Ceyx azureus

on a bough of wattle
jutting over water,
a little azure kingfisher,
Ceyx azureus,

Blue as a summer sky,
with long beak disproportionate,
it waits.

I know that if its
keen eye spots a fish
it will dart down
and splash
and instantly be back there
with its catch.

The summer day being long,
I take a spell from busyness
to sit
in stillness
like this little bird
whose business is stillness.

I watch the kingfisher
watching for fish.

Yvonne Deering (Victoria)

The Wren Boy

I must have been having the time
of my life the year I started singing,
trying hard to remember the words,
but high on applause and silver.

In the lounge bar of a pub
in Swinford I tried out a repertoire
I’d culled from The Clancys and mixed
to a Home Counties hybrid.

Shock-headed, crowd-pleasing,
I might have been one of their own,
giving them back The Irish Rover,
The Woman from Wexford Town.

Lured by the promise of easy pickings,
I tagged along St Stephen’s Day,
togged out as a mummer,
and welcomed for miles around.

Strapped across her shoulder,
my cousin lugged her squeezebox,
melodeon, whatever, down lanes
and over fields. At each house

we stopped I gave them my party piece,
while across the buttons and keys
perished fingers danced
like spiders on warm stones.

David Cooke (UK)

What's a wren boy?


Purple Lady

Big City
Busy Street
People catching buses

Sit down
Wait for bus
Next to purple lady

Busy busy
Coming and going
Lady unmoving, staring

Odd smell
Is it me?
Hope not

There again
This time stronger
Sweet but unclean

Purple lady
hands unsettled
Mumbles under breath

I look at her

I look

I notice

Short hair once highlighted
Clothes seem neat
Like for travelling
She wears a zipped up purple jacket
Neat and tidy over black pants
Cowboy boots underneath

Clean complexion
In her 30’s
Rather pretty except

Staring vacantly
Waiting for the night
Alone and withdrawn

She is not catching a bus

Should I offer to help?

Last few times
I received fear and anger
I hesitate

Bus arrives and I am whisked away.

A few days later
Walking in the crowd
Face marked with dirt and a white smear

Clothes are the same but
Dirty and unkempt
Greywhite t-shirt hanging out raggedly

The days have been unkind

She is washed away
River of people
Lost in the crowd.

I am filled with sadness, loss, and feel ashamed.

Kim Robertson (Queensland)
First published on the author's blog


Collision on Winthrop Avenue

It isn’t just the impact
that shocks.

It’s the violence
of the sound
exploding your reveries.

It’s the surprise
of your car spinning
and others whizzing past.

It’s the vehicle
facing oncoming traffic.

It’s the surprise
of children’s workbooks
strewn across lanes
colouring-in weeping in soft drizzle.

It’s the insistence
of the blaring horn
refusing to be silenced
and the door that won’t open.

It’s the surprise
of what might have been.

Rita Tognini (Western Australia)



So let’s say
we’re centaurs

& in front
we keep a face

a place
to land

if someone’s

while behind
we go for what

we can get
& as for love

& death while
we’re ripe

they run

along for the ride

Laurinda Lind (USA)
First published in Afterthoughts (London, ON, Canada, 1997)


The waiting

‘My lungs burst
like fire in dry grass.
You are scarred from rib to rib 
and it looks like a smile.

It’s loud when the moon’s out —
the dancing branches shake 
blossoms from the trees.

We were gentle when the night fell 
like eventual rain
and we slept like curled dogs 
our hearts jumping at the night owls
and all the birds sleeping.

I called you in the gum drenched dark
and you were just a shiver,
so I warmed myself 
on the curve of your spine.
I can bear it more 
if we feel real.’

Kirsty Oehlers (Western Australia)


Sneaky Piggely

I’m the sneaky piggely
I always steal the capsicum
And when the big alpha piggelys come
I pretend to be retarded

I’m the sneaky piggely
I pretend to be normal but it never works
And when the big alpha piggelys come
I pretend to be dead

I’m the sneaky piggely
I steal the corn leaves and hide in a box
And none of you big alpha piggelys are going to stop me
‘Cos I pretend to be sad

I’m the sneaky piggely
I’m disabled and dysfunctional
Please love me alpha piggely
I wish I knew more tricks

Timothy Parkin (Western Australia)
First published on the author's blog


The Clairvoyant

The clairvoyant never explains his gift,

how he comes to see what he sees,
how flashes of vision, insight, intuition

coalesce into a divining rod to point

in one direction or another,
how far they take him from himself.

His art is not science, not forensic,

not often reliable. When he closes
his eyes he sees cloud-mist,

he sees a veil he must lift or pierce,

and beyond the veil a clue, a locket,
a tuft of hair, a red sweater, a map,

a missing child’s body, hidden or visible

amongst a jumble of discarded items,
a woman’s heartache, a man’s bewilderment.

David Adès (South Australia)

Cover of book Afloat in Light
David's new book
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