Fran Sbrocchi
Kevin Gillam
Phillip Ilton
Kathryn Hamann
Christopher Mulrooney
Graeme Miles
Noël Christian
The Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize of $10,000
was won by Anthony Lawrence, presently of Tasmania, who sojourned here for several years. There is no other information available about the prize.
Tom Collins Poetry Prize Results
Western Writers WA writers centres programme.
The World Congress of Poets - Sydney

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Sunday at
Crawley Bay


At eight I want it to be morning once again

for in the morning when the light

makes shadow patterns on my bedroom wall

I revel in the heat and for the day

to go as planned: to finish

the piece I started to sew;

to walk by the river and watch

white sails bend and bow

their elegant curtsy

to the summer days.


Swan river, our river

where dolphins leap;

the shore where gentle mothers tend

the tiny children and where young

fathers keep watch, or inflate kayaks

for small boys.


No ghetto blasters on this family shore, we smell

barbecues grandfathers tend.

Girls in bikinis and hard hats

ride bikes along the pathway.


At the far end we buy

prawns for our supper from the lad

who brings his van each day.

You hold my hand.

I wear a wide straw hat.

We walk, your hand keeps

my faltering tread as steady

as it can in these late years.


There is a wedding party at the far end,

the bride in white, a long white satin

frock and veil that twists

in the off-river wind. A trio, one

a cellist, plays a classic strain

and I am glad that there is still

a place to picnic

by a river


a ghetto blaster.


Fran Sbrocchi



Poem waiting for a title


Wherefore the dream in the night that takes me back to the

remembered and that which is not?


The song's forgotten:

Long ago I knew a tune

that rang in my head

and was my choice

for dancing.


There is no rhythm here except

the pricking

of my fingers

over keys.


I cannot find a key,

a key that can unlock

the forbidden door.


The door has been closed for

a very long time.

It is made of heavy timber

but the lock has not corroded.

Did you lock it?

If you did where did you

hide the key?

Who did you tell?

Where is the story here?

Is this a story untold or merely one

that no one heard?


I keep trying to find

the place again.

There is no index to a mind

that wanders where it will.

There is no tune to dance

and the lyrics are

in a strange language.


You were a stranger once.

I wonder are you still?


The itinerant rover has no

place in these farmlands.

There is no smiling face

to welcome him home in the morning

or when he comes for lunch.


There are no warm beds in a house

of strangers.

These linen sheets are cold.

I would hold him close and

warm him if I could but I must go now.


I go to the mountain

for from the mountain top

I see the ocean

and a thousand islands

not yet visited.


The birch canoe has been fashioned.

My carved wood bowls are in place.

I have roots and seeds.

I have taken the green timber.

I have changed into new garments.

I wait.

I wait for the maker.


He brings my paddle.

I am gone now while the tide

drifts outward.

The mountains are distant


It is another spring.


In the valley the poplars begin

to shimmer.

The pale green leaves

diamond against the sun.

The first anemones pry forth

from snowed banks.


It is time to go.

Wind whips whitecaps

against my craft.

My paddle dips.


"They came to the island shore

and from a strange place

He told it to me."


I hold the story but there is no one.

no one here to listen.

Is my song sung

against the wind

the western wind

the wind that throws my voice

back from the sea.


Frances Arnett Sbrocchi



Father Glugg

(for Penne Gillies)


Father Glugg knew the devil

when he gathered round

we were out to raid the pay phones

....... lift / smoke those fags

and throughout England's green land.......not

one.......lolly machine could be accounted safe


His children's talks - never once

deviated from the highly instructive

We had the will but - he had the how-to


Then one cooling November

he decided on some deep sea fishing

to go beyond the grey surface of our souls

down into those dark dark depths

where the big ones rose and fell

In church that Sunday

he displayed his catch to one and all

schemes of such hellish subtlety

as spiders secreted in library books

Mrs Pippen collapsing with terror ... and then


he brought to the light

his catch of the day ... fire

crackers laid in an exhaust


Our faces fell

we'd let him down

our image was in danger

it might crack - show a little light


By next Sunday

our resources had been pooled

Heedless of the cost.....we

were determined on reform


Father Glugg

drove off that day.......with

his car farting vividly

smoke rising straight.......from hell's fires


Pinching their noses the demons danced

....... choking on success

Kathryn Hamann



(for Will)


A childhood spent

with jigsaw puzzles should

have equipped me to deal with life


my mother always the edges first

make a frame then.......with what is left

just ....... fill in the empty space


a plethora of corners

an absence of straight must

be...... of those new-style puzzles


I try a little firmness

logically one must join another

too many projections / nowhere to go


I've forced a few'd think

they almost fitted.............if the light

didn't catch the gaps


To be honest there may be a problem

as I came without a cover

and what I have made


is a mockery of what ought to image

can I conjure of what is beyond

my mind to conceive


I throw the pieces at the winds

and they fall into the hands

of a lover whose voice is


sheer silence luring me

to dwell in the darkest night

where all my words are broken

Kathryn Hamann



Strange Happenings at Saunders' Beach


Without a worry, without a care

Onto the sandy bank I stroll

"What a perfect spot!", I enthuse

As the lazy waters gently roll.


"This is the life, I have it made

Down South they live a hectic race

Ha ha!, they're not as lucky as me

They haven't got this easy pace!"


But, is it just I'm a little weary

Or is this place a trifle eerie?


"What stupid thoughts are these", I say

"Am I becoming paranoid?

Look - a vivid sunset, a pristine beach

These negative thoughts I must avoid!"


Yet, what is that log half-submerged

Gliding up the creek?

Why does it move against the current?

This mystery has a very strong reek.


There's two knobs on its front end

And why does its course towards me, bend?


Jumpin' Jiminy! Holy cow!

The truth struck ultra quick!

The gaping jaws made their lunge

I froze as solid as a brick.


"Arrrgh yuk!", complained the crocodile

"This freezing trick is not very nice

You inconsiderate human twit

Do you expect me to eat a lump of ice?"


Nothing could I say in my solid state

But his fishy halitosis, I sure did hate.


He stomped around for quite a while

He wailed, he cussed, he swore

"I know" he cried, "I'll call up the Bunyip

Why didn't I think of that before?"


