over and touch bindy
with our wooden rulers and then touch a classmate
and announce in shrill,
‘you got bindy dodds germs!’
and the chosen sacrifice would be reduced to shame,
causing him to frantically pick up his ruler and follow suit.
bindy would just sit there with her squashed dark face and do nothing.
she just sat there,
quiet,
no friends to back her up,
just the odd teacher calling us to ‘settle down now!’ 
it was easy prey for us.
oh how we laughed.
it was the boys favourite game at school.

many, many years later during a holiday reunion run through the old town
we caught up with an old black fighter called fatty starr
and we asked,
‘hey whatever happened to bindy dodd?’
he told us 
‘she killed herself at 15!’
he said,
‘every night and most mornings some adults at the mission used to rape her
and then throw her on the mission bus to school when they finished.
so one day she just slit her wrists.’

silently we looked heavily at the ground.

none of us ever talk about that game anymore.

                                                                                                nor of her.

Mike Pedrana

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The next poem I write 
after Raymond Chandler

will be pedestrian, of concrete 
footpaths and picket fences
it will be the kind of poem 
you could leave lying around
at a bus stop or  
on a supermarket 
shelf and no-one would notice 
that it was breathing
or think twice 
before picking it up

and if reading that poem 
changed 
you, the change 
would be so tiny, so hairsbreadth 
infinitesimal

that you would not notice
and go on living
and catching the train 
to work every day 

as if you had never read it

Jaya Penelope

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Ticker 

That was his nickname among friends and siblings.
Explanations differed, his own bland version being
that each coat peg outside his infant classroom
had carried a distinctive identifying image
to help kids mystified by written words 
and the one assigned to him 
depicted a clock.

That fits. I think of the way he later tendedour clunky mantelpiece Ansoniawinding it up last thing each evening and keeping it precisely five minutes fast so its hourly strike would prime us for radio newswithout drowning it out.

Ah no, said a sister, he was Ticker because
he always used to chatter incessantly 
like a two-bob watch.

Whatever its origin, I like to think the moniker 
was apt for a man who had a big soft heart
and could readily talk about anything
except deep feelings.

And just as his children approached the age
when he might have begun to talk with us
about those murky difficult vital things
it was his ticker that failed and felled him
without a warning, so we never quite discovered
what made him tick.

Ian Reid

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Our Second Kiss

your lips of rosy softness
tasted once
tempt me to try again
but embarrassed by what I want
I hold back confused
disorientated by my thoughts
nervous of rejection

but you smile
demure yet inviting
and I resolve to savour
our second kiss

Barry Sanbrook

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Derbal Nara – Six Seasons

Birak. 
It starts with a thirst that feels unquenchable. The drought that sits at the back of our throats waiting for us to dissolve. The season of fire eats away at us, slowly working its way from our chaffed lips, sweltering hearts, into our parched souls.

Bunuru. 
The burning intensifies, turning to a raging simmer. The relentless, bittersweet hum of summer shows no reprieve. Heat soars,thirst climbs, and our soul continues searching well into the scorching nights.But white flowers on gum trees signal peace from windows.

Djeran.
Slowly, the breezes sally – tormenting the golden hush of endless summer and the weather is forced to turn, sighing windily. Sweat begins to cool off under the canopy of leaves that fall into a soft blanket from trees and luscious flowers of summer flame unfurl – glowing ruby red.

Mukuru.
The rain answers our prayers arriving vibrant and full of vigour.Storming and seizing, smoothing over the contours of our arid landscape. Waterholes fill up, jewel-like in scant country. And, cool turns to a cold, the kind that tickles our bones with its fingers. 

Djilba. 
Now, the weather turns again on its dancing feet. It is uncertain,transitional, as it gently sways between cold and warm. A little bout of storm, some wind and then clear balmy days that heal. We eat sweet plum and bask in blooming yellow wattle, enjoying the indecision.

Kambarang.
Days stretch, lengthening into tepid solemn nights. The rain has all but gone, leaving behind some reminders of its season. Now as native Christmas trees begin to blossom with vibrant flowers, we wait for the cycle of sun and moon to take us back full circle to another beginning.

