there is no way to repair shadows while we’re alive (Nathan Shepherdson)

Verity La Arrests of Attention, Heightened Talk

i heat the stone until its eye opens

invite its callus-scraped duct
to extrude lava in sentences

memory magma
pushes through an axial sleeve
from a thousand miles down
to pull unsigned clouds
out of our subdivided sky

our heads change shape
according to their reminiscence
rally in coherent protest
against themselves

as objects
we are anaesthetised surfaces
our skin wrapping paper for gravity
gifted to any clock that would open its mouth
on its birthday

this is because ←

a falling question
has the same value
as a standing prayer

to misunderstand
is to believe why
you’re here

these corners will be constructed
at the same rate at which
they are demolished

here is the box they had made for our eyelids ←

the mirrors we put in the oven are burning ←

the bone density of fate is not a test you pass ←

our mutual appetites for sleep & certainty
require that we wear rope pyjamas

as two notes
we hang unplayed

on a guitarist’s hand

our perfume in his fingerprint
is discussed like wine

as the nurse who saves us
becomes our wound so our writing
can remove the bandages
from these words

to decide how the eye
is decided in its illusion
in its sublimated history
squeezed from the backbone
of the last known comma
to feather-fall and settle
in the impossible molasses
inside the blind nib
of a black cone

to believe
is to misunderstand why
you’re here

their wooden lips undress
splinters in our blood

having been removed
i necessarily remain
where i am

to brush full stops
from your jugular notch
with a blue feather


Nathan Shepherdson is the author of five books of poetry. His work was featured in the ABR States of Poetry (Queensland) 2016. In September 2016 he read at the Voci Lontane, Voci Sorelle International Poetry Festival in Florence.  He has collaborated with artists and writers including Pascalle Burton, Sandra Selig, Arryn Snowball and Alun Leach-Jones. He is the son of the painter Gordon Shepherdson.

Gordon Shepherdson (b. 1934) is one of ‘the major artists of Australia’s figurative tradition’ (Louise Martin Chew, The Australian, 6/6/1997) with an exhibiting history of over fifty years. Shepherdson’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery (where a career retrospective was held in 1997) and several tertiary and regional collections. ‘Shepherdson records, primarily for his own satisfaction, the raw experience, the celebration and dark poetry of “one man’s stay on the planet.”’(Pamela Bell, Art & Australia, 1978)