New U.S. Poet Laureate (see News & Views)


Frances Macaulay Forde...........Les Wicks...........Ann Davis

Donna Devaney ..............Kelly Pilgrim ...............Ryan Scott

Corey McHattan ...............Jean Frances ...........Dawn Bruce

John West....................David Priol .................. Dan O'Donnell.

Kathryn Hamann.............M.T.C. Cronin...............Ray Smith

Les Murray

Karen Knight's latest book see gigsnads.
launch of My Lover's Back 79 love poems by mtc cronin see gigsnads.

4 Cinquains


She lay

prostrate. Waiting.

Will he stay a while when

their beating hearts have calmed down?



You glow

with love for me.

Accepting all I give,

never questioning if I love.

I don't.


Tears fall

like rivers of

pain. Rejection will hurt.

Just touch him and say goodbye to

your heart.


It glows.

The safe ribbon

of light, meandering

on toward home. But my path was


Frances Macaulay Forde




Hands Free Cancer


How stupid do you feel

standing there,

talking to yourself?


Immaculately dressed

- the epitome of elegance.

Power stance with eyes distant

- he breathes money.


How stupid does he look

emphasizing his point

to the argumentative air?

Frances Macaulay Forde



The Merchant Coffee Shop


Murray Street teems

with alternative apparel

fascinating glimpses

how others communicate

with the unknown

it's easy to pick out

content and comfortable

angry or work-focussed

corporate black

and seasonal grey

jar with orange hair

and platformed extremities

Frances Macaulay Forde



Priority Seating.


Chivalry's not dead.

Young man offers

an older person his seat,

but not the young lady.

He stands silently,

matching her sway.

Frances Macaulay Forde



Edgewater Station, 7.45am.


The first time I climbed the ramp to cross the empty

freeway, I thanked my daughter's advice for nervous,

first-time train-travel. "Don't make eye-contact and

take something to read."


Embarrassingly unfit; I was truly unworthy of riding

to city steeples and naked greed. However, I was able

to slow my breathing before reaching the platform

populated by corporate black.


Like others in smart casual, I waited unprepared.

Searching and praying that I had correct change. No

way would I approach anyone to help, if my Target

Special revealed only notes. An extra minute to read

the zones and I felt their impatience stab my shoulder



First rule: be prepared. Why doesn't someone press

the "Next Train to Perth" button? How long have I

got? Finally, the clunking use of coins and metal

spit of ticket loudly confirmed my lack of railway



As I claimed my waiting spot, the gentle morning sun

warmed my arms. I began to relax. My head moved left

to spy an approaching train then swung right, to relax

the tension. The violent clash of eyes focussed on

the anticipated train brought heat and color flooding

to my face. Have I broken another rule?


I turned away. Moved left and slid around to a corner

bench, hidden under graffiti steps. A cleaner

diligently wiped the dead remains of habit from a

shiny steel surface. As our eyes met, she smiled in

understanding. My isolation lifted with the corners of

my mouth. "Good morning."


A distant sparkle from Joondalup Tunnel caught my

attention. Although I had lost my place for the

central carriages, I joined the stragglers just as the

last door swept toward my flat comfortables. The

unsmiling silent wave surged toward the precipice,

eager to rest their feet or continue sleep. We were

swallowed with a whoosh.


All around, people take off their sunnis and don clear

glass, casually opening their oft-thumbed pages; Time

magazine, corporate handouts, New Idea, 'Bondage &endash; a

love story, the latest Patricia Cornwell.


No one speaks, except the odd un-sophisticate who

broadcasts gossip as if it elevates them. I lose

myself in Harry Potter and block out the other

occupants, cocooned against intimidation.

Frances Macaulay Forde



The city waits...


My favorite, platform number six will receive me

today. It's not the nearest to the common front. My

platform is in the center, one section back. A

respectable distance to arrive at Perth Station,

giving steps time to adjust to city pose. Also, I like

to drift past the newsstand and view the coloured

covers of gossip.


Our human conveyor sweeps past the bakery, dispersing

flotsam as it pounds toward the bridge. With hungry

anticipation, I visually taste the bagels, donuts and

flaky pastry. "One cheese and bacon roll and a hot

cross bun, thanks." Always the same, lunch priced

exactly right.


