A child's heart

A child’s heart
will tell you a story.

A child’s heart,
in its urn,
will tell you the child
did not grow
to be old.

A child’s heart,
smuggled out of its body,
is preserved like a fossil,
is a silent stone.

A stone remembers
what history does not.
Houses are built upon stones
that are built upon stones.
History is a stone,
in the hand of a child,
waiting to be thrown.
History is a child
that is told to keep quiet.

The child sits in a corner,

History will tell you stories
but a heart will tell you
only what it knows.

A child’s heart
will remind you
of what is lost.
A child’s heart
will remind you
of what remains.

History is not always
words and pictures,
monuments and

Sometimes history
is just this:
a child’s heart in its urn,
waiting to tell you a story,
to show you why
and how
a heart turns to stone.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)


I see you in the puddles
I walk through,
torn surfaces
trying to hold my reflection

I see you in the cup of tea
that I have poured hot
from the kettle,
holding it to keep warm,
to drink from and imagine
the heat settling in my stomach
is happiness.

The teapot gets cold
so quickly, my love,
and there is not enough of you
to fill my last cup.

It is cold here, so cold,
and my heart is small
inside its coat.
You opened its thin, too-red door
and walked out quietly,
but you did not latch it
behind you.

And now the cold has set in.

The cold has set in
and blows out every fire I light;
the cold feeds on me
and my heart grows thin.

I think that you will come back
and find this room has turned
to ice, and that I have become
its ice queen,
stone and rock and something
that once knew rivers
but now cannot run.

And you will touch me
but my skin will crack,
and you will whisper my name
but I will not hear.

The first time you cracked me
it felt like relief.
I thought this was love,
seeing you hold all that I was
in your cupped hands,
seeing you carry them,
piece by piece.

The second time you cracked me,
you opened your hands
and said, I’m sorry.
You opened your hands
and let them fall.
You opened the door
and did not close it behind you.

They say this will be
the coldest winter yet.
And I can no longer see
Yeats sitting by this fire,
I can no longer see you
the way I saw you,
the way I saw us,
as we must have looked
at that party,
eyes locked like
two pistols at dawn.

If the weather mirrors our
moods, my love,
then I fear this winter
will not be easy.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)


when you reach the laneway
the door will be to your left.
do not be afraid
to walk past it.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)

O'Connor Beach

Did you keep your eyes fixed ahead,
on that early morning horizon,
that pale slate
awaiting the sun?

Or did you turn your head,
as your legs kept you
on the back of your old friend,
him slowly, dutifully
trudging further and further?

Did you crane your head
to look back at that coastline,
at that sandy old familiar?
At the jetty that I
sit on now,
ruinous and ocean stained,
then only freshly
chopped wood?

Did you look beyond that stretch
of long paced upon sand,
your only confidante,
and back to the small town beyond,
town of your anguish,
of your late night despair,
the last seat of your life’s work,
your life’s ruin?

The town that drove you out here
to its furthest edge,
to jetty, to sea,
to this pale horizon?

When you paused
that morning
did you look out
and think of hollow piping
twisting through the heat?

The pipeline you thought would go nowhere

Is that where you thought you were going
that morning?

You died in water,
when it was water that
might have saved you

I swim to your statue
and stare up at you,
your head fixed on the horizon,
left hand reaching into pocket,
body ready to slip

and I think you must have,

must have given one last glance
at the town you toiled for
that didn’t toil back,
that drove you into the ocean
and into people’s hearts.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)

About C Y O'Connor

Port town

By day she sees them
framed against the sky,
gleaming steel and paint,
steady hull, stern and bow
and sun flashing on portholes.

She doesn’t mind the cold
or the seagulls that
crowd her at midday.
She likes being close
to a line of departure,
to structures brimming
with a promise of going,
the sloping beach where
she sits to watch the sun
sink somewhere
beyond her vision.

The town is a bustle of
tourists and day trippers,
locals soaking up cider and sun,
coffee-dry laughs
and the smell of fish,
narrow, art-peppered laneways
and the old man on the corner,
playing the concertina.

She doesn’t think of planes now
when she thinks of flight;
at night she dreams of
a picture frame
without the picture,
of steel and paint
and portholes gleaming
like pale eyes in the dark,
watchful, unwavering,
piercing her with
inanimate understanding.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)


Your lungs were always
too small for your life.

You wanted to breathe in
more air than you could,
made yourself red faced sick
trying to hold it in,
to store it, like childhood optimism,
stubborn and defiant against
scientific fact.

Sometimes you coughed for days,
and when you were bent double,
those strange keh keh sounds
erupting from your chest,
it sounded like there was
an animal inside you,
trying to claw its way out.

You said
that there was.
You said
it was you.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)
First published in Creatrix


Tadpoles in a shallow pond

Who doesn't want to scoop up
A slickly flabby school of tadpoles?
To run their oily, knuckle-shaped heads
Like balloons squeezed too hard at one end
Between splayed fingers—
We have webbing in common,
You, taddeus, and I!

It is the same urge, by my reckoning
As the dare-I-leap sensation
That tackles me, nudging my knees when I am
Toeing the line of a precipice, hovering a hairdryer
Near an unschooled body of water
A beyond body-ness,
The double-think of observing
The end as it occurs.
(While hoping for a sequel.)

Yes, if you ever want to feel alive
While courting the Schroedingery
Goodness of the mystery box
Come and find me,
And we can scoop tadpoles in shallow water.

I have a net if you need it.

Stephanie Campisi (Victoria)
Twitter: @readinasitting

Life goals

Well, since you asked:
I would like to climb atop
a fine-and-dandelion
and with an exhalation and
a carefully positioned
makeshift sail made from
a crepish plastic bag—
the tiny ones used
to ball the heat around
a slick market dim sim,
a hot air balloon of pork
and chopped onion—
tobble off into a Gulliver
world of wrongsizedness
and vertiginise at the
smashed white skeletons of
clover flowers, those pluffy
failed parachutes lost in
a spinifex cemetery;
I might even lasso a flagondry
with a shoelace of my own
tying and flue it up
the musky chimney that my
lounge room should have
but doesn't, but all in all
I think that I am quite
on track.

Stephanie Campisi (Victoria)
Twitter: @readinasitting

A designer worth her salt

When a designer is laying out a newsletter, and her client gives her a bunch of amateur photographs to include for which there is little room, the designer knows she will be in for a hard time.

Because our world is largely made up of horizontal planes
the majority of extraneous material
will likely be scattered along the horizontal plane
either side of the central subject

When a designer is formatting photographs that must all conform to the same space constraints — eg: must fit the width of one of the newsletter’s columns exactly — any designer worth her salt knows that if you reduce the width of any photograph, it will take up more space

If a photograph that is twice the width of a square has a lot of extraneous material on either side of the central subject, it might be necessary to cut out that extraneous material in order to render the photograph publishable. It may, in fact, be necessary to make that photograph a square.

In a universe populated by squares
and various other geometric shapes
a horizon governed by space requires of the designer
much salt for its successful negotiation

Because all photos must fit the one width, to cut the width of a photograph in half is to double its height.

Not only do two half squares make a square but two squares make a half square. If you cut a half square in half, you will make a square that is equal to two half squares. Cut a horizontal half square in half, you will double its size.

The Great Designer makes tame the horizon
The Great Designer shores up her salt
and bends space to her will

The rule does not apply to vertical photographs though one is still faced with much extraneous material, ridiculously tapered legs and bulbous heads. To cut out the extraneous material may actually reduce the photograph’s size.

Any designer worth her salt would not accept photographs from an amateur photographer, particularly when space is at a premium,

for one must be the ruler of space
and not be ruled by it!

