Watch yourself guys
near these leaves of three
along and off the trails we
stroll – the anointed
pretty little leaves
how wet and ready
to wipe fire
across your skin
look how the bees search buds
and how they search
for better buds
‘Animals aren’t affected by urushiol’
I tell my boy
he asks me why
the plant exists
I try not to answer
with some conclusion that some of nature
needs defence only against people
‘Perhaps there’s something special about them
we don’t know yet.’
after days of rain we need to leave
the house is all spelling and online
math lessons wwhaat’s fo-or diiinnner
and the constant repertoire of piano
that sometimes accompanies the theatre
of my nightly dreams
midmorning cease, the grey sky ascended
distant, moving east. we take an apple
boots and a notebook each
into the woods behind, knowing
post-rain Fall is written for the senses
the burnt patch from early Summer
starting to sprout barely, mostly blackened
inside acres of yellow; the knee high kind of grass, sharp
through clothes, the scrappy kind that looks beautiful
for about ten weeks a year
the burnt earth exposes rocks and its soilless quality
this is manzanita land, oaks and the determined pines
with creamy nuts if we do the work
the house that burnt, it’s garage levelled, a drill press;
will it work again? a garden gnome stares from inside
temporary fencing (not at us) lifeguarding the covered
no trades have touched this place yet
the house next door burnt two years ago
and rebuilt from its event of kids and cigarettes
my kids always find the best sticks and compete
bulrushes in the awakening dry creek
are about to burst, like those they found last week
explosive, unstoppable, these aren’t quite ready
my middle boy shows us all pushing with a thumb
two ravens in a flurry from the greater pines
and a great brown owl with it’s bulk body
is all wingspan and pointy eared out of a flattened face
we chase them for an hour following the bird terror
around the valley, a hunt for a glimpse
of the great night creature, who lands and disappears
into pines or oak, found again by the two crafty ravens
who we thank for exposing the rare evening bird
a deep closing bluish-grey approaches
faster than my estimate to make it home on little legs
the rule: no one should have to school
on their birthday
it’s my birthday
and we do
the right thing
has to work
or study when the day falls
on a Wednesday
and why should it
be any different
for a homeschooling family
for I am to teach them
and work ethic, I am
to teach them how
hard life is and how
hard they need to
we finish before midday
and go skating all afternoon
I’m painting the house
the wrong colour
just a smidge
too yellow-based myurrrk
instead of the blue-based green
the next coat will cover it
but I’ve got to use up this 15 liters
and each brush stroke is deeply
I look back at the last few hours
of weatherboard wall
wearing the wrong colour
the koala tucked legs
of squirm disturbed sleep
and grasp clenched fist
each child I consider
shaving this chest
with boom gate entrance
tables and seats
sit empty in the shade
the carpark full
all the paths lead to themselves
rough pebbled short and bendy
past a struggling bottle brush
butcherbird and magpie
on the same branch of the ironbark
eyeing off the lawn for supple grubs
I stroll in with a satchelful
ink sympathy on A4
he reads out of his hand
held screen unpolished
smudged with struggle
through fumbled chords
a two hundred year ache
in her voice
(inspired from David Stavanger @readerinres ‘ashes’)
a bruised face records the good shots
an inelegant swann spins from vulture street
I miss the hill – I don’t
miss the dog track – what happened
to Happy Jack?
we aussies sing in beautiful chorus
when the lyric includes ‘wanker’ – Broad is
conducting crowds in a deep square
the kid in front is seeing the beach ball
the umpire doesn’t have his eye in
the member’s haze on stanley is rich
boxes come in air-conditioned
or extremely humid
Section 14 Row T seat 7 is bellow
XXXX survives on event monopoly
slow motion replays reveal VB stepped on
toes over the border
the umpire called
It requires 6 x ten, nine, eight, seven, six,
five, four, three, two, one for a Mexican 2 pi R
white is a canvas
bowlers draw batsmen
holding the bat out
there’s a spot they missed
means place of swirling plastic beer cups
milk grog face
she sleeps in the inside of my elbow
like half in a hammock
in the other hand
the rattle of lego up the tube
I’ve never been
so domestic as right now
think I’ll go empty the fridge
of a beer
7 turns 8 and the new watch arrives. It’s water
resistant. We wait for a trickle past her knee.
4 might make it to 5 in a few weeks if he’d just Keep
your hands to yourself!
2 will probably wake early and shout
at the top of his voice that he’s 2
holding three fingers above his head.
Next week the eternal 10 weeks stops our heart
for the 6th time. 6! Where did 6 go?
0 is overdue by a week and a day. Batteries are low
in the remote and need charging if you want to fast-forward
from the floor. Ticked-off ticks off another
level of candy crush. A new record.
