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Poetry

My poetry has been published in journals such as Island MagazineYarn Review, The Quarry Journal, and aMUSine. I am also currently working on a young adult verse-novel for my PhD in creative writing. To read poems from my verse-novel, see Yarn Review and The Quarry Journal (Issue #2) and The Quarry Journal (Issue #4).

Here are a few stand-alone poems of mine:

Another Language
(Australian Poetry Poem-of-the-Week, October 3, 2013)

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As you laid dying
on bleached cotton sheets
over that plastic mattress bed
you began to speak another language,
throaty groans and sonorant sighs
that made us lean close to listen,
ciphering your sounds
into rudimentary wants:
sit up, water, broth, blanket.

But it was your hands
that seemed to speak more fluently,
your fingers rendering the air
as if you practiced the signs
of some new linguistic code
only you could see and hear.

When you lifted your hands high
we rushed to your sides
to squeeze warmth into your palms;
sometimes you grasped back,
sometimes you slipped your hands away.

 

Where I’ll live now
(Originally published in aMUSine)1327394658_8b8ce9c635_m

is a question toiling through my life as you drive
a little too fast down dusty roads of the Central Coast,

my fingers rumple pages of the street directory,
stumbling over names like Ourimbah and Yarramalong.

This is the life you want—acres and acres of land
to build the house, art studio, library, chook shed.

I ride with the window down, try to stay open
to the possibilities, but I feel isolated, missing

my own country, my home on the other side of the world,
strong colonial beams, foundation settled deep into ground.

Was it hard for my mother? the crossover,
the change when my father took her away,

perimeters of a new house reconstructing her days. Perhaps
her mother’s tablecloths, her father’s study chairs,

the horsehair rugs, the upright piano shipped
two months into their marriage helped her define the walls

around her. Different for me, how I’ll have to start
from scratch: pile of timber, nails, thousands of your ideas

which you tell me as we drive along,
peering down driveways, across front lawns,

saying things like look at that place and I could live there,
while I feel vulnerable in the open land,

the question of where I’ll live now looming just ahead,
certain as the hills and valleys we drive towards,

yet unsettled, like foundations that won’t hold,
like rooms without walls.

 

The First Time I Leave Home
(originally published by aMUSine)8243801608_3583858fa4

I don’t go far. I live inside a tree in the yard,
a browning blue spruce with branches falling off,
a side gone. I step into the space between its arms,
my feet crushing needles and brushwood. Here

life feels closer. Sparrows I watched through paned glass
hover just above, flit bough to bough,
take off into open air. Sap sticks my fingers.
Wind nips the skin beneath my clothes. I make plans

for survival: gather sticks, berries, pine cones. Compose
my new home with a bed, fireplace, food store. The gap
between branches becomes my window. I see my mother
cooking in the kitchen. Why doesn’t she look

for me? I could slip away with the winged autumn leaves.
But I stay until sparrows no longer call,
until my breath sharpens with cold,
and the silver stretch of day tarnishes into gold-grey dusk.

And then I pelt from my tree home. Arms flapping,
ground pounding from my soles to the bone of my nose.
I race inside where the world is safe and enclosed,
where my mother has made dinner for us both.

 

Dispersed
(Winner of the 2006 MUPRA Poetry Prize)DSCN1763

The people of this land have been broken
into fragments, language creoled,
small communities detached from the rest
of the country by thin lines on maps.

You and I walk the directed path of bush
searching for signs that things are still
as they were.

We try to piece together:
leavings of wallaby bones,
dimples on rock where someone
ground ochre into powder,
the fine grey ash of soil
where fire burned.

Sometimes ancient paintings emerge
under lips of rock overhangs,
ochred shapes and forms still clinging
to sandstone, somehow shielded from wind
and fire and water. And below,
we find stone axes, long as fingers,
lying about as if still being used.

You pick up an axe to show me
how it once cut skin from flesh,
surprised the ledge where it sat
reveals a different shade of rock,
like a soft under belly, exposing the years
it has stayed here, untouched, unused.
You lay it back down with heedful hands,
hoping it appears unmoved.

We both know the paintings will be gone
someday, chafed away by eager hands,
robbed by time and shifts of weather.

The stone axes, too, will disappear,
hidden in palms, in pockets,
buried in bottoms of cotton bags.
And like the people they belonged to,
the stones will be dispersed,
traversed across land, some discarded,
thrown back onto the earth
without measure, without cause.