Eddy Burger (Victoria)


No apology for Liz

Here lies Liz
she’s tired

Here lies Liz
she’s lazy

Here lies Liz
this is fiction

Here lies Liz
truth untenable

Here lies Liz

Here lies Liz
earning her keep

Here lies Liz
unable to get up

Here lies Liz
like roadkill

Here lies Liz
told to keep still

Here lies Liz
too scared to move

Here lies Liz
accommodating a man

Here lies Liz
in silence

Here lies Liz
a snack for wild dogs

Here lies Liz
cold and hog-tied

Here lies Liz
grisly find for joggers

Here lies Liz
aka jane doe

Here lies Liz
on an autopsy slab

Here lies Liz
not donor material

Here lies liz
In bits in bags
weighed, examined,
& here lies Liz
cut and sliced,
& here lies Liz
labelled, numbered

Here lies Liz
dead (assuming she once lived)

Here lies Liz
safer in a long box

Here lies Liz
burning again

Here lies Liz
in the

in a

Kathryn Yuen (New South Wales)


the hush

it's just that, yeah, the hush, the trigonometry
of because, but, no, not always logic but yeah,
art hankers for its hit of white and, yeah,
course, just sluice away, do your forgetting
in private 'cos no, this is a wide road for
thin thinks and, yeah(!), should've done the leaving
of blues to greens to reds, the yoga breathing,

but no, there is no polite retreat here — the
traffic of fraud is in flow and yeah,
absolutely, s'all done with ramps and cuisinere
rods and rote learning and you, yes you with
your good ears and air traffic controlled angst,
no, you can't buy the hiss of liquid nitrogen on
skin, can't buy it, nah, can’t buy the hush

Kevin Gillam (Western Australia)

Last of her Lashes

The last of her lashes falls out,
curved in her palm —
a closed bracket.
When her daughter asks
Where have your eyelashes gone?
She replies They've flown south
for the winter.

Which wig to wear today?
The Angelina Jolie? The Marilyn Monroe?
She picks one with long, flowing tresses,
feels like Lady Godiva.
And as with that famous horsewoman
the crowd look away
the moment she passes by.

She's read the Navajo Indians
never cut their hair
believing their thoughts
preserved in the strands.
She touches her scalp;
like a freshly sown lawn —
a crop of new memories sprouts.

Marianne Musgrove (South Australia)


my legato heart

the cello soars
as we glide upwards
along the road
cut deep into
sandstone cliffs

afternoon sun
warms my hand
on your knee —
the rubato section

float in —
we descend
the curving ridge
of mount white

the cadenza —
vibrating strings surge
we turn the last bend
your smile caresses
my legato heart

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)
First published in USYD student anthology


on a grey day
she walks from the station
and folds her dry raincoat
onto my stool —
I will sit taller at the piano

birdlike, this examiner
doesn't sit to listen
but hovers —
turning pages and pointing out
features of the music

next time
she conducts my exam
I must play her own sonatina —
she hurries me on
to the Chopin

a song written
on the train near Ashfield
says her note
… I hope someone else
still knows the tune

metal trunks full of paper —
so many melodies
hidden away

For Miriam Hyde 1913 – 2005

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)
First published in Yellow Moon
Also published in Women's Work

Twenty-eight squares

Never been
much of a knitter,
but this winter, driven
by sorrow and hopelessness
I resolve to knit squares,
twenty-eight garter stitch boxes
to calm my head and occupy my hands
with yarn and needles, repetition
like a prayer wheel as I worry
about the ones I love, and at the same time
create a little bit of warmth
to offer a stranger, and hope
that my awkward stitches
will not be spurned.

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)

Adam's Rib

under his thumb
let him think
he has won
knit two, purl two

another day
she plays for time
he gets his way
purl two, knit two

children share
but he wants all
can she dare
knit two, purl two

ticket bought
her day has come
time to run
purl two, knit two

on the stair
the game is up
she’s missed a stitch
he’s waiting there

no time left
for casting off
she is

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)

That Undiscovered Country

Inside the pages
of every novel I ever saw you
sink into; every book whose tortured paths
I travelled, whose country lanes I meandered,
whose highways I traversed in dubious company

inside each book we read, separately,
sequentially, sometimes by recommendation
sometimes serendipity, we entered
undiscovered countries

of time, place, plot and character,
meeting old friends and new, finding
soul mates, escaping villains, hoping
for a final verdict that would dispense
justice with a masterly hand.

We met ourselves there.

I do not fear for you, my friend,
gone ahead into that last undiscovered country,
the book cover closed forever
behind you.

Julie Thorndyke (New South Wales)

Longing for Quacky: A Poem in Three Parts

Part One:

I sit at the café
I order a coffee
I stir the coffee
I stir it with pastimes
I stir it with an absent mind
I think about silver spoons to pass the time
Orson Welles who Lucy called Horse on Wheels;
Quacky was what I called you;
Every morning you called me;
These are some of the things we knew
That no one else did and no one else ever will know

Part Two:

He walks through the door
She comes through the door likewise
They knock it down with a whole circus
Either Welles or some Wheels roll on through
But I can’t be sure
Because they’re all standing behind
Your absence
Which is blocking up the whole doorframe like you wouldn’t believe
I wish you would get out of the way
Everything is about you
I wish you would get out of the way
But there isn’t much you can do about it in your absence

Part Three:

I can’t believe you don’t come any more
Believe you don’t I can’t come any more
More can’t I believe you don’t come any
And all of the permutations and all of the names and dropping of names and useless repetitions
From which I can make no witchy incarnations no material manifestations no connections
No I can’t make anything from these useless rhythms
But I can get tight I can write I can calculate the logarithm
And long and long and long
For the ultimate correction

Caitlyn Lesiuk (South Australia)


Division of Assets

The division of assets is nearly complete —
the house, furniture, investments, car.
You get the ping pong table
     I get the lawn mower.
You, the Bruce Willis DVDs
     I, the bread-maker.
You, the collection of miniature trains
     I, the budgie and cage.

And as for our arsenal of weapons? Our history of war?
What say you keep the arguments you won
     I’ll keep mine?
You take the whetstone you sharpened your words on
     I’ll take the kiln for my heated retorts.
You keep your stealth bombs
     I’ll take my land mines
and as for the cloud of silence
that’s mushroomed between us,
let’s say we leave it in No Man’s Land.

But what of our happy memories? How to divide?
Should you get the smell of our baby’s head
     I, his first smile?
You, the way he messily ate his mash
     I, our trips to the zoo?
And what about bath time — our son on the tiles
in the damp white flag of his towel?

Marianne Musgrove (South Australia)

On the road 1

In case I meet you
on the road
I will don
my sharpest clothes

shine my boots
gird up my guts
soften my hands
confine my hair

practise my words
arrange my face
squeegee my eyes
check my teeth
     in the cracked mirror

I will don
my sharpest clothes
in case I meet you on
the road

     however unlikely that
     may be

Jackson (Western Australia)


it is Gone

…it always was. The mirror
conceals her body. The tree
won’t cover her limbs. The sun
refuses to hide her tears. The roots

shadow her body. The tree
when she begs, it begins to run;
refuses to hide her tears. The roots
and dandelions growing feral

when she begs, it begins to run;
towards icicles wrapped in fire
and dandelions growing feral
in the darkness. It sprouts free,

towards icicles wrapped in fire
it festers, only daylight calming
the cloudburst, until the sun sets
and nothing is old because…

Chloe Higgins (New South Wales)

BBQ days and the salsa of friendship

I am new here
A stranger to the community
but the BBQ of friendship
is sizzling on my hot plate

I’m a foreigner
in a green and pink garden
but the salsa of new friendship
is stirring in my salad bowl

Someone smiled
offered me their number
now the coffee in my morning
is texting on my tea cup.

I am new here
You don’t know me
But the tango of a friendship
is Cha-cha-ing around my sugar bowl.

Danielle Bruce (Victoria)
As well as writing poetry, Danielle blogs at Eat My Street.


