Penguin: Third third
Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets
The poems in this final third of the Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets (1986) are copyright and it would be too difficult to obtain copyright clearances for them, some thirty years after publication, so I shall publish only the first eight lines of each poem here, a small proportion of the whole 293-page book, which falls within the doctrine of ‘fair use’. Published here under the Creative Commons licence Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives: CC BY-NC-ND. Bear in mind that due to the intractable problems of converting poetry from the page to a blog computer screen, line indents and line turnovers will inevitably be compromised. Note: the biographical notes to the poets are contemporary with the publication of the book in 1986.
Born Sydney 1948, has travelled widely in India. Has published Condition Red (UQP, 1973), Wrappings (Wild and Woolley, 1974), Knabel (Wild and Woolley, 1978), India Ink (Hale and Iremonger, 1984).
Four poems on a theme
Inside of Paradise
We are coming and going. At last you have arrived, your suede shoes like soft faces brushing the floor. Advertising, you say, recognising your face stacked on a library shelf. The thrushes have left the eaves. You are alone inside the tower, respected, working. An elm knocks on the window. I come in wearing blood, a cloak edged from outside. How many times must I walk this threshold? You swivel saying, I have lost Paradise, I thought I was done. […]
A Trunkful of Structures
Daylight hasn’t entered this library. Beaded fluorescent lights shine like dominoes on the ceiling. Traffic is steadily flushing its own purpose down the street. No good, you say, meaning I do not fit into your life. No good. The streets are full with animals carrying sharp sticks, handbags, cruel eyes. It’s the beginning of another week and we’re all moving into familiar patterns. You must keep your car repaired, you who never risk buses. […]
It’s not enough, looking at you blundering like a turtle against the stream. Prowling my room like caged animals. Mud slinging. Nothing more violent than turning the eye in like a knife. I see. Fingerfuls of affection falling away like flesh. I imagine what her bed is like. You dropping into her like a well, forever lost, bottomless. Another territory. […]
Going Down. With No Permanence
I’m finding it impossible to begin, as you’ve ended so little. Last night my heart was a cheap flag waving to the nearest mirror in sight. I couldn’t believe anything, seeing you drive away into others’ arms. I’m no sweet virgin sock-washer either. So it’s a matter of priorities I guess, just who wants to gamble. Talk of loving when there is no goal. Of belief when there is no road. My shoes are off and I’m walking barefoot. Down a long avenue of arms and kisses like knots. I’m getting tired and angry and thinking hell, I’m no sock-washer but there must be some other venue. I say my heart’s big enough, it is. Every time it’s eaten and collapses like a cough. […]
[ page 200 / 202, 3 printed pages long ]
Getting there always, the difficulty of sensation
and what its end result is, these lapses of confidence
and purpose / all experience yawning, wanting escape and
full abandonment, going off at high speed to some other
phased reality / wanting more, more…
Seeing the needle in your vein was a way of
reassuring myself, of what I didn’t want, no half world
of shadows, yours and my blood mingling through a glass
syringe / I had to possess my little veins and know I […]
[ page 203, 25 lines long ]
Born Seymour, Victoria, 1949. Has published seven books of poetry, including Selecting Poems (Redress Press, 1984). Lives in Sydney and works at an art college teaching video production.
One for Patti Smith
one of my friends lost her mind in nineteenth
century novels, i tried to have her take a cure,
i offered your books, i said here are wild dog hotel
poems, cocaine and cooked dog. i said, wild street,
totally present words, here take them they’re for
you. read them now please.
once, my lover promised to fly you from new york.
on my birthday, i knew you’d find me tedious,
impervious to perversity, another day another fan.
my lover was full of empty promises and no money
ps. i never had the ramones, stones, fabian forte or
anyone else on my wall.
[ page 204, 13 lines long ]
The Red Cocacola Bottle
that we perform in syndicates
when, while on weeks away
we found ourselves creating
some very unified notions
i spent the winter stoned
and decided on a pair
boiling up vermilion
in our workshops
to make a measure
on the world supply
and other works of heart; […]
[ page 204 / 205, 21 lines long ]
Honky Tonk Sunset
of the can
for the rifle.
