Creatrix 62 Poetry

September 2023

Selectors: Ross Jackson and Veronica Lake

Honorary Selector: Peter Jeffery AO


Ananda Barton
            Poet to the Prime Minister

Carly Beth
            They told me the headaches would stop

Maria Bonar
            Head Space

Mar Bucknell
            behind buddha’s back

Peter Burges
            The Preachers

Eddy Campbell
            Shooting Stars

Gary Colombo De Piazzi
            City Eyes

Kathleen Dzubiel

Derek Fenton
            Pilansberg (Southsea Shuffle), Pilansberg Placebo

Warren Flynn
            Ontario Fall
            The Postie

Kevin James Gillam
            more than half a sonnet

Candy Gordon
            The Club

Elizabeth Green
            They walked through my shadow

Mike Greenacre
            Perth Fast Fooderies
            Literalising the Metaphor

Susanne Harford
            A Body

Jenifer Hetherington

Ross Jackson
            Where market gardens were

Veronica Lake
            Fortune’s Fool

Karen Louise

Mardi May

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Jill Taylor Neal
            Things lately

Julian O’Dea
            Moon Bears

Virginia O’Keeffe
            A woman contemplates her face

Allan Padgett

            The Wasp is Full of Sting

Ian Reid

William I Reid
            Good Morning
            Closing time

Barry Sanbrook
            The Birthday Gift

Christabel Seneque
            Short and sharp

Thomas Simpson

Laurie Smith
            The Knowledge

Geoff Spencer
            broken glass

Micheal Stevens
            Jagging Cobbler at Pier Street Jetty

Traudl Tan
            Raabi Part 1
            Raabi Part 2

Suzette Thompson
            In absentia

Giles Watson
            My Darkness Overturned

Gail Willems
            In an Art Gallery

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Poet to the Prime Minister?

‘Frances Lambert … had suffered from writer’s block after the death of her husband, but after three years she was suddenly inspired to write 45 poems and songs. Menzies was a lucky beneficiary (or victim?) of her new-found inspiration’ (Martyn Jones 2021, Dear Prime Minister: Letters to Robert Menzies, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, p.46).

In the Golden Age
Sir Robert Menzies
Was the lucky recipient
Of unsolicited poetry.
If not read it was, at least,
Acknowledged, filed,
And carefully stored
In the National Library.

Should I
Send my work to
Anthony Albanese?
Our great leader
Can lull himself to sleep
With my poetic musings.
And I, based
On such uninvited
Can style myself
‘Poet to the Prime Minister!’

Ananda Barton
Boorloo / Perth 20th July 2023

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They told me the headaches would stop

They told me the headaches would stop I am my headache, my headache is me, we’ve been unseparated for over a week and we are both tired. It’s strange that I’m angry with the headache when I should be angry at why we are together. It’s been decades since they opened me, took out the lump, stitched me up, sent me on my way with promises of no more headaches, yet every time I tell a doctor I’m told it’s stress, eyesight, not enough sleep. The boring things we all have. I fell in the shower and hit my head so hard I cried for an hour then called my Mum across the ocean and cried again. You’d think that story was from my childhood, but I was 25 and living with my girlfriend, who knew more about the scars on my arms and legs, than the one on my head. Today I take more Panadol, some more Nurofen and lie in the dark, wishing they still sold Codeine over the counter. Peppermint roller on my temples, wash my hair, heat pack on my neck, massage pressure points on my hands, take off my bra, try to have good posture, try and try and try and try to separate myself from the pain but it clutches onto me like when I lift Ricky out of her cot in the morning and she squeezes her knees around my waist in a plea to not be put on the floor. When this headache slips off and agrees to be put on the floor, I probably won’t even notice, until the next one attaches itself and I’ll wonder when it left before and where it has been. Then we are unseparated again. Like a toddler on my hip, I sort of missed it and it’s strange that I’m angry with the headache, when we’ve been together so long. I am my headache and my headache is me and we are both just so tired.