Last will and testament of you know who

When I die
I want everyone to fill jam jars
With their tears
So those who loved me most
Will be known.
There will be a PH test
To signify those who cheated.
Any cheaters will get
Nothing from my will.
When I die
I want a hundred soldiers
To shoot at me
And cut off my head
To make sure I’m dead
And not cremated alive.
When I die
I only want my head cremated,
Then, I want my mourners
To find a north wind
Face it and scatter
My ashes into it
So my head ashes coat them
And I’m more in their faces
Then they’ll ever let me be.
When I die
I want everyone
To go around
Kicking buckets continuously
For hours while they cry.
And if they don’t do this
They won’t get a skerrick
I tell you, you won’t
Get a brass razoo!
Place the body of my carcass
On a mountaintop
For vultures to peck at,
Cast my corpse and bones
So they can be printed
By a computer and
I can be reanimated
Into some headless
Advertising monstrosity
That will fund a thousand
Starving nations to billy-o.
Carry on my name
In slap-stick and pornography,
Bedroom my last moment
Into bustle and ballyhoo,
Or you won’t get a thing
From you know who.

Initially NO (Victoria)
From Initially NO's book Riotous favour (2013)

The blue-bird

It’s the blue-bird again,
Flying out of my mouth.
It came off an enamelled
Silver carving on a ring.
It came from imaginings.
It’s the blue-bird again.
Some hunter in the forest
Has got his hand on
The blow to trigger.
It’s the blue-bird again,
That thing all feathery
And fluttering, taking in
Many blues and many
Bird-like shapes, even,
As I pick up a feather
From the forest floor,
I recognise where it came from.
I put it back on the ground
Because I don’t want to be
Accused of hunting the blue-bird.
I don’t want to be accused
Of trying to extract its essence
Of flight and colour.
I don’t want to be accused
Of stealing its beak.
I’m not even hunting,
I’m not even watching out,
The blue-bird just appears,
Crosses my path, when it does,
And takes me by surprise.

Initially NO (Victoria)
From Initially NO's book Riotous favour (2013)

I am a c*nt

Pink as a carnation
I piss
I menstruate
I can swallow a cock
I can give birth to a baby
I am a cunt

Initially NO (Victoria)
From Initially NO's book Riotous favour (2013)

Bag full of headlines

Cut up newspaper headlines,
Magazine article titles
And that one question
That really sticks out:
Are you a psycho?
And I think if you want
To answer that question
On this little label littered
Brown paper carry-bag,
You’re having other questions
Forming in your mind.
One being: What exactly
Did the person who wrote
That question mean by it?
I am covered in headlines
And questions such as this,
Which are derived
From memories psychological.
So perhaps that’s it.
A person who studies
Psychology is a psycho-student
And the head of the department
Of psychology is a psycho-head!
Or maybe not.
Perhaps we should think
Of Greek myths more
And understand where Psyche
Fits into the equation
Of the psycho,
Whatever that is.
Gazing into face of a god
And all that comes with that,
Seeing the hideous monster
That you have grown to love
And being the goddess of the soul.
So, is your psyche a psycho?
Do you want to take the test?
Are you secretly wondering
If you actually are
An illogical severed penis
In the pocket of a grotesque mind?
It’s all about what
You put into me;
I am after all a bag full of headlines.

Initially NO (Victoria)
From Initially NO's book Riotous favour (2013)

An image by our featured poet

Initially NO (Victoria)

Tree pimping

In Alma Road the council announced
That all the trees in the street would be
Cut down and replaced
With new trees.
I listened to the chainsaw
Rip into those youthful trees
And went outside to hug
A tree before it died.
Those trees had endured the smog,
Fought the concrete,
Escaped vandalism
And were growing fine leaves and flowers.
It’s just that someone wanted
The trees in the street
To be all the same.
The new trees looked guilty
As they put their roots in where
The other trees had been murdered.
They wilted and browned
Then grew big white blooms
Trying to please the sleaze
Like they had been surgically enhanced
In attempt to all look like Marilyn Monroe.
They never replaced the other trees
That were so cruelly cut down
For a uniform of blowsy blonde blooms
Prostituting themselves on the street
With their big ridiculous buxom endowments.
No one wanted them there
Except their pimp who ordered them planted.
Everyone wanted the old trees back,
The ones that gave the street variety.

Initially NO (Victoria)
From Initially NO's book Riotous favour (2013)

Front cover of 'Riotous favour'

The Three Serbian Girls

I disbelieved the Viscountess's claim.
‘Tell me the names of these three girls,
the ones who loved you so,
and who broke off all ties with you rather than see you with another?’

I investigated and sleuthed until I found the first address.
By candlelight I saw a sentimental, long-lashed girl,
kissing and weeping over a poem the Viscountess had once given her.

The second I spied had somehow got hold of one of the Viscountess's lace brassières,
and it was this that she fondled and cried over.

The third I discovered, after much toil,
to be the Viscountess herself,
her beautiful eyes locked with those in the mirror.

Sofia Chapman (Victoria)


I got married tonight

I got married tonight.
well, it was around 4am (my time,
7am his time) —
we did it over the phone,
he said: ‘do you wanna marry
me?’ and I said:
‘do you really want to marry me?’
and he said: ‘yeah I’m keen.’
Then he said: ‘when do you want
to do it?’ and I said:
‘what do you think?’
he said: ‘maybe 5 years? or
is it too long?’

I said: ‘2018. that sounds like
a long way away’
and he said ‘ok, five days
then, or five minutes.’
I said: ‘it won’t have much pull with the
law.’ he said: ‘who cares?’
and then he said:
‘I do.’

I felt overwhelmed. Where were
the vows?
where was anything? What were we
saying ‘I do’ to? what were we

so I was silent

so we tried again a second
time. I said: ‘you go first.’
he said: ‘I can’t. having been
left at the altar once…’
I laughed. and then I said
‘ok I do.’ (and I did.)
and he said: ‘I do too.’

it was that easy     like most
things… when you break it down

Tina Williman (Western Australia)
First published on tinawilliman.com



It could be said that
while you were talking to
me my chest turned into a cave and
my heart became the first fire lit
by the first Neanderthal. And my
hand turned into a fist which
clutched the tiniest rose in
the universe. And it could be
said that your eyes looked
like diamonds in the middle
of a field, and it could be
said your voice was like a
lake in the middle of
a forest. Fire, lake,
diamonds, rose…
it could be said.

Danny Gunzburg (Western Australia)
First published in Danny's book Dangerous Times With The Humourless Psychologist

She Said

She said ‘I like you just the way you are;
I like your seed, your head, your car, your bed,
I was going to hug you, but I’ll kiss you instead.
Your eyes, your face, your Jewish race,
your silk, your touch, your thighs, your crutch,
the miss me, I’ll miss you, I need you so much,
your hunger bells, the voice that tells the Siamese twins
that the only team that counts is the team that wins,
the orange plate, the diamond star, the god of fate
who goes too far, the church of chimes, the honest mimes,
I like the onions and the olives and the finer wines.
The simple tunes, the ghostly moons, I like the singer who talks, and the talker who croons.
The lonely few, The Beatles too, and I’ll like you more
if you love me too!’

Danny Gunzburg (Western Australia)

Andrea Morning: a song by our featured poet

Danny Gunzburg (Western Australia)

Letter to Samantha

A letter to Samantha could say this:
your eyes are like dark caves,
in each cave is a meditator.
Each meditator conceives of god and emptiness
yet wants to kiss you even more
than I.

A letter to Samantha could say this:
my mind is like a maze,
in this maze is a guitar with no strings.
Each time you look at me
a song writes itself and spills over
the stars and the dawn and the moon.
Each time you breathe a child is
born laughing.

A letter to Samantha could say this:
you move like a dove in ecstatic revelation.
You sing like Africa in love.

I’m not in Africa
But I am in love.

Danny Gunzburg (Western Australia)

Years Ago

Years ago I
loved a
girl, her name I
won't mention
was ‘Sally’ and
an outrageous ex-
boyfriend shone
his lights on
us until we
lost the mood and
parted and I
told Sally not
to go and talk
to him but
she did and he
asked me to
leave and like
an idiot, to please
her, I left, and
soon after he left
too, and Sally and
I broke up and
years after
I carried my
lost heart in
a paper bag
and now
he's a junkie and
she's left the country.

Danny Gunzburg (Western Australia)
First published in Danny's book Dangerous Times With The Humourless Psychologist

Maybe This Woman

Maybe this woman, whose
beauty is unsurpassed,
in her dress,
eats figs.

