Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:47

'break' by Jordie Albiston

a spirit into splinters    or a night
into day    the quavers levitating
just the same    see a kind of orangeness
tinge the wrenched event    & head falls & sun
caws & moon forgets her name    a muteness

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    a spirit into splinters    or a night
    into day    the quavers levitating
    just the same    see a kind of orangeness
    tinge the wrenched event    & head falls & sun
    caws & moon forgets her name    a muteness ...

Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:43

'Syllabic Patterning' by Michael Farrell

He went down to the shed to look for a chook
a particular one he’d seen earlier that morning
one he realised he’d never seen before, and
that seemed to have disappeared. It was brown
with white markings, distinctive, like wallpaper

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    He went down to the shed to look for a chook
    a particular one he’d seen earlier that morning
    one he realised he’d never seen before, and
    that seemed to have disappeared. It was brown
    with white markings, distinctive, like wallpaper ...

Sometimes you took the shape
of an unseen mosquito,
sometimes of illness.

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    Sometimes you took the shape
    of an unseen mosquito,
    sometimes of illness ...

Thursday, 26 April 2018 12:02

'The Field' by Ian Patterson

There is a field that will persist in everything:
                     what means crucial means
if there never was a thought deflected not to be
                     a path so far gone?

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    There is a field that will persist in everything:
                         what means crucial means
    if there never was a thought deflected not to be
                         a path so far gone? ...

Thursday, 26 April 2018 11:58

'Four Rooms' by Julie Manning

Your beard intrigues me, its rough mystery, patterned complexity.
I imagine burrowing animals under your skin that raise

unreadable braille, tiny things my nails disturb – anemone fronds
in a sea-borne forest. I could analyse what I know

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    Your beard intrigues me, its rough mystery, patterned complexity.
    I imagine burrowing animals under your skin that raise ...

Thursday, 26 April 2018 11:53

'Natality' by Anne Elvey

body’s habitude begin
with buoyancy, a saturated skin

and musculature that urges toward
this interface with air, insisting itself

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    body’s habitude begin
    with buoyancy, a saturated skin ...

I’d ask you to reappear from behind the wet blanket, Sun,
                   But the ozone has been eaten by refrigerants
                                     And we can’t take your glare. We are people
                                                       Of the skin cancers, tuned by solar flares.

So, whatever your good intentions towards the solar system,
                   The galaxy, however far back to the beginning your light
                                      Reaches, we remain tentative, so easily led by your
                                                         Coming and going, we are trapped in this metaxy.

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    I’d ask you to reappear from behind the wet blanket, Sun,
    But the ozone has been eaten by refrigerants
    And we can’t take your glare. We are people
    Of the skin cancers, tuned by solar flares ...

Thursday, 22 February 2018 10:56

2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize Shortlist

101, Taipei

after the Mandopop song ‘Centrifugal Force’ (Yang Naiwen, 2016)

Happiness in wanting to say something but not saying it. I want to say
happiness in a way others cannot. You look up at my blue-green glass,
double-paned and glazed, and think we, even when someone
jumps, are never on the sane page. Of course, I look like
a huge magic wand that grows a sad rose. Yes, the rose
is dyed, at best. No, there is no rose. I, who have grieved
for the softness of streets replaced by purpose and shops, know
you will one day lie face down with your beautiful eyebrows.
Others think the body bag that does the job is plastic art,
but it is the zip, its reverence tossing us away from the implied
cause. Do you know the 21st century took our belongings inside?
If, as Mary Ruefle says, we are to be exact with the price
of a thing (be it a rooster plate, a kind rope, or, better, songs
about life not smooth as a tattoo) by adding 99 cents
to what it is already worth to make it feel more real,
you wonder what the steel of that one senseless floor
is for. For long, I have become where your soft spots
whisper We are metaphors or Take us, before, all winter long,
raw anticipation aches, sees nothing. An unbecoming. To some,
it is less sad. I am still the same set, same scene and torque
groping and tending the moon in Ourselves. Their selves.
To you, just another phallus? One that jokingly stands.
All seasons are equally good for waiting and missing out –
how you are here early, as if waiting for the world to come
down with its legs up, for the thing in your head to be heard.
It is hard to see a swaying hand in a crowd; everyone now crawls
towards everyone less sad-looking. Yes, the rain gets you
nothing. You are a living construct that mellows street lights.
Shouldn’t you be going home, where questions are decades old?
The ones you are expecting will not come. They are a list
by a kid to keep you soaked to the bone – the star
barista, the edgy clerk, the entrepreneur who burns
family pictures. People come with their cameras to frame
the circumference of their open despair. I close a door
behind you, but it is conservative to say only the natural world
matters. I am famous. I appear in maps. Come,
didn’t you say I speed up happiness with a city view?
Beneath me, a male world thrums with every strung kind.

