Poetry Collaboration



Kitchen Table Poets




Kitchen Table Poets has been in operation for 18 years.

This diverse group has been bringing poetry to the Shoalhaven with a roar and a smile.


This is a selection from the weekend in March 2018. 


Supported by





NSW Government — Regional Arts New South Wales —

Country Arts Support Programme







Archived in Pandora


from Meuse Press –





Elaine Chin, Jennifer Dickerson, Colleen Duncan,

Jill Forster, Chere Le Page, Jennifer Mors,

Mardijah Simpson, Alison Thompson & Irene Wilkie




Elaine Chin

Nursing  Hospital


the room thick with frustration

a small figure in the bed watches

bewildered as visitors shout

think he’s deaf not confused

his mind fights to comprehend


what is happening?


a fixed smile on his face he listens

to the conversation around him

struggles to connect his memories

to what is being said

no one sees his confusion


what is going to happen to me?


he asks his wife when the visitors leave

her heart jumps in her chest

helpless she feels sad

tries not to take hope away

her only reply is


it’s early days, love, early days



Jennifer Dickerson



I am not myself today.

Yesterday I noticed

the subtle alteration

Change of life I expected

with all the associated

advice from friends

This is a much more sinister

gradual overtaking of my body

like a sub cutaneous worm

It was of course bound to happen

She was always an invasive

overpowering woman.

It’s my mother taking over

when I am working or busy

absorbed in some project

She is wheedling her way in

through the ankles perhaps

at night when I am sleeping.

I glimpse her in the morning mirror.



Colleen Duncan



We’re heading north this time,

making an early start to miss

the rush. Still, we find ourselves

caught in a snarl of traffic

along the south coast road.


We sit in silence.


Voluptuous hills are clothed 

in russet, a hint of green adorns 

their slopes. The sun hangs low 

at the edge casting grim shadows 

over places where the secrets lie.


Our suffering has no voice.


The spine of a stone wall

winds around the land

like a girdle, and I recall

that one night spent with

a stranger, elsewhere.


I didn’t tell you.


The shadow where two hills

converge hides the memory

of the child I wanted to know,

his tiny fists curled like

unfolding fronds of a fern.


I didn’t speak of this.


Where land meets sea, high water 

gurgles into gutters, drowns every 

impulse to run. Unspoken words

become bitter stones of regret,

exposing us with every ebbing tide.


Still I say nothing.



     Jill Forster

Summer Oscillations    


The whipbird’s call cracks

stark across the dry-leaved silence,

cockatoos’ urgent shrills

dare and retreat,

sulphur crests rise with the upsurging waves

while seagulls wheel on the diminuendo.


Ochre dawning with enthusiastic blush hush and rush, ocean murmurings, goose bumps and chills, thrills and summer-fuelled  voices from the beach come in waves,  gentle piano and crashing forte.


Hunched on the seaside she-oak bark the cicadas drum their cadenza; close the window on the blast and glare  like the sea’s surge now subsiding. tidal highs to low, on the summer to and fro draw the blinds down. 


Listing sailboat sun-dipped on the beyond, brilliance and haze, we loll and laze,  stroked by the sun, lulled unthinking swimmers

moods in syncopated motion

drift on the swirl and calm.


In the fading light seaweed and shells contraband on the sand, blue-bottle sea creatures evening nor-easter on the salt-spray,  undulating currents , lapping ripples, deep vermillion triples sun-up to sun-down.


Muffled rumbling of a fan’s blades - oscillating drone, whirring, constant,  tilted to cool wide-gapped toes - lullabies into sun-drunk dozing; cloying honeysuckle  clings to the air,

scents reverberate.


Ebbing undertones, laughing flow, sounds of solstice revelry 

In pillow dishevelry sun-streaked hair, bronze bangles and candles, gilt-edged pleasures moon-gleam treasures  flicker and fade,

light turned to shade,

time and tide... take the summer-long ride.             



Chere Le Page

beware of potent moons


It’s a full moon tonight


In Room 7

Vanessa stirs, stretches her hand across the bed

to nothing. She remembers their moments of passion,

his lips brushing hers, her tongue flicking his skin.

She wonders if he’ll find her again.


the sky is shot silk


In Room 8

Richard, hair black as a crow, stands at the door.

Cracks open a beer. Remembers Janie nestling against him,                                her curls spread like ink across his pillow.