Carly Beth

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Head Space

no happy families, no Brady Bunch
no endless summer ticking along
like a merry metronome

moments of contentment
between storms
spikes of joy on a graph

families, a double-edged sword
offer the strongest bonds
inflict the greatest wounds

loved ones know
where all the bodies
are buried

bald truth can be deadly
flaws, mistakes, secrets best kept
a little kindness oils the words

today, I may not like you very much
if you don’t slay me with sharp words
or toxic texts, I may love you again tomorrow

Maria Bonar

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behind buddha’s back
students play the gongs
off key
out of tune
‘oh, how naughty we are’

fat old buddha
keeps his back turned
so they can’t see
he is laughing his head off

Mar Bucknell

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The Preachers

Through vaporous aeons
I see
Sunday noontime preachers

standing on chicken crates
Morton Bays’ wattled thighs.

Remember pits of mouths
by greying scrub of beards.

How white their skins under
wide flung
shade, and teeth chomping rant

to segments as burly
did felled trees to avoid

jams at creek bends and sworls
talus. How savagely

they threw arms about, splayed
clawed gutturals from sky
to hurl in hard fistfuls
groans and smiles. How dusk came

slow, and with wide-set eyes
relief for consciences

and a vacuum like that
Haley’s comet has passed.

Peter Burges

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Shooting Stars:

We look up and watch bright lights,
see two points,
paths crossed.

An illusion of optics,
points merge,
spiral in orbit
the other.

A beautiful moment
Lives touched.

An accident of nature,
lives on in memories.

Of friendship lost.

Shooting stars on their own paths,
shared a brief time
of meaning.

We recall this moment,
understand our truths

Orbits never to cross

Eddy Campbell

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City Eyes

Trapped in the rush of city streets
staid rivers clogged on traffic.
It is evening and stars hide their eyes
as city dwellers shuffle out of day clothes
Straggle into bars and lonely alleys to
sample the last intoxication as waiters
clamp smiles over yesterday’s
mortgage and today’s hunger.

City doves lead the conversation
as people sidestep and cars rumble
at the delay as lights change green
to red. It is the start of summer
and feet shuffle across tired paths.
The detritus of people as they
grumble place to place.

Buildings concertina in grey clothes
with dark eyes sheltered in the struggle
to sunrise as the city tastes the dark side.
Shuffle shadows that hold eyes
skittering over the news
—become the news.

A swarm of heads that bob to a tune
tied to the beat of noise. Laughter
as chairs scrape and tables fill.
It’s the same on each corner
in each alley where the smug congregate
away from dumpsters and alley creeps.
The nooks where rodents hide and
the discarded people peer
from old coats.

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

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the first high school in the state
to teach the japanese language
the first high school
to allow girls to learn manual arts
woodworking, metalwork, art metalwork
the boys had to learn sewing and cooking, too
the first high school
with ramps
for the handicapped, sign posts said
the kids in wheelchairs
mucking in with everyone else
finding a friend to laugh with and push them around
the first indigenous girl in my class
always laughing, always smiling
evenly broken front teeth
from a traditional ritual, the social studies teacher reckoned
i befriended her, she met my friends
disappeared after a month, no one knew where
the first high school
sold off by the government of the day
starting a trend
knocked to the ground
for luxury apartments
across the road from the dead centre of town
the cemetery

Kathleen Dzubiel

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(Two poems, on a theme, separated by fifteen years. The first published in Quadrant in July2008, after treatment for atrial fibrillation. The second, written in March 2023, after implantation of multifocal interocular lenses following cataract removal. Both written on return visits to Africa.)

South Sea Shuffle

A cynic or medical scientist might say
it is the Amiodarone kicking in
but my heart begs to differ.
The moment I placed both feet
on African soil
and removed the shaking left leg
from the Antipodes
my fibrillation cleared
and the sinus rhythm returned.
It happened eleven days before it should
and my heart tells me it was when
the soutpiel* left leg straddling the Indian Ocean
swung over to join the firmly planted right
in Africa.

At that precise moment
the heart of Africa beat
and welcomed me home;
my Africa, my home.
My head wonders…

* A person who cannot give up allegiance to an overseas country and has a leg in both
countries: hence a ‘salt penis’.

