Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last Night I Lay Awake

Last night I lay awake

in bed, listening to the house

and planets whispering.

I fidgeted and they fell silent.

The universe swept itself

under the carpet,

darkness overflowed the bath: I'd

upset the rhythm of things.

As I held my breath,

the nocturnal sighing

returned: a poltergeist

began humming in the attic,

swinging his hips to the pulse

of the southern lights; a possum

shook comets from a canopy;

hooping winds bundled the moon

through my bedroom door as eerie creatures

from the neighbours’ pipe dreams slid

like liquid sugar down the alleys,

kissing the streetlights out with enormous lips,

and I promised not to make a scene again.

I will lie awake, motionless and soundproof,

as the gutters creak, the tiles crack,

and the windows crystallise,

waiting for the stars to breathe out

and space to unfold

(winner 3rd place in the Fish Publishing International Poetry Prize, 2010)

Saturday, May 1, 2010


It’s when we’re asleep and dreamless

that we miss the silent landing

of snowflakes on the roads

of city and suburbs,

emptying the sky of stars.

It’s when we’re fast asleep

that our shadows play

with the energy of pent-up children,

throwing stars at each other

like great shooting snowballs.

(previously published in The Sun Herald, 2010, and Meanjin, 2005)


He used to tell me the strangest things,

like how there are spiders

in the wind that comes from the sea —

a wind that tunnelled through

homes, cars and towers,

hollowing them out.

It’s hard to argue with him

in the shadows of these cliffs

facing the ocean,

the top-heavy overhangs

reaching for the sea,

the wind-carved caves

of pale grey honeycomb —

spider webs

spun with stone.

Beware of Falling Rocks

says a sign, that creaks

as the wind ups the tempo

of its whistling, eating the land

as only the air can.

And rocks can be heard

glunking into water

like creatures from beneath, or

scuttling in the shadows of the cliffs —

now shadows of their former selves.

It’s hard to argue with him in this

darkness between immensities —

in the face of the ocean,

back to the world,

the wind filling in

what has been carved out.

(previously published in Space, 2006)


In abeyance, the body sinks

into the weeds for weeks; the mote

doing roundabouts in the moat of the eye

ceases to trouble or seize the soul, flattened

like a rubber sole; deadened eyes

in headlights fade to dust as roadkill

reeks under tyre-tread; tired limbs in limbo,

flags that flop loosely in the wind; the faculties

lose their facility, nothing within arm's reach

or cheek by jowl; no howl from the invalid mouth

stuffed with one insipid mouse; the toes,

unable to tow the two, flat, pinned-

and-needled feet; too heavy like the brain

in a skull full of rain, an ocean liner

at the bottom of the world, wedged

in a fat ice floe.

(previously published in Meanjin, 2007)


And then comes the morning when it dawns on you

the sun is not going to rise any more than you will

above yourself; when, in the midst of the mist,

blinkers have crept up the sides of your

cheeks, corridors have closed in like

garbage-tip walls, doors have

disappeared, and the past

repeats ad nauseum,

hissing from the

gutters like


You’ve awoken to dead-ends stacked up, like bodies en bloc, no

exit signs, no wrong way turn back, where gambler’s

luck is never looking up, and if you’re honest

no one’s sure what you mean, where self-

abandonment is out of vogue, tunnel-

vision is the new black, clouds

have descended so low that

even the supermarkets

are dark and everyone

is looking for some

way out, any way

out, not a mirror,

anything but

mirrors, just

a window


to let




(published by Otoliths, 2010, while a previous version of

this poem was published in Literature and Aesthetics, 2005)