He burrowed his snout into the sand

Uncovering a strange pink stone

Upon which he huffed and puffed

From the depths came a muffled moan.


And, my friends, from that ordinary creek

Arose what surely is the world's greatest freak.


A great blubber-like blob of slimy green

Oozed upwards to a house-like size

Consisting of indeterminate folds and hair

And a neckless head sporting spook-like eyes.


"O gracious Bunyip", implored the Croc

"So scarce is food, my hunger is real

I found this stupid human stray

But it froze solid, so I've lost my meal."


Meanwhile I spied along the beach

Many animals who emerged within easy reach.


"Don't bother me with trivia"

Mumbled Bunyip through his folds of fat

"Your bad breath sure makes me sick

You uncouth reptilian brat."


"He's offended our beloved Bunyip"

Boomed a kangaroo standing by

"So according to the laws of the bush

This whingeing crocodile, we must now try."


No notice they paid to me standing still

In my frozen state, I was feeling the chill.


A chorus sprang up from the creatures all gathered

They clamoured for the crocodile's hide

A dingo howled, the cockatoos squawked

A fruit bat performed a somersault glide.


Croc parted his jaws to fight

A pungent cloud escaped from his hatch

"Oh phewww!" exclaimed a lizard squatting near

"That breath is lethal, don't strike a match!"


Without relief from that stench very soon

I knew I was going to completely swoon.


"Enough!" bellowed Bunyip in rising anger

"I didn't ask for this kangaroo court

Never have I seen such frivolous behaviour

Have you all forgotten the manners you're taught?"


"And get that noxious breath out of here"

Like a dragon was Bunyip's roar

A spurt of flame shot out of his mouth

And hit the Crocodile's breath full bore.


And you'll never believe what happened next

It's almost impossible to put into text.


Croc's murky cloud instantly ignited

In a glittering display of incandescence

Like a row of sparklers on bonfire night

His teeth were the pivot of his glowing presence.


Croc exploded in a shower of sparks

The animals squawked and scattered in fright

"I've missed my sleep" grumbled Bunyip......

And slid into the creek; silence settled the night.


How I thawed out, I don't recall

And you might think my story's a bit tall

But one thing of you I beseech

Don't ever linger on Saunders' Beach.

Phillip Ilton





"It's the baby" she complained,

listening to the pad, pad, pad

coming from the dark hallway.

He arose from their bed,

picked up the child

and returned him

to his cot in the adjoining room.


Next evening

the little boy rejoiced

as the hammer thumped nails into slats

across the top of the cot.


Never had his own cage before.


Later he discovered

he could no longer

climb over the side of the cot

and seek warmth in his parents' bed.


Forty years on

the little boy is still crying.


Phillip Ilton



The Sickie that Wasn't

The night before you dismiss

soreness in your throat,

focus on your truant plan.


The morning insinuates through the venetians,

bends, ferrets under the doona.

As your mind grapples the intrusion

you become aware of the rasp

which was once your throat.


Having conquered the expedition to the phone

you stumble back to bed


that woman at work

doesn't believe you're sick.

Dammit. Can't she see the river

streaming from your nostrils.


Cursing the empty tissue box

you rummage the drawer

for elusive handkerchiefs.

Just as you reclaim the doona's canopy

your neighbour fires up his whipper-snipper.


Hours of stupor from

bathroom cabinet doses

doesn't cease his rampage, from paths

to shrubs, trees, fences, blinds, eaves, houses,

the neighbourhood.

Your failure to dry your nostrils

in the Great Sandy Desert

has the cynics from work

groveling apologies at your feet

and the next door dimwit

screeches mercy

as you flog his twisting torso

with his trimmer.

The whip catches,

anchors in his flesh

zaps the spin to you

your head a lathe in overdrive,

fuses with the swirl, blur,

punctured by bumps, raps, thumps

getting loud, louder

popping open your eyes

to a now darkened room,

the clock rebukes with its 6pm digits

as you absorb

there's knocking

on the front door.


It's him.

Gardening hat still rammed on his ears.

Oblivious to your dressing gown

he chortles

"Trimmed the garden today.

Paths, lawns, shrubs, even the trees.

Feels great doesn't it.

A good day's work.

Picked you some lemons, Mate.

Might come in handy

if you get the flu".

Phillip Ilton


the tenuosity of ankles

the iced flannel of sea sucks
warmth from my feet,
reminding me of

the tenuosity of ankles.
gulls to the left,
now moving right, plunder peace,

reminding me of purpose
and the place for peace.
drying seaweed,

once wet with
a thousand stories,
reminds me of the fictions

in scent and skin.
and the wind -
not breeze or zephyr today

for there is no romance in wind -
reminds me
of me

Kevin Gillam



Jaundiced light

in my mad little corner

the world
from my mad little corner

on string
to my mad little corner

Kevin Gillam



weatherboard - warped,
but ever the inviting host. flecked -

paint gone to bark.
uneven extensions found need for a

step-up ensuite. wheezing -
more holes than a harmonica

thrumming - the chimney thrums to
broken pickets as they

catch and spit. rattles -
at quarter past midnight

as the last train to Fremantle
hums by. wakes -

just past five,
doing the same.

Kevin Gillam


sur la plage


sparkling waters you said to me as on an obol

inscribed let alone my taffy salt water

taffy mangeons mangeons mangeons let us

dine où dort le manège des tiroirs oh

Christopher Mulrooney


some golden fears


the painful course you have led my meaning here

whithersoever the balance listed

overall wistfully wandered the fay

and sparking jealousies above the maid

Christopher Mulrooney



in the gay players' almanac today


I behold the frumps there

in the supermarket

where Allen Ginsberg saw Walt Whitman

eyeing boys


so be it

here is trouble and if you want it

lots of trouble (hee hee hee hee hee)


let's look on it this way

the mechanism you fancy

in the doldrums groveling

a total dupe


here is the analogies

anal lys Sis

nothing doing no matter what they say (!)


oho here no is this so nay no

regard me this

figure this

all around the block


the bassman plays a serene fiddle

for (tee hee hee hee) union scale


in a state of suspended animation

where else some other state maybe


like Tom Peters who turned out to be Steve Forbes

Jesus CEO what would he do

the clucks among girls' butts and butts

what a fake the mind of men conceived this


o hopeless toady with a finger on the pulse

of the nation's anus

(and it is a political appointment mark that

it is a sinecure) the points are well taken

and for all that let me say this to you

ah forget it let's get drunk


pray for the President and the Congress

they need it a dubious semblance

not much difference but maybe it is

Christopher Mulrooney


"...if only one were not so periodical." - Hölderlin


The whole field of vision mimics

the collision of light and water, and everything

appears and moves with a feeling like

a watering mouth. The air, unmixed

and innocent, is heavy as campfire smoke.


