Wednesday, December 19, 2012

They've always been out there

It's just the news that makes you think
They're back;
They've always been out there,
Sometimes shallow, always deep:

The bump on your surf ski,
The thought that curls your toes,
As you swim through
The brush of water weed.

'A little beauty, and a bargain too,'
The agent darted through the house
Circling behind, herding us on
As if stopping would mean his death.

Last weekend, by the lake,
On a fantastic block,
For just a moment, I think I saw one
In the shadow of a cloud.

But it must have been my mind
Darting to conclusions in the swirl.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Morning routine

Each morning, I sit on the beach.
The surf fisher never catches a thing;
The tick,
               of the reel,
Waves washing in and
At sea a boatsman brings in his nets
Hand over hand over hand.
As the sand grows over my toes and the
Salt spray preserves me.

Later, that same day, I work
At the local dry cleaners,
Suits washing in across the counter
And dresses splashing over the edge:
I erase stains without water,
Clothes ready to be tainted again
By the cycle of business deals,
The salt grains of daily sweat.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

what I forgot

when I was wedgetail, I was
beak clever and feather proud. I would
comb the contours of convection,
tickle the fickle wind, patient as mountains,
gliding on grace.

I was perspective,
hunting with the sun, picking
twitches and pinning dashes,
tracing the lines of fires,
taking what the earth expelled,
picnicing over a blanket of gum haze
brushing cirrus with my crown.

now I am human.
I don’t need the wind to fly.
now I am human.
I don’t need perspective to see all.

when I was brown snake, I was all
tongue and curls, painting
pictures by taste, hearing the
heartbeat of the earth, the
silent guru on the rock, making
pronouncements with a tap.

I was sun dial, heat soak,
at the end of each day carrying
hydrogen’s wisdom into the ground.

now I am human, loud and straight.
now I am human, I make my own heat

when I was fox, I was
heartbeats and whiskers, a
red shift arrow across sable,
racing headlights to brush cover
bushy tail taunting another dash done.

I was noisy chased but in the
dark, breath tight, I was
silent stalker, opportune and gamble,
chicken fright and mouse carrier.

unaware I was out of place
curled with my cubs as
sun brought out the hounds.

now I am human, afraid of nothing
now I am human, ever in place

when we were bogong moth, we
carried the somnolent powder of
winter on our bodies and the
moon on our wings. we lived in
squats, congregated in cathedral eaves and
stencilled the walls of caves, clutched quivering together.

we were gate crashers, couch surfers and
story tellers, prophets and revelators,
revealing the tale of time, making circles in the night air.

now we are human, beyond time.
now we are human, we do not care
what we forget.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Here is the first poem I did at the finals last Saturday night.


Liking a Facebook page is not activism,
Even if you comment in ALL CAPS to show how much the issue angers you. 
And failing to repost or share does not mean I don’t care.

As if cutting and pasting is taking some sort of political stand.

All you are doing is using an online sink to wash your hands.

I don’t know what caused this rant. I’m just waiting for my mocchacino. 
I start to argue, ‘I...,’ but the barista continues. 

You are not doing your bit for the underprivileged of the world. 
The only reasons you sponsor two children in Laos and a Kenyan girl 
Is not that World Vision’s vision matters, but your vague sense of guilt 
And a weakness for cute Irish backpackers.

And just because you went to an inspiring rally in the park in September 
Does not make you the Social Justice League of Australia’s newest member, 
Even if John Butler went off madder than at Falls and the 
Vegan cupcakes were totally amazeballs.

You jump on every cause without pause ignore your own flaws don’t deplore the lack of thought for the poor or our refugee laws just wear your latest support like the hair on your jaws the skinny jeans in your drawers just one more sort of fashion you’ve bought expecting ironic applause; only this thing is sure: you’re after reward for your one true cause: 


Now, this isn’t right. John Butler’s my bro. 
But the more I try to stand up, the harder she goes. 

You make pointed but witty tweets hashtag qanda 
Then wait to see your user name appear below Tony Jones’ face.

You sit in cafes writing political poems which leave 
Then shout them from a stage waving your arms about.

You can join every GetUp! campaign and still be a jerk. 
That will be $3.80 for your coffee, thank you sir.

