Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How bodies work

"There's human people that live in your body, there is because I know there is. They live in your body because they are servants doing everything the brain tells them to do. The brain is the master human."

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Figure and Ground

Refigure yourself, hurrying down the corridor,
past the shadowy objects. Too late
to name anything now. It’s all spoken for.

The chair in the hallway speaks for itself. 
"You are not alone," it says. "The purpose of things
is not the meaning of things." This is a recording.

Into the garden then, where what lies lost is overgrown:
the other chair, wild with the language of soil,
the message is the matter. A fistful, a bowlful.

The birds are thoughts that the trees are having,
each one a variation on a theme. Hurry on,
through the garden and out of the gate.

This is where the fields are endless,
a strawless yellow, days without texture,
vanishing, this is where I leave you.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


Is a way back in to what you know, to find the knowledge
lost inside the self, the thing you know that you don’t know
you know, you must go back to the source, re-source the source,
re-turn to what you’ve already turned to and from and into.

Search and re-search, follow your own footprints
along the muddy track, beside the path is the place
that you don’t go: swill of water, the waste, the waste,
the memory of what we all turn from, darkness, the first un/known.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Mr Know Everything

"How do people make these?" Avery is holding bubble mix in a plastic container on a string.
"I don't know."
"Does Daddy know everything?"
"No one knows everything. Most people have a few things they know really well, and some things they know a little bit about."
"You know who knows everything? Know Everything Man. He's my friend. You can't see him because he's invisible."
"Great! Why don't you ask him how it was made?"
*mutter mutter* "He says it's made of pavlova."
"Oh. I'm not sure Mr Know Everything is completely reliable."
"He told me it was made of pavlova, so I told everyone it was made of pavlova."

I buckle Avery into his seat. "I love you," I say, kissing his cheek.
He wraps his arms around my neck and holds tight. "I love you"
"That's nice," I say. "We are in love."
Avery laughs. "No. No we're not. We're not in love."
"Oh, why? I love you and you love me?"
"Because you can only be in a wedding to be in love."
"Are Daddy and I in love?"
"No! You aren't in a wedding."
"But we're married. We had a wedding."
"But now you're not."
"What are we."
"You and Daddy love each other, but you're not in love."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Your face

Me: Do you want me to cut your hair?
Avery: (mind blown) Are you a hairdresser?
Me: Well, I've cut kids' hair before.
Avery: Are you a hairdresser as well as a library book?

Avery: Una, Una I've got something to tell you.
Una: Yes?
Avery: Your face.

Avery: You know why I don't like them? You know the taste of them? I don't like that.

Avery: And even I don't like my dad because he's not (Avery does air quotes) "serious".

Friday, February 06, 2015

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Event

Come see me in the real life, talking about this book.
‘You know that phrase, making memories?’ Lyss asks. ‘Well, if I was going to make a memory. I’d knit it.’
‘It depends on the memory,’ I say. Some memories are still and certain; some are as alive and as impossible to catch in your hands as water.
‘It depends,’ says Jessame, ‘whether you want to remember or forget.’‘I’d draw on a blackboard. The most amazing, vivid, beautiful picture, my whole life in one big swirl,’ says Bonnie. ‘Chalk dust flying everywhere.’Lyss smiles.‘Then I’d rub it all out again,’ Bonnie says. We are all quiet for a minute. She asks, ‘What do you think will happen to them, my memories? I mean, what a waste. Don’t you think? What’s the point of them?’Jessame walks out of the room. Sometimes it gets too much. Sometimes one of us just can’t handle it, but we never break down in front of Bonnie.‘I’d knit it,’ Lyss says again. ‘I’d knit the whole history of human memory. And if I made a mistake. I wouldn’t frog it. I’d just keep knitting. I’d make the knots and holes part of the fabric.’
Jessame comes back, pink around the rims of her eyes. She clinches Bonnie in a fierce hug and says, ‘Memories are old news, babe. Over and done with. Who cares? You can’t hug a memory.’‘You okay?’ Bonnie whispers to Jessame and the question kills me. Jessame holds her and holds her.‘What colour?’ I ask Lyss.‘Black,’ she says, knitting. ‘With silver sparkles. Stretching out forever, like a night sky.’‘I’d wear that,’ I say. ‘I’d totally wear that.’
From What A Stone Can't Feel

