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Come – no grazed knee, no tears, no –

no fear of darkness in the singing wood.

Hear the threnody written on the wind:

a lament not for lostness, no, but for the slow

path homewards, the pebbles which guide us:

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The time’s come round again, blind pomegranates shine

In their dark bins like tawny Tuscan wine.

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In the street

of my childhood

nothing is reliable.

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for Craig Sherborne


‘Grief wrongs us so.’

                                                  Douglas Dunn

To the sea we bear our fathers in state –

or what they’ve done to them: the square conversions.

Surf mild as receding tides,

we slump in dunes with our burdens,

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The kookaburra begets the sacred kingfisher

who begets the rainbow bee-eater

who begets the firetailed finch

who begets the forty-spotted pardalote

who begets the damsel fly

who begets the jewelled beetle

who begets a pentangle of reflected light

that falls on a colony of dust mites

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(from Peter Henry Lepus in ‘Iraq, 2003’)


Are all Arabs Muslims? Peter Henry asks.

Nobody answers him.

She’s got dark hair that stops

just above her shoulders.  Turns up at the ends.

She’s very slim, Max says.

He’s talking to Hamid

about Weasel Smith’s girlfriend,

whom he is hoping to meet

somewhere south of Baghdad.

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Luke Davies is best known as the author of Candy (1997), a novel about love and heroin addiction. His poetry, meanwhile, has attracted attention for its characteristic interest in how we relate to an unknowable universe; it is also unusual in that it draws on a more-than-everyday understanding of theoretical physics. In this latest volume, which comes in two parts – a long meditative poem followed by forty short lyrics, both celebrating love – an awareness of the vast reaches of space remains, although its expression is now less factual and has acquired a new subtlety.

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In the Year of Our Lord Slaughter’s Children by Philip Hammial & Home Town Burial by Martin R. Johnson

May 2004, no. 261

Here are three volumes that offer differing responses to a world characterised by injustice, brutality and personal hardship. Far and away the most distinctive (and demanding) of these is Philip Hammial’s sixteenth collection, In the Year of Our Lord Slaughter’s Children.

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The Mother Workshops and Other Poems by Jeri Kroll & Shadows at the Gate by Robyn Rowland

May 2004, no. 261

Robyn Rowland and Jeri Kroll write what you might call anecdotal poetry: simple, intimate and direct. Kroll, for instance, writes about her dogs, doing her taxes and sleeping in, with the sketchy, conversational tone of someone thinking out loud: ‘Does age smell? The older the dog grows, / the more he smells like a labrador, / though he’s a border collie and blue heeler.’

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A Tasmanian Paradise Lost by Graeme Hetherington & Other Gravities by Kevin Gillam

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257

In the first part of his new collection, Graeme Hetherington returns to the cultural territory he presented, differently registered, in In the Shadow of Van Diemen’s Land (1999). This is the west coast of Tasmania, reconstructed this time, in ‘West Coast Garden of Eden’, as the provocative place of his childhood, an Eden after the Fall in which innocence has long before succumbed to temptation. The twenty-seven parts of ‘For Boyd’ present Boyd as the narrator’s schoolmate, a son of working-class parents who has Paul Newman looks, a careless disregard for all forms of authority, an impressive and precocious sexual appetite, and a rebel’s capacity for mischief.

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