Eyes red from tears, a wretched expression darkens his face.


a branch drums a window


In Room 9

Elizabeth quiets her baby, she’ll wake her big sister sleeping

in the double bed. She thinks of Dan’s body moving

over hers, the warmth of his skin when he whispered

just one more time before he left forever.


shadows crouch in darkness


In Room 12

Douglas, speckled and tagged with age, is dying

for a cigarette. He shuffles to the door, lights up,                                                     sparks an episode of brutal coughs.

No need to worry about that now.


silent owls hunt


At reception

Ruby, in her golden years, swirls her tongue around her glass,

downs a brandy, prays for a gentle night.

She’s tired of fights, fugitives, guitars and liquor-fueled parties.

Of being alone in this old motel.


the moon watches                  and waits



Jennifer Mors



Family stands in a tidy line;

complex vessels related by substance.

Textures intertwined, enmeshed with twists, turns

of navigation and negotiation; look closer, within

to see the strain of contorted fragilities;

one to the other.


Father is protector and keeper;

stable and stoic, he is tight-woven.

A tamer of gardens - straight edges, symmetry;

converter of maths to algebraic equation.

With patience, he watches his children grow

and waits for them to leave.


Brother stands next to father,

and sees the world with artist eyes.

Irregular into abstract with a density of texture

disguises a deep darkness; danger within.

Deception trembles at brother’s edges;

secrets remain withheld.


Middle child is woven open loops;

a tumbled tangle of undisguised threads.

Perfect shape to placate, ameliorate; accommodate.

Gullible giver and hopeless helper stretches

to hold them within the wired frame;

keeps them guessing.


Sister is wispy, delicate threads;

fragile and tiny – careful, she may break.

There is longing for mother’s womb; a refuge from fear

that elicits possession, priority and captive control;

twisted contortion in a soft-stitched pocket

pretends an evenness of fibre. 


Mother is curvaceous and creative;

complex tussled threads chase predictability.

She is the weft that binds, ties them to the functional warp

but the fibre tangles, strangles; twists and pulls

as she weaves in and out and around.

No-one sees, and no-one asks. 


Five are strong in the weaving;

secure knotted strings holding them tight.

Contours differ; shapes and sizes determined by the weave.

Some tighter in the construction; others wayward.  

They are all a little frayed at the edges

but won’t unravel.



Mardijah Simpson

One Week Baby


I bring wild orange lilies for a free spirit.

She lurks in a grubby brown quilt nest

within the sterile bed (her bundles under).

An old stained pillow

big as a rock guards her head –

sprouting red curls.

One beady eye peers out

from her vixen hole.


As I greet her she knows me

and unfolds like a red flower

blossoming white breasts

and her black haired baby.

It clings marsupial to her nipple.

She tells me her armistice day story

of pain and triumph – push by push.

‘I thought my arse was going to bust’.


She speaks with protective passion

of her child, her ferile furies, fighting the system,

ripping her body, savouring her drama –

prima donna of her own opera.

She fights and frightens the nurses.

Professionals hold case conferences.

One week and another child joins the stolen.

The striped orange petals will have fallen now.



Alison Thompson



For eight years your body lay on the floor of your Sydney house,

a three-story terrace overlooking Centennial park,

the drawn curtains 

shutting out the view.


All they found were folded bones

eased down between a table and a chair,

indistinguishable at first,

from the patterned swirls of the carpet.


Now strangers mark your passing in newspapers and poems.

In the slums of the world,

no-one dying takes this long to be found.

I like to think when they opened that room your soul flew.



Irene Wilkie                                                      

The Eye Beholding                         


It’s too much,

an ibis arrowing,

a peacock feathering –

too much

a silky web against my cheek,

the chiffon air.


I am benumbed –

so many things to choose from.

I wait and watch, hatch the words

to wrap them in with


on every variation.


It’s just too much –

clouds roll over the mountain crest

spilling in the  valley fold

a mantle,

against the orange cliff,

a clinging breath, so different from

last summer’s choking blast.

Exploded canopies, blackened trunks

have given way

to eager red-flushed growth.


The trees along the creek show off

their short-cropped heads.




And here,

in the grass, a lilac lily fringes,

a dead leaf cha-chas on the patio,                                               

then, in a breath,

a yellow-wattled streak breaks through the view,  

snatches soft spiders from under the eaves,

as if plucking grapes.


It’s all too much,

this promise –

yet not enough;

the eye beholding    


marks time until

a new day pulses morning’s

proof again.  


acknowledgement: HC 2016 WB Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia




MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.



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