"Does the sky still look the same to you?"

"It's lighter now and clearer than before."

"Have the wing-beats in your mind died down?"

"I'm in myself. My thoughts have changed."


The smell of rigorous cleanliness holds out

its hands refusing anything you'd ask.

The prosaic colours of the walls and machines

dismiss the poetry of outlaw senses.


So there's no choice but to mourn the body

of the world, already broken when the senses

ignorantly dreamed that it was whole,

and let the words of a complaint and celebration

fall from the mouth like the hands of dancers

in a wandering dance, recoiling on itself,

and mimicking the collision of light and water,

mimicking the water in your mouth.


Graeme Miles




The Circles on Eclipse Day


We both dreamed of pictures from the east. Yours

were sunset-coloured lotuses, and mine

were drawn from Rumi's words in thick shades

of grief for the disappeared Shamsi

Tabriz. The sadness of our pictures found

in sleep was the sun-shapes scattered in the shade,

and shrinking on eclipse-day through circle,

semicircle to vanishing and back.

Like east wraps into west continuously

the dawn was sunset, and sun merged into shade.

Graeme Miles




At a time when a day like yesterday leaned its elbows on a night like tomorrow

and in a place where water was in the puddles and the wind was in the sky

Crooked Mick held down a job chasing mosquitoes from a buffalo

and he gathered the cow shit that made the road from Port Hedland to the south.

Crooked Mick had feet you could park a bus beside

He couldn't find shoes to fit, so he wore trucks

He ate sandwiches of fencing wood and bit holes out of crocodiles

He fucked men, women and cattle, whichever was the most willing

He had a bulldozer for a pillow and a lugger for a blanket

and he never woke up moaning or with a crick inside his neck.

Dalangal was Crooked Mick's best mate and they worked either end of the state

and once in every half a year they met in the middle for a drink

Dalangal rubbed waves together to bring the tuna to the fleet

and he put an iron bar in every farm from Esperance going north.

Dalangal had arms you could drive along

He combed his hair with turpentine and the smell could knock down scrub

He bothered God every morning because he was terrified of ghosts

He tied up his flies with fencing wire and put a chain around his waist

He had bollard rope for a fishing line and he flattened a tug for an oar

and the only day he didn't work was the day that he was drunk.

The word went out that they were coming from Newman down to Magnet

and all the publicans made a huddle and hid in Marble Bar.

Crooked Mick was the first to arrive and went straight down to the keg room

and got in a couple of barrels before Dalangal pulled up.

And after the first truckload of beer had been drunk

their beards were barbed wire like fences and their hair was standing up

but the country was in their gullets and they couldn't swallow fast enough

so they tipped the next down their throats and poured it up their arse.

And after the second truckload of beer had been drunk

they went out like a couple of camels and shouted in the town

and they rattled the trains from the tracks and tied them in a knot

and no one north of the parallel got supplies for more than a month.

And after the third truckload of beer had been drunk

they woke the townspeople and they chased them from their bedrooms

and they took pennies from the cemetery and they started a two-up school

and won the ground from under their feet and the wind from in their eyes.

And after the fourth truckload of beer had been drunk

they caught the galahs that had been sleeping on the oval

and they tied them by their feet and played them like a banjo

and sang a song that split gravel from Xanthus to Carnarvon and the coast.

And after the last truckload of beer had been drunk

their shoes melted away from under them

and the roof fell down upon their heads

and they settled among the rubble

and Crooked Mick was noisy but fell instantly asleep,

but Dalangal resented Crooked Mick though why he couldn't say

and so instead of sleeping he set up rubber and a siphon

and pumped Crooked Mick full of petrol till his guts were twice their size,

but before he had a moment to operate his lighter

the fumes had overcome him and he fell to his face in a daze.

The morning stuck a finger up its nostril and blew upon the earth

and Crooked Mick woke up well and happy and looked forward to the day.

He combed his fingers through his beard and wiped his shirt across his eyeballs

and went out onto the minefields to have a piss.

Dalangal went behind him prowling very softly

and resentment put the acid to him and he hid amongst the mullock

and watched for another chance to lay the other low.

Crooked Mick's cock hung forward from his trousers

and draped upon the ground and made a furrow through the gibbers

and when the final drop was dripping and he'd filled a second mineshaft

Crooked Mick closed his eyes and he breathed out very slow.

Dalangal saw his chance and he bent over like a staple

and he ran with his kneecaps like a tappet by his eardrums

and he opened a door in Crooked Mick's cock and he disappeared inside.

And when he was inside he stretched out like an eagle

and the bones in his back grew lighter

and the lines of his hands grew bolder

and he shuffled in a two-step and he made himself at home.

There were pot plants all around him in iron jardinieres

and mouldings on the ceiling in a pattern of grapes and goats,

the carpets were woolly and they did not reach the walls

and the windows were painted over and the light built no shadows on the floor.

When Dalangal scratched the paint away

he saw that the country outside was the same that he was used to

and it was only the room that didn't suit his taste.

He broke the glass and wriggled out and went exploring

and found a bulldozer and when he'd fuelled it up

he began to knock the building down.

Crooked Mick was driven mad by Dalangal's renovations

and he rolled upon the ground and he put rocks between his teeth

and when he couldn't stand it any longer, he followed Dalangal inside.

Crooked Mick was heavy and he stopped the bulldozer with a single fist

but Dalangal wouldn't get down and he wouldn't give up his plans.

