Poem

I forget tradition, a tray of sticky dates passed around the kitchen table, bismillah
in our mouths before we ravenously break the dusk, chew and spit back the pits. Ma ladling
lumpy lentil soup, abandonment pouched in her long sleeves, an old injury she does not
stop pressing. How are we still here? Made of garlic breath, violent affection, arrears.

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Where are my bay leaves and charms, my bowl with crimson flowers
while he inexorable
has gone from my bed like a dress
Distance: spells of fire wreathe you ...

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We bent the camels’ legs back at the knees
and bound them with rope, then we tethered them
to a tree and left them in the scorching heat.
The whole camp aromatic with onion, cardamom ...

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i.
Look, said the sonographer, your sister says hello!
A black photo
where the future rival sucks a thumb-to-be.
Never in all history
was such a portent visible
without a guiding star ...

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'Feeling pneumataphoric, I sublate my              I’ve got over 73

long working days into more              tabs open in my hot

spatially, cognitively              skull right now, one of which ...'

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'And to the other men from Afghanistan,
and Iran and Iraq, who prepared a feast for me
one midday, years ago on my way to work,
laid the clean sheet smooth ...'

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A creeping association might doldrum
your bullet points and action items
resembling life grid passing then gone
change my number leave me alone
give no ear to charms ...

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Pale ankles in the mountains, divergences
on a quarry. We are witness to it
land and witness to it
some fact of further summer
or things a truck driver might say ...

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Just before I left sleep behind
I borrowed a series of chords
so I could swerve my way through
the days I saw yawning in front
of me like graves freshly dug ...

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The staff and board of Australian Book Review extend their thanks to healthcare workers around the world. We all know what risks confront doctors, nurses, aides, orderlies, and administrative staff in our hospitals and medical clinics, especially here in Victoria. Countless healthcare workers have been infected with Covid-19, and many have died. We’re immensely grateful to the sector for its commitment and self-sacrifice.

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