Maybe this woman, whose
beauty is uncharted,
with a lilting walk,
carries lamps.

Maybe this woman, with
lips like petals, and hips
like mountains, likes her
men naked and shy.

Maybe this woman, pure
in the moonlight, evil
in the day, carries stories to
the lost.

…whose lips are like mountains, whose
hips are like petals, speaks in
seven languages, and knows
seven words for ‘forgiveness’
and six for ‘love’.

Maybe this woman, whose
eyes are like jade, whose
knees are like turquoise, whose
arms are like curtains,
was once a girl playing with
shadows, wanting to know how
men turn to dust.

Maybe this woman, in my
bedroom, like some rare form
of electricity, whose
heart is like bravery, whose
lips are like ghosts, whose toes
are like candles, whose hips are like
diamonds, will kiss me
twelve times
till I fall asleep.

Danny Gunzburg (Western Australia)
First published in ‘Love Poetry 2012 — fire in my head’ (Mulla Mulla Press 2012).


Day of the Dogs

curled in the street and asleep on an
empty mountain morning, where the

bitumen meets gravel, they don't see
me until the last second then erupt in

paroxysms of barking, flashing fangs
and slobbering. not statues after all

but brutus, cujo and company. some
chained and pacing for an opp, others

in roaming packs that circle, the alpha
pooch snarling as his mates look on

gobsmacked. I swing sticks and spit,
shout profanities and return threats, but they

keep pouring out of places, down
mowed front yards, from doorways and

fields, from beneath cars and junk-
cramped caravans, some with the look of

hyenas or wild boars, with drapes of flesh
and drool at the snout. petite foxes

beside big-pawed bears, a motley menagerie
of dog-not-dogs lurching for calves,

Achilles or hamstrings — wagging tails
and yelping puppily between conniptic fits

as if teasing their future prey. from a porch
or a window the resident yells ‘he won't

bite’ or ‘waving them sticks only makes
him angrier’ but, understand me, my rangy

legs are not your beast’s food and what lies
beyond these forlorn country roads, these

subdued sideways looks and terse spit-
first greetings, is suddenly extremely compelling.

John Charles Ryan (Western Australia)


(for meg)

maybe our time was in the past
i remember you from four am couches
the messages in bottles once you get to the glass and it's talking through the last loose smoke

maybe the heroine doesn't slay the beast with her hair after he climbs the tower
the right end
to a wrong story

i remember washing the floor
with your salt and mine
‘it's all gone to shit’
and we're done for if we stay
or if they stay

this happy ending is not
climbing from the tower to end
from the coil
from the neck
with the beast looking on
nor is it taming him

i don't remember the descent
maybe thats a lie easily told
now our feet touch the grass

anthea bartholomeusz (Victoria)

On a ride

Train travel
On a ride

To nowhere
Going out

Not sure

On a ride
To anywhere

On a train

To taped music

On a ride
To who knows where

Going somewhere
On a train

Stephen Cole (Western Australia)



The white of it slices eyes
like a glint
of deception.

Touch brings a cringe
where ears ache to curl
inward for protection.

To hold is like a pain
that to survive must be
moved through fast.

The slip of fingers is skin
left naked    cold
exposed for cutting.

Its break is a long
stretched second
of another’s hell.

Sandie Walker (Western Australia)

Dress rehearsal rag

She had stood still. Small
bones bound in hard
foreign heels. Body wounded
wound in band-aid
shroud. Found
listing. Stitched
intricate with the great weight
of his colossal wishings.

She stood, still. Saw
he had left, had left her
tattooed ablaze in blue. Left
her heavy in helix sequins,
tricked-up mirrors, leaden
beads. Left that failed
wedding dress of shimmer and glint
tacked to skin with falsehoods
fine as hair. He had sewn her up.
Sutured tight. Tiny needled
nips made each breath
tug    tear    shred. She bled
and he called it love.

With sharp scissors she severed a thread
Left sequins    beads    mirrors
          all to fall
               Fall like scales
                    like cataracts
                              like darkly

Left a messed        maze of
                  broken shadows        dying      lights
     scattered ashes.            Left a shattered
                        mess                        of wedding
          dress, dress          rehearsal

Sandie Walker (Western Australia)

Reading the sheets

One mud-red sheet laid
wild on the wide berth
of our nights.  One sheet

blue as black opal, left
messed.  An effigy of wakes
formed by bodies    hands

from our fingers raking
through the stilled
ocean of each drowned

voice.  Two sheets, their
troughs and crests a jetsam
of jagged dreams dragged

through choked sleep.  Read
cloth as some read cards
crystal    runes.  Read ruins

in the surge and stain of our
last night’s violent scends.  Held
mud-red    black opal   close.

Inhaled deeply that last shared
breath.  Surrendered to the
thalassic swell of separation.

Sandie Walker (Western Australia)

The drowning bed

He came to me rank with visions
of her     and her     and her     dripping
loose     blind
eyes     fingers     mouth
roots of these eyes
torn       balls
left to flounder.

His kisses spoke in foreign tongues drunk
from their secret sites
left wet unctuous messages
trapped in the hollow
of my tongue     choked
behind teeth.

His pounding strokes brimmed this bed with the slap
and slop     of sweat     semen

He may drown me yet
in some other.

I cannot spit them out.

Sandie Walker (Western Australia)

This morning

This morning without you curling around my body in full question
I could not answer yes, and yes, and I love you.
This morning without your eyes reading warm curving scripture
this bed lay cold,     blind with query.
Without your hand tracing that delicate map of our history
this morning held no compass.
Without your lips shaping sentiments of entry
my own mouth struck dumb.
This morning
without you.

Sandie Walker (Western Australia)

The light

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
You take acid as we're sitting in the air
The old woman pours whitewash over her husband's head
We're on the left
There's no box, no comfort zone
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
Two girls with acne and stringy bleached hair
Occupy Wall Street
A month in the hole
In solitary
The way to connect is to work together
I had a clear vision
Looming orange clouds, an apocalyptic sunset
Something that makes you smaller or channels your movement

The light has to get somewhere
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In the dream we're on a plane, rows of seats, going somewhere
We don't know what we want but it isn't this
People keep pets
The husband is grey and decrepit
If your mother couldn't hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
Try to hide yourself
If you throw up the next morning
does that mean you've poisoned yourself?
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing there

The light has to get somewhere, touch something
Is that the same t-shirt?
Occupy Breastfeeding
Howl, keen, be the banshee of yourself, announcing your death
I take scissors out of your hand
You're taking acid
Seeing the nothing inside yourself
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
In the dream
the husband is grey and decrepit
The woman pours whitewash
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
The noises when I cried and cried frightened me

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
People keep pets instead
Curl into a ball, try to hide yourself
We don't know what we want but it isn't this
Fenced in, fenced out
You in the aisle seat
I in the middle
Light is nothing, only
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing
The way to connect is to work
against each other
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Reflected, absorbed, refracted
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself

The light has to get somewhere
I smile a little
Acid, you're taking acid
Light is nothing, only
potential, just
an idea
Occupy Everything
Looming orange clouds
The window seat free
No-one looking out
This is not conditional
A month in the hole
Two months
Give you time to think
What if the neighbours come
and try to cheer me up?
Not depressed
Not ill
Don't need anything
In full control
of self, life, responses
An adult
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself
I don't know what I want
If your father couldn't hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Polarised, amplified, focussed
There's no box
This is not
You don't have to be
a good boy, a good girl
I had a clear vision
The light
has to touch something

Jackson (Western Australia)



One day I’ll be a blade of grass
like a bendable razor, plastic, elastic.
With only sun and water and
an occasional foot in the face.

I’ll be green.
I’ll be the same as everyone else.
People just like me moored to my side.
I’d like to be green, please.

Christine Della Vedova (Western Australia)

St Malachy’s

I take from the Collection —
silver and copper
palmed off the platter

I grow to be King
of the game ‘Lookalikes’
picking out the faces of the famous

I keep a straight face
kneeling at Holy Communion
acting transformed and saved

I lip-sync hymns
in my Sunday best and dream
of the bowling alley afterwards

I play with panache
the child part of Saturday

the expert manner
I deal with made-up Sin
and Penance


Anthony Costello (UK)

This poem was first published in Orbis and is included in Anthony’s second collection Dreaming Tigers.

