Gentle Lives

Your letter came, Irene
It rose up through the thorning patch
And flowered Robert's grave
I — know you spoke proud
I saw the name of your son
I ache when careful words
come, Irene

Your husband's here, Irene
When wardens cleared his tulips off
You drove a bramble deep
You sing to him still
You — held for twenty-five years
You found the strength to wait
here, Irene

Your colour left, Irene
I crawled beneath the airing shelf
And wishing to be found
I whispered your name
I hide    behind a Daniel
I — crush when gentle lives
leave, Irene

Daniel Hutley (Victoria)


Our Tree

     (For my brother Michael and my sister Margaret)

Our tree, lissom, muscular,
Stood forever tall against wind and rain,
Shading against intrusive suns.

Only the time-blind Moonbone
Sees the ants gnawing its guts,
Its fall, long as shame.

Naked in the dust of passers-by,
It and the sheep it killed
Grow grey together

Until Half-Eye’s quickening
Transforms worm etchings
Into airy silver chimes.

Peter Burges (Western Australia)

Don't Load Me Now

I looked into her deep brown eyes
tears rolled dark within
a scent of pasture
sweet upon her breath

mood welling
pity stumbling
I looked into her deep brown eyes
love is a word
legs are for standing
ears are for tagging
don't leave me now
don't count me now
don't load me now
eyes are for crying

I looked into her deep brown eyes
I hugged her crying
I wept her crying
a stench of bbq
chuck brisket t bone eye fillet
eyes are for crying
ribs are for holding

air is for breathing
cheeks are for eating
tail is for swishing
flies are for dying

eyes are for crying
don't eat me now
cow is for being
cow is for mooing
cow is for grazing
cow is for eating

eyes are for crying

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)


St Edmunds

I have washed downstairs in
a cold, functional corridor — the wash block.
And now I am permitted to walk around with only a jacket
to cover the nakedness of my chest.

Soon, I will know that tiny moment when the body is confused between pain and ecstasy.
I have been talking or eating
in those areas where talking and eating are offences punishable by caning.
I watch from a distance I have discovered inside myself.

At night,
the Devil walks the corridors of this place,
A huge black insect
given substance from the sweated essence
of each boy’s secret anguish.

He is looking for
someone whose eyes will widen at His darkness.
Some boy who is still small, not yet cold and closed.
He will lie on top of the young body, sucking into himself.
While the boy tries,
until the last moment, to hold his mouth up where the air is.

In the morning,
the bell will sound loudly
next to any sleeping heads that have not already been called to prayer
and we will pretend not to notice the empty bed.

Jim Conwell (UK)