Freeway Towns (After Kenneth Slessor)

Freeway townswith your dusty brownsand shady grassall moving past,with parks astridethe freeway’s sideand hearts that knowand streets that glowin summer sunat half past one,that tolerateour hasty gaitwhile moving onto where we’re from:you watch it all,while freeway’s calldenies the chanceto meet your glance.The moment gone,we part unknown.I wish I knewthe half of you.


…rediscovering, room by room, what it was that I first learned there about how high, how wide the world is, how one space opens into another… (David Malouf, 12 Edmondstone Street) How many of my dreams go to this place? Always the same Queenslander balconies where I wander over those drooping eaves in search ofContinue reading “Topography”

Sonnet for the Armchair Geographers

You may be right, Eratosthenes…but you are not right when you take away from [Homer] his great learning, and declare that his creativity is the mythology of an old woman…Homer tells myths more accurately than later mythological authors, not totally recounting marvels, but for the sake of knowledge. (Strabo, Geography) Our first aim was accuracy:Continue reading “Sonnet for the Armchair Geographers”

Damascus Road: No location

No flights to Damascus and if there were Safety would fly in the face of Intention. Where knowledge is danger, is ignorance bliss? I cannot walk Straight Street and know the vision that blinded Saul, or see the home where scales fell from well-meaning eyes. That much is past; no flights can take me whereContinue reading “Damascus Road: No location”


Why do I walk on tiptoes when I first step into icy blue?                                  As if my waist must stay above the lapping line,                                                   as though caution will keep me safe in this task which infants undertake with glee? The slow preparation, the gasps as underneath we plunge: all this is ritual, and weContinue reading “Ritual”

The Snake that Wasn’t

First, it prompts barking, then slithers, Its brown face poking, scaled, from the trees. Bamboo and rock can’t expose its camouflage, yet the dog is wiser. Trapped by barking and pool, the reptile skulks while, in Sunday daze, we search out “Kimberley snake control” and keep the dog at bay. In a flash between leaves,Continue reading “The Snake that Wasn’t”


Upside-down-like, you bulb from earth – your beauty breaks in root-like branches. Spindly fingers reach to sky, gaunt and stretching, delicate, your certain trunk a monument, a stout and stolid testament to passing years, millennia. Shedding pods to paint; a home, yet prison; sacred; den for slaves – drawing, standing, reaching out – a signContinue reading “Boab”

Disembarking: A Terminal Sonnet

Bad coffee drunk at airport terminal’s Faint consolation for delays in flight, When failing air-con gives pilots a fright, And back we go to slow departure halls, Disembarking and delayed. It’s small – A First World problem, as they say; tonight I should still be in Queensland: when all’s right With aircraft safety, we’ll stillContinue reading “Disembarking: A Terminal Sonnet”