Australian Poetry

Archived in Pandora



from Meuse Press –






































Heather Brigstocke, Alison Coshott, Jean Frances,

Eileen Jones, Paula McKay, Sheryl Persson





Heather Brigstocke



Light the way


Watery space
open arms beckoning

Light grows
the water reveals glory
offers an unwrinkled hand

Through the window
shroud the light in doubt
cast a shadow on picture frames
Memories shattered by tempered light
shining for her

And in looking at the source
finds she controls its brightness
by the tightness of her grip
on the extended hand.



Blue races

They say that on a clear day
you can see the Blue for miles
nothing else acceptable

It’s the winning post!
rump slapped with a blue ribbon
for a race, well done

Can you see the Blue?
For a while she thought she could
certainly at the beginning
yeh, down the middle too

But she fell on the home stretch,
tried to find her breath
inhaled the pack
crippling dirt from many hooves

So she threw off the jockey
there for the grace of himself?
Never! only in the name of the Blue

took off for a track of her own colour
though blue had always been her favourite colour

Yes, she left the Blue deification
to those that quite like
blue ribbons in the saddle
and one hoof in the knackery.



Alison Coshott





A dry red sunball

floats down through

dust from mine dumps;

hangs in the air

with coal smoke

from cooking fires


Cars stream home

from offices

to the bosom

of wire garnished walls


The traffic lights stop us

red in our tracks.

A picannin starts

his procession

along the row of glittering fringe benefits.

We have been warned:

These boys are used by men,

they run in packs to

distract and steal

through smashed windows

I look at him, this victim

smooth, brown,

big-eyed he begs

Madam - give me money

for bread


I turn away, steely eyed

from my reflection

in his brown and yellow disks.

There are so many beggars


Wait. I say. No please

from me to him.

I pick an orange from the foot well

poke it through the gap

to him outside

Here - I smile a bit


He stares at the orange

I turn away

so not to see him

throw away my selfishness.

I have my pride.


But at last I look

(He will have gone by now)


And he is eating the orange - ripping its flesh with his teeth

sucking thirstily to save the drops

and hunching over so they do not drip

on his dusty bare feet


He could be my own.

I pull away

and driving home,

I despair:

                There are so many beggars







at midnight mostly

in vengeful dark

i scream in silence

see the stark

ungainly cracks

in my unpolished


of the day




Jean Frances



Scold's Bridle


I held back secrets

long fermenting in my belly

desperate for your approval

I must not tear out

the roots of our promises


Stop up your ears

so I am not forced

to choke back venom

Let me lift this child-mask

from my face

spit out the mustard

painted on my tongue

excrete the toxin

trapped beneath my skin


And let me speak as a woman

before the fastening

is hammered home again




Waiting at the Lights


I had never seen

a dead person before

lying on the footpath in the rain


An anxious doctor knelt

pounding his chest

and giving him mouth-to-mouth


The man   his eyes open

skin faintly blue    appeared serene

as if embarking on a trip

he'd been planning

for a long time






Eileen Jones




I am distraught as I sit in this barrister’s sedate office;

memory is absent when most needed.

I recall the pain,

the quality of its sharpness as it shot through my hand.

But what is its trigger?

I am being questioned about hobbies, tapestry,

the use of my hand, my solicitor sits quietly;

pain’s memory forces itself on my attention

only half of me responds.


I want to say – yes, tapestry was one of my hobbies

as were knitting, crochet, embroidery,

dressmaking, tailoring, all kinds of needlework.

Yet I remain mute, frustrated by my incapacity.

The moment passes, conversation shifts.

I mention my inability to respond spontaneously,

my need to go apart to think, but they find it hard to believe.

I’m brain damaged I’d like to shout to them.

With a calmness I cannot feel,

I suggest the neuropsychological report

only to find  they have all my medical reports

from the Brisbane lawyers.  I have no privacy, no secrets.

I feel denuded, stripped, spilled out,

everything is public property –

but the emptiness is mine.




The Thrill Seekers



On the verandah rail, inquisitive Willie Wagtails,

dressed ready for a black tie dinner,

dance, twist, flit in a flash to perch teasingly

on a magpie’s back, saucy tale upright.

Do they hope perhaps, for a free flight?

With a sudden song—burst they dash through water spray,

wing span maximised to ride the wind, surf air waves,

ski the skies, in flight so free assistance is superfluous.


As they skim, waft, dare – devil dart

my enthralled spirit soars but I sit, frustrated,

trapped in a body which lurches drunkenly

because my water – logged head has lost its authority.

Like an astronaut re adjusting to gravity

I struggle clumsily to move rubbery legs on unwilling feet;

clutch my pen to capture the thrill seekers’ rapture

but contrary hands with a will of their own

thwart my intention, leaving me

with an indecipherable scrawl.

My fascination cannot be denied.

Forced to this electronic servant

I record a fleeting experience

of grace, freedom, nature’s beauty. 

With the thrill of the dance a distant memory

vivid awareness of physical limitation heightens frustration,

becomes desperation.




Paula McKay

Let Me Not Die an Old Girl's Death

                                            (After Roger McGough)



let me not die an old girl's death  not in a rocking chair ‘doesn't she look peaceful  like that’ death  not a curtains drawn  with the sun going down in black armbands death  nor laid out cold in the front room with background organ music and me  stiff as the pipes  no father o'leary giving me the last rites death (when I didn't ever have any rights in the first place) and not a between the starched sheets in a smells of pee nursing home calling softly I'm coming to join you fred death (& him thin as a rake by then anyway)   no blessing in the end death  or propped up  with pillows so's I could look out over the yard  and see  the two pigs rummaging  through the rubbish death  no mrs swift from next door  & all the other neighbours downstairs making tea and drinking whisky  while I'm up there gasping my last breath


                and I don't want a holier than thou and free from sin surrounded by candles and wilting flowers death either with kind  last minute words to people I never liked anyway  none of their noisy children coming  to say a last goodbye to me when I  couldn't stand the sight of them while I was alive death


               let me go out when I'm a hundred and four gnashing my gums and conducting loud beautiful music (beethoven  would be good )  flashing my painted fingernails & overthetop dyed hair smoking cigarettes that are bad for my health while drinking  french cognac &  me singing and kicking and showing everybody my bright red knickers




Enola Gay


The pilot of the plane that dropped the

the first atomic bomb - over Hiroshima - 

in 1945 named the aircraft after his mother


After it was all over

what happened then?

Did you hide behind the curtains

when the doorbell rang

or write your memoirs  

mother to a famous man?


And when they held a barbeque

honouring your sudden fame

dressed in floral prints and Sunday hat

did you smile

through all the sizzle and the flame

hold your plate above the smoke

and dripping fat

while the rare steaks charred amid the heat

accept a well-cooked sausage

with the skin quite split

and compliment the chef

for having hit the spot?



Sheryl Persson






passive poisoner

you trail festive streamers

wearing cap with rippling fringe

as frenzied fish

flash vivid violet.

Slooshing sideways

not guilty of malice

quietly determined

you extend your welcome

languidly wrapping visitors

in an acrid embrace.







Don't turn the lights out.

In the darkness

I can hear again

the shuffling traitor

in the hall




I feel the syrup breath

ice on my neck.

The nausea rises

paralysis sets in.


Don't turn the lights out.

In the darkness

I can hear quicksilver words


pleading secrecy.


In the dark

the shutter falls on senses.

I cease to be

vacate time and space

for some other victim

until I hear again

the door whispering shut

footsteps retreating.


I return to guilt

unable to trade in trust

trapped in torment

facing dark days.

Robbed of hope and joy

impossible to escape

the cruellest betrayal of all

while the predator

roams free.


Don't turn the lights out.

The world is already too dark.











This issue contains poetry collected from local writers following an October 2000  POETS ON WHEELS tour of northern New South Wales (an Australian state)… from the surfing/alternative centre Byron Bay, south to the state’s 2nd largest city, Newcastle. This is  a small cross section of the range of energetic writing communities thriving in the regions.




