States of Poetry
in decades past a series of dykes was known as the venice
of the floods themselves, with a sweet sap
once the prey has entered the trap
the leaf closes, and within about 30 seconds
a senior minister has touched
two or three trigger hairs,
bristles on the distinction between
private beliefs and public morality,
about two weeks ... More
what we'll do is remove the dusty fly-spotted umbrella light-shade from over the bed, and we'll put there something that catches the will of the leaves outside the windows and holds it in the centre of the room. a leaf doesn't have an individual life, but it seems to, and the green at the middle of that life is what I'll feed you. that will come in as milk, translucent blue humming calculation ... More
Every morning, with an authority
of clinging, earthy foundations
a house sat in air.
Inside someone was singing an aria
about how love inflects its failings
and a woman, absorbed in her toilette
considered how pained words work
the world awry, even as air fills with song.
Outside a man hammered boards
to make a dwelling; crows sat on a wire
as i ... More
A gap opened every evening
emitting a panting – as soft as darkness,
or stray dog at exhaustion's end.
Unsettling, like a straggly bird,
it dropped dark feathers
of prickling desire into the room.
It knew the edges of solitude
like the blue glacier's encrusted ice,
and morphed into a clouded mirror
on which each searching glance stuck fast.
This cardboard prison they call an archive
is cold, airless and silent as death.
Floor to ceiling boxes contain voices
no longer heard yet still wailing within
and faces no longer seen yet still missing in a
jail of captured snippets, images and memories
like the severed heads and bleached bones of
dismembered bodies neatly locked away in the vaults
of mu ... More
As a new century dawned white Australians were urged
to feel comfortable and relaxed about their history.
'Shake off that irksome black arm band – legacy of radical
lefties who can't leave well enough alone – and their
tiresome chant that white Australia has a Black history and
we all have blood on our hands.
We've got a new song to sing now!'
Right win ... More
For Garry Papin and the Muthi-Muthi People of Lake Mungo
Lady Mungo heard the white scientists trampling
on her people's sacredness and she began to surface –
While you archaeologists are stomping on
our graves arguing about the depth of your
new Pleistocene layer my people already know
the ... More
For Patrick White (1976)
When the Badtjala people discovered Eliza Fraser,
her story of cannibals devoured a history.
A century later when the Badtjala people
rescued Ellen Roxborough on the fringes of paradise
White's imagination captured the Aborigine –
the Blacks – for the nation.
When she ate Badtjala woman's flesh,
she ... More