Draft Poems March 2012


1788 Shoreline

[This poem is rewritten for submission to Red Room’s project ‘The Disappearing’. It occurred to me after walking around Circular Quay in Sydney and noticing a line of brass discs set into the ground, which apparently trace the original shoreline of the harbour as it was in 1788.]

This is new colonisation

another unmarked silent death;

a natural border is no obstacle

to the march of mediocrity.

We have buried the moment

of first meeting:

of the hard clash / of unknown syllables

under a high tide of concrete,

coffee shops and crap.


Gone is the harmless hostile sand

soaked in cheap black blood

the gunshot corroboree lost:

so we can wave an imperial flag,

and sing through smiles the lies

about sharing our boundless plains.



He Reads Himself to Sleep

He let go of my hand at school one morning

and disappeared: he ran


to class without me, because

I was walking.  Until I stopped


and realised that I couldn’t see him any more

he’d gone inside


and the path between us, outside the building

was empty.


Last night, he asked me to

tuck him in; and when


I put down my book, and walked

into the bedroom


He was reading, by himself, without me.

I watched him.


When I returned to my book, in

another room, I was


happy that he had found

a book to enjoy; and I felt


one of the million griefs

that creep up on you


when you realise that something

has happened


while you weren’t





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