[ page 205, 11 lines long ]
who is this guy
who walks into the house
with an immediate opinion
of herman hesse and advice
on how to cook the rice?
[ page 205, 5 lines long ]
the longer i write poems for you
the shorter they become.
[ page 206, 2 lines long ]
so now i have to pack my forests
so now i have to pack my eagles
and the way you talked to overflow.
and the way you were so fast to change
into your many shades of sorrow,
and the way you swept the miracles
away from your shabby gentility,
and the way you trembled
as you chose the latest props.
so hello attache case face.
hello briefcase face.
hello screaming suitcase.
[ page 206, 14 lines long ]
The Dear John Letter
between the sugar and the short black
something like grief came over me
it was your cafe moralism.
from london to canada and back
to coaldust. lungs full of dead gymboots.
the cost of this and the cost of that,
the gold bands on white filtered cigarettes.
stranded there enormous, sad.
grey on the fringe of the neon. […]
[ page 207, 26 lines long ]
Born New South Wales 1949. Edited Mother I’m Rooted (Outback Press, 1975), an anthology that had an enormous effect on Australia’s women poets. Published Come to Me, My Melancholy Baby (Outback Press, 1975). Lives and works as an editor in New York.
this is a song an epithalamium it is also
a requiem this is a poem about couples it
is called racked and ranked
the title comes from william faulkner
‘and thank God you can flee, can escape from that
massy five-foot-thick maggot-cheesy solidarity which
overlays the earths, in which men and women in couples
are racked and ranked like ninepins.’ […]
[ page 208, 27 lines long ]
One Kiss Too Many
‘One kiss too many
And kisses lose their meaning’
Let me, this once and without condemnation,
be churlish and openly maledictory
(my poetry might be a poetry of revenge
but having the last word is often pyrrhic):
I wish for you the loneliness
you have given me. I mean by loneliness not that
common state of being alone in a crowd,
but something else, more awful.
That is not nice of me. […]
[ page 209 / 210, 48 lines long ]
Born Canada, 1949. Arrived in Australia 1974. Has been published in various literary magazines here and overseas. Trained as a biochemist. Now lives on a farm in southern Tasmania and is writing a book on astrology.
Why I Like Men
mainly i like men because they’re different
they’re the opposite sex
no matter how much you pretend they’re ordinary
human beings you don’t really believe it
they have a whole different language and geography
so they’re almost as good
as a trip overseas when life gets dull
and you start looking for a thrill […]
[ page 211, 28 lines long ]
Born Inverell, New South Wales, 1949. Published Costumes (Transit Press, 1982) and About Literature (with Sue Woolfe; Macmillan, 1984). Teaches writing and theory courses in Sydney and Newcastle.
Joze was born in the village of Loski Potok,
in a high-cheek-boned family. I noticed
he had no freckles, he liked playing cards,
and his women friends were called Maria, Malcka, Mimi;
and because he was a handsome stranger
I took him for a ride on my Yamaha
along the Great Western Highway
and we ate apples; I’d never met anyone
who ate apples by the case, whose father
had been shot at by Partisans in World War II […]
[ page 212, 31 lines long ]
Stranded in Paradise
Your fuselage, your entourage,
your wingtip. now your eyes.
your feet which touch the ground.
stranded in Paradise
I’m climbing over your body
the hill of your breast
stranded, what god put me here.
my time with you. will you
kiss me again, like this. here.
now here. hold my head.
hold my feet down, I’m levitating.
it’s so easy. when you roll over
onto me, I hold your fuselage.
I pat your wingtip. I touch your teeth
and your shoulders, you are sinking
into me. I balloon under your hand. […]
[ page 213, 31 lines long ]
Certain types of costume immobilise the wearer, but this
reduction to a statue can be a form of magic. Everything rests
in potential. It means that anything can happen; all forms
of possible movement are included in the stillness. At any moment
a priest, an actor, a queen will move,
there is a noise, the play opens.
