The house for once stilled,
silence breaks like luck
of some kind. The light is on my back
and I am looking at the slow
mottling on my hand, each stipple
a story that happened behind my knowing.

My eyes, tired in search
of a new sight, are following
an old pattern. Somewhere, a machine
is winding down.
                              Only music
is fresh, so fresh it pricks like a conscience.

Ted Mc Carthy (Ireland)
Author of November Wedding and Other Poems and Beverly Downs



Under this flickering blue light,
in this sea of tapers
and taffeta,
saccharine bite of toffee
and floral pattern of
too-sweet wine on my tongue,
I am indifferent to the hollow
faces that cackle,
jolt their heads like dolls.
It is hot in this room,
another place I have to be:
there is nowhere else to go.

The empty road is a release,
the car a coffin
where we breathe out of sync.
On the petrol station counter
pumpkins leer
and when Hotel California enters my head
I know it will loop too long.
The man steaming the floor
in a zombie mask
says ‘have a good night’
and I totter in high heels to the car,
the sky, no stars,
locked up in clouds.

Jane Frank (Queensland)


Into the Lion's Den

It was not the lion, majestic,
harbouring its life force in the easy
rise and fall of its flanks,

so much as the fear of it
coming with me into the den,
making me quake and tremble,

a fear no slowed breath,
no mental strength could suppress,
knowing as I did the lion would wake

and what would happen next.

David Adès (South Australia / USA)



Another lawn
Cut like a soldier’s crop
With box hedge fences

Another row
Of homeless daffodils
Frown at the sky
In the shadow of ghost gums

She lifts the blinds and sees me
See her wipe the tears
From her eyes

Another housewife
Another secret
Another day to be grateful for

Michael Koenig (South Australia)

the front

the front
thirty young
red flags
march Murray st
to shout
absent truths
the suburbs
their parents
Sunday afternoon
and polity
now the
revolutionary cadre
of weekend rallies
and glossed
sixty new sneakers
shuffling for
someone's freedom
standing there
I could not
help but
see it absurd
and what does it
say of
five thousand
years dispossessed
Gaza or Balga
evicted and
and what does this
say of my
dispossessed of
stumbling half
anxious violent
boredom lust
smoking and
away our moments
and last
after the
Maori stole
from my
and the cops
came to
assault the
you could
not help
but cry
history folding
in on itself
the sadness
in all
between us

Raymond Grenfell (Western Australia)
First published on Raymond's blog An attempt at humanity through attempted poetry?

empires of

i dreamt
of black dogs
flying over Hiroshima
and Nagasaki
and cheer for
bombs falling
like gods to earth
empires of gold
and death
memory and loss
there is no end
in silence
only the absurd

Raymond Grenfell (Western Australia)
First published on Raymond's blog An attempt at humanity through attempted poetry?

every wreck

wrought iron
of harboured regrets
lying dormant under
turgid heavy swell
holding what
could have been
without air or fear
this skeleton of
wood, bone and dream
the canvas
a death blanket
where bodies
once joined
and perished
with the tide
every wreck a scar
on our collective skin
treasures to hoard
and forget
all those ships
you once loved
left to rot
and decay

Raymond Grenfell (Western Australia)
First published on Raymond's blog An attempt at humanity through attempted poetry?

her image

I dreamt
of my daughter
holding me
with her words
as we drove
from the ocean
toward a world
that is not mine
and never
will be
I awoke
in love
her image
the room
later when
the tears
I thought
to keep
this world
to let all
like paper
in the sky

Raymond Grenfell (Western Australia)
First published on Raymond's blog An attempt at humanity through attempted poetry?

Thank Goodness for Small Things

The day seemed enormous!
Hours stretched and sped,
alive with activity,
      with big ideas,
      massive doubts —
a huge amount of work!

And somewhere in it
a tiny bird
tapped gently at my office window;
the smallest part of my mind noticed;
the littlest child in me observed beauty
without a critical eye.

And I Breathed.

And knew how small I was
in the Great Scheme of Things.

It was comforting.

Bernadette Brady (Western Australia)



A small boy stacks blocks
on the surgery floor.
She gives his mother
a flu shot.
Its like this all day,
the pinpricks,
the swabbing,
the perfection of sterility.

Minutes before
it happened
her son was sitting
sorting pine cones
at her feet.

A June morning.
The clearing,
the mountain pool,
air astringent pine,
water’s surface
webbed in light,
his compact body floating,
as if in solution.

Jane Frank (Queensland)

The Gods Above

The gods live uphill, the better to look down
on humans, below (literal) and beneath (social),
who roil among mirrors of the immortal.
The hill, with crags and steeps, deters climbing;
the gods like a shortage of face to face;
they’ve never done multicultural.

Affront is their reaction to attempts
to reach their home. Hubris they call it.
Through lack of social skills, they have no talent
to interpret its meaning. Is it challenge,
attack, mistake or funny (peculiar) prayer?

The gods receive supplication – praise
is preferred – but chants and babble can fade
into the hillside and be ignored.
Sudden sobs and screams bring on alarm. The gods
don’t deal well with the unexpected.

Best loved is like the old days, smoke
from prayers on bark or parchment and burned.
They love the scent. But in the modern age,
with humans, fire is out of fashion.
The gods struggle to cope with change.

E A M Harris (UK)


Three Cats and a Dog

And then she asked,
‘What breed?’