Sorting through her things
I glimpsed it for a moment --
my sepia mother
under the waterfall.
She, who straight-laced
tutored me in modesty,
was rising --
Botticelli's Venus
from a scalloped rock:
soft pearl-shell skin
in rainbow light,
the sight ethereal --
her body luminescent
with a nuptial glow,
arms arced aloft,
head tossed and tresses flowing
over nubile breasts,
embarrassment abandoned
in her gift for him.
I glimpsed her joy
in sensual discovery
and felt an envy of her daring
in defiance of her time.
I glimpsed her joy
and wondered why
oh why
she tried so hard
to stifle mine.
Quendrith Young
(previously published "Poetrix", Issue 14, May 2000)
all mouths tits defining flanks and restless tails
this cocktail crowd enfolding the joneses     they
bounce from 'hello' off  'hi' to 'how are yooo'     he
senses the random molecular motion which dumps them
spinning their social wheels alone on the fringe     she
frets until they remesh and pinball through to a side wall
from there it's clear the herd's a fractal pattern
of seething sub-circles all properly self-similar
each ring of tails proscribing otherness     he
notes internal heat triggers convection currents which drive
some to the edge to cool before they drop back in     she
has an eye for particulars     is restless and fidgets
newcomers swell the herd and all is dense flux
critical closeness of members       sweat
evaporates from hides to cloud against the ceiling     his
nose differentiates boiled cabbage from testosterone
and other strange attractors     she
leaves his side to cleave into the chaos
on a passage far from random     he
jiggles their keys in his pocket
watches her present herself

John Bird





You woke me with a smile

torn from pages of a bygone era

I turned on the axis of the universe

for a closer look.


Margeaux Marshall




The twilight began to capture the view.


Old Clarrie sat on his porch and watched
several Landrovers disturb the dust.
Another usual day,
cattle and the garden. 
Late afternoons staring out
over the paddocks to the coast,
Not much
money in cattle anymore
enough though
with the pension and bananas.
Old Clarrie
not all there
never married
womanly comforts
bought in brothels
during Show times. 
Now the loins are never warm.
No needs
other than the daily routine
and the view of the coast
from the lighthouse to Brunswick Heads.


Expansive view. 
A training of the eyesight.  
Always magnificent, sometimes magical. 
Old Clarrie lived in a postcard,
the television told him so,
but it was always everyday,
sometimes ordinary.


Seasonal rains
left their clouds
distant dark.
Old Clarrie 
leaned forward.
Saw a snake
near the shed in which were
stored feed, paints, parts
and poisons.


The twilight focused the lights in the landscape.
A lot more lights these days,
used be a time when there'd be the lighthouse,
meatworks and a couple of bright lights
at Mullum and at Brunswick.
That's all you'd see.
pain in the left lung. 
A rub with a knuckle
and a deep breath.
Better start dinner soon,
or I'll miss 'Sale of the Century'.
Another stab held his breath, 
like the writing he had seen,
earlier by the road.
Half-way to the highway. 
That rear tyre must be flat! 
Get out the spare and the jack. 
That's where he saw
spray painted on road,
'I had a joint with Jesus on the way to Uncle Tom's'.


What did it mean? 
You can get used to hippies,
but not to disrespect. 
Jesus looks after you.  
City types! 
The flat tyre replaced,
no longer felt like going to Brunswick. 
Get back up the hill now.
The twilight was about to introduce the stars.
Stupid words.
Shouldn't be said or read.
Stupid thoughts.
Swirled inside his head.
The lung hurt ferociously. 
Spasm of the chest. 
Left arm clawed and cramped. 
Hidden pressure stopping breath.
The moon is getting high in the afterglow. 
So many lights now,
between the lighthouse and Brunswick Heads.


Then there was one less.


George Antonakos


Touch Wood
Can I relax now?
Trust the fortune
of gold
sun beams,
sky, a depthless blue?
Dare I revel
in the luck
of being born
exactly me,
almost half century ago,
as peace raged
in the land of plenty?
Am I allowed to forget
incinerated human bones,
ash of my ancestors,
who made a religion
out of suffering?
May I lay down the burden
of guilt
for the luxury of love?
Dare to praise
all that is good,  strong and true,
to sing out my gratitude,
sift through dross
and find gleaming wonders?
Have I the right
to joy?
Or is it my duty
to keen and wail,
to remind those in paradise
that somewhere near
anguish reigns?
What do I owe
for the feast,
for the sumptuous
anointing, for the blessings
of a compassionate God?
Or was my debt
paid in full
before I was born?
And this radiant sky,
my personal boon,
not the prelude
to a drought at all.

Laura Jan Shore




Blue  Seal
Her  thick  blue  pelt
swallowed  the  moonlight
into  it’s  cavernous  folds.
Greasy  sperm  smeared  up  her  belly.
Her  tail  flattened  and  sated
floated  on  the  lapping  tide.
She  drifted;
refusing  her  instincts
for  deep  water  and  fish
denying  the  cry  of  her  herd
even  the  lonely  yelps  of  her  pups.
She  knew  only  that  man;  and  those  hands
every  roving  finger  an  undreamed  thrill
running  thru  her  fur
feeling  deep  into  her  creases
underneath  her  risen  tail.
His  smooth  belly  bouncing
against  her  tough  hide.
His  limbs  suckered  to  her
as  the  waves  pommelled.
His  meagre  penis;
no  match  for  the  muscled  bulls
she  had  surrendered  to;
did  not  leave  her  bleeding
licking  her  salt-burnt  wounds;
but  filled  her  in  such  a  way
she  would  be  forever  empty  without  him.
Only  his  throaty  whispers
hovered  around  her  in  the  wind.
So  faintly  familiar  they  ruffled  her;
a  ghostly  picture  prickled  her
and twisted  her  head
toward  his  mad  form  in  firelight
brewing  her  yielded juice  with  his.
Rushing,  rushing  desperately
to  beat  the  moon,  the  waning  tide
her  drowsy  mind.
But  the  past  rose  vivid
viciously  clawing  at  her
dragging  her  thru  the  waves.
The  silky   sunk  wretchedly  under   sobs
watching  her  demented  lover  crumble
spilling  his  last  attempt  at  sanity
on  the  sand.
Still  the  man-fearing  beast
drowned  her  sorrow  in  layers  of  fat
and  barnacled  hide
and  sped  it's  whiskered  snout
away  from  the  gruesome  fate
it  had  twice  endured;
hung  lifeless, dehydrated  on  a  rusty  hook
and  three  times  would  mean  forever.
The  blue  seal  swam  that  temptation  cruelly;
blindly  into  blackened  water
pressed  it  against  violent  currents
mercilessly  stripping  every  sensate  memory
until  only  survival  mattered.
And  on  her  rock in  the  warm  sun
she  rolled  over
one  eye  closed; exhausted
the  other  glazed;
scanning  the  glassy  deep
waiting. . . .


Gina Lakosta





the frangipani leaves plop…plop……plop,

a slight, uncertain drum beat for a

glancing Autumn

half the garden thinks it’s Spring again

my joints know it’s not


Brenda Shero

Bad Timing
He lives roughly under
the same patchy clouds
as everyone else's paycheck
where, impatiently sixteen,
choices refuse to rain on him.
Manhood is a closed shop.
Though witness grandad's sepia
memory, coaltrimmer on the docks
for two years by his age, and dad
in a union lurk, apprenticed
three years to the boilermakers
before Vietnam beckoned.
Mum said even grandma sweated
dresses at thirteen, as if he ought
to be shocked, not impressed.
School says nothing to his hands.
The girls in Blundstones wink
'*no ticket, no start*'
with every precious flutter
of their long eyelashes.
How safe the world has become
for his testosterone.  The big engines,
loud noise, sparks and smoke, always
on the wrong side of the cyclone fence.
Even shovels and hammers
are out of reach.  It's a lockout,
that's what it is.  That's what
he spray-painted on a picket fence
last night.  No job, no pay, might
as well make work for *somebody*.

Rob Riel













Reclaim the night.


Reclaim me

Claim me at all

Who are you to

ride this beast?


I am night.

Silken fabric

bat wings

dark fins and claw.


Uncaring sending

dreams and demons

Mightily I shadow

your hearts terrain.


I am night. Sign

of women, travellers,

corroboree, astronomy


Even the sun that I rebirth

claims me not

There is no authority

upon me


beyond the moon

the stars, the velvet

cloak of clouds

The storm in all its joy


I am night

Lay no imposition on me

I am never claimed

You must look to yourselves.