Third World C*nts

I was pickpocketed by wily street kids.
I was bag snatched by knife wielding thugs.

I was emotionally manipulated out of funds
by my Spanish dance teachers.
An old woman with fire fused hands
grabbed my pants, begging, ‘Ayudame!’

A one-eyed man robbed a taco off my plate in a well priced café.
A grizzled old labourer knocked on our door, begging for food.

A local woman walked five kilometres carrying her live chicken
to make my room-mate’s birthday lunch.
I painted the toenails of a woman
silently dying of AIDS.

Third World Cunts.
To call them ‘Cunts’ is my highest form of compliment
because amongst all the slime, blood and hair
life begins there.

Christine Della Vedova (Western Australia)


Eternal Return

the man says it isn’t like that
the woman says it is
the man says it isn’t like that
the woman says it is
the man says
the woman says
the man
the woman
he enters
she envelopes
they are one

they slide apart
the man says it isn’t like that
the woman says…

Richard James Allen (New South Wales)



in the room
professional women
their prime painted on
strung with incomes of gold
family heirlooms
carbon fractured to sparkle
clothed in animal-print faux fur
bounty of the bargain hunters
hand weave acquired
on the last tour of the world
and all its islands
bags designed by the
wealthy for the wealthy
(they know how much
a bag should contain)
rest beside shoes
designed for comfort
gold badged and stamped
with a Spaniard’s name.

the afghani woman asks
what are you doing in my country
where criminals and killers and drug lords rule
where women
are shot like birds
and men seek
US dollar compensation
for their loss
less than a house
and a bit more than a donkey

Coral Carter (Western Australia)

Thistle Collector

I am a thistle collector
from roadsides and spare blocks
I pull
roots pale bent fingers
released from soil
as I tug
stalk shapes indent pink on my skin
fingernails stained green
sand clings as if it owns me
aphids smudged black on my breast
snails will be slime bliss bombs for my ducks
I carry thistles in my harvesters arms
smell a cooking stew
someone is using my mother's recipe
the postie skids to give way
handy man paints pickets retain the dream
at the curb side café
morning coffee drinkers
mid sip
I am the thistle collector
my bunch of yellow flowers
nod with every step
and a trail of white seed heads float behind

Coral Carter (Western Australia)

First published in the author's first poetry collection Descended from Thieves (Mulla Mulla Press 2012)

paint flow (a photograph by our featured poet)

Click the image to view a larger version.

Coral Carter (Western Australia)

First published on Coral's photography blog, Rubbish Photographer


Hot pink feet
tuck into feathered undercarriages.
With a wind-up toy whirr
topknots take off —
fly missile straight
into Father’s scattershot.

thump of the plump
dangle headed bodies plucked
woodstove roasted.

We spat lead pellets
Ping! Ting! onto side plates
wreathed with painted violets.

he broadcasts seed.
Calls them in
Whoop! Whoop!
Whoop! Whoop!
I hear them talking —
the hunter and the hunted
together in the garden.

Coral Carter (Western Australia)


A silent escape from pond central
onto cave floor sand
spreads to embed rock surfaces
folds through the geology of foothills
runs through the desert dunes
solidifies in glass
grows in petals of pelargonium
leaves of potted plants
arrives in boot soles
invades the kitchen
freezes in the ice cream
waves through the raspberries
and marble cake
steels into the sliced vegetables
knits itself into patterns
embroiders the edge of tea cloths
luxuriates in lace
follows the tines of the icing fork
out into the paddock of fresh raked earth
gathers on the wind
surfaces in the half ripe wheat
flies through a cirrus sky
and ripples across the lake’s salted water.

Coral Carter (Western Australia)

11pm William Street

We drank beer
from bottles
in brown paper
smoked joints
spiked with
too much tobacco
ate Thai late
on a Sunday night
when the only light
shone from the cross
while I tried to forget
what I really wanted

Coral Carter (Western Australia)


The leaves are happy...

The leaves are happy
Their applause can't be heard
Perhaps I need not listen.

Ronald Miles (Western Australia)


No Title

Found between commas
Underneath silences
Hiding among the spaces between phone calls
Simultaneously conscious and unconscious
A jarring presence, or perhaps none at all
Wedged in gaps between doors and walls
Beneath unused shoes
Hiding between trees in a dense forest
Given names to quiet the human need to know
Names that hold the same importance as the spaces
And the same unimportance
Easy enough to avoid, at least for a little while
Always there
You just have to stop
And listen

Caitlin Mahony (Western Australia)


Big old gum trees

24 March 2013
Perth, Western Australia

To walk to the bakery
I put on my fedora.
I hate that it covers
my ash-blonde hair
but it shades my sensitive
English skin.

I go past the graffiti
and through the park to the bridge.
On my left below a railing
the river glints.
On my right behind a barrier
cars overtake me, howling.

I'm enjoying the smooth
motion of my legs,
the air coming in regularly
behind my breasts,
my Doc Martens
pushing back the asphalt.

A man my age approaches
on a bike, breathing hard,
cheeks pink. He smiles at me.
I meet his eyes,
grin back, walk
a little taller.

I stroll on, humming
in the sun, considering
the bridge. Beneath
the asphalt and metal
armour, it's made
of big old gum trees.

A chainsaw shout yanks my head to the right!
Passenger window down, a Holden blasts by,
Australian flags whacking the air.

I shrug, poke
out my tongue.
They're gone before I can get
my middle finger

This again.
Just some young dude
trying to amuse
his Holden-polishing mate
by making a random stranger

Then I realise
what he said.

That wasn't OI! or HEY! —
that was RAPE!

Wasn't it?

I try to shake off
the roar and punch of those consonants,
but my brain has it
on tape.

How strange.
The boys start picking on me
now? I mean, don't I look
like someone's eccentric aunt?
Boots, mannish hat,
legs veiled
in long

Suddenly it doesn't seem such a joke.
I'm a long way from Mumbai,
but the dudes saw me only from the back
and between the hat and boots I'm wearing
a long tunic with an embroidered hem
over the baggy drapes
of green

Jackson (Western Australia)

Zero on the morning fug

In the pink of the Mormon,
he stole his soul away from
Garhd.        It was like
so derogating.
Forget it. Breaking
round the wrong door those
freaky mosquito things
Where’s the shoe addict?
Walking through so many
gardens the wrong way

wasted on the goo fumes.
He was from the free falcon’s
feces.        Cheap grief for
the brokeridge.
Overwhelming? The sheets
smell finer than linoleum
kept in the sun to etch
Whole in the blind window,
leaking on the run, he’s kept
in the way of hopeless.

Then the sky called salmon
asked for the old craze days.
Wanton.        Peace locks and
Cutting teeth to fade
sinking in the illustrious ticking.
he’s blown away across the tree
tops and the spiral stops his moss.

David Graham (New South Wales)



They let go 27 white balloons;
one for each year of your life.

We watch them dwindle
into the deep sky

and someone says,
‘they look like daystars.’

Later, someone remembers
your eyes, and how their friend

kept turning in English class:
‘they’re just so blue!’

Though we don’t normally hug,
we do today, tight arms expressing

what we find so hard to say aloud,
asking a silent question of comfort.

Saskia Scott (Western Australia)



Hear Tineke perform this poem for the Australian Poetry Slam 2012.

If food had a language
it would be French:
moules marinières et dorades dorées.

If a kiss could speak
it would talk in Italian:
saro il tuo contadino
e tu la terra mia.

If the wind could speak
he would sound Flemish:
met gierende stem in de gutsende regen.

If Mother Earth had words
she'd speak in Bibbulmun:
Nidja boodja. And ask, Where is your fire?

If peace could plead
it would say in Kirundi:
Leave Africa alone.

Let drums sound,
tears be dried
Let breath be spiced
with the scent of rain on desert sand

Let wind blow away the memory of blood and war
Let rain infuse life into crusted land.