And the hand of a minute tickled on their wrist bones

and the sky swept a feather through the dust along their thighs

and all the time that they had known each other

knocked between them like a piston

and all the times that they had been drunk together

stood like a sculpture with its spines upon their chests

and all the times they had been side by side and watching the back of the desert

became a moment like drowning and put a nail in their eyes.

Crooked Mick took Dalangal by the beard and tried to pull him down

but Dalangal locked his knees on the bulldozer's engine

and held onto Crooked Mick's arms and tried to break his friend in two

and although the sweat was a mud inside their armpits

and they bit through their teeth and grunted in their foreheads

and their faces were folded and like mallee on a fire

and their knuckles split the skin of their fingers

and their breath was harder than the machinery over which they struggled

neither one of them could scribble defeat on the other

and they both surrendered and they licked the blood from the backs of their hands.

"Tomorrow I'll meet you on even ground," Dalangal said,

"and we'll wrestle, and the winner will throw the other out,"

and Crooked Mick agreed and they both lay down to sleep.

In the morning they pushed away the rubble

and Crooked Mick drank a mountain

and Crooked Mick put a mosquito on his head

and Crooked Mick put a boulder in his pocket

and Dalangal threw Crooked Mick down and tried to hold him to the ground

but before the moment had come when he could crush the daylight between them,

Crooked Mick split the earth with his elbows

and he flipped Dalangal over, but he couldn't pin him flat.

And then they met with their chests pressed one against the other

and the muscles in their forearms broke the wind from the air

and the muscles in their backs broke the clouds from the sky

and the muscles in their legs broke the earth where they were standing

and they caught each other like a mangrove in a headlock

and they held each other like a cable in a nelson

and there was blood in their eyes and dust down the road of their throats

and they had their knees on the ground and neither one could beat the other

and that was the evening of the first of the days.

"Tomorrow I will race you," Crooked Mick said,

"and whoever has run the furthest by nightfall will throw the other out,"

and Dalangal agreed and they both lay down to sleep.

In the morning they turned to face the equator

and Crooked Mick opened a sandstorm

and Crooked Mick hung a goanna from his knee

and Crooked Mick nailed his trousers to his thigh

and while the light was like ice and even on the ground

they called out time together and started on the stroke

and within three strides they had crossed the line of the horizon

and within four strides they had passed the length of distance

and within five strides they had gone twice around the world

and each ran ahead of the shadow of the other

and each ran in time with the breath of the other

and each ran with their thighs equal to the grace of the other

and when they came to where the nightfall lay scattered about their shoulders

they rested leaning one against the weight of the other

and there was spittle on their faces and no moisture in their eyes

and they had reached the same place and neither one could beat the other

and that was the evening of the next of the days.

"Tomorrow I will meet you in the valley," Dalangal said,

"and we'll play football, and the winner will throw the other out,"

and Crooked Mick agreed and they both lay down to sleep.

And in the morning they stood at opposite ends with the hills close beside them

and Crooked Mick split a river

and Crooked Mick wiped his eyebrow with a fish

and Crooked Mick rolled a bottle round his cheek

and Crooked Mick was the first to the kick, but Dalangal smothered

and had the ball to himself and was both ruckman and rover

till Crooked Mick brought him down with a knee in the back

and made a continuous run and baulked to the left

but Dalangal was quick to the tackle and punted for the goal

and Crooked Mick marked to the chest and evaded the bump

and on they played till the sun was a ghost in the dust.

And every handball was a picture of thunder

and every mark overhead hit like lightning on the hand

and every kick was a stab and a meteorite

and their breath was in their pockets and their heartbeat was on their thumbs

and they scored neither goals nor points and neither one could beat the other

and that was the evening of the third of the days.

And in the starlight they gathered their sweat and they saw

that for three days they had cut the ground apart

with the ridges of their heels and the edges of their toes.

The ball that Crooked Mick was holding fell from his hands

and rolled around three times and fell into the deepest of the holes.

"Now we can settle things for good," Dalangal said,

"the first to reach the ball and the one to bring it back will be the winner,"

and Crooked Mick agreed and side by side they stood at the edge of the hole.

But just as they were about to jump, Dalangal shoved Crooked Mick aside

and so he was the first into the hole, and when Crooked Mick followed

he was knocked unconscious by the air rushing on his face.

When he awoke, the dust of his descent had settled on his eyelids

and the breath that had fallen from his body was a scarf around his feet.

He was on the line in the centre of a street wide enough to turn a road train

and Dalangal was sprawling and dizzy and only an arm's length away.

And when the hour was past and when the bones of their backs were stiff with shadow

and when each felt the taste of his beard crawling across his lips

they drew their hands out from beneath them and they helped each other to rise

and they crossed and they recrossed the street but they couldn't find the football

nor even a pattern where it might have landed in the dust.

They stood together in the centre of their clothes

and all around them the dimensions hung from a single string.

On one side of the street there were barbershops and assayists

and on the other there were emporia and banks

and all the buildings were made with angles but they were curved

and they were deep with room upon room but they were flat

and they were unsheltered and they were raw but they leaned like shadows

and they were low and they were wide but the points of their roofs hid above the sky.

There were people in the buildings carving designs onto eggshells

and at the far end of the street there was a train

and beside the train the eggs that had been finished lay out in rows and in rows upon rows.

The designs on the eggs showed the faces of people that were nearly familiar

and showed landscapes that were close to being remembered

and showed figures making actions that it was almost possible to name

and colours that might be found when the sun is shaded by a hand.

When the Carvers touched their instruments their fingers glued around the iron,

and this was the shape of them: they were cut like men and women

but the skin was on the inside of their bodies and the blood was on the outside

and some showed the diseases that had been born with them

and some showed the injuries that had fallen on them in their youth

and some showed the coming of death written over their skulls

and some had the gristle of rebirth hanging from their bones

and they came out to Dalangal and Crooked Mick

and they gathered close around them

and they tested them with their hands

and they wrapped them in the vapours of their breathing

and when they spoke the colour of their voices was a bruise.

When the evening came it came with the cry of a clock

and the Carvers led Dalangal and Crooked Mick to a house on the edge of the town

and they opened up the curtains and they swept out the cupboards

and they showed them where to sleep.