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Pilansberg Placebo

It is as it was fifteen years ago-
then, it was sinus rhythm recurring,
the old foot in Africa placebo.
Now, the ocular lenses not blurring.
Elephant high on an ngomo* slope
snap into a teenager’s clarity.
Giraffe, once behind grey glazed glass, now lope
with lazy, alarming alacrity.
My heart convinced that Africa did it;
while my skeptical head, cannot infer.
It has always done as my heart bid it,
so, my reason will just have to defer.
Especially here, where I was born and raised.
You animals of Pilansberg, be praised!

Derek Fenton


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Ontario Fall

We pitched our tent among
skeleton birches,
milk-white with dark scars.
Two dots and a dash of
orange leaf
to signal winter,
before we slept.

That night
the weird loon woke me up;
leaping octaves in his song

conjuring an Indian’s ghost.

Who knows where they’ve gone?
– buried beneath the lawn mowers
and hedge-cutters keeping it neat
at St. Marie
hewn among the Hurons.

Those savage nobles
learnt French, grew corn and kept warm
-before the country was civilized,
with freeways and Macdonalds.

Warren Flynn

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The Postie

yellow sacks under his legs
he buzzes
to Mr Johnson’s freshly erect rose-red pillar,
then on,
to hover at the frazzled old box of No 23

nimbly slots home
the numbing sting of debts,
the sterile Myers flyer
and from distant friends
or kids at college,
the nectar of news.

He pollinates the suburb –
mansion, shack, rented flat,
honeycombing the cells of lonely lives
with secret tongues of love.

Warren Flynn

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more than half a sonnet

‘round the corner beside a lamp post an open empty
black suitcase waiting for a starfish flung on a beach

facing east and an apricot pip rubbed from truth to hurt
to boat and the unresolved yearning between falling seventh

and rising third and a kite in search of sky and the
unlonely ‘aarrk’ of a raven and all our suburb’s

show bags of dreams and forgets and the weight of this
suitcase? weight of silence? weight of smoke? weight of why?

Kevin James Gillam

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The Club

airport lounge
they fork food in
as if it’s their last meal
hi-viz jackets
steel caps
loud voices

the young one
is quiet
it’s his first swing
new boots
new jacket

it’ll be different
next time
confident in his sudden entry
into the club
his voice
a little louder
his boots and hi-viz
a little dirtier

Candy Gordon

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They walked through my shadow

First day in theatre, cheap seats at the rear—
standing room only: packed sardine tight.
Blue paper wraps—hat, gown and shoes,
gloves and mask stuck,
glued to my fingers and face—
too short to see, the student nurse’s shoulder blocks patient number three on the list,
strapped horizontal onto black plastic slab with gas man at his head,
holding a tube: thrusts plastic hose down the victim’s throat,
surgeon straddled low.
Bright lights strung from the ceiling, taser my sight,
the grate of metal trolley wheels crosses my eardrums from left and from right.
Steel hitting steel, fingernails scrape, screech and grope—
forceps and probes, echoes so cold that I shiver and shake: sway before I fold.
Lying flat on the floor, footsteps pass by splayed origami form—they walk through my
shadow to make cups of tea.
An orderly stoops to check that I’m okay; then waves at the cleaners;
washes away
the wake of blood, sweat and tears that have fallen that day—
when a young patient’s liver was too bad to save.
And I cry as I recall the name of the guy that had smiled at a medical student
as he was wheeled past by for his surgery today—same as mine.

Elizabeth Green

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Perth Fast Fooderies

They appeared from nowhere
like a childhood dream, then came
the neon sign and floodlit driveway,
corner Canning Highway and
North Lake Road proclaiming

Kentucky Fried Chicken was here
to change our days with drive-through
access and the tempting catch phrase:
“It’s finger-licking good”
now on every child’s lips.

Parents were harder to draw-in
with their conservative brows
from war years avoiding luxuries
and waste, so the family car drove
by in a ‘we are not amused’ way.

1969 shot past with our glimpses
of High School life and little extra
to spare for their menu, till the early ‘70s
when Hungry Jacks and McDonalds
brought the burgers within our reach

and fast-food rose as a common
household meal with an alluring
refrain: “It takes two hands, to handle
a whopper!” which stirred our teenage
desires with sudden orchestrated ambition.