Avery wakes up the moon

Avery wakes up the moon

says, 'I'm not scared'

The moon is old and kind

I should write a poem about it

Thursday, February 05, 2015

the cake the cake

Don't open the oven
          or the cake won't rise
Do not weep
          or the cake won't rise
Don't talk back
          or the cake won't rise
Don't be frightened
          or the cake won't rise
Shush, quick hide!
          or the cake won't rise
Cover your eyes.
          the cake. the cake.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Day 2 and 3

lights on
in each little house
the houses on the hill
each one represents an intention:
a cup of tea
a late meal
one more chapter, one last
page, one more show,
a walk across the room
to place the thing upon
the shelf          oh–
all the little houses
the lights on the hill

   a hidden world
   a personal sense of order
   entering the symbolic
   Who translates wonderland?

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Be awake

And if you can't sleep
Be awake.
Be the most awake you've ever been.
And if you hear the sound
Of a very old wing
Dragging across the floor
Don't be afraid, child.
Don't be afraid.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Yoga for grief

Take this new heaviness and use it
to anchor yourself.

Stretch yourself into a new shape.
Expand your awareness,
open up the chest,
lengthen and soften.

The sun you flowed up to greet casts the tree's shadow.
The warrior says, Now is the time for being.
In child's pose you can hide from everything
but the child-self.
She is huge, she is the whole world. She is the inner world.
She is small and we are small, gripping to the earth.

In corpse pose, you feel him with you,
and you are not afraid.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Sentiment

How do they all know each other?
Various friends in the house.
Time to write/grieve your father
Ought to do something about that.
(HINT: it is not enough for beer)
1 can of crescent rolls. What?
Me reading is intrinsically social.
I'm sure we can sort something out.
Made using #poetweet, whereby random bits of my tweets are put together in a poem by a robot.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Regular life

Days come back, a long list of to-dos:
get up and live, eat breakfast, feed them,
count the hours or make the hours count,
write your name on the back of an envelope,
sit on the bed while the children call,
ignore the dog at the door,
watch the leaves make shadows on the bedroom wall,
get around to something and begin it,
make a phone call, a sandwich, a decision,
boil the kettle, let your tea go cold,
turn on the television for the kids,
go outside in the sunlight,
look at the leaves, look at the sky,
throw a stick for the dog and wait.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

like a memory

We sat next to the kitchen garden, on the brick paving that held the warmth from the day (like a memory). Tiny bats skimmed close over us (like a memory), we peered up at them in the indigo dark, and everything (like a memory) was settling in deep. From the hills we heard steady techno beats (like a memory), distant enough that it did us no harm (like a memory), it could have been the pulsing of the stars. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

How do you find time to write/grieve your father

I do it after the kids go to bed.
I wake early in the morning and do it when everyone else is sleeping. Sometimes I do it in my dreams.
I do it in public, discreetly, so no one knows what I’m doing, because I don’t want anyone to ask me about it. I do it on public transport, or in cafes. The best place is the library, because books make good camouflage.
I don’t. I neglect it. I put it off for later. I procrastinate. I bake a cake or watch TV. Then there is guilt and shame.
I’ve learned to do it in scraps, five minutes here or there, those bits of time when you suddenly find yourself alone.
I do it standing up at the kitchen bench. I do it at the cost of everything else. The laundry piles up. The kids run feral. The saucepan burns.
I schedule time for it. I put aside a morning, a day, a weekend. This isn’t foolproof. All it takes is a sick child, an emailed request, a knock on the door, a mechanical fault and this time diminishes as if it was never mine at all.
How do you know I’m not doing it now? I’m doing it all the time. It’s not an activity. It’s a filter through which I experience the world.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I have lost nothing

He used to give me lemons to bring home on the plane,
He ate the soft insides of things, velvet brown organ meats,
He had no central vision but he painted a world he saw: colour, light, form.