Crooked Mick and Dalangal lay down at either end of the room

but while they were asleep, the floorboards fell away

and the room was filled with scorpions and they scratched beneath the blankets

and both men woke up howling with their tongues outside their mouths

and Dalangal lit his lighter and the scorpions were burned away.

They went into the next room and lay down in the centre

but while they were asleep, the window glass melted out

and the room was filled with owls and they fell upon the blankets

and both men woke up choking with their beards inside their throats

and Dalangal lit his lighter and the owls were burned away.

They went into the next room and they lay down close beside each other

but while they were asleep, the roof was blown apart

and the room was filled with moths and they landed in their eyes

and both men woke up sweatless with their hands about their face

and Dalangal lit his lighter and the moths were burned away.

They went into the last of the rooms and they went to the farthest corner

and they sat shoulder pressed against shoulder and thigh upon thigh

but they did not sleep but sat each holding the other's hand

and they counted the rumble of their heartbeat against the pulse in the other's wrist

and they breathed with the breath of the other and they waited for the day.

In the morning they left the house and they went out the back door so

they could sneak away

but there was a valley ahead of them between two hills

and the floor of the valley was covered with the dust from the eggshells

and on one of the hills the ravens had come and wrapped it round with the rings of Saturn

so that darkness shone off the hill and spread throughout the sky,

and on the other the spiders had made webs and caught the orbit of Mercury

so that light fell off the hill and scattered on the ground,

and the light and the darkness met so there was no light and no darkness

and everything was shadowless and featureless and lay close against the eye.

And the football was in the middle of the valley

and on the other side of it the Carvers were waiting for the moment to play.

They pulled out the fat from around Dalangal's kidneys

and they drew the fifty-metre lines and the kick-off lines

and they marked out the boundary line and the centre

and a square around the centre.

And they pulled apart the teeth from each side of Crooked Mick's jaw

and they put up the goals and they put up the behind posts

and when everything was ready and the goal squares were established

each of the Carvers had their positions and they bounced off

and at the bounce the ball became the head of a man

and the eyes of it were blank and the eyelids were broken

and the ears of it were torn and the cheeks were cut

and sometimes the expression beneath the beard was the shape

of Dalangal's face when the sharks were in the ocean and the moon was going down

and sometimes the howl in its voice was the howl

that Crooked Mick cried when the road was past his fingernails and there was no water on the ground,

and the Carvers' centre was the first to the kick and a torpedo scored them six.

After that the rovers had it from back pocket to forward pocket and halfway back again

but Dalangal marked it on the chest

and it bit a hole beside his heart and tore the nipple away

and the blood fell deep around his ankles and splashed against his thighs.

And the centreline passed, one over to the other,

and then from centre half to centre half

till Crooked Mick intercepted a handball

but when he dropped it to the kick it tore the muscle from his leg

and the bone brushed the half-light away.

Twelve times the Carvers had put it through the big ones

and Dalangal and Crooked Mick had not yet had the play

but now they had a run from halfway on the back flank

and they kept it through the centre to the square

then the Carvers' ruckmen came to iron them out

and they tackled Dalangal on suspicion

and caught Crooked Mick round the chest and broke his ribs apart,

but Dalangal and Crooked Mick threw them aside

so they left craters in the eggshells where they fell.

Dalangal and Crooked Mick went back to the ball

but the craters opened deeper and the scorpions came out

and their claws were on Dalangal and they tore the beard from his face

and their tails were on Crooked Mick and they cut his scalp away

and both were blinded with poison in their eyes

and they could not help each other and neither man could speak.

In this time, the Carvers had taken another seventy two

and Dalangal and Crooked Mick had not yet joined the play.

The Carvers' wingman had the ball and ran from the back through the right flank onto forward

and the rest of his team was around him

and they kept pace and they called out his heartbeat

and the breathing of each was equal and each matched the movements of the other.

Although they had left Crooked Mick and Dalangal behind them in the back square

by the time they came to the centre the two of them had passed them

and were waiting in the forward square with their lips beneath their teeth

and they tackled with their fists, but the hills opened their doors

and the owls came out like pellets and fell around their necks

and their talons were on Dalangal and they slashed his nose and cheeks

and their beaks were on Crooked Mick and they cut his eyelids out

and both were deafened with wing beats in their ears

and they could not help each other and their breath was a knife in the throat.

And in this time, the Carvers had scored another twelve

and Dalangal and Crooked Mick had not yet made the play

The Carvers had it from the bounce and the ruckman set it for the punt

but Dalangal smothered from behind and passed to Crooked Mick.

and it was still the morning and this was the day of minerals,

the day of dust through the air and the day of stones,

and on either side of the hills the sand was watchful

and in the centre of the hills the rocks had opened their throats.

Crooked Mick was in a good position and the torpedo cut a furrow in the sky

but when the ball came down the moths came down behind it

and they went direct to Dalangal and Crooked Mick

and direct to the moisture wrapped around their eyes

and they covered their faces and they flew through their mouths

and they filled their gullets and broke a way outward through their spines,

and neither man could help each other and the sweat was a bubble on their skin.

And in this time, the Carvers had put another dozen through

and the eighty minutes were over and the game was at an end.

The Carvers took out the bones from Crooked Mick's left foot

and they took out the bones from around Dalangal's ear

and they spread in them in a circle on the ground.

And the sands from either side of the hills came forward and covered them

and the rocks in the centre of the hills opened their mouths and swallowed them

and the Carvers carried the men and threw them in the dust beneath the house.

When they returned, the valley was filled with eggs

and they took them back to town and began to carve.

After the fevers had passed and when time came back into the place where they lay

Dalangal and Crooked Mick heard their bodies turn aside like animals

and they covered their shoulders with the word that this was the long line of dying

and they pressed their cheeks against the word that they would hurt forever,

and the blood ran out from their mouths and sank beside the stumps

and the blood ran out from their bowels and hardened in the dust

and all that day the minutes dripped down upon them from the floorboards

and the spiders watched them from the hill on the right

and the ravens from the hill on the left.

