Category Archives: Poetry

Partially Mine, Sharon Johnston

We talk

He laughs

i smile

Preemptive aura hits

Déjà vu

His eyes plead

i know it’s coming

So does he

Then he’s gone

Disappears from reality

Trapped somewhere in his mind

No longer mine

A vacant stranger

He stumbles

Falls

i reach

Brace his body against my own

Heavy struggle

i lower him to the ground

Gently

Tenderly

i wait

He reaches, eyes unseeing

He grunts, voice unknowing

He drools, mouth unbreathing

i watch

Then he intakes

Swallows

Mumbles

Hums

Partially back

Partially complex

Partially mine

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The Results are in, Jasmine Giuliani

Our fate sealed with handshakes between

coal soot tycoons and media moguls

and big banks and fear-mongers

and bigots and slippery dealings and

hateful concessions and business as usual.

The echo of humanity no longer

brings comfort or false hope on a sleepless night

where the minority in white towers do not stand alone,

no, they stand in force with

the apathetic, the selfish “not in my backyard”, the grasping at jobs in mines, the “get mine”, the investors and retirees in cladded homes, the weak trembling at the feet of reform

who don’t shake the norm because it builds them houses with pools to retire in behind gates untouched.

The “I worked hard for my money” as they grasp it to their cabana and believe every lie ever told, like the powerful care if there’s not a vote to be stolen, the privatised with dead shining eyes,

the hateful and the lazy and “aspirational” who don’t care to see past their own nose, the easily manipulated

who believe the targeted campaigns and selfish jokers who snigger as the planet burns.

In the tatters, it’s the same people

who quietly and loudly do the work, pay the price, who

have paid each day since colonisers came,

since they fled, who watched on without surprise,

who continue to rise, despite the feet on their backs. The too well known hateful slurs at the curl of an identity, “unknown entity”, the same groups who

organise and retaliate and never rest,

who were born fighting,

never had a “fair go” in this “easy going” home

the same few who care to share some of it with the rest, those

who know it all means nothing

on a dead planet.

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Two Thumbs Make Butterfly Wings, Eva Matheson

Everyone does it, not a big deal. It was bound to happen sooner or later. I want to see the kids, the grandkids, I want to stay in touch with old friends. It’s time to spread my social media butterfly wings.

Create a username… I’ll use the same password I use for everything… Hello, Facebook.

Three weeks later.

Everyone does it, no big deal.

Create a username… Hello, Instagram.

Two weeks later.

Everyone does it, no big deal. I hear the US President loves it.  

Create a username… Hello, Twitter.

One week later.

Sometimes I wish my passwords were harder.

Everyone does it, no big deal.

Create a username…

So this is Netflix.

Just one more episode, then I’ll post the grandkids Christmas presents.

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A Country with no Borders, Hiroki Kosuge

An act of pouring yogurt into granola and other perverted sexual practices are prohibited here.

With millions of flushed contact lenses, the ocean finally found the sky.

Skyscrapers with red lights blinking on top remind me of monkeys in heat.

This aquarium exhibits more than 10,000 animals that hate human beings.

Before sleeping alone, I cut both an Ethernet cable and my umbilical cord.

Now I have magical powers, I can let you or freshwater clams speak. Choose.

Some angels have tattoos of demons.

A single mother imprisoned for allegedly pouring Red Bull into an ant colony.

To be murdered or to be brutally murdered that is the question.

I have become a butterfly because you told me to do whatever I liked, Daddy.

Rain is medicine. Lightning is a jewel. Cumulonimbus clouds are, now, hold your breath.

‘No matter what color you dye your hair, the world will end.’

I failed to become a poet or a patron of a poet. Good night.

 

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The Dainty Line, Leanne Wicks

I want to see
beyond my borders
over the entrenched lies.

I am the Australienne
submitting to her husband
in this land of sweeping pains.
Two dead women every week
at the hands of men
stained with green and guilt.

My mother told me so
after the horse had trampled.
Where are the examples,
frontline warnings
from matriarchs who knew
the battle that I would gallop into?

Granny’s general memories
refused to retrieve files
but crossing the dainty line
I asked about feminine care
Oh, we didn’t talk about anything
down there!  Girls were frightened,
ignorant.  Our mothers never said.
We used a belt and cotton rags.

Bleeding’s what we’ve always done.
As I grew, I never knew why
she didn’t talk to Grandpa.
Maybe it was the war
that tore them.  He was as tall as a gum,
RAAFed in Borneo.
After Granny’s funeral I sorted her things.
On the highest shelf
at the back of the laminated wardrobe
behind precise pink and elf-green
hand-knitted jumpers it
was hidden:

A douche kit.
Bottle of Lysol (used for bathroom tiles, floors
and uterine walls)
stood constricted
by the laboratory-red hose
wound within the wash bowl
pump primed and funnel fanged
still ready to wash him away,
fifty years after her final child.

