Happy as...

Larry hits a bar after work. Hits
it hard, like the punchbag
at the gym he doesn’t go to anymore.
Face blotched and veiny, eyes sore
from dim interiors and neon lights,
he groans at his reflection: the sag
of his belly over a belt loosened
to its last notch and still tight,
shirt buttons straining, his suit
wearing as thin as his excuses.
The next round of redundancies,
he’ll be gone. He’s a liability:
no contacts, no customers, no clout.
He’s got nothing to be happy about.

Would Larry’s lot in life recalibrate
if a glance back in time (to foggy
Victorian streets) showed him a sandboy
labouring with barrow? Larry works eight
hours a day, considerably less than
this chap; adjusted for inflation, his take-
home pay is better; his back doesn't ache,
or his shoulders; blisters don’t scar his hands.
Manifold differences. What hasn't changed
is the ritual that ends the working day:
pub, ale. Our sandboy downs his first
pint, staves off thoughts of tomorrow,
of the hours behind the barrow,
the sand, the heat, the day-long thirst.

But Larry and the sandboy are living
the good life (all correspondence
c/o Easy Street) if the existence
of our next subject is anything
to go by. No formal introduction,
I’m afraid: he doesn’t have a name.
The farmer calls him ‘pig’. His home,
the mildewed walls of a sty.
Bred and fed and fattened just to die,
he’s bacon, sausage, breakfast for a nation.
Though appetites would wane, he thinks,
if they saw the squalor, inhaled the stink.
The end is near and while he waits for it
he wallows unhappily, a pig in shit.

Neil Fulwood (UK)

A Priest and a Bandit

(i.m. Eli Wallach)

Where we came from, if one did not want to die
of poverty, one became a priest or a bandit. You
chose your way, I chose mine. Mine was harder.

— TUCO: ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’
Tuco and his brother. The key scene in The Good,
the Bad and the Ugly. Pare back the iconography
of ten-gallon hat, poncho, holster, gun; streets of mud,

huge vistas juxtaposed with close-ups of gimlet eyes
narrowed against the noonday sun, Civil War
deployments, bridges blown to matchwood, the brutality

of the prison camp, a cemetery like an amphitheatre,
a noose around a neck. Strip away the retro-cool
of the opening credits, the Ennio Morricone score.

This isn’t about the Man with No Name, he of ‘my mule
don’t like you laughing’ in A Fistful of Dollars;
he of the spat-out stream of tobacco; he of the quasi-duel,

shooting his antagonist’s hat along the street in For
a Few Dollars More. And this isn’t about Angel Eyes,
who is anything but angelic. It isn’t about il buono or

il cattivo — no, no, no. This, señoras y señores,
is about il brutto, about his transformation from
grizzled comedic sidekick making poetry of curses

to something defiantly and recognisably human.
This is about the distance between one thing and another.
The cross and the six-shooter. Belief in the kingdom come

and avoidance of the rope and the drop that gets you there.
The distance between the high wall of the monastery
and the view from the mountain vantage point where

undefended villages display themselves like easily
picked off targets at a shooting range; where huts
and shacks will yield up their pittance of food, money

or livestock; where resistance will meet with the butt
of a gun — or the business end of same. No remorse,
no hesitation; shoot to kill; ride away. This is about

the distance between childhood morality, the discourse
of padre and parents, the simple definitions of right
and wrong, the Bible’s teachings, chapter and verse;

the distance between catechism that was black and white
on paper but hard to reconcile with poverty, hunger,
death; the distance between communion and the first night

you stole or cheated at cards or lied to your mother,
the first night you paid to go with a woman, or spat
and challenged a man and raised your fist in anger,

the first night you pulled your gun and proved that
you were faster. This is the distance between the Word
of the Lord and the sins of man, a wanted poster at

a sheriff’s office, a hanging tree, the jeers of the crowd.
This is about the distance between two brothers,
a priest and a bandit, and what set them apart; how

each made their choice and one choice was harder.

Neil Fulwood (UK)


As kids, it was open to debate
which was the higher form
of human endeavour: astronaut,
racing driver, or centre forward
for Nottingham Forest (this
was during the Cloughie years;
no son of mine would say that now).
But one thing was sure:
when you were back from the moon
or Silverstone or the pitch,
you’d sink a pint
in the Robin Hood Tavern
or the Tap ‘n’ Tumbler.
That was a term we learned
from our dads — ‘sink a pint’,
like summat out of Battleships,
only you got bladdered
instead of deep-sixing
someone’s aircraft carrier.
‘Bladdered’ — another linguistic classic
picked up from dad, uncle
or older brother. ‘Pissed’ earned you kudos
in schoolyard or backstreet
and a clip round the ear
if your mam heard you use it.
We were snot-nosed little boggers,
just over halfway to our teens
and talking like we knew it all
and didn’t rate it. We’d have despaired
if we knew how far in the future
they were, the twin promises
of sex and booze. They seemed
just round the corner. There was
always a cousin or someone a mate knew
who’d got served, got bladdered,
puked his guts up on the hall carpet
and caught hell off his folks
the following morning, but somehow
found time to chat this girl up,
get her number
on the back of a fag packet
and boast to anyone who’d listen
how he was on a promise.
Over a cribbed cigarette
or an incomplete deck of cards
that we spent more time shuffling
than dealing, we’d disparage this cousin,
this someone a mate knew, scoff
at his boasting, but secretly hope
he’d made it happen. It was his bullshit
we put our trust in.

Neil Fulwood (UK)

Personal Improvement Plan

So here we are. This is where a sense of humour
and ambivalence to the internet use policy
has got me. I would like to thank Oscar Wilde,
Dorothy Parker, Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks
for showing me the way. I would like to thank
Facebook, Buzzfeed and IMDb for using my time
productively. To every meme and e-card
on the internet, a debt of gratitude. To every
website that traffics in NSFW, a tip of the hat.

So here we are, me and some guy in a bad suit,
some guy who’s never read Dostoyevsky
or seen a film by Werner Herzog, who doesn’t
know Monet from a Google doodle, who never
rose as part of a standing ovation after Haitink
conducted Beethoven’s 9th. Me and some guy
who speaks in TLAs, his job title stanchioned
with the word ‘manager’. That guy. I sneak
a glance at my watch when I know he’s looking.

Neil Fulwood (UK)

Horror movie with chicken

Chicken caught in your main beams
at the side of a country road,
late at night with jazz on the radio
and tiredness setting in…
you wouldn’t give it a second thought
except it was wearing shades
and a leather jacket.
                                        Wearing shades.
At night.
                        And as you ease off
to take that sharp curve, it’s there —
in the middle of the road — the same chicken,
though God knows how it moved
so fast, how it got in front of you.
The steering wheel wrenches itself
from your hands. The brake’s been cut.
The treeline strides forward to meet you.