The Carvers sat on their stools and pressed their fingers on their instruments

but the eggshells distorted the shape of the drawing tools

and they bit away the edges of the cutting tools

and the designs arose as though strangled by a thumb.

And the Carvers grew frightened of what they had done

and they left their workshops and went out into the street

and they held a consultation one with the other

and they agreed that they should break the eggs and that they should grind up the fragments

and that when this was done they should assemble the grindings beside the house

and that they should gather there and set fire to the house

and that the fire should be equal on the corpses and the eggs.

Dalangal and Crooked Mick heard the consultation and they waited in the silence of their death.

A mosquito came out from the crown of Crooked Mick's head

and went down amongst the blood and separated it

so that Dalangal's blood was on the one side and Crooked Mick's was on the other

and it lay down upon the blood and it put out its mouthparts and it made two mannequins.

And it drew Dalangal's face on one and Crooked Mick's face upon the other,

and on each of them it drew the beards that covered their faces,

and the hair that climbed down their necks and ran a circle round their nipples

and it drew their fingerprints and the pattern of the soles of their feet,

and when it was finished it was a shadow in the dirt.

A goanna came out from the bone of Crooked Mick's knee

and it breathed upon the mannequins and it opened the foreheads of each

and with the long claw of its right hand it wrote the names of their fathers

and it wrote the names of streets and the co-ordinates of towns

and the sequences of birthdays and pleasure and disease,

and with the long claw of its left hand it wrote the names of their mothers

and it wrote the names of animals and plants and formations in the ground

and all the histories and the skills of relationships and work

and it wrote in the depth of the wounds and it sealed them with its tongue

and when it was finished it was a rag and a shred of scales in the dark.

A fish came out from the fold of Crooked Mick's eyebrow

and from each man it rolled away the voice with which he called his name

and it held each clear of the dust and it pressed each into his mannequin

and when it was finished and when death was no longer under the house

and when Dalangal and Crooked Mick had been made again and were strong

they came out from amongst the dust holding their fingers out ahead of them

and they were loud and they looked upward and they licked the sky

and they held each other by the hand and ran around the horizon

and when they returned the house was on fire and the smoke lay on the valley

and the Carvers were standing around it with silence in their mouths.

And when the fire was over and the ash was falling down

Dalangal and Crooked Mick sat in the middle of the street

and they kicked against the bitumen and they sang a song

and the song made a crack through the road and reached as far as the Carvers

and roused them from their gathering and brought them back into town.

When they saw that Dalangal and Crooked Mick were noisy and alive

the Carvers held an argument amongst themselves

and where there was agreement amongst some, they said,

"We should kill them again and we should take their bones again and make eggs,"

and where there was agreement amongst others, they said,

"We cannot kill them and so we should surrender to them and make them eat us,"

but instead, Dalangal and Crooked Mick said that they should go into an alley

and play two-up and they would bet their lives against the town.

The Carvers agreed and they sent one to bring a picket

and Crooked Mick sharpened his fingernails and carved it into a kip;

and they sent another to bring two pennies

and when each of the players had inspected them

and the heads had been polished and the tails had been crossed

they were handed to Dalangal because he was the spinner,

but while the crowd was distracted

he dished each one with his thumb so they would only fall on their tails.

And on the first come-in the coins hit the floor two up

and Crooked Mick and Dalangal won the ground beneath the Carvers' feet.

And on the second come-in they landed skulls on the high

and Crooked Mick and Dalangal won the air from beside the Carvers' cheeks.

And on the third come-in it was swy

and Crooked Mick and Dalangal won all the buildings and their doors.

And on the fourth come-in the trot held true

and Crooked Mick and Dalangal won the train.

And now the Carvers had nothing left to bet and they let the men go on their way.

Dalangal and Crooked Mick took the train from its tracks

and tied knots along its length to make a ladder

and they threw the engine up until it caught the edge of the hole

and when they had swung the length of it over one to the other

and when they were sure it was secure

Dalangal went up it easy like a possum on a drain

and Crooked Mick came up fast behind arm over arm and swinging heels.

When they were clear they threw the train back down and sat on the edge

and dangled their feet and thought of a way to tell it for admiration and for laughs

but when Dalangal looked around him the resentment came on him again

and he caught Crooked Mick in a headlock and dragged him from the hole

and dragged him back past the bulldozer and into the room where they had both arrived

and he opened the door and he threw Crooked Mick back into the world outside.

After that he demolished the buildings and tipped the rubble down the hole

but all the while the voices of the Carvers rose up in a horror and a hurt

and although everything around had been flattened still Dalangal grew frightened

and he began to grade the ground into images of God to scare the sounds away.

And some were in the shape of women with scorpions in their mouths

and some were in the shape of men with owls on their neck

and some in the shape of cattle with moths inside their eyes

and each was as false as he could imagine it

and each was as crude as he could scratch it from his hands

and each was as bitter as he could find within his voice.

And when he had built his paddock full of lies

he carried offerings to each image

and he decorated each of them with the refreshment of lies

and at the end of every day he swept the lies into the hole

and there they fell upon the Carvers until they could no longer understand the designs that once they had made

and until they could no longer remember the reason for the eggs

and until at last they no longer saw the wreckage all around them

and after that Dalangal lived in silence and kept his hands across his eyes.

At night the sky is a reflection of the roads

and of the traffic travelling along the roads.

For two days Crooked Mick slept among the centipedes

and on the third day it began to rain.

Crooked Mick crawled back to town drinking the water from between his hands

and with the grief of his defeat as an umbrella on his back.

And when he had reached town and the rain ran like a wire in his beard

and when he saw that the people made business and sang songs and told jokes

he hid beneath the nearest of the houses

and wrapped his elbows round his middle and did not move until night.

All the time that he was asleep he had dreamed of echidnas and mountain devils

and now that he was hungry in the dark he began to smell the ants

and he crawled from house to house banging his shoulders on the stumps

and catching ants with his tongue until his teeth were stiff with juice

and from night to night he did not stand but went on his hands and knees with his head against the ground.

But when the people heard the noises beneath their houses they grew frightened

and some said, "we are under attack from outer space,"

and others that, "the monsters of the Dreamtime have come awake to find us,"

and others, "all the werewolves of our youth are real at last and watching,"

and they would not go outside after sunset but clung to each others' blankets around the lamp.