And I’m like,
‘She can see the same future,
and it’s beautiful.
The bronzed sun rising
in the summertime,
with her hand in mine
as I write my lines.’

And then time dilates
and I’m lost in the moment forever,
and then time bounces back
like it always does,
and anyway,
she’s supposed to be working.

Truth is,
I don’t really care what breed,
whichever breed would make her happy,
'cause I’m happy when she’s happy.

one dog is never
especially when you’ve got
three cats.

Dane Cobain (UK)




They came
With the ocean, carried on the waves,
They came
With loud voices that cracked through the bush,
They came
With guns and nothing was safe,
They came
With strange animals and let them roam,
They came
With axes and hacked and chopped,
They came
With greed and nothing was sacred,
They came
Without asking and offered no apology,
They came
With no white flag and expected surrender,
They came

Rachel McEleney (Western Australia)



on the road to the vanishing point
we layered our story
over the Inggarda stories

ice age, crinoids, early
Permian, ancient sea bed,
quartzblow, sandstone
plateau, elevated,
compressed, faulted,

on the road of smashed bones
corpses unburied
spat to the side
the road of sliced rubber
we picked up Daniel
his tyre the road’s latest meal
out there on the horizon
heat turns distance to water
and waves
we asked what do you call the blue smudge
map-named for a pastoralist’s wife

in his grandmother’s country
he can’t say
he can’t say
he can’t say the name

on the road to the vanishing point
the road of broken bones and sliced rubber
our tongues strangle names
he can.

Coral Carter (Western Australia)


supplicant green
tip to eager root/gloved hand


like a slammed door/dead phone/totalled car

weeds spread quietly

while you sleep/stare at weave
in an office partition/wipe dust from a desk phone

on your way by goldfish sunrise
green under bike wheel

weeds stretch wide loop tight
knit into more

in the slide of a month
so many/so many

they begin to look
like they have design

Alice Allan (Victoria)


Old Song

finally, the child is asleep.
the evening sky itself is almost white with fatigue.
it’s so warm that nobody’s out,
and soon i will gaze
over the quiet city streets.

where is the woman
to taste my skin?
perhaps i know her already,
or maybe she is as distant as winter.

well, every bird sings first for itself.

Matt Hetherington (Australia)


all the silken night
i lay in my warm bed,
and like a god
i made my little movies,
some even with the most perfect
everything i wished for, i had.
and now a cold new morning is banging on the door.

Matt Hetherington (Australia)

Morning, Partly Cloudy

every day waking is as slow as dawn
and questions hurt like the word ‘touch’
spread the honey evenly over the toast

the light is thin like an old man’s skin
and even my eyes are turning grey
every day waking is as slow as dawn

some of our romances end in rainbows
we are but a membrane
spread the honey evenly over the toast

i wrap my arms around myself
the comfort of this sole nocturnal sun
every day waking is as slow as dawn

attempting to recall all the things to forget
chatting in the face of the ravenous millions
spread the honey evenly over the toast

you’ll never see beyond your mirror
when the darkness makes you close your eyes
every day waking is as slow as dawn
spread the honey evenly over the toast

Matt Hetherington (Australia)

My Apology

Image of poem 'My Apology' by Matt Hetherington

Matt Hetherington (Australia)
First published in Speedpoets


(for Brett)

the baby breathes easily
                the air in the glass box

he wants both nipples at once
                but must come to rest with rubber

his brother also shares a little
                in this taste of near-containment

somehow their mother has managed
                to save them both for life

Matt Hetherington (Australia)


unmistaken identity

it’s like having neighbours without curtains
making love with the light on
across the narrow strip of back yard
outside the kitchen window
washing late night dishes

except it’s twentyfour seven
and loveless
a hole in the wall of the world
showing you almost everything
and once in a while

between press releases and sporting adventures
celebrity poses and lifestyle changes
current events and ongoing dramas
some stranger’s mortality
spat in your face
like a passerby’s curse

it’s a streetcorner of some distant suburb
whose name you didn’t quite catch
nowhere you’ve ever been
a stumble in the dance of traffic
a knot of broken metal and a death
no one you ever met

the news reader informs us the police
have not released the dead rider’s name
but somebody knows that bike

Span (South Australia)


How I spent my 18th year

After I leave acting school (drop-out)
I take a job as Operations Manager at an electronics store
and start rehearsing how to be normal. I grow
my hair and nails out and learn the difference
between ash and honey-blonde highlights. I fall for
the floor manager who is 15 years older than me
and once was a trainee for the NBL but he rebelled
to go to the beach one too many times. He said he
got a spiritual connection to the sand, man,
that he measured in wrist bands from Bali
and his tan. He might go back to basketball
sometime, but his life philosophy is take it one
day at a time, like the surf, it comes and then it goes,
it flows, I flow, you know?
So day after day
I print price stickers, re-label computers, I get
manicures with the cashiers and adopt
their wisdom never get both gel tips and colours;
only girls from the northern suburbs would wear
two different animal prints; 5-inch heels are sexy,
6 inches is slutty.
When we go out for Friday drinks
with the kids from the Carrington store I drink
Jaeger Bombs until I’m ready to stand in a circle
and come on Eileen, oh I swear (what he means)
then its midnight and I go back to the floor manager's
to sit and smoke and he plays Red Hot Chilli Peppers
and ‘Under the bridge’ was written for me, when I listen
it’s like I’m listening to myself
. When I wake up
there’s permanent marker on my legs, an arrow
pointing enter here, and we laugh. No-one
ever asks why I left acting school, but if they did
I would tell them I never wanted to be on the stage
I only ever wanted the taste of other people’s
words in my mouth. Something to chew.

