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)