from Issue #6: Poetry by Stuart Barnes

Photo (CC) Tim Parkinson @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Tim Parkinson @ Flickr


i[]m[ ]perfect

The hair an eyrie that threatens to top
…………-ple the skinny neck that labours to brace
…….the face inconspicuous in spite of
………the flushed Greek nose, the left eye crazier
than Alastor Moody’s, the mouth as red
………….as a paper cut’s blood (ouch!), the ears blue
……zombie war trophies, the comical Ken
……..doll moustache that floats over the gruesome
trunk’s straggly black hair, spindly limbs (the right
…………arm annunciating scars like Billy
……….Corgan’s), the curved average junk deprived
……..of turtleneck, the mole on the inner
…..right thigh (a lump of shit: taunt of so-and-
………so), the ingrown nail on the big left toe.




The holding of golden hands, or the pit
…..stop at what was probably a beat? No, The jungle gym kiss, the cuddle? No,
no. Freedom? No.
…………………………Something more innocent

….triggered her bark at the bone transmitter,
..annoying paranoiac, Guardian—
….self-appointed—of The Lake and The Park.
..The station issued a cagey car.

skin—darkest, purest—the element, they
………..confessed, obsequious porky
who laughed while needlessly taking details,
asked pardon for that woman’s most fatal

…………Fury, ghormeh sabzi, in my gut.
Allahu Akbar! Blindfolded, we fucked.




Stuart Barnes’s poetry has appeared widely in publications such as Assaracus: A Journal of Gay PoetryCordite Poetry ReviewGoing Down SwingingMascara Literary ReviewOtolithsPoetry Ireland Review, SeizureSoutherlyVerity LaThe Warwick Review and The Weekend Australian Review, and is represented in the anthologies The Night Road (Newcastle Poetry Prize 2009), Short & Twisted 2010Time with the Sky (Newcastle Poetry Prize 2010), fourW twenty-three and fourW twenty-four. In 2014 he was Runner-Up for the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize for an Unpublished Manuscript. He is poetry editor of Tincture Journal, co-poetry reader for Verity La, and slush reader (poetry, flash) for One Throne Magazine. Twitter @StuartABarnes, Tumblr spines, jackets, sleeves (

from Issue #6: Poetry by Les Wicks

Photo (CC) Beau Giles @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Beau Giles @ Flickr



He sees a woman, his daughter,
fly away.

Knew this fluff bundle this
totter of feathers she flew then fumbled
as do all gristle to the
adolescent mill when bodies
mystify & mirage so
certain about nothing it’s
almost grown-up.

Lost her somewhere around year 9. They became poles,
the magnets spun their unchosen roles
chalk & chilli.

He knows he’s no authority, no man, no failure
despite. These are the deaths each were promised
eat joylessly a caged lettuce
but need as they
think climb
but decline
into wisdom itself
a fraud one can’t discuss.

Lords of fix or fragment –
she the stubborn, judgemental,
opinionated little brat (just like her old papa).
Forgive him
this not-enough
more to come
bungled but unconditional love.

In awe he watches her name, she
builds a sturdy thing with broken eyes,
the School of Scars
has made something impenetrable to him but a
smile’s worth of trouble.
Friends are salved, worthied the mend with days.
Networks emerge newborn from her fingers,
her business busies (that shop in Newtown)
while managing two children (Grandpa’s quarterly visits
those tiny, priceless strangers).
She strides through
a lush crop of episodic
light & sails.

The father leaves life for those who are ardent, their
petty thrills of territory.
But one thing wanted, waits (for her) unfinished
sucking sense from a regretful river outside
always outside
the Last Iconoclast Saloon
at the end of a train line..


.Hindered by the Hearth

Leave our doors
with weight
stop on a tickle
check the mailbox (you do know
it’s the middle of a long weekend?) back upstairs
to verify the heater is cold have you
got your wallet this
leaving will take a while,
maybe have a cup of coffee?
We work hard to fill the question.

Jowled sky
about the courtesies of coal
you say the day is leaden
leading nowhere
the whimlost winter,
this breeder of night,
is subtle. I will convince myself.
Our tracksuits are smeared with belief.



Les Wicks has been published across nineteen countries in ten languages. His eleventh book of poetry is Sea of Heartbeak (Unexpected Resilience) (Puncher and Wattmann, 2013). This year he will be performing at the World Poetry Festival (Delhi), Beyond Baroque (L.A.), Austin International Poetry Festival (Austin), Brett Whiteley Studio (Sydney), Struga Poetry Evenings and RhiZomic (Sydney). He can be found at

from Issue #6: Poetry by Frank Russo

Photo (CC) Contando Estrelas @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Contando Estrelas @ Flickr



They found one of the blond twins to play Jesus—
the ones whose parents had migrated to the Ruhr
to work as factory hands. The ones whose chestnut hair,
like Renaissance Jesuses, passes for blond in these parts.

He’d ridden his motorcycle from Essen, down autobahns
which morphed into the Autostrada Del Sole
before it trickled into the Great Highway of Communication.
Passing the hamlet of Mammola, he remembered hearing

how the crumbled stonework now housed some of those
who’d arrived on Pantelleria by boat. He rode until
the hillsides became familiar, russet carpeted forests
giving way to steep ravines, their streams rock-swollen.

Seeing him white-smocked, an old woman cried,
He’s like a real Jesus, his hair straight from a painting
of the Stations of the Cross. The band of twenty didn’t
need much practice—the play etched into their fabric.

A cluster of women move through the square,
coat sleeves brushing to the soft chanting of Our Fathers.
At the fore of the procession, hooded men
in sackcloth, eyes flickering through slits.

Behind them the ones playing slaves,
barefoot, planks of wood spanning their shoulders.
On the hill outside the village, the spot marked
for Golgotha: an ancient olive tree for Judas to hang.

As Judas climbs a metal ladder, takes the carefully
knotted noose, a man recounts how
the best Judas they had was the one
that time in Ragonà: so possessed,

the guilt of betrayal stamped on his face—
when he took the noose and kicked away the chair,
the way he struggled appeared so real—
how his legs kicked and bucked,

how his hands struggled to untie the noose
—how could the crowd not burst into applause?




