Elegy, with Sorghum Amplum

I keep remembering
that you are dead.

I remember
the sorghum fields, the fissures
in the earth running through them, running
to catch ourselves on the wire fences.
If you wrap your hands
around the barbs slow enough,
you don’t break the skin

I remember you, lying on your back in
the dead grass, the blades of it
sticking, brown and flyweight, to your shirt;
a girl pouring milk into your eyes
because you’d burned them
staring too long at the sun. Milk,
filling the hollows of your orbits,
and drying on your cheeks; milk
rolling down over your temples
and into your hair like tears.

I wonder if they found my clothes in the harvest.

I wonder if your eyes look like that now,
white and glazed.

Madeleine Dale (Queensland)


The Floating Bars of Ohio

The summers were always nice and warm
We used to go to lakeside bars on Saturdays
and have Bloody Mary and Corona alternately
till we got buzzed. The old couples used to bring their private
boats and get wasted at around noon.
Once I met an old lady who claimed
to have babysat Patrick Carney from Black Keys.
Her 20-years-younger boyfriend
kept looking at us as if we were from Mars
and one nice Saturday afternoon
a girl came and started asking about my whereabouts
and said she was from down South. Her cousin came
all red-eyed and said ‘Why are you talking with this terrorist?’
I had long hair and a beard at the time
and I also had a very long laugh to follow.
I was not offended. I dug his context
but I hated his teeth,
which kept reminding me of Global Warming and Nickelback.

Sudeep Adhikari (Nepal)


The Cuckoo Clock Shop

There is a small gate invitingly open
To a path narrow and stony through a cottage garden
To a door with the sign above
The Cuckoo Clock Shop
Unreal world we enter
Into a rain of tik-tak-tik-taking seconds
A little old lady smiling
Winds up all the carved dark wood masterpieces
She makes them play their tunes and all their dwellers appear
To drink their beer and crash their glasses
In toast to friendship
The wood-cutters bend to and fro over their long saws
And the men and women in their fancy outfits
Dance on the balconies round and around
And the old little lady smiles proudly

What if they started
Arguing loudly about
Politics history wars religion immigrants dishonesty in sport
And money when it comes to the core of it all
And some husband would bash his unfaithful Helga
On the minute terrace
Above the big hand of the clock too fast
Missing the noon for just about a minute

But then the shopkeeper lets the music stop
And she looks at me with questioning eyes
Teary with nostalgia
In this gingerbread house from a fairytale
On my trip across the Australian outback
I can afford nothing
But she is happy to let me
Buy nothing else but a myth
Of her happy village in Schwarzwald

Anna Habryn (Western Australia)