Gray-tiled, steel archways float us over Wellington

Street in orderly lines. Every day there is someone

new asking for money. I quickly hide the change before

they see and my conscience makes me give. Hands

outstretched, standing with the regulars, shaking tins

or passing leaflets. Red Shield, Green newspapers and

free K-bars for city workers, who left home without



Slotting into the stream, we turn the corner and my

hand searches the front pouch of my bag for a

cigarette. There's time for one, if I walk around

Myers, down the escalator and along Murray Street. I

pass the sleeping lonely. Coffee addicts haunt hot

purveyors, to read their paper, readying their brains

for paid concentration. By the time I get to Barrack,

the first silver cylinder receives my dead donation

for the day.

Frances Macaulay Forde © 2001







In the middle of a flat, featureless Parramatta,

near the slovenly river


Church Street stood the somehow pagan

Black Mountain Imports &

almost every day I visited the

woven, carved, beaten works from a headache

of different countries all

reduced & bargain priced for this canny shopper

in search of a new.


I owned the green glass twisted Mexican goblets

for 15 years.

The crucible & the book were part of half researched

never-quite-right rite

that involved Janice Joplin.

Even the laundry basket spoke of smoky,

transcendental thought as fingers had

weaved form from water soaked bamboo.


At Christmas my parents received gazelles & elephants

carved so no line was straight.

They said life was sinuous....

meant to be stroked.


My sister got incense

that sought her heart or mind

through gentle invasions of eye & nose.


The carpet was too much to take in

& never sold , reduced in price

every couple of months but still requiring

a wealth beyond my imagination.

I knew we would fly together but

out of luck I left to wander,

the 165 bus home maybe

frosty boy from the milk bar, more tangible

16 year old's treasures from inside a diesel town

that dreamt of tall buildings & a new concrete coat.

Les Wicks






In the doorway the security guard is jumpy.


A cold rain-rotten night in

the mouldy month of May or Maybe-not.


In the doorway the security guard is patting

his hip like he's hiding a pet beneath

the leather-look ferocity of his uniform jacket.


I'm watching from a window but he

thinks he has no audience as

the gun is drawn out from its holster almost

post coital



like kneading dough but he's

soon enough waving it about,

holding it close to his eye - pointing as though

the thing is demanding targets


(which, I suppose, it does).


I call Carol to come look but she wants

no part in games of war or spies.


Almost with regret

he puts it away & begins

waving his arms about.


Shadows a young woman into the video shop next door.

Two minutes.


There is a light drizzle falling &

shy drops are being impaled on the thorns of his crew cut.


Pacing up & down, flipping his hips

then abusing an empty car obstructing the driveway.


He is not paid enough to risk his

(or our) lives.


Then jumping on the spot, to spinning &

finally a climax with a series of quick draws


to wound

to kill

time protecting a passage

through to brightly lit,

wholly uncomplicated paydays.

Les Wicks





You were all

wilderness, sorrow & care.


Took my messages, photocopy,

did typing & then fell

into an old well.

We shared office gossip &

slipped through the fence to the dangerous

gardens of our intimacies.


But I had them &

they were pulled out like paper shields keeping us apart

& whether or not

you would have touched an arm of mine without it


I couldn't know.


Where we worked

even friendship was a danger

& you only lasted three months.


We met on a street recently

& noted no changes of importance.


What was our history, Rosie,

defeated beneath

older loves & line rope? How much passes us


as we stand

in the glare of our families?

Les Wicks






After almost 3 weeks

of this user-pays winter

the Sydney souls greet

sunshine like getting

an overdue cheque.


We shed jumpers like

busy snakes & underneath

are restored again to people with bodies waving

bobbing flopping

with a soon-to-be brown sensuality.


The chug-a-lugly, the fearful

& the fast

have all discovered

their hips,

arms, even

hair is cheeky, promising

more than shade.


And me too, my


little part

We poets are like the wilderness -

great to have somewhere

but can't spend money on it.

Never actually visit....

might be boring or dangerous if you did.


Like those parakeets

in urban parkland

I live here in secret

& drop the occasional

gold feather

on that passing dance.

Les Wicks






Remote control in hand,

approximating grace he watches his model glider

swoop between headlands.


The only sound

a gentle slicing of wind.


Magpies & hawks compete

but ultimately make way for the duration.


Terry towelling tourists shuffle past, his

machine is not quite threatening, the


pilot hunched & invisible in

suburban combat gear (denim & checks).