When they call a hill a timpa

What’s left of the language of youth when its speakers
have all but gone? The grey-haired woman on dialysis,
what does she care if her word for orange

comes from the Persian, naranĝ? Or if the tafareja
where she stores her wedding ring, comes from
the Arabic for jar? The old man who seeks solace

in communion wafers and lottery tickets, what does he care
if the word he uses to name the mouse he snared,
has its origins in French? If the suriciu he trapped that morning

derives from souris, or the slice of nduja he used as bait
comes from the French, andouille?
What do the old women care if when they bake their pitti

at Easter they speak a word borrowed
from Albanian, or when they call a hill a timpa,
instead of rupe or collina, they speak the last trace of Oscan?

Do they care when they say ajumari
when lighting a fire, it springs from the Occitan,
allumar? Or when they call someone’s head
a capizza, it stems from cabeza? And what do they care

if the word they use for persimmon is the same in Japanese?
Do they care if they use these words instead of the ones
that came with nationhood? Capo, topolino, salsiccia, giarra
foreign words, all the same. What interest do the words of dominion hold?

What do they care when they use the word viatu
to describe how someone went quickly in their sleep?
Would they care to know its origins in an arcane
form of French? Are they mindful how the word

lends more dignity than using presto, so redolent of magic tricks
where loved ones might vanish in mist and vapours?
And why would anyone care for the word tambuto

their word for coffin? Would it soothe them to know
its Arabic roots? Tambuto!—like the sound of earth falling on wood.
Tambuto!—like the taam-buu-ra-taam-buu-ra-ta of a tambourine.

The woman searching death notices for familiar faces,
what would she care if time relegated her words to archive drawers
and to German philologists to catalogue and study? What would she care

if the word she uses for handkerchief—muccuturi, muccutur
were the bastard brother of a Catalan mocador?




Frank Russo’s poetry and fiction have previously been published in Southerly, The Weekend Australian, Transnational Literature, Blue Crow, ABC Radio and in anthologies in Australia, the United States and Canada. Two of his novel manuscripts have been short-listed and commended for the Vogel/The Australian Literary Prize and for other awards. The poem “Calvario” was highly commended in January 2014 for the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition (Ireland). Both poems published here will be included in Frank’s collection In the Museum of Creation (Five Islands Press, 2014/15). He holds a Masters in Writing from UTS and is completing a Doctorate in the English Department at the University of Sydney.

from Issue #6: Poetry by Siobhan Hodge

Photo (CC) Tommy Wong @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Tommy Wong @ Flickr


 Happy Valley Turnover

American alfalfa, fresh
off the jet, arrives
for a visiting
in the barracks.

Soybean starches
ulcered bellies,
oats and lucerne
for horses ushered
to another day’s racing.

Withers judder
in humid clumps,
seasons in uneasy
halogen nights.

Eyes may turn
to Kowloon skyline
under lock
from stall to killing pen,
now harried up the ramp.

Seychelles broke fast,
Sicilian Storm no
along the outside
we have another

Imported hay is
for spent bodies
on the morning truck,
and the punters
park elsewhere.




Horse Latitudes

No red tide laps the shore
to mark your bloody passage.
Algal bloom snuffs oxygen,
your lungs filled
in unfamiliar seas.

Cast adrift, no water to fill
your salted flanks:
they pitched you over the side
like an empty barrel.

Spanish soil fell from your hooves
before Pacific
rose to claim
your abandoned hide.

Rolling in the deep,
hawkhead mauled
by foam. Sharks barter
for your sinews
beneath calm water.

No horizon will beckon
you home, body
sunken – skull to mount
the bedrock, mapping
a legacy of bones.



Siobhan Hodge was recently awarded a PhD at the University of Western Australia in the discipline of English, studying Sappho’s poetry and its translation. Born in the UK, she divides her time between Australia and Hong Kong, and is currently undertaking a writer’s retreat in Cambridge. She recently published a chapbook, Picking Up the Pieces, and has had poetry and criticism published in several places, including Cordite, Page Seventeen, Yellow Field, Peril, Verge, and Trove. Siobhan nurtures a longstanding interest in working with horses, drawing on both classical dressage and natural horsemanship methodologies, and is working on a related poetry collection.

from Issue #6: Poetry by Richard James Allen

Photo (CC) simpleinsomnia @ Flickr

Photo (CC) simpleinsomnia @ Flickr



yes we get on alright
no longer breathless
like young lovers
more like old folk
though not so old
for i believe i am of sound mind and body
and still capable of work
it being at such times
after work
as i’m not feeling my best
what with standing up all day
and the rheumatism in my left knee
or if i’ve been treated to an unkind word
or if there’s been a hold up in my pension
or a dear friend has passed away
that i talk to her
pondering it all over
as i powder my toes before bed
and she listens so patiently
but mostly i let her talk
nodding my head from time to time
even if i’m only pretending to listen
because there are boxes of my mother’s letters
to be read or reread sorted or resorted
or a note to be answered from the landlord
concerning the rent
or a couple of lines that want writing to the dentist to say
i won’t be dropping my teeth in there again in a hurry
not after the price he charged me for that new set last may
but there’s never a harsh word between us
forty years and nothing to complain of
we get on famously
her and me
me and the tv




Crazy stuff

Why did he give me all that crazy stuff –
his portfolio on UFOs and Alien Abductions,
his years of research into Conspiracy Theories,
his proofs that everything we have ever suspected
is actually true and is going on right now,
only even worse than we expected?

Why did he give me all his crazy stuff
and then disappear off into the night,
never to report back again?

Did he think I was as sane as he?




The Unanswered Question

Would you have loved me as I loved you?
The great unanswered question
Which binds like forget-me-nots
The recycling souls of the human race.




