Category Archives: Poetry

On the Breaking Down of Leaves, & (Not a) Big Deal, Lauren Forner

Photo credit: Lauren Forner

On the Breaking Down of Leaves

Your tangled intricate lace
more finely-spun
and delicate
as you waste away –
emaciated –
in your attempt to sustain
those around you.

Your fall is soft and noiseless
a sail to a forest floor,
your sacrifice
unnoticed
and your gold skeletal remains
incomparable to
the bright and gaudy blooms
that shoot
from your slow melt into the earth.

Glossy foliage
and scented stamens;
nature’s trumpeted score
to your silent
decomposition.


(Not a) Big Deal

If you scrambled
every moment
to steady yourself
on the ever-moving
mountain summit of the day,
then you too would scoff, sneer,
at a germ –
a string of invisible
complex
unfathomable molecules –
that flit from lung to lung,
dissolving structure and devouring tissue,
because an abstract,
a possible,
a might-be,
a slight chance,
death
doesn’t freeze you like midnight autumn wind
doesn’t gnaw your insides like five-day hunger
doesn’t throb like a swollen eye, hand, cheek,
jaw,
doesn’t drop in your belly like his heavy
footsteps
doesn’t carve a hole out of decades with
needles
blades
pills
ropes.

Spring where you can see it during Covid-19, M. Tara Crowl

Photo credit: Steve Nuske

I live here now, in my old country house
With the barn out back
I fold clothes
Empty the dishwasher
Take dirty diapers straight out to the big plastic bin
(No more diaper pail; the mice got in)
I pitch, to no avail
My stories go nowhere
Neither do I

Some days, the sun comes out to green the grass
Crocuses wave fingers through the soil
But then, a storm of snow counteracts
We stay inside
Watch movies
Drink wine
After the snow melts, we step into the ungovernable mud
(I cling to my child)

In the city (I used to live there
Until quarantine,
Two weeks ago) people are dying
Hundreds each day, they say
The dying are there, while I am here
(Am I all here?
Yes, I am here.
Every limb, every molecule)
I’m not allowed to leave

Today is gray, so it’s just as well
There’s nowhere to go anyway
Tomorrow the sun will come out
Maybe
I’ll go out to stand in its rays
Of course I will
(I can’t miss the sun)
But it’s not going to feel
Like it did last spring

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Inside a Sunless Sea, Tanya Lake

Photo credit: Tanya Lake

The bottom fell out
Of my pants the other day.
In Wuhan province
A black swan dived.
I tightened my belt,
then took a stumble
And all across the world
We heard the rumble
Of turbulent skies
Closing in
Inside a sunless sea.

#2020, Hiroki Kosuge

Photo credit: Hiroki Kosuge

I wish I
were a bird that
doesn’t know a
cage.

This Ark too
will sink, but
we will all
survive.

You will
float if you
have a pair of healthy
lungs.

Exhale,
inhale,
shout and
hide.

We are
mere fugitives no
matter where we
go.

Let the one
who has never been
saddened throw the
first stone at me.

Photo credit: Hiroki Kosuge

Give me
another
glass of
fire.

The paradise
is always
drawn in
pointillism.

See my sister
who is still happily
in that tiny
box.

The worst
scenario is
that we all
forget.

Photo credit: Hiroki Kosuge

Old friends
wearing
same clothes in
my dreams.

Life is too
long for those
who wish for a
miracle.

There are some
shores you cannot find
unless you are
washed ashore.

See you soon.

Loud Crashes and Booms, Annabelle Serisier

Trotting rain pounded
the tin roof in a deafening rhythm
Puffs of dust exploded as drops hurled from
A sky furious with drought

Black and grey bubbled against the fuchsia of the afternoon sky
Streaks of light shot through clouds
As the sun became a hidden nucleus of light
caught within a churning darkness

And the kookaburras laughed for the end of the dry
as they hid behind the flapping green leaves
and the wind raced by leaving the sweet
scent of rain and a quick jet of wet

blew inside through the window of the silent house
where Spank was curled, dreaming of runs in the bush
and the shining coats of female dogs
But he was awoken with a raspberry spray of rain

And thunder announced the storm’s arrival
Spank braced, alert, never quite ready for the
fracturing bellow that followed the blades of light
and as his dream ended, and the storm grew

Spank’s eyes flashed from side to side
their whites shining in the dark afternoon
for the loud booms reminded him of death
and turned the sweet scent of rain to the sweet scent of blood

And the flashes of light turned to sun-glinted metal
Shining near the sick horse or barren cows
or when the tide of drought pulled and
drowned the bull

The metal would flash
The noise would boom
and death would occupy his mind
different to the death of his own prey

Which was a warm scent of death but
The glint of the light and the darkness of metal
meant a cold death that threatened him
Not a sweet death and the comfort of food

The drought sucked the life from
The green of the valley
The wallabies left and there was silence as the land emptied
Until the booming came

Bringing him back to now
Surrounded by storm alone on the farm
His warm blanket was thistly and bristled against his hackles
as the wind mockingly howled from outside

He tried to think of happy times
Early mornings and stashed food
And his spray of yellow melting frosted tips of green
And snacks of dried and chewy afterbirth

Dreams in the sun
Curled on a lap by the fire
swimming for rocks
and chewing on tasty hoof trimming taffy

But the storm was the now
and the booming was closer and closer
and the strikes were nearer and nearer
He wasn’t safe here

His nails on the wooden floorboards
increased the tempo in the storm’s cacophony
The peacock sang out
a solo voice above the thunder