Marvis Sofield






Ladder of ages

four little ones run

No. 5 wheeled by Mother

strung out dog leg line


Grit stings our eyes

we are grasshoppers on the move

and wander on

doing cartwheels in the air


Past the smelly abattoirs

saltbush saturates

our favourite place

this wondrous hideaway


Rolling in red vibrant sands

our inner sanctum stirs

blue tongue overlooks the scene

as eagle wings flap the air


Magnets draw us

to pluck the red and black carpet

sixpence a bunch we offer

tied with worn out string


Would STURT awaken

as we seal the fate

of his desert pea

rest assured rebirth exists


Deadly arachnid

hitches a ride on the stroller step

warrior mother intervenes

and our little nipper lives


Weary, battle scarred

home from dust and heat

Sandy bend conquered us

but our secret is well kept


Grasshoppers have grown now

and we return to claim the sands

of our wondrous playground

Sadly, progress quarried it


Pamella Mackinnon





Push the turnstile, music fills the ears

of brainwashed impulse buyers

sharing aisles with stacks of boxes

playing leap-frog might be fun


Dodging wayward wheels with laden baskets

and babies cradled at the top

squishy tomatoes with prices that don't match

sticky juice spurting from a split bottle


Like a gathering of the clan

groups of four hold up the parade

watch the child hop, bobbing about

while mum's waiting, dad's cursing and dinner's late


A race to the checkout, almost colliding

bell rings Price check is the call

grab a magazine and catch up on some news

while shuffling throbbing feet


Entertainment to the observer

watching from a bench

while he sits he pens his paper

missing not this chance to tell

Pamella Mackinnon





Rebellion a springtime lodger

defiance paid the bills

summer boiled and dallied

with convention


desire I knew well


The chill looms in distant shivers

soon the shackles will tighten

but, winter can wait in the company

of frustration


My autumn will be falling leaves

serenely quiet, but stirred by breeze


Barbara De Franceschi






The acid taste of fear drips caustic saliva

to still the tongue

into paralysed silence


Odour rank with dread oozes from

body braced for cruelty

upon a reclining wrack


Terror gathers in beads like droplets

from a crown of thorns

eyes stare into blinding light


I implore with a silent prayer let me be brave

so I will not disgrace the name

of my family


In a voice strangely devoid of menace

my tormentor speaks

tools of infliction poised


Open wide please, only one filling today.



Barbara De Franceschi





From my chair I see

a weathered seat of timber planks

people lounge, couples rub

not for me to join

grey ocean lunges and rolls with force

to gnaw the sandy beach and grind


Detail I gather in segregation


Castles left forgotten in ebbs

canvas deck chairs sit lopsided

scattered towels amidst lost shoes

salty droplets splashed

as old men trot and children paddle

in tidal pools with seaweed laced


The essence of dreams I yearn


To be part of all I see would lift my spirits high

at my nursing home window, I just sit and sigh


Barbara De Franceschi



They say my love is dead.


They say my love is dead and yet

in that place where dreams are tumbled,

all the boundaries of the real erased

I see him corporeal and glowing

welcomed as he climbs into my bed.


They say my love is dead and yes

his is no fleshly frame, but shrivelled grey

bloodied bone, festooned with tissue strings decayed.

The object of my need and lust.


They say my love is dead and yet

in those dark fetid hours I rise to him in wonder

like the Calophoridae, Sarcophigidae, viviperous

flesh eaters before me, I feast upon his carcass.


They say my love is dead and so he is.

for I have stroked the cooling belly of all that I desire.

I have stood above his grave and thrown

another red, red rose upon the growing pile

of desiccated dead remembrance.


They say my love is dead but he is not.

From his grave he weaves all spells

He fills me. The very living breath

of my devout necrophilia.

Marvis Sofield


The vivisector.


I bought my HQ

for a hundred dollars

after I left

my husband

my house

a Volvo

in the drive.


It was a beaten up old Holden

padding torn out


Honed down

A dull metal shell.



so bone bleak sharp

It could slice noses

lips, from any living thing

pressed up against  it.


The old HQ shared my ambition

to return to origins

To gut


clean out

amputate the past

and then drive on.


Marvis Sofield




Many a good tune


Lighthouse beacon,

her corner

lepidopterous admirers gaggle.

Goddess festooned.


Irradiated innocence disarms.

Deceived as sulphur tongue licks

Fawning shoulder rubbers


I witness from an opposite place

Simmer in complacent envy

My seductress wife




The hermetic door seals

Tatters of a private life

Against the fishbowl




The remote control

Daytime TV

Cough, scratch, fart, all alone


Alone with me

Eyes reflecting yesterday

Ignore me.


My Stradivarius

She can soothe the savage breast

Or beckon banshees


Pinched waist

Neck trying too hard

Highly strung


And very much older than she looks.

Geoff Sanders





Straggler sunbeams

evening cloud sponges


crescent centrepiece

raindrops wink in ocean of pitch


scarlet screams, clear sere sun

day has begun ad infinitum

Geoff Sanders



How to write.


I simply start writing

and words come out nicely

and I draw my ideas

and paint them precisely


Shit I’m saying and

now I’m starting, inging

I’ll have to redraft

from the very beginging


Now I’m just going silly

I’m a slave to the form

I’m forcing the rhyming

In a way that’s not norm


I’ll get back on the track

and explain how to write

and I’ll use lots of ands,

and clichés, so trite


‘Cause this is my poem

and though it might rhyme

It deserves an existence,

Its own space and time


It’ll never be published

‘Cause it’s not clever, clever

Just a simple expression

As old as forever


I like that I write,

mostly just to please me

and my thoughts fill the void

of this A4, ex-tree


and if you want to write

and you think you’re so hot

just bloody well do it

and get published.........Not!

Geoff Sanders









The work was collated by Les Wicks during a Writer in Residency in December 2000.

Thanks go to the sponsors:


NSW Ministry for the Arts

Broken Hill City Council

Regional Arts Fund


This collection is published by MEUSE PRESS.

All work © the authors.

APC is an occasional anthology.



















Venus' Reply


As the Derwent embraces

the sea

an old man cries in his sleep


as the fishing boat enters

D'Entrecasteaux Channel

a man wakes with

a question


as the nurse drives over

the Tasman bridge

the night lifts



as the child sits

on the bus

he can still see Venus

over the Queen's Domain


and an old man cries

as a man questions

the night's answers

and Venus' reply


that it is nothing

but salt and water

and the reflection of

star-dusted dreams.




How to reach her


Think of her when you're dreaming

kiss her eyelids when she sleep-murmurs

make a cup of your body


gather and weave her a braid of flowers

see her likeness in every bird

bring her the depths of a sky in storm


make the sun shine

when she is cold

hold out your hand


and offer her

your palm

in which to write her lines.





S e c r e t s



if you want to come with me if you want me to show you this secret place you must slip like a shadow along the walls don't make a noise   there's no one here now only me the others have shrunk into corners scuttled into mouse holes under the skirting boards blown away like smoke from the turreted chimney  I take this place stake my claim on forbidden rooms out of bounds where the muttering adults kept secrets from me and from themselves  I stamp my feet on Elsie's polished linoleum and crap behind the kitchen door where Captain Cook did a poop wring out the cloth drenched with blood in the enamel dish serve my father tea and scones in the comfortable chair pulled up beside Gran's cooking range  I slap my cousin's face play ragtime loudly on the pianola open the mirrored doors of all the chiselled wardrobes in all the mysterious bedrooms pull the stoppers out of all the jars on the powder-dusted dressing tables empty every drawer run down the hall singing and shouting at the top of my lungs invite all the children in the street to eat birthday cake with coloured icing blow out the candles with one breath let all the secrets out




I'm hitching a ride on your dream

but when we set out I believed

we were headed the same way.


You're in the driver's seat and won't

share the wheel, won't even let me

navigate, since I read maps downside-up

and, anyway, you've been this route before,

know it like the back of your cereal packet.

You've costed the trip down to the last

benefit payment and will only eat at the old

familiar roadhouses where you can get

a decent cup of tea.

All night the moon

leans on my shoulder breathing its big

bright secrets into my ear and at midday

the shimmering V on the horizon

aches with possibilities.


A mirage, you say, an accident of light.


Other drivers overtake. We clamber on,

stopping now and then to cool

the hissing radiator. Just ahead

there's a bend where the road forks.


Thanks for the lift. I'll walk from here.






Xmas Day with the Troops


He saw a hill of dead horses

brushed snow from his beard

adjusted his crimson-dyed suit

did a last minute check

on a notebook of requests

and he walked through the campsite

shaking hands with the men.


He imagined a large table

with a red cloth

where he could leave

boxes of horehound candy

pipes filled with tobacco

and pages ripped from his Bible.


He handed out five cent coins

to the men, who held them

as if they were the finishing touch

to a brandy-soaked pudding.

A Day in the Life


Visited a gymnasium to observe, not exercise.


Took my usual stroll down to the Battery.


Stopped at a pistol gallery.


Amused myself by riding back and forth on the ferry.


Dropped into the museum.


Yawned through a literary luncheon.


Had my palm read by a gypsy girl.


Met a young man who shook me violently by the hand

and expressed in heated language the affection he felt for me.


Attended a temperance meeting.


Was greatly stirred by the arrest of fifty prostitutes

ordered by a police court magistrate.


Dined with the Queen of Bohemia on her return

from Paris with an illegitimate son.


Whistled through a graveyard.


Wrote to my sister, Hannah the fairest and most delicate of human



Gave thanks to this roaring city.