Australian-born poet Richard James Allen’s recent collection of poems, Fixing the Broken Nightingale (Flying Island Books) is his tenth book as a poet, fiction, performance writer and editor:  Widely published in anthologies, journals and online since winning the ‘under-21 section’ of the English Teachers Association of NSW National Writing Competition in 1980, Allen has been the recipient of numerous awards, nominations and grants, as well as opportunities for presentations, screenings and broadcasts, in a unique international career as an acclaimed writer, director, choreographer, filmmaker, performer, new media artist, and scholar. Further information at The Physical TV Company website:

from Issue #6: An Interview with Judith Beveridge

Image: Devadatta's Hirelings, Jamalgarhi (CC) Photo Dharma @ Flickr

Image: Devadatta’s Hirelings, Jamalgarhi – Photo (CC) Dharma @ Flickr



An interview with Judith Beveridge

Theodore Ell


JUDITH BEVERIDGE was born in London in 1956 and moved to Australia with her family as a child. She grew up and studied in Sydney, where she still lives. After having worked in diverse jobs in offices, adult education and bush conservation, since 2002 she has taught poetry in the postgraduate creative writing program at the University of Sydney. She is poetry editor of the literary journal Meanjin.

Beveridge has published five collections of poetry: The Domesticity of Giraffes (1987), Accidental Grace (1996), Wolf Notes (2003), Storm and Honey (2009) and most recently Devadatta’s Poems (2014). Her work has appeared in many anthologies and has won numerous awards, including the Dame Mary Gilmore Award, The New South Wales and Victorian Premiers’ Poetry Prizes (the latter twice) and the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal.

Devadatta’s Poems is Beveridge’s first collection focused on a single subject. It extends themes that have increasingly absorbed her attention across several collections: the life and spiritual quest of the Buddha and the wider dramas that unfolded among those around him. Beveridge’s first Buddha Cycle of narrative poems appeared in Accidental Grace and was followed by Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree in Wolf Notes. These sequences depicted the wanderings of Siddhattha Gotama across India before his attainment of enlightenment. Devadatta’s Poems takes place after he has become the Buddha and is written from the point of view of Devadatta, Siddhattha’s envious and power-hungry cousin, who joins the new monastic order so as to bring the Buddha down. Devadatta even tries to murder him several times. The new sequence strikes many contrasts with the earlier poems ‘spoken’ by Siddhattha – the calculating versus the contemplative, the sensual versus the ascetic, lust versus renunciation, violence versus tranquillity – but both cousins are bound, ironically, by their longing for Yasodhara, Siddhatha’s wife, whom both have had to leave behind in their distant home city.

This interview was conducted by email in July 2014 in the weeks after the launch of the new book and was reviewed by both interviewer and interviewee before publication.


ELL: Devadatta’s Poems is your first book written only in one voice, telling one story. In the past you have placed narrative sequences among other work on varying subjects. Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree was one of those cases. What was it that led you to set Devadatta apart in this way?

BEVERIDGE: I wanted to give myself the challenge of writing a book-length sequence. I’ve always loved Dorothy Porter’s book Akhenaten and Geoffrey Lehmann’s Nero’s Poems and I felt with Devadatta that there was enough narrative material to do an extended sequence. The trick was in trying to work out how long or short the book needed to be, whether or not I would do a more extensive book. In the end I opted for a shorter book, throwing out quite a number of poems I had initially thought I might include. I opted for a tighter focus.

ELL: In the poem “Dawn” in Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree, Siddhattha reflects, ‘Not yet / am I a sorrowful man. Not yet.’ Was there a sense then that there would be more to tell, that after Siddhattha’s enlightenment there would be new trials?

BEVERIDGE: When I was writing Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree, which traces Siddhattha Gotama’s journey over north India before he became the Buddha, I came across Devadatta, the Buddha’s cousin and thought at the time how that would be a great story to explore. Devadatta caused the Buddha a great deal of trouble and grief by trying to take over the Buddhist Order and by trying to murder him three times, so, yes, in a sense that line can be seen as alluding to future strife for the Buddha, though when I wrote that line I didn’t consciously have that specific conflict in mind.

ELL: Siddhattha’s reflections in the earlier sequence are not all contented – he is, after all, struggling to revise his whole way of living – but his motivation is essentially humane. The new sequence turns that on its head. What did it take to shape the inner life of a speaker whose motives are so much blacker, even murderous?

BEVERIDGE: At the centre of Devadatta’s Poems there’s jealousy, hatred, ambition, lust, cruelty. It’s always easier, I think, to write about flawed characters, mainly because our language for these emotions is so much richer, and because these emotions are so much more dramatic and more embedded in our literary, cultural, social and political history. Every day these emotions make the news and so inhabit our minds and imaginations very frequently, so it wasn’t that hard to depict a flawed and corrupt character. However, I didn’t want to make him so terrible that readers would be entirely repulsed by him.

ELL: Devadatta’s antagonism towards Siddhattha is quite clear (‘Some nights… all I do is scheme / to give Siddhattha schism, infighting, dissonance’) yet both cousins, in your depictions, define themselves, to themselves and to us, in quite similar ways. They are constantly searching in the details of the world about them for some kind of solace or confirmation, and both are quite lucid and self-controlled in describing what troubles them. Did you envisage a family resemblance? How did you approach contemplating that same setting from a new point of view?

BEVERIDGE: The difference lies in the fact that Siddhattha after years of struggle finds inner peace and the path to wisdom. I knew I could never write about Siddhattha after he had achieved enlightenment because it would be fraudulent of me to try and imagine what an enlightened mind might experience. Devadatta is still caught up in all the illusions, in suffering, in the mental traps, and so resembles Siddhattha in those years before he became enlightened. Devadatta too is searching for something, but does not have the discipline to let go of craving or aversion, so he seemed like a good candidate to continue on with. It would be so hard to do justice to the character of the Buddha after enlightenment.

ELL: You mentioned having to ‘throw out’ a number of poems you originally thought of including, for the sake of a tighter focus. What was in those poems that seemed to distract from that? Could you use them elsewhere?

BEVERIDGE: No, I’d never use the poems elsewhere. The poems I threw out were poems which didn’t seem to be strong enough, or that were simply going over ground I had already covered, or they were tonally similar to other poems and weren’t adding a great deal to the narrative. There are a few of those discarded poems I do like, but they will simply have to be forever part of the reject pile. I have hundreds and hundreds of poems like that from previous books.