Caitlin Maling (Western Australia)
From Conversations I've never had (Fremantle Press 2015)


When I think we girls,
I think Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. Our summer,
when we caught the train back from playing pool
with the US sailors in port
and I fell asleep on your lap
the sailor hat I’d earned wedged on.

Back home, you have that hat with all our treasures lined up,
like the kewpie dolls Roo would bring Olive
back from the canefields.

I remember being in Innisfail after Larry,
the thicket of palm leaves and sugar cane capturing the road
and on the TV that night a man crying, dead bananas at his feet:
me Dad started this farm and now me sons wont be able to work it.

And I wish someone had taught me
to hide photographs in bottom drawers,
a lock of hair under my pillow. The three of us
kept ours in different colours — red, blonde and black —
us pretty girls all in a row.

Where I live now, bananas cost 70 cents a pound.
I have no way to explain how precious they are.

Caitlin Maling (Western Australia)
From Conversations I've never had (Fremantle Press 2015)

 Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, Queensland, 2006


  1. A nissologist is someone who studies an island on its own terms. What are the terms of an island?
  2. Australia is often called an island continent, sometimes the only island continent. Its terms are of being an island.
  3. If Australia is an island continent, then so is Antarctica. Australia is changed to the only inhabited island continent.
  4. Gondwanaland is an ancient super landmass. Australia and Antarctica were the last two pieces of Gondwana to separate.
  5. When I was young I thought islands floated on the surface of the ocean. Like glaciers. And that Antarctica was an island made of ice.
  6. A few years later I grew concerned about islands floating away from one another, of Australia losing its place. I decided there must be a thin rope of land tethering Australia to the sea-floor. An anchor.
  7. Often we speak of ourselves as being anchored to a particular place. A home. Anchors and roots become indistinguishable.
  8. I read in a book: ‘Down Home is a psychological geography.’
  9. From Houston I always refer to Australia as down, or below.
  10. Sometimes I picture myself standing, sending roots right through to where I imagine Australia is. In this image Australia becomes the sea-floor.
  11. When we look at the moon, we always say we look ‘up at the moon’. There are no directions in space. So really we just look at the moon, and it happens that we tilt our head.
  12. In the same book: ‘Moons bind all islands in two ways.’
  13. Often from an island the moon is the only other landmass visible. The moon also sets the tides. Tides form the littoral boundaries and edges of islands.
  14. I have most often looked for the moon from the beaches around Perth. These beaches are collectively known as the coastal plain.
  15. Australians are known as plain-speaking people.
  16. The best way of interpreting these two statements: Australians speak the language of the coast.
  17. I have no terms to explain what I see off the coast nearest Houston. From Kemah I can see land opposite me. It’s possible this land is an island. It’s impossible this island is Rottnest.
  18. Collectively, we have no terms for what came before the big bang. If time emerged in the big bang you can’t use the words before and after to describe the immanence of the Universe. It just is.
  19. My husband tells me to picture a piece of paper. To draw a circle on it. That’s our universe. Then another circle. A hypothetical other universe. He says none of our laws apply outside our circle.
  20. I say they look like islands.
  21. He also describes parallel dimensions using pieces of paper. He lays one on top of another. They touch, almost occupy the same space but aren’t connected in any way we are capable of seeing.
  22. This is like the squirrel I saw squashed flat on the road in Houston. There was no way for it to actually become the cement.
  23. We don’t have squirrels in Australia.
  24. Deep down I know I can’t touch Australia from Houston.
  25. All the words I know for winds come from the coastal plain. Easterly, Westerly, Northerly, Southerly. All our terms are directions for things coming to or leaving the island.
  26. On the coastal plain we tell time these by winds. The sea breeze means it’s the afternoon.
  27. When there is a wind in Houston I look for the coast that isn’t.
  28. One of the terms of our Universe is that light travels at 299,792,458 metres per second.
  29. The sun sets directly over the ocean on the coastal plain approximately 43,200 seconds before it fades over land in Houston.
  30. In a total vacuum, particles will randomly pop in and out of being. This means that there can never be such a thing as a total vacuum.
  31. Similarly, in our universe even if there is emptiness, there is always time.
  32. In her kitchen my mother has an egg timer which measures minutes in grains of sand.
  33. I haven’t been down to the coast in 20,563,257 seconds and counting.
  34. There is no term for how many grains of sand I won’t have touched.

Caitlin Maling (Western Australia)

Homesick song

I miss you sea-shallow with blue-sky flotilla
of surf-spray above the armada of adolescents
at the pylon dive-bombing the sea-bottom
below the tea-rooms all sea-shell ear-rim mauve
in the long sea-depth darkness of the pines
and has there ever been a comfort more
than your sea-salt pine-sweet sea-air
where the coconut oiled sea-swept hair
of everyone you have ever known
makes the twilight as viscous as the sea
and you need your whole eye to see
to the end of the sea-pier past the pelican
on the shark watch tower to where the sea
parts for the break with tenderness

Caitlin Maling (Western Australia)
From Conversations I've never had (Fremantle Press 2015)

Hurricane Season

Babies born into arctic dark —
24 hours of night — have minds
more easily widowed of sense.

Now, Gulf, wrap your humidity around me,
your currents and flocks of migrants,
in your September. Beached, let pelicans

animate the sky, my lips to curve
and eyes to wonder, keep me,
my feet, whole in the mud of the flats.