Nicholas Wong

Nicholas Wong is the author of Crevasse (Kaya Press, 2015), winner of the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry. He is also the recipient of the Hong Kong Young Artist Award in Literary Arts in 2017. Wong has contributed writing to the radio composition project ‘One of the Two Stories, Or Both’ at Manchester International Festival 2017, and the final exhibition of Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which will open in May 2018. He is the Vice President of PEN Hong Kong, and teaches at the Education University of Hong Kong


'Follow the water.'



My mother lowered me into the water.
She put me on my back. Some instinct
held my neck rigid and my head up.

The photograph is lost. In the album
of my mind I see the panic in my fists.
I still feel the cold of the water around me.


He said we would play a game.
We all jumped. He held my hand, tight.

At the bottom, we counted. Bubbles
silvered to the surface. Then, I ran out

of air. I couldn’t wrench free. On his way
up, he kicked me. The water: so heavy.


In the afternoons it was my joy
to fill the small kettle and carry it
to my grandfather in the living room.

He’d put it on the hotplate, bring
the water to the boil. Tea leaves in the pot.
The scent of bamboo. The bitter brew.


My father always said: where there is water,
there are Chinese people; where there are Chinese,
there are Hakka people. I have five phrases:
eat, sleep, shower, shit, I don’t understand.

To count out the numbers: we peel the yams.
Boil them, mash them, add flour and knead
into dough. The women in a line, moulding
the dimpled balls. I never understood the fuss.
Oil coats my lips, my teeth and my tongue.


I feel the loss of the bathtub most of all.
On winter mornings, I would wake and run
a hot bath. Unbearable, blistering heat.

Steam rising from water. Salt dissolving
instantly. The sublime immersion –
a return to the womb, or a coffin.


At three o’clock in the morning
my grandmother decided to scrub
the bathroom floor. Water, traitor.

She slipped, cut her forehead open
on a pipe, then landed on her face.
Blood, and two black eyes.

This woman has fought all her life.
At night, she wrestles with her selves.
Sweat soaks her bedclothes.


I never knew I tasted sweet.
Like honey from the rock –

Dry sermons droning overhead
while I silently read the Song

of Songs, Psalms, Proverbs.
Verses like the tides. My first

poetry, the ocean of my undoing.
At the bottom: a tin compass,
its needle wild and searching.

Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet who was born in Singapore of Chinese descent. She speaks English, Singlish, Mandarin, and Hokkien, but only writes in English. Chong took a Master of Letters at the University of Sydney and was a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award for a Doctorate in Creative Arts at Western Sydney University. She eventually left her academic studies to write poetry full-time. Her poetry collections are Burning Rice (2012), Peony (2014), and Painting Red Orchids (2016), all from Pitt Street Poetry.