This is like some really bad trip. There is no way I'm leaving a tip. 
I say under my breath as I leave with my coffee, 
‘Fascist. ‘I’m totally glad that you dumped me’.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Australian National Poetry Slam Finals

Last Saturday night was amazing. I was not expecting the response I received from the audience and I am truly honoured to have been picked out of that group of poets. Slam can be a fickle friend and it seems that last weekend it was my turn.

I was nervous as usual before we entered the theatre and sat down, but I quickly decided I was going to have fun. I had two main poems prepared - one fun, one serious - and I chose the fun one to start with. Once that was clear in my mind, I relaxed a little and looked forward to hearing the other poets. I still edged forward in my seat each time a name was pulled out of the hat (the worst feeling in any slam, in my opinion - waiting), but I was clear minded enough to take in everyone else's work. This is not always the case.

And the standard of poetry was very high and very even. I certainly did not get the feeling that I was going to win.

After my first poem got such a good reception I decided to drop the serious love poem and go to my back-up poem. This also got a great reception. You can see it here:

I am glad I didn't do the serious poem.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

How to script an enemy

I performed this poem at ACT Heat 1 for the 2012 Australian Poetry Slam. It got me through to the final, but I was a bit lucky. I think it is slightly too obscure. It is also very hard to remember and I froze mid-poem, stumbling over one line.


The producer says make them look like bugs
John Wayne grunts a story old as Cain.
Western logic and Arnie dialogue.
On a frontier moonscape godless plain

As John Wayne grunts a story old as Cain,
Farmers slay nomad roaming scum
On a frontier moonscape godless plain
Circle the star wagons, here they come

The farmers slay nomad roaming scum
Space cowboys six-shooting indians
Circle the star wagons, here they come
[Ignoring truly cowboys were the aliens]

Space cowboys six-shooting indians
You’re not from this land, extra terrestrials
[Ignoring truly cowboys were the aliens]
Process those left in off-planet jails

Not from this land, extra terrestrials
Leave them voiceless in floating space
Process those left in off-planet jails
Keep the public in hypoxic rage

Leave them voiceless in floating space
Rotting bounty in transportation ships
Keep the public in hypoxic rage
Can’t exterminate them once they’re in

Rotting bounty in transportation ships
Keep out the vermin infestation
Can’t exterminate them once they’re in
Be wary of words like assimilation

Keep out the vermin infestation
Human reptoids with pseudo skin
Be wary of words like assimilation
These creatures betray from within

Human reptoids with pseudo skin
Keep our story to its central thread
These creatures betray from within
The Federation against a common threat

How can we keep our story to its central thread
Of Western logic and Arnie dialogue
Rally the Federation against a common threat?
The producer says:
                        Make them look like bugs

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



how can all those bands
fit in a crushed
aluminium can

with their guitars, haircuts,
gazing shoes, jackets,
ironic spectacles,
amplifiers and tambourines,

egos and hope and
art spammed

into that boy's hand?


he doesn't request the
exit row
for the
        leg        room
but for the specific
of the flight attendant
and the


sense of purpose

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poetry as therapy

He pretends he writes about anything else:
The way a lone bare tree's toes grip the
Knuckles of a rocky peak,
The birds stirred to exalt the
Shameless nudity of the dawn,
The wind through cyclone fences,
The glimpse through fence-board slits
Of the wide hole a sky scraper will be
Dressed in;
He cloaks emotion around animals,
Even inanimate objects and abstract nouns;
Uses third person as a thin veil
And remarks:
'All thoughts look ridiculous when naked.'

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


The sparrows caught in a shopping mall
Have all they need: food hall
Crumbs and fountain pools,
The jungle sounds of Saturday school.

They fall asleep to the maternal purrs
Of ride-on vacuum sweepers,
In ceiling girder nests
Of dockets and gum wrappers;

The droppings of materialism;
With a vague memory of something
Bigger Out There
Somnolent within them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hunger Trilogy

I performed this poem at a few events in past weeks and had a request for the words. So here they are.

I don't think they work anywhere near as well on the page as they do on the stage.


Hunger Trilogy

I Taste

‘How should I live’, I asked the monk
Upon the mountain’s peak.
He threw me an orange and he said:
‘First, to know the thing you seek,
Learn you must the way to eat’.