I have lost nothing. The past is not yet sealed.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Driving Dreams

When I was a little girl
my father would be at the wheel
of our orange Renault 12
me sliding around
the leather bench seat
with the silver buckle undone.
I'd look up and he'd be gone.
I had this dream often.

Last night I was the one behind the wheel,
I dreamed
of driving too fast
around corners.
It was late, there was traffic,
a flood,
policemen, road blocks, an overturned car.
I got lost.
I dreamed of driving up escalators
of leaving the car
then not being able to find it
in a Melbourne-Hobart
hybrid city.
I woke up
frightened, then relieved.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Notes towards arranging a funeral

a found haiku

They hold the ashes.
Hot catering for fifty.
BYO booze.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Early this morning

For my father 

Early this silver morning, birds
Practiced their scales, songs without words.
The four year old got out of bed
padded to our room, and said
'I sleep with you?' Patted my breast,
tried to settle but could not rest.
'Mum?' he whispered, 'why are they for?'
'Hush. Milk for babies, but there's no more.'
He turned his back. He tried his best. He could not sleep.

Same dawn: the nurse pads up the hall
looks up the number, makes the call.
News travels, mother to daughter
drawing me cross land and water
on a silver thread. And now it's night.
By my father's bed there was a light:
a few weeks ago it failed him
he thought his God had come for him.
Now it is done, and someone's come. My father's gone.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Summer job

He likes his holiday job at the Barwon Heads IGA
serving the summer crowds, families mostly,
girls his own age shopping with their mothers,
holding the baskets, one meal at a time.
Strange to think that the mothers were once
the daughters, narrow hips, freckled lips.
Couples navigate the narrow aisles with city prams.
Men on the dark side of middle age
scour the shelves for sushi rice and nori sheets.
Here his height is useful – he’s tall enough
to pack the highest shelves, or reach any item down.
When his shift ends, he rides his skateboard home,
tunnelling through narrow streets, past brand new houses
where tourists live for the summer weeks.
A girl calls to her sister from the balcony,
men drink beer on a front veranda under
the feathery branches of a peppercorn tree.
Kids ride bikes or skate past him in the evening light,
A big girl gives her little brother a piggyback down the road.
A group of teenage girls, wearing bikinis and cotton shirts,
walk lazily, knock into each other, hip against hip.
He is invisible to them, though he served some of them
with their mothers earlier today. Avocados, blue cheese.
One day they will be their mothers. He skates on.
He’s a ghost in this town, he belongs to winter, spring,
those ordinary days when the dusk rolls in.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


In the afternoon he hurries home to watch Doctor Who.
On weekends, he rides his bike to the milkbar
to buy burger rings and chokito bars,
his whole suburb smelling of sugar from the wizz fizz factory.
He likes turning over stones to find beetles underneath.
Some nights he lies in bed, unable to sleep but content,
peering up at a galaxy of glow-in-the-dark stars
marvelling at the rise and fall of his own chest.
No one he loves has ever been seriously hurt, or died.
If he sees something beyond his comprehension
(a man sleeping on a pile of rags,
a woman telling her kids to fuck off,
a book in his parents' bedside drawer called The Joy of Sex)
his mind kindly erases itself, or stores it away for a later time.
For now, in this moment, in this bubble of time and space,
he is loved, he is protected, he is safe.

Monday, January 12, 2015

My father in bed

Infant bird my father lies, frail bones, lucent skin,
Hardly anything left of him.
What useless wings he has, I’m too polite to say.
When he opens his beak for food, I look away.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Princess of Light

We learn the river word.
All names grow wild.
The river follows the path.

‘Did you catch a fish?’
my daughter asks the men.
One of them shouts back, pleased,
‘No! It is nothing!’
The other doesn't turn around.