Eyes roll anti-clockwise.
for Matt Reid
& for Nathan Damianopoulos
you wake from vineyards
of keith jarrett
slow-drip through veins
it’s a morning that promised thunder full of broken
and a new promise; you can pour
if you want the money
first touch of shovel is heavy
across a ribbed tray the six thirty sun wincing grapefruit eyes
the diesel engine
before it turns
into the street
your screed levels the first steps of a new family
sun’s hand on your back you are papery
notes of sand pungent soapy lime you forgot to swipe
underarm fruity lactic wipe a nose
across your shoulder a cedar blend
of Barossa Adelaide hills and a dusty
mushroom across your neck
when you wash
the wood float
it is furry
My friend Chris Lynch is heading to PNG for The Crocodile Prizes, PNG’s literary awards. He wants to take as much poetry as he can to hand out to writers who don’t have access to contemporary literature.
If you’re heading to Speedpoets tomorrow at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival, bring along some books, journals or zines you no longer read. Here’s the Facebook link for more info. And a couple of other ways you can help out our northern island friends. Poetry for PNG
Get on board!
(I have five licenses for bad puns)
a million things
on in Brisbane right now. this
Brisbane Fringe Festival is in it’s second year. I really wanted to perform some poems on this river of ours. Partly to interact with the river in a different way, partly because it devastated us not so long ago and I want to learn how to love it again and also maybe just because we can get in a tinny and read some poetry (and that can be fun). If you’re interested… I’d love you to be there.
It’s this Friday night.
Two sessions – 6pm and 8pm.
Get a ticket – 6pm session
Get a ticket – 8pm session
or reserve a seat here: Brisbane Fringe Festival – Riverwords. and here
is a poem I’ll read on Friday night (first published in fourW magazine 2012)
In need of a poem
of river can’t be
Thoughts seep into the carpet.
I want the nose of the knee-deep
throwing wet bags of stand back.
They bulldoze novels into a council pile of lounge chairs.
In need of a poem that’ll break the silence
with the river we loved, point out
we are still deeply in love, but don’t
know how. Like Grammar girls first time
back, stroking 5am oars.
Because it drifts past like a dog at the back
what it did on the carpet.
In need of a poem
so I asked some buddies, who
shared their river.
Facebook Event: Riverwords
twelve outgoing tides will suck broken matter out from the mangroves
a seem of coal in the bowen basin worth $keeping-there has never been polled and will not get to vote
the word ‘asylum’ will not get any sleep
the entire 147 hours
the leader of the First Nations party, Maurie, who doesn’t use a computer is contactable on his mobile or you could also be the 516th person to like the Facebook page.
314 displaced koalas will find they like the taste of smaller trees
the number of hairs on the heads of the major party leaders will be considered not a fair comparison
five million pencil ticks will think outside the box
please note: you may separate your thoughts using the multi-coloured commas provided
please also note: counting down is frownable
It has never looked like the right key. Hanging
beside the others. I try it often and slowly
listen to the tumblers say yep yep yep
Shake my head. Sometimes
I quarter turn it
just to be sure.
I can’t open it.
That would be devastating.
If anyone finds me in a park
dribbling metaphors in compass directions
lap full of new books
and muttering how council workers enjambed
the hedge too much like a map of canada
would you kindly
wipe my chin with melalueca bark
explain to the officer
about the poetry festival on the weekend
and let me return to society another day.
Even if you don’t usually go to poetry events
but wonder what-the-metaphor
goes on at them.
It’s free. It’s in Brisbane. It’s this weekend. Great venue.
There will be words that’ll bounce in your heads for weeks.
International Australian & Local poets. GO!
Spoken In One Strange Word Program
you place you on top of the aeroplane pile
big-eyes, arms-out, standing on grass
it’s for me.
I pick you up and crease you with my thumb
cross your arms
turn your eyes over
and press your head into the table
when it’s almost complete
for test-flight hand over
you dissolve into sobs.
take gulpfuls to unfold your words.
I have no idea what I’ve done.
Check out this installation from the totally wonderful Pascalle Burton: Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect. There are circular poems from feature poets that Pascalle has made into stamps (these will be at QPF in August) meanwhile other poets are interacting with the project online with their own circular poems. Mine is here: Circular Poetry Contributor: Andrew Phillips.
In other news, my piece ‘Cooee’ is published in the current Meanjin Vol 72. I can’t tell you how stoked I am to be in such a beautiful and well read publication. I’m one super stoked prawn.
a friar bird in the banksia
on her phone again
For those not familiar with the friar bird’s chatter here ’tis: