'Fingal Valley' by Stuart Barnes | States of Poetry Queensland - Series One

Nan's budgerigar,
cat fed    squeezing like the morning
fog between oxidized barbed
wire and gorse
with an older cousin
with a slug gun

booting sheep skulls
stripped by gusts, our fathers'
1950s snares    swooped by plovers,
daring: 'yellow spurs! forearms
up!'   shooting star-
lings for laughs

another exhausted afternoon:
a hotted-up Torana: another burnout
to Warrant, to Poison
footy, swimming, cricket
on Pop's prized green, putting
with the wrong kind of club

transfixed by sixpence-
riddled heads hooked over the wash-
board   another hand of Patience
and Snap!   the glass swan
brimming with owl-red water
numb on mother-of-pearl veneer

lake   one more theft—
a short-finned eel, writhing
and crackling—from the Esk
squeal of cast iron frying
pans   slaps on the back   each mouth-
ful of muddy flesh foreign to a South-

erner   on each empty double bed
a leering toilet roll
doll   full moon, mid-
night's deer-sprint to the outdoor
loo   the top bunk's hexagonal wiring sprung,
the mattress oozing through the cells like honey

Stuart Barnes

Stuart Barnes

Stuart Barnes

Stuart Barnes's Glasshouses (University of Queensland Press, August 2016) won the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. Since 2013 he has been poetry editor for Tincture Journal. He tweets as @StuartABarnes.

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