Sky, dear yellowing, failing light,
fat with rain, blow the winds
that stop the egret mid fish-dance;

allow me one more season of sense,
of knowing the names for these:
stone-turner, curlew, plover, hawk and gull.

If you take one roof from the houses,
take them all. Open the suburbs up.
Make rockpools from the cul-de-sacs

where I cling mollusc-like
to possibility; to shore:
an idea of a horizon, where

after rain, in the eddy of brown waters
at knees, at waist, you rise,
you raise me up, remind me

that I was born to dry heat, drought,
on the grit-banks of a river widening
through limestone, seeking salt, seeking

sea, in September,
lightning strikes outback of the breakers;
the horizon appears in an instant.

Soon darkness.
Soon, light.

Caitlin Maling (Western Australia)
From Conversations I've never had (Fremantle Press 2015)



Johnny Depp’s dogs on death row
The killings were carried out at 12.30am local time, on the prison island off the coast of Java
Alleged dog smuggler could face ten years in jail
Abbott rules out live cattle ban
Russell Brand pleads for clemency
Are you in a relationship with a narcissist?
Submissions to parliamentary enquiry claim halal is a scam
Puppies sold for drugs
Australian cattle ‘sledgehammered to death’
Tied to crosses and shot
There is a suspicion in some circles this may be related to the war on terror
Record year for live cattle exports thanks to strong Indonesian demand
Asylum seekers kept on board boat for a month
Fears Johnny Depp’s dogs could be rendered stateless if US refuses entry
Asylum seeker near death in Perth hospital
Elephant herd rushed to help collapsed calf
The puppies are currently being cared for at a Yokine veterinary clinic
Darwin boy asks Q&A why his friend with autism should be deported
School teaches women in de facto relationships are cheap prostitutes
Skyping with the enemy: I went undercover as a jihad girlfriend
Americans more likely to be killed by toddlers than by terrorists
Australia votes Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein as FIFA president
The seven habits of great investors
Ten decades, ten of the hottest looks
From the suburbs to Syria: twelve jihadi brides
Girl’s sweet sixteen birthday party ruined by faeces falling from the sky
Man’s epic bucket list for faithful friend: takes dying dog across US
Mother found pushing dead son on playground swing
Andrew Chan ‘ended well…a winner in God’s eyes’, says widow
Johnny Depp’s dogs show evolving notion of animal citizenship
Jamieson joins Glory exodus
Winter is coming: Perth prepares for storm to hit
The end of Australian exceptionalism
Inshallah, she’ll be right mate, Shanti

Matthew Jamieson (Western Australia)


Not that far away

The large dressed stones of the landing wharf and the
curving away ditch of the never completed canal
are what remains. Ash saplings grow along
the uneven embankment and what might have been
intended as a bridge now has a blue
tarpaulin draped across.

Darkening trees have grown all around,
serpentine roots seeking down the joints between
the stone blocks. A van, tyres sunk among old leaves,
has its thin bonnet raised and one back door open.

Deep tractor tracks lead away from two oil drums.

The bottom of the tarpaulin is mud-splashed, its folds
green with algae. A cock pheasant flaps and croaks
not that far away.

Sam Smith (UK)

A walk defined


brown of weathered stone. A curve of a clay-pipe beak, the chorus of death at sunset. Alone at midday in spring colour,​ the herald of storms.

Meadow Pipit

snow with smoke grime when seen from below. A call in conifers too young to kill sunlight clearings. A see seet under blue sky. The cuckoo boarder.


​​shells and bones from a sea of dragons when the moon danced daily and sun tears trapped wind kissers.


high, flat, flat with the cracks of streams, here a stumble of rock, rock round and fire made, rough with prayers, dark lines of mud-peat, yellow gorse and black burned bushes.

I walk the flat. I jump the streams. I live in the smoke dust. I am born in the wind. No one is the moor. The moor will sink in a sea of eyes.

Mountain summit

a place of stones, lamentations for a time of sighing, winter rests waiting for the fall of leaves, the brown ripeness to rot.

I wait for the moon to show the secret sliver road. Breath clouds gather in night.

John Alwyine-Mosely (UK)


One Tree Bridge

That first morning, hoping to catch the dawn,
we stepped instead into a world of mist
and dark green forest, mixed with the softer
greys of smoke from pot-bellied stoves, and
the light green of the ferns along the river.

Taken by mist the road could not be seen,
though what remained of the one-log bridge
that gave this place its name moved through
degrees of sight right on the edge of seen,
unseen, just seen: a bridge into infinity, a lost
road, vanished, dreamed, now going nowhere.

And we, my child and I, being small and quiet,
watched as from drifts of mist the great trees
grew, regained their shapes, their varied colours,
their forty-metre stretch that touched the sky,
and took it in, each from our own perspective:
she from the bridge, I from a long-gone road.

Dennis Greene (Western Australia)

From Here Be Dragons (Puncher & Wattmann 2015)

Love what you've done with the place

I’m trying to write a love-poem about paint.
Well, that isn’t strictly true, the poem’s about you,
but how could I stand here, sixty-plus, and say
my love is like a red, red rose, or claim that black,
black, black is the colour of my true love’s hair;
I would look ridiculous — and you my love are grey.