ELL: The drama of both sequences seems to be almost all internal, with Siddhattha and Devadatta reflecting on events after the fact, in the spaces between the ‘moves’ of their lives. We’re not often inside their minds while they are in action. I’m wondering about the source of that reflective distance from events. Is it a result of how you see the personalities of these figures? Or is it more to do with finding a way into a poem?

BEVERIDGE: It’s probably a reflection of the kind of poet I am. I write reflectively and meditatively and I’m mainly concerned with human emotions. There’s certainly very little action in Devadatta’s poems. It’s mostly thought processes and Devadatta’s plotting and planning how to kill Siddhattha. This was one of the problems I had when writing the sequence: I didn’t want it to become an endless treadmill of thoughts and I was constantly worrying about how to progress the narrative, because in a way the story doesn’t go anywhere much in terms of plot. It’s more a psychological investigation. One of the most challenging elements in writing the sequence was to try to give a sense of movement in a story that essentially has little action. I’m not sure how well I’ve succeeded in creating this movement, however.

ELL: The main exceptions to that sense of distance are the poems in which both cousins long for Yasodhara – Siddhattha’s wife, whom he leaves behind, and who is the object of Devadatta’s lust. What did it take to depict this side of both their natures, this thought that overrides everything else?

BEVERIDGE: Human longing and desire are emotions that most of us feel most of the time, whether it’s longing for a person, a place, a lost time, a lost opportunity or whatever, so all I had to do was tap into that feeling. The hardest part was finding the right language and images. You might have noticed I have used Yasodhara’s hair as an element that represents her beauty, especially in Devadatta’s poems. This was one way I was able to evoke the emotions and give focus to the mood.

ELL: Is Yasodhara a character whose story you’d consider telling, from her point of view?

BEVERIDGE: It has crossed my mind to do so. I’ve not really tried a woman’s voice before, but if I do write it, it probably won’t be for a while. I’ve also thought of writing the story from Rahula’s point of view. He was Siddhattha’s and Yasodhara’s son, so there are still some options and possibilities.

ELL: What is it that draws you back to this drama, to elaborate the various sides of the story? You published the first Buddha Cycle in the mid-90s and the world that it opened up seems to have occupied you a great deal ever since.

BEVERIDGE: It’s true I’ve always been captivated by the Buddha’s story, ever since I was a child. It certainly has a much better ending than the story of Jesus. Eastern religions seem very sensible and attractive to me. I could never accept the Christian idea of original sin, but I’ve always thought that the idea of things being related on a deep level to ring true. I dislike the hierarchical structure of Christianity and find in Buddhism a more harmonious and integrated view that includes a non-exploitative attitude towards nature and animals.

ELL: Can you describe the effect that visiting India has had on you and your work? Have you written much while there, or do you tend to reflect on details after the fact?

BEVERIDGE: I visited India on two occasions, though not for any research or religious purposes. I was married to an Indian and we took our young son to meet his family. I didn’t write a word while I was there, but I tried to absorb as much as I could. I was lucky in as much as I got to experience an Indian family first hand, so I wasn’t a tourist as such, but was able to observe things on a more domestic and intimate day-to-day level.

ELL: How far has your reading taken you? The Siddhattha-Devadatta sequences look to very ancient texts. Are there any Indian writers in particular, ancient or modern, whose work has offered inspiration?

BEVERIDGE: I have read many books on Buddhism and on the Buddha and on life in ancient India, but I don’t like to know too much about a subject because I find it shuts down my imagination. I like to have imaginative room to move, so in the Devadatta sequence, there are quite a few things which are not historically accurate, and most of the scenarios I have simply invented in order to dramatise something about Devadatta’s character. I usually find that something very small, some almost trivial detail might start a poem, such as the existence of ox-toads. I have read some Indian poetry. I am especially fond of the work of AK Ramanujan.

ELL: What is it about his work that appeals to you?

BEVERIDGE: It’s a while since I’ve read him, but I’ve always enjoyed his insights and his precise use of language. He was born in South India, but wrote mainly in English and probed his culture mainly for an English-speaking audience. He died in Chicago in 1993 and there’s part of one obituary I think rings true: ‘In the quiet yet affable wit known best to his extended family of students, colleagues and friends, Ramanujan would observe that he was the hyphen in the phrase “Indo-American”. But to everyone who knew him and the passionate brilliance of his language, he and his poetry were rather a richly evocative metaphor for the human experience wherever it might be found. He was as much at home with Yeats and Tagore as he was with the classical literatures of India.’

ELL: It’s interesting that you should say you prefer not to know too much about a subject, as your range of subjects is so broad. As well as the Buddha sequences there is Driftgrounds: Three Fishermen in Storm and Honey. And in that sequence the poem “The Book” reams off the most bizarre species of fish – hardyhead, toothy flathead, rhinoceros file fish, robust pygmy star-gazer – before the speaker admits he hasn’t found ‘the right one’ to throw back at his fishing-mate when he calls him sweetlips. Is there a sense that your character’s casting about, his gathering-in of names and effects, reflects your own?

BEVERIDGE: Yes, absolutely. I love names for things and part of my interest and love of writing poetry is that you do get to name things. The thesaurus is great for this: it has long-lists of names in all sorts of categories. I am always casting around in my poems for the right word.

ELL: What is it that draws you to such varied subjects? What gave rise to Driftgrounds, for instance?

BEVERIDGE: I am always searching around for subjects, and as I don’t like to write about myself, I cast around constantly for possible characters and scenarios to write about. I think most writers are very curious people and they often have broad interests and obsessions. One of my obsessions is water, so I wrote Driftgrounds partly to indulge my love of seascapes and riverscapes and also to try to explore the brutal subject of fishing and how character and place affect each other. I like using characters in poems as they give you a way into material not your own.