Let elegance brighten the days.

Let language bring language
Words bring vigour
Parole, parole.

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

For Séraphine

Ugiye he?

Ugiye he, where are you going, you ask
Kw'isoko, I say, I am going to the market
You laugh when I can't get the tone right,
when I don't say isoko but isooko, which means ‘source’,
like the source of the Nile.

N'amahoro? Is there peace?
people greet us as we walk past the new election billboards
Children giggle and call me umuzungu.
You've told me it's a word for white person, it means someone you only ever see going past,
like explorers, slave merchants, colonials
and aid workers in cars.
I guess the word has not lost its meaning.

We stop to look at the newest wax hollandais, the latest fashion prints from Congo,
while local pagnes, wrapped in green, red and yellow, parade by.
We work our way past rickety stalls made of tired bamboo
They sell bright orange palm oil in bottles, rice in any quantity you can imagine,
and beans, beans and more beans.
Amahoro ni meza, yes, there is peace, all is good.

This market is as busy as a red anthill
We buy fish capitaine, Nile perch,
but your kings live in the green hills, you say,
never see Lake Tanganyika
for fear of death.

You don't greet the Batwa vendor

Then a word spreads through the crowd

‘Events.’ How very Burundian,
this euphemism for ethnic killings.
Vendors pack, vehicles toot and beep.
The crowd thins.
We follow the crowds across the street, past
Belgian shops, remnants of the past
People empty the shelves in fear,
compete, for sugar, flour, rice, tea
and beans, beans and more beans.
For days the city pretends to be asleep.

N'amahoro? No, there is no peace
There is fear in your voice
Don't worry, I say,
we are here to bring peace
See — elections are coming
Multiparty democracy
You'll win, everyone will win
You shake your head
You don't know this country, you say
I can't wipe the fear from your almond spiced eyes.

What happens next only the tall grass on the hills can tell.

Ugiye he — where are you going
Umuzungu — the one who is always on the move
N’amahoro — is there peace?
Amahoro, umuzungu, ugiye he?

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

First published in Marginalization (Blackmail Press 2012).

Some jewellery by our featured poet

Tuart in silver with Zambian amethyst and citrine
Made by our May 2013 featured poet, Tineke Van der Eecken, for the Into Eternity exhibition at Elements Art Gallery.

Like a person

You made me feel like a person.

With hands to read,
legs to stroke,
breasts to hold,
and eyes to be seen.

Someone with feelings
and words to give meaning.
A brain
to understand,
to be understood.

You made me feel like a person again.
Not just the one
who takes the children to school,
pays part of the mortgage,
keeps the dishes clean.

Unimportant, you say?
Understand, you say?
Love, you say?

You don’t realize
you leave me
more needy,
more wanting,

more dependent,

more alone.

So I take it back:
all of what's mine:
the eyes, the legs, the hands, the breasts.

I'll think with my brain
before I give again.

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

Val di Mello

Quotes in Italian from Quando finisce un amore by Riccardo Cocciante (Quando si vuole bene, Boventoon bv, 1986)

I feel the softness of my blouse as your hand touches it
You flick me a smile
Silk is the fabric of love, you say
In Italian it sounds even better

Quando finisce un amore

Your words, your hands, your look make me
buzz and hover like a honeybee
It's just what I need
at twenty-three and about to leave
the world I know

On your Yamaha 650
you take me to your favourite place
the wind around our bodies
the snow high on the Alps

Val di Mello, the valley of honey
the grass is a feather quilt
the water is golden
Its glistening froth clings to the rocks
floating, holding on to something
already gone

Your love sticks to me like honey
Quando finisce un amore, when love ends

Because of Val di Mello
because you — us — are not real
because a black hole is forming
a new home without you

Once, on the dark continent, I write to you
in my Italian latinizzato, as you call it,
but I don't hear you say this
I don't see your glorious smile,
I don't feel your hands reaching for mine
I don't sense the empty seat behind you on the Yamaha

Quando finisce un amore

Feel a knot in my throat
a hole in my stomach
an emptiness in my head
and understand nothing.

Quando finisce un amore
ti senti un nodo nella gola
ti senti un buco nello stomaco
ti senti un vuoto nella testa e non capisci niente

Then one morning,
a letter from you,
sent many months before
plans to visit,
now long gone

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

First published in Poetry d'Amour 2013 (WA Poets Inc 2013).

Plat du jour

Dedicated to Matthew Froud

At my table I serve you
plump tomatoes of empathy
bright peppers of joy
creamy eggplants of meaning
in a tangy pickle of truth

I sprinkle you with sugar
and tickle you with berries.
When you're gone
I sizzle you in my memory
and fry up a plan
to invite you again

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

First published in Creative Connections 2012

A bark in the park

Shhh. Tap runs. Flip flop, footsteps. The door. Klunk klunk krrr, the coffee machine warms. Flip flop flip flop. The door! Krrr krrr pshh, machine, coffee smell. Flip flop flip flop. Klik. Yes. We’re in. Hello. [sniff]

Hey, I smell cat! There they are, spoilt brats. Drinking milk. Drinking milk! Don't look. Keep going. Flip flop flip. Hey, I know what we're doing. Let’s go!

I'm first in the bedroom! I can jump and be first on the bed. Oh, okay, I'll wait.

Can I jump now?

Lick lick lick. Cats have milk. Don't listen to them. Stay focussed. This is important. This is my time.

‘Come’ she says. Forget about the cats and the milk. Cuddle in bed. Oh yes! How about here, on my tummy? And there? Oh yes.

Hey, that milk must nearly be finished. [sniff] Coffee, close, yuck. Cat's milk's better! ‘Where are you going?!’

I'm fast. Scare the cats. They run away. My turn for milk. Ahh.

Back to the bedroom. Flip flop flip. Bedroom, kitchen, boys' room, kitchen, bedroom. Flip flop. Kitchen! Djunk. The fridge! What are we having? Djunk. Nothing. Djunk. The fridge, again! I'm here — hello! Djunk.

Shower runs. I'll just sit here. Whoooo! the hair dryer. I'll just sit here.

Here she is. What are we wearing? The black wind jacket? Come on, the black wind jacket. Oh. Skirt. T shirt. What about shoes? What shoes? Pick the boots, pick the boots! Or the crocs, crocs are good too, even if they're ugly. Heels? Oh no. (Sigh)

Huh? Is she swapping shoes? The ugly crocs? Yes! I'll be good. I promise I'll be a good boy. Let's go let's go! You know what? I'll run ahead!

Where is she? Clickiticlick. The leash! Is it the red one? With the yellow plastic bags? We're in business!

Cross the road… The park! Aah, ooh, oh yes!

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)


The Grey Stone

Sometimes the grey stone
hangs heavy
around my neck
diverting my gaze
into the earth
and the name written on its face
reminds me of my impending end

Terry Farrell (Western Australia)

First published in Poems for the Revolution of Love (proximitypoetry.com 2012)


You were meant to be my
savior, to listen to me
and give me wise counsel,
bless me and make me feel
loved, to forgive me and
help me to be at peace
in this world.

I didn’t know you would
crucify me, nail me to the
bed, pierce my side with
your sword, leave me to
die — your starched collar
removed, revealing your
Adam’s apple — I forgot
you were only a man.

Maureen Sexton (Western Australia)


photographs from jeff's wall

for agwa

a sudden gust, held
by a post, clips
branches in wirtz'
garden. from
tree, spring snow
costumes historian

. shop window
: polishing. . .  just
washed view from
. volunteer dressing
night, throw coastal
, bench furniture, door

pusher untangling in
visible man. drawing
from a specimen, pipe
diagonal composition
. double self the wo
-man & her

Scott-Patrick Mitchell (Western Australia)

A Magnifying Glass

A magnifying glass filters the sun
And with patience
I focus the rays to a single dot on the concrete
Moving this dot onto a leaf the power of my dot becomes obvious
First smoke and a smell, then blackness and finally a hole
I make a second, third, fourth
Different leaves, different smells
And soon I am surrounded by holey leaves.

