States of Poetry 2016 - TAS | 'Casualties' by Karen Knight


(Willow Court Asylum, 1827-2000, New Norfolk, Tasmania)


Squatting in the bitumen
by the old mortuary
suckering weeds
of blackberry.

Around the hem
of the exercise yard
runtish holly.

Under the scum and stench
of the Frescati pond
rotting water ribbons
and frogs.

An ash sapling
tunnelling too far
is trapped in the pipeline.

Wisteria and ivy
in a race to the high wall
have growth-spurted
through the fire escape.

A solitary elm
scrooches down
in the empty avenue.

Lombardy pine
has surrendered
its heartwood
to a colony of bees.

A laurel has died
but the earth holds fast
to its mouldering roots.

The golden robinia
has lost its vitals –
creamy pea flowers
kidney seeds.

has closed its fronds
to the light.

At death’s terminus
a palliative cocktail awaits
contorted willow, alder
and oak.

Tree of Heaven, 14. 5 metres high
watches over a funeral cypress
with ruin on its mind.

Karen Knight

Karen Knight

Karen Knight

Karen Knight lives in Hobart. She has been widely published and anthologised since the 1960s, and has written four collections of poetry. The most recent, Postcards from the Asylum (Pardalote Press, 2008), won the 2005 Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship Award, the 2007 ACT Alec Bolton Poetry Prize, and the University of Tasmania Prize (Tasmania Book Prizes 2011) for best book by a Tasmanian publisher. Karen Knight enjoys collaborating with other poets, musicians, and visual artists. She teamed up with Scottish writer Dilys Rose in 2006 on a long-distance poetry collection tackling the same topics from different hemispheres. This resulted in the publication Twinset (Knucker Press, Edinburgh, 2008). She has just completed a two-year project with printmaker Michael Schlitz, and is currently working on a collection of poems based on Willow Court Asylum, (1827-2000), New Norfolk, Tasmania with fellow poet Liz McQuilkin.

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