Neil Fulwood (UK)


Open the file marked ‘your biggest fear’:
watch the paper disintegrate, leaving

a void. Step into it. Fasten the seat belt
that’s not provided; feel free to scream

on your way down. Here’s everything
you staked against the certainty that death

was the end. Here’s Charon as croupier
scooping the coins from dead men’s eyes —

the house always wins. We apologise
for the loaded dice, the stacked deck

and the fact that your cocktail waitress
has just revealed herself as the reaper.

We regret the banality of your experience,
the absence of that shimmering white light

Hollywood conned you with, the lack
of pearly gates or stairways to heaven.

No wings or harps or fluffy white clouds,
and long before you relinquish

the definition of eternity and accept
the meaning, you’ll relinquish also

the fascination of fire and brimstone,
the promise of pain and pleasure

in exquisite ratio. There’s no hell. Sorry.
There’s only this: a place to reflect

on the life we loaned you and what
you did with it. Welcome. The floor show

has been cancelled. Your credit’s no good
at the bar. The go-go dancers have gone.

Neil Fulwood (UK)

My preferred funeral

Play Handel’s ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’

or ‘Zadok the Priest’.

As you enter the building

take a scoop of my ashes

and throw me in the guts of the stale church air.

Jump up on the altar and conduct like madmen.

Every one of you.

Dance however you like.
Drink whatever you please.
Kiss whomever you desire.

Don’t mope around,


faces hung

like wet socks.

Smile —

you miserable bastards

— or I’ll haunt you

Anna Bonetti (Victoria)



When I arrive he says he's sorry for being
a bad man. He's shaved his head 'cos

his brain is burnt. He bows to present his crown
so I can see the mark. He says he's turning

black 'cos they're feeding him humans.
He's actually a tan colour, a mix of rollies and

pacing in the sun. He smokes the Tally Ho
he got for his birthday. His thumb, calloused

and stained, flicks the butt he holds in his tremoring
fingers. A grimace flickers over his face

like the home movies of his childhood. As we drive
he taps the quiet car radio. Yeah, arrrrrr,

that's the source of the problem, right there, that's where
they're coming from. He shrinks into his seat, laughs,

and runs his fingers through his scalp. Last week
he was God and showed me how he made the Swan River.

In high school he was Mojo Rising, but as I drive away
looking in the rear vision mirror      I see my boy.

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

night light

her valium is white
mama’s little helper is here to stay
it lights the way through the night

now she’s cross-legged and polite
she can’t fuck the pain away1
her valium is white

maybe the drug company’s right?
there’s got to be a happier way
it lights the way through the night

medicine cabinet calls from head height
mother in the mirror has something to say
her valium is white

sick kids and the place is a bomb site
she’s disappearing into dismay
it lights the way through the night

she’s all out of fight
as she says goodbye to the day
her valium is white
it lights the way through the night

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

1. Fuck the pain away is a song by Peaches

Note on Front Door

Dear Burglar,
Please don’t break in today
You see I’ve hardly cleaned
The floors are in a mess
and I haven’t Mr Sheened
I hope you’ll understand
Good help is hard to find
and I can’t do it all
I barely have the time
With visits to the spa
and classes for my art
My nails have just been done
I don’t know where to start
I need to hire a nanny
and find a gardener too
A housewife’s life is hard
A stressful thing to do
You mustn’t see my house
in such a wretched state
Kindly check your times
and advise another date
My cleaner comes on Friday
so could you come back then
Please RSVP below
and let me know just when
Yours truly

Merrillea Faux-Pride
Lady of Leisure (LOL)

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

Haiku: chirping cricket...

chirping cricket
her walk
in leather pants

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

she's designer

people make the clothes; clothes do
not make a person

— Zhang Nah
pull back the bamboo curtain
she holds scissors like shears
to the throat
of the mannequin

rips stitches
to remove an olive collar
hitches up a hem
frays a cuff

leftover fabric for a belt
she sews late into the night
on grandmother’s machine

her lamp casts yellow light
through wafts of smoke
cigarette burning
in the ashtray

from the cushion
on her wrist
she plucks a pin
with her teeth

East no longer looks West
Fashion Week over
her upcycled clothes sell
to help rural women

her designs stitch
a future to the past
she won’t forget where
she’s come from

red heart beats strong
she’s designer
rainbows of ribbons
butterflies on strings

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

twenty six

Simon Paul (Western Australia)


I carry my loss with me most days now and it’s
surprisingly heavy, considering it’s the absence
of something. It turned up not long after you
went, like it didn’t want to meet you, although
I suspect it had been there a while getting
ready for the answering-back phase. I used
to keep it at home with the curtains drawn
until a well-meaning neighbour said this was
simply not healthy, that I must allow it to do
what it wants, but I was worried there’d be a
scene. She convinced me though and I took it
to her Friday night group where it sat quiet and
bright, annoyingly so, waiting for me to break.
But that had been a good day and I held out
until we got home where we had words over a
bottle of red. So now it’s in my handbag messing
with my make-up and laughing at my diary. But
even this has its risks when I tried to pay with it
the other day, certain I’d seen your eyes in
someone else’s, failing to notice the god-awful
sound and the look on the poor girl serving me.

J V Birch (South Australia)


The little girl – except she’s not so little –
Says to the young man, Your Eyes
Are blue as the sun in winter.
He pretends not to believe her
As he holds her middle finger
In the palm of his ribs. Listen, he says,
To the thunder of my heart.

The young man – except he’s not so young –
Says to the great lady, Your Hands
Are ochre-yellow, bougainvillea.
She thinks of violets, roses, red azalea
As he lifts her up, down, higher
Flesh spilling through his hands. Listen, he says,
To the squirrel in my pulse.

The great lady – except she’s not so great –
Says to her husband, Your Feet
Are the crimson roots of green pea.
He tastes salt-water from the sea
As he pretends not to see
The bruises on her thighs. Listen, he says,
To my promises and lies.

The husband – except he has no love –
Sits in the shade of trellis vines. The sun
Comes in, invades him, bright and gold.
What have I done, he says, in a past life
To deserve my wife? She is a lady
And great, and so lovely it is easy
To ignore the young man within her.

The little girl comes home, the sheets
Are fresh. She says to the young man,
Your palms are too wide for your wrists.
He pretends not to hear her.
He holds her lips against his own
And listens for the sea. She is limp.
The music from her eyes is silence.

Karmun Khoo (Victoria)


My Body

Wake me when the star jasmines bloom
and the turtledoves no longer hide in their leaves,
when I no longer find bleeding lines on my skin beautiful
and the empty rumbling in my stomach is no longer music.
Wake me when a size 12
clinging to curves is
when it is delicious
that the muscular thoughts inside our skulls
determine who we are
instead of the length of our hair,
the width of our waist,
the height of our beauty.
Wake me when every bite that enters our lips
does not drown us in guilt,
when I can stay afloat and keep it in my stomach,
when I can eat it at all,
and when my ribs are not precious coins to count.
Wake me when the men cover themselves
if we must cover our beautiful bodies
like curtains on stained glass windows
to deter temptation.
Wake me when equality smells sweet,
when the star jasmines are in bloom
and the sap bleeds white and gooey from the stems.
Wake me when my body is mine,
but until then
let me sleep.