The Abstract Blue Background

Hans Holbein the Younger, England, c.1526

A shade greener than Kingfisher (that blue
is not a pigment but a structure, a transparent material
                 combing the loved
                 known wavelengths). This is mineral azurite.
Copper resinate, lead white, lampblack, Cologne earth and vermilion:
A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling.
Anne Lovell most likely; with her three-squirrel escutcheon and a home in
East Harling, a native pun or a foreign error that adhered,
mutually charming. Either way,
                 a starling’s barely heard
                 in the mind’s sub-blue afterward.
Squirrel and Starling were painted when Lady was gone
(standing slowing shaking her layers to make the stiff outer stand straight).
See the held squirrel afloat in space, forever now less squirrel
                 more Object (Paris 1936;
                 fur-covered teacup, saucer and spoon);
the Lady’s pet is an afterthought on a fine-wrought chain.
                 Blue’s pet is that sky
dragged indoors through the keyhole and made
to sit still as abstract, in a green pose it cannot hold.
The squirrel’s tail is between the Lady’s breasts
(by a thousand almost-touches) pointing upwards to the opening
                 of the ermine cap, disregarding
                 the face in its opening
for pure opening.
The blue disregards the subject too and all procedure.
                 She’s a column of time with a little sway (the first layer):
                 a thick sun-frayed cord of a nervous system flapping:
                 a flesh tone that is lead white shot through
with vermilion drawn fresh from a rock vein (the last layer surely):
                 a roused un-blue (the mouth-to-mouth was purely
thaumaturgical, there was
no touching, she is no beauty):
                 a completed madonna, holding
                 something else’s child. (Well it’s done now.)
If it is Anne Lovell she is one year a mother; that is, fleshly returned
as woman in fine sewn couplings of mammal skin, in black bodice
that is collected soot. Each candle flame’s
thumbprint, taken, scraped, all the nights
it took Holbein.
                  The blue is above feeling moved,
above texture, above velvet and ermine and linen, the dyeable the dead;
above the compact of cap, shawl and bodice
as christ was always already above the concerns of his mother
(harmonious as an upended
                   pietà pyramid.)
                   The blue, inspired, kicks its own can over.
If Holbein was no longer sure, still he hurried off for the court
of a fallible king, less perilous
                   than facing
                   an objective blue.
Blue’s explanation: an inner prompting got palpable,
got out of hand, got too enthralling, was executed perfectly
to be more alive, then had no option left
                   but ascension.
The scientific age cannot explain a cult of beauty
any further with its infrared. Plain sight is hiding in blue.

LK Holt

LK Holt lives in Melbourne, where she was born in 1982. Her first collection of poems, Man Wolf Man, won the 2009 Kenneth Slessor Prize in the NSW Premier’s Awards. Patience, Mutiny shared the 2011 Grace Leven Prize for Poetry. Her most recent collection Keeps was longlisted for the 2015 Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. Her forthcoming collection, System Garden, will be published by Vagabond Press later this year.

Decoding Paul Klee’s Mit Grünen Strümpfen (With Green Stockings) 1939

Her green stockinged legs are the conduit
their electric energy like tree sap
pulsing with live yearning that
powers upwards, upwards and through
her body’s little girl trunk
encased in its wide, fine line pinafore
daubed in soft pink and saxe blue splotches.

Higher and higher the strong current surges
into her tuning fork arms charged in yellow
exalting the big green sun daubed also in blue
and her long russet hair falls to one side of her head
while her round ink smudged eyes fix her goal
as explicitly as green stockinged legs hold her firm
and her little girl voice announces ‘I want it.’

Katherine Healy

Katherine Healy is a writer living in the Adelaide Hills. She has worked in education, community health promotion, and counselling. Katherine has published creative non-fiction, short fiction, and poetry. She gained her Master of Letters in Creative Writing from Central Queensland University and credits the rural city of Rockhampton for reawakening her poetic impulse. Katherine is a member of Writers’ SA. She has a poetry collection and a novel as a works-in-progress.


