States of Poetry SA poems

Friesian cows are leaning
over the fence

their eyes are an intense study
of nothing

a bus load of Japanese tourists

the cows take black and white
snap shots of them


When a

A cross
is made
in woodwork

are drawn
in the art room

The school flag
is hoisted
to half mast

In the assembly hall
vases of lilies
are placed

At recess
the children sit together
a little tighter

The playground
swing has
a minute’s silence


T.S. Eliot's couch
There was once a couch in the Grolier Poetry Bookshop
in Cambridge where T.S. Eliot snoozed.


Send out scouts to track it down and when they do,
stand two strong men, one at each end.
Let them count and on the shout of three

lift ...

One minute the bird is cutting a curve – blue
in two, the swift repair of air – the next,
it’s glottal-stopped in the throat of a dog.
Beyond lies the dog’s muscled tongue-hug
forcing the bird in a slavered-leather
slide past the pharynx, down the gullet
into the gunge and gore of a slaughterhouse floor.

From their front row seats in the corporate b ...

Peter Roget suffered from depression, disconsolation,
gloom, melancholia, pessimism ...

He lived a life of bitterness, desolation, grief, irritation,
lamentation, misery, pain ...

Not that there weren’t periods of bliss, exuberance,
happiness, joy, light-heartedness ...

Not that he wasn’t awake to the wonders of the world,
to its beauty, brillianc ...

After Karin Gottshall

Sometimes I say I’m going to meet my mother just because
I like saying it. I like it for its mouth feel and pleasure:
... meet my mother.

It was a phone call at 3 am drove those words away.
Three years later, with no conscious effort on my part,
they followed an overgrown but still navigable path

all the way t ...

London 2016

At the National Gallery I pay sixteen outraged pounds
to view the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition. No chiaro
to speak of, only scuro, each canvas caked in mud-brown
and bad-blood red on a background of black black black.
I dodge the ladies of the U3A religious art class, decline

the complimentary depressive illness, and in a quick s ...

standing on the Puente Romano
in Cordoba
watching the rio Guadalquivir
run beneath
like time itself
I do the math
2,000 divided by 44=45
history is nothing more than this
45 times a life of error and uncertainty
the main lesson of monuments in Europe
for which you only queue twice
unless you want the audio guide too
but mostly we take ...

I wake up
in the middle of the night
in a panic

about my dead-end job
the credit card
the housing market

until poetry appears
like a window
I go through

& compose
a couple of works
of genius

by day light
they won’t be much
of course

but it’s enough
to get me
through the night.


Wednesday 28 November 2016, Adelaide

the day of the storm
I had a poetry reading
with Nathan Curnow
overland from Ballarat
to launch his collection
The Apocalypse Awards
an hour into the unprecedented
statewide blackout
I took his call

you bastard
you brought the apocalypse with you