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.