Taylor-Jayne Wilkshire (Queensland)



Lizzy tries to still her sister’s storm —
a milk teeth tempest that only a mother
could quell — follows her father’s
engine scent downstairs

where dull studs rivet blade
to bone, blink back oxide-blind
behind his fingers. He draws
the blade on grey grit:

a take–take relationship
floods the floor of his mouth;
leaves steel honed
and stone sunk at its centre.

He sets pitted soles of worn
work boots on the bottom stair:
his third journey to the house’s brow,
its neck cricked and headache raging.

Lizzy sets her sister on the bed,
sees his aconite stance in the hall:
shirt front monkshood blue.
His index finger lines the knife’s spine.

He sets the girl on his hip.
His knuckles under her chin
shove wet cheeks and shut eyes up;
he draws his wrist to the right.

Chris Arnold (Western Australia)

From ‘The Black Country’


I grow these seeds
for my dearest friend
because I said I’d
open every closet
in every dream
until I find the bear pelt.

This morning, a white,
limp thing lies in a pot.
Cigarette ash, I think.
In this moment
I have company:
I stand in the yard with an impulse
to remove my poison.

But it can't be ash,
not after last night's rain.
I look closer
and see that it fell from
the trees that line the fence.
It is a single petal;

I leave it where it is.

Chris Arnold (Western Australia)

Outside, duck

probability density function
frequency, phase
orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
carrier sense multiple access /  collision detect
internet protocol
transfer control protocol
hypertext transfer protocol
ducks' quacks don't echo

medium undermines meme
metal beaked mallard
catch me
RJ-45 jack
cat six
sunk mid-skull
twisted pair
speaks SYN
on the stack


Chris Arnold (Western Australia)

Reason Seven

October shadows grow long on Glenroyd Street.
I haven’t slept, and the house at Hill View
looks along its nose. I, far below,
know I won’t climb this hill —
even with eyes burnt insomniac black —
I know you’re near.

The day seems hot when wedged
in this Helmut Lang, a gift from a friend
it no longer fits. Only I know its age,
its lining shot: acetate frayed at the vent,
and you could say the same of me,
once I tell you the night was taken with turning.

The white pot with silver trim —
technically too tall for tea —
nevertheless lemongrass scents the room.
I look at my cup
as I say that someone in Sydney had said
that he thought that I loved you;

that I was inclined to agree.
You stare at the grain in my table,
explain how long you’ve felt the same.
We stay where we are: you seated,
me next to your feet.
We leave the tea unfinished.

We stand, my night’s rest and balance
wrecked on the reef of the message you sent
last night; mind picked by clownfish.
We stand because you have to go
home to your boy, your friend from Melbourne.
You stand so close that perhaps it’s your breath,

or maybe the sense that my chest
can no longer contain me;
but look where I will, I will never recover
the button that breaks from my front.
This old jacket, its lining in tatters,
will never close again.

Chris Arnold (Western Australia)

This poem is an excerpt from a longer work, ‘The Process of Knowing’.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

The white bear named his price,
and the python inside her twisted.
Call it fright,
call it poor foresight,
call it prudence if you like:

her old man pimped her after all;
after all she was young, exquisite —
a great landscape hung on crumbled walls
of a home she’d always known —
and she was destined, she thought,
for someone large, someone strong,
someone altogether less

so she stood fixed like Ionic stone:
lips curved toward
her grass green frock,
arms enfolded in white sleeves
like strongly worded letters,
heels mortared in flagstones.

She had no choice but to go.
The white bear lies cloistered
under tundra for months,
sleep-rendered against the sleet
of six-moon nights,
heart and lungs as still
as hummingbirds on film,

and he wakes
when his pelt channels the sun.
Dim with sleep, fat depleted,
he throws his bulk against the snow,
cracks ice with swipes of granite hands
as he seeks what he needs
on his bearing.

Some who tell her story say
her father’s constant drone bewitched
her into riding through the frost
with painful fingers tangled in his hair,
tendons tight with cortisol and cold
until her knuckles camouflaged
against his back;

but I prefer to think that at the sight
of this great beast erased in blizzard —
tail small and coy
against his glacial flanks —
I like to think
the python inside her climbed a higher limb
and snapped the bones of her heart.

Chris Arnold (Western Australia)

East of the Sun, West of the Moon is a Nordic folktale.

Reason Six

The text read:
‘Kissing you under an umbrella in the rain
goes straight to my list of favourite things.’
At Murray and Pier, the lunch crowd
passed around us. We, aside in time,
sealed in my wide column of dry —

my old golf umbrella's canopy
like a night sky far from city lights:
stars clear, uncounted pins in black
nylon weave. I don't remember
why I didn't walk you — maybe the rain
had let its arms go slack.

You left behind the scent of magnolia;
left makeup on my dark blue suit:
your cheek's relief on my shoulder —
the pale foundation print on flax escapes
authentication — a recollection, a relic I've kept
from the yellowing hands of time and air.

Chris Arnold (Western Australia)

This poem is an excerpt from a longer work, ‘The Process of Knowing’.


Harbour Noir

Liana Joy Christensen (Western Australia)

First published in Performance Poets, Fremantle Press 2013

Editor's note: MUA stands for Maritime Union of Australia. ‘MUA Here to Stay’ is their slogan.


without time

hardenbergia knows nothing
of restraint or bulbs or beds
asks why at every tendril
a question mark on the hedge

kennedia has no memory
but sits happily here and now
bright orange and hot pink
hedge the mark on a question

sea urchin hakea sticks its many tongues
at time being ancient
and new, simultaneously
mark a hedge on the question

shaggy wooly bush all saggy
goes when it wants to
there is no battle to lose
there is no mark for the question

in this garden
there is no name for the space between
then and now and tomorrow
tick, tock, tactic,
time timeless

Josephine Clarke (Western Australia)

Pemberton mist

here the evening air does not forget
how much it rained last August

I return middle-aged
walk familiar streets
someone wearing a hat

the karri
among a scribbling of greens
nude in vertical suede
the sun’s must

a boy with long blonde hair
lopes away from the bus
his school bag hollow

dusk is the time
for charcoal kangaroos
that lift their heads
before drumming the clearing empty

I cannot shake off this place
its dewed webs
its months of aluminium sky
the trees that ache in the breeze

Josephine Clarke (Western Australia)