He shoots me one glance like fauna.


No acknowledgment

or interruption possible.


I throw a rock

at another


because I can't

reach his toy.

Les Wicks


LES WICKS has been published widely in Australia & elsewhere. His five books are "The Vanguard Sleeps In" (Glandular, 1981), "Cannibals" (Rochford St, 1985), "Tickle" (Island, 1993) & "Nitty Gritty" (Five Islands, 1997) & "The Ways of Waves" (Sidewalk, 2000).

"varied, nimble, humane & well timed" - Jennifer Maiden.

He's performed at festivals, schools, prisons etc. Runs workshops & Meuse Press which focuses on poetry outreach projects.



I see your translucent soul

taste the bitter sweetness

of your lips' caress

Enveloped in the infinite mystery

loving you holistically

my angelic daydream.



2) untitled

A silent mass embraces the desolate figure

strewn across an apathetic doorway.

Solitude is comfort

but isolation brings emptiness.

Ideals become remnants of intolerant perceptions

clouded by skepticism

fanatical and futile.

Logic is irrelevant it holds no meaning,

reasoning brings no contentment

and answers only breathe remorse-

a sickening retrospective enemy.

So cyclical,repercussions unmeasured,

the silent crowd screams louder.

Indifference shuns comprehension

stains the essence of being,

yet solace is sought beyond

the deafening silent screams.



3)Surrealists Fantasy

Purple sunsets, silver haze

the surreal awakening of a drained soul,

walk alone desolate,

Concrete transitions broken words,

bruise the conscious heart.

The daydream dances plead forgiveness

black mask covers eternally,

truth immersed in sickening reality

-a romantic delusions of hope.

Embedded beneath the crevice

bleeds remorse,

feeding unfathomable

hypocrisies and pitiful delights.

Donna Devaney



,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,


1. Borderland


Beyond the edge of somewhere else

in a nook where no one rests

snowdrops grace the mound of truth

a shadowplay of yesterday's regrets.


Shades of memory meander still

darkened by a lane - the last but one

where discarded dreams abide

in a charcoal landscape overrun


with corners turned and tuned and cut

to match the cloth of pauper's gold

and lead on to a dingy marketplace

where business is the trade of souls.


Nearby a far and distant point

the gathering of many wanes

bewailing what has gone before

and all that still remains.


Beyond the edge of somewhere else

in some fantastic spiritland

the cards are dealt with disregard

and each must play their hand.

Ann Davis


(Previously unpublished except for workshopping on Ozpoets Message Board.)



2. Moths & Camels

Death is a black camel,

which kneels at the gates of all.

(Abd-El-Kader 1807-1883)


How delicate it is and how fragile

the wingsweep of passion

beating mindlessly against the light,

the heat and the conflict of fusion

the coupling of pain and desire

producing singed edges

and small flutters of memory

to haul through the future

to look back on with pleasure,

dismay, or with a secret smile

at the absurdities of a humanity

striving always for heaven

while hiding from the knowledge

that the camel waits patiently.

Ann Davis

(Title poem from my collection published by kellyryan press 2001 also
published in Spindrift.)



3. Weighty Matters


Beginnings come so easily

a first line complete

and beautiful

fills my mind

and I rush for pen and paper

or my keyboard

and having set it down

I know without a doubt

how it will end.


Last lines come so easily

as inevitable as death

always there

challenging me

to justify

an inherent

sense of word.







or oblique

but right

and satisfying.


Now middles are another thing entirely. Responsible

for deciding if the poem will be short or if the poem

will be long, if the space between the first line and

the last line will be filled with worth or just a ploy to

fill the paper and my time. Middles are important.

Middles are a worry. Middles make me think about


the diet I'm not on.

Ann Davis


(new poem unpublished.)



4. Relic



in some dim recess

she yearns

for the polished touch

against her soft fabric.



as occasion arises

she relishes

the heat of preparation

gentle hands smoothing.



by recognition

she billows

welcomes fine wine

savours every offering.



with accomplishment

she waits

delights in each moment

anticipating fulfillment.


An expanse of pale damask

before the next spill of claret.

Ann Davis

(Also from Moths & Camels and published previously years ago.)