Do you remember Sutherland singing the part of the wind-up doll in The Tales of Hoffmann? Partly alive and partly not, the product of her maker’s imagination. And how her lover couldn’t tell at first she wasn’t real. Was that at the big concert in the domain, or on TV? I remember thinking how wonderful the story was, and the sound she made when she was winding down,
Instructions on How to Release the Statues
The statues are made of marble or plaster. They sit or stand or recline in the positions of Greek gods and goddesses. They are waiting for someone to buy them. Diana and Apollo on Parramatta Road. Do you want one in your garden?
They hold each other’s arms, or point to the birdbath or the car yard across the road. Sitting in your car in the traffic you suddenly notice them, a forest of muscular white limbs, a theatre of profiles. Their ancient faces are holding pollution […]
What is the Key?
Status? Is status the key? Is it consciousness? Is it the desire?for change? Will that flying woman land? Where will she touch down, will she land too fast and break? Will someone catch her? Is she hoping that? Or is she enjoying being up so high? Does she want to come down? Where will she land? What is the key?
Winged Victory touches down one evening
in the grounds of a mansion where a wedding is in progress.
All in white, with a partly raised arm, she is indistinguishable
from the other guests. After the ceremony she drinks champagne
and talks to a few lawyers and doctors,
mostly about sailing and shares. But sailing and shares
have changed their meaning. Her language is out of date.
Has she come down in the wrong part of town? She finds a
woman wearing a blue dress with white spots […]
[ page 214 / 215, 2 printed pages long ]
Born Penrith, New South Wales, 1949. Has published Tactics (UQP, 1974), Mortal Details (Rigmarole Press), The Problem of Evil (Prism Books, 1975), Birth Stones (Angus and Robertson, 1982), The Border Loss (Angus and Robertson), For the Left Hand (Poetry Australia), The Terms (a novel, Hale and Iremonger). Has taught over one thousand creative writing classes in Sydney’s western suburbs. Lives in Penrith.
from The Trust
As it is always said,
we-begin-here-at-the-end and anything which comes
after that is what we will discuss. Don’t trust
me yet: I don’t know what I will still
require of you, and you don’t know
as yet the depth and danger in your trust.
There is no room here to run, and none
in you that I can run from. Here she is! […]
from The Trust
What company except my promises
could keep you now in all your following
when all that seems to offer is that shape
spreadeagled like a spider in his blood
when all you feel on your hands congeals
into a vicious sweetness, cloying like
raw sugar on the lining of the veins.
You feel his death within you as it spins. […]
from The Trust
It isn’t to escape that you have come.
Triangles mirage on sky’s night like
a migraine and the steel morning snips
first knifetips along treetops and is cold,
as cold as you are designate to be.
The dagger you are designate to be
has cut the haunches of an antelope
recognisably into food. It clinks
to help you convey pieces to your tongue. […]
from The Trust
It isn’t to escape that I have come, but
your other’s body’s thin enough to hold,
is artefactually fragile. Its ribs
are milk in jade, and cyclamen
now dregs its locks like burgundy.
A statuesque resistance fills its kiss,
and every pulse is subtle, is a watch
to tell me time and date and where and this,
exclusive as a dream. […]
from The Trust
You trusted me to trust them to your gate
and here they are! Your friends and mine,
this lady and this gentleman, their pet.
Three lessons in good manners to us all,
since manners are resurrection.
It is to resurrect you they have come,
and no, I watch. With the quenching dusk
I pavilion and furnish the park
and tread the cinders under grassy silk.
I will escort them in, and bow. […]
[ page 216 / 223, 7.5 pages long ]
Born near Birmingham, UK, 1950. Works as teacher and lives in Adelaide.