No, better we stay here, here where our love lives:
dust in our hair from rubbing down rough spots,
flecked with the colours of a score of re-dos.
Time for bed? But I’m trying to write about paint:
how it sticks to the walls, how it covers the things
we brush over; how it makes nothing new

but still freshens the place up a bit.
How we’ve got several cans in the shed.

Dennis Greene (Western Australia)

From Here Be Dragons (Puncher & Wattmann 2015)


In response to ‘Maralinga’, sculpture, Lin Onus, 1990, The Art Gallery of Western Australia

In this quiet room,
where the dreamtime hangs
in dots of red and black,
in dots of black and white
and fields of ochre,
the light grey walls absorb
the distant thunder
of toxic dreams
we hung upon the wind.

She stands to face the wind,
her clothes cling to her;
her hair, her breath, her life
all blown away; she holds
her daughter close; clings to
a vanished future.

She leaves no space for Michelangelo
or carved Carrara marble; here ‘pity’
grows in fibreglass,
and flows
through plexiglass that knows
the shapes we give to progress.

Dennis Greene (Western Australia)

From Here Be Dragons (Puncher & Wattmann 2015)

Millennium Notes

For those of us on the edge of things,
listening to the dopplered panic
of distant sirens, and watching 30-second
grabs of frenetic living for today
by a generation celebrating life
and the survival of a billion hard drives,

it is easy to forget that a previous
generation lived that way too, when
they thought tomorrow would be lost
in the crash of ICBMs that never flew
and the slow death of nuclear winters
that never came. And their parents

danced through the crashing of bombs
that actually fell, and the burning of cities
that actually burned, while one generation
threw a party because tomorrow had arrived
after all, and who would have expected it after
the long lists of the dead, and the endless
marching into the guns.

Living on the edge of things, it is easy
to forget that each generation embraces
its now until the mundane reality of tomorrow
and the growing weight of yesterday
strand them on the edge of things, where
30-second grabs, and the sound of fading
sirens, shape their views.

Dennis Greene (Western Australia)

Looking for India

Looking for India, Bartholemeu Dias
sailed out of Lisbon, turned left,
sailed south, found the tip of Africa,
and called it the Cape of Storms.
Which suggests the voice of experience

Battered and beaten, he gave up on India,
turned back, sailed north, told them in
Lisbon that the Cape was a problem,
so they called it the Cape of Good Hope.
Which suggests the voice of expedience

Fourteen years later, still hoping for India,
he sailed out of Lisbon, turned left,
sailed south, reached the tip of Africa,
and died in a Storm off the Cape of Good Hope.
Which suggests the voice of irony

Bartholemeu Dias, seeker for India,
wrote in the margin of his page in history:
follow your dreams, try not to let them kill you,
and never forget your first impression.
And that’s the voice of reality

Dennis Greene (Western Australia)

From Here Be Dragons (Puncher & Wattmann 2015)



She says, Dating only leads
to breakups or marriage
and you’re not fit for either.

She says, You’ve never inhaled a novel,
so you’ll never understand
why my mind stutters
whenever I go down stairs.

She says, You’ll never know why
I call you Old Sport after too much gin,
or why I am so sure
the meaning of life
is forty-two.

She says, I don’t understand
physics or Schrödinger.
I hate that sexist song you sing
on the Wednesday bus into town.

She says, Let go of my hand,
stop drinking my tea.
You could never meet my parents
with your pants slung that low.

He says nothing,
just spreads jam on the crust
of her last loaf of bread,
telling bad jokes
until he picks apart her frown
and the water in the kettle goes cold.

Ashleigh Mounser (New South Wales)


You may be forgiven
for thinking that love
is a butcher's ritual: your body
starved and trembling, meat and bone,
both temple and sacrifice
for a devouring god,
a raw-eater, Bacchus with his teeth bared at your throat.
But you — the most wary of wild creatures
— you do not bare your teeth, and
you do not bite to break skin,
and you do not snap your jaws shut
like the steel trap at the heels
of the young flesh: meat
dripping with unpalatable bitterness
yet sweet enough on the tongue,
if carved thin.
You bare your throat to the stars —
back arched, spine a summit hewn of ivory
— and at daybreak you pull the knife from your gut
and leave your offering, in thirds, at my altar.

Shastra Deo (Queensland)

The Natural Guest

Following a secret path of nature
a heaven-touching skyscraper
came in to my bedroom one night
but surprisingly headless,
putting the leaning pillar of Pisa
in the place of its neck,
carrying the Himalayas and the Alps
on its two wide shoulders,
setting a set of three nuclear reactors
inside its He-chest
and pocketing all the treasuries and banks —
peeping from its colossal purse —
and started shouting at me,
‘Give me a head for my recognition’,
making me generously bewitched
to be prompt to raise my sharp knife
to cut my own head for the natural guest
but it could kill my wonderful dream only.

Pijush Kanti Deb (India)



There is a certain type of scream
No child should ever make
As a mother if you hear it
You are instantly awake.

Should I mind my own business
Or knock upon the door?
I cannot do the first
The second scares me more.

The frequent sounds of distress
Disturb me more each day
I cannot hear those children
And turn my heart away.

Who do I tell about this?
What is the right thing to do?
Maybe nothing’s wrong
Yet I worry that’s not true.

I hope my fears are groundless
But I have to make that call
No child should make that sound
The one that’s coming through my wall.

