Lines on a friend’s dipsomania

Felicity, goodnight; leave the fast whirl, pleading weak
or want, but random, dull and stonkered
though you were and as if to protest

once more “I’m no souse” as you slugged back
doubles of gin sans tonic for hours – you moved,
all proud whimsical resolve like a pantomime parade

toward the night, blanched to your plastic lolly sandals
by the moon’s blue damask in the city
clouds. Homeward you’re counting the footfalls

of your erratic passage drunk and humming
nonsensical, since you’re almost
gone, still young though shuffling poorly up

Liverpool St to your flat in the ‘The Hopes’,
having haggled and hocked your rings
for what was only passion

pop. Slower and slower, one night
you’ll stop and be gone more completely,
though it’s already two years since, hit

by the car on Darlinghurst Rd and in your body’s
supernatural nine metre airflight, you decided
to live but forget how; two years since anaesthesia’s

tonic aquamarine daydream, since surgery
left you believing the less felt, the less
thought, the safer and better you would be

healed and held in a bell-jar cracked
from apex to inception – you have grown
to love in the dark of a cupboard

your fissure, as once you loved


First published in Heat #8.


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Reading at the NZEPC Home & Away Conference

The NZEPC Home & Away conference was on in September 2010. It was a great meeting of the tribes of poets of New Zealand & Australia. & I got to read one night.

Other readings on the NZEPC site.

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Southerly Vol 70/2: Romance


Tristan Barkley had sworn off romance. Until a sizzling night with Ella Jacobs, his secretive housekeeper, made the millionaire rethink his decision. Yet when he learnt she was carrying his child, he proposed the only solution: subscribe to SoutherlyAustralia's oldest literary magazine.

If Tristan had only done that he would now be reading Southerly #70/2, the Romance issue, with poems in it from David Brooks, Bron Bateman, David Mortimer, Cath Kenneally, Peter Dawncy, Pi O, Jill Jones & Ouyang Yu.

Here's the more literary introduction you'll find on the Southerly site.

Is Australian romance an oxymoron? It has been long thought so; not for us Don Juan or Don Quixote but Ned Kelly and Tom Collins. Even when romance rears its alluring head in Australian fiction, as with Harry’s wooing of Sybilla in My Brilliant Career, it is often quashed as a distraction or delusion. More recently, celebrated texts of their times such asPuberty Blues (1979), Oscar and Lucinda (1988),Praise (1992) have confirmed the view that romance is difficult in Australia – and in Australian fiction.

Get it at good bookshops or online from (oooh new website!).

Apologies (not very heartfelt, one admits) for the intro rip-off to Mills & Boon's Bedded By Blackmail author Robyn Grady.

Cross-posted to

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The Carnies

The carnies carried me thus far round the state
hustling the rural shows with tests of strength,
and aim, the bejeweled and ropey rides loaded

on custom pan-techs. I was caught up in their wheeling
arcs, the sighing hydraulic rams, the fairy lights
and grease. “Just not bred to it, I guess,” I’d said

when they bought me in.
                                        I came to in the ward
with the surgeon testing sutures on my hand.
He talks to himself, makes notes. Young,

neat, exact; he thinks he’s seen me before.
I roll over and crush the line, so the nurse comes in,
bustles about — “finding veins is hardly a hobby here”

she quips. “I was tuning pianos before this,” I say,
and she affects an interest, “before that I was in a band.”
In the afternoon a cardiac arrest, the dinner trolley,

the chaplain mumbles with his newfound amputee,
in the light through the blinds. In the morning
the florist’s toll of cut stems, visitors without end.

First published in Snorkel #9, April 2009.

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The Astronaut’s Lovesong

A new poem 'The Astronaut's Lovesong' appears in the latest Meanjin, issue #69/2. Here are the first five lines.

The Astronaut’s Lovesong

Love, I sing you a song of the seas.  I fly
a hundred miles high like the pleiades
through the story of your boyhood skies,

    but honestly, love, I want you totally
    like a heat shield, an antidote, a splashdown.

Read the rest of the poem on p234 of Meanjin #69/2 (available in good bookstores and by subscription).

Although it doesn't follow the facts accurately the piece is inspired by the many news items from 2007 on fallen astronaut Lisa Nowak and her tawdry love triangle with a fellow astronaut.

Astronaut Lisa Nowak.

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71 Monaro

1971 Holden Monaro HG Coupe

Cream premium-grain hide

interiors matched to wood
compliment a high-style
body finished
to concourse quality
in fire-engine
red with more chrome
than the sun
can shine on.

Under the bonnet we’ve got a
rebored Chevy big block fitted-out

with Mallory ignition, Holley twin-carbs,

Genie extractors, high-stall converters,

a port-matched Edelbrock manifold on
running lumpy cams, roller rockers,
MT covers
and cooled through a
five-row baffled
cross-flow radiator with an
water-pump, braided hose and
thermo fans

(and it still runs pretty hot).
It'll red-line at
4800 revs delivering

250 brake horse-power  through
Turbo 400 transmission with a
B&M shifter,
belting down
the drive train to a
1:3.36 ratio
rear diff with
Firestones on
14-by-8 deep-dish rims.

At the arse-end it's high
cleared, at the front-end,
low. Mate, this one
can smoke it up, laying down
a quarter mile
in 15.9
at 108 miles
an hour.

First published, in slightly different form, in Cordite 17: Driver,  April 2004.

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Poem published in Snorkel

I have a new poem 'The Carnies' in the #9 issue of online journal Snorkel. Check it out.

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