At the end of the year Crooked Mick could no longer bear the voice of Dalangal inside him

and wanting instead to hide amongst the cries and the mockery of people

he wiped the insects from his teeth and the spittle from his jaw

and he rolled upward on his feet and he came out after midnight

and he sat with his beard in his fingers in the middle of the street.

But the people heard the noises stop and when they looked in the morning

they cried, "Crooked Mick has killed all the monsters,"

and they gathered around him with flowers and with money

and they carried him on their shoulders and welcomed him to their homes

and when the time came round they elected him to Parliament and sent him down south in good will.

Crooked Mick reached the city on a day the seagulls wouldn't fly

and he knelt between the freeways and pressed his elbows on the hill

and his teeth were clean and he'd washed the dust from his shoes

and his hair was curled and his beard was brushed and pretty on his chest

and he held his head up steady at an angle to the sunset

and spat upon the clouds and wrote a riddle on the sky.

And when the people came and found they could not answer it

he led them one by one into the shadow of his armpit

and he touched the coins in their pockets and tidied the knots of their ties

and promised each of them he would protect them from the horrors below their house.

And they brought him cameras and questions

and he made the inexplicable sound popular and good

and they brought him Hansard and advertisements

and the obvious sounded plausible and true

and all the businesses came from the buildings and cuddled at his ankles

and the Unions came carrying titbits and held them to his mouth

till he stood up well and rested and ready for the day.

And so Crooked Mick twirled his fingers in the honey of the law

and was carried from the back-benches into the middle of the Cabinet

and became Premier and made a pyramid to commemorate his name.


Noël Christian



Homestead Theatre for The WA Fringe presents Noël Christian's FAT NANCY AND THE SNAIL see Gigs.


The World Congress of Poets - Sydney

will meet for the XXI Congress in Sydney, Australia from 7-11 October 2001.

This is the first time the Congress has been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Poets from Australia and the rest of the world will meet to

read their work, give/attend workshops, seminars and panels and

present papers on the Congress Themes.


Main Theme:

Poetry for World Peace in the New Millennium

Sub Themes:

Aboriginal Voices of the Land and Sea

The Many Voices of Australian Poetry

Voices of the Future &endash; Young People and Poetry

Defining your Poetic Voice

Voice of the Earth &endash; many lands, many people.


The cost of the complete Congress is $500.


However, in order to make the Congress accessible to as many Australian

poets as possible, the committee are offering Associate Membership to

Australian residents. For a fee of $15.00 prior to 1st April 2001, the

Congress Fee will be discounted by $50.00 to $450.00.


For those unable to attend the whole Congress, single session, whole day,

and evening (inc. dinner) discounted rates will be available.


All participants will have their photograph, a brief biography and a short

poem published in the program and will also be able to enter the poetry

competition (winners will be published in an anthology). Could you please

pass on this information to let poets and people in your area who are

interested in literature, know about the Congress.


An opportunity ia also available to join the post congress tour 12th-16th

October to three beautiful areas in Australia giving readings and visiting

sites of cultural and scenic interest.

I look forward to hearing from you


Our next fund raising event is 'A Centenary of Poetry' at the New South

Wales Writers' Centre

At 6.00 on Saturday 17th March. Poetry, music, food and camaraderie from

Australian and many

other cultures. Everybody welcome. $15 at the door includes refreshments.


Ann Davis

Deputy Chair, Organising Committee

XXI World Congress of Poets, Sydney 2001


For additional information visit


(Contact Ann Davis <>)

Results of Tom Collins Poetry Prize 2000


336 Poems were received from all Australian States.


First: Light and Skin Judy Johnson NSW

Second: Ledge Point Jan Teagle-Kapetas WA

Third: Fog Brook Emery NSW

Fourth: City Eyes Kevin Gillam WA




Highly Commended (in no particular order)


Timor Demo Roger Vickery NSW

Random White Shark Walter Vivian WA

Salvage Paradigms Carmel MacDonald-Grahame WA






Over 300 poems seemed a daunting task when I picked up the box of

this year's Tom Collins Poetry Prize entries from Tom Collins House.

After all, this is a competition with no set theme, no particular

restrictions - other than a maximum of sixty lines. Fortunately

there were none of those 'visual poems' which aren't arranged in

lines at all!


As every judge of a poetry competition knows, there are large numbers

of poems which eliminate themselves almost instantly by their titles:

'Thoughts' or 'In times long gone by' or 'Daffodils' - no, that one

has had some success! Most rejects offer the easy option to the

judge after a verse or two where cliches and poetic diction of 'times

long gone by' offer poor reward for the reader's attention (and

especially poor value for his money if he or she should have been so

incautious as to part with money for the poetry.) Another easy

excuse for rejection comes with almost all poems composed in regular

or 'classical' forms i.e. attempting to incorporate rhyme schemes or

regular metres. The almost universal lack of understanding of this

aspect of poetics on the part of the majority of entrants in poetry

competitions is both curious and depressing. Certainly there's no

shortage of books on versification but, unlike other people, poets

seem often to have little interest and less pride in learning even

the most basic skills of their profession.


Let me turn now to happier aspects of this competition. The 'real'

poets if we can call them that, were clearly a talented group. The

presentation of the poems is much better than I can remember from the

last time (more than a decade ago, probably) when I previously judged

the Tom Collins Poetry Prize. Since then it has become, through the

generosity of the Shepparton branch of the Furphy family, one of the

richer poetry prizes offered annually in Australia. It would seem

that most entrants were aware of the need to send a clear, clean copy

of their work. Only one poet sent in a handwritten version.


This better group of poems (about two-thirds of the entries) offered

a wide range of topics and acceptable competency in their submission.

