States of Poetry ACT

The old rugged cross

When the spirit has been broken
and there’s no place to go
When you look around the world
wondering what went wrong
When your heart is shattered and
torn no patch ever big enough to help it mend.
No bandaid to help it heal.

When tears roll down your face

cascading like a roaring river
When the spirit has been br ...

The Undiscovered Country

When an exasperated soul
tears itself from its own body
Minos condemns it to the seventh abyss.
It falls into the forest, lands nowhere special -
wherever Fortune casts it, and there
it germinates, like a dropped grain of spelt.
The leaves here are not green, ...


I was all angle once
sharp and schist-like
a spiked rock dragon-back
arching into air

too late you learn    the long
wash of days    given grist enough
finds your fissures
chafes them    wide

these days   knowing    I wade
in a rising tide    of blo ...

What you get when you search for silence

(poem composed of Hansard search results from November 1962)

one of his colleagues has gone into a significant silence
to silence us, but this is having no effect

listen in silence
spoken and heard in silence

the Prime Minister has observed an unusual silence on this matter. There was an old Australian ...


(translated from a Persian ghazal by Rabi’a Balkhi)

I am back, locked up in this love again,
all my daring escapes end here.

Love is a broad shoreless sea
tell me, o wise ones, who swims it and lives?

To take love all the way
you must embrace every horror;

adore ugliness like a fair face;
make sweet delight of poiso ...

some trees

spotted gum
tall classy lady
cradling a listing turpentine

(shaggy old top-heavy
barrel-chested nuisance)
she props him

takes the strain
holds her own line almost true
that’s what you get

when you get
married in a windstorm
but the wind always changes

strands you in strange attitudes
let him slid ...

After the Grand Canyon

18 October 2014


It’s an accident
of composition: sun, sky, bird.
White orb on storm grey
punctuated by a raven –
but which composes which,
and which is accidental?
Is it the sun
a hole
sucking in a bird,
or Icarus about
to singe the sun?
Against the grey
both soft and ...

The colour of eyes

For Banduk Marika, Aboriginal artist

1. After your story of the funeral, August 1991

Black, Banduk, is the colour of eyes
like night shrunk
when grandma tidies after grief.
Perhaps she could not spill
to stain the room.

Black, Banduk,
this quaver fisted
in her throat –
it has no moon,
it ache ...

Lucy afloat

After the scattering of ashes
Pulpit Rock, 26 November 2014

And then the light
on these layers of grief,
grit, glow
that make a rock.

From blinding white
to ochre soft, then rust
and pink
running into each other —
who knows which colour came first
or if the glow came
before the grit

An argument in glass

For Jenni Kemarre Martiniello,
Aboriginal glassmaker

As you hold me,
you think your fingers know
I’m glass magic,
this slip and slide on cool satin,
then suddenly I’m water
and an eternity of greens —
O song of sea flowers,
you make drowning
Or so you say.

But what of other ...

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