Genesis / take 2
lying beneath the tree
shes heady with the perfection
of moist ripe flesh
caught between exploring fingers
marvels at shape and texture
takes quiet pleasure
in sticky sweet juices
creeping beneath unpolished fingernails
decides to keep a secret — […]
[ page 224, 18 lines long ]
Born Darwin 1950 and raised in the Retta Dixon Children’s Home. Her tribal name is Ne’eri, of the Wagiman and the Nangumerri peoples of the Northern Territory. Has published in magazines. Works as a community arts officer and lives in Darwin.
wlk’n down regent street i see
blks hoo display blknez
(i min they sens of blknez)
n they say t’ me…
‘ime gonna lif yoo outta
yor blk hole n sho yoo
how t’ wlk n dress n tlk.’
n i sit in th’ gutta
of regent street
(outside wair we ol meet)
n i look up n see
arown th’haylo of they hair,
a cosmetic afro ring —
a shiny haze
like it blines me man!! […]
[ page 225, 23 lines long ]
i never had a woman like you.
what woman do you mean?
i mean a black woman.
they say they’re better than white.
who? do we say, or men who’ve seen the light?
other men, white men black men, what do you say?
i don’t know driver, you see i’ve never had
a woman black or white. […]
[ page 226, 32 lines long ]
Born Chinchilla, Queensland, 1951. Works as psychologist. Lives Kilaben Bay, New South Wales.
To the Ironingboard
It’s not supposed to be like this:
illicit bliss taking you in my arms.
By all sociological decrees we’re incompatible.
And yet we meet again.
You in your faded cotton slip
no longer the colour of marigolds, your old foam padding
edging out like moss after last week’s damp.
So constant, unhumanly uncomplaining – only twice
in ten years have you refused to hold my iron
devotedly, like a hot red rose between your teeth; […]
[ page 227 / 228, 40 lines long ]
Born Swidnica Slaska, Poland, 1951. Works in the visual and performing arts as well as poetry. Published Writing (Rigmarole Books, 1979). Work included in Island in the Sun (Sea Cruise Books, 1981). Lives in Melbourne.
I tried this play one day. My father leaves his medicines open. I take a random bottle. I swig. I’m done for. Walk around so proud to have done something big. I’m John Dare. I’m a devil. I’m Evel Knievel that jumped over twenty buses. On his motorcycle. I’m not scared. Lifes good and sharp. Here for the last time I’m not bored. I’m seven and I’ve read every book in the world. I know everything. I’m an electric girl. World’s my oyster. I’m its pearl.
[ page 229, 7 printed lines long ]
Little Red Riding Hood
I always had such a good time, good time, good time girl. Each and every day from morning to night. Each and every twenty-four hours I wanted to wake up, wake up. I was so lively, so livewire tense, such a highly pitched little. I was red, so red so red. I was a tomato. I was on the lookout for the wolf. Want some sweeties, mister? I bought a red dress myself. I bought the wolf. Want some sweeties, mister? I bought a red dress for myself. I bought a hood for myself. Get me a hood. I bought a knife.
[ page 229, 7 printed lines long ]
In a week I won’t be here any more. We are leaving and going away. Goodbye everybody. I’ve got a new coat to travel in. Blue with fur. I don’t go to school any more. I don’t care. I go to pictures every day. I’m already gone from here. I can’t imagine other people in my house. We are leaving everything. Like it is. Beds unmade and the bedding. The ship came early too early. So we’re going. They had a warrant for my father’s arrest. So we have to go. I wanted to travel. I was born inside the house I’m leaving behind. Floors floors dark rooms built by the photographer and the cellar. […]
[ page 229 / 230, 20 printed lines long ]
Marcel Proust eats the cake and his childhood comes back to him. One night I met him in a pub. Big hazel eyes. Tall and dark. Asked if he could talk. Lived in Toorak Road. Didn’t work. All day long, he slept. Then, at night, he shaved and it happened. Cut himself. With his blade. By accident. And his childhood came back to him. Just like that. All at once, he was a little boy. German. That lost the war. His mother didn’t love him. She beat him. I’m Marcel Proust. I’m this dark handsome German. I sleep all day. All day long I sleep. All day long, all night long I sleep. […]