I take my magnifying glass to school. Clouds part and allow me to demonstrate my newfound skill
‘Let me have a go!’
‘I’m next!’
Each, in turn, feels the joy I discovered yesterday.
Again I am surrounded by holey leaves.

But young boys, trying to outdo each other, turn their attentions to innocent ants.
Scanning my dot over the ground
Eventually capturing an ant within its boundaries.
Ant gone
Victorious boys find the next victim
And the next
My discovery, turned into a tool of death.
I silently watch on
The ants pay the price for my want to stay quiet
And be accepted.

Caitlin Mahony (Western Australia)


You used to fall asleep
Happy and safe
When my palm could cover your face
You’ve grown up
With both hands I cannot embrace
I could only cover your eyes
And I will not do this
My son

Anna Habryn (Western Australia)

From Anna's collection ‘The Dance of Looks’, published in Krakow in 2009.



He was sad
he was low so low
he was finished
he painted
he painted his last picture
silently bid his goodbye
and walked out through the door
decades later
the gallery attendant
who for years sat beside
beside this last painting
a masterpiece
his favourite
his friend
strange subject
a door
rich in colour
rich in warmth
rich in hue
dazzling shimmering
he was sad
he was low so low
he noticed the keyhole
and peered through
each night
and noticed
and saw
a speck
a figure
far away
a figure painting
a figure waving
he kept
his secret
then one day
silently bid his goodbyes
and walked out through the door.

Patrick McManus (UK)

From ‘Beyond Bedlam: poems written out of mental distress’, an anthology published in 1997 by Anvil Press

597. Fishes!

cat keenly
scampers in
frog in mouth
a rana temporaria
family ranidae
stuffs it in
my bookcase
stupid cat!
puts it at dewey
597. fishes!
not 597.8 frogs!
but at least she
knows her bed
at 636.8 cats
family felidae.

Patrick McManus (UK)

From Cement and Water (Phantom Rooster Press 2006)

Allotment Digging

when digging
on his allotment
in the middle
of the night
under a full moon
he came across
dug up a coffin
and peeked in
and saw himself
and was reminded
of his fatal accident
involving a flymo
and he quickly
and guiltily
replaced the lid
and filled himself in.

Patrick McManus (UK)

First published in magma

Drip Drip

Illustrated 'drip drip'
drip drip
drip drip
tap drips
drip drip
drips tap
can't sleep
drip drip
sleep drip
can't dream
drip drip
dreams drip
drip drip
drip night
night drips
drip drip
drip drip
drip demons
demons drip
drip drip
drip trip
trip drip
drip drip
flip drips
drips flip
flip drips
drip drip
dawn drips
drips dawn
drip drip
day drips
drips day
day day
drip drip
drip drip

Patrick McManus (UK)

From On The Dig (Frisky Moll Press 2010)


midday on platform 1

There's nothing remarkable
about his appearance —

a bit of piercing
a black hoodie
a tat or two

I fear for her,
as his tongue moves slowly
in out, in out of her mouth
and his pelvis thrusts

and his eyes close
and his beefy fingers knead
at her short shiny skirt

her eyes are wide open
they glaze into nowhere

she leans limp
against a concrete pole
surrounded by his body

pink daisies wilt
on scuffed plastic shoes

a pink backpack droops
from stick thin shoulders

I want to push him away — to say
go find someone your own age — 

the train arrives
he leads her
through the open door

Elizabeth Nicholls (Western Australia)



If you could see the mauve spot
and the black circle as a Tube Station,
and the blue spot close by as a concept-designed Plaza,
then you are looking over my shoulder.
We could go south from here to the red square
of Fertility and Breathing,
loose and light in our appreciation of Beauty,
or we could go east along the signature black river,
turning right at Clarity roundabout
and on past the Pyramid
and the grey and green municipal buildings
to talk about the soul of things
on point and plane of the main shopping area.
Choose any coloured square — green, blue, grey —
and let's eat and drink Bauhaus style.
You once talked of this drawing
as an accident of paint-box and trigonometry.
Were you joking? Can you not see life is here?
In the cute eyelash lines and coloured dots (of various colours) —
the symbolist pyramid.
Come on, let’s take a walk to the Noughts and Crosses
we love... pink... white... pink... white.
How does it feel to be in it?
Not convinced? Put this down to me.
It is hard to encompass in words
the intelligence of this design.
Go then, go, but where to?
The outer rings to ponder things for a while?
Or leave here the way you came in?
Or stay with me in this paradise?
Stay with me in this Kandinsky. Or go?

Anthony Costello (UK)

Please be reassured

Please be reassured
that devices of your class
are highly valued.
Self-maintenance is unnecessary
as servicing and consumables
are provided frequently.

Efficient operation is all
that is required,
along with appropriate noises
produced within projected timeframes.
Devices of your class are numbered
among our assets.

In the event of malfunction
repair may be feasible. If not,
repositioning may
be available. For example
a refrigerator
may become a cupboard.

In this eventuality
please be reassured
that no noises
are necessary.

Alternatively you may be placed
on the roadside. In accordance
with our safety and privacy policies,
hazardous components will be removed,
together with any components
that may be attractive to scavengers.

In this eventuality
please be reassured
that no action
is necessary.

Jackson (Western Australia)


Hit Me With a Coconut, Sunshine

She asked me how I was, how I was
going, and I said I’ve got salty lips,
I’ve been down in the deep blue sea
biting shark’s penises, trying to control
the great white plague so they eat less of us,
less humans, so we can breed more of us while
killing more of them. This is socio-pathism,
this is population dynamics in action, this is
crude justice: bite me, and I kill you.

Then, with you gone to the bottom
of the azure limpid sea with a hole through
your big ugly sharky head where
your brain used to be, then we can get on
with fornicating and making more of us, since
we are in charge, shark boy and shark girl—
and if you get in our way, and we don’t like you,
then we net you out of your grazing grounds
and we hire big fat ugly policemen
with bigger fatter uglier guns:
and we blow your fucking brains out,
fish head.

It makes me wonder, really,
who I am and who we are
and worse: where we are.
It is easy to get lost in this
undeclared war between top feeders.

I am confused, I hear it is
more likely that a man like me
can get killed by a falling
coconut than by a hungry
savage heavily-fanged pulsing
thrashing toothy fishy thing—
but I know what I’d prefer,
even if I don’t know who I
am: hit me with a coconut, sunshine!

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)

I Was Young As, Once

When I was young I was as
skinny as an undernourished
sewer rat—they poured
cod liver oil down my throat
and told me it would turn
me into a man, but it tasted
like dog shit crossed with
North Sea cod sperm so I
regurgitated more than thoughts,
I regurgitated my memory and
was left feeling blank: there
was only a distant past to
refer to, and not only was it
beyond time: it was beyond me.

When I was young, freshly
born, they found me in that
rapid descent from foetus to
neonate, they found me with
two club feet. Fuck, you know,
my father likely felt like
handing me back to my
maker—but then he realised
that he was my maker, and
he would inherit me anyway,
two club feet included!
But then I smiled as they
handed me back to the nurse,
and I heard them say:
this one’s not ours, ours is
that nice one over there, the
handsome boy with feet
that are made for walking,
not talking.

When I was young, a man
kissed me, he was handsome,
he might have been my uncle,
he might have been the butcher
or the baker, or the candlestick
maker. But he kissed me,
and you know, it felt really
nice, and I wondered even

then, before I even knew I
was a boy, if I should have
been a girl, and then it
dawned on me: a kiss is a
kiss, and bliss is bliss.

When I was young, I sat
high up in a gum tree and
I defecated from branch to
ground, I was naked, I was
young. I was an orang
utan, doing what comes
naturally to orang utans.
So I went to the zoo, when
I was young, and I steered
my hormonal glaze toward an
orange flaming very hairy
monkey thing, and I said to
her or him: hey, I’m very
young, moderately confused, and
I have this powerful urge to
make out with you.

When I was young, I
whirled around the dance floor
with a young man of same
age, and it felt like, right,
and it felt like, alright, this
is it, I know who I am:
I am a young boy turning
toward a man, I see and
touch a hairy monkey, I am
at home in this jumbled
jungle of soft erotic touch,
ecstatic mood and electric
shooting feelings.