I ate the fruit and asked again:
‘Amidst all this squalor and strife,
Master, how should a man truly, purely, live his life?’

He said, ‘How can you learn this one great truth
When you know not how to eat some fruit?

'Before you finished each orange piece,
You were already peeling another slice,
Eating each as quickly as you could, without thought.

'This is not how one should live a life.

‘Meditate on this, my holy son,
To truly eat with the moment you must be one.

‘Caress the acne-pocked skin
Feel the pith wedged beneath your nails
Smell the drying white citric oil filling your fingerprints

'Be there, be there! As each piece yields to your teeth releasing sweet juice.

‘This is how one should live a life.’

I try to remember the monk’s words when we kiss,
My mouth pressed between the sweet orange segments of your lips.

II Gluttony

Girls, I want you all.
To smell the texture of your hair,
To see the colours in your cheeks,
To hear the waterfalls of your voice,
To taste your neck, your ear, the corners of your eyes;

I want to feast on your ample thighs.
I want to drink you in.

For you are like food to me
And a balanced diet needs variety.

From organic, wholefood hippy chicks,
To a frigid, vegan hipster bitch.
From junkfood sluts
To a Michelin-starred princess:

Everything in moderation
And all of you to excess!

III Craving

Hunger is not skipping a meal.
Hunger is not a sudden, five o’clock realisation you forgot to eat lunch.
Hunger is not how you feel
When you slap down your tray and sit with your mates to your
Big Mac meal,
Super sized.

Hunger is carrying a cold, tight golfball of a stomach.
Hunger is gulping in scented air, hoping it carries sustenance.
Hunger is returning to where you were last satisfied, picking over the same old bones, praying that the pain will stop for only a moment.
Hunger is finally feeding, but each morsel makes you ill.

This is what hunger is.
And this is what I feel 
For you.


And here is a recording of me reading this poem:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Religious Poem (3)


Writing at my desk my eyes caress

two mouth-red rosellas

bouncing between the limbs of a tree

which is naked but for the buds they

tongue and pluck,

buds as plump pink and full of promise as

pubescent nipples;

and I think 

‘is that creepy?’

I am usually a good judge of these things.

this is my conviction poem

this has to be my conviction poem

but the only thing I know for sure is

this is where I am meant to be, right now,

with you

this is my religious poem

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Religious Poem (2)


He is twelve.

His mother tells him turn off Doctor Who and

wash your hands for tea.

In the bathroom he steams.

He carries the fog on his brow to the table,

a storm cloud chewing lighting bolts silent in his distance.

Ten minutes later, he is chatting like

cockatoos after rain.

He still has trouble holding onto clouds.


Café gig cross-legged on the floor

Light like sun through skin

Hot towel music; mulled wine music

The singer is a fireplace

We pendulum to snake charmer flames

We hum like plucked strings

Tones holding us like mothers’ arms.

I tuck in my head, and pull 
you in
to me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Religious Poem (1)

As part of my performance as feature poet at the Traverse Poetry Slam in Canberra on 31 August, I performed This is My Religious Poem.

Writing this poem began with the title. I then collected my thoughts on what would represent my religion. I found quite a miscellany of images, which surprised me a little but ultimately was as I should have anticipated.

When I perform the poem, I tie the individual pieces together with a verbal representation of this surprise. I change my mind - it is my religious poem, then my gratitude poem, then my love poem...

It is difficult to put those tying passages down on the page, so I am going to skip them and give you each individual sub-poem alone. Here are the first two.

This is my religious poem


I stop to help a couple push

Their stalled car off the road;

Breathing steam expelled between

my locked arms take the load.

Back bent, sliding gravel gripping beneath my soles,

Finding purchase on the stilled artery,

Finding purpose in being pulled forward by their need.


Sitting on the steps in the rain

I listen to the Smiths on my mp3 and watch

A raincoat girl, glistening yellow as a rubber duck,

Bob to the letterbox to post some catalogues,

Her head bowed with purpose and the

Pamphlet weight of her pack.

As she turns, beneath the beak of her hood,

She lifts her eyes and smiles.

When I raise a palm off my knee

And reflect her smile I am surprised

To realise

I am crying.

I like the rain and I like the Smiths

and I didn’t know I was crying until I tasted

salty drips.