ELL: Your previous collections have usually included both longer sequences, like Driftgrounds or the Buddha poems, and sets of diverse ‘single’ poems, but it seems to me that with each collection the sequences have been growing longer. Between the Palace and the Bodhi Tree made up a large portion of Wolf Notes and Devadatta’s Poems is, of course, a single book. Has ‘narrative’ been occupying you more than the writing of ‘single’ poems recently?

BEVERIDGE: Certainly for the last couple of books it has. I find that having a larger project to work on helps me generate poems more easily because I can slot into the character or ready-made narrative, not every single poem has to be begun from scratch because of the established setting or mood. However, for my next book, I am deliberately going back to single, unrelated poems as I want to have the challenge again of a broader range of subjects and forcing myself to start from the blank page with each new poem. It’s uncomfortable, but I don’t want to fall into easy habits.

ELL: What is it about a narrative sequence of poems that attracts you, as opposed to rendering the same story as a novel?

BEVERIDGE: I just love writing poetry. Writing prose doesn’t especially interest me because I like the fine detail and focus that a poem demands and I enjoy working with sound and rhythm and metaphor and texture of language. This is not to say that novelists don’t also work with these things, but they don’t work with the line or the line break and I love working with lines, finding out what they can achieve. I also love the intensity that a single poem can have and a poem can often say in a few words what it might take several sentences to say in prose.

ELL: Another trait one can sense in your work is that often once you’ve settled on a subject, you draw image after image out of it, elaborating the possibilities into long chains. “How to love bats” is one example: you tell the reader to ‘Begin in a cave’ and ‘listen to the floor boil with rodents, insects,’ but before long the poem has brought those sensations into the human world: ‘Visit op shops. Hide in their closets. / Breathe in the scales and dust / of clothes left hanging.’ You use the same technique of elaboration in Devadatta’s Poems as well, especially in conveying Devadatta’s dreams of Yasodhara. I’m wondering to what extent this ‘cataloguing’ and elaborating reflects the way you shape a poem. Do you list different attributes or qualities first and then build them into a shape, or do they trigger and grow from one another, while you are writing verse?

BEVERIDGE: Definitely the latter. For me writing is always a process of discovery inasmuch as I don’t really know what it is I am going to say before I write. I discover as I go along. One thing I do consciously is to try to push my material as far as I can imaginatively. I like poems that have imaginative reach. This means my poems go through many, many drafts before they are finished, as I often take wrong turns or produce material that I end up scrapping before I can discover the true or meaningful poem. But I like this. It makes for hard work, but it gives me a strong sense of vocation when I’m writing, a sense that the poems are quite often hard won, as I believe they should be.

ELL: Is there a sense in which you are also attempting to win over yourself in writing poems? The discomfort you mention in relation to writing about your own life calls to mind another much earlier poem of yours, “Fox in a Tree Stump,” in which the speaker of the poem recounts being forced into flushing out and killing a fox, and recalls, ‘I was nine years old. All my life / I’d stuck close to my yelled name.’ Your work has travelled away from the brutality described in that poem, but it seems to me that ideas of threats to oneself, and of oneself as a threat, have persisted, especially in the case of Devadatta. I’m wondering how you negotiate your degree of involvement with characters. How complete do you think they can be as masks?

BEVERIDGE: There is a paradoxical relationship between myself and the characters I use because they are both masks and not masks. They are masks in the sense that the emotions I give my characters are all emotions I have experienced, and I imagine most human beings have experienced, as they are the usual ones. What I change are the settings and the circumstances and this allows me a distance and perspective I wouldn’t get if I were writing directly from my own life. But I love the idea that I can move away from my own particular experiences and enter them in a more universal way. So, yes, I am attempting to ‘win myself over’ in my poems by trying to understand my own emotions through a more general lens. And what I get from this process is a sense of shared humanity.

ELL: With all your varying characters and subjects, is there a centre to your poetry, something that will set you writing where something else may not?

BEVERIDGE: Always the motivating and centralising factor for me is language. My poems always start with a desire to play with language. It’s the hardest thing in writing, to get the language right. It’s easy to have ideas for poems, but getting, as Adrienne Rich said, ‘the language that’s adequate to experience’ right in a poem is always a challenge. I don’t mean that I play with language in a postmodern sense, such as in L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E poetry, where the intention is to leave the meaning up to the reader, or that I break down syntax, because I do essentially want to communicate and I want to communicate emotion. I still believe the lyric has a lot to offer and still has relevance for the reader and writer, and that inflecting emotion into a poem is a serious task.

ELL: Has your recent turn back to single, unrelated poems altered your working habits?

BEVERIDGE: My working habits have always been pretty much the same, no matter what I’m working on. I need long stretches of time before me. Six or seven hours is a typical stretch for me to get anything done. I’m painfully slow and plodding. I’ve never been able to work at white-hot speed, like some poets. And I do enjoy those long stretches. They give me a strong sense of vocation, that I’ve worked hard.

ELL: How far off may your next collection be?

BEVERIDGE: Hard to say. I think my next book will be a New and Selected Poems, so my intention is to write the ‘new’ section, which is why I’ve chosen to work on miscellaneous poems, rather than a coherent project. But I’ll take my time. Patience is a key ingredient, I think. I’d rather produce a work I’m happy with than rush into publication.


from Issue #6: Poetry by Penny Florence

Photo (CC) Joscelyn Upendran @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Joscelyn Upendran @ Flickr




Ant Hill presented itself, complete, when I returned to the UK following a month in Australia at the invitation of friends. The month was spent with people I have met in diverse ways and contexts, but I have spent little time with any of them, if you measure a lifetime. Yet their significance is not at all ordinary.

The relationship between Australia and Britain can, perhaps, like other post-colonial affinities, be compared to this. We have formed each other for a brief moment, but that split second has left structural traces, like a slide from geology to topography to topology.

The harbinger of the sequence of poems was “Tangent”. While staying at Pittwater, I had begun a rare conversation. I did not know if it would continue. I sat down to send an email about my projects in digital poetry, and wrote “Tangent” in 5 minutes. It remains virtually unchanged.

I take no great credit for this. I find the best things happen unaided, gifts from that miraculous and elusive space beyond self.

