I have decided that five years publishing Uneven Floor is enough, so I shan't be publishing anything more. But there's plenty here to read — 350 poems and related artworks. Thanks to all the poets who have contributed — and to all the readers, especially those who have helped spread the word.

Jackson (Editor)

My Journey

Three days of hiking with only bottled water
is penance enough for one lifetime,
the path littered with opera and breath-beats,
the sarcasm of the bullfrog, the yelp of red fox.
Every night enough stars shoot across the sky
to grant every wish for a hundred years of wishing,
every aspiration, every melody, every quarter note.
Sweat streams puddle down the corridor of my back,
my ears open into mouths, my tongue catches sound on its tip.
Near the end of the trail, resting, every goodness within me,
within my back, my hands, my blistered feet, my muscles,
everything thyme, sage, peach water, an essence of Aradia.

In the end I did not enter the shiny box of darkness.
I dyed my hair instead, removed my teeth,
fell back in love.

That was what was written on the exit sign
at the beginning of the trail
leading back home.

Michael H. Brownstein (USA)

south australia

            is mauve flowers on quartz red sand spinifex ringworms of new growth outside my Father’s town blown tyres dead 'roo lies prostrate gestures at nowhere in his harsh light green saltbush grey parallels a road edge along a childhood flash the EK Holden the smell of heat the first long shimmer of mirage /                above

            Brown Falcons circle patiently awaiting the feast their timeless gaze fixed there again the town arrives sudden from nothing corrugated iron roof brown bottle garden of sand and blue blue house blue sky blue water blue gulf hills lizard thick shingle smooth blue your clawed feet splayed underbelly lies low and warming close to female earth dark faces compact memory cool water tank shades a past of silence of us and them those parks we must not play not ever again Aunty said /                red sand

            creeps slowly over skin folds of a flesh crevasse verandah lattice screens canvas cool painted porch doors shut out ovens of desert white heat first taste of orange blossom smells and dust and flies and language and you old lady

Elanna Herbert (New South Wales)

A Beetle and a Flower

(For my mother)

a beetle crossed my road —
lapis lazuli and red on black.

I watched it crawl,
so slow that twenty years crashed
as tyres crunched the asphalt all around
and sunlight draped the paddock
where you cup your pride —
an orchid, tender-stemmed,
with red veins running to pools of blue —
in hands cracked by years
scrubbing old men’s pans,
wiping lips purpled by death’s advance.

It made it to the other side, the beetle,
and, in the shadow of a leaf,
became a dark thing
burrowing into days of greying hair
and dimming eyes,
and the trembling hearts of flowers
fenced round from grazing sheep.

Peter Burges (Western Australia)


generational stillness

it’s one of those centre-strip
wishing wells
surrounded by lawns in increments of neat,
neater, neatest
with nice old trees too, their bark gnarled
as if waiting for the pencil
of a still-life student

but when I lean over
it’s just typical small-town grimness
with cigarette butts
half a foot deep
locked in that generational stillness,
grey water
strangling every dream

and it’s all the way across town
but I swear
that the graveyard
has sent its hoar-frost here to roost,
I can almost taste the down-payment it’s made
on every kid I used to teach

how far the stars seem now
from the grill of a fast-food sweat shop
or the single-hinge backdoor
after daddy-o
puts in another nomination for shitbag of the year
and I’m supposed to impress upon them
the everlasting importance
of proper essay structure?

on the way home I slaughter a thousand bugs
with my windscreen
and somehow it feels hopelessly right.

Ashley Capes (Victoria)


Gentle Lives

Your letter came, Irene
It rose up through the thorning patch
And flowered Robert's grave
I — know you spoke proud
I saw the name of your son
I ache when careful words
come, Irene

Your husband's here, Irene
When wardens cleared his tulips off
You drove a bramble deep
You sing to him still
You — held for twenty-five years
You found the strength to wait
here, Irene

Your colour left, Irene
I crawled beneath the airing shelf
And wishing to be found
I whispered your name
I hide    behind a Daniel
I — crush when gentle lives
leave, Irene

Daniel Hutley (Victoria)


Our Tree

     (For my brother Michael and my sister Margaret)

Our tree, lissom, muscular,
Stood forever tall against wind and rain,
Shading against intrusive suns.

Only the time-blind Moonbone
Sees the ants gnawing its guts,
Its fall, long as shame.

Naked in the dust of passers-by,
It and the sheep it killed
Grow grey together

Until Half-Eye’s quickening
Transforms worm etchings
Into airy silver chimes.

Peter Burges (Western Australia)

Don't Load Me Now

I looked into her deep brown eyes
tears rolled dark within
a scent of pasture
sweet upon her breath

mood welling
pity stumbling
I looked into her deep brown eyes
love is a word
legs are for standing
ears are for tagging
don't leave me now
don't count me now
don't load me now
eyes are for crying

I looked into her deep brown eyes
I hugged her crying
I wept her crying
a stench of bbq
chuck brisket t bone eye fillet
eyes are for crying
ribs are for holding

air is for breathing
cheeks are for eating
tail is for swishing
flies are for dying

eyes are for crying
don't eat me now
cow is for being
cow is for mooing
cow is for grazing
cow is for eating

eyes are for crying

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)