‘Border Ranges’ Stinson series – Sunday 28th February, 1937

viii

Out of the dust in cameron corner
the border dashes a straight
line for the coast.  Then, 

leaps off the 29th parallel 
to swim upstream, for rivers should
be 
shared.  It bends and twists 

until it climbs out to traverse the great 
dividing range.   A dotted line 
must be its own guide.  So it wanders 

from peak to saddle to granite 
dome, skirting the base of wedding cake 
shaped cliffs.  It is a roller coaster hike and  

before it jumps 
into waves at point danger
it must scramble the subtropical

ridge of the tweed escarpment,
the inside rim of an extinct volcano
still gazing at its own belly warning.

8am on Mt Throakban
waiting for cloud to part,
to catch a glimpse 

of his pencil line
between Archerfield 
and Lismore.

burnt tree on a ridge
his heart rate
on the border

 

Stinson series – Saturday 27th February, 1937

vii

Sleep doesn’t fall 
for the night
has its own level; 

bent branches, 
screeching vines, tightly 
packed fur, lost in claws,

a tone of howls 
spread across 
an octave, 

clouds swoop, pour a drink
the size of a droplet for every leaf, 
log, black spot hiss on red ember. 

It drips like a light doze
before dawn, broken by a great owl
who has finished its search.  Bernie 

roasts an onion 
then continues his search
for broken wings.

 

Stinson series – Lamington Plateau: 1829 – Today

vi

These are the hills
Captain Logan walked around;
‘impassable pine scrub
from base to summit’.

These are the hills the O’Reilly’s built
a cottage guest house
to retreat, to cut conservation
into the mountain.

These are the hills
Bernie went scratching
around for the missing
‘City of Brisbane’.

These are the hills
where the Japanese hop
out and breathe, snap rainbow
lorikeets on their Mothers head.

These are the hills
I scramble and take
with me, lose my way
to find something else.

 

 

Stinson Series – Friday 26th February, 1937

v

His brother carved a farm
at the base of the lamington

range.  That’s where Bernie is
among the black spotted pigs

that remind him of tiger cats
who haunt the mountain.

Herb points his finger
up the valley at last Friday

afternoon’s twin engine plane
entering cloud, trying to climb

the downdraft.
‘That was a week already’.

Bernie didn’t see it fly over that day,
he hadn’t seen the newspapers either;

a santa’s sleigh of a plane,
over Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads,

Wauchope, Terrigal.  Spare aircraft
search the coast and hinterland

the army head up
the Hawkesbury, then, oil

spotted off Broken Bay.  All Hopes
Abandoned.  Growing Belief

The Stinson
Plunged into the Sea.

Have you ever had a hunch?  It is logic
I listen to, mostly.  Bernie never called it

a hunch.  He just didn’t
think newspapers have a clue.

Stinson series – Tuesday 23rd February, 1937

iv

The flask held less than a quart 
they reckoned.  Heavy, for a city man

on a diet of water, his daily exercise 
to keep John alive. 300 yards 

down to the creek; rocks, lantana,
lawyer vine, mama bird eats 

the berries from a walking stick 
palm.  Today took 

three hours to climb back up 
that slope.  

 

Stinson series – Saturday 20th February, 1937

ii

leg bone –
aircraft pipe
through canvas

iii

The cyclone moved
off the mountain, moved off
the coast, retreating
from what it had done.  Air

washed of its haze; buildings
in Brisbane and beyond the Glass
House mountains.  We couldn’t see
our mountain held a secret;

flecks of blue through the canopy,
and wandering planes
never circle
our cries and smokey fire.  Westray
couldn’t wait beside the carcass
of yesterday’s flight, his hand burning
to scramble down gullies.  Gone,
in moments, swallowed by green
just the fading sound of a man slipping
through the undergrowth.

Stinson series – Friday 19th Feb, 1937

i

The pressure drops, the anxious
spin before the storm.  Trees lose
what they can’t hold, limbs 
crack, bring down vines, ferns explode 
and send a squawk up the valley.  
All of this is swallowed

by the howling.  Behind the timber barn,
the girls huddle.  Their udders and fearful eyes 
wait until tomorrow.  Stump to stump, Bernie
crosses the field to the rattling cottage, 
inside, smoke billows
each gust back down the chimney.

Twenty miles west,
below the top of the plateau,
John escapes through a cabin window,
into the rain, pulls out two others
before the engine fuel
takes them all.