Mary at the supermarket
Her adolescent hands take up my groceries.
In careful English she says It is warm today
and I see the scar that straddles her char-black forehead.
Its length is chilling: there is no refusing
the machete’s image, the thunk and force of the blow.
Yes, I say, and lift my bags to leave:
my heart cleft open, filling with this day’s warmth.
first published Famous Reporter #34
Esther Ottaway is a Tasmanian poet. Esther won one of two Poets Union Young Poets Fellowships for her collection Blood Universe in 2006 (www.pardalote.com.au), and poems from it can be downloaded from ABC Radio National’s Poetica website. In 2008 she performed new work at Sydney Writers Festival and Canberra’s Poetry at the Gods, and her poetry was set to music for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
The first time you were hit in love
Remember the open coffin in the lounge –
you tried not to look
but saw that open-mouthed thing
that had stolen your love.
Remember when you couldn’t sleep
because of the dreams
of being chased
through decaying mansions,
caught in lifts
that never opened
When did change become a dog with bared teeth –
was it your parents’ divorce when you were six,
when your father couldn’t remember?
Death walked with the pets you loved –
they had names: cancer, broken spine, hit and run,
given away because he cried, shot by mistake…
Remember when you were seven;
the year you couldn’t stop crying.
Your father sat on the bed
and told you, soon it would be
the darkest day of the year,
but then the days would get longer,
and if you could just hold on ‘til then,
life would begin the get better.
Liz Winfield’s poetry has been published in journals and literary magazines in Australia, the UK and Ireland. Her first collection, Too Much Happens, was published by Cornford Press in 2003, and was written with the assistance of a grant from Arts Tasmania in 2000. Her second collection is the chapbook, Catalogue of Love, published in 2006 by Walleah Press. Liz coordinates the Republic Readings, Hobart’s monthly poetry reading, and is a poetry editor for the rePUBlic readings chapbook series, The Poets’ Republic poetry broadsheet and Famous Reporter. She has taken many poetry and creative writing workshops for organisations and schools for children and adults.
The Arcanum of Shadow
Near the beach
low morning sun
scribbles the shadow
of a dead gum
on a fence, like a sentence
as unthinkable as four words
of Chichewa* cried
by an eleven-year-old girl:
the verb to die, first person,
The shadow throws me,
lifts the exact weight of her
in my arms
and lays the pressure
on my chest.
My stomach bunches
as tight as a group of men
dressed in khaki,
keeping to a border
where burnt-out buildings
gape across at refugee camps;
guns slung against their backs
slap like the pulse
in my neck.
The sun plays on waves
that beat to shore
with the monotony of a dirge.
And pebbles on the sand
slowly take off black hats
as another day assembles
to adumbrate a young girl’s life
* Chichewa is the predominant language spoken in Malawi
Carolyn Fisher’s poems have been widely published in literary journals in Australia and the U.K and a number have been anthologized, including Best Australian Poems 2004 (Black Inc) and 2005. She has been a featured poet at the Tasmanian Poetry Festival in 2001 and 2005, has read at venues in Tasmania and Victoria, and her writing has been supported by grants from the Australia Council and Arts Tasmania. Her first chapbook of poetry The Unsuspecting Sky won the Presspress award and was published by the same in 2008. She lives on the north-west coast of Tasmania.
In Summer Fields
She is moonlight,
hard through black gums,
breaking across his shadows,
and loving her,
he wonders what it was
he called the world.
like moths above her skin,
his heavy rain,
and tells her nothing,
walks in the soft candescence
of his summer fields.
From the collection, “Let me show you a ripple: when words are a way of seeing”
Kristen lives near Mt Roland in NW Tasmania. Her collection of poems and colour photographs, Let me show you a ripple, was published in April, 2008. Her second book, Creative Redemption: Uncertainty in Poetic Creativity, comes from her PhD thesis and centres on observations of creative processes (published August 2008).
Kristen’s poems have appeared in journals across Australia and on Radio National. She has been selected often for the writing programmes offered by Varuna – The Writers’ House, in Katoomba, NSW, and has received funding from Tas Regional Arts and the Australia Council for these events. She was a guest at last year’s Tasmanian Poetry Festival. She also runs workshops and offers tuition, both off- and online. Webpage: www.eatmorepoetry.com.au
The sunlight zings terrifically off the security fence.
Sydney’s always been more than just a pretty harbour.
It is at such rare times as this that the streets
like chic mirrors show the depths of the city’s character,
which is just as pretty and only slightly emptier.
Stolid boys from the Shire or from the country
line up in uniform and the delicate
play of light on badges, cuffs and gun butts
is as thrilling as massed Zippos at a soft rock concert
back in the days when people used to smoke.
Shopkeepers at the Quay moan in funny accents
about the loss of custom, but we can be safe
in laughing with them, not at them, sharing
the knowledge that if it were not for our leaders
there would be no tourists to be absent.
The photographers who snap dead streets
are like papparazzi around a corpse:
no respect, no sense of timing and an
over-inflated idea of the importance
of aesthetics. We can forgive them
because they know not what those very gutters
reflect. There is no mist on the glass.
A distant, growing chant reminds us all
of what used to be called “history”
or “compassion” and the water slaps stone.
Tim Thorne has written twelve collections of poetry, has edited four anthologies and his poems have appeared in most major Australian literary journals. He established the Tasmanian Poetry Festival and was its Director for 17 years. He has performed his work throughout Australia and overseas, and has worked as a poet in a variety of community contexts. His A Letter to Egon Kisch (Cornford Press 2007) won the William Baylebridge Prize, and he has won the Launceston Poetry Cup twice. He lives in Launceston, Tasmania, with his wife Stephanie and a large garden.