First published in Eureka Street

In the Kitchen

in the kitchen of our growing up
saffron seeped into white rosary beads
sauterne blistered sweetness to steam
we chopped fresh parsley with sage
sprigs of herbs I’d picked for her,
useful at last, springing their
pungent blessings about her hands
milking the mezzaluna

in the kitchen of our growing up
we grated carrots and nerves
sliced dried sausage and self-esteem
never allowed the knives to cross
we sang our favourite hymns
to the flash of dishcloths and blue tea towels
leaned against the Everhot
to hear the world through the ABC news

in the kitchen of our growing up
fresh milk came in the dented billy
we pitched ourselves against each other
one scooped froth, the other the skin
all of us sneaking the buttery top

sometimes love like sponges rose
vanilla scented thick cream spread
with her soft skin spatula arms

Josephine Clarke (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix


the crisp crack, sometimes a pop, of dry wood
the sliced tongue green stem
cutting with one hand, discarding with the other

you crept up on me
under the branches away from the light
years of dust     spiders’ webs
and the empty nests of wrens
five years dead wood
you joined me there in the spell of repetition
cutting with one hand, discarding with the other

I saw you reaching out with your left hand open
sweeping under the top growth
cutting with your right hand, discarding with the left
snapping long stems into smaller ones
both hands meeting in prayer around the dry sticks
making an even stack
with one hand, with the other

together we filled the bin     raked the space
allowed the sun to reach in onto old wood

five years dead and you
are still teaching me how to garden
with one hand, with the other

Josephine Clarke (Western Australia)

First published in Westerly

Walking into wind

Frenzy crashes over every south-facing part of me,
grabbing my lobes and rushing into them,
raking my hair as far as it will go.

I am reminded that we are on a spinning globe
and the air is racing between vacuums,
spilling itself over me, under my cuffs,
pressing against my skin like a shout,
snaking inside my collar, down my shirt front.

As if walking into a sculptor’s mould,
I am made aware of the shape of me,
where I am vulnerable, my inadequate armour.

It is a relief.
At last,
something to fall into.

Josephine Clarke (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix


A Calf's Choice


Herds of cattle sweep the plain
Running too fast for the weedy calf
They’ve run out into the sunset
The trampled foliage marks their successful passage
The calf contemplates – what’s a gal to do?

Which way? Well trodden? Off the beaten track?

The calf trots. Then runs. Then gallops for her life.

The tale is over. The calf gets killed for her milk, skin, meat, anyway.

How pointless! you yell.
You’re right.
Apologies for pointing out the obvious.

Christine Della Vedova (Western Australia)


Anxiety (sorry if it's too long)

I understand people's misunderstanding on anxiety
it's not a visible illness
I only cough when it hits peak
I only vomit when it passes peak
surrounded by people proclaiming
I understand that they don't understand
anxiety is feeling fingers in your stomach
softly plucking at rotten butterflies
knowing there's a knife at your throat
so if you fall…
but when you turn around there's no one
not even your friends
I get it that lots of people don't get it
don't know that getting out of bed
is a struggle
I'm sorry that you judge my scars
from when medieval curses
were the only thing possible
bleeding out demons like a mad woman
it's okay that you don't see
that it's not the same as when you are walking
down a dark alley and you feel anxious
we bring the knife to our throats everywhere
we walk on tightrope every day.

Alexia Biddle (Western Australia)


Down by the River

Down by the river
Where secrets are told and cigarettes are flicked
And the man with the ginger beard plays saxophone under the bridge
I go there often
To watch the river flow
To watch the people pass by
To watch the birds fly
To watch the ginger beard of the saxophone man grow

Zak Parsons (UK)

The Therapist and the Sea

Near the mourning beach
where palms catch the sea wind,
throw it one to another
like reckless children at play
in a game without rules or victory,

in a newly painted building,
on a street whose name I’ve forgotten,
the therapist said: ‘And there’s one
child who’s so damaged

I take him for picnics on the beach,
rides in the ferry,
walks along the jetty,
over the sea
chopped and broken by weeds
that wave in the current like hands,
only to give him some pleasant
memories in his night.’

Though you wake
in hell built by generations
whose agony none can measure,
let there be drops of grace
to cool your tongue: the sea,
songs of a friendly voice,
ships, a heron’s flight,
wings mending the sun.

Michael Robinson (Western Australia)



Oh, I’m sorry. Was it not clear enough? Did you not hear enough to know what to do? Where does the blame fall; is it on me or you?

’Cause I’m standing up here at the front of the class, busting my arse to get you to pass but, then, you don’t do the work.
And you might think I’m a jerk because I shout once in a while and I refuse to smile on the day an assignment’s due. Well, that’s bloody hard to do when I’m disappointed in what I get back because you’re too slack to do it. You say ‘screw it’.

But I’ve sat too many hours working at home; telling my wife and kid to leave me alone because I’m thinking of you and what you want to be.
Well, what about me? Can’t you see things from my point of view?
This is not what I wanted to do.
I wanted to sculpt minds like an artist does with clay.
I chose this career to make a difference every day,
not to baby-sit some little shit who’d rather spit on me than listen to what I say.

Yet, I wake every morn just after dawn;
shower and dress for school,
because I’m desperate to find that jewel
that’s inside each kid,
that pearl of wisdom that’s hid deep down inside —
trying to hide from the taunts of peers.
Because, it’s all between our ears,
these fears that hurt our chest,
as we hide the best of us from the rest of us,
and as each day goes by,
all I can do is try,
because I know,
that when these kids grow,
they’ll look back and say,
‘He made a difference that day’.

Ron Barton (Western Australia)

From Ron's book If God is a Poet (Ginninderra Press 2012)

Editor's note: ‘chalkie’ is a slang term for a schoolteacher.

Hang Tough

We were street rats,
junkyard dogs,
real playas —
we were whatever tough happened to be.
Micky was a baller;
knee high socks in pumped up kicks,
baggy shorts, a closet full of jerseys
and a head held high under a backwards cap.
Jay suffered from early on-set boganism;
wife beater under flanno,
jeans ripped at the knees,
hair unwashed, untouched, untidy.
I was a straight-up Salvos shopper
swimming in oversized band t-shirts
and baggy pants,
bum-fluff moustache touched by side fringe.
A rag-tag bunch of boys,
we were lads out on the town
looking to look tough.
Chests out
we swaggered through city streets
starting on kids smaller than us
then picking fights we couldn’t win
so we’d have battle scars
to warn off the next thug.
walking past some store,
we’d hear a certain song
and we were like preteen princesses at a pony party.
But who cares?
What of it?
Even thorn bushes have roses sometimes.

Ron Barton (Western Australia)

First published in Tincture Journal

Who am I?

I am an explorer
of words;
blindly travelling through unknown lands
in a desperate attempt
to map the unconscious mind.

I am a detective;
searching for clues
to unravel the mystery
hidden beneath
layers of metaphors.