I take photographs into the sun,
return my daughter 
to the light.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Going for a walk

for Chay
At last they head off,
breathless, the kids
calling goodbyes
down the damp road.
Everything is still:
faint, colourless,
grass fading on the
It’s high summer, but 
just a little rain has fallen
kissing the dust, damping it down.
Light is low over the hills. Two
mothers: friends,
neighbours, telling stories
of places they’ve lived, the
people they were before kids.
Quite surprising 
really, their paths never crossing then.
Same inner-suburban streets,
terrace houses,
universities, all that
vast territory seems small now.
Well, it was long ago. 
You Are Here. 
Zoom out: the hills, the mothers, almost home.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Down to the woods where the bluebells grow

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the woods where the bluebells grow.
Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.
~A. A. Milne.

What have I done? Nothing is safe. Does it matter? In the forest that grows wild, bitter as the wine, the overcrowding, children and girls. It does not really matter where i have stayed. If you must know guy i've been in the same places as the majority of the people. I haven't been anywhere. I have not been in any part. I don't know anything. I know nothing.

Written with the aid of Google Translate

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Bird's Song

Wings meet at infinity, unbroken song.
Nothing half disappears, this is carelessness
not passion. Homesick with unrelated thoughts,
I imagine youth, empty with hope.
I love my love, my fair charmer,
the mind whispers, heedless of evening.
The sky is thick with trees.
Fathers, brothers, birds,
I mourn the days as they pass
wishing I had lived inside each one.
Wishing I had lived, but I did this instead,
trying to perfect this stupid song.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

This one time, when I was discovered in a bookshop

When I was fifteen sometimes on Sundays
I’d catch the bus to town.
There was one that lumbered down the mountain road in the morning,
and one that went home in the late afternoon.

I’d walk a few blocks,
through the empty mall, the grey streets,
(the wind springing up from the docks
caused my growing body to ache),
to Book City, about the only place open.
(This was before I came of age
and Hobart came of age
and the world came of age.)

I could read whole novels in under an hour,
and no one ever minded. Standing,
or sitting down right there on the bookshop floor.

Beginner’s Love, Forever, Hey Dollface,
The Divorce Express, I Never Loved Your Mind.

This one time when I was reading
a man came up, depressingly unremarkable, 
middle aged, wearing a raincoat. He wanted to know
if I’d ever thought about a career in modelling,
because he was a photographer,
and he’d like to take some photos of me.

‘No thank you,’ I said, and went back to my book.
I didn't even think it was suspicious
that he didn't have any camera gear, or a business card.
It was just that you had to be tall 
to be a model.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

What will not rise

Lines written on the 40th anniversary of the Tasman Bridge Collapse

Forty years on and the dead have not yet risen
have not spilled themselves
up the bridge’s pylons,
the young couple still holding hands.
Sunday drivers.

Dr Jones of Bellerive had been to visit his wife.
Visiting hours over they kissed goodnight,
and he left (with regret and some relief?)
the eternal twilight of the ward.
Night had truly settled in.
He drove out of town in the drizzling rain.

People in their homes heard the collision
thinking of Cyclone Tracy, still in the news,
or the Mt St Canice boiler explosion
which killed laundry workers, a delivery man
amd a young apprentice boilermaker
the September before
when the plum trees were flush with blossom.
Four months on they'd be heavy with fruit.

Did Jones hear it, feel the vibration through the bridge, 
and the metal body of the car, into his seat and up his spine.
Did it rattle his teeth?

Joyce Stoakey, on her way home from church,
Pamela and Tony Sward, not long married,
young Bobby Rezek, still a kid.

They’d have seen the lights on the bridge go out
and, almost an afterthought,
how the white lines on the road
suddenly ended.

Sylvia, Frank and the others
waving their arms,

Pamela saying, 'Slow down,
Tony, slow down.' Too late 

to steer a course
away from the void,
away from history.