[ page 230, 18 printed lines long ]
You big ugly. You too empty. You desert with your nothing nothing nothing. You scorched suntanned. Old too quickly. Acres of suburbs watching the telly. You bore me. Freckle silly children. You nothing much. With your big sea. Beach beach beach. I’ve seen enough already. You dumb dirty city with bar stools. You’re ugly. You silly shoppingtown. You copy. You too far everywhere. You laugh at me. When I came this woman gave me a box of biscuits. You try to be friendly but you’re not very friendly. You never ask me to your house. You insult me. You don’t know how to be with me. Road road tree tree. I came from crowded and many. […]
[ page 230 / 231, 32 printed lines long ]
modern ballroom dancing
victor sylvester says, social habits poise grace pleasure rhythm, learn to dance, style balance no prancing on tip toe. up to date, use your body, let your legs swing easy, no freaks, elementary figures last you a lifetime, ballroom orchestra tempo, gentlemans hold, stand erect head poised grasp lady hold her directly steer and control lady with his body, lady is poised. lady never attempts to lead or guide her partner, submit yourself entirely to him. do not lean on him or anticipate what next, just follow, gentleman raise hand to partners palm downwards close fingers, don’t taut don’t hunch don’t hold your breath, flat foot toes first, never out of time, stride skim […]
[ page 231 / 232, 41 printed lines long ]
Born Warwickshire, England, 1951. Publications include The Hotel Anonymous (Bent Enterprises, 1980), the white rose and the hath (Friendly Street Poets, 1984), Can’t Help Dreaming (All Out Ensemble, 1981). Edited Pearls: Writing by South Australian Women (Anthology Collective, 1980) and After the Rage: South Australian Women’s Art and Writing (with Tess Brady, Tutu Press, 1983). Teaches creative writing and lives in Adelaide.
admiring the handiwork
it’s just the right size
i knew it would be now turn round
while i adjust the shoulders
you’re not standing up straight
that’s better you can’t see
this particularly lovely piece
right in the middle of your back
but it’s very good […]
[ page 233, 27 lines long ]
Born Greece 1952. Migrated to Australia 1954. Co-editor 925, a poetry magazine about work. Lives and works in Melbourne.
Behind the counter, the kettle is boiling,
the cups are in the sink demanding a wash
and all i can do is stare outside watching
everyone go by thinking… it’s a great day
The old men at the tables are having an
argument; the other table is not
Yanni has decided to take a nap behind
the cigarette machine;
in the far end of the partition the little
Albanian is resting his eyes […]
[ page 234, 21 lines long ]
Born Perth 1952. Published Out of Water Into Light (Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1979). Member of Literature Board of the Australia Council. Works in publishing. Lives in Western Australia.
(After a poetry reading)
To let words be time
and tick that way
gaps like doors that let you in
to lie down on the furniture,
much of which, you find,
is like your own.
Things left for you by the host:
Snapshots, mirrors, a bowl of blood,
the taste of which is slightly sour,
lovely birds and poignant flowers,
knives away in drawers
or on the table. […]
[ page 235, 27 lines long ]
Born Sydney 1953. Published Delta (1978), Head Heart or Stone (Fling Books, 1982). Editor of Compass magazine. Lives in Sydney.
Definition Poem: Pissed as a Parrot
For those of you who are etymologically inclined
I would like to take this opportunity
to explain to you the derivation of the expression
pissed as a parrot.
Sidney Baker in The Australian Language indexes
There is no entry under pissed.
he also gives
Proverbial, come the
and Pseudoxy. […]
[ page 236, 61 lines long ]
Lady Gedanke Writes to the Painter
I am ignorant about art
it makes me wordless
tongueless unable to swallow
anything I always look
at the frames instead
because the edge
is obvious and I avoid
your studio because of all
the unframed things I cannot
understand how you do not eat
the cadmium yellow
or phthalo blue […]
the painter is Jenni Mitchell — eds.