Friday, September 7, 2012

National Poetry Week 5

A poem to read

From the Red Room Company, here is a poem by Andy Kissane, titled The Smell of the Sea. It is from the Red Room's project 'The Disappearing', which places poems about locations into an iPhone and Android app.

Have a look around the Red Room Company's website while you are there.

A blog to link to

Randall Stephens is a Melbourne poet who is known for his engaging performances and pith helmet. His blog, which he regularly seeds with new poems, is titled Tales Told by an Idiot.

An exercise to write to

Taylor Mali is a legend in American slam poetry. A former teacher, he has graciously loaded five lesson plans to his website. Designed for teachers to use, they can also be used as writing prompts at home. I particularly liked the Answer to an Unasked Question. They can be found here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

National Poetry Week 4

Half way there. Or second-last post. It depends on whether my original commitment included weekends. I haven't decided yet.

A poem to listen to

I couldn't make up my mind, so here are two performance poets from the US. (The second, George Watsky, is unfortunately now a not-very-good hip hop artist. He was a much better poet.)

You might need to Remove Annotations for this one:

A blog to link to

Indiefeed Performance Poetry is an invaluable podcast. Three times a week, a recording of a performance piece is posted, along with biographical information on the poet and other useful information. It is a great way to hear new voices, be exposed to different ways of writing and performing, and get inspired.

The host is Wes Mongo Jolley, but he has recently been joined by several other hosts, including Joel McKerrow from Melbourne's Centre for Poetics and Justice. Consequently, more Australian poets have been featured in recent times.

An exercise to write to

List 7- 10 each of events, locations and protagonists. Make sure you get a mix of happy and sad events, a mix of fun and boring locations, and a range of occupations/backgrounds/sexes/personalities in your protagonists. Put each event, location and protagonist on a single piece of paper and form them into three sorted piles. Then randomly select an event, location and protagonist.

For example, you might get a nun's birthday party at a rubbish tip. Or a clown's funeral in a 7 Eleven.

Write a poem about your random collection of inputs.

As a suggestion, start by writing all of your thoughts about the three elements you have gathered. Why would a clown have a funeral at a 7 Eleven? Who else is there? What does the guy behind the counter do?

Then, to take it one step further, how can the apparent ridiculous of this situation relate to your life or to anyone else's. Can you reflect that in the poem?

This exercise can be rewarding when done with someone else or in a group. That way, you are more likely to be surprised by the combinations you pick from the piles.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

National Poetry Week 3

A poet to read

Today I have a poem by a Wollongong poet, Joel Ephraims. More than just any poem, it was the winner of the 2011 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize. It is titled Rock Candy and can be read here. I have mentioned it on my blog before. It just keeps giving something more each time you read it. I hope I get to meet Joel in Wollongong when I travel there for a poetry event.

A blog to link to

Melbourne this time. Here is the website of Melbourne Spoken Word, maintained by the core of Melbourne performance poets - people such as Randall Stephens and Benjamin Solah. It has great links to events, poets and general Melbourney poetry thingys.

An exercise to write to

Begin a poem with one of these lines:
  • One of these days...
  • Today was meant to be the day...
  • That was the last day [I/he/she]...
  • The day I ______
You could just start the poem with the chosen line or you could repeat the line at the beginning of each stanza. A variation could involve changing the line slightly with each stanza. For example, 'Today was meant to be the last day I slept past noon' for the first stanza, then 'Today was meant to be the last day I drank before I ate' for the second, etc.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

National Poetry Week 2

Day 2. On track so far...

A poet to listen to

I am going to go back to one of the first performance poets that inspired me and got me hooked on slam poetry. Rives is an American poet and performer, who is mostly known for his Def Poetry Jam performances and appearances at TED conferences. Rives is a great performer, effortlessly combining stagecraft with verse.

Here is one of my favourite Rives performances.

Be sure to stay on You Tube for a while and browse his other videos. The TED emoticon story is amazing.

A blog to link to

Keeping the Brisbane theme going, I recommend Eleanor Jackson's blog. Eleanor is a regular performer, she keeps feeding her blog and has just declared her niche to be Cycling Poetry. I think that is way cool.

An exercise to write to

Check out the Poets & Writers website for a comprehensive collection of writing prompts for all genres.