Mike Greenacre

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Literalising the Metaphor

The chainsaw in the background
provides a steady beat
between words, thoughts
keen to jump over obstacles
and keep hold of meaning

until the chainsaw, looking for
its own metaphor, disappears
and we are left numbed
by the sudden silence, a freedom
to think and do as we please

but still triggered by the need
to get somewhere, beyond
here, as if movement and
metaphor are linked together,
walking the same tightrope.

Mike Greenacre

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A Body

There’s the sea, there
I look in the mirror and I see that
Old Body
Looking back
At Me

I look again
Also see
That 14-Year Old Body
To Go
Let’s Go!
To The Sea

Susanne Harford

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Half Moon Morning

Puffed freckles in a mackerel sky,
Norfolk Pines’ star-tips
reach to a pale moon
cradle the clean-cut sphere.

Wade into calm, fish dart
every scale visible
straps of reed, wisps of sea lettuce
seem to hover over the surface.

A rush of airborne silver
arcs against the sky
plunges into the sea–
tiny fish–a mirror ball
shattered in a mermaid’s cave.

Soft slide of moon
through tiered branches,
no splash as perfect half pearl
slips into the sea.

Jenifer Hetherington

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Where market gardens were

swamp harrier – kite hovering
in ungyring sky above lakes shaped
like deflated footballs
golden eyes scoping for frogs
on islands within dry tongued
Typha rushes

places once edged
by market gardens
for decades now cul de sacs
under the heel
of commercial enterprise

plenty to buy at local grower’s mart:
lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, onions
fruit of every sort
Stirling’s fresh produce
once grown by olive skinned

Australians, whose descendants
carrying out
heavy baskets of healthy stuff
sold to them by Asian Australians
so it will go on…

time to stop on the way home
a roadside kiosk with freshly cut flowers
reassuring scents of all our pasts

Ross Jackson

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Fortune’s Fool

I’m looking through the dregs.
Drained my cup to the last.
The mulched pile of leaves reposing there
tells me little.
There is darkness and a strange humped shape
looking vaguely ominous.
My reading leaves me confused
as I tilt the cup
this way,
and that,
to find a sharper angle,
a better perspective.
Still the hump sits there
squat and solid
a blot upon any clean arrangement of fate,
a heaviness on my future.
My hands cradle the porcelain shape
holding tomorrow’s hopes,
soggy and slightly steaming,
left over from before.
It doesn’t look good.

Veronica Lake

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Love is not a meal – but a person can live on fear for days

She was happy once –
upon a time of plenty
when gentle rains suckled lush crops
and sunlight danced through dappled orchards

A woman of the woods;
mother to hemlock and spruce
in a naif cottage of wattle and daub
built by her own hands

It is 37 steps from her door to wilded lovage
58 steps right to a decaying well
One step to starvation
and a few more to madness

Winter outstayed its hospitality
Rain drenched crops rotted stock perished
The line between sacred and sacrilege washed away

There were rumours.
Horse. Dog. Child.
Mercy. Murder. Meal.

On a clouded day
when birds are busy
rotting medlar simmers atop a roaring stove
Sweet syrup permeates;
infiltrates the imagination of
two children
abandoned by a starving mother
who could not spare a merciful end
in a parent’s embrace

When they finally reach the cottage
it may as well be made of sweetbread

Patience is a hunter’s best friend
The knock at the door will come
She waits. She weighs.
Weighs her happily ever after
against theirs

Karen Louise

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Mosquito tacks her
one note to the night;
a sharp stinging tone
of needling menace.

Blind with sleep
I slap my face;
the anopheles whine
sings on in my ear.

I pull the sheet
over my head
stifling sound

In struggling light
I itch awake
into an anxious
tropical dawn.

Mardi May

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You were glacial in my blood.
Arid tongued, you made me pour
my body through streets, sandpaper
thin. Insubstantial and haunted,
I was echo, losing substance
as I greyed into wasteland.

To be invisible, at the brink:
I saw abyss and called it home.
You never made me a welcoming
meal. Instead, I chewed my way
out, unbuckled your chill,
prised each cold finger from off

my elbow. You scarred me, chasm
nick on skin. This is not a badge.
Rather, a reminder. How underworld
marks a soul in the escape. Elsewhere,
Thwaites is melting and I ponder years
lost as the saltwater cries, keeps rising.