Lady Satellite (Western Australia)
First published on the author's blog, Lady Satellite — 365 Poems Project

'you can see forever she said—'

you can see forever she said — we sat in camp chairs over looking cretaceous paleo channels — still there from time when land masses pulled back — cracked and broke — rainforests quaked wet — mountains smashed up — rivers carved new beds with blades of water — and mammals were set to rule

above us jezebels did the butterfly polka from native pine to native pine — laying a pheromone trail on the hilltop breeze — semaphored the sex message in gold and black wing beats against the dense two pm blue — where the moon played peek a boo

out on the lake a slake of water flaked to salt — continued the slow work of glint–encrust–entomb — alarmed wrens jack-knifed into blue bush — a wedge-tail caught the updraft curve disappeared into bright

we read sand’s stories of a hopping mouse love-in — bronze wings’ forage — the leap from feed to flight — around spinifex the snake’s hunting circle — saw where echidnas quarried for the set menu — found curled among ironstone sun dried joey remains

on a hill in the shade of native pines where jezebels still semaphored in gold and black our eyes clung to the silver threaded horizon — we stared back through clean light — thought we saw forever.

Coral Carter (Western Australia)

The Pieces of the Moon

It shattered in the sky.
Clattered among the stars and heaps of nothingness.
Light bled

Through the cracks, pumping to Earth
In a steady beat
Of overwhelming heat.

It was in pieces. Neat
Bite-sized crumbs which I reached into the clouds
And took

And let weigh down my pant pockets.
Greed blinded me.
I took the final piece between my prints

And it burned my fingers.
It was beautiful to look at
As I sank.

Shelby Traynor (Western Australia)

The sound

Jackson (Western Australia)
From the album The right metaphor
First published (in text) on the author's website Proximity.

'i saw you looking at me...'

i saw you looking at me
last night with
your burnt orange pallor

I walked up the stairs
it was fun and
I did not encounter
a centipede.

Susan Laura Sullivan (Western Australia)

Baby in a bucket

A baby in a bucket
Psychosis waits for quiet moments
Please don’t go
A boneless baby in a bucket
Depression sucks me into bed
Imprisons me for weeks
The Taliban shoot a hundred school children
Paranoid spiderwebs of cause and effect
A mother stabs eight children to death
Drunken stumbling through transparent life
Or is there more?
A boneless translucent baby in a bucket
Miasma of failure seeping from suicides
A friend of mine takes so much speed that he stays up for two weeks then hangs himself
So alone
It’s never enough
Houses upon houses iterating and reiterating
You can buy a coat for your dog which simulates the feeling of a hug
Tip the boneless translucent baby out of the bucket
Will I touch it?
Does it live?
Fangs pierce my neck
Fish-hooks perforate my flesh

Timothy Parkin (Western Australia)
First published in… well, the Editor remembers seeing this somewhere, possibly in one of the ‘Department of Poetry’ zines. Watch this space if you care.

Hot Ghost

i’m always standing in
the hot ghost of your car
poets blood
cold in my fingers.
Crucifix me a drink while
you’re inside my mind:
the esky of our empathy —
Its blue fingerprint plastic
fading in warmer years
in rusted lifetimes
of caring
in weeks
of love
in seconds
of understanding
the scholars of Sunday Afternoon.
i was good at this once:
shaking your revolution lego.
but now i’ve
faded completely underneath
your planet
and been replaced by
with wrapping paper.
i am:
your lost phone
your wasted Monday,
something you can do
with your bones —

Laundry Man (Western Australia)

A version of this poem was exhibited at The University of Western Australia for Trove's Poems on Posters project.

A Tentative Entry

It didn’t take his
finger up my bum
to tell me I had
benign prostatic hyperplasia.
I’d been reading
about it for years –
and it felt good.

A finger up my bum
told me more than
I needed to know
or feel. A tentative
entry, first night trembles
on a stuttering stage.

It told me more than
a dark shaking whisper
in a light-glanced
world of dazzling marigolds
could hold in one open
hand. Or in a stretched
maw gaping with memories.

A dark shaking whisper
pre ambled into a vale of fears,
moistened, glistening, a zephyr of anticipation
and digit. The penetration had begun.

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)


Why watch this high definition technicolour misery
of unclaimed sandals, bullet-pocked walls
where oil, blood and water glisten in rainbow slicks?
And fire hoses weep a useless trickle
while women wail, and men tear their hair.
See another battered Toyota circle, its cargo of militia
bristling with moral duty and lethal metal
spruiking megaphonic orders that rip the air.
The clamour drowning out the call to prayer.

I am reminded of the Roman poet Martial
watching carnage at the Coliseum with disgust.
Challenged as to why a man of his demeanour
should be seen at such a place
he replied, he must come,
for ‘these are my times and I must know them’.

Laurie Smith (Western Australia)

the moon's reminder

prefer boat to ship – sounds rounder, safer –
ten of them, a scattering, at all angles,
paper boats, only paper is for stories

people in one boat, sea unfolding,
wind scuffing cheeks –
prefer boat to ship – sounds fatter, safer

caught betwixt and neaped and between,
at the whim of moon’s tug,
a paper boat, only paper is for stories

letters and boats make journeys, while
the tide is the moon’s reminder –
prefer boat to ship – sounds rounder, fatter

but flotsam needs to be found,
lifted, held in cupped palms,
a paper boat, only paper is for stories

so I’m building a jetty of words, line by
plank by line, out to these
paper boats, only paper is for stories –
prefer boat to ship, sounds rounder, safer

Kevin Gillam (Western Australia)

First published on the Sawtooth Review website
Winner of the 2014 Sawtooth Writing Prize, Poetry


Early navigation.
Whole days spent charting shorelines,
                                                                shining sands of skin.
Mornings, I ran my hands over the hollows and dunes in my sheets,
the body’s language for this landscape of the other
                                                                             warm on my fingers.

