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)