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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Things lately

Wings alight—tall branches
sway goodbye;

sentry crow
calls low—

all is well;

golden hour cups
soursob blooms
in applause—


brings too many moments
to contemplate the state of things
circling thoughts—
a solitary,
silk-black plume

Sentry crow
calls low—

all is well.

Jill Taylor Neal

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Moon Bears


Alms for Lent?
Is money given to free
moon bears from cages
where they drip
tears of bile
a corporal work of
or must the corpus
be human?

Shouldn’t Habeas Corpus
apply? Or at least
Habeas Ursus?

Will this raise up some
part of fallen creation
in Lenten hope?

Julian O’Dea

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Nobody told him he was dead
as he lay each day in the soft
white bed
and thought it strange that
no visitors came –
not even friendly Sleep –
though he waited each
as the pillow
cradled his head.

Julian O’Dea

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A woman contemplates her face

In the eastern bathroom harsh morning light
floods her cheek and half the chin.
Fine hairs, unwarranted, of varying lengths spike
from skin. They have not reached goat stage

but she does not spend time regarding
her face; she leaves that to others should they
pause to chat. What do they think, see,
a witch’s crop? Heritage means you need
proximity to perceive them…she hopes.

It is the women of her past who stare back
from the mirror, sadly recognisable from sepia
photos; the lined skin, the drooping mouth
too wide for such a face; it can only drop.
Were they too disgruntled?

Did they peer into silvered hallstand glass
before emerging hatless in to the yard
to gather eggs, shoo crows, water shallots.
Not much has changed she sighs,
going out to the hens with basket in hand.

Wind bangs the gate; a crow, startled, caws, flies
away. Her mouth lifts listening to the music
of land and air. She sings, lungs drawing
in winter breath. She knows they sang, has their
music in her veins, so is the face a burden
when they gifted so much more?

Virginia O’Keeffe

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The Wasp Is Full of Sting

So is a bee
Whose unconscious aim in life is
To suck nectar gather pollen sip water
Bite with fright if threatened
It’s all about self defence and evolution
But how does that explain envenomation
Of a mother of four
Lying on a dining room floor
Deathly pale and apparently lifeless
Her breath on pause awhile
There is no chest happily heaving
He listens in fretful fear and fright
With thumping tom toms heart
To triple zero barked command
A double-fisted thump on chest
Brings back the edgy gone
To flickering light and life
Five ambos and a local emergency department
Do the rest she’s home in a day
Dredging the half dead bees
From the funereal filter box
With long rubber gloves and incipient dread
An antivenom hypodermic syringe
Perches nearby awaiting fate and stabbing
Back to life this woman who somehow
Has grown into older age
With cells that now prefer
Susceptibility to bee venom
Rather than her native resistance
Not fair this Mallee girl said
After a lifetime of potent resistance
I have grown to hate bees

Allan Padgett

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Any closed window is now a looking glass
where they catch sight of a version of themselves
that’s blurred, or startlingly distorted
like an alias in wonderland, quite at a loss.

Long vistas have begun to tell the time
of their dwindling lives. Out there to the west
they see the day’s defiant final flame.
Inward, memory’s remnants are drifting past.

Ian Reid

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Good Morning

Eyes half open, now
struggling to deal with the half-light
peeping through the cracks in the curtains.
Pupils re-adjusting
to the diminishing darkness and stars
blinking on the bedroom ceiling.
The room is quiet and still,
now only my head spinning
with the same dull ache
felt throughout the night
as I fell in and out of sleep.
Reaching wearily for the cup of water
ever-present on the bedside table
to unglue my tongue from the roof
of my mouth, I sip carefully
so as not to choke.
Then lie back
to contemplate the prequel to this event,
mustering a half smile, but
promising myself, once more,
that this would never happen again
and that the next two days
would be alcohol free.
I stare at the time.
Another hour before the blare of the alarm!
In half-stupor, I turn my attention
to view the body next to me
that had been ‘dead to the world”
for at least the last seven hours
now looking at me, wide-eyed,
alert and ready to face the day.