We spoke of crossing an interior;
our speech, sure as the sun at its zenith,
                                                               threw no shadows.

Easy to navigate on autopilot.
A constant reckoning of school and car keys.
The pole star of ourselves
                          always there in the somehow of early and late.

Sailing alone again
we startled at reefs and shallows
our language listing in tropic television seas.

Co-ordinates misplaced,
you turned to tripods and binoculars,
watched from your fixed point above the riverbank.
You did not see diamonds flying from a kayak’s oar,
dogs smiling in their timeless present and skies of naked pink
                                                               disrobing in the mauve of evening.

Navigation gone,
we lived amongst gaps, my compass skewed
by ferrous fears and the lustrous pieces of your astrolabe
stolen by slate-grey days; love absent, inarticulate and spent.

Mornings, I run my hands
over the hollows and dunes of you left in our sheets,

but I am a map-maker,
I can chart this arctic dialect of loss.

Flora Smith (Western Australia)

First published in Westerly


Angry Young Girls

Sue Clennell (Western Australia)
Read by Mags Webster
From Sue's CD The Van Gogh Cafe

The Thracian

Sue Clennell (Western Australia)
Read by Mags Webster
From Sue's CD The Van Gogh Cafe


Dementia's tweezers pluck her apricot memories,
pop Wordsworth's daffodils like spilt beads.
X-rays expose the bullet holes
while medicos check for the calibre,
sift through the embers of a dying skull.
There is a little Halloween here,
white ants in the art deco,
you get the picture.
The dice falls like a guillotine.

Sue Clennell (Western Australia)
First published in SpeedPoets

I'm thinking French kisses...

I'm thinking French kisses     bruised tongues
stepping on diamonds in an ouch come hither frenzy
I'm thinking clink and chew the ice cubes
taste the green of onions
squeeze sunflower juice
watch trapezes on the edge of symmetry
Dare I say it?
This is love.

Sue Clennell (Western Australia)
First published by Speedpoets


Scrubbing off your angel spit,
I untangle the snarl of lavender promises.
Although you have flown away home
with other dappled ladybirds
I preserve this apricot taste in my mouth,
grip and glimmer to false hopes,
stretch cat-like
and lick my memories.

Sue Clennell (Western Australia)
First published by Speedpoets


Young men cry in the desert
surf waves of silver bullets,
shed mother's apple crumble
school scars     siblings' bites,
swap smoky jokes as they drift
sand-like into men.

Sue Clennell (Western Australia)
First published by Speedpoets


Marry the rain

I could marry the rain
as the breeze curvets
as the day burns down
as the grass dreams stone.

I could marry the rain
in its high heeled days
in its runes and bells
in its wishbone light.

I could marry the rain
with its love of green
with its filigree
with its eggshell shine.

I could marry the rain
match its cyclic swell
match its froggish cup
match its constancy.

Jan Napier (Western Australia)

First published in dotdotdash


Old Building

In this stairwell
light is water

pouring from a glass Niagara
sheening down handrails
into a boxy valley

it cascades
around shadows
splashes off posts
and doorknobs
spills across a landing

I tread lightly here
keep shoes dry
on the dark non-slip
of days

enter sub-surface
filtering ripples
from a vaulted ceiling

down there
are dark rooms
their dry secrets

Dick Alderson (Western Australia)

From The Astronomer's Wife (Sunline Press 2014)


Sometimes she would ask one of us
to help, to hold up a skein
while she wound the wool into a ball

we’d sit facing each other
on two chairs in the kitchen

our child-hands held towards her
in an almost embrace, the wool

passing between us like a gift
she had given us to give back to her

holding one of her boys still for a moment
while she took the soft thread.

Dick Alderson (Western Australia)

First published in Westerly

That camera

tight strap, long face
black leatherette
smelling of Kodak

we would ease the lever
with a thumbnail
until it snipped

a thousand times
the shards of light
loving the darkness in there

what a treasure.
But what now to do
with all those pieces

that dark box

Dick Alderson (Western Australia)

From The Astronomer's Wife (Sunline Press 2014)

Watching a Fire

There is something of self in a fire
the hesitant start, equivocation

then taking hold, a familiar reek
of match and firelighter seeming
older than fire itself, something
you watched elders do

but once it’s going,
the glass door closed
to a muted purring

it is the tiger’s eye which fixes you
flickering your face —
a fascination with
being consumed

Dick Alderson (Western Australia)

My Voice on Tape

how it changes

when it’s up in my throat
it keeps me safe, guarding the entrance

and I sound like I’m keeping safe
some sort of mill grinding out
a voice

when I let it come down
it lives in my belly
knows what to do with all those
pipes and strings

someone I could get to like
might talk to

Dick Alderson (Western Australia)



how many times
has she seen him
whittle the child
down to size

it never harmed me
the father says
using the knife to cut out
the curious knot in the wood
slit the vein of red       pare back
pale new growth

shaves his hair to the scalp

the child sticks out
his chin grits his teeth
keeps the pirate costume
on all the time
sword at the ready

at night he sucks his thumb
cries out

Annette Mullumby (Western Australia)


Why don’t you have teeth there
Nanna he says pointing to the gaps

oh I say they got worn out
chewing all those apples and nuts

bored with being stuck in one spot
they hungered to explore new caves

I tried to pep them up
twice a day they sang
to the twang of floss
squeaked when brushed clean

but it wasn’t enough
one by one they left

bring them back Nanna he sobs
bring them back

At a loss I make two fingers teeth
march them home
they climb the cliff of my chin
roll on the tongue
sink into the their plush sockets
chatter to each other

on my grandson’s wet face a wide smile

Annette Mullumby (Western Australia)

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

Reading under the elm

A black dot floats into my line of sight.
Sunlight slips along its silk as it
drops onto the cuff of my sleeve
swings to the edge of the page
lands on the back of my hand.