Here is one I particularly liked:

Focus this week on collecting images, drawing on as wide a range of sources as possible. Cull family albums for interesting photos, visit online archives of images, cut out images from magazines or newspapers, take photos of buildings, billboards, birds—anything that strikes you as you make your way through each day. At the end of the week, assemble these on a table or tape them to a wall in your work space. Write a poem inspired by this collage.

Yours and Owls video

I attempted to video my performance as the feature poet at Yours and Owls in Wollongong on 25 August. I managed to grab grimy, low quality moving pictures of three of my poems and have loaded them to You Tube here.

This is my performance of Tipping or Rocking May Cause Injury or Death. It is my dedication to performance poets everywhere.

Monday, September 3, 2012

National Poetry Week 1

Ok, it's National Poetry Week. To celebrate, I am going to attempt to blog everyday this week. I will post a poet to read or listen to, a blog to link to and a writing exercise (or two) to write to.

A poet to listen to

Performing in Wollongong the other week, I was introduced (figuratively) to Alan Wearne. Several of the poets and people in the audience were students from the University of Wollongong, where Alan teaches poetry.

Ashamedly, I had not heard of Alan Wearne before that night. So I did some googling. Here is Alan's writings online.

Here is Alan performing as part of the Red Room Company's The Wordshed collection of poetry. His interpretation of popular Australian songs is worth listening to.

A blog to link to

This is, I believe, one of the best poetry blogs in Australia: Another Lost Shark, the blog of Graham Nunn. Brisbane has a great poetry and performance scene, and Graham is at the centre of it. A co-founder of SpeedPoets, former Artistic Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival and Haiku master, Graham regularly posts his poetry and links to events and other poets. The blog is worth checking out just for its comprehensive list of other related blogs.

An exercise to write to

Rachel McGibbens is a fantastic American spoken word artist with an amazing website and regular blog. One of her particular compulsions seems to be to collect writing exercises. She is up to #87 in her blog. I like this one:

Once you have done that, stroll around her blog and check out the other exercises.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yours and Owls, 25 August 2012

I was very fortunate to be the feature poet at the relatively new monthly slam in Wollongong. Hosted by Poetry in Wollongong and held in the appropriately bohemian Yours and Owls, the slam has been running for five months and has gathered a sizeable audience. The place was full.

I performed ten poems:

We are the poem
Kingsford Smith was a mystic
Tipping or rocking may cause injury of death
I'm too boring to make good art
Driving phrase trains off the track
Hunger trilogy
The sound of a fish jumping
The laying on of hands
Two doors down from billy-cart hill
The most awesome party ever

The audience was fantastic and attentive. A pleasure to perform in front of.

Five poets too part in the slam. Three of them did two poems each. The quality was very high.

One of the competitors, Adam Formosa, is a nationally published poet. His work has appeared in Overland and in The Best Australian Poems 2010. Adam's poems display a very strong sense of place and identity. Here is his contribution to Overland.

Adam's poem in the 2010 annual can also be read through the Google preview function on the Black Inc. page here.

These are the best parts of being a performance poet - connecting with others and being exposed in turn to more poetry. I have been very happy to see the depth of art and performance in Canberra and the event at Yours and Owls showed me Wollongong too has a lot going for it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coming Gigs

Like writer's block and the opposite of writer's block, opportunities to read seem to come and go at irregular intervals. I am fortunate enough to have the chance to read at three different events in the next two weeks.

This Wednesday, 22 August at 7 pm, I will be reading a short story at Scissors Paper Pen's new monthly event at Smith's Alternative Bookshop: Something Else. The story, titled You never quite reach the drums in the distance, is the first short story I have finished in around ten years. I am excited.

My next gig is at Wollongong's new monthly poetry slam at Yours and Owls, on Saturday 25 August at 6 pm. I will be the feature poet, performing around 30 minutes of my old and new stuff.

My east coast tour ends at the regular Traverse Poetry Slam at The Front in Lyneham, on Friday 31 August at 8 pm. Again I will feature, with a shorter set.

I love performing.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Suicide Notes

I apologise for the mess
My act has left
On the blank pages spread
To catch my ink bled
The loudest wordless roar
Of an exclamation point
On the paper-lined floor.