Both poems from All Under the One Granite Roof - a collection of poems about Walt Whitman during the American Civil War period to be published by Pardalote Press in late 2003


The clock in the heavens "strikes" for the tide, the navigator 
                        and this time for me.
Visited my pillow it was 10 pm.
The shining moon stirs the thoughts of men.
Earth's child with not a breath
At low perigee passing my window
What does your visit signify?  Death!
A message from the barren world on your face
Take stock of life and supply it with goodness
He will fill your soul with grace.
The sun puts out the moon as it puts out a fire
I lie beside the morning,
gathering prudence.  I'll exercise its desire.
Marked beside the metronome of moon and time
The ebb of life forgotten.
Tomorrow a new journey.
I bid my guest adieu.


Wisdom has no Purpose but to Speak



The politician speaks.

Words arrive in gouts.

Red with meaning.

Stamping years ring

In the soothsayer's ear.

Wise words come, undiluted.

My friends,

Should you contemplate

Such n' such.

Ears and hands go electric.


Silence empty as a widow's womb.

Nobody claims to understand history

Or believe in it.

A man on a desert road

To somewhere was struck

By lightning.

The Hapsberg jaw chomps on

Regurgitated memory.

Gutz and Gaul is all we need-

Ask the Caesars!



More blood

than Rome could hide.

The audience clambers to the podium.

Claps wildly.

All is not well!

Rain drops

From Hapsberg eyes.

Lips retract.

I will finish!

But a sneak thief Doomsdayist


With dagger and foul breath.

The wise man trips on the curtain

And wisdom's done to death.





Had wild grey hair

Blue lake eyes

Staggered speech.

In his bay blue eyes

I saw a small boy

reaching for his father's hand

But the man mistook his son's voice

for the whine of the wind.

Saw eyes that beggared need

the soft lips

a crushed rose.

He patted his son's head

pulling his hat down hard

he crossed the street.


The lad reached in his pocket

and took out the packet

of sweets his father slipped him

that morning.

He ripped the cellophane off

tossed the sweets in the air.

Then he crossed the road

and followed his dad.

Stopped to watch him step

into the strange woman's arms

Saw a  ginger cat gladwrap her legs.



We wake to long surf, a slow sunrise
masked by eastward hills
and the arrival of fishermen
who climb to a ledge and fling
whirring lines, small parabolas of patience
cast not too far ahead.
Understoreys of bull-kelp have lost their footing
and flounder at the surface;
stones of all the kinds
have been left on the beach like fears
we must step around.
I choose one - yellow-greenish,
sugared with quartz.
Sea-days wear at our edges until
we are reconciled to this stranding
and smooth enough to be held in the hand.




[After Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’]
From my bed you watch me undress,
then offer your arms, their tender undersides,
your defenceless belly. This is a welcome so weightless
I cannot name or understand it. I slide in beside you,
irretrievable as sent mail. You fall so easily asleep,
your just-asthmatic breath intimate as whalesong,
a rough cheekbone pressing on my ear,
the soft-shelled bivalves of your hands
closing on my smaller flesh. You hold me
against our separate pasts and this short present.
Night opens to the moon. The estuary lies still
as a road, as if there were no undercurrent;
she-oaks trail untroubled at its edge.
There is no place that does not see us;
our secret selves have vanished
like the words they were confessed upon.
You fall so easily asleep. Or, perhaps, are rising.
The light-filled canopy is hung with mist and visions.
Everything is altering. You have opened your arms.
They will be large enough to carry me.








FEATURING: Felicity Daphne Baldry, Peter Bowden, Jean Frances, Pam Heard,

 Paula Mckay, Rene L Manning, marny owen & Pat Pillai 





Home of the Bidjigal people, Hurstville became a timber felling area for the
newly established town of Sydney in the early 1800's. The township rapidly
grew into a farming community and once the railway arrived in 1884, its
urban development took off.
Hurstville is now one of eight regional centres within metropolitan Sydney.
We are located 15 kilometers to the south west of the CBD. Our city is close
to two airports, two major sea ports and traversed by main highways.
Covering an area of 2,460 hectares, the community of over 70,000 residents
has a rich cultural dive arersity with major non-English speaking groups
including Chinese, Macedonian and Greek.


Felicity Daphne Baldry
Somewhere it happens
it's only ever in the here and now 
what it is has to reveal itself 
rumbling and roaring 
like a nightmare 
what it has to say 
becomes clearer with 
every sleepless sleep 
somewhere somehow it happens 
and the answers are 
in clouds   baby's spittle 
one derelict's lifeless eyes 
looking in that mirror 
becomes a journey 
Sunday's sermon rattles 
(now a headache) 
will it happen somewhere 
what makes sense 
will it 
dissect the woes   distrust   doubt 
throw them to the wind 
birds feather their nests 
allow for everything 
Finders Keepers
furtively the youngster looks around 
then leans right over the lip 
of the tall container 
her fair cropped hair and torso 
still visible 
her left hand   holding on 
and left foot   on tippy-toes 
right foot in the air   knee bent 
for extra leverage 
within seconds she is upright again 
as if she's done this before 
explores her finds 
brushes them off with small fingers 
at first   a tentative bite 
followed by 
more substantial ones 
and lengthy chewing 
she relishes each mouthful 
her plunder   some broken biscuits 
from the schoolyard rubbish bin 


Peter Bowden



The life I live,

The verse I write

Come I hope, from a mould

which is forever the same for each


Simple, perhaps, not deep,

I write of a searching

The looking for a voice

of what we all can be


A belief? a hope? a wish?

Of lives as they can be

But also, I think, I hope,

of lives of love and laughter.


But refugees, and politicians, and war

are far from love and laughter

And they are the truth, not hidden,

of my world as it is today


So we laugh, and watch the screen

With Big Brother, the reality shows

Like bread and the circuses, and never think

of what the world could be.


Grandpa & the Rest


I don’t remember Grandpop

Except for his chamber pot

Out on the lawn by the path

There for weeks before it went.


I have an odd and distant memory

Of a shadowed  image in the house

But perhaps I recall the photo, the one

they give us all as kids.


The one of him and grandma.

A big man from the photo

Sergeant of police no less

Not a man who’d use a pot.


Was it perhaps the other grandpop

Mother’s pa, the one who had the pot?

But he is not even a shadow

I have no memory of him at all.


An Inspector of police the first one,

But Sergeant in Taree,

And in a dozen other towns

from the Queensland border down


Grandma I remember well

She’s not far from me now.

Musicians hands I had, she told me

A butcher’s was nearer the mark


They have gone now, both of them

to the big family grave by the river.

With sons and daughters.

Our aunts and uncles, now long gone


Born in those dozen country towns

Here the last to go was Edith, Pops we used to call her

All that now remains are us,

And we are going now too.


And when the last of us has gone

We can only hope  their names

are not to be forgotten - , George and Ernie,

Mabel and Toots, Wanda and the rest.


Twelve of them, over twenty there are of us

And again the ones who follow us. Then theirs again

- Max and Piper, Chris and Josh , Tom and Fleur -

so many – to remember the big man and us all.


