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Poem of the Week - 'The Subject of Feeling' by Peter Rose

Reviewed by
June-July 2015, no. 372

Poem of the Week - 'The Subject of Feeling' by Peter Rose

Reviewed by
June-July 2015, no. 372

Our second 'Poem of the Week' is 'The Subject of Feeling by ABR Editor Peter Rose. 'The Subject of Feeling' is the title poem in Rose's latest collection, out now from UWA Publishing, and it was published in the June-July issue of Australian Book Review.


The Subject of Feeling

Outside the church, unmemoried,
names of the dearest          
deserting me, I turn as they
load you in the hearse, set off
with a small police escort.

For a quarter of a century
we have been ramming you
in cars of various sorts,
long before the age
of ramps and hoists.

They took longer to prise you
from the giddified wreck –
two hours was the report.
Eschatology is a slow
remorseless science.

While they forged above
a woman squeezed inside
and stayed with you,
marvelled at your composure,
heard about a new daughter.

Then the subject of feeling –
why you had none in your feet.
Men ground the car with steel
and flung it open
like a sack of wheat.


Peter Rose is the Editor of Australian Book Review. His books include a family memoir, Rose Boys (2001), which won the National Biography Award in 2003. He has published two novels and six poetry collections, most recently The Subject of Feeling (UWA Publishing, 2015).

comment (1)

  • Dear Peter,

    Yes, I prefer "slid" you in the hearse to "load" you in the hearse ... but wouldn't "slide you in the hearse be even better ?

    "From the giddified wreck -" is original. I presume you mean the wreck has taken on a "giddy" form - the same emotionally charged phenomenon that caused "names of the dearest deserting (you)".

    "The subject of Feeling" leaves me with the impression that there are many more ... "repressed feelings".
    Posted by Rodney Crisp
    31 October 2015