Thursday, 27 April 2017

Desert Ruin

Desert Ruin.

Trees huddle in dry, rocky creek beds.
Beyond the horizon's heat-haze
the distant mirage shimmers
and the Flinders Ranges
rise suddenly in knuckled lumps.

In the stark beauty
of this barren world
a single ruin crumbles,
a doorway and a few walls
all that remain of a dream
that sparkled, sweated,
flickered and died.

Then, beneath the dome
of cloudless blue
or star-littered black,
the flat land shrugged off
the puny human scratches
and returned to its harsh eternity.

First published at The Ekphrastic Review


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

i woke this morning

i woke this morning

to a neutral voice intoning
bombs in marketplaces
and refugees washed upon the shore

to music of breath and skin
dark cascade of pillowed hair
gossamer feather of touch

to dreams of justice
from the vast sea's edge
to beyond the distant shore

to a jacaranda blue day
dancing through the curtain
and kookaburras' chorus of song.

First published at Gnarled Oak



The Indian Pacific from Perth
has arrived on Platform 2.

We poured from the train.
The platform surged with people.
Baggage handlers scurried around.
Grey day. Spiteful rain. Cold wind.

Better check on your dog, son.

My dog was in a dog-cage in the baggage car.
He was eight. I was sixteen.
His puppy self had lain in my arms.
Together we paddled the glittering lake,
he in the front, alert, mouth open, excited.
He loped alongside my bicycle.
He bounded comically through high grass.
He lay at my feet in the evening.
He was my brother and my friend.

There’s a dog loose on the tracks.

I barely heard that announcement 
as I wandered down to the baggage car.
I’d checked on him on each stop.
Now I’d take him to our new home.

I’ve come for my dog.

Jeez, mate, sorry, he’s gone.
We tried to get him out of his cage.
He held back and slipped his collar
and he bolted.

I ran through the crowd, searching the tracks, 
calling and whistling again and again.
No dog loped up happily to lick my hand.

Finally I stopped.
He was gone,
3,400 kilometres from his home,
running in a strange city
full of noise and trams and cars and trains,
increasingly desperate, hungry, alone.

The day was cloudy, cold and wet.
I reached for my sunglasses
to hide my grief, though tears flowed freely.

Sammy, my dear friend,
don’t run too far.
Find someone to take you in.
Let them love you like I do.

In a sad huddle, my family waited.
I walked past them towards the platform steps.
They seemed so very far away.

First published at Silver Birch Press

Sunday, 23 April 2017



Published at Rat’s Ass Review

I linger no longer
in this labyrinth.
Darkness suffocates.
The sulphurous air
stinks of bitterness.
Besides, your locked door
has no key.

I wade the dark river,
my pack heavy.
I shed weights,
slip on rocks,
halt before the last sheer face.

High above, light pools,
casts dappled patterns,
slants in descending columns
through cloud and tree.
Birds arc and flit in the silken air,
the dome gloriously blue,
the night diamond flecked.

I drop my pack.
The leaden thump
echoes through the darkness.
I look upwards, breathe, place one hand 
on the smooth surface
and climb.
The living wait.
With each inching ascent
I feel other hands
reaching down.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017



Published at Guy Farmer’s Social Justice Poetry.

For sale,
Planet Earth,
The Solar System,
Orion Arm,
The Milky Way.

This planet,
filled with abundant life
and suggestion of spirit-force,
is slightly used
but has great potential.

Prospective buyers will notice
some wear at the Poles,
difficulty with the air-conditioning,
considerable habitat loss, 
coral bleaching,
and species extinction
due to short-term thinking
from the dominant species.

Repairable with care and planning,
the site retains much natural beauty.
In particular, the dome 
remains largely untouched,
ethereal blue by day,
stained-glass beauty 
morning and evening, 
diamond-studded velvet quilt at night.
Other features include 
snow capped mountains,
vast oceans that crash on cliffs
or curl and slap on sand, 
rivers that rush, fall, roar, meander,
and a dazzling array of vegetation
too varied to list.

But hurry.
A myopic beast called “Corporation”,
caring little for plunder and greatly for profit,
is intent on consuming everything in the yard.

All responsible buyers are welcome.
Please organise inter-galactic
visiting rights before inspection.


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Island of Songs.

Island of Songs.

Published at

Fraser Island sweetly sings
from serpentine streams so clear,
so unclouded and untouched
they could be water or air.

Music murmurs in mangroves,
cobalt blue of upland lake,
banksia grove, pandanas palm
and forests of coastal she-oak.

The eastern wave always sings
as she washes from her sand
the tracks of 4 wheel drives
that deeply scour the land.

Even though tomorrow
the traffic will resume,
following the tide will sing
her lyrical cleansing tune.

Yes, all day long strange music
ripples or crashes in the sea,
and high in towering treetops
come songs of exquisite beauty. 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Caravaggio and St John the Baptist

Caravaggio’s St John the Baptist

(Published at The Ekphrastic Review. A longer, more narrative form of this poem appeared originally at Verse-Virtual.)

I walk through a darkened crypt
past fading depictions of gospel scenes
and suddenly there it is,
not a prophet from the Judaean wilderness
with fiery, uncompromising words
but a slender youth
rendered in exquisite truthfulness.

He turns from his simple shepherd's task
as if you've suddenly surprised him,
a complex mixture of knowledge,
amusement, confidence and shyness,
a friendly, joyous gaze,
as if the nuance of his mind
in this single, fleeting moment
has been caught in Caravaggio’s brush
and effortlessly placed upon the canvas

so we, who come to it after many centuries,
can be transfixed by its beauty and truth
and be privileged by the momentary glimpse
into the mind of that boy
and the transcendent power that captured it.