Jean Frances


After Listening to Jack and Jill on Play School


I can't help wondering why

they climbed the hill in the first place

Surely water flows to lower levels

or maybe in this case there was a well up there


However I am most interested

in the efficacy of brown paper and vinegar

as a dressing for Jack's wound

Perhaps it could work nowadays

instead of the all-purpose cortisone


Though I'm truly sorry for clumsy Jack

and can almost feel his headache

my real sympathy lies with Jill

having to lug a full bucket

down the slope by herself


Next time she ought to consider

inviting another boy to join her


Maybe Boy Blue with his horn



Back to the Trees


How quiet it must have been

as we swung through branches

or leapt from rock to rock

across a river speechless

with maybe a puff cough

a grunt of satisfaction

or the occasional piercing scream

to ward off predators


Now we overflow with sound

words for anger

pain fear and love

whatever that may mean

We talk aloud in our sleep

the haunting speech of dreams


You might like to return

take a ride in a time machine

but even with memory

erased by hypnosis

there may still remain

the image of a child

running down a road

with her skin on fire

or a giant bird slicing into a tower

the blinding flash behind your eyes



Pam Heard

Evening Ritual


hot water carefully poured

pot-warmed fingers wrapped around

blended leaves infusing

green porcelain of Russian descent

placed delicately on the tray

a soft smile lingers

in anticipation of an evening reading


Paula Mckay
Somewhere between contentment and anxiety
my grin combines the settled condition
of a woman entirely suited to her lot
and the faded snarl of an exile. 
From the comfort of a sagging chair 
I play with words like a she-cat 
toying with her terrified prey 
in the expanding grey of my universe. 
Old-age it seems, is a hit-and-miss game 
between the heady laurels of a sage 
and the shuffling steps of the utterly bewildered. 
My reflection tells me 
all I need to know about a changing world. 
Home's a dusty place of pictures, books 
mostly out of print, African masks, 
statues of Adonis and heathen gods. 
A creaking ship listing at its mooring. 
For exercise I swim in a deep pool of inertia 
buoyed by the constant hope 
I can put off dying for another day. 
Allegory of a Supermarket
after Jorie Graham
Faces in the conflux look around, 
bodies push and pass among the crowd.
Those who stand in lines, in groups, alone 
letting the noise wash over them, 
absorbed by the fast, the different, the new. 
Those hanging about head-down  
holding onto some one thing. 
Food for worms, for fish or gods. 
Those where the movement is, 
the pulsing, the forward motion, 
letting themselves, like flocks of birds 
(flamingos) gather;  the leaving-behind-of-nests
they've come to feather. 
Those with nowhere else to go, 
dreading the walk in solitary streets. 
The lonely, unloved, unlovable. 
Those standing in the light, pointing, lifted, 
up-lifted, music bathing the ears, 
those heads under the water of its sound. 
Specials as tit-bits 
grabbed like worms to beaks. 
Those looking and reaching, squeezing the ripeness. 
Teased or mollified, 
eating the grapes. 
Those stopped by an ocean of green 
searching for the guarantees 
grabbing the red, the plastic sheen 
of bread and circus. 
Those following their wives, their instincts, 
their imagination, or followed by stalkers, 
store detectives, history, fluff stuck to the heel. 
Time moving over whoever's watching 
from this point-of-sale. 
This watching being walked from 
along the maze-like path;  at a glance 
seeing mouths open, lips move, speak. 
Words leaping over their own saying. 
A clutch of words for chicken, egg 
hatching out and up and over into the warm air.
This queuing, this paying, this pushing 
this moving-awayness. 
Bells ringing ever-after, ever-after, 
Charon at the check-out. 


Rene L Manning




            Butterflies, familiar with the Way, in olden times

            could nurture philosophical pretensions –

            so Zhuangzi said, a sage not prone to lie.

            These days they’re smarter still:

            they flutter by, wings a-winking,

            then, puffed with power, stamp their feet, sparking

            apocalypse afar, chaos and catastrophes.


            But now, regard this lowly grub nearby,

            some ill-begotten spawn, born of unlovely moth –

            what prospects can be fostered for its future ?

            Will it miss out on laurel leaves, only to starve

            on bland rejection snips, at best tempered

            by some emollient turn of phrase ?

            Who knows, it may miraculously moult,

            its imago soaring to Parnassus,

            thence to unending days, not skewered to a board

            but for all time preserved, inside the covers of a book.





marny owen


Home Sweat Home
with the cast-iron complexion and
bakelite breath, life - a layer of enamels
beginning to chip, wit - a jelly-red compote
known to challenge men, constitution
formed by birthing the committee
on days made difficult by materials.
Rust-wreck, chore-torn
break-your-heart materials.
Pure-white linens, just asking for a stain
mocking every hand-stitch
straining relationship like those
massive pans and pots, shocking
always dirty, black and greasy.
Did your back in.
Life was ever kitchen-busy
kettle whistle, baby cry.
She'd counter grime
in a steam sweat
tackle adversities
revealed at her table
and dream with the dishes
to rise above them.
Why did she suffer like all the rest?
Fenced in by pride and the culture of inside.
Nothing really lasts like the laughter of a child.
She lives for family to come again, play the games
but knowing this is wishful, fills her world
with water pots for the birds
waits for grass to grow
and sinks in the past
with a worn-terrazzo look
and tired-metal edges.



Pat Pillai 

Dragons vs. Tigers


he stood flat footed on the wing, waiting

and I am away with the barnstorming daredevils

standing on the wing, waiting for take off


Finch, sure footed, attempts a field goal

sure footed, not flat footed

sure that the pilot will slip us somehow through

that skin which contains the sky


ref halts play

we taxi on one  wheel


video ref will check for body contact

between body and contact there is out of body


flying goggles define the shape of the field

white lines are like cave drawings on your back



Coast Walk


a lizard slides backwards from the path

flicks a forked tongue

mirage shifts

the sun bites hard


I am walking on the cliffs

where sandstone cradles a curved ocean

banksias hunch

their blackened pods hurled down

birthed by fire and water

I want to lie down here and drink from rain pools

I want to lie down now

allow salt ghosts

etch caverns










FEATURING: Carolyne Bruyn, Michelle Carter, 
Helen Chambers, Dougie Herd, Esme Morrice, 
Michael Roberts, Mary Rose & Brenda Saunders





Carolyne Bruyn


Mme. Weather


Moisture draws to its gathering point

and is pulled up and up into cloud mass

herded by a warm wind into identity.

Like a giant wheel she begins to turn

slowly   slowly    looking harmless

a low someone in an Institute alone

is monitoring closely.


The satellite picture is contained

on his small screen but he can hear

the siren’s song. Stormsurge builds.

Disturbs peaceful inlets and beachside cafes.

Cars float out to sea on torrential roads.


Desire stirs. He knows these waters well,

all the reefs are charted.

He cannot be held responsible for

this cloaked unknown

this invasion of lust.

She’s coming, single-minded,

straight for him.  Moaning

he rises to meet her

hands flat against the screen.



Mind bent double like palms

along the boulevard

he begs for her frenzy.

The limits of desire hypnotise

as one eyewall spinning clockwise

thrills him under the stiletto

of her psychotic progress.


When demand seems spent

he looks into the stillness

of her mean

where only his breath can be heard

or his heart

pounding like heavy metal


until, blasting out of the clear screen

of his fragile hope

the other eyewall slams in

counter clockwise

intent on what civilisation hoped

she would spare.

The screen goes black.

He sobs for her disdain as she puts down

turns back on herself

everything skewed on the first pass.




Michelle Carter



to ride the curved fronds

of rain-splashed palms

with nothing but

exiled eyes

to cut through

mannacled vines

to moult

like the sunburnt skin

of a gum tree

wounds flayed exposing

an ivory gleam

to drown in the truth

of gardens

as rain glistens silver

on a ripple of green

to feel like a panther

in an auditorium

like a cripple

on a glass mountain

to enter my heart

the arc of a bird


to fly from my pain

an entire flock



there’s a shiver

beyond sky 

stretched like a graft

the mottled clouds

cicadas hum

their generosity tireless

a whipbird hides

in coils of lantana

his serrated tongue

hyphenates each

gentle stanza of dusk

its verdant syllables



its fragrant leaves



Helen Chambers


Refugee Intake Quota 1994


I visit with Lily

to taste coffee,

sometimes rich cake eaten with teaspoons.

Tethered breasts drop at table level

as she reaches for another cigarette.

Her olive skin

has grown thick with mothering.


Lily talks of Algiers,

of the mother who died last year,

the house on the Adriatic Coast

before that war.

You don't know me she says

I've been like an animal.




Dougie Herd


The first black man in Scotland


What boys we were

and innocents.  Too young

but not quite young enough

to hide from truth.

And so we sheltered

where we could

behind the sideboard

in the kitchen

of that ‘room and kitchen’

in the grey east end

of no mean city

where he lived and worked

and died, the day

the first black man

in Scotland came to call.


A man as black as ebony.

Young with tight, black hair.

Obsidian eyes in pools of white. 

And yellow palms.

His voice like velvet.


We watched in awe,

eavesdropped from our haven

as he told our father’s mother

how her husband fell,

redundant legs that buckled

as he clutched his chest,

and raised a hand forlornly

to clasp the outstretched arm

of the first black man

in Scotland, who caught him

as he tumbled down to God

while they waited in a queue

for a bus that never came.


And as my father thanked

the first black man in Scotland,

then showed him to the door,

my father’s widowed mother

crossed the floor

to hold her hiding grandsons

in her arms.  And weeping,

with all colour drained out

of an empty, ghost-like face,

she said, oh boys, your

granda’s never coming home.


And we were mystified

but now a lifetime less

than innocent and lost

for words enough to say

what mattered on that day

the first black man in Scotland

came to tell the story

of our father’s father’s end.


But only this truth struck us

as we held on tight: 

We said, that man was black.

And she said, yes, my boys.

- God bless him.




Esme Morrice

I remember the winter land,

the snow was very deep

on the east coast of England,

the snow was blue/white asleep.

My scarf and coat were warm,

as were the blankets on my bed.

A bird is singing somewhere, it sounds forlorn,

it's Mother calls, it flies away, so it can be fed!




Michael Roberts
Needles the road - frying.
Newborn bellyfull globules of silver cellulite
flop from rooftop gutters, slap
into the pavement below - bacon fat pops.
Drain-pipes cluck.
Crystal weaves nestle, tired hardened gutters.
Cars hiss.
The wind wheezes, lifts windowpanes to tantrum and,
the rippled road with neon bleed graze
plays host to two sets of front wheels tearing...
rain lightens.
Flecks of dandruff drift downward through the honey glazed air of streetlight.
At irregular regular intervals,
lollypop whistles rise and fall and,
whoop and whirl across the city.
Cool air dances at my shins.