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Crescents, Evangeline Hester

The world holds crescents in a cerulean sky
Jostling with stars that in syncopation lie
With the darkness

In homes and hearts
Tomes and marks
Chiselled on the walls
Did you pray today did you pray today did
You
Wash the blood off your hands?
The stain on your lands
The twist in your parts
Our hearts
Crisp and monastic

While our limbs lingered there in the silt
Calling to one another like oily birds
Will you wash yourselves will you wash yourselves will you
Wash

Those homes and hearts?
Bleeding parts
Of some great horned beast
His arteries the streets
Clogged with jostling worshippers
And Philistine foreskins
Curdling and curling inwards
Crisp like burnt plastic

Latrines the gutters
And dusty shutters
That wink prying eyes at one another
Have you prayed today have you prayed today have you
Into the dusk.
At home,
A mother strangles a bird with scarlet thread

While windowmen
Wash the blood off cedar doorposts
Door hosts
In Sodom

 

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MelalUKEa Boy, Leanne Wicks

Music Class 

‘Where’s your guitar, Dylan?  Hop to it, boy.’
He straightened and skipped a half step until
sniggers slithered around his legs.
Why do teachers say things they don’t mean?
Two rows from the front, Dylan held the neck
of the borrowed guitar toward Mr D as if it were his own.
I must concentrate today.

Fingers found F chord
and the calming strum
settled his stomach.
At the coda, Dylan’s mind
shifted to the window
the sea glinted
for him.
Soon.

Melalukea Medicine 

8am Saturday. Scrambled eggs done.
Time for the sea rhythms, water and sun.
Dylan clips his helmet and rides through the breeze
down to the saltiness, down to the sea.

He reaches behind to check it’s still there,
pats the side of his uke and smiles to the air.
Notes meet his heart as his feet touch the sand
peace in his guts, just as he planned.

Pausing to pray, he nods to the edge
looks for the right spot and plonks on a ledge.
A second of still in which
he’s stealing God
for himself.

Seaside Prayer 

Hey, God, 
It’s so good here with You.
Why can’t I stay?

He slaps the front of the uke with the flat of his hand,
echoing the thwap of sea to rockface.
And plucks at a string, head tilted to compare
tone to roar.

I want to hear You, the rumble of Your voice.
Speak just to me, Father.
You’re always here,
not like my other Dad.

The Interstate Move 

Dylan stared at the road
lulled by his head vibrating
on the side window.

Guitar ringtone jolted
his Mum.  Always.
She buried phone under the faded
folder of ‘DV Stuff’.
New life in Melalukea. New friends, she said.
But I only have one good friend.
He’s Aspergers, too.
Books hid us 
in the demountable library.
Felix.  He’s my lucky charm
and we are getting further away
from him every minute.
‘Play me a tune, honey.  C’mon
it’ll be OK.’

Dylan scooped the ukelele from his lap.
Familiar, like cuddling the cat.
He leaned to see placement
of second and fourth fingers
on reliable strings.
His fingers kept marching
as he remembered
being stuck
in the dented Hilux
Dad called the truck.

He never did ask
why she didn’t come and get him.
It was his turn with Dad.
The solicitor said he had to go.
Dylan used to stare out the window
and finger his booster seat sash
creating tunes
til the ‘Club House Bar’
neon yawned with him.
Will Daddy find us?

Blessing of the Pets 

Dylan snuggles his ukulele
softly kicking the back of the next pew
as his mother shares the first reading.

A whippet slips
her owner’s grasp,
licks his hand.
Tucking the uke inside his blue jacket
Dylan pats the tiny head.

The minister calls for beloved friends
places a hand on fur and feather in turn.
Her lips whisper halos.

Dylan presents the wooden instrument
Rev Bryony turns and looks out over the lake
as if she were called.

She nods and collects the anointing oil
forming the sign of the cross
on the boy’s freckled forehead
then chipped orange paint.

‘In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
I anoint you, Dylan, and your instrument
May you play your life for God
for He wants to hear you play’

Secret Beach 

Bike tossed to sand
like a beach towel
as he seeks the sea.

I know I can play it

Water approaches his ankles
like a loving cat
and draws out minor chords.

Dylan’s breathing slows
Your will be done on earth
as it is in Heaven

Clouds whisper
and their white foam
on the sea coaxes him to play on

Dylan takes another step
and the blue parts
like a glassy aisle to Heaven
before embracing him.

If his mother were here
she would have heard the
change in tone
the resonance of his sea-strum
that echoed even in the shells
as if the sun were dawning
on this beach alone.

‘Stay a while with me, Dylan.’
He hears His voice plaited
around the strings
and smiles, taking another step
into the hug of the ocean.

Play the sea.

His mother would have
screamed
She would have been the only thing to stop
Dylan from soothing
himself up to his neck
ginger tufts of hair like anemone arms
waving farewell.

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The Migrant, Pooja Biswas

I know these silences of which you speak.
they emerge as if from a womb, and recede into the spaces
behind your eyes (concave; green-lit), spaces you do not recognise
for strangers have trampled upon them
& long since left their marks.