5. suicide season


family everywhere

kissing air


seasonal spirits


unreasonable feats


eleven and a half months

of silence


bundled in a box

and wrapped

and tagged

with love

or duty

a small exchange

of useless booty


to a cupboard

recycled next year

with never a fear

of remembrance

at a gathering of



in new clothes

as yet unstained

by lies

a spat of fast exchanges

of how good/bad

the year has been

and somewhere

on the edges

of their manic interchanges

faces animated

cold with fear

and frantic guesses

at who won't

be here

next year

Ann Davis

(New poem/unpublished.)



Back Again


I'm interacting with the sun

like a friend I haven't seen

for a long time


We nervously exchange words

each give a little

edge toward our sadder stories


and before we know it

we're drunk

silly, giddy, crazy drunk


now see what you've done;

I'll be hung over all winter.

Kelly Pilgrim



Domestic Archeology


The art of collecting antiques

she said

is to bruise your hands

with the past.


Dusting trinkets with epithelium

fingerprinting book covers

turning each page like silk

sliding eyes over hand-carved wood



she said

you'll find antiques in antique shops

but where is the challenge?


Let's go to ordinary second-hand

stores and search for undiscovered

treasures, undervalued



We are excavators

sifting through simple ruins


cultivating people from bones.

Kelly Pilgrim



The Watcher


On sheets full of dog hair

you are spread out like a starfish

(dark blue always collects unwanted friends).


You never notice me slide sideways

pouring my body out of bed


and I am pleased


because if you woke

what would happen to these

moments of quiet


my early morning silent films

where you're the star?

Kelly Pilgrim



Black Bamboo


Where scholars meet,

my interest lies not in theories or papers.


Black bamboo growling from the earth,

shifting its beat to winter time,

bending, straight-legged as wind takes a breath,

swallows the inky straw whole


and pulls my gaze.


Curling above, smoke from my cigarette,

softly as a geisha, offers itself to the sky

yet bamboo, equally fine

enthralls me with its capacity to give until breaking.

Kelly Pilgrim



Dali Would Be Proud


He's painting our front room!

Imprinting the air we breathe,

speaking in tongues, grunting language in random patterns

like the gathering of problems in his life,

in his arm.


Moved into the front room with the gusto of

a thousand cyclone Nathans,

now he's consuming the food

the light

the power

the night


and killing our passion.


He's painted the room top to bottom gloom

and the rest of the house is in pixelvision,


a surreal [ist] to the point where

we'll have to join the dots

once he's gone.

Kelly Pilgrim


Kelly Pilgrim is a student at Curtin Unviversity (BA Arts Creative Writing), and has been published in journals.A collection of poetry with co-author, Bron Bateman is due for release in June 2002.





Sun so high, and the

black paint baked


on the seat, grilling

my arse.


I needed a place

to stay, but


your answering machine swallowed

the last of my change.


It saddened me to hear what happened,

later over drinks.

Ryan Scott.





A thud, a shriek, branches crash,

the sound of burst irrigation gurgling

in the trees - the possums are at it

and I thought you might like

to come back here for

a walk . The grass is up;


footprints, footballs, dogs, diversions,

were yesterday, and


whispered stories of adolescents continue;

their first and seconds recur

as the sharpened blue

severs night from morning:

the false dawn,

book ended by

business of the day.


Days which have chewed at our bodies, sucked

them into fallen native fruit,

more food for the possums

up there


while we make

a quick botched attempt at youth,

but we stay.

And you remain


a beautiful necessity - necessarily beautiful - down

here, as blue leaks into the upturned depths of the night, as


laughter hardens into leaving

and the possums watch.

Ryan Scott.






Green and puckered,

it would burst in

my fingers,


this seasick petit choux.

Not a Carlton bloom

but still cared for. How


could I not take

a photo, but he still ordered

me to leave.

Ryan Scott.





breath moves in and out

taking over gaps, lost in endless combinations

of air, moving


over necks as a hand

once empty is filled

by another and a film of sweat clarifies


what is solid and liquid

yours and not yours, as more air jostles unfelt

(except for breath) in between, and


atoms, alive by words -

inseparable, but separate,


distinct, dissolve into

the next suggestion, tear


from boundaries

into space; away from


more words here - is only the flow of particles

no liquid, no solid, no more shivering air only

infinite possibilities of space, traversed by more


spaces, dotted with explosions,

made of explosions, bubbles compounding, a rainbow of black, is the

foundation of


the foundation, which orbits orbits,

quakes - where there is no earth


- and convulses

along waves, particles and waves

ripple with no shore in sight...(explosions upon

explosions) cannon-wails and


weightless waves smashing

through pipes and conduits


provide sensation, sense making and



to talk



to pushes


pulling and




smells: the

stickiness of space


folding nothing

upon itself, folding

waves into water

wine from blood

an excuse for the mess

Ryan Scott.