[ page 238, 30 lines long ]
there’s her camel gait down the hall she pretends
she’s a dancer there’s a machine gun for a laugh
I know I understand people do it all the time
look at me pretending to write but scared
of words I know I understand
read about religion want a needle or a psychiatrist or
priest or politician or money or a friend or a father
to fix it all up I know I understand people do it
all the time someone on the radio talking about poetry
(god help us) […]
[ page 239, 25 lines long ]
Born Sydney 1954. Published Little Hoodlum (Prism Books, 1975), Bison (Prism Books, 1979), The Night Parrot (Black Lightning Press, 1984). Lives in Sydney where she teaches creative writing courses in prisons and technical colleges.
from The Nashville Poems
Jealousy drove the bus
and parked the car.
Oh, what a ride!
And I awoke and found me here
on the cold hill’s side.
Its even further to Brisbane
with summer heat
taking the mickey
loving talk —
and that’s why
I’m happier in winter
when ice-cream wrappers
are withered from the beach
and no blondes sing. […]
[ page 240, 31 lines long ]
The Red Sports Car Afternoon
In this kind
that reminds me
far too much
of apple blossom
and holidays in?
as a kid,
I am without garters
without rules —
he says he’s married
before you start kissing
but to yourself
you’re even more two dimensional
than his wife
so you snatch at
his mouth, hands
and armfuls of
and stand under trees
on the beach
and think up
incoherent lines neat. […]
[ page 241 / 242, 2 printed pages long, two columns ]
Scenes From A Marriage
from The Night Parrot?
Nothing so sweet
nothing so obscene
as my lover and me
will ever be
shown on TV
from a pop song I imagined,
stuck in my throat
during the coldest night
of the year
when mixed passionate breath
every TV set
in my house
while I collapsed cosy, trivial
and tender — […]
[ page 243/ 244, 1.5 printed pages long ]
from The Night Parrot
In high summer
grabs me by the heels
and throws me
into a dry creek bed
where the night parrot
clucks in the cracks –
I’m parched, giddy, afraid
from the wrong man — […]
[ page 245, 24 lines long ]
Born Manly, New South Wales, 1954. Published The Hips Slither (Black Lightning Press, 1982). Lecturer in journalism at Rockhampton, Queensland.
The tin shed housed
only scorers and lazy spectators;
flies hovering, the last legs of lunch.
Girls waddled out, their not too white
armour dangling on sunburnt thighs.
Most dared it barefoot, simply trusting.
Between mine, the nursed can cold
of droplets trickling down shins dust
feet, face hoping you wouldn’t see
me seeing you, a guzzling of beer. […]
[ page 246, 22 lines long ]
Born Melborne 1956. Published The Division of Anger (Transit Poetry, 1982) and Manners of an Astronaut (Hale and Iremonger, 1985). Widely published in magazines. Poet, guitarist and singer. Lives in Sydney.
If I Had a Gun
I’d shoot the man who pulled up slowly in his hot car this morning
I’d shoot the man who whistled from his balcony
I’d shoot the man with things dangling over his creepy chest
in the park when I was contemplating the universe
I’d shoot the man who can’t look me in the eye
who stares at my boobs when we’re talking
who rips me off in the milk-bar and smiles his wet purple smile
who comments on my clothes. I’m not a fucking painting
that needs to be told what it looks like.
who tells me where to put my hands, who wrenches me into position […]
[ page 247 / 248, 1.75 printed pages long ]
Not Like a Wife
He questions her, his face soft with lovely money.
Be my mistress. He’s French, polite as corruption.
Yes. Her clothes are dirty. Love has made me poor.
She leans against the flimsy cupboard, wrapping her face up
in her hands, I loved a rich man
once, but I was never blonde, and suntans you know,
so bland. I never looked American enough
on the beach. […]
[ page 249, 23 lines long ]
I dreamt I drank too much lemonade
and it was fatal. Everybody pointed and ran.
The man came into my room in his office clothes.
Go away I said, and I jumped out of my skin.
In the Italian cafe, I think of the wealthy.
What helicopter must have sunk into the roof
to be used so precariously by the management,
or contrived. (Its common now)
I stare at the propeller, it shudders like a failure.
Who can eat under that? […]
[ page 250, 25 lines long ]
His Cubist Drawings
You’re shivering in the Cross, this mad bar,
with him all dreaming and response.