This collection is about these things: people who matter to you way beyond the amount of time you spend with them; places that become part of the imaginary landscape that is your unknown blueprint of home; the lightest of touches that your body knows until it dies.

A final word about ‘Pair for Paolo’. It grew out of a poem by Paolo Totaro, sent by email, which became the basis, set in standard type. My line by line response is in blue cursive. Imagine the lines playing off each other in a visual dance. Read freely, following your eye and inclination.





to a touch
of one life to an

short. scribe
in infinitesimal eternity

(strange word, of beauty and fear).

brevity and sightlessness
no match for a lifetime.

exactitude. perfect. match
a moment, fleeting and sure
like flight,

like the flash of a wing

light glints, water moves in

They flee from me.




a muse meant,
once upon a time, a lady
sat, alone, aloof, like
patience. smiling at no-one,
nothing altered, especially
not her.

a poet, she.

no taster of success, she. just, she

kept her own counsel. knowing

one day, once upon a time, later,
a poet, met by chance by the water,
would be her muse; the hope and delight
gently, lightly, show
her her way. because, being
no fools

they had no desire to talk to emptiness.



Pair for Paolo
(With Paolo Totaro)

(from P’s idiolect to P’s idiolect)

My leaf of gold, my truest, my routinely checked
gold flutters, autumnal, regular and random
mail each day each hour, like water you take the shape
as words weave magic trees out of ether
of the vessel you are poured in, like ice you are
frozen to form. Or rock between rivers, green
stone, like a meadow you link two rivers that flow

one east one west. Yet, the one source is forever
space, compass lost.
for both, lost. The mountain that is behind

Seated, soaring promontory recedes
continues to be seat, passage, road, landscape
from all to nought. O. Recall
finally to disappear. From all but the memory
draws all to the event
where all converge and somersaults in, is then
centrifugued, until the scions of years – forgotten
descending years of meanings
meanings – draw to a close. One stone after
another stone, the building that is mind
as a house of cards prettily shatters
sheds floors. In the outside memory remains
to harvest only leaves,
my sheaf of mail, my routinely deleted
mail of these last days last hours, like tombstones.




(the motion of water inscribed on veined stone veins my vision,
blurred pearl)

I see everything that was here before, but the map must have been wrong.
Following it, I bump into things.
Perhaps it is upside down?

Well, that helps,
but it’s not enough.

I shall remember that there are rivers and forests, seas and deserts,
and draw my own




Nomadic Variations

I. Kernow, An Lysardh (Cornwall, The Lizard Peninsula), Australia

Purple The Lizard, long, low
reaches to Brittany
long lost matrix, earth joined
by splitting sea

South, Europe lies, and North
ghost continent
actual and ungraspable
as myth, as Mu

Gondwana, Pangea
roots of mountains, basal layer,

Cornwall’s granite, Vesuvius spit
of land liquid like sea.

Mining the deep
belief, child-like,
to Oz & Ayer’s Rock


strata as truth, perhaps,


mineral culture
a mine is a mine is a mine …


II. (Tutankhamun, Valley of the Kings 1336 BC, Cairo 1922 AD, London 1972 AD)

It must be here
It must.

searching plinth, shelf,
panic rising, absurd

I stop. It’s this size, I say
(holding a hand at hip height,
my size when first I saw)

alabaster, incandescent,
artfully lit on its full page
when book bound colour was rare.

Wonders of the Past
entombed millennia
the country of my birth
where I do not belong. But.

A perfume vase, I say, handles, carved, round,
waisted. It must be here. It is, he says, with an odd smile.

And I see. Two inches, three,
Where feet once were.
We laugh. I turn away,
hiding my grief.

My father, born there, too, and his
in Scotland, generations gone.
A common sort of story,

Aunt Cissy died stateless,
relict of colonial adventure.
Love of Cairo holding
when Suez bade her leave.

Not for her the straitness of a canal.


III: Alexandria, Gwithian (Kernow), and beyond

………………His legs bestrid the ocean
…………………………………………………………………………his delights
……………..Were dolphin-like; they show’d his back above
……………..The element they lived in.
…………………………………………..(Cleopatra, Shakespeare, Antony & Cleopatra V ii)


High tide and the dolphins

a crab shell at my feet,
horned carapace starred like the prehistoric moon,
scarred with extinct light.

…….Shift sideways, sidereal
…………weed wedge to belly, tail, flicker
………………clear of the horizon


childhood windblown voices down the dunes
hollowed in recessive horn,

……..What do you see at the end of the sea,
……..When the sun shines through, and the sand
……..Stripes rippling stipple the yellow scree
……..Is it light, is it sea, is it


is elsewhere, though beneath
to touch, just touch

…… the sea the sea-sunk wave-hill

then, like dolphins, in air
…… dance



What’s What

Mud and stones polished by bright water,
The air bruised with the scent of wild garlic
Pelted with hail. That lies white, speckling the green and brown.

Small opportunist birds flit excitedly in the intermittent sun,
Knowing it seems what
Mud and stones polished by bright water,
air bruised with the scent of wild garlic,
pelted with hail, are.

White, speckling the green and brown,
small opportunist birds flit excitedly in the intermittent sun,
knowing, it seems, what




Penny Florence currently works primarily with digital poetry, exploring translation and visual art. She has published on a range of academic interests, most of which concern poetry or painting, or how they relate (she is Professor Emerita at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London). Ant Hill, from which this selection is taken, is her first collection of poems. Although she has always jotted poetic notes, she has rarely properly written poetry. These 5 poems are the first she has published. She lives in Cornwall, on the Penwith Peninsula, in the far South West of Britain.

from Issue #6: Poetry by Ouyang Yu

Photo (CC) Sam Sherratt @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Sam Sherratt @ Flickr