SoulReserve 

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an apology . . . . . . . .
for  cumming{s}       e e

{Unless you love someone, nothing else makes any sense}

hello  said  he
hello  said  she
do  you  read  said  he
my  turn  next  said  she

i  like  thought  he
who  is  he  thought  she
may  i   hug  said  he
please  do  said  she

i’m  free  said  he
not  me  said  she
when  will  it  be  said  he
i   cannot  see  said  she

this  is  fantasy  thought  he
an  illusion  thought  she
may  we  touch  thought  he
not  too  much  thought  she

just  be  playful  thought  he
he’s  a  puppy  thought  she
a  tender  kiss  thought  he
with  a  tongue  thought  she

how  do  you  feel  thought  he
on  fire  thought  she
to  extinguish  thought  he
go  deep  inside  thought  she

body  longing  thought  he
let  it  begin  thought  she
how  should  it  be  thought   he
go  slowly  thought  she

i  want  to  be  spent  thought  he
make  me  wet  thought  she
it’s  only  a  dream  thought  he
for  eternity . . . . . . thought  she

Geoff   Spencer 

Music  with  strangers

“The key is   
A Sharp ♯ Minor   intermezzo of
A Major   Symphonic   Natural ♮  
Multi-Cultural Narrative”

can a piece of Music stop a bullet?

the clearest reason for   Music, for culture,  
is that it gives us meaning
you start as an idea—a group of musicians coming together  
and seeing what might happen 
..  ..  ..  when strangers meet!

from Venice, Istanbul to Central Asia, China and Mongolia
like a Manhattan Project for Music,  
no-one knows what will happen
art is about opening up to possibility—
possibility links to  hope—we  all  need  hope!

how do we fit in this world?

that—is a feeling shared with 7 billion other people.

chaos and revolution

can a piece of Music stop a bullet
can you kill the human spirit

there is no East or West
there is just a globe
we don’t speak perfect English, perfect Chinese or perfect Farsi—±
but we speak the perfect Music language

being part of and one with Music  
makes us understand what it is to be alive
everybody is afraid,  
but you can make a connection to another human being

you can turn fear into joy

when you make  ..  ..   

 Music with strangers

Geoff   Spencer

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In the Garden at Joe’s River

In breezy tropical darkness
waxing moonlight
catches a shell, bleached
beached on a hill 
hermit   

foraging in the grass 
hooked orange claws 
extend, then retract 
at shadows

in nearby forests 
leaves of tamarind 
and breadfruit 
rustle in the wind 
fireflies glow
intermittent amber
and a
dog barks at monkeys

Amanda Spooner

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Woman and Dog 

“Wheres your dog?”they say 
As I walk along the beach
“Where’s your dog?
Has he run away ?
Where’s that dog today?”

I smile and walk on
They just don’t know
 I may look like one of them 
Walking along the beach
Woman and dog
Companions in the early morning sun

Caring for him
Taking him for his walk
Calling gently as he takes off into the dunes 
Admonishing as he jumps on dogs who come to play
Calling to heel as he steals sticks 
They don’t know I’m thinking 
“Shit”

If they could see past this smiling face 
Into my mind 
They’d see too the things they’ve left behind

Midnight dances and glances
Bright dresses chosen to tease 
Hearts beating wildly 
Passionate embraces 
Imaginings and sleepless nights  
Accidental brushings against sleeves
The power of bodies intertwined 

We’ve said goodbye to all these
As we walk our dogs along the beach 
Pull our dogs tighter on their leash 

“Wheres your dog today ?”

I smile and walk away 

Suzette Thompson

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Don’t Look Back

We were all born under the same rock
but some were airlifted out 
to manicured gardens of posh estates 
behind electric gates with private number plates 
in their drives.

The rest of us were abandoned 
beneath the shadow of the stone
in the heart of the council drop zone,
everything on loan,
inner-confidence home grown.

Down in the earth with the worms
the tough got tougher
and the rough got rougher –
decapitate the head of a worm 
and it regenerates.

Nobody looked back for fear of seeing
one of the amputated tails,
unable to be revived,
leaving PTSD and guilty tendencies 
at being the half that survived.

We were the ones that got away, living in the present
where a ten pence cigarette went far, 
feasting on one puff before passing on the tar,
and a bottle of Scrumpy was shared with Jack –
we knew how to make fish and bread feed the five thousand.

Comradery stems from 
wriggling together in the dirt 
under the turf.

Every kid knew your name –
some used it, others called you worse,
but we all wrapped around each other
when wriggling in the hands of the police.

Eventually we grew into snakes
shedding our hand-me-down school uniforms 
and growing a thick new skin for work
where we soiled our hands and coiled our wallets 
around the minimum wage.  

Even if we wasted the coins on 
too much venom on a Friday night
you could always take a loan from your bestie
who never called in the IOU
because it was always paid back
gift wrapped in loyalty.

When the going got tough
we retreated to the clew, 
tunnelling deeply in the soil,
churning, yearning for better times.

We were the resourceful generation 
mixing reality with topsoil,
our secretion generating enough
nitrogen for plants to grow.

Don’t look back in anger –
Languor in a place where the 
nutrient of life is formed
and the worm is transformed
and reformed. 

Kelly Van Nelson

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Beguiled

I am suicide.
That stranger across the room
in a crowd of options.
Might I be your answer?

You’re alone.
Friends drifted away.
I can bring them back
to celebrate your life.