This is the conclusion of a sound mind,
With a mind that sounds like the phases of the moon;
A signed mound to mount this tongue.
A soul thrust past the valve of adulthood
And caught in the crease of the spine
Of this ripped dust jacket book.
I will take the pen that's hanging over my head
And stab a seeping hole through the arc of this text.

The thumbnail clip of my life is buffering -
Caught between the proposal and the reply;
Between ripcord pull and silk blossom relief;
The catch between inhale and exhale.
I take control of the camera and cut the scene.

With these words, I return to you your rosary beads
Carried like a comforting tire around my neck
I wanted expelled from my life like kidney stones
But had to leave for you to collect like
Cremation gold fillings.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Balloons, gyres, orbits and snow globes

I have been writing fairly regularly over the past few years. As many writers know, the process doesn't just produce publishable or performable material (which is extremely lucky for me). The act of writing  is cathartic, allowing the release of emotional jetsam onto the page. (Performance has a similar effect, just more pronounced). Sometimes what is washed up is surprising. In this way, writing is also a learning process.

More frequent writing should be allowing me to develop a 'voice', one that explores several key themes that are important to me. At the moment, though, I am having difficulty distinguishing between a voice and a lack of imagination. Do repeating images indicate stale writing, or is each use of a given metaphor a new way of exploring a developing theme? I don't yet have an answer.

Regardless, it is interesting to find the same common images and themes in the writings of others. How do others approach these images? Can I learn something about myself by how others use them?

One image I seem to keep returning to is the circle. I have used orbits, ellipses, swings, roundabouts, centres, concentric circles and curves in many of my poems. I often picture balls, balloons and planets. Usually, I think of the circle as something that contains an idea or feeling, while keeping some separation from the centre (usually me - my poetry tends to be CJ-centric) and the circumference or the orbiting object. I like the idea of overlapping circles and the ambiguity of non-straight lines.

Recently, I have read (or re-read) other poet's use of circles.

Last Wednesday was the anniversary of William Butler Yeats' birthday, which encouraged me to return to 'The Second Coming'.  In this poem, Yeats uses the circle as a metaphor for control that is being lost:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
 I wonder if my use of circles indicates some subliminal desire to keep control?

In another recent reading, I found repeated use of circular imagery that is closer to my own writing. (This is probably the only attribute of similarity between this piece and my poetry - the poem is a work of brilliance). Joel Ephraims (I can't find him online, other than Facebook) won the 2011 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for his poem 'Rock Candy'.

His poem is a collection of events in the life of a relationship. Reading it brings image after image to the mind, much like the way I imagine having 'your life flash before your eyes' would feel. Not all of the images are directly linked, and some are confusing, but it conveys a faithful representation of the memory of a relationship. I haven't fully unpacked the poem yet, a true sign of good poetry - something that rewards with repeated reading.

'Rock Candy' contains images of moons, planetary orbits, balloons, horoscopes, speedometers, clocks, hoola hoops and snow globes. Throughout the poem, the circling metaphors point to the passage of time, imply a certain inevitability of change while also hinting at cycles and repetition.

Both of these poems have opened up the circle, so to speak, and encouraged me to look at other ways to use the image. They also invite me to look deeper and see if there is more to the way I already use the circle as a metaphor. Perhaps I can play on those deeper meanings and bring them closer to the surface for others to see.

Oh, and finally, have you read a better fragment of a poem than this:
  having a girlfriend is like having  a basketful
of  lemons,  glances,  and lavender
  curls .

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tipping or Rocking May Cause Injury or Death

We are not vending machines,
We are Salvation Army bins,
Mending the hem of hope and
Manufacturing rags out of despair,
Carrying our notebooks like pottery class ashtrays,
Tapping out the fags of our white hot wit;

Our poems are toy guns that shoot flags that say
Pffff...I’m lonely

We are not vending machines,
We are android psychopaths.
We rape and kill our childhood and
Wear its skin like a clown suit;
The process of writing is merely the
Act of rubbing the lotion in.

We are angry and we don’t know why,
Riding toward death on the horses of regret.

We masturbate in public
We self-mutilate in public
And we over-dramatise

Our poems are suicide notes that lack conviction.

We are not vending machines,
We are fountains that spit coins back at you,
Stamped with: Souvenir of Me.