I am a surgeon;
slicing through symbols
and stereotypes
to reveal the
vital information.

I am an inventor;
creating elaborate meaning
from another's passion.

I am an English teacher.

Ron Barton (Western Australia)

From Ron's book If God is a Poet (Ginninderra Press 2012)


The American vampires
fly through TV screens and radio speakers
to invade the western night sky.

Their sharp incisors
bite deep into language and culture
and drain out what was once
rich and lively, leaving only a husk.

Worse still,
the American vampires
fly over Middle Eastern skies
swooping down over
insurgents and innocents alike,
stealing their life force.

Only time will tell
how far their wings
will spread.

Ron Barton (Western Australia)

From Ron's book If God is a Poet (Ginninderra Press 2012)

Moon, Did You Get Fat With the Stars?

Nights ago you seemed slimmer;
a slender thread of shimmering silver.
Now you are round, rotund.

Did you get fat with the stars?

There seemed to be more of them before.
Were you snacking while the sun was up?
If I didn’t know they were balls of gas
I would assume they were chocolate covered in gold foil
like those coins I used to get at Christmas.
They would certainly help you
pack on the pounds.
I don’t know the calorie count of gas
but I’ve seen what it does to balloons.
Are you simply inflated?
If I breathed you in would my voice alter in pitch,
getting higher in an attempt to match your altitude?

Now that you are obese,
I wonder which Western civilisation
you will become a citizen of.
Your blood pressure has probably risen,
like the tide,
and you will now be susceptible to diabetes
and other diseases.
Sadly, you are more likely
to grow fatter than lose what you’ve put on.
The bad habits you’ve developed
are now a part of your daily cycle
and will die hard.
Not like you,
you will die easily
but not necessarily
pain free.

Ron Barton (Western Australia)

First published in Tincture Journal



He bought a helmet for his heart
and wore it out on dates.
It protruded through his best shirts
as ladies stared at their plates.
He bought a helmet for his heart
it made it hard to breathe
He said very little to the ladies
who wondered what was beneath.
He bought a helmet for his heart
encasing it in lead.
The ladies told him quietly
a helmet is for your head.

Thilini Wickramasuriya (NSW)


You are the fold my scarf makes when it falls

You are the fold
my scarf makes
when it falls
across the chair
as I undress. My pulse

was a string your voice
picked. I bared
my throat. You exposed
a voice. I knitted
a shield. You are gone.

But crimson holds
a fold on a chair
as warm as the winter
thread that I wove.
Now a quaver

sustains the taut
thing of this voice when
soft on my throat
is the paw
of your leaving.

Anne Elvey (Victoria)

Funeral day

The register in the gullet is a fist. Held by the muscle
of unmourned things a duct aches, with the prayer's
shudder in a nook of the bone. In the gloved cup

the liquor is brine, and smooth as a smooth on the tongue.
The breath is as shallow as the loss is deep. Each
salt corner leaks, when the flower-seller says

thousands are going to that funeral. An eagle
spans the intersection of Swanston and Flinders. The fist
unclenches in its felt. Feathers are the clocks' hands.

Anne Elvey (Victoria)


Underneath My Palm

Underneath my palm
your silvered scalp

brittle goose egg
container of all our days

under my fingers our childhoods

hopscotch on the chalked driveway
squeals in the kitchen where you played magician.

Everyday I met you at the door
climbed on your lap to smell

the smoke in your jacket
pressed my cheek to your chest

to hear where laughter springs.
Beloved         now I fit you in my palm

like a cap         feel you quiver
fragile         white         and ticking.

Julie Watts (Western Australia)

First published in Poems 2013, Volume 2 of the Australian Poetry Ltd Members' Anthology, Australian Poetry 2013

Easter Sunday

and we find him in his bed
a rug       pulled to his chin
slippers       toppled Pisas
eyes       crusty and weeping.

We soothe them with drops
ask for hearing aids
and through the high-pitched whistling
weave our questions.

I hold a chocolate chalice
break off pieces       place the wafers
on his tongue       his mouth closing over
oh,     such       sweet       grace

and he gives thanks       to all the angels
and saints        the hovering
holograms at his bed
and asks for more

a pilgrim        stripped
to sensory purity        caught
in sacramental rewind.

The cocoa suns        are melting
their slipped light throbs        through
stagnant blood
piece by piece        the chalice        transmuting.

Out of the hive of his sticky
mouth        striped bees are a tumble
of words        alighting on our stamen faces.

Easter Sunday        and he has entered the room.

Julie Watts (Western Australia)

First published in Julie’s book Honey & Hemlock, Sunline Press 2013.

O mio babbino caro

The final betrayal is done
mixed and given
with blood and milk
honey and hemlock.

The old bird, our father
tipped from his crumbling nest
into the clinical crooks
of strangers

his lucid thoughts
dosed with our vagueness
his wandering ones gathered
and tied in a bow for the vase.

But truth hangs in the room
stark and dripping
bloodied haloes
above all our heads.

Oh our beloved father
let us play Puccini for you
while we taint your spoon
with their gruel.

Julie Watts (Western Australia)

First published in Julie’s book Honey & Hemlock, Sunline Press 2013.

Somewhere a crow is mourning

somewhere a crow is mourning
black about his shoulders
as he grieves

yesterday in numbing traffic
his mate was struck

head crushed
wing punched
flung to hot bitumen
by late-day speed

plucked out of her
brief tree
her coupledom

while he hopped round
her fluttering
and stayed when she was

that bird — once weaving air
and gathering earth

now a smear on tar

and somewhere a crow is mourning
black about his shoulders
as he grieves.

Julie Watts (Western Australia)

First published in Julie’s book Honey & Hemlock, Sunline Press 2013.

A glut of bliss

She is in a glut of bliss —
her purring permeates the house
with primal incantations.

We follow the guttural chant
discover her         rapturous
in the hallway cupboard.

Flat on her back
chapel up         to an unseen sun
she is a temple of spouting teats
leaking ancient light for bobbing

The kittens stumble         blind
and mewing         criss-cross her studded
belly         divining for a spring.

It is raining manna
in that cramped space
and we speak in whispers
that come out like prayers.

She looks at me
this is enough         enough
her eyes         sated discs         closing
to keep the pleasure in.

Julie Watts (Western Australia)

First published in Julie’s book Honey & Hemlock, Sunline Press 2013.

Post-coital music

Deep in the night
midnight black on the blinds
I make my baby sing.

With his head tucked
under my chin
the long bow of his back

an up-turned boat
he is shipwrecked in my arms
and full of moans.

Across the ribbed cello
of his hull
my fingers fly

high and light as seabirds
the timbre and the hollow

groaning out his song.
My fingers pluck his strings
and he cannot stop the singing

of his skin.
In the blue-black bruise of night
the bones of his back vibrate

and fill the rolling shadows
with whale song.

