'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