We write poems on the back of postage stamps
We write poems on toilet paper planes
Our verses are homing pigeons.
We tend them. Feed them seeds of ideas.
Wrap scrolls of tiny careful text around their legs.
Stroke their necks, before snapping them and
Releasing them on our breaths.
Our poems fly like monuments.

We are not vending machines,
We are TV green screens:
Insert your nirvana here.

We hate the way we love ourselves
We call all mirrors narcissists
And write poems like smashed glass.

We are hot. Like moonlight
And constant as the sea
We are not great dancers,
We are bad strippers;
Each poem a car crash lap dance.

We are not vending machines,
We were forced to choose to reveal the bad candy within.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Praying for Drought

I hate the fuckin’ rain.
It was rainin’ when we buried Lochy
And it was rainin’ when he died.

When we got the call I went straight down the Bowlo
Had a few and watched the rain drops on the windows
Gettin’ up the guts to race each other down the glass.
Like Lochlan. Only he raced up, not down.
First out the windshield and over the fence.
Then to heaven like an angel or some shit, I s’pose.
Tanya would have said that.

I don’t drink beer now, you see.
I can’t stand the bubbles on the inside of the schooner
Puffin’ up with air and then lettin’ go,
Fallin’ to the top. Like fuckin’ rain drops.

‘I’m a bourbon bloke. Keep it short and dark,’
I told the black-haired sheila at the bar. Ha!

No, rain does the cryin’ for me.
Tanya didn’t need any bloody help.
Everywhere I looked at home, it was fuckin’ raining.
Maybe I reminded her too much of Lochy.
Maybe I was just a prick.

Sometimes two of the bubbles inside a beer
Seem to race each other up the glass
And one will pass the other one.
I wonder if I started now, could I beat Locky to heaven?

We all flew to Sydney once, for the Easter Show.
It was drizzlin’ when we took off.
As the props beat some sense into the air,
The drops on the porthole thingies went sideways,
Clingin’ to the edge of the frame and then disappeared.
As we left the ground, the glass was dry.

Fucked if I know what that story means.
Maybe I need to go into the future faster.
Goin’ back won’t bloody help.

It was hot and dry the day she left me
But it pissed down that night.

They say lickin’ your lips only makes it worse.
Dries ‘em out more.
I reckon that’s true.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Three Poems Inspired 3

Tattooed on her cheek was the cover of the
Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
Lucy and Edward being pulled through the frame into Narnia
And aboard the ship that swayed on the toiling sea,
As she rolled her naked body on the sheets.

I climbed the salt-fingered crests and
Fell into the purple folds of her waves
And travelled east, into the sun,

Plunging to thrust my head above the peaks,
Stretching to see the horizon’s curve;
Always travelling east, into the sun.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Three Poems Inspired 2

We marched up in ranks, from the crease at the base of the hill.
Trees on the crest waved breezes past our necks,
Peeling off the scent of tedium and perspired fear.
The musket’s solid weight felt like a bed head,
The scar on the stock the secret she shared.
A drop of sweat peeked out it’s head beneath the
Band of my cap and ran a moist finger down my back.

We marched up in ranks, leaving the crease at the base of the hill.
My coarse trousers lightly chaffed like unshaven skin,
The shrapnel buried in my thigh pressing on my pocket
Like a re-found penny.
The tight leather of my boots parted the dew-brushed blades
Of grass with the sound of Molly’s skirts.

We marched up in ranks, as they appeared on the rise of the hill.
The cannonball took the right side of my face
Replacing sweat with spent cordite and heat.
I folded like a map, collapsing
Objectives, feints, advances and lines of retreat;
Each part of my body laying softly on the next like a sheet,
Until the good half of my face was gently pressed
Against the hill felt kissed.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Three Poems Inspired 1

In the night's velvet heat, he sits and drinks on the step
And watches the bored whores on the street.

As he swallows his beer in knots he drives his eyes on their
Bodies’ chicanes and avoids the straights of their gaze.

Their skirts cling like Catholic guilt.
Their souls glow in each breath in and
Float up in ribbons of smoke.

As a lonely car approaches, one girl turns and
Grinds her butt beneath a stiletto sole;
The knife turn twist of her leg;
She fulcrums on her hips and rolls her rump,
The drawbridge of her chest lowers to the car door.