Subjects were quite variable although grandparents and the millenium

(not necessarily both in the same poem, thank goodness) seemed

especially popular this year. Celebratory love poems can be

appropriate for a major competition such as the Tom Collins Poetry

Prize but intimate details of the relationship can appear to be mere

exhibitionism to readers not actually affiliated with the



I reduced the 300 or so poems to about 100 I thought worth

re-visiting for a closer reading. I then reduced this group to about

30, looking all the time for clear signs of out-standing skills in

creating not only lines of poetry but whole poems. I wasn't looking

for a particular style but just that the poetic form chosen by the

poet was well executed. I wanted to see language that was fresh,

full of imagery of actual places, people or things, if possible, yet

which challenged the reader to extend the suggestions set down on the

page into more complete ideas and experiences through the act of

reading and responding the poetry. Humour or at least some use of

irony, was rare enough in most poems to be keenly sought by me in the

dwindling group of better poems.


The more I searched for the final dozen or so potential prize winners

the more I found myself looking for unique metaphors and similes or

other figurative uses of language to express vividly and with

originality. I also looked for topics that seemed to me to suggest

some commitment to caring about our contemporary world, whether the

poems brought up social concerns of Australia or of other countries.

Prominently, of course, were matters such as: conservation, women's

issues, depressive illness, specific world conflicts, AIDS and shark



The final seven poems I have decided are deserving of awards include

two for higher commendation: 'A Random Great White' (Walter Vivian)

and 'Salvage Paradigms' (Carmel MacDonald-Grahame). The one in fifth

place was titled 'Timor Demo under Government Windows' (Roger

Vickery). It appealed to me because it married a recent war (in

Timor) and an earlier one, the Vietnam War in a clever twin narrative

form - ironically linking the two wars through the two generations of

an office staff united by the street demonstrations outside. But

through the mention of a conscription lottery it raised the question

of the obligation of young men, in particular, to be forced to

develop some part of their lives to defending somebody else's country

- a not uncommon predicament in human history. The gamble of

survival in such conflicts is equally historic but also pertinent to

the gambling dependency which seems our natural inheritance. This

poem was well-researched, well constructed with passion and a message

and the wordsmithing was always well wrought.


The fourth placed poem was 'City Eyes' (Kevin Gillam. This one was

in the form of a journey out of the city on the familiar family

'drive' or 'jaunt' of the Avon Valley - York, Northam, Toodyay and

home. Like many poems in the competition this one relied heavily on

the 'listing' device, but what made it stand out was the acuteness of

the observations, the ironies this 'city eye' was able to offer and

the lucid metaphors: 'the black road a fishbone of pretending', 'on

the Avon, white swans seem too clean', 'churches cassocked/in land'.

The three towns were seen as three sisters, progeny of the invasion

and appropriation of a continent. The poet seemed always in control

and details such as punctuation and line breaks were handled

skilfully. The only flaw, perhaps, was the slightly clichèd 'moral'

with which the poem concludes.


Now we come to the podium finishers, as they say. I gave third prize

to 'Fog' (Brook Emery), set in New York City, apparently, in the

vicinity of a fog-bound Brooklyn Bridge:

'It's an incremental progress. Seeing,

then not seeing, wondering what might be stopped



But the poem is a love poem and from the city fog the imagery takes a

metaphoric leap to a girl clearing a patch of steam from a bathroom

mirror and then to a lover opening her eyes to the contemplative gaze

of her loved one. The journey of their love then flicks to the

driver on the fog-bound freeway trajectory where the thought of the

blue sky beyond the fog presages the 'blue sky dilating like your

unblinking eyes'. What is it that appeals to me in this poem? Is it

the sureness of touch with which this poet takes and reshapes

language in the image of these moments in human life. Yet does not

invite us to an embarrassed sharing of too-intimate or

too-exhibitionist moments in the poet's love-life. What we do get is

a lot of connection with all our lives and with the universe (and the

universals) in which human life is cradled - mysterious, usually

impenetrable, occasionally offering moments of clarity. The poet

expresses this in a five-part free-verse form which is un-clichèd

relaxed yet the tension and the focus of the lyrical observations

never waiver. Minor quibbles over certain punctuation details aside,

this is poetry as craft. A very professional piece of work and

therefore a poem for the poet to be proud of having created.


The second prize goes to 'Ledge Point' (Jan Teagle-Kapetas), a poem

with obvious Western Australian references. For local readers it

offers immediate points of validation in the images of our beaches,

'sand tracked by gulls', 'distance as language that matters in

sleep'. Somebody recently commented that it is surprising how little

in the way of major poetry has been evoked by the W.A. coast, this

long edge of the Australian continent. Historically the western

coast was first landfall for most of Western Culture's collision

with their second 'new world' and this poem reminds us of this: 'Six

hundred ships, they say, are wrecked here,

beyond their maps'.


But the poem is no mere parade of history or heaped images of coastal

landscapes. The argument of 'Ledge Point moves to a strong


"not hope we need -

it is the roots of the sea plants,

their practise [sic!] of hanging on."


I have listened to enumerable judge's reports over the years and most

have finally claimed the indulgence of personal preference in their

final choices. So do I. I have pleasure in awarding the first prize

to 'Light and Skin' (by Judy Johnson - pen name: Julian Thomas), a

lyrical poem which appeals to my Celtic inheritance with its

deceptive simplicity of form and musicality of movement. The

recurrent theme appears to be the difficulty, indeed the

impossibility, of defining the demarcation line between such binary

opposites as light and darkness and between one moment of time and

the next. This should cheer the hearts of post-modernists, presuming

they have hearts to cheer, of course. In fact it is a puzzle as old

as time itself, at least as a notion that humans have espoused in all

the world's languages. But the poem doesn't complicate the argument

with too much ratiocination, too much logic-led musing. The poem

points with its images of skin and light to the doubtings of

black/white borders. It notes:

how skin renews itself

in the same pattern

each three weeks for want

of a better idea.

The poem notices other evidences of subtle change in the body in our


Where image divides us

from who we really are.

I really enjoyed this poem for its want of pretentiousness after so

many poems that were intent on riveting my attention (or so it

seemed) with their self-importance in form or message. Please, no

more 'years-of-the' poems for a while! So once more I congratulate

whoever 'Julian Thomas' is on creating and submitting a poem which

rose so successfully to the brim of the broth of the Year 2000's

entries in The Tom Collins Poetry Prize. And I congratulate the FAW

in holding this long-standing competition.


Glen Phillips

February 2001




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