                           Mary Rose

          The Colours of Love


Love is like a pretty rainbow,

Or lovely flowers in the meadow,

For it comes in many colours,

Orange, violet, indigo,  

Blue, green, red and yellow.



Love is blue,

When I am not with you,

When I cause you pain,

And heartaches too.


Love is yellow,

When I shine and glow

For whatever I do or wherever I go,

Your love for me will surely follow.


Love is green,

In summer, fall, winter or spring,

For the smile you give me each morning,

Fills my day with joy till evening.


Love is red, deep and strong

It keeps no record of things that went wrong,

Can forgive, though the list of hurts is long,

Will even turn faults into a wonderful song.


Love is violet, indigo or orange,

Colours that may seem strange,

But one sure thing that will not change,

That’s the love I have for you, sincere,

    pure and true.


Brenda Saunders




After the massage

I’m ironed out

ready for

           the week ahead

           and the

           ties that bind.


One woman’s hands

bound and slit

never open

to the pain

and the

new day.


Another screams

at the night

her short fuse


for the

heavenly needle.


A daughter

leaves a note

on the fridge.

Cuts ties.


And the face of

the mother


in the morning.



FEATURING: Joan Cahill, Catherine Edwards, Barbara De Franceschi, 
David Gilbey, Grace Hawes, Pauline Haynes, Jana Hlavica, 
Geoff Sanders & Marvis Sofield








Barbara De Franceschi


Stretch of Dirt


The smell of boiled mutton    

tossed in stench-

outside lavatories,

rancid earthiness

steaming from fresh horse dung,

odorise a forgotten back lane

sculptured on canvas.

Clamorous brush strokes 

stir emotional surges,

flaky faces    dandruff images

unwind in freeze frames.


Sunshine prances hair

washed in carbolic soap

uncovers poverty

amongst weedy undergrowth.      

Rubbish tins spill their guts,

summer wind spreads its rumours-

brownish puffs

against a blood churned sky.

Children loiter in dobs of colour

like specks of dirt, tough and gritty.


Sticks and stones

couldn’t break their bones

but names unwrapped

meagre parcels of pride.


Sheds made from kerosene tins      

compress history.

Lysaght’s orb,

the blue stamp on corrugated iron

gives its approval to graffiti tallied sweethearts

fornicating body parts.

My tongue wants to skid across vibrant oils

lick quince jam from hot scones

whilst straining to hear jovial accusations

spread amongst clumsy drunks,   

fruit tree bandits with bulging shirt fronts.


A collage preserved in a thicket of bedlam    

so descendants of blue orbs and kero tins

… might float.  


Grace Hawes



A stripling,

tall, thin, ungainly,

teetering on the edge of manhood

innocent, unaware, vulnerable.


He sings.

His voice is joyful.

The old ballads come to life,

we listen spellbound.


But that was yesterday.

The years pass, we go our ways

to work, love, learn,

caught in the intricate web of life.


Today I saw his death notice.

Loving husband-

beloved father,

caring grandfather.


All this is foreign to me.

I only remember

a gangly boy,



Pauline Haynes




Sky covered by clouds of dark grey

Hiding the sun away

Come with me

Down to the sea


The wind stirs the water high

Rolling in Rolling in

Churning the salt to foam

Frothing depositing on the sands


Bringing the ocean spoils

To deposit on the beach

Ocean trying hard to clean herself

Of seaweed by the tonne


Glistening bustamite mineral sands

A crab claw or two

All pretty and blue

Broken moorings


The wind blows stronger

The sea’s rough and choppy…now

Moving dark clouds

Ever forward


Time to run

Too late

She’s about to

Pelt down


Jana Hlavica

If I walk and walk
into the wedge 
between horizon and sky 
            will I be
                        crushed into the ground
                        drawn over the edge?
I stand but not very high
the pebble redness
                        by half-dead saltbush
                        the flicker from a desert kite’s wing
                        by hollow music
                        the crooked mulga hums.
Let there be 
            no edge
            no other side.
Let there be only one kind of time

the Now.




Geoff Sanders

Roads Scholar


The flat grey ribbon

unwinds, uncaring

outruns always

to link, welcome, unite


then to mock

by measurement

cool drinks and sandwiches

full of kilometres


on the horizon

gooseflesh trees, tease

a long dry creek bed

count the kangaroos, kids.


The flat grey ribbon daunts

divides, separates

territorial visitation

validate or veto


vexation, vacation

what a nation

states, flaunt sovereignty

petrol rises nationally on public holidays.


Marvis Sofield

Black diamond man.


I am under skies so violent

exposed by storm


beneath the light show

you bequeathed me


how confounding

to feel for you

over this much time


cold fire across horizons

your memory

is shiny hard

you so intransient

and I still bolted to this

earth by your leaving


you still take up place

inhabit me with an ability

to burn bright

sear tight

scar again.

clear boned crisp


you still

inscribe me


picture me at night

x rayed upon my bed

open to the

memory of

your coal black eyes.






Joan Cahill




                                     ‘You’re a long time dead’

                                     my husband used to say.


                                     We travel west, my brother & I,

                                     talk about waterlogged, over used words

                                     ‘World peace’ has forsaken earth

                                     and ‘live and let live’

                                     the sound of an empty bomb.


                                     The concept is abandoned,

                                     the future no longer influenced.


                                     His car is large and embracing

                                     temperature controlled

                                     The landscape is rich,

                                     I doze,

                                     awaken to a change in gear.


                                     This time the cliche grabs me

                                     with its original intention intact.


                                     The known but not expected,

                                     the expected but unknown

                                     slides into view.

                                     ‘What is that?’

                                     confronted by grey crusty wastelands.


                                      ‘Greening Australia’ slams into my psyche

                                     with the clang of truth.


                                     ‘That’s what salt does’ he says.



Catherine Edwards




If you visit my room

and absentmindedly

lock your keys in your car

I shall have to drive you home

and with you there beside me

your knee another gearstick

I shall have to slide my hand

up your leg glance at your eyes

hear you stop breathing

lower my voice and

(no good Samaritan me)

I shall have to pull over

and have you there beside the road

tear your shirt back and bite

your nipple and as your breathing changes

push my fingers under your skirt

up into the sweet wetness

pull you over onto me

your cries as I push into you



I should have made you walk.



David Gilbey



This transit of Venus is barely visible

and even those who get close to the telescope

at Sydney Observatory

have difficulty seeing these fallopian clots,

nutmeg spotting custard.


As if actually experiencing it in person

makes the universe more real, more connected,

like a newborn Billy Graham crusader

having freshly taken Jesus as his Saviour

scoping the world’s sorrows.

Christ! The arrogant illusion

of personalised authenticity.


Trepidation of the spheres, wrote Donne

though greater farre is innocent.

And yet some things were yoked

without violence together that night:


walking our dog in the dark streets,

a young man talking on his mobile phone

stopped as he recognised the old mutt –

our daughter’s voice from 500km away

trailing from the exposed earpiece.










#8 Featuring
the poetry of 
Mark S. Leabeater
From his new collection
Flash White vs the Bag of Nails
(dadadata, 2005)


"Leabeater's poems blind us with their luminescence. He uses every stroke on the keyboard to forge poems of great dexterity and inventiveness." Alan Jefferies



Flash White vs the bag of Nails or Leabeater’s 1st volume Prismatic Navigation  can be ordered from Dadadata Press at 3/105 ebley st Bondi Junction NSW Australai 2022  for $13 (AUD) which includes postage.
There are 3 CD's available, each 70 mins plus, all up comprising the entire contents of the book Prismatic Navigation. "Lazily spoken psychotropical poetry overlaying soundscapes of unworldly ambiant, rock, jazz and sound effects from wildly ranging environments."
CD 1 = Book 1: Metal Night.  CD 2 = Books2,3: Phoenix Max, Freefall & Tapestry.
CD 3 = Book 4: Posthistory.
Each CD same as above price, or $30 with pris nav book inc. (or $35 posted in aust.)
Pris. Nav. - the book alone is same price as flash white.