I try to coax it onto a stem
but it’s intent on weaving me
into the landscape.
Just a handy leaf and limb
to hang its airy net on.

Then I reach for the urgent phone
disrupt the slender threads
of this small story too big
for me to read

Annette Mullumby (Western Australia)

Echo and Narcissus

her first love Paul Newman
sees all his films
feeds her heart
with the gossip
of gaudy magazines
festoons her room
with his image

lies on her bed sighs
brushes her lips against his
nibbles the finely chiselled chin
sees herself dancing
in the pale blue pool
of his eyes as he in hers

she falls asleep
startles awake
to the weight
of a clammy embrace
shoves him off
pushes him out
slams the door

tears the pictures
from the walls
shreds with fingernails
flushes the confetti away

hides in the cold cave
of her bedroom echoes

I once loved you
                                    loved you
                                                            loved you

Annette Mullumby (Western Australia)


you’ve met someone new
he’s juicy, a sweet plum
then you bite hard
on the bitter pip
spit him out

stumble again
on that first rung

easier to run him through
with your guilt tipped sword

but what if you open
the box under the swirl
of bright skirts
find the faded photo
of you aged four
with that man

whose shadow hands
have partnered you
all these years

Annette Mullumby (Western Australia)

the road

the road scars right, across the
palm of land, tumbling, dwindling,
a groove, a history, a way in,
worn and healed slick

the road, oil on linen, bitumen
on peat, with all its gradations
of shadow, bruise to smear to brush

the road, cloud above scuffed and
tugged by wind, rain sifting down,
the ‘haar’ they call it here,
cold breath of wet

the road, its dip and sway, blur
of scrub, the urge, glimpse of roof,
swerve, the early dark, the entrance

Kevin Gillam (Western Australia)

A Western Australian Piano Graveyard

The farmer’s pressing oil, olives spread
on mashing mats. We talk of chooks
and foxes, irrigation and bush fires.

I’m here to see ruins in meadows,
on outcrops, brought from sheds
and yards, lashed to utes and trucks.

‘All good things return to earth.’
She tells how a choral hum is raised
by strong wind, how possums nest in felt

and termites engineer collapse; how once
after rain, a derelict played like a pianola
as green tree frogs leapt in its heart.

I take her hand-drawn map, find
a Gold Rush era upright, laminate
blistered, keys jammed and gapped.

Despite its barroom look
a brass plaque by the keyboard
names an outback orphanage.

A Foley artist’s dream, felt-less hammers
conjure horror from bass notes, or tap
a level crossing where the hero speeds

to make the gate. Each instrument
decays uniquely; a baby grand is legless,
veneer peeled like cherry bark.

Under cracked coffin-gloss
a clutch of white eggs.

Roy Marshall (UK)
From The Sun Bathers (Shoestring Press 2013)

Read more about the piano graveyard here


Rumi Dancing w/ Kangaroos

Cultural cringe doesn’t frighten me at all.
Kangaroos don’t frighten me at all.
The bush doesn’t frighten me at all.
Oh, kangaroos! I want to give you
a rose of my dreams.
Oh, kangaroos! I want you to dance w/ me.
Let’s dance in round swirls till madness!
Let’s ascend the sky!
Let’s write a new historiography of the bush!
Let’s swap trees!
I give you a palm tree,
& you give me a eucalyptus.
Weapons are not allowed here.
Let’s erase fear and cringe!
Oh, kangaroos! The bush is not the ultimate utopia.
Let’s dance together in frenzy-like swirls!
Let’s forget about differences & geography!
Let’s ascend the sky!
I’ll teach you Sufism, & you’ll teach me jumping.
I think Sufism and jumping are two interchangeable terms
helping us renew, & gain new foliage.

Ali Znaidi (Tunisia)

The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney of dream and the rainbow lorikeet’s songs
kept echoing in my ear
since the first session of a lecture series titled
‘Anglophone Civilisation’ at university in 1998.
Drenched in light the Sydney Opera House
serves as something mysterious & enigmatic:
Lights flashing, resembling rainbowesque strands of hair —
an anthology of lights deconstructing and reconstructing
visions of polyphony.
The Opera represents cultural transmutations;
many shades of light dwelling in the same rainbow.
Grief, fear, estrangement, & alienation thaw
a-long The Opera; synonymous w/ harmonious tunes
of rainbow lorikeets.

Lights flashing:

one, two, three, four

In Sydney you can’t hide because the kangaroo will expel you
from her pocket, & make you live life & bathe in lights:
Lights against the cringe, & light turns out to be an antonym
                                                                to [claustrophobia.]
& the lures always remain,
& if you are lucky enough you can have a cup of coffee w/
Kylie Minogue.

Ali Znaidi (Tunisia)