I have decided that five years publishing Uneven Floor is enough, so I shan't be publishing anything more. But there's plenty here to read — 350 poems and related artworks. Thanks to all the poets who have contributed — and to all the readers, especially those who have helped spread the word.

Jackson (Editor)

My Journey

Three days of hiking with only bottled water
is penance enough for one lifetime,
the path littered with opera and breath-beats,
the sarcasm of the bullfrog, the yelp of red fox.
Every night enough stars shoot across the sky
to grant every wish for a hundred years of wishing,
every aspiration, every melody, every quarter note.
Sweat streams puddle down the corridor of my back,
my ears open into mouths, my tongue catches sound on its tip.
Near the end of the trail, resting, every goodness within me,
within my back, my hands, my blistered feet, my muscles,
everything thyme, sage, peach water, an essence of Aradia.

In the end I did not enter the shiny box of darkness.
I dyed my hair instead, removed my teeth,
fell back in love.

That was what was written on the exit sign
at the beginning of the trail
leading back home.

Michael H. Brownstein (USA)

south australia

            is mauve flowers on quartz red sand spinifex ringworms of new growth outside my Father’s town blown tyres dead 'roo lies prostrate gestures at nowhere in his harsh light green saltbush grey parallels a road edge along a childhood flash the EK Holden the smell of heat the first long shimmer of mirage /                above

            Brown Falcons circle patiently awaiting the feast their timeless gaze fixed there again the town arrives sudden from nothing corrugated iron roof brown bottle garden of sand and blue blue house blue sky blue water blue gulf hills lizard thick shingle smooth blue your clawed feet splayed underbelly lies low and warming close to female earth dark faces compact memory cool water tank shades a past of silence of us and them those parks we must not play not ever again Aunty said /                red sand

            creeps slowly over skin folds of a flesh crevasse verandah lattice screens canvas cool painted porch doors shut out ovens of desert white heat first taste of orange blossom smells and dust and flies and language and you old lady

Elanna Herbert (New South Wales)

A Beetle and a Flower

(For my mother)

a beetle crossed my road —
lapis lazuli and red on black.

I watched it crawl,
so slow that twenty years crashed
as tyres crunched the asphalt all around
and sunlight draped the paddock
where you cup your pride —
an orchid, tender-stemmed,
with red veins running to pools of blue —
in hands cracked by years
scrubbing old men’s pans,
wiping lips purpled by death’s advance.

It made it to the other side, the beetle,
and, in the shadow of a leaf,
became a dark thing
burrowing into days of greying hair
and dimming eyes,
and the trembling hearts of flowers
fenced round from grazing sheep.

Peter Burges (Western Australia)


generational stillness

it’s one of those centre-strip
wishing wells
surrounded by lawns in increments of neat,
neater, neatest
with nice old trees too, their bark gnarled
as if waiting for the pencil
of a still-life student

but when I lean over
it’s just typical small-town grimness
with cigarette butts
half a foot deep
locked in that generational stillness,
grey water
strangling every dream

and it’s all the way across town
but I swear
that the graveyard
has sent its hoar-frost here to roost,
I can almost taste the down-payment it’s made
on every kid I used to teach

how far the stars seem now
from the grill of a fast-food sweat shop
or the single-hinge backdoor
after daddy-o
puts in another nomination for shitbag of the year
and I’m supposed to impress upon them
the everlasting importance
of proper essay structure?

on the way home I slaughter a thousand bugs
with my windscreen
and somehow it feels hopelessly right.

Ashley Capes (Victoria)