Perhaps it’s all wrong
Perhaps one should have stayed poor and enjoyed it more
Perhaps one should never have been born to live the multiply lived lives that
…………are essentially the same the world over
Perhaps one should have been born with an ambition to become a top-
…………grossing international movie or a zero-adding movable asset
Perhaps it’s all wrong
Perhaps one should remain a never-ending cigarette that burns its time till it
…………turns into time-honoured ashes as long as life
Perhaps poetry should not have been allowed to exist; instead, poets should
…………have been set free to become birds or insects or some as yet to be
…………discovered creeping creatures
Perhaps the earth should suicide-bomb, leaving words as radioactive waves
…………for light years to decipher
Perhaps it’s all wrong
Perhaps nothing ought to be judged along the faultlines of good or evil or
…………good or bad or good or better
Perhaps one is a bin, once unleashed into the universe, is but a self-
…………proliferating bin tumbling into fragments of being doing in its undoing
Perhaps love is evil spelt backwards wrongly, good is gag, and life should
…………never have been lived for that single purpose of making money or else
…………why, I mean, one could have simply swapped one’s life for that of
…………being a piece of gold, waiting to be dug, like Australia
Perhaps it’s all wrong, after all



Not to write short fiction, spending time on things that may interest others,
but not self

Not to write drama

Not to write mere fiction that demonstrates to the world that one is merely
alive, from a few years of death to another few years of death

But to follow the wandering heart wherever poetry takes it and to bend over
the bow in the shape of mind designed to let loose a skyful of stars



I think that’s quite nice a way of dying
Suffering so much senile dementia
One doesn’t even know where one is till one is gone

She said this in her 3rd or 5th-I don’t remember which-floor
Apartment where one could gaze past trees and rooftops
At the corner of what looks slightly like the Opera House

Followed by my own remark that it’s more preferable
To die like the Polish poet who dreamt into death
In bed, found dead the next day, and better still

If everything financial is organized pre-death
She agreed and started talking about the significance
Of facial features, such as the deep valley between

My brows that cuts my way to success
A thing, according to her, one can’t go without
Or else one’s life is pure death

It so happens that today I’ve received a magazine
Carrying a poem among many with a line that says
Something to this effect: Why have there never been successful birds?

Many live, only to die
Many live a death of life
And many live, successfully, but no one remembers them, it seems



…………………….Translated from the Chinese by the author

Some people are sure to be completely forgotten by history
Not written into any books
Or local chronicles
Not mentioned online or offline
Such as Dad
Even I have almost forgotten him
But for the fact that the hazy Shanghai
Is not so hazy today
And that my footsteps back from the vegetable market
Are not so hurried
The sun, even if it is in China
Even if it is in early November
Still has the power, at its end time
Of stripping one off his jacket
The man, a poet who never wrote a poem
The man, who called everything names behind a closed door at home
Was amicable enough as soon as he went outdoors
At peace with the world, and who managed to get his three sons
To go to college within the same year
Two of them becoming foreign citizens
Within twenty years
The other one, Oh, the other one
Has since become a symbol of something hopelessly spiritual
Dad had a single first name before liberation: Cheng
And, after liberation, he was categorized as a ‘Historical Counter-
When he changed his name to Binyu
Yu for Zhou Yu, a piece of beautiful jade
Mom called him, in a strange local dialect

(Zhou Yu, 175–210, courtesy name Gongjin, was a military general and strategist serving under the warlord Sun Ce in the late Eastern Han Dynasty.)


Old Zuo

……………………Translated from the Chinese by the author

It’s a bit hard to write about Old Zuo
Some called her Big Sister Zuo
Some called her Mother Zuo
Some called her Aunty Zuo
And most of them would call her Old Zuo
Old Zuo smoked
Old Zuo didn’t cook and she preferred to eat at the canteen
Steamed bun and congee for breakfast, lettuce for lunch and a soup of turnip and
vegetables for dinner
When her sons came back on Sundays
Old Zuo would get up early and buy pork ribs and lotus-roots
To stew a pot of soup with them over a slow fire
Two of her sons she left in someone else’s care
The other one was away most of the times and went overseas later
Old Zuo loved smoking and she had many male friends and colleagues
She worked at the Third Front
She worked in the mountains
She was a good ping-pong player in her youth
Old Zuo wasn’t choosy about things she ate
But she was most particular about manners
Not allowing us to make noise while chewing food
Not allowing the tips of our chopsticks to be stained with a single grain of rice
when picking the dishes
And not allowing us not to hold our rice bowls steady at the dining table
Old Zuo was a stickler for cleanliness
She peeled whatever she ate
Including sesames
According to her daughter-in-law, married to her third son
Old Zuo was not happy in her old age
Suffering from senile dementia
To the degree that she did not recognize him when her oldest son came back from
Old Zuo now sleeps a calm sleep under the ground
Old Zuo is Mom
By the name of Zuo Zhen
A name not findable online
Right across the world



Since his arrival in Australia in 1991, Ouyang Yu has published 73 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, literary translation and criticism in both English and Chinese. His latest novel in Chinese is Taojin Di (Land of Gold Diggers), published by Jiangsu Literature and Art Publishing House in 2014 and his latest novel in English is Diary of a Naked Official, published by Transit Lounge in 2014. His latest translation into Chinese is The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes, published by Nanjing University Press in 2014. He is now professor of English at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics.

from Issue #6: Poetry by Flora Delalande, translated by N. J. Tait

Photo (CC) aquarelleromatinque @ Flickr

Image: Théodore Géricault, Le radeau de la Méduse (CC) aquarelleromatinque @ Flickr


Read Flora Delalande’s original French, then the English translation in blue. 



J’écorcherai mon cœur aux étoiles
Je l’étendrai entre nos mondes
Et je partirai sous mes voiles
Au gré des vents, au gré de l’onde

Mon corps diaphane sur l’eau diffuse
Les yeux fermés, la plaie ouverte
Mon cœur de femme sur la Méduse
Le poing serré, la main offerte

Mes ongles nus sur le miroir
Griffent le verre, sculptent le flot
Je m’abandonne à cet espoir
De te rejoindre sur mon radeau

Le vent se lève, le bois se brise
Le ciel s’arrache en trous béants
Toute une vie à la dérive
Arriverai-je jamais à temps ?