Office Blues


He laughs,

a thunderous, inarguable sound,

reverberating through his jelly heft,

wobbling above his convex belt.


He laughs,

at Henderson's joke

or not even a joke,

no, that's too generous-

his grubby little bedroom tale:

a poor man's wet dream.


I see Cathy cringe

though she hides it well.

Practice, I guess.

I offer a smile,

she misinterprets-

thinks I'm one of them,

like him,

and examines her shoes.


Still he laughs,

with pudgy, squinty eyes,

a salty orb of spit

glistening on his lip.

The revolting sound

of stagnant breath expelled

in whooping glory.


Interminably he slows

to gulping chuckles,

slaps Henderson's back,

and titters again.

For the first time, his glance meets mine,

all inane expectant giggles.

Cathy turns to me, and HendersonÉ


and I laugh too.

Corey McHattan



a minor matter


her sin gestates

belly growing larger

with her shame

the tadpole in her womb

becomes a lively dolphin

cavorting in its amniotic sea


distanced from the town

she hides from prying eyes

slips out at night

to breathe the air and

contemplate the stars


months before, her mother lied

the girl ran off to wed

the plan needs patience

to succeed


then one night

the mother creeps out

and behind the casuarina

digs a small sad hole

Jean Frances

(Previously published in Centoria)




missed you


as I breast-fed you I'd light

a cigarette immersed

in my propped-up novel


busy talking with a friend

when you ran home from school

with show-and-tell


and I was stoned

the day you passed

your driving test


before you left

you tried to tell me why

but the TV was up too loud


believe me son

if you were here now

you'd have my full attention

Jean Frances

(Previously published in Quadrant)



The Treatment


Aunt Dolly's doctor

prescribed a simple remedy

for her hiatus hernia

a small glass of port

half-an-hour before dinner


Dolly abhorring alcohol

took the wine like medicine

on a spoon


Her health improved

and soon a full bottle

was consumed daily


from a tablespoon

Jean Frances


'three in the morning'


this house that is aging

leaves behind the daylight

lives in the moonlight


I stare at dim walls

lined with books,

pictures in timber frames

smell earth-odour of potatoes

forgotten in sour cupboards

and listen to the tap drip

leaving yellow bruise on porcelain.


I climb stairs,

carpet thin underfoot

and in the landing mirror

a face

my face


and smiles back at me.

Dawn Bruce





I sit in my white still room

my world shrunk

to hum of far-off traffic and an odd lost car

screeching down my unlit lane.


I lie in my wide hard bed


while my pale ghost-dreams

like tired grey moths

flutter and fade away.


Only a fine gold clock

luminous in my dark cold life

warms my loneliness

ticks off the seconds

and keeps disorder at bay.

Dawn Bruce



'Before the Interview'


Stiff and straight

in her new suit

she sits

in the polished chair,

hands clasped in waiting,

only the tilt of her head

betraying calm,

her anxious thoughts


in any direction

of noise


at such a time

of waiting.

Dawn Bruce


Dawn Bruce has had over 150 poems published in a variety of Australian magazines during the last few years. This year about forty of her poems have been published in e-zines. Apart from writing , Dawn enjoys all forms of Art, especially drawing,pottery and garden design. She is co-ordinator for a poetry and study group, Somerset Poets. They have had their first anthology, 'Outside Looking In', published in December, 2000.



I heard a cat bark like a fox
Yah! because the car's larger purr
didn't soothe her, locked in a cat-box
and the hitchhiker said
I've got a snake
to eat my rats!
For heavens sake.
I've heard a snake hiss like a man
I saw a goose sail like a bark
I heard a man wank like a goose---

Les Murray


The Aboriginal Cricketer

Mid-9th century

Good-looking young man
in your Crimean shirt
with your willow shield
up, as if to face spears,

you're inside their men's Law,
one church they do obey;
they'll remember you were here.
Keep fending off their casts.