The only thing left of god by then was the key to a hotel room. Is it worth saying the room
was turquoise & smelt like us coming in an arthouse film, a space for everything bad about
deconstruction & lamplit polyester unfringed with irony. All I wanted was your fingers inside
me like ten wet disciples.
Brick room with skin diptych. I could catalogue everything squalid. Chintzy pelt of the
superking. Diaspora of insects round the bulb like core samples. Cheesy pallor of formica
coffee tables, nested. Drapes avocado as an old bruise. Oh let us tour the cutlery drawer in all
its nickel ammunition. Smell of your torso pay-by-the-hour along mine.
‘I just had the weirdest five minute dream. You were giving me a blowjob in an asylum.’
I meant for this to happen & happen. Adjacent to your tongue tip there’s zero I care about.
Indigo fishhooked the carpet’s sky blue crime & no soliloquy of guilt would stop us getting
the wet skin we’d paid for. Everyone we owed was out of range. Under us a pub the colour of
a cellblock. Easy. Just slip off the lace of thinking twice.

Call your wife, can you fill up the diesel, she needs it for ballet practice tonight. Call your
wife, the goddamn taps in the ensuite have jammed again, can you just for once. Call your
wife, she is solo in the ritualised kitchen where the lights have blown out. Call your wife,
leave a message at the sob. Call your wife, she is learning the hard way. Call your wife, the
histology is back. Call your wife, her lipstick is audible. Call your wife, she’s on her third
bottle & the kids are starting to look like stars. Call your wife, she remembers the colour of
the wallpaper in neonatal. Call your wife, she is talking to you with her head tipped back so
you don’t hear the asphyxia. Call your wife, she has access to the archives. Call your wife,
because there will be a tomorrow. Call your wife, she has a thing for Sinatra. Call your wife,
to hear her mohair voice. Call your wife, your account is in the red. Call your wife, she is
right where you left her. Call your wife, in the living room simmering, she is the house set
alight said aloud. Oops, we encountered a problem, try again in 3,2,1 to. Call your wife, she
will not ask again, she will try to sound futile, this is love not surveillance, she is holding an
hourglass, she is hewn from decent clothes, while I put you in my mouth, she is stranded in
the blueprints, it’ll be a quick fix, the kids need picking up from the smoke. Call your wife,
she will speak at your funeral. Fuck me hard, then call your wife.

Tracey Slaughter

Tracey Slaughter is a poet and short story writer from Cambridge, New Zealand. Her work has received numerous awards, including the international Bridport Prize (2014), shortlistings for the Manchester Prize in both Poetry (2014) and Fiction (2015), and two Katherine Mansfield Awards. Her latest work, the short story collection deleted scenes for lovers (Victoria University Press) was published to critical acclaim in 2016, and was longlisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards. She is currently putting the finishing touches to a poetry collection entitled ‘conventional weapons’. She teaches at the University of Waikato, where she edits the literary journal Mayhem.

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    '101, Taipei' by Nicholas Wong, 'Compass' by Eileen Chong, 'The Abstract Blue Background' by LK Holt, 'Decoding Paul Klee’s Mit Grünen Strümpfen (With Green Stockings) 1939' by Katherine Healy, and 'breather' by Tracey Slaughter.

Friday, 22 February 2019 17:12

2019 Peter Porter Poetry Prize Shortlist

Dancing with Stephen Hawking

For Melinda Smith

I was living in England. Punk days, they were.
On my way to the party, I fell and scraped skin
from my knees, tore my stockings. No matter,
they were punk days, and I looked the part –
black-root blonde, make-up slurring my face.
And there she was: He wants to dance with you.
And there he was, seeping into his chair, mind
in the machine. From a distance, I’d thought him
all thought, the body’s ruin savaging desire,
but something simmered there. He rolled across
the wooden floor like a ship leaving harbour,
adrift on a wide sea. I did my best punk moves,
spasmodic thrusts and jumps, while he swayed
left then right in his choreography of wheels.
I tried not to stare. We moved until the music
slammed into silence, left everyone talking
too loud for a moment, like the noise of insects
in the dark. I don’t recall talking at all, only
the time given … Walking to the station,
I stopped, looked up to a moonless sky,
wondering whether that cloud was a cloud
or a galaxy. And I thought of the dance
of asteroids, the merciless pull of black holes,
red giants and white dwarves, breathless
nebulae. I thought of the atoms in my eye,
spinning and spinning, and the torrent of light
surging through me, soaking me to the bone
as I stood looking up, with my bloodied knees.