I see you watching me
catch your eye,
look away, sip my drink
turn back with a smile.

My touch when we talk
hints at our passion
I understand you
like no other.

You’ll see me everywhere
and shiver at the thought
of our secret.
I am suicide.

Maggie Van Putten

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Letter to Vincent

Dear Vincent—

I know you in a field
painting en plein air, but today
you are riverside         an island shore
your paint pots slightly charged

violet rose / ultra-white in keeping
with your smile, colours mixed yourself
colours you would not normally display   

proud of what you have produced
I take a picture with my phone 
a side view of de Vlamingh captured too

how you hang your hat just like his–
you say your name     Francesco, USA 
and a surname that bears
so much significance to art 

but I know you to be Vincent—
have read the letters to your brother   
perhaps you and Theo share a secret 
though his colours so much brighter

in summer’s brazen sun          Cesco, I say,
though I still have Vincent  on my tongue–
perhaps you share a brother? 

Vincent— you would have loved the  
joie de vivre in this young man’s eyes. 

Rose van Son

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Something Philosophical

I

Musk and must infuse a fragile leaf of words
in the library stacks the clock ticks
names and dates rustle knowledge
a million eyes gaze unblinking held fast
with upright spines
faces bloom out of paper and vellum
thinned by age    coloured    black inked
bound in mottled calfskin

II

in clear glass she appears
a textual ghost    hands long
a physiological delicacy
her skin fit the bones of her face

III

Like a cartographer tracing new shores
I trace your image in a fire bright window
we hold each other’s gaze    synergy
you are the illumination of life

Gail Willems

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Review 

Poems about the House by Carol Millner (Mulla Mulla Press, 2019)

As a rule, I don’t like chapbooks. Nor do I like big fat collections of hundreds of poems. I like nice slim volumes of about 60 to 100 poems (depending on length). Anything less or more I find too slight to be bothered with or too heavy and overwhelming for me to pluck up the courage to enter. Carol Millner’s Poems about the House is such an attractive production I may just be persuaded to change my mind about the chapbook. The cover design by Nathalie Bompard of the floorplan of a suburban bungalow is quite arresting and hints at poetry that examines the house and its place in our lives and culture with greater depth than mere reveries on the Domain website; a chapbook as a kind of poetic monograph. A scientific monograph is limited in its examination of phenomena by the strictures of logic and evidence; even the most whacked-out traceries of quantum physics can only be denoted by scientific discourse. Poetic language on the other hand can more freely communicate the aesthetic and emotional dimensions of the fuzzy and irrational. And what could be a more intense concentration of the irrational than the home?

The title poem signifies an awareness of this potentiality. It deals with the domestic artefactuality of drafts; drafts – the waste of poetic labour – which become drifts of discarded paper. In the course of tidying, kidplaying, searching for bills and official documents and other day to day goings-on in the house these paper drifts snag the eye with their unfinished text, like chinks of light from semiotic crevices. It’s a fascinating concept, and one that I as a writer in a bustling young home, am familiar with.

The motif of shedding and signification continues in the last, and the best, poem of the collection; the lovely ‘Jacaranda.’ Here the strange leaves and petals of the Jacaranda tree that drift about the grounds of the house prompt further reflections on language. It is interesting to note that these two longish poems which form the supportive pillars of the collection, play on the relationship of exteriority and interiority. ‘Poems about the House,’ set inside the house, muses upon the mystery of language fragments themselves and the light of meaning they cast on our world, while ‘Jacaranda, set outside in the garden, concerns the exteriority of language and how it supervenes on the things in the world it signifies.

Running through the collection is the theme of migration. The opening poem, ‘Ruth and Naomi,’ is an ambitious gambit, drawing an explicit allusion of the epic of exile from the Hebrew Bible to the poet’s own experience of migrating from New Zealand to Australia. By adding the dimensionality of Jewishness to that experience, the poet reminds us of the dread-inducing kinship of the migrant – uprootedness and the promise of new beginnings – to the statelessness of the refugee. Many of the little poems continue with this theme, more or less successfully, some treating the experience as an occasion for a joke (‘The Hole Story’ and ‘Library Days’), others expressing the pain of alienation from the harsh realities of their new country and the temporary houses in which they dwell (‘Renting’ and ‘Currents’).

As an editor I would have rejected a couple of the pieces here as either too slight or incomplete (‘Night Shift,’ ‘Lawn,’ and especially ‘Beaufort Street,’ as I lived and loved on and around that part of Perth in my party days and had expectations of a poem named after it!). But on the whole, I enjoyed this collection.  I found it amusing and stimulating and commend it to anyone looking to wile away an hour reflecting on what a Jewish woman I once knew, who lived in a flat on Beaufort St, Highgate, called the ‘Dwealm’ – dwell + realm.

Chris Palazzolo 

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