Tag Archives: kids

homeschool ravens

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
in-ground pool
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

That zero year

That zero year is the publication of work Tiggy and I have collaborated on over the past year. It deals with all things parenting and kids, hits raw nerves in places and I’m stoked to be placing it out there for readers to enjoy. I love what these three brilliant poets have to say and feel truly blessed to have their words donning the back cover: 

From the sudden weight of Thirteen weeks to the biting complaints of Fishing, That zero year screams with joy. These poems form a dialogue of love and loss; unpicking stitches in the family weave to welcome us to the bedside table of these most private moments. Here, we witness breath-taking devastation – the missing knee in the chest, the remembered rub of a belly – and wide-eyed wonder – a smile wriggled through to the toes. That zero year is an unflinching celebration of breath and blood. Phillips and Johnson know what it is to be alive and we are richer for it.

Graham Nunn

This collection is like an unsuspecting orientation manual, uniting what appears to be uncomplicated materials, recognisable motifs, familiar situations and mapped out structures but, in all reality, holds the weight of ten sinking cities and leads me back to that Talking Heads lyric, ‘how did I get here?’

Pascalle Burton

As reflections on domestic life and the intimacy of family, these are fine poems. But as portraits of loss, love, and grief, and of what happens in the months and years that follow tragedy, they are vivid, unflinching, and beautiful.

Michelle Dicinoski

The book will be available for purchase at the QPF bookshop this weekend. We will be performing our set on Sunday morning so if you’re around Brisbane, we would love to see you there – 11am at Judith Wright Centre and here’s a taste of what you’ll get if you pick up a copy of That zero year.

The home midwife

She pulls up in a hatchback,
carries her leather case swollen
with years in and out of waters

a little vial of rose oil
and herbs transferred through bellyskin
to help the body yawn.

She walks down a hallway
to brew a pot of raspberry leaf,
fennel, singing nettle

and chats between the heavy breaths,
makes a joke about stir frying the placenta
but doesn’t laugh.

No phone code or knife sharpening
for spine on spine, head up bottom down
or umbilical wrapped around the neck

she has whispering hands;
chinese point massage to coach
an aquatic half somersault
and unfurl the ribbon.

She reads faces too
guides a father’s hands
to be in on the magic of catching skin
slippery as water

it’s a black art
to let a baby happen
in your living room.