John Foulcher

John Foulcher has written eleven books of poetry, most recently 101 Poems (Pitt Street Poetry, 2015), a selection from his previous books, and A Casual Penance (Pitt Street Poetry, 2017).

The Mirror Hurlers

for Joyce Lee

1. The Looking-Glass Apprentice

Mistress, I’ve seen the sunlight swim on red brick walls. I’ve watched your mirror fly
from a high window. I remember the crash. It hit backwater bedrooms, distant kitchens.

The frame had shattered but the uncracked mirror flashed, a pool amongst ruins.
I saw my face in it, then your voice flooded the laneway. ‘Try it. Mirror hurling

goes back centuries.’ I grab my full-length mirror, stagger to the bedroom window.
The mirror leans against my shoulder, a cape made of myself. The brick wall opposite

moves in the heat. I turn around and cart the mirror back to its dark corner. And you talk
of leaving. Mistress, I know you want real height, sky streaming in at your front door,

unbroken mirrors scattered across the earth, but show me survival again. Think of me here
climbing the stairs in terror, lanes like canyons around me. All my mirrors unhurled.


2. The Mirror

This is my sworn story of staying whole. My owner knows it backwards.
I dreaded slippery-fingered servants, but when the mirror mistress picked me up
it was like a kept promise. When she threw me, I flew through my cousin
the window, and the air whispered of weightlessness. Falling was a new way
of being held. The crash was a savage cradling. I lay there taking in faces, safe
in the sacrificial wreckage. Now my unbreakable shine waits for you all.
Come to me for the backhanded truth of who you are. See, your left hand
knows only too well what your right hand is doing. Your crooked smile
slants the other way. And notice the fake depth in your eyes, your thin
visiting presence. Stranger, I give you your shallow reversed self.


3. The Mirror Detective

I know them. Their two-faced ways, their almost invisible
shimmers of thought. They are thieves, stealing mirrors
and hurling them into the world. They won’t get away with it.

I am after them, with my dull routine and my non-reflective mind.
I’ll hunt them down. I’ll climb the stairs, knock on the last door
and there it will all be: suspiciously open windows, mirrors in mattresses,
tables littered with wrecked frames. Mirror hurlers at work.

They’ll soon find out their mirror hurling days are over.
I’ll let them know that prison mirrors are made of tin.
They will put on their long coats. I will frisk them for mirrors.


4. The Mirror Lovers

There are those who will never release their mirrors.
They cannot surrender their perfect self-portraits.
They sleep with them. They wake up beside themselves
in dim rooms, and wonder if they have married.

All day there’s a quicksilver gleam in their eyes.
They feel strangely flat. They have to resist
an impulse to mime the movements of others.
Their minds are full of unwanted reflections.

At night, they return to the mimicry of marriage.
The fingertip touching, the two-dimensional tenderness.


5. The Mirror Mistress

I loved the lanes,
the early morning shudder of sun across old brick.

But here on this cliff top
with its mountains of pure space, I know I have come home.

Looking-glass lakes are scattered across the earth,
my run-up takes me

right to the edge.
I let the mirror go and everything seems to slide.

I am wiped from the mirror’s mind.
I am replaced by sky.

Ross Gillett

Ross Gillett lives in Daylesford in the Central Highlands of Victoria. His book The Sea Factory was one of the Five Islands Press New Poets 2006 series. His next book will be published by Puncher & Wattmann later in 2019. 