Don't come out of character.
Like you they suspect
idiosyncrasy of witchcraft.
Above all, don't get out

too easily, and have to leave here
where all missiles are just leather
and come from one direction.
Keep it noble. Keep it light.

Les Murray


All week

A poem
has leaned
towards me.

I turn
or snatch
and its gone.

A new girl at work
like a girlfriend
twenty years ago.

A forest
a blanket
an hour.

I try to talk
I mumble.

In three weeks
I turn fifty! In three weeks
I turn fifty!

That handful of gravel
on glass
is hail.

John West



The Green TV

She's got whiskers
a crater in her chest
near her left breast
and she's been brought here to die
lying in bed all day, being fed
every three hours
through a tube in her stomach
and being washed each morning.
She doesn't get many visitors
but her relatives have brought in
a television set with a faulty tube
so the picture it gives is green
green men reading the news
green men ponting at the weather
Days of our Lives
Oprah and Neighbours
and green footaballers
running around on the greenest grass
you've seen in your life.

John West


Girl in a window

Wonderful first day of winter
scarf, leather coat and hat
and head off through windy parks
along the smooth swept shoulders of streets
and now lunch at this cafe, choose
the table outside, up against the glass
and here you are beside me
at your counter chewing
we share everything but sound
I see you handle your sandwich
- how wonderfully slim
your wrist and fingers are! -
tilt back your head
to drink from your coffee cup
and the backdrop of lunchers
heads-in-papers bored
while we wallow in each other's presence.
Come here again soon.
Maybe next week.
If you can make it.
Share your lunch, your life.
Let me watch you eat.
You dazzling sun
on this freezing day.
Warm me, paint yourself
across my eyes, my dear
my lovely, my love.

John West



The Slowly Turning



The never ending of the false starting

the bitter pill

always swallowing


The ever sharp of constant indifference

the eye is threaded

of the needle


The confusion reigns of the misspent youth

the blow for blow

no room for tears


The long white gown pacing, baby crying

the tick for tock

barely two o'clock


The sleepless tides of a young child's frowns

the nights return

to haunt his days


The dim rejoinder of a cool cool feminine

the fear of love

such a lonely place


The cruel reminder of the once sweet memory

the tooth for tooth

of Gideon's bible


The insufficient of the understanding

the long long greying

of a distant stare

David Priol




Drawn From Memory


My words are tigers

caged in ciphers

Your palette of colour

seven shades of pale

The stab of my pen

lies bleeding again

The twist of your gilded frame

puts Picasso to shame


The ink running in full flow

suffering, is my woman of woe

And I see you have washed your canvas

in some arcane caress

While the cross word, like a crossed sword

finds its mark, cryptic and bored

As you sketch one face, etch another

the sad semblance of a smile

My story in its stinging tale

raw emotions never fail

You think of line, depth, charcoal and ashes

your passions abstracting your life's crashes

As the story writhes into climax, sensual

the heroine writ inconsequential

You, your picture, is it framed . . .

all life's mysteries tamed?

And the writer, I have written

all my tigers are set free

And the artist has painted meanings

between the strokes of her rhyme

Ah, as the painter traps the fable-maker

and all his words lie lost in the dust

I will tell your story in passages

of sweet adoration

Long since out of fashion

as if drawn from memory.

David Priol


Rhinoceros Beetle


A primeval tank

designed to crush the lower rank

in nature's wars.

Jet-black and shiny

with awesome power

he plods along each hour on hour

with never a faint metallic squeal

from his neatly-folded plates of steel

protecting hidden wings of gossamer pink.

He stops within an eyelid blink

to transmit or decode mysterious orders

- perhaps about hostile marauders.

"Testing mandibles! Testing mandibles!"

The front-turret feelers oscillate

as battle-field orders penetrate

deep inside the war zone.

Then cumbersome

the insect ordnance lumbers on


Dan O'Donnell


Mary Speaks


The man had chosen to stand by me when

all had whispered and turned their heads to one side


left me

with the beasts and the strong-scented dark


left me

with my body determined on birth


he may have said one word

but it was not the one craved


and it seemed like forever

trapped between the peaks and troughs of pain

seemed like forever

the beasts shuffling and turning

at the sounds that came from my mouth

and my heart could only hear

"daughter, what man what man would

dare believe one word of such blasphemy"


And everyone said, "Joseph belies his name

no dreamer but a man, a man for our time, of few

words and those feet will never leave the earth"


but he did come

and by some miracle

not alone but

with the innkeeper's wife


They brought light and she was laughing

at him and his hands that drew cares in the air


"Come on now. I'll see to your wife.