I was nine days old,
our car was rear ended
the day my parents brought me home from hospital
no reason anyway
for them to leave home on a Sunday night
in the rain with a newborn baby and another small child, 
and make the journey to the other side of the river. 
Still, a shock to them,
my father believed in the modern world.

Now most days my mother drives across the bridge,
up and over the crest, keeping left,
to where my father will end his days,
in the Queen Victoria Home for the Aged.
My parents’ marriage divided, 
east and west.

Under the bridge
rolling with the tides
the wreck of the ship
does not rise.

Monday, January 05, 2015


"The next thing I said to Frank,
the bridge is gone
and he applied the brakes
and we sat there swinging."

"Sylvia said
the white line
the white line’s gone.
Stop and I just hit the brakes
and I said

I can’t
I can’t
I can’t


Sunday, January 04, 2015

Write what you know

The nine year old wants to sleep
with my hand pressed against her lips.
We’re all sick of each other,
the beginning of January and the
school holidays stretch on and on,
somewhere over the hill a dog is barking.

Use it. Write what you know:
sleepless children, the struggling lawn,
neighbours in their houses, bottles of wine,
bins overflowing on the road, news of a church wedding,
your father’s failing health. 

The dogs bring news of life from the other side of the hill.
Write that too: 

                    There's more than this,
and this is so much more.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Shopping Centre in January

Carried through the food court
the four year old wraps his arms around my neck
whispers sweetly in my ear:
‘Everyone will die. Everyone will die.’

This collective fate has brought
us here, to the shopping centre
sheltering from summer’s heat.
My husband pushes the trolley.
He wears a panama hat with the price tag, seven dollars,
hanging over his forehead.
Two women walk past. ‘Nice hat,’
one of them says.
‘It’s totally working for you.’

Everyone will die.
Everyone will die.

Astonishing, not that we die,
but that we live at all
knowing we will die.

We buy everything we need
to last till evening:
movie tickets, fruit from the supermarket.

And we pay the tithe: 
Earrings in the shape of pineapples - two dollars.
Seven Moroccan patterned bowls - two fifty each.
The sales girl wraps each of them in paper,
continuing a conversation
with her young male boss:
Sometimes it's over.
Sometimes you have to draw the line.

Everyone will die.

the temperature rises.
The cool change will come.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Minister for Women

dedicated to the hon. Tony Abbott, Minister for Women

minister for menstrual blood on the hem of her school dress
minister for being the last of your friends to get your period
or the first
minister for sluts, dogs, whores, cunts,
lesbos, fat chicks,
minister for the ones who failed the frigid test
and the ones who passed

minister for the childcare worker who sings the babies to sleep
and on the way home spends two hours wages
on a take home test
minister for the second line, the call from a phone box,
‘if you keep it, we’re through’
minister for knowing it’s over anyway
whatever you do

minister for the women who lie together, bellies touching

minister for stretch marks and cracked nipples and anal fissures,
for the surprising dark clot, the size and colour of a kidney,
that slips from her a few hours after childbirth
and shivers gelatinous on the bathroom floor
just one of those things no one tells you about

minister for the lump that’s found
sometime after midnight
during lovemaking

minister for menopause

minister for the ones who didn't have children
and never felt the need
to explain the reasons why 
but had to anyway to relatives at Christmas 
and the young fathers in the workplace
who will look after you when you are old?
you'll never truly understand love.

minister for putting your knickers into soak
for washing your bra in a laundry bag
for the stains that never come out
for hanging those sheets out to dry anyway
because fuck you

minister for fluid that flows inwards and outwards
minister for solid waste
for matter and destiny
minister for wounds

Thursday, January 01, 2015

You may as well write

The world is not waiting
for you to write a poem
so write, don’t write.

The world makes itself
every day
relentless with its energy
for renewal
it asks nothing of you
but you give it anyway
the labour of daily life
walking the world away from
and towards the sun.

What are you grateful for?
you ask your daughters
as you lay them down to sleep.
They are grateful 
that you took the time to ask.

The world is not waiting 
for you to write a poem.
Write. Don't write. 
You may as well write.