I am told there’s been trouble at the plant.
they tell me this with that strange mixture
of fear and relish so characteristic of the beaten.
I am at a loss as to why they come to me,
but they seem to seek me out,
as though they regarded me as some sort of bridge.
but when they come like this
with their dark, beseeching eyes
to tell me there is trouble at the plant,
something in me folds,
and all the distance I have put between
myself and their worries, so assiduously maintained
like a prim hedge,
the kind of hedge that states more emphatically
than a strand of razor wire
suddenly all that distance melts away
and all my loathing turns inwards,
like when I spy the boss’ daughter in her summer skirt
and I realise in a flash I am not the prince of my mother’s songs.
Justin Lowe was born in Sydney but spent significant portions of his childhood on the Spanish island of Minorca with his younger sister and artist mother. He developed a penchant for writing poetry while penning lyrics for a string of bands, successful and not so, and has since been published all over the world. Justin currently resides in a house called “Doug” in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where he edits poetry blog Bluepepper. His selected, Days of Wine and Bruises, 1996-2016, was released in April 2016.
first beat of spring
careening down chimney
full bore into wall,
window pane, again
daylight moth snared
by sun – carry on in vain
til spent; flaring,
in backstroked spasms
on the sill
wriggling free from
such plenty that one
find some scrap or
cat food bowl.
all life; death
in one space.
in its maligned
SB Wright was born in the town of Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land, though most of his life has been spent in Alice Springs. A graduate of NTU he has spent his adult working life as a security guard, a martial arts instructor, a trainer in an international gaming company and currently works as a primary school teacher.
His work has been published in Tincture Journal, INDaily Adelaide, Eureka Street, Bluepepper, Writ Poetry Review and the anthologies The Stars Like Sand and Poetry & Place 2015.
If you must make me,
draw me forth through that
have a care for this raw skin
what abrades it, how
it may be sliced and sutured
I was pure electricity, pure simian ululation
If you must cage me
box and bottle me
in a clumsy bucket
you will learn the sorrow of mangle and botch
of the warp and the scorch mark
You will see it is no sorrow
With luck I may multiply
I may layer, matrix, palimpsest
I may go choral, become geology
Take your hand from me
set me among a swarm of eyes
As they move over me
they will mark me, too
ACT poet Melinda Smith won the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary award for her fourth book of poems, Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call. Her poems have been anthologised widely in Australia and overseas, and translated into multiple languages.
Melinda’s next collection, Goodbye, Cruel, will be launched on Saturday 8 April at the 2017 Newcastle Writers Festival, where she will also be making a number of other appearances. A Canberra launch of Goodbye, Cruel will take place on Thursday 20 April, with appearances at Muse Canberra & Manning Clark House on the 23rd & 27th.
Melinda is currently poetry editor of the Canberra Times.
I am under the silence of a silent migraine yet before me are seas of blessed days. click. In the future eagles nest in cardboard boxes and women and children share the sky. click. An artist paints a picture of a girl being raped and spends three years crying. click. He suffers from double vision and earthquakes. click. I demand no effort nor support towards the absurdity of death. click. I demand a voice for women and distinctive ring tones. click. I demand cats on walls and rooftops and for stick men to eat lamb stews. click. I demand an armour of mist. click. I expect morbid criticism of the organisation and of tambourines on the street. click. I encourage the waste of human beings on Himalayan mountains. click. I encourage leeched colour. click. I believe I am an epilogue for spiders. click. I lost a race in heavy traffic with a chav. click. I am under the silence of a silent migraine yet before me are seas of blessed days. click. My mind is filled with sallow fantasies. click. My mind is a rubber puddle as peaceful as purdah. click. I stand at my full lunar height and sea brine blows onto my teeth. click. I taste juniper berries. click. Remember: only cats, engines, and promises purr. click. I am under the silence of a silent migraine yet before me are seas of blessed days.
Jamie Alcock is from North Wales and lives and works in Devon, UK. He divides his time between writing and working as an outdoor educator with vulnerable young people and adults. He holds a MA in creative writing (dist.) from Bangor University, where he is currently studying for a PhD in creative writing. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport poetry prize, has poetry currently in The Seventh Quarry, a novel extract in The Manchester Review, and a short story forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle.
Rabbit on the Promenade
in homage to JS Harry
Umwelt of responses
and in the substrates below
a silt of muted action.