No need to worry. She'll be fine.

By goodness she's just a girl herself

and all alone and it's your first

I've had twelve Six still with us

God be praised."


After many stretched hours she left me

and the baby went to Joseph

I could hear her voice never his


"You're a father. And did you hear that cry?

What a voice. He'll be a maker of speeches

Oh for sure it's a boy. Both fine and well

Come in meet your son"


He came stood

I looked up for his eyes

my body already shrinking from

no not my son

but he kept to silence


She fussed over us

fussed over the baby

and when at last she had clucked away

taking the light with her

one hand freed itself made

a tiny step towards him


His hand, worked planed, closed

over mine and he reached out

with the other to the child

Small fingers each

complete and whole curled a-

round one of his

and the grip held

and he

who had made the long journey

whispered, "He's so beautiful

God has given us a son"

Old words made new that night


and the silence held the word

holding all words as

waves crossing a dark sea

Kathryn Hamann



for Christine Hearty


In Ireland my uncle's strawberries

drank the dregs

of the beer

My girls

he'd say over their tiny wild heads

and redheads he'd say

are my blondes

And it was not until he was dead

(the pub sold to the family in town

who kept changing their name

for several good reasons)

that I discovered the berries

were bought from the man

who came in the van

and sprinkled at night in the patch

where we kneeled in the mornings

squealing and 'picking'

our heaven

I think of him now with a strawberry mind:

that slip into tang

of a heartshaped fruit

the colour of lovers - reminder

the beautiful blemish!

What taste!

What a wonderful way to mark me!

M.T.C. Cronin




Yellow Rose (Rescued & Renamed)

for Tricia Dearborn


Backyard under the yellowest sun

pegging washing when my name

changed to one that perfectly described

me as I stood bare-armed and warm

on my legs in that moment. A bird

with a crest sang in double entendre

of butterflies leaving their mates

on the passion vine and a cat made

a comma of its claw in a long black

sentence of insects written over the

step. History then exhorted me to

relax so I sat with the hose in my hand

and sprinkled the garden its much-

travelled tears. It was then I imagined

the rose - a butter-cone on this lush

green table of grass and spread the idea

before my mind as if space was my

heart and the flower an object within

it. Creatures such as this of course

are better without breath or planting

for suspended in vision they know

what waits in eden for imperfect

life and understand to perfection

what comes at the end of a question.


M.T.C. Cronin




for Penelope Pether


The woman's white skin

opened white to me

when she removed her shirt

by the window

and the window gave the world to her eyes, but silently

for the window could not speak

Could it not speak?

Sshh!! It whispers the pearblossom

Small swans lost

on the tree-filled air and Yes!

it moans the tree

in its river of wind over leaf and pear

and she puts to her lips the edge of her blouse

and runs on her tongue the length of the day

and the day in her mouth is a soft-filled din -

on the cupboard the clock; in her tongue the blood

and the words in the book on the bed that say:

Fruit finds its flavour in the beaks of birds

and the pear presaged by the scent in your nose

grows only to lie by your breasts,

only those! Oh,

naked woman in your loose skirt sitting sewing

lie with your diamond hands holding me!

Right now spit out that button -

and set this seed to growing!

M.T.C. Cronin

I would like a word with you

"Touch my eyes with your tongue, cure me
of the plainness of my mind." PeterPorter


Too many verbs get in the way.

I'd sooner pass them on the road

to florid, scented adjectives.

Or pass them on the way to nouns

which pulsate like two stroke engines

pulling entire forests in their wake.


Sure verbal action is all the go

but bright adjectives

in pretty, patterned patter

surely they count too.


And one had better

take account of the system, sister.


Yes, I am talking to you, sister,

in a whisper of devoted decoration

and plain talk too -

not trim, trim, trim

the edges of a luxurious lawn

with its dreaming ambitions

to become a forest.


My words, because they are meant for you

and aimed straight for your heart

are serious arrows.

Don't try crying transparent tears.

You must bleed.

Ray Smith



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