QLD Writer’s Week Feature #7 – Justine Reilly

Feature #7 showcases the work of Justine Reilly.

What excites you about poetry?

The honesty of it. How it can convey things that are intangible to other forms of communication.

What are the themes that interest you / that you like to explore in your own writing?

Outsiders. Matters of the heart. The truth about being human. Rhythm.

Charles Bukowski once said, ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can.’ How does a poem happen for you?

Quite immediately. A feeling evolves into a thought, depicted by words. I start writing the words and follow them to the end.



For five minutes
we are alone together
at the table
where your arthritic fingers
carefully inscribe details
into the page to a day diary
so the days don’t blur into one.

Moments alone together are precious, stolen, fleeting;
wise words
while balancing the pool pH,
soothing counsel
while driving this
destitute daughter to the station.

But one moment alone together
remains a trophy in our heart.
It is a shared heart, an inheritance
too giant, gentle and soft,
a troubled survivor
of a world beyond comprehension.

I pose the question:
Do you remember the night we got the Christmas tree?
His eyes regard me
with their dark stormy blue of the North Sea,
a hue once reflected in the eyes of ancestors
who brought us here via the desert.

The moon shone through the clouds,
he says, and the treasure was unlocked.

I wasn’t scared, I say
as we silently reflect
on a dirt road in a quiet forest.
We would have been home by sundown, he says,
if all had gone to plan.

But the wheels motioned
our vehicle deeper into sand
And a gammy elbow
couldn’t support expert hands
to lift it, laden as it was with an orphan sapling.

So we walked
toward the moon.
There was nothing to
be scared of, he says.

Steadily we paced along,
suspended in the freedom
of clear air, towering pines
and the single sound of
feet crunching country byways
in our own little black forest realm.

Your feeling for direction
delivered us to the nearest outpost
of rural civilisation
and alone together
our heart rolled home again.


About Justine:

Formerly a high-flying journalist, I now tend to prefer journeys that don’t necessarily involve jumping on planes and travelling great distances.



Filed under interviews/artist profiles, poetry & publishing

6 responses to “QLD Writer’s Week Feature #7 – Justine Reilly

  1. I am really interested in the use pronouns through this poem. You use ‘we’ and ‘your’ in the first stanza, and then a reference to yourself (?) impersonally “this destitute daughter” in the second before introducing the concept of a shared heart in the third. After that you use ‘I’ and ‘he’ throughout, until the last stanza, where it’s ‘your’ again. It subtly contributes to [for me] the impression of a complex, perhaps confusing, relationship. It’s a little haunting – and I particularly like the North Sea, ancestors, desert sentence.

  2. Must admit that I enjoyed her poetry best so far in this series of introductions..thanks again.

  3. annie

    I loved this. It is deeply evocative, visually and emotionally. The reference to the day diary is so entrenched in the non-magic of the present whilst the beautiful line about the ‘stormy eyes’ via the desert is a sublime salute to the past of generations. I also enjoyed the many inferences raised by the words, ‘orphan sapling’.

  4. helen wilson

    Oh my! I love your poem – especially the line “alone together our heart rolled home again”. Our heart, a tribute of love to your Dad… do not delay in sharing this with him so he has time to treasure it and live with it.

  5. ‘the truth about being human’ – good luck with that one! This is great Graham, meeting all these Brisbane poets. I love the detail in this poem Justine – the description of the father, the arthritic hands, the eyes.

  6. This is stunning – I’ve read it over a dozen times and keep returning to unpack more from your lines. Thanks again Graham to meet Brisbane’s poets and thank you Justine for this poem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s