There are inaudible gasps
bouncing in echo chambers
from delicate atria
to delicate atria
in a soundproof dugout
which pre-empts any
This is my skittish
which hops softly
so my fellow crowd members
won’t fear my paw pound
like I fear hammers creating
this fur face of crushed paper
setting these eyes straight
ahead, up and down,
and any periphery lopped.
This torso the only aligned
part of raw automata
a straight ahead up and down
line. A body made for tunnels.
No slouches allowed.
My wet nose touches
another wet nose
and white whiskers
twitch on pockmarked
cheeks. Red eyes as a
skittish rabbit. The home
is proof of damage. It’s
quiet here. Outside the grass
blades swash my floppy ears.
It’s a clash of waves
cotton battles till the
and small slide
of wet noses.
There’s much activity here
the grass blades rattle,
the busy prowls and promenade predates
are like a pocket turned inside out
and lint falls like a feather
(there was a bus ticket too).
I ate at a restaurant with lah-di friends
nibbled on crispy wafers
caramel flan for dessert.
I put my money away and counted my
approving recollections of a city outing.
A Poet Knows When
Right up against me
I carry carcass.
It taps me on the shoulder
I lug it from room to room.
It tells me the Vedic line
when I will join carcass earth.
When the meteorite lands
on its feet
it drags me like
repulsive lovers can
it thrusts its cunt at me
I kiss its bare bone breasts.
It’s ten it says,
set the wake up
for then, the port
of entry in ten years
and when I arise
without bladder organs
with calcified face
torso tilted with rattle coin
I latch on to the next
keeler. The one for me
who wakes and sleeps
in dread in a canoe called bed.
Ariel Riveros Pavez is a Sydney based writer. His works have appeared in various publications including Contrappasso, FourW, Journal of Postcolonial Text, Social Alternatives and Southerly. He also has a chapbook through Blank Rune Press, Self Imposed House Arrest, and appears in their anthology Forgetting is So Long: An Anthology of Australian Love Poetry.
Worlds away in the grey
harbour of St Nazaire
my second cousin reveals
railway tracks encased inside
shipyard walls — an over-engineered
defence of resolute rust;
the only steadfast structure
predating the city around it.
Years later at airports we’d discover
that grand-père also wore medals
embedded in his chest.
Having out-stared him, this gaping
and twisted maw of mid-scream metal
now locks eyes with me.
Have I interrupted like Medusa?
Does the war rage on?
But I am not my grand-père.
Home is a shore far from here:
another invaded country
with a history for covering up
conflict, carpeting the dust.
It’s me who is immobilised.
Fixed to the stones of a place where
horror is a head of snake-steel
gnawing its way out of concrete
into collective memory —
not even a train line to
Miguel Jacq is a French-Australian poet from Melbourne. In 2016 he won the Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the New Shoots Poetry Prize. You can read more of Miguel’s poetry on his blog.
The terms of our
arrangement are revised
every three days. You
trace my bones, protruding
through my skin, as we
recap the clauses, their causes,
and intended effects. Let’s
press together the bodies we live in,
and, in doing so, express a great deal.
Let’s let in a modicum of wildness.
Let’s select for each other new monikers,
and mine our histories. Let’s act out
attentiveness to language, small acts
of understanding, setting all else aside
to erect a shelter under each other’s
smells, each other’s sounds.
All we want
to this night, this bed,
these woven fingers.
Charlotte Guest is a Western Australian writer and Publishing Officer at UWA Publishing. Her writing has appeared in Griffith Review, Overland, Westerly, Voiceworks, Cordite, Writ Poetry Review and elsewhere.
1. there are many kinds of vision.
2. the nurse said getting glasses has been on her
to-do list since 2008 It’s a long list
but also, the world is burning
and what is the point of seeing all the colours
fire can become if it all turns to ash
3. I haven’t figured out how to live
in an unburned world
4. the nurse can’t see distances
It is the curse of our lazy, entitled generation
she laughs. This is her second shift of the day
and it is getting hard to see how not to laugh
5. the older patient beside me can only see distances
I hover in the void
6. I am constantly hard here
and not just because I suspect the gay couple
have been sucking each other off in the showers
a fluid exchange of themselves
7. in the void I am envy
but I am bled every day anyway
& watching the red river
snake out reminds my body
it is alive & dying
8. how can such a thin tube contain all the countries
in my skin so many mountains of fire
9. how can the world be burning &
drowning at the same time
10. how can I be burning & drowning
at the same time It is hard to see
through all these watery flames
11. the ultimate goal of hardness
is to soften as the ultimate goal
of fire is to change no matter the cost
12. every moment is designed to answer
the question: who among us is a phoenix?
Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet and the poetry editor of The Lifted Brow. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Island, Overland, Meanjin, Cordite, Tincture, Mascara Literary Review, Going Down Swinging and Strange Horizons, among others. Anthologised in Best Australian Poems 2016 and Contemporary Australian Poetry, Omar also placed runner-up in the Judith Wright Poetry Prize.
His debut collection, These Wild Houses, is out now with Cordite Books. It will be launched on Friday 10 March at The Alderman in Brunswick.
A man in a black suit on a white windswept beach. Wind snatching an umbrella, turning it into a batwing. Hands so cold and trembling fingers don’t work. Tingly feeling when you’re getting the flu and lying limply on the sofa, the dog’s wet nose nuzzling your palm. The stillness of the house on the first day back at school. Sudden roar of the footy crowd as you pass the stadium; shadows lengthening and a chill in the air. Sun on lemons in a blue bowl on an old oak table. Ripples on a lake and on the far side a lonely rower dipping his oars in golden water. Smell of baking Anzac biscuits. Coconut. Rain pattering the corrugated roof, gurgling down gutters. Stewed apples and cloves. Plump sultanas and the tang of peel. Cinnamon. Pushing soft buttery pastry with your fingers. Crunching crusted sugar between your teeth. Deep in the country the cold stiffness of sheets in a motel bed. A semi-trailer passing through, gearing down, the echo lingering long after the headlights have leapt across the ceiling. The vast night sky, sprinkled with stars like tacks on tarmac. Gossiping grain silos huddling for warmth on the horizon. In the dark and thickly-wooded forest, light drip drip dripping from the sky. Scratchy picnic rug under your back and shadows dappling your face. A grey hair not noticed before. The distant muted sounds of children, playing. Taste of tea in a plastic mug. First coffee of the day, and the pleasure when the barista remembers your name. Soft poached eggs on smoked salmon with wafers of toast; caviar popping against your teeth. Waking to the sonorous silence of snow. Pipes creaking, cracking. Sound distorted. Suspended from the chair-lift, skis dangling, and dropping a glove. First skier on the run, any run; the shush-shush of skis. Peeling off the beanie—hair hopelessly flattened. Red pram perambulating along a grey gloomy street. Walk through the park, kicking up dank leaves. Fingers fastening on fluff and a discarded movie ticket in the depths of your coat pocket. Sunday afternoon, someone burning off and the acrid smoke twisting and twirling towards twilight. Coals aglow in the grate. Ruby port in a crystal glass. Up the stairs, along the narrow corridor, the solitary walk to the room under the eaves and the high bed and the heavy covers, and the soft rumbling snore of traffic. Rainy day and the smell of urine in the subway. Beggar’s fraying, overlong sleeve. Gutters wetly splattered with cigarette butts, and a black limousine oozing down an oily city lane. In the doorway, a glimpse of the blanched bare feet of a child. Knotted hair. Bitten fingernails. Fragile and mottled elderly skin. The hesitancy of the rasping voice. Wispy white hair. Bone structure of a bird beneath your hands. Behind the door, the brown cardigan with leather-covered buttons hanging, helpless, on a hanger. The silence of a coffin on the workbench in the shed. Curls of shavings questioning the dark earth. Chisel with a worn handle, lying motionless. At peace. And the light. The light streaming through the high casement window.
K W George is a Brisbane-based writer. She studied creative writing at the Queensland University of Technology, and has a master’s degree in Australian Gothic Literature. She has been published in Meanjin, Tincture, Going Down Swinging, WQ, and three Margaret River Press anthologies. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards in the Emerging Author / Unpublished Manuscript section.
A scale catches the light. A gold coin
and a gold fish flash in the moat
of a university house. I am torn by this
writing whiteness, the attempt to read
myself otherwise, an urge to get out
of the way. The page is neither clean
nor blank. A seedpod falls from an imported
elm. The wind takes dry pennies
for a spin. Urban peak hour. The place
is all we have for now. The page
is asphalt, gravel, dirt. The line
is red and grey and, broken it signifies
corrugations of intent, a currency too far —
of people and fish and seasonal water.
Anne Elvey is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain journal. She holds honorary appointments at Monash University and University of Divinity. Her publications include Kin (Five Islands, 2014) and This Flesh that You Know (Leaf Press, 2015). White on White is forthcoming from Cordite Books in 2017.