Using her private feline voice, pawing at the
Prospect like she’s persuading for milk.

Feline. He smiles. An apt word for the curves of their assets.
Fee lines.
He drains his beer and crushes the can with a sharp crump.
The whores lift their heads like sleepy cats as he turns inside
To telephone his mum.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Plea to Open Mic Poets

Do not introduce your poem. Please.

If you feel you have to say something, at least do not tell me what the poem is about.

You do not own your poem. As soon as one word leaves your mouth on its way to a listener's ears, the poem no longer belongs to you. It is a gift. Each audience member receives your poem as a unique and personal version of what you wrote. Do not spoil the gift by placing conditions on your giving. If you tell us the meaning, you limit the way we can receive your poem.

Like any gift, a poem brings surprise and discovery. Let your audience unwrap your poem for themselves. Let them absorb your words and discover their meanings on their own. Never spoil the surprise.

Please, please, please. Do not introduce your poem.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Warhol's Wisdom

Recently, I was fortunate to view an installation of Warhol's Shadows, 102 screenprinted and handpainted variations of a photo of shadows from the corner of his studio.

I find a lot of inspiration in other forms of art, but in this case the accompanying Warhol quote captured my imagination and humour:
'Someone asked me if I thought they [the Shadows canvases] were art and I said no. You see, the opening party had disco. I guess that makes them disco decor.
This show will be like all the others. The review will be bad - my reviews always are. But the reviews of the party will be terrific.'

Thursday, January 5, 2012


You feel alone, as you climb my steel side,
But you are the same as all the others, all alone,
Who come at night, more often after rain,
To mount my rails robotic in the metal light.
Some jump, some drop, but all fall alone,
Ride silent a moon shaft to the river’s skin,
A muffled shot their end.

The river throws up its arms , always throwing up its arms,
As if to say: ‘Again? You toss another life at me?’
But it never rejects the offer,
Always slides that life inside its cold pocket,
As time rewinds,
The water fingers fold back into place
And the river’s face as if nothing happened.

The river lies.
I know a light just died in a home someplace.
The river never stays to listen.
I am a constant, a coefficient,
I dampen commerce’s restless leg
My backbone carries the current of the city
I take the warmth of rubber and internal combustion
And through my arms and legs on the banks
I bury it deep in the earth.

You feel that, through your feet on my rails,
Your hands on my cables? That mantric hum?
There is more life in me than in that shifting creek;
Beneath its scales there is no buzz
Just a wet muffle,
Where you would be dissolved cold as a fish.
In the river you will stay alone, disconnected.

But my ribs sing to you the world out there.
Step down and press your cheek against my deck
Let me relay your heartbeat
Share my heat with you
And make chords with your sighs.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

We Are the Poem

Can you hear it?
We are the poem
It is in our water in our voices streaming its rhythm in our temples beating
It is the dreaming, the metre beats through the soles of our feet in the earth beneath us
Our eyes following birds through sun blushed skies brushed by the flames of beach bonfires
It is holding hands; it is first kisses
3am conversations and shooting star wishes
It is music it is here
As light as babies’ laughter and as dense as old men’s cellared tears
It danced like prayers on Plato’s lips as he rested
The poem is in the way she sways her hips when she walks,
The way the sun sheens as he lays bricks bare-chested

You are the poem
You are a symbol, you are meaning
Each of us a line
Together we make tight stanzas
Can’t you hear the way we rhyme
When our vowels arc electric across our lips
Can’t you hear the way we rhyme
You are born to know this, your mother whispered the poem through the red curtain of her belly
Our lives are performed in the round to subliminal libretti
When we die our funerals are merely rehearsing
Our pieces remembered resonance resounding

I am the poem
I can feel it like static crackling along my skin
My pen hand twitching
It’s voice in my throat itching
And when I share my woeful hoarse echo of the poem it is a remembering
Like, yes, this is home

Sometimes we forget to listen
Sometimes we lose our place in the chorus
And it takes the kindness of a stranger,
Coffee conversation pauses
Or the knowing curiosity of a child to restore us
Come, let’s rehearse the verse that skips on our tongues
Come, let’s lay down the words that our fingertips know.
Listen. You can hear it.
We are the poem.