William I Reid

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Closing Time

I hurry to finish the shopping
before closing time.
But as I rush past the shop-front window
I am compelled to stop
to engage with the old man in front of me.
His weather-beaten face
with crevasses and lines,
skin, sallow with broken capillaries
revealing a lifetime of experiences
all of which have not been kind.
Clothes, old fashioned
with tell-tale worn fabric around his shirt collar
and a stoop,
divulging a modicum of neglect.
I don’t recognise this stranger.
But as the old man glares back at me,
I realise
that nothing tells time more brutally
than a mirror.
Not in seconds, minutes or hours
like a clock,
but in years.
The reflection is confronting,
so I hurry with greater urgency
to finish the shopping
before closing time.

William I Reid

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The Birthday Gift
(after viewing Chagall’s Birthday)

I float, stretched,
trying to look into your eyes
that gaze upward and away from me.
The flowers I gave you
have become an extension of your arm
a splash of colour in a colourful room.

I ache to be touched
yet your closeness takes you further away
the gap between us now infinite.

You touch the blooms,
you caress their scent
but although you see me
I feel as though I drift from you.

Yet you float,
from happiness I cannot say,
from pleasure at a scented gift maybe,
but your floating takes you on a different path,
although aligned we are separating,
we are together yet I am alone,
I am with you but l am lonely

You rarely speak although you know me,
you know everything about me
you can look into me and see

Do you love me? I ask
you reply
‘I cannot look into your eyes
they are green, sky and water,
they are the nature of all things
they are between us’

Barry Sanbrook

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Short and sharp

If time is peanut brittle
I fritter it away
in slivers
splinters and shards. They melt
like toffee on the tongue.

Today was shattered from the get-go.
The morning splits open
as I choose to Snooze.
Sweet dreams
and dissolve
all in ten minutes or less.
Now my figments are in fragments.

I wish time was an everlasting gobstopper.
A sweet, solid circle – unbreakable and whole.
Diminishing by increments
(predictable, controllable)
with no malignant edges.

Christabel Seneque

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As remnants of a wet spring shake
loose from the clouds,
I stretch out knotted legs and tease the blisters
on my feet—one taught and pink
the other a papery tongue licking
up sand.

Pushing through the narrow track
each step stirs the rain-dimpled sand
while soapbush grabs at my pack
with tender arms. Wrens and wattlebirds dart
and bounce over the scrub
mocking my toil
all the way to Ellensbrook—
a caretaker runs his fingers along the wet stone
of the homestead.

Roo tracks peel off the fire road
like cracks in the bush, their tails
leaving bristled gouges in the soft edge
of a fresh tyre track.

Forced onto the highway at Caves Road
I dodge drains and cars and dogs, inching
away from the city, by my own steam, but still rushing
to the nearest beer at Prevelly
and back to work on Monday

Thomas Simpson

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The Knowledge

I arrive at school early
the place is deserted,
the flag at half mast,
I dawdle home confused.
On the news that night
King George has died.

Next morning ‘the West’
is choked with recent pictures
of the late king and other royals.
The grainy radio photos rendered
everyone barely identifiable.

By year’s end we have a new book
on the table in the lounge room.
Red gilt-edged, landscape format,
heralding Elizabeth’s coronation.
Photos of the Orb, Sceptre, crowns,
the route the royal carriage will take
from the Palace to the Abbey.

We were quizzed on this book at school.

Years later I’m driven through London
by one of those cabbies with ‘The Knowledge’.
He knew I was jet lagged and excited
so took me on a circuitous route
past famous landmarks I recognised
from that red gilt-edged book
to my hotel just around the corner
from the British Museum in Bloomsbury.

Laurie Smith

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broken glass

——– { .. .. we Pärt }

sunset reflects in the
Estonian bog
Spiegel im Spiegel

——– float

more fragile
than a dragonfly’s wing

six ebony notes
live in this moment

bow glides and
a memory shaped as
as the timbered
curve .. .. the
timbred ache

i am with her


Geoff Spencer

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Jagging Cobbler at Pier Street Jetty

I ponder what lurks below the
brown still water as my feet dangle
over the edge of a splintered
plank; finger sense, line slack ‒ floating.
Days spent in the shade
of that piled jarrah structure.
Sightless nights feeling the bottom
hunting the mud flats.