Julie Watts (Western Australia)

First published in Australian Love Poems, Inkerman & Blunt 2013.


Semper vivum

Green little bodies, green little eyes.
Dead little snails. Dirt under nails.
Blue little buckets, blue little skies.
Dying little whales. Lying tattletales.
Red little princess, red little thighs.
Poison chemtrails. Strong ship, torn sails.
White, stained covers. White little lies.
Going off the rails. Overflowing jails.

L Parsons (15) (Queensland)


Yaka Yaka

Endless troopie hours
         between craters and dunes;
there was no need to speak.
         We pull up at what’s left of a town.
He in the Wu Tang Clan gear
         and red, yellow and black bandana
shows me where his nephew hung
         himself from a playground crossbeam
after too many sniffing hours.
         Wind from battered pink plains
brings blanketing dust, heat,
         a wave of Painted Finches.

Lorne Johnson (NSW)

Lake Gregory

By the blinding
three brothers
fresh out of a Broome lockup
down XXXX and stare through
at three brolgas
beginning their
final dance.

Lorne Johnson (New South Wales)

‘XXXX’, pronounced ‘four-ex’, is an Australian brand of beer.


welcoming teeth

In the glass-shielded propaganda frame
mounted on the bulkhead
of the driver's

a carefully-chosen chubby bloke-next-door
is white     in a uniform     straight     smile

I can almost smell his
cheap aftershave

Someone else
has risked the cameras
to rim his welcoming teeth
with crimsonned lips

Jackson (Western Australia)


One by one

I won't let the summer fill me with song for I am silent
in the inverse of this tree, as intense as a pelican's flight in rain.
I know good times won't keep singing, but an empty lake

is as resonant as infrared. It resounds around me as claw prints
of waterbirds become stone. Listen to the clouds
sweeping underground, surface polished to concrete resolution.

The whiffs of past afternoon vibrations or winter reflections
feel like ultraviolet arpeggios. The stiletto notes
of all this cacophony do not disturb my stillness.

I watch as a fish chorus breathes in unison
and, one by one,
entire pools of inheritance are stolen
by a heron's persistent stare.

Vivienne Glance (Western Australia)



For Maneera de Mel

Looking up
from a trampoline
that stretched surface
from which we fly
we see stars
that are still

Stars as permanent
as we are.

Light-years away
mortal as cells
they may already
have perished
and yet
there they are.

Jake Dennis (Western Australia)
First published in Speedpoets zine

Coming Home

I dreamt this moment before:
the journey, bending down
to choose another novel,
placing The Voyage Out aside.

I sit face to face
with myself and the sky.
Sunlight, like god, is everywhere
and out of sight. I’m
propelled across a blanket
of white, beneath a flour
crescent bright as ice,
above rectangular fields
and lakes. A hundred tiny
snowflakes, snow crabs,
clutch the heavy window.

Further out, beyond,
the blue blackens to space,
that dusty vacuum, the infinite unknown,
warehouse of gaseous planets
in which Earth’s the lucky marble.

Jake Dennis (Western Australia)
First published on Vibewire

Legitimated Driver

During my practical driving assessment
the officer, like a reclining father,
like a DOG licensed to be a GOD
of wheels, asks me if I need a job. The grey road,
like the question ‘So, where
are you from?’, seems strange
because I was born here.

From behind his beard and sweat-stained shirt,
like a colonial patriarch
covered with centuries
of dust, he points to a sign:
Cleaners Wanted.

Jake Dennis (Western Australia)

A Funeral

She enters late while the sun descends
like a lozenge down your throat,
she hears the Burmese monk’s prayers,
watches the deceased’s mother holding
medals, stays at the back but smells
sandalwood and varnish, grasps her purse
as twelve grey men salute the pilot,
her uncle on his final mission,
as dark advances like the ocean’s waves
and the decorated box descends.

Jake Dennis (Western Australia)
First published in Cottonmouth

Her heart slipped like jelly

Her heart slipped like jelly
qu i ver i ng into his which
wel ( come ) ed the ( delicate
s w e e t ness ) and bal ( l o o n ) ed
like BASS in an RnB LOVE song
until ( he no longer desired
the hassle ).

Jake Dennis (Western Australia)


Concurring Currents

I wish I’d kissed you
When you asked to see my eyes

But I was transfixed
By the curl of your lips
And the scarce sincerity
In your words

I wish I’d kissed you
When I saw you that last time

But my mind was set
On the russet shade of your hands
And the curious churning
Of the world

Olivia Burgess (New South Wales)


I say about leaves
hanging in
composting on
of millions,
churned to mush,
a leaf
of billons, trillions
the sunshine

Jackson (Western Australia)


Poison in the TV’s glow,
Poison in the fly spray,
Poison in the radio waves,
Poison in the bread and the beer,
Poison for the son of David,
Poison on the farm with DDT and Dieldrin,
Poison for the sake of love,
Poison when you eat,
Poison when you breathe,
Poison in the trenches of your psyche,
Poison in your pre-frontal cortex,
Poison in the marshmallow uranium clouds,
Poison in the macrobiotic organic health food.
Poison in your petrol-fuelled, smog-pumping prophecies.
Poison because God told you.
Poison from the voices in your head.
Poison in Agent Orange or mixed with your orange juice.
Poison in the endless streets of your childhood imaginings.
Poison up a tree,
Poison in the valley,
Suck it up baby it’s all there.

Timothy Parkin (Western Australia)


Dawn To Dusk

As a Supermarket Superintendent
Sallows through the streetlight
Some Saturday morning
Shoppers shuffle themselves

First one gets out of bed
Then another and another, a dozen, a hundred
Thousands and thousands
They eat their weeties like locusts
The blowdriers and TV talkshows
Humming like wings
Then one goes to bed — another and another
A dozen, a hundred
Thousands and thousands
Their sheets and blankets and doors rippling
The city like wind
And way way out in the night sky
A tiny little star
Oh buy me !

Snoop Bilby, aka Daniel Oxenburgh (Western Australia)

The Supermarket Carpark Of Youth

In the Supermarket Carpark Of Youth
They sit awhile (a few years)
Staring at the yellowing eyes
Of their counterparts

One day they will show no mercy
And spring black-booted onto a passing bluerinse

Mostly though
They walk around as though
Between rounds of a title fight
Panting and spitting, shaking their heads, drinking,
Wiping their brows
Giving passing people a ‘heavy’ look as if to say:
‘I might actually hit someone one day — and it could be you’.

One sits away from the group —
A soloist.