I know these silences of which you speak.
they curl, quiet animals, beneath the dusk of noonday automobiles
& sheltering hands: heat-softened, quiescent, in untroubled sleep.
no voices wake them, nor thoughts disturb
as the hours pass darkly by, distant as marching feet.

I know these silences of which you speak.
restive as the untilled earth, heavy as the unborn, pale
as the unwritten. upon the stone & hew of plough & sickle,
between the creases of callused hands, these silences
coagulate, stubborn as old sweat or new blood.

I know these silences of which you speak.
the silences of crowds, of bees, in which no single speech
can be discerned; the silences of foreign streets, an exile’s dreams.
the rush & turn of wheels & wind, of dust & departing things,
the subtle loss of passing by, of passing on, becoming history.

I know these silences of which you speak.

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Mama, Alix Rochaix

Mama, Mama,
oh Mama.
These are the words I will use
to begin your eulogy.

No longer forbidden to utter
the M-word.
Call me Cole, you decreed.
Like everybody else.

Nicole Elodie Lemaire.
That was you. And I was just one
of everybody else.

Only my lover could tell me
that when I writhed in the shadows of a dream one night,
I squeaked out the question,
Mama?
Then louder, as if escaping a great
and weighty grief–

Mama!

This ICU isn’t blinding white.
Someone has thought to paste a mural
of a cheerful coastal panorama
across the rear wall.
And there
is your smashed and intubated face,
superimposed upon it.

That once exquisite face.
One of your eyes gone, I’ve been told.
Sea-green iris
and all.
All of your perfect teeth
taken.
Apart from a jagged white fragment
a vestige, still visible
in the black blood cavern
of that once lovely mouth.

All this a swathe of bandage,
splash of disinfectant brown,
scramble of tubes,
pipes with square junctures.

Your spiralling hair shorn up
from the temple, a bolt
driven in…

Oh, Mama.

Monitors on your vital signs.
Just a reedy bip bip,
tiny beads of expanding,
then dying light.

I have been told again today,
to expect the worst.

You would have thought
this is the worst.

You often assured me,
sought to inform me, saying,
You don’t want that.
About whatever it was your street-smarts,
your wisdom,
would thrust aside.

I know
you would not want this.

Your much younger lover,
uninjured driver,
the last to ride with you, still so alive.
Still the livewire.

The last to hear your laughter.
He sits across from me, beyond the white cases over
your broken bones.

Stares at his phone and the ceiling.
He doesn’t say much.
I hadn’t heard his name before.
Later,
I won’t remember it.

After two days, when the questions are over,
he vanishes.

When they said that there were still signs
of brain life, I surprised them
by blurting out,
That’d be right!
A raised eyebrow.
A note scrawled.

While this brain life rails against the dimming of its light,
I know.
With my fingertips on your thready pulse,
this is no option for you,
as you were,
in the fullness and flush of your senses.
For me to be talking about teaching you,
perhaps,
to talk again.

I lean towards your unbandaged ear
and whisper,
Go.
Who could witness that?
Apart from the panorama and all
that keeps you hovering,
tethered by a fluorescent
filament of a heartbeat.
Or you, or what’s called your soul
maybe,
as it levitates above me.

So I speak it,
into your still warm
so soft ear.

Let go.
In this rare lull in the bustle,
I look to the ceiling with a level eye, and tell you

with calm conviction,
that your best path does not begin
down here in this ICU.
Stitched, wired, plated together–
perhaps.

No.
Not you,
Nicole Elodie Lemaire.

Go.

I am your daughter. And I am given
to flippant comments, emotional detachment.
Capable of commanding a fractured spectre of a mother
to let go of her life.
Not pretend
that your physical presence
is more valuable in near death, than it was to me
in your big bold life.

And if a hidden camera
and your hovering soul,
record all this,

So be it.

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Border Crossing, Pooja Biswas

I set out on a pilgrimage

over the northern plains

     of ice-steeped grass

and stones round as knuckles,

breezes sharp as kite strings.

 

so far from the sea

     was I & yet

so near to the sky, the clouds

    hovering

like small parachutes,

      descending bodies

invisible in the glare. reduced

to threads, mere threads

     of light, oh sun. why

do you hide death.

 

birds solitary as footless

     minstrels, singing heat

down upon the curling curves

    of snow-dust, evaporating

as softly as love-sighs, spirit-whispers

      from pale mouths. the earth a

gently rolling corpse.

 

I left in order to put in order

     a great many things, wings,

notes left unwritten, unfurled. dangling

participles. shoes & the feet in them

          seemed ludicrous here,

raw-bone ache and callused blisters

making of the body a pulsing knot,

         centered on two points

                hot needles.

 

     & still the sun sketched

perfectly geometrical shapes.

the wind rolled back & took

the black shrubs with it, bent them until

they touched their sturdy heads

          to the soil.

 

the terrible tides

the perilous undertows of love

   their impossible depths

& the heart within them,

desperately toothless

   swallowing loss.

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