Dust swirled as the wind picked up
and Spank looked for a place to hide
from the noise and the flashes and
The smell of rain that trickled behind him

The noise of the rain and thunder increased
And the farmhouse lowered its roof
And drew in its walls
Until Spank was a puppy in a box

There, he quivered and whimpered and prayed
for the drought, for the animals
whose bodies had flattened
and been claimed by the drought

their skin draped over their bones
stretched and dried, taut across ribs
a pelted drum hit with raindrops
as the rain sang across the valley

And he pushed
And scratched
And howled
To be free

Until a wall opened up and he was outside
where there was no protection
From the sky who hurled
rocks of water

and he ran
away from the flashing
and the grumbling
and the battering

Through the thrashing trees
and the swirling wet leaves
tossed about by the wind
and clung to his back

Spank ran past ducks
Drawn out by the rain but turned back by the hail
and the horses, heads bowed
gave reverence to the storm

And Spank realised he was free
as the rain washed the dirt
from his coat and the rain
and his fear washed away with the water

A rhythm snaking across the land
Rivers held by the sky
Taking and giving drought
to those who weather storms

Night Cry, Freshta Nawabi

I.
we were lying in bed,
me and my sister,
when we heard the cry of a Baby Bird
splinter the space between us
(in the other room, mum and baba were screaming)
it was storming, that night.
Rain bounced off the roof
like translucent marbles,
shimmering then gone.
(i think i heard my mother cry)
Baby Bird wailed and wailed
but we didn’t move from our beds.
(they only fight when they think we can’t hear)
If we laid still enough
we could pretend it was just a dream.

II.
when the rain stopped
and the sky broke apart like an oyster
revealing its pearl
we rushed past the front door,
past the white fence
to stand before the bottlebrush tree.
Pushing aside the weeping foliage
my sister and i stared.

Awestruck, we trembled with hushed delight.

It was a baby Common Myna,
cold, wet and shivering.
Feathers soft and beak wide open –
totally alone.

III.
Where was its mother?
we thought it was kind of weird how
Baby Bird seemed to have emerged
from the night itself
once, a grey storm cloud
now, a ball of feathers and sound
clicking, crying and screeching.

Baby Bird was really saying,
‘I’m here, I’m real, I really am’
His language was the storm.

me and my sister screamed for baba
until he emerged from the hole in the wall,
smiling his glassy smile.
(‘I’m here, I’m real, I really am’)
i imagined Baby Bird
tapping his beak against that smile.
(‘I’m here, I’m real, I really am’)

Not stopping until we heard it crack.

IV.
Lunchtime.
i held Baby Bird in my hands,
closer than a secret.
Mum was hanging up the washing, as always,
and you could see her face blink open and shut
open and shut
between my school uniform and baba’s pants.
(‘What will Baby Bird eat?’)
she fingered the beads of rain
strung up on the clothesline and
i watched her mouth form
the shape of a rainbow
as she turned away.
(‘It’s his mother’s job to worry.’)
(‘But he’s hungry, mummy!)
‘So are you.’ So I was.

V.
Life is precious.
i discovered this one lunchtime
on a cloudy afternoon,
looking for a bird no longer existed.
just feathers and blood.

Tears streaking down my cheeks,
i lay flat on the front lawn and watched
the sun sink behind the neighbours’ house.
Its creamy white walls turned pink
and golden like Billabong ice cream.

Something happened then,
the sort of miracle
that only happens in twilight.
A shadow struck the purple sky
and left me momentarily blind.
It had only been a second,
but i knew it was Baby Bird.

Limbs splayed across the spiny grass,
my mouth fell open in awe once again
as the air thickened with the sound
of fluttering wings.

i smiled up at the telephone wires,
up at the dandelion seed heads,
floating like bits of cloud or feathers.

i smiled, and opened my mouth to the rain.

Inveterate Tongue, Timothy Sharp

To see Timothy’s poem with its original formatting download the PDF below!

Compagnon pour la vie, Alyssa Byrnes

A first date,
suit and tie,
black and white
her name is Adélie.
She stands,
in a beautiful dress,
similar colours across her breast
taking my breath,
we dance.

Pink shoes on her feet,
her laugh so sweet
how fortunate to meet
are we.
Seafood platters,
we waddle, getting fatter
our way back home,
where nothing else matters
but her.

We marry,
the cold winter season,
though no-one was freezing,
we went swimming.
and fishing,
and marched on into living,
together, apart,
we have made our mark,
my lovely wife.

“Did you know that penguins mate for life?”
The words flew from parted lips,
as you watched her hips,
the pancakes she flipped,
sizzled softly.
“For life?”
You heard excitement,
but that’s not what she meant,
nor how things went.

Wedding bells ring,
you recite loving words,
you hope she’s never heard, 
overcome by nerves,
you kiss.
Your heart is afloat, 
honeymoon on a boat
her ‘I do’ means ‘I don’t’.

Years pass, a slow burn,
words leave ugly scars,
from a love written in the stars,
that’s now lost on nights spent in bars,
all gone.
You wonder how,
divorce comforts you now,
life made so foul.

The trap has been set,
the genetic code brings delight,
never do they fight,
knowing this is right;
the feast.
There is no question,
and nothing quite left in,
the skin.

The laws of nature,
allow the quiet romance,
a passionate dance,
they know at a glance,
it’s time.
And so, the night falls,
this time known to all,
for his lover to gorge.

Hungry eyes stare him down,
caressing his face,
rips his head off with great pace,
and devours with haste,
no waste.
The moment was quick,
and with one final lick,
so, on the clock ticks.

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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