His big brown heeler tugging at the leash
Dying to rip shreds out of a passing Saturday shopper
His mirrored sunglasses dazzling the passers-by —

One day their appetite could become mealtime —
They will heat hate to riot
And finally throw down their


Snoop Bilby, aka Daniel Oxenburgh (Western Australia)

The Man From Bunnings Warehouse

He was
Brought to life
On a pallet

They ripped off the
Shrink wrap
And he fell to the floor

He was wrapped in
A flannelette shirt and given
Some Taiwanese thongs
To wear to the bathroom

He grew up not expecting too much from life

His mum patched up all those tears
With liquid nails

And his dad showed him how to create a garden
Out of plastic

Still, sometimes he’d just had a gutful of life
But on a good day

He’d chew up a mouthful of gyprock cement —

And smile!

Snoop Bilby, aka Daniel Oxenburgh (Western Australia)

TAB Midland 12:34 June 1st 2007

He was a greyhound trainer
But all his dogs were duds

He peers from his cigarette
Eyes like matchheads
Waiting to strike.

‘This is the most high-leverage capital return investment aside from armed robbery,’ he winks

Yet the place quakes with an untenable boredom
Earthquakes emotionlessness and cigarettes

He shuffles initially and places $1.25
Then changes his mind and makes it 80c
On Impact

His eyes are like pools of sulphur spreading to the streetlights

Outside freedom menaces

Inflammable impressions on glass.

Snoop Bilby, aka Daniel Oxenburgh (Western Australia)


Everywhere an animal puts
Its foot
A wildflower grows

White is a rabbit
Yellow is an emu
Blue is a roo

In Spring hills hop

Snoop Bilby, aka Daniel Oxenburgh (Western Australia)

Rites of Passage

I remember the first time I roamed the streets


Weaving along the streets in broad daylight —

We got pissed at the bus stop
And our bottles sloshed from side to side
As we plummeted along
Our bottles dangling from our hands like bananas

We lurched and leaned along for miles
I dunno what we were looking to do —

Maybe one of us would even frighten someone!

Or disseminate them into the ether of the other world — or
Some shit —

But I had a new shirt on and didn’t want any further remarks

About dissemination splattered on it,


I was already drawing quality attention from the way my head
Was swaying in relation to my feet and a remark about the early addictive tendencies of todays youth and a wildly disparaging remark by some jangling lip filled faces kept us louching along happily —

We circuited the shopping centre,
Then fell in commune —

Buggering about all arvo and smoking cigarettes and gettin’ argy bargy
With a post box —

Then one of me mates drew so hard on his fag he dislocated his face —

And another fashioned a suit from a $2 tracky pant from the dump bin at Red Dot tucked into a loosely fitting polyester T Shirt he got from Coles and I tell ya he looked really really —

And another of me mates disclosed through a mouth muffled with bubblegum that he had been hangin’ about the bustle of the supermarkets for so long he had completely lost track of who he was trying to be — and when his parents pushed past with a pushcart of shit — without so much as a wink —
He found himself facing a very long sentence freewheeling along completely unfathomed

In the big


World of rigmarole

Ah well, it doesn’t bother me —

One day I know I’ll be a cop!

Or at least a security guard!

Or a trolley boy!

Maybe just a guy with a loud T-Shirt?

But for now I’ll swing among the boughs of the game parlours

Smiling in wonderment — stupendously inspired

Swinging in anticipation

Assimilating into and with the extra-sensoryness of —


Snoop Bilby, aka Daniel Oxenburgh (Western Australia)



reveal me to my discomfort
for it refuses logical illumination. faithful ferret
enters the labyrinth seeking
(as always) some exiled truth. the human challenge is
i don’t get to choose the prize. if instinctive
integrity presents a mirror i must
bear the sight of my own
distortion. now
we wait.

one day in
and the landscape is revealing.
fog has been lifted by animal intent and so far
i’m able to stomach the scenery.
last night there were pains like glass but now
fear is settling. truth
shifts shards around; finally
the picture holds meaning. two-way
mirror invites reconciliation and i let breath drop
deep down in my belly, flushing out
these delicate skeletons of need
and hope. i’m fleshing out by the second and now
can plainly see it is time
to deal with what is right in front of me.
my sight has been crystal
all along, but my inability to digest reality —

further along
the walls are a milder mosaic, framing
the journey with unexpected hunger for colour and truth
is now binding. i am simplified. the walls
slide past painting me into stillness and soon
i am the precipice of kaleidoscope. this is
unexpected. i was braced for familiar excavation
of woundedness and not this
emancipation upon the unbroken ground.

now a white room
and a square table and i promise
this is not the heavenly cliche it sounds like.
this is final corporeality and i am not confident that i am welcome
here. i muster uncomfortable resolve and face my original
dilemma: i am here completely
now and have no place else to go. holding the hand of my fear that i am
inappropriate by nature i order another
coffee and take my shoes off. filled foamy cup
calls up some resilient glee and i find myself extending
unexpectedly, an invitation into the wilderness.

but it does not look like he
is in a position to join me here. not yet
says faith though i’m not sure
how much longer these quivering haunches can hold
back from freedom on the grunting ground.

my blood finds the beat and limbs become
paintbrushes. i remember myself and learn intimacy
is a dance that happens inside and alone

some weeks later and she has popped
back out, a little over-exposed in this light, triumphant and humbling
mumbling something about beautiful black tunnels, hidden
treasure and inevitable shadows. can i grow enough
to inherit the earth, this artfully dappled dirt? she returns
me to my question, disappears back underground.

Anna Minska (Western Australia)

Fire Flames

Above high ridges of ignorance
Here I am clothed with shade
Unable to flow and fly
Above the dusty hills of my life
Yes I am voiceless

It is because of that summer Friday
That summer which helmeted me with hell
Ending shelving all my climbing speeches
I am hooked within the water travels
With my tone brutally changed

Who will monitor those abusive touches?
Who will name those disasters of the past?
Who will minister those lonely souls?
Who will heal those false stories of my background?
As their lips are swelling with lies

My skin is tight and grilled
Grilled with no record of its belongings
As the fire keeps on spraying the drought
Drought which compiles competitions
Oh yes, I am an exhibit of fire flames

Sipho M Mdumbe (South Africa)



She found a heart in a car park.
Tracked an errant orange to its burger bag retreat.
Saw among smears of yesterday’s cheese
the dim flutter of its yearning.
It had grown fragile and glassy
the way hearts do when they’re forgotten.
Fingers gentle as bird shadows eased its hurts
soothed rawness with cobwebs and kisses.
At first it refused to feed     but bit by bit it opened up.
She spooned in chicken soup     sang it spring in Paris
the softness of ash     lovers and golden moons.
Snuggled it close     read it tales of firebirds
scar revision     slow growth of stone.
It grew bolder     began to explore her garden
but always returned at star fall.
One day down among the honey flowers
a strange heart appeared     it was artless and green.
Sweet peas nodded its aloneness.

Jan Napier (WA)

First published in Westerly

Something about...