Ancient estuarine eel;
mollusc crunch and grit.
Whiskery barbels caress
indifferent thoughtless bloodworms.

Scaleless sculptor
of alluring mud den.
Protector of your roe; a
fearless father of the fingerlings.

Your helpless appearance hides
a sharp agonising response.
A creator’s spear designed
solely for human tread.
From what prehistoric swamp
did you emerge?
Slither from silt ooze, fluid.
Then mysteriously disappear, in a swirl.

Michael Stevens

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Part 1

on the back lawn
near where the snow peas grow
I spot you, big, black bird
one wing hanging a little low
something’s not quite right with this crow
I edge a little closer – you move a fraction
bright eyed and alert you look at me
I offer food, a universal action
to demonstrate good intent
so, dog mince does the trick
for this chick that may be sick
a bowl of water put in a convenient place
and I retreat to give you space

in spite of your kind’s dubious reputation
as nest robbers, chicken egg bandits,
dog bone snatchers, generally rowdy behaviour
plus, relocating bird baths on our lawn,
you’re known to be highly intelligent
with a range of calls and tonal talent
sometimes even human-like,
I would leap to your defence
and love us to be friends
you can live here with the dog and me,
roam the garden totally free
we feed and keep you safe at night
soon everything will be alright

now the day is done and the sun almost gone
our new resident looks to perch in a tree
birds’ elevated type of security
you hop around assessing options,
then, with increasing urgency you try and fly,
flap and flutter but your plane will not gain height
though you try with all your might
the launch fails every time

on each attempt I see and feel your desperation
my hastily assembled twig ladder doesn’t matter
crash landings are all we get
with daylight fading fast your chances cannot last
you settle in dry leaf litter huddled against the fence
a bamboo thicket screens your back
yet adequate protection you still lack
there is no elevation in this equation
we gave away the cocky cage

Traudl Tan


Part 2

as dawn and I get up next day we say
‘you have a name now, Raabi, survivor of the night’
you gobble breakfast with delight,
gracefully dip your beak to drink
with head stretched high toward the sky
you look taller today than yesterday
as confidently you explore our yard
in a hopping kind of way all sunny day
until – suddenly – you disappear
under every bush we search in fear,
did the neighbourhood cat sneak in here?

then, in the middle of our street
I find you under the paperbark tree
all over your face there’s a look of defeat
‘that’s as far as I could proceed’
I pick you up in a soft cloth
you’re barely heavier than a feather
much too light for an adult crow,
how did you ever manage to grow?

at the Native Animal Rescue Centre
I ask the vet why you cannot fly,
how could we help you take to the air, be free,
but the diagnosis spells nothing but misery
‘environmental contamination
caused your wing structure degradation,
with paralysis in the legs and irreparable
ataxia spinal cord nerve damage
in unresponsive muscles’ – you can never fly
raise a family or soar high in the sky

worst of all – current Wildlife Protection Law
does not allow me to love and look after you,
oh Raabi, our poor feathered friend
what awful damage have we done to you!

Traudl Tan

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In Absentia

I didn’t question your absences
places you went
where you travelled in your head
why you weren’t here

for us.

I didn’t ask
what you really wanted
or if you knew


I didn’t question your absences
your stillness
not letting anyone near
a silence that became


I didn’t question your absences.
Finally I just

didn’t care.

Suzette Thompson

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My Darkness Overturned

I hid behind the Curtains –
He flushed me – into Sight –
I scampered down the Hallway –
Invoked the Dark – of Night –

He blundered – into Tables –
I hid – behind a Chair –
He paused to light – a Lantern –
I was – no longer – There –

I hunched myself – beneath a Bed –
I felt the Mattress pitch –
I knew he sat above me now –
And kept a Spider’s watch –

I heard his Pulse – I smelt his Rage –
His Incandescence – burned –
Then he stood – astride my World –
My Darkness – overturned –

Giles Watson

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In An Art Gallery

colour     images   
benches on clawed feet
picturesque walls
in silent appreciation of a morning sky
strategic spaces circumnavigate the halls
settle in lost places
——–                  of
light and dark where old is never new
and faces mirror images
that hang
——–                  with stories
and silence leaks
——–                  where walls meet    

Gail Willems

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