Searching the Dead

The bone-coloured branches of the rusty fig
twist and rise into a canopy of leaves that shuts
out the beating sun. It’s like standing in a limestone cave
and gazing up at limbs that resemble toned calves
and bulging biceps. As if the tree has been fashioned
out of human body parts miraculously glued together.
From a distance it appears sublime, but standing beneath it,
I can’t shift these images of haunches, thighs and elbows.
The human form, even when you’re not looking for it,
is everywhere. Five days out from Nui Dat, after the firefight
and the ambush, I went back into the rubber plantation
to search the pockets of the dead. They weren’t our dead,
our dead had been dusted off that morning, but here
were men who resembled us, soldiers who had been trained
to follow SOP, move carefully day and night, minimise risk.
Clothes now stretched tightly over bloated arms and legs,
feet cold and green, flies and gnats crowding around
their eyes, their mouths. Bodies washed clean by the rain,
a few with legs completely missing, one or two
without heads. We were searching for intelligence.
I found a gold American watch, sunglasses, a plastic comb,
a bag of uncooked rice, a lock of hair. Occasionally,
what appeared to be a diary, filled with Vietnamese script,
a pressed flower fluttering down to the ground.
A cowrie shell bringing the news from the South China Sea.
In one man’s pockets a pair of lacy black knickers.
And photos wrapped in plastic to preserve them –
a girlfriend leaning against a motorbike, a couple posing
near a lake, a family in front of a shimmering pagoda.
Everything smeared with the same red dust that coated
my skin. There won’t be another photograph of this man
sitting with his children as he tucks into a steaming soup.
The rubber trees had been hit by bullets and dribbled
latex, as if they were crying. Johnno and Boffa
were digging a mass grave. I took my shirt off
so I could feel the sun on my back. I might have been
fielding at square leg, dreaming of the tea break.
When I opened a tin of tiger balm or laid down a pack
of playing cards, this shiver spread from my neck
to my shoulders. I was so aware of my body, how
it was greased and primed, how it wasn’t going to jam.
What I collected I put down by the base of the banyan tree,
the wood darker than this fig, soldiering on through
the hot afternoon, soaked with sweat. I was elated to be alive.
The work had to be done before we could move out.
I made a shrine to lives well lived, then went to find
some cool water to drink, some fresh air to breathe.

Andy Kissane

Andy Kissane has published a novel, a book of short stories, The Swarm (Puncher & Wattmann, 2012), and four books of poetry. His fifth poetry collection, The Tomb of the Unknown Artist, is due in 2019.

63 Temple Street, Mong Kok

Remember 63 Temple Street, Mong Kok?
Remember that cha chaan teng,
Mrs Suen, the owner?

Sorry, that jars your ears.
Remember ‘leave ice’, ‘fly sugar leave milk’, ‘tea go’ –
the waiters’ breaths, like shooting stars?

Sorry for the monosyllabic dictums.
The imperatives chase me back with their voracious tails
to Mrs Suen’s cha chaan teng:
go, leave, fly.

Remember the deep-fried peanut toast –

a square button of butter, egg tassels,
slurry glass eyes of a honey stripe,
and the sweet full-cream condensed milk?

Mrs Suen uses Carnation’s
condensed milk
from the contented cows of Australia
– as she says.

As for the peanut butter,
her preference is USA’s
Planters’ Crunchy, the nuts clutter
but melt like mercy – as she says.

Remember me? Mrs Suen asks.

the already remembered?
All of us remember –
yet only some grasp the gyration of the remembered.

How can I not remember? Mrs Suen! I reply.

For fifteen years at daybreak the lukewarm TV gargles –
‘Welcome to Hong Kong’s Morning.’
Every day I eat deep-fried ghost, drink mandarin ducks, no milk, no sugar.

A diet to keep myself forgotten.

I didn’t forget you, Mrs Suen says.
But all of us forget – yet only some let go of the gyration of the forgotten.  

How not to break the fluid egg yolk on my doll noodles?
Slightly tilt the egg’s fringe up with your chopsticks and pinch –

but the translucent membrane still cracks.
It doesn’t forget the way to brokenness, and neither do I.

Grandma sipped the braised pork belly, her last ritual in the hospital.

The rain breaks its back.
It reaches out its little hands
and cut them off in front of me.
It says, Follow me. And just as I follow, it vanishes,
and multiplies.

Here’s my mobile number, I forgot yours, Mrs Suen says.

Laozi says – ‘She forgets it. That’s why it lasts forever.’
Did she trade her memory for the eternity of my number?

The rain finds its path to remember,
and falls on every person,

 wanting –

I: One tea set, please.
Waiter Kuen: Tea set’s sold out.
I: A fast set, then.
Waiter Kuen: No fast set today.
I: I’d have a constant set, anyways.
Waiter Kuen: Constant set is fast set, fast set is tea set.

a fate of return – the rain and Waiter Kuen’s back.

Now the rain’s a searchlight: a black dog sniffs, a black car follows.
There’s no way to see how the rain enters.

You still have much black hair, Mrs Suen, I say.
The rain, stumbling upon its hands, tries to grip a larger surround.

Thanks to the braised pork belly, Mrs Suen jokes.

O, O, what a slice! Grandma exclaimed.
The fat broke loose on her tongue.
She never woke up again.

A raindrop is very quiet on my lips.
It melts into a shore afar – to where?

A red bean sneaks out of my glass.
I lick it back – to where?

I forget to give Mrs Suen my mobile number.
The rain has no proper path to rise back as rain.

How does hunger enter me?

I forgot the first bite in my life. I forget why I forgot.

Coolness sprawls flat on my tongue.
I can’t even give it a name.

Belle Ling

Belle Ling is a PhD student in Creative Writing at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her first poetry collection, A Seed and a Plant, was shortlisted for The HKU International Poetry Prize 2010.


Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening


Out walking Sunday morning, the light wintering
Again inside the start of spring, a raven

Overflies me, and the yaw of its wings,
As it banks a little in the blank verse

Of the Sunday air – for no reason
It knows – the groan of wingbeat is, I think,

The sound my heart makes opening again each day,
Reluctant at first to get about the work

Of bearing my body through all it wants and misses,
And through the weightless freight of waiting out

The gloom that doesn’t want to still. But still
One lets it open, whingeing on its hinges,

A sly hope refusing to call time.
And making slowly through the silver gums,

Their shade a drapery of all the clothes
One’s lovers used to shed, a single feather

Fallen from another bird – nib
End planted in the turf – flares some blue,

Shows some indigo, inside its mourning
Garb. And this, I think, is the nature of things:

The fierce persistence of the wild within
The ordered world; this is a love you felt

You must let fall, which will not let you slip.
This is the work you leave, unmade yourself

By all you’re called to make, the love, the space
For everything you barely understand.

At home, you stand it in a glass, and start
Again. Word by word, beat after beat,

Putting pain to use, feathering forth
The silence out of which the future comes.

Mark Tredinnick

Mark Tredinnick is a poet, essayist, and writing teacher. His books include The Little Red Writing Book (2006) and the landscape memoir, The Blue Plateau (2009). He was co-winner of the 2008 Calibre Prize for his essay ‘A Storm and a Teacup’.

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  • Custom Article Title 2019 Porter Prize Shortlist
  • Contents Category Peter Porter Poetry Prize Shortlist
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    'Dancing with Stephen Hawking' by John Foulcher; 'The Mirror Hurlers' by Ross Gillett; '63 Temple Street, Mong Kok' by Belle Ling; 'Searching the Dead' by Andy Kissane; 'Raven' by Mark Tredinnick.

Conveniently located next to Perrache
railway station, the Hôtel Terminus,
Lyon, is distinguished by its extensive
frescoes and mirrored columns. All rooms feature
narrow beds, equipped with straps for arms and legs;
two baths; and a gas heater with three pokers.
Tout confort.

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  • Custom Article Title Herr Doktor Tulp’s Interrogation (1942)
  • Contents Category Poem
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    Conveniently located next to Perrache
    railway station, the Hôtel Terminus,
    Lyon, is distinguished by its extensive ...