By the time you get home, you’ve lost the urge,
but think of him, he infiltrates your head even,
his cold bike taking off and your free hand dream.
Fun is enforced in a moment. It will wipe
most of you out, as you bring him round gradually,
being used to it. Leave your brain on that chair
and let Feelings just kick-start out of nothing.
Ennui is what the rich feel. […]
[ page 251, 28 lines long ]
Born London, 1956. Has a BA in Communications from New South Wales Institute of Technology. Works as a library assistant and teaches creative writing at a technical college. Received a writing grant from the Literature Board in 1985. Her collections of poetry From the Curved City to be published soon by Black Lightning Press. Lives in Sydney.
The Domesticity of Giraffes
She langorously swings her tongue
like a black leather strap as she chews
and endlessly licks the wire for salt
blown in from the harbour.
Bruised-apple eyed she ruminates
towards the tall buildings
she mistakes for a herd:
her gaze has the loneliness of smoke. […]
[ page 252, 32 lines long ]
So, that summer I picked everything:
the hibiscus that shut at six o’clock,
the white-pollened flower
I called The Baker’s Daughter,
the yellow rose that lasted weeks beyond its season
and the great pale flower with a cold look —
Queen in the Tower.
Then I took some bottles from their cupboards
and their lids twirled off and their perfume
came three voices high in my head. […]
[ page 253, 34 lines long ]
Streets of Chippendale
Streets named Ivy, Vine, Rose and Myrtle —
now lack a single tree. They could have been
the homes of kindly aunts in quiet suburbs
before factories like terrible relations
moved in, changed the place.
And Abercrombie (sounds like the eccentric,
unmarried third cousin) – you expect a place
where residents dressed in slacks and turtle necks
are walking pedigree dogs;
but Abercrombies different — […]
[ page 254 / 255, 32 lines long ]
Someone is prowling around the borders of my name. They have been there for days. I can’t see them or hear them because in the house of my name is a room of silence and a huge window of fog. But I know they are there. My name is certified in a gold frame that hangs on the room’s wall. Everytime they move, it shakes.
At first I didn’t worry. But now they have begun rubbing their sleeve over my name’s glass. They are rubbing in circles that are gradually widening. I scream that they can’t do this and repeatedly show them the gold frame. They take no notice. They keep on rubbing. They rub until the fog disappears and their face becomes visible. […]
[ page 255, .70 printed pages long ]
Born Sydney, 1956. Writing her MA thesis on science fiction and teaches at the Western Australian Institute of Technology, Perth.
His kind smile is pasted like a poster
his comfortable eyes arranged
like the meticulous three-piece suit
contriving intimacy. He hints
that he abhors respectability picking
his words like lice, sticky with boredom.
He’s slick, he’s just like all the rest,
so cool, he does this every day
and asks conspicuously who is that girl,
his hooks so thin they fail the bait. […]
[ page 256, 20 lines long ]
Born Ormskirk, UK, 1956. Travelled to France on a Literature Board grant in 1985. Lives in Hobart where she teaches tertiary English courses.
Inside the vast humidicrib
measured shade and warmth
and windlessness temper
an abundantly naive tomato crop.
Lulled by the pumps electric beat
soporific forms hang,
in the bloodstream
of this moist metabolism. […]
[ page 257, 20 lines long ]
Born Adelaide 1958. Teaches and lives in Adelaide.
It was still raining hard outside.
So they’d postponed their picnic till next weekend
and he’d set up a chess board and lit a fire,
and altogether it was quite homely.
It’s true, isn’t it, she said, somewhat smugly.
That the queen’s the most powerful piece on the board,
And can move, free-spirited, wherever she wishes.
In a way, he replied, but the king’s still the most important piece.
The pristine bishops continued with oblique movements
To wipe out their opposing congregations. […]
[ page 258, 28 lines long ]
Born London 1959. Grew up in Sydney. Works at the ABC in Sydney. Involved in performance and sound poetry.