It was something about the cringe implicit
in the split skin smile     the bolted shoulders
the courage curled in his fist.
It was something about the glitterball torment
the tacky glasses     the sweat     the heat.
It was something about heavy metal
thumping 'til somehow
the only colours were Camus and mauve.
It was something about wet pink promises
dried to smeary disappointment
hairs stuck one upon the other
like sticky strips of acceptance.
It was something about her:
belly and breast in the steel
of a stranger’s arms
slivers of later olympic with drink rings.
It was something about the night:
its ill sewn skin seamed and puckered
the moon a pale stigma in a sky
fleshed with an infinity of winter.
It was something about how the thin edges
of his words hit     and how
when you took your fingers away
they dripped red for hours.
It was something about too much space.
It was something about the way
his footsteps sounded so old
going down the stairs.

Jan Napier (WA)

First published in Poetry d'Amour 2014 (WA Poets Inc)

Acid asides

A maitresse with a vinegar tongue
taught me art in my purple and schoolgirl years.
Crusty as a fresh baguette she tried to scrape off
the butter of Vincent’s sunflowers
stirred Picasso’s ladies angular and blue
with the rose and ladle of his single eyed flesh
then with a slick and origami roll
of words released poor Monet
from hyacinth and asphodel passion.
Pictured him in charcoal.
Despite her acidic asides
she was the frame from which I hung my career.

Jan Napier (WA)

First published in The Mozzie

In conclusion

As saints and martyrs fortified by faith
are vouchsafed in their sufferings
visions of the hereafter and hence exalted,
so too the mouse caged sure in hawk claws
dies distanced from the world,
yet in passing
knows its heart ascendant.

Jan Napier (WA)


Water is very forgiving she says
floats frangipani hands over my surface.
Our bodies are ninety percent soluble
slips easy into my blueness.
Oceans cover seven eighths of the globe
strokes hard against my current.
Mermaids walk on knives
rides high on my swell.
Tides are influenced by the moon
exposes my hidden rocks.
Seas are saltier than tears
sips from me.
Sharks hunt in the deep
opens her mouth     eats me.

Jan Napier (WA)

First published in Australian Love Poems 2013 (Inkerman & Blunt)

It is dark here

It is dark here in my room now
under the clouds.
Outside, a wall of quiet sound stands off
and more acutely,
large liquid ruptures sound
that have escaped the holes in the gutter joints
and meet the shock of the ground.

It becomes darker still
but the sky holds its tongue,
saving the best for somewhere else.
I am, as usual,
filled with sadness that I refuse to call grief,
even though I walk with it hand in hand
through every day,
sometimes exchanging not one word.

Jim Conwell (UK)

Untitled ('I write down the things I like about you')

I write down the things I like about you;
Your hands
Your temper
Your chest and your neck.
I stop myself before I get too carried away.
I put the piece of torn paper in my pocket hoping maybe I'll forget it.
Forget it, forget it; I keep telling myself.
I catch my reflection, startled.
I do not see me.
I see a girl drowning in you.

Sophia Golovanevskaya (Western Australia)



a broken birds nest
in the cool, shady fug
out of the sun;
a lizard, dry
and torn in two, flicked
into the leaf litter;
dislocation presses gently
like a worn, old mantle
around midsummer;
where I live, where the streets
are often empty, I can
ask a question as wide
as a single word:
so what I do, is stub out
my cigarette, and step
back inside

Jonothon Twist (Western Australia)


My tongue rolls out
Onto the floor
Freshly amputated
From the red couch's door

And like a mattress-made raft
It startin' to drift and stray
Into the sea's red-heaving sway

It's time to switch off the placenta
And be torn from these womb walls
As this room falls
Into a new nightmare.
Fitting way too tightly,
It's more than I can bear.

And Lo!
I am cloudy essence
Slow leaking
From a swaddle of blankets.

Scanned image of crumpled page

Steve ‘JC the Voyeur’ (Western Australia)


Yesterday I spent the morning

Yesterday I spent the morning dabbling in the garden
deadheading flowers tugging at the straggly grass
listening to the fluting butcherbird

and I thought of all the gardens I’d grown
how they’d become less bordered     more wild
each spring the red surprise of poppies
knotted roses flourishing bright suns
rocket taking off between pavers     and even
suffering the prickly mandalas of weeds

now I want to clear a space
make a zen garden
place rocks precisely
rake sand
sit quietly in the fall and rise of shadows

Annette Mullumby (Western Australia)



Elio Novello (Western Australia)

Haiku: 'empty chrysalis...'

empty chrysalis
butterfly awakened by
caterpillar’s dream

Elio Novello (Western Australia)

Sentinels of the Street

The garbage bins in my street
stand to attention on Monday morning,
dressed in uniform mission green,
out there on parade in neat rows,
one metre from the kerb.

They stand perfectly still;
with straight backs, proud posture;
not as attractive as those Dalek compost bins —
a sore point that causes some upset —
but steadfast nevertheless
in their resolve to be
Sentinels of the Street.

If garbage bins could talk, what stories could they tell?
Who in the street under cover of darkness
placed garbage in the neighbour’s bin the night before?
Who in the street is most wasteful?
Who puts batteries and paint in their bin?
Who drinks too much alcohol?
The clink of bottles dobs them in.
Whose household is into
kinky things?

No matter what the weather,
the Sentinels of the Street stand to attention.
Like worshippers at a Sunday service,
they await deliverance —
to be lifted up on high —
exultation via a garbage truck,
a ‘Gloria in Excelsis’,
for their week’s work is done.
But the jubilation quickly subsides
as the parade is dismissed
and the Sentinels return to their usual posts
with a deep emptiness inside —
timely now for them
to start their work again.

Garbage bins: they shelter
what we reject, house
what we disown, with no
discrimination or complaint —
just simple acts of charity and love.

Elio Novello (Western Australia)

On the bus

Everyone is on their phone, Ipad or Kindle
except for the old man next to me.
He clutches his shopping bag
and stares out the window
at the passing world.

No one sees me looking at them.
Occasionally someone glances up,
but sees only the space around me.
When I travel on the bus
I am emptiness.

This is suburban nirvana.

Elio Novello (Western Australia)


How was it?

You, lover of water and wave,
swimming alone,
getting into trouble,
arms flailing,
hands clutching at water,
wanting to hold on,
realising life was slipping away.

I would have gone early,
poor swimmer that I am,
thrashing wildly,
tiring quickly,
craving air,
gulping water,
but you would have hung on for longer.
You saw the world differently.

I hope the part of you still there
just after your body shut down
accepted what was happening,
was able to let go
and send a thinking farewell
to family and friends,
and was happy
finally knowing
how that last moment goes.

Elio Novello (Western Australia)


On my way to work,
I saw the pelicans perch
like pterodactyls with folded wings,
on the Kwinana Freeway light poles.
The black cockatoos in Victoria Park do the same.
They comtemplate the view
from the power poles along Berwick Street.
What are they waiting for?

Elio Novello (Western Australia)