Black Dog

By the third day, he is my grinning Familiar,
standing by my side, rubbing at my leg,
my bathroom companion at 3 AM, burbling
reminders that if I've gone insane, at least
I lack the soul of Berryman or Lowell,
neither as gifted, nor as wholly mad.

He gently nibbles on my ankle, but big as he is,
his teeth do not break skin, nor is there any malice.
He is as Churchill named him: my tutelary spirit,
my personal Melancholia, my anatomist of dismay.
If his teeth are like the needle's sting
they are not angry, just persistent.

I am just a common-garden nut-job drunk,
smoking in the bathroom, exhaust fan on,
making the next day's hangover as I make piss,
perfect aim in the dark, imagining a waterfall
glowing down into the Amazon, far away,
far enough away so even I'm not here.

Kenneth Wolman (USA)



how I hate the park

they don't
they long for it
they beg for the park
their first words are
onomatopoeic utterings
meaning swing or slide

they love the secret hiding spots behind the toilet block
the so much sand
the soft edge of the pond
where shoes schtock schlurp
the space to run and run and run
away towards the busy road

at the park
my neck aches with pre-prepared anxiety
which I've packed along with drinks and sliced apples

within minutes
I'm secret service agent or minder
scanning the area for danger
while they squeal and whirl and fly
loving everything about the park

how I hate it

one faraway day
teenaged and taller
they'll head here with their friends
to make out or hang out
slouching ironically in the swings
and pushing each other into the pond

at least then I can worry at home

Rebecca Freeman (Western Australia)
From Rebecca's book The Pretend Parent


Christmas Eve

It’s snowing out to sea,
lights are harboured in narrow streets,
all labour ceased, only cats prowling;
the clicking masts indifferent
to the hours’ pass.
Breathe slowly in this precious night,
morning will come, wrapped
in its own surprises.
And January waits in the wings:
dry ice and drama
for a new year.

Robin Daglish (UK)