1st date 1st kiss 1st kiss 1st
fuck 1st/1st/1st/ relived
to be roses/candles/
press close/meetin the eyes/hands/movement/hands/
’till death us do part
ing is such sweet sor […]
[ page 259, 20 lines long ]
IT BECOMES: JULY 1981
US. I MEAN
WITH ALL THIS WITH ALL THIS I MEAN
ITS ALL THIS. O . IT’S
JUST DISGUSTING. IT’S IT’S IT’S
IT IS IT IS IT IS
OFF THE AIR/INCREDIBLE/OFF/HORRIFIC/TYPICAL/
I MEAN IT’S AMAZING IT’S
WARNEWSCONTROLWARNEWSCONTROL. I MEAN I MEAN
IT’S BECAUSE AND IT’S IT’S
I MEAN IT IS. I MEAN AND IT IS
IT IS IT IS IT IS IT IS IT IS IT IS
IT’S IT’S IT’S IT’S
IT. IT. IT. IT IT
[ page 260, 16 lines long ]
Born Perth 1960. Awarded three-year research scholarship to Oxford University to write a book on seventeenth-century women poets.
A Flash of Green
Dazed by summer at the washing line
I was hanging small wet bundles when you came.
The water ran dark furrows down
my breast where your face pressed hard, familiar.
Circling my cotton dress your arms
enclosed all possible weathers.
To love one man and then others, in the same way:
never to shake them off entirely.
I know my shape changes constantly?
but I don’t know what the changes are;
your face I can rearrange at will,
the malleable flesh of your untanned face. […]
[ page 261, 22 lines long ]
Resurrecting my mother I fabricate
a narrative rich in detail.
In it we two are mapped layer on layer,
connections immanent in every choice.
Those stories not included I have
forgotten as insignificant
to me or my understanding of you.
The discontinuities are easiest to list:
daughter of a farm-girl I never went barefoot,
never rode a horse; […]
[ page 262, 34 lines long ]
Born Sri Lanka 1960. Graduated from the University of Sydney and travelled in Asia. Poems published in many magazines. Lives and works in Sydney.
Statistic for the New World
It’s an ode to relationship
when you put your foot through
your Grandmother’s bridal sheets.
I want to comfort you.
But you change personalities, as
pale blue mingles with the scar
on your shin while our bodies fit.
Heroic, I hold my cheek against
your neck. I’m not jealous. […]
[ page 263, 17 lines long ]
Born Sydney 1961. Majored in writing at New South Wales Institute of Technology. Works at State Library of New South Wales. Lives in Sydney.
The sighting of the photograph has begun. The tourist stands behind and slightly to the left of the three women. The women stand facing the three dummies in the window. They are laughing. They are talking in a story to themselves and to the dummies, for they are also characters. The women are entranced by their story telling and cannot leave the window.
All are caught by the square borders of the viewpoint finder. The three women caught by the tourist. The tourist caught by his camera. The dummies caught by fashion. The window between the women and the dummies reflects all seven. One of the women places her hands on the glass. In her story she would persuade the dummies to change freely. She tells them of a place where people dress in clothes that have no labels. The dummies are not impressed. They have an affinity with the minds and the machines that made their clothes.
They scoff at her.
[ page 264 / 265, 1.3 printed pages long ]
Born Eradu, via Geraldton, Western Australia. Currently a student in Canberra and works at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Affairs. Lives in Canberra.
Wanna be white
My man took off yesterday
with a waagin [“white gin”]
He left me and the kids
To be something in this world
Said he was sick of being
black, poor and laughed at
Said he wanted to be white
have better clothes, a flash car […]
[ page 266, 13 lines long ]
Born Sydney 1963. Studied philosophy and feminism at Sydney University. Coedited Come 2, a cassette magazine for women. Works in the area of experimental sound. Lives in Sydney.
breaking the drought
in the summer in bed with the hot heat flies lying between us. fucking and the sweat through the gauze sticks to this silence, fucking and your breath shimmers in the red of an afternoon, i could not force the stream of words from my mouth, from my lips, an old river valley, we’re
new people in the old tried
land whispering the old tired place-names, and a whisper does not break this thickening silence. […]
[ page 267 / 268, 1.5 printed pages long ]