When I was young, though
it might be hard to discern:
I was younger then than now.

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)

When Mastodons Roamed the Earth

I was feeling rather feeble,
you had me by the trunk.
I kept thinking of times long past,
when mastodons roamed the earth—
and life, for them and for me,
was so much simpler.

To start with, there were no:

hoons driving at 235 km on public roads;
football scores or updates;
red light districts to distract a man;
governments or policies or police or regulations;
brain surgeons;
soup du jour;
massive bills for consuming water, electricity, gas;
force-fed geese;
ads on free to air;
fucking red lights;
plasma screens;
poets dreaming;

But, there were plenty of mastodons,
and their role in life, their casual ordinary everyday routine, was to:
nuzzle up to each other,
in their mastodonic fashion—
to kiss and fuck each other,
to make more mastodons.

And then those mastodons went out to graze,
and they held their peace and they held their trunks—
and life was nothing more
and frankly, nothing less,
than roaming across fertile sucking tundra—
and eating frozen grass.

And then, if they were lucky,
they got a kick up the arse.

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)

The Melting Gazebo

I recover well from
fatal wounds:

crushed by failure
marooned by fear
quartered by anxiety
burned by lust
decapitated by tranquillity.

Circumcised by derision.

It is a long way
to abandonment—

turn right at Tipperary
tumble left at the
melting gazebo
stroke the neck of
a rutting zebu.

Fuck me dead!

Walking into this
dreamworld is more
work than the
pleasure principle allows.

More heavy than a hundred cows.

Just as bent as a Roman nose.

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)

the gift

my mother gave me a gift
wrapped in red and gold
and she called it love
but when I opened it
there was only religion
so I learned how to serve
   to worship at the feet
of god and man

no hand to lift me out
of this righteous lie
   this gutter where I
hung my head in holy
humbleness and she said
this would give me
everlasting life

and all I wanted was death
   I prayed, begged, for
mercy from my suffering
for I was just a sinner
who would always pay
for the sins of all the
women before me

then I found the gift of
awareness and I rose
to the level of my mind
and beyond    and flew away
to all the places I’d
never imagined

Maureen Sexton (Western Australia)

shoe shine, Sumatra

‘hey mister,
you want I shine your shoes?’
laughter shines in his eyes

our rubber thongs
are no use to a shiner of shoes
but he stays to chat—one day
he'll be rich, have a bike, a house
a pretty wife

‘hey mum,
you want we have photo
for your memories?’
he likes us very much
he is our friend

we enjoy the game—
his eyes are so big,
so soulful,
his skin so brown, so smooth,
his smile so wide his teeth
so white—

but he must go
find shoes to shine
earn rupiah
for his good life
we shake his hand

give him some rupiah
for his good life—
he treats us to one last
beautiful smile
and is gone

Elizabeth Nicholls (Western Australia)


Oscar Mike

CHECK CHECK - Yo Oscar Mike

so - I'm up on the mike to rhyme stuff with shit
baby I'm wack with the rhythm stick
spittin out little biddy literary kicks
like this - like this - like this and like this

pretending to flow like the pope on dope
I'm bendin vowels-boy like they're made of soap
washing my tongue with saliva hope - I hope I hope

gotta fit it all in this syllabic tric
kme got rhythm on my soul n shit
rhyme and I rhyme and I rhyme wiv it
now hear this - it’s a mountain of shit

Yo baby baby I'm OSCAR MIKE

so - when
I'm a stick in the middle of a puddle of words
gotta get my little biddy verse to be heard
nothing is fresher than the morning turd - mm mm
but this is - is it? - it is - like - this - is…

I got a question for the judges do you like this one
put yr hands in the air if you dig this one
wave em around if you think this one
these words are bullets in my hip-hop gun


make some noise if you lick my lolly
keep all my poems in a shopping trolley


and - then
can't seem to stop this verbal diarrhea
how do you spell that?D - I - A double R - H - E - A
or D - I - A double R - H - O - E - A
with an O in it in - with an O it it
holy motherfucker gotta O in it
and it runs and it runs and it runs like this
like a tyger tyger burning bright
in the dark wet shadows
of the bakery tonight

I'm more shaggy shaggy than snoop doggy doggy
more flava flave than D to the chucky
now I wanna chuck - holy fuck
I'm stuck - in a rhyme truck

Yo baby baby I'm OSCAR MIKE

well we're straight outta bronx to the compton town
tiny inner suburb of the heathridge downs

man my flow is like so fucking good
and you knew it would
be good - it should

take a bow please judges coz I love your faces
when I was a kid I wanted

braces - shit


c'mon everybody gotta sway in time
and very very soon we'll be over this rhyme

Yo baby baby I'm OSCAR MIKE X 2


Antipoet / Allan Boyd (Western Australia)

Editor's note. This poem pretty much expresses Uneven Floor's attitude to poems that mention poetry, poets, writing, and all that.

Editor's second note. If you don't know what 'Oscar Mike' means, look it up.


Take me home

If I could meet God
I would meet her in New York
in a nightclub
in the middle of a dance floor
I would spin her around
under the strobes
her face would flash red
and mine would flash blue
I would take hold of her arm
pull her aside
cup my hands to her ear
and whisper
‘take me home’

If I could meet God
I would meet her in Moscow
we would dress up like Russian dolls
take a horse and carriage
across cobbled streets
into an old growth forest
full of giant oaks
we would kneel in the soil
create a mountain of leaves
light a match
and dance around the flames
I would inhale the smoke
breathe it into my chest
attach a string to my foot
and holding my breath
I would float
up to the stars
with her holding the string

If I could meet God
I would write her a note
on a piece of birch bark
I would scrawl inside the veins
and sign it with my name
then I would bury it
deep inside the earth
and a year to the day
I would return
dig up the note
shake off the dirt
siphon the ink off the bark with my tongue
spit out the words
into globules of light
to form trails in the earth
leading out of the woods
we would take off our shoes
step on the sand
and holding her hand
I would ask her
to follow me home

Andrea Barnard (Western Australia)


She said ‘They put me
in a prison, took away
my name, gave me a number
instead. For a year
I was there, called by a number,
answering to a number,
giving a number
when they asked my

My eyes were wet
as she bravely made her speech.
A young woman. I can't remember
whether she was Tamil, Afghan,
or what. I can't remember
whether it was her who spoke
about travelling on a boat
across the open sea, with people
getting sick
and dying.

I came here on a ‘boat’, too.
A luxury liner.

One rainy English day
my parents saw a billboard.
Come to Australia! Sunshine, opportunity!
Ten pounds passage—the government
paid the rest.

We stayed one week
in a migrant hostel. The photo shows a cabin
with curtains at the windows.
My mother shy on the wooden steps,
sunshine on her pale cheek,
babies on her lap.

The shire of Bunbury needed a labourer.
For three months we lived in lodgings
on the main street, near the beach.

The next job came with a house.
A front garden, a backyard.
My dad heaved logs into the boilers
of the last steam pump
on the Goldfields water scheme.
The photo shows him shirtless,
all taut muscle.
There were shit jobs then, too

but in the pub
the blokes called him ‘mate’
and the local families
invited us to their parties.

‘They locked me
in a prison, took away
my name, gave me
a number.’

I'm old enough to have gone to school
in an all-white class.
At uni the white students hardly mixed
with the ones from South-East Asia.
We called them ‘choges’.
We said it to name
what we couldn't speak:
the newness, the fascination,

the fear.

Even now, whenever I meet
a person whose language
is different to mine, whose idea of fashion
is different to mine, whose idea of God
might be different to mine, whose idea of breakfast
might be different to mine, whose manners
are different to the ones my mother showed me

I'm afraid. The stupid reptile
at the base of my brain
is scared that this
unfamiliar creature
might want my eyes
as a snack

but that day, they were wet
as the gentle young woman spoke.

‘They locked me up.
They took away my name.
They gave me a number
instead, for a year.’

She didn't give this ‘they’ a name.

She was talking about

Jackson (Western Australia)