States of Poetry 2016 - TAS | 'Casualties' by 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



(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