Alive again,

"Now this is living!"  i remember saying

of the wireless life/ unencompassed,

as i flew feet first over

the sleeping town, the many

houses i had lived in,

the people there i knew, their

particular addresses,

their most natural faces


alive again

in our college days

when the wireless life/ was all aspiration,

all good possibilities, none bad/

when any of every imaginably desirable path

spread out all ahead fully

amazing/ly unencompassed/ that is:

exponential potential...


before reality

got in front of it all (as it must do)


and here we come &/ there we go again,

opening & closing/ doors so long long time

no longer there/ go clapping by under

my nightflying feet


feeling the warm dark, a summer night


a diffusion of voices 

through my body like Beethoven

music, and out through the top of my head

the hours/ days/ the years flew

inside me/ shot right through me               

jet viscerally

through my years


and faster


  until such ever acceleration

tore the sail of the dream,

and the un-dreamer sprang  up

in/to (the rattling room) split second before

the cyclone force 7

from heaven

exploded (((the window)))


and the glass between waking and dreaming

intricately fallen & windchimes to

so delicately/ this incidental view:


a sliver crescent/ moon slung below

the star of mysterium (or i think it's Mars)

out there beyond midnight, 

and touchable/ who knew.


Artist in the round


roundabout turning


to turn this rim world's local & temporal 

structure into truth & beautiful

streaks of confluence

the It

the pretty amazing


Sitting in that old fashioned

X  legs


at the legless axis

of Eternity





even say


a thing



yv got something to say, don't


put a fish in a tree or a

bird in the sea, that's

been done before


(reaches into the whirling mass of skies,

selects a silhouette twig, and

on mirror coloured waters, draws):

"an uneven heaven not even

thinly disguised"


and by, and by

all this haven endures under human                                                                         

picnic tracks,


if anyone should ask you what yr doing/


nothing (as the easy river & the breezes)

(as therefore also simply)

whatever i want to do


(and that's the why

the sitting here quietly


this day & away,       








wanted: laboratory rat


wanted: "laboratory rat"...

may as well try for an interview

as any other of these

squares in the evening post

just make me feel sick

as a sheet fed machinist

or a butcher/ or a

plastic film extrusionist

or an

(arborist?) experienced person wanted to poison trees...


and i'm sure

all this planet needs

is another growth industry.




THE HYDRA stared straight at me and

across the many ways,

and said:

a symbol/ knew just what it meant/ said  <<*>>

"Get right

inside the mythologies, Max,

feel like yr

going through

some changes?

you can

cut off my head

& i'll just grow another one,

cut off my head i've got

any many more;

head me off at the pass & i

know the other way, i'm

yr best inter

ests at heart, cruised in velvet

at the end of the bone bruising

day... can

cut off yr nose/ to

spite yr face, you can

plead ignorance, you can

walkabout in grace/ & never

know it



i'm yr many lives/ yr nexus wife &

the ganglion of yr passions"


said the Hydra on the path.






modern pyramid

high the pinnacle

of a gritty swarming gridded world

glinted spacious a spire

yon charged

imagination on

telescopical spindle of fire


reached at least above the stratosphere

and at best beyond expectation


in the simultaneous universe


a sensational aerial begins transmitting


photo imprints of 'something':


light from unhuman event

so far away, this light has taken

all of time to cross

the crescent of timespace/ the simultaneity

> at the speed of light >

via all frontier/ out there...

(the techs gather around a monitor)

could that really be ?

could that really be ?

'the origin of the universe'...



Max's psychedelic dream


i see a living human undead skeleton/ a vine,

mine own/ icon of im(and/or)mortality, entwined~

riding high

on a heavingly ginormous slug.  the slug is knowledge.


the skeleton's like of chrome,

or sometimes/ these wind chiming bones

are transluscent, a wine bright 

like of glass blown with a constant &

sweetly moving

warm internal light.


some other times

these bones are just/

are only a dirty

opaque decaying &

scar/red bundle not even white/ they're grey.


>>  there's a canvas face glued on/ the death's head

darker skeleton, 

and it's painted/ roughly

with the features of your own,


and always reaching, one boney arm/

one hand/ one palm

stretched high & wide/

which like the face is tattooed

with all archetypal images/ of a perfect life

imperfectly expressed/

reaches ungraciously

up & out, to outer space,

only as a significant banner

of the journey penetrating

into space,


the ponderously slow motionly                                                     

joining up of the invisible dots...

and the why? is completely invisible



the landscape is the tangerine empty

seething void of potentialities,

landforms shiftingly implied,

and the snail trail across it

is self evidently... the silver thread... of what is actual

                                     intersected/ threaded

with the trails of untold other riders/ "all together now"

creating the whole ...wide world of ...known forms we go


...but we're also always/ leaving the known world behind us...


the slug, the slug is knowledge

- a wild & difficult beast to ride, in this dream -

with no saddle provided...


slimy & unstable, the slug

it knows no underlying structure but what it

leaves behind it...


the slug is perfect/ adaptation itself...


the godslug & i

only slither until:

to see what will happen, when

these bones finally, faithfully...


...these bones, it seems, (the evidence: trails ending/ desicated

end-of-line meltdowns/ of rider only, or worse; and trails restarted after the meltdowns are complete...) these bones mine own & their

 protean (eyeless, earless, why?less, origins unsaid) silent mount


are constructed of the same being

silver threads


is the trail...


Romance under nature.

~See saw & cycle clock

womb and fallow/ under night of new moon                    

the closed flowers of the day blooming tree...


~See saw & cycle pendulum

pea/cock hanging for action

struts right up to the saxophone dawn blowing

frenzy/ the mind of a thief crowing:

"the day will be ours" in

the time being/ spring...                                         


~See saw & cycle starchart reasons spin the devices, see

the diversity of the seasons the same & slightly

different every year, the swing orbital

see saw & cycle

planet wound up to/ encircle Inferno,

at the dawngate again of the first day of spring

the feathered cloud human optic/ bursts into wing

soaring tropic: the stereoscopic

both eyes open

see by night &

see by day

the running empires over/ some lost amazonia

sunning like all becoming, the while

reverse swastika wheels within

sky of symbols within the sky revealing

the cunning subplots under/ galactic laughter gunning

the insensible rush of the comet

on its

long, ineluctable ellipse

O                                                 grazed                                            the blue/black sky,



the obliviously miraculous

romance under nature

 ...mirabile dictu...               

un and even

(under nature) the ancient romance
















Seated comfy in an aeroplane

cabin/ varnished woodgrain

cabinet, leather & silver/

an old world DC 3...

& there's me

sipping a martini/

dreaming reality~


~yep, that's me... apparently

traversing the Transvaal/ out there/ down there/

or then it's the Nullabor ("very dry,

with an olive"/ghost dry rivers. "Yes, wow, look at that,

and thank you, looks great, very much.")

& I look clean & ...definitely going somewhere... 

nonchalant/ly/ confident/ly... (Hawaiian flower

loose tourist shirt &...


um, yeah...)

...until i realise/ freeze-frame-sudden/ moment-across-the-world/ that i don't know where...

like/ i mean, like no idea,

like: i don't know where i'm going

to... there is no/ it's a blank piece of paper/

there's no destination/ on my ticket/ um...


...looking out again/ looking out there... what's new? Looks like 

some sorta/ anyway it's like never before,

night & day simultaneously, and like

it's ever new, like it's a balloon

expansion of the world i used to knew,

like it's become the world at large/

galaxies are spinning catherine wheels out there

beyond the naked eye, and

down there... down there... sometimes great cities are uninhabited.

And the ants down there, i know they can't see

what i see from the air, i see

the old cities below the new.


Sometimes...  are you seeing this? down there

the Himalayas are

blooming/ light & shade/ flowers (pushing up/ like people)

down there...


every! time i look/

an entirely different landscape, down there/ looking up at me...


(dipper riding/ weaving via,           now

monsoon/ season of drifting

islands/     towering anvil     cloud islands)     

and i,


finally i notice, from this

window seat be/hind a wing ~


the wing/s are feathered ~


slow sweeping  ~~~~~~~~~  they're flapping!

This bird is dreaming

(swooping low now, over tangled green Ankor lost jungle/mpire)

anti-gravity feelings... and the displacement spells me

i am here /so very here/ this poem/ this fragile/ moment

before we wake/ following the cracks

branching out from the primary fractures,

surreal & jumble history/s emerging

in rapid transit

= these mysteries in flight  ~





Born from the bleeding wounded

green jesus

run between

the crossfire guns the shot ruins

the domino towers of material fortitude

under sphere of the magnitude X

ink bleeds

cold designs from undone tomes

where no footprint

tests the endurance of the savage steady rain

falling fingers

living running dying crawling

sprawling finger roots are prying

underneath the sullen black earth

the golden earth


heroic blood & dynasty history

so softly so softly

away & away &

...low thunder:

kyrie  eleison...

the incantation

of a rain spun bell.






A selection from some of those attending  a workshop 
at the NSW Writers’ Centre in February 2005. 
NSW Writers' Centre
FEATURING: Larissa Davisson Farrell , Rosalie Fishman,
Pam Scoble & Julie Waugh



Larissa Davisson Farrell





I feel cold inside.

Cold and dead.

Cold as deep space, zero kelvin.

Dead like the dark side of the moon.

Something may have dwelt there once,

but long since fell

to utter silence

and desolation.


A void yawns where fire danced.

Frozen, stony,

warmth long extinguished,

I miss the spark in me that gave me light.


I walk with hooded eyes.

So very cold.

Mare Tranquillitatis.

Nobody notices,

no one can see me

and I can't come back.



Rosalie Fishman

On Hold


Write, words

Images of aching faces

Death’s background

Frayed nerves


Some,      those most desperate             trying to connect in

Feeble pleading tones

How are you?

I rang to see how you are ….

Oh! tired!      yes well of-course

They profess in knowing tones that

       Hold the secret of their paining            not yours.


And then the other

Projecting her fear of loss         of you

The unnamed protector

Dependency an irksome, wearying bond


And still more

Holding forth in duty’s voice



Write, words

Images - an enema up the bun

Inserted by white snapped hospital gloves


And we laugh,

The ache in that not so great

So go home dear love

You irritate

I’m comfy clean in this

sterilized place


Tomorrow I may well want to run

But for now dear love

Go home           give me at least that peace of mind



Write, words

Images, hurried steps

Down nurse lined corridor floors


He’s gone                they just took him down

The officious palm raised chest high

Silencing the scream that never came


I was meant to kiss him goodbye

Sat in the car

Cried behind outwardly nonplussed eyes

Streets of jittering cars in peak hour’s race

Asking what now?


Oh yes another task to be done



I’ll be back

Sweet smiled

No one need ever know

The little deaths faced

 By the one who waits



 Pam Scoble


Pacing dismal corridors

Heat packs againsts  an aching stomach

Cringing, contractions

Squatting gripping bed posts, coming up slowly

Warm water embraces, relaxing cramping pains


Back on the birthing bed crouching in doggie fashion

30 hours gone

A baby's head emerges

Welcome Zachary.




Julie Waugh 




buddha science



atoms nudged     drifting 

swirled and coelescing 

inevitable inductees into clouds 

shapeless to an ordinary eye 

but heavy with becoming 

   now a hand that clutches 

   now a blade of grass 

reborn again into suffering 


    wanted: personal trainer for nirvana 

    commitment essential 

    no attachment necessary 


this think-thing 

this unsouled virtuality 

illusionary     impermanent 

shadowed or enriched 

by death threats 

at least no longer grasping 

half a century in bad faith 

revolving in a connection 

with common couch and velvet buffalo 


the Dalai Lama smiles 

he is someone I could believe in 

could pray to 

but he would only shake his head 

and laughing 

remind me that he is just a farm boy 

who gets constipated when crossing time lines






Les Wicks collated the work following workshops in 2005.

Thanks go to:


NSW Writers’ Centre.








MEUSE PRESS publishes this collection.

All work © the authors.

APC is an occasional anthology.


A vibrant necklace of communities
from Wollongong to Eden.
This is a selection from some of those attending  workshops 
in June/July 2005.
South Coast Writers' Centre
Lit link
Bega Valley Writers
FEATURING: Anna Buck, Jennifer Dickerson, John Egan, Allan Gibson, 
Susan McCreery, Sue Newhouse,  Monique Watt, Mary Whitby & Irene Wilkie




Anna Buck

Jon’s place


A fox went through the vineyard at dusk

 its cry harsh, grating, a repeated taunt

that raised hackles on the cat’s back. 


Almonds shells scrunched underfoot

the crop had dropped, harvested only by

birds; beyond vines stretched,  parallel

rows curving up towards the low hills


over which a curved sliver of moon

hung,  a great purple streak 

separating it and the ground

as if a field of Patterson’s

Curse grew upside down.


The cry roused mourners listening to

Creedence Clearwater  looking out

 your back door beyond the lights’glow;


the black and white Tom crouched

by the dam fought being brought

to safety clawed at the head and arms

of your widow; later she cried

in the narrow kitchen, put tea tree oil

on the wounds that showed.


The cat would rather wait for you

in dry leaves under the moon,

eyes dilated at the fox’s approach

than be shut in the house, safe,

searching for your touch.


Jennifer Dickerson



Some people are up already.

 sun spreading stealthy fingers through

 my gentle night curtains.

 Noise, a garbage truck is munching its way into

 collected rubbish in the street.

 Repetitious the sparrow trapped on one note

 seeks anxiously a tone deaf mate.

 Grass confettied thick with dew

 glints like a carpet of marcasite.

 Bees foraging in clover heads

 uplifted looking to the light.

 The day's soft early Umbrian dawn

 awakes the earth from blue night dreams

 transforms rain on nasturtiam leaves

 makes every drop a zircon gleam

 Beyond the wall the reaching vines

 suck up sun for fulsome grapes,

 join arms in a one-legged Zorba dance

 across the fertile land

 Distant I hear the Sunday bells

 calling  children in to pray.

 time enough

 to open  my eyes and know the day.


John Egan
Cello Concerto
               From the belly
               of the cello
               rings the great requiem
               for all those millions dead
               and Elgar's
               yearning theme
               for the years
               before 1914.
               A rolling adagio
               of hills and valleys
               for the green lands
               and the lost.
               The plaintiff sob,
               the pain
               for what the century
               could have been
               but never was.
               The song
               of Verdun, Passchendaele
               and the Somme,
               the raising up of flags
               and in cold trenches
               the cutting down of lives.


Allan Gibson




Why is he so angry?

What have I done?

I feel surrounded.

I’ve seen it in the movies –

the horses.





hot day heavy work

the tiredness inside me

time for a Bex

and a lie down


What have you done!

Is he going to punish me?

Don’t like being the centre of it all.

What did I do wrong?

I’ve seen it in the movies -

dancing horses with shorn manes.


Dad, normally quiet and calm –

so angry.

The horse and he

overwhelmingly filled the scene.

Me – bewildered.

Oh,  they don’t  shave the fringe,

it keeps flies out of their eyes.

Is he going to hit me?

No - its over,

we’re away.


That afternoon is still alive,

the horse standing quiet,

trusting me.

My sense of excitement, pride:

expecting approval.



Dad never mentioned it again

and the horse forgave me.




Susan McCreery

Other Lovers
shine in their skin - linked
christmas lights at midnight.
Meet in the kitchen
like pots of tea, warm and bellyful.
But we sit in this barren space,
this counselling room,
parched as bones on a gibber plain
picked at by scorpion malice,
and wonder how we came to roles
in such a worn-out play.
Other lovers
have a one-way flow,
their smiles glint
in the broad morning light.
We wake to a sickly dawn
and fear for our children.


Sue Newhouse

Pleasure Lea Park Estate

From the tablelands
we’ve followed down a trail
to a full blown blooming
in easy country

in a land’s end of honey

for a while we run old tracks

but the brain soon nods
though there’s a bird in every flower
on every latticed fence
and all night and all day the waves break


there’s sometimes an unhealthy gleam

a pallor behind the brightness

there’s a need for wariness
and never too far
there’s the subsurface

this is Pleasure Lea Park

where it’s compulsory to be happy

but sorrow lilies grow

and every so often
behind closed doors
a bolt gives

a young man hangs himself from a stairwell

the debt collector calls

we must keep busy
must keep busy

Monday, keep fit class
pick you up at ten
Tuesday, keep fit class

we can miss the cry for help

and the fine detail

that so much colour sits on tiny finches

that with the honey

come subtleties of grey


Monique Watt

Cabra flats ‘79


Up and down McBurney Road
short sharp arguments above/ below.
Plastic chopsticks clack on woks,
Garry plays Mull O’Kintyre (again)
and Tito’s chasing kids with a
dead mouse on a stick.
His sister’s Miroslava (round and quiet).
(Everybody knows their dad wears a toupee
and sleeps in Miroslava’s room).
Marica and Anica perform Dancing Queen
for Red S shoppers walking home
while Dutch twins play doctors with
Law ‘n Miroslava in the toilet ‘round the back.
Zelco (friend of Tito)’s spitting choc-
biscuit missiles from the front yard fence.


Eva’s doing handstands
(teasing those girls with hairy pits).
Lady up the road sends a kid to
The Rainbow for a pack of Winfield Blue
with change for a Sunny Boy.
Miroslava’s mum is at the kitchen window.
She’s stuffing boiled eggs, mince and black eyed olives
into the pliant shells of tonight’s empanadas.


Mary Whitby


                                                             harsh ringing

                                                              news of a break-up

                                                             a marriage gone

                                                             into yesterday

                                                             just four months old

                                                             blame wanders about

                                                             landing on who

                                                             or what


                                                             finding no substance

                                                             but dark corners

                                                             of tears

                                                             daughter’s pain

                                                             twists mother’s face

                                                             as she struggles to understand

                                                             a new-found son’s betrayal