…………………………………………………………(Dialogue avec l’Orage, 2011)


I will throttle my star-studded heart
I will string it out between our worlds
And I will set out under sail
As winds will have it, as waves will have it

My gossamer body swells over the sea
Eyes shut, wound exposed
My woman’s heart on the Medusa
Fist closed tight, hand outstretched

My fingernails naked on the mirror
Scrape the glass, sculpt the current
To this hope I surrender myself
To reach you on my raft

The wind is rising, the wood is going to splinters
The sky is torn apart into abyssal holes
A whole lifetime adrift
Will I never arrive in time?

…………………………………………………………..(Dialogue with the Storm, 2011)


Une goutte, une seule

Sous les toits de tôle, j’ai eu envie de pleurer nos décombres. Prendre ta tête entre mes mains et l’apaiser, une dernière fois. Dénouer le fil qui me retient, qui tend les larmes jusqu’à l’extrême.

J’ai vu un pistolet sur une table en désordre.
Une tasse de thé pleine de pluie.
Une main coupée, des doigts rigides

et un tableau troué, de guingois, sur le mur.

One drop, just one

Under the tin-sheet roofs, I felt like weeping for our wreckage. Taking your head in my hands and consoling it, one last time. Unknotting the thread restraining me, contracting tears to the extreme.

I saw a pistol on a cluttered table.
A teacup filled with rain.
A severed hand, stiff fingers

and a riddled painting, lopsided, on the wall.



Il faudrait pouvoir être une étoile filante
Simple trait de lumière illuminant le ciel
L’instant d’une seconde, accrocher les regards
Disparaître et mourir, un sourire sur vos lèvres

Rien qu’une étoile filante dans un noir épuisé
Un épi de lumière oublié par la nuit


One should have the chance to be a falling star
A simple trace that spreads light over the sky
For the instant of one second, laying hold of every gaze
To vanish and die, a smile across your lips

No more than a falling star in black fatigue
A lit pinpoint the night forgets



Flora Delalande is a young French historian and poet. Born in Normandy, she began writing poetry when she was sixteen. In 2011, she created the organisation « Le Temps des Rêves » with other poets interested in fusing different art-forms. After Dialogue avec l’Orage [Dialogue with the Storm], her first poetry book, she published Trésors parcheminés [Treasures in parchment], illustrated by Hassan Manasrah, a Palestinan sketch artist. In 2013 she began to perform her poetry live.

N. J. Tait is a translator and freelance writer and editor who works mainly on the north coast of New South Wales.

from Issue #6: Poetry by Stephen Oliver

Photo from the author's private collection

Photo from the author’s private collection


Editor’s note: scroll down to listen to recordings of Stephen Oliver reading two of his poems published in this issue.


Amongst Vine Leaves

…………………………………………….for Pina Ricciu

She is young, your mother amongst vine leaves—
head thrown back in a gesture of sensual impatience,
for the harvest festival, maybe, her face belonging
to sunlight that falls low over the hill where she stands
amongst the vine leaves on a Sardinian hillside,
close by her village—dreams as clear and bright as

the air which envelops her. She feels she ought to be
elsewhere, amongst laughter and song, and all the
young men of the village circling her in slow dance—
as in a tryst she would make with herself in the
bedroom mirror—the scented breath of night, cool
and secretive, she dreams of her lover who will carry

her away to far off places of fashion and glitter
promised by American movies, long silvery streets seen
from skyscrapers, New York accents, the sun warm
upon her bare arms, she stands forever in the vineyard
in that black & white photo, leaves autumn dry, ready
to drift and scatter about her feet, at harvest time.


House of Occlusion

…………………………………….After reading Tatiana Shcherbina

Left open long enough spiders will weave these
windows shut, then my world would become a web,
as though I were peering back through old age
as if through gauze, not knowing if that glimmer lies
behind or ahead of me. So I consider my imagined
blindness from plan-view. Is focus an inward,
or outward speculation on this house of occlusion?
Spider spells it out in web letters, by a lexicon of
intersections, through hollow-eyed caves of the dead.
‘Buried in our lives we are governed by ghosts.’
My windowsills remain a battleground, bits thrown
about, shattered insignia of the housefly abound.
Yellow and crimson grains of sunset make an altar,
as the oblatory spider pays fully the lares et penates.



The Vendors

It was only upon reflection. The glimpse suggested light welling up from the darkness of the storm water drain had shifted his orientation. All the translucent icicles melted so that what lay before him was indefinable as grey sludge. The monitor into which he gazed, a digital crystal bowl, only gave back to him a myriad of distractions at any one time. These annulled every question he might have asked had he understood the need for one. As if an answer were necessary to his investigation. But what might this disclose?

            Images and banners passed before him in procession over the plains of the monitor like a mediaeval pageant or armies on the move. Then he realized it was nothing more than the market-place rabble. Vendors selling their wares silently as if in a mime. Only at the farthermost stalls, on the outer circle, could be heard the sound of something abandoned as though an echo had bounced and broken. He knew then agitation as movement had replaced focus. There was little danger—for the crowd would not cohere and no one sought common purpose. As long as he held onto this one notion he knew that retreat into something he had forgotten was possible.



Kitchen Table

……………………………..“Kitchen tables—where would us poets
…………………………… without them?”
……………………………………………………………..—Peter Olds

The question now arises, how to make a poem
at a kitchen table? Only a small space is required
between the clutter of the last meal and the HP bottle
of sauce bullying the mustard pot next to it.
Should the palette feel jaded, a pinch of angst
and emptiness is recommended. Broken love affairs
are an excellent ingredient, as binding as broken
eggs. To this, add four drunken nights, and possibly an
argument with an estranged partner over not
too much in particular—a desiccated sprinkling
of laughter is optional to add a piquant flavor to the
mix. Beat in one old flame with one tablespoon
of hard luck and low expectations; as to additional
emotional sweeteners, half one disastrous gaff
with a potential partner, and stir well. Let the mix
‘rest’ for a while (for some it is a lifetime) then
spoon contents into one baking dish. Set the Oven of
Retribution at 90 °F and bake for 40 minutes.
Prod with thin skewer to check for moisture levels.
Stand for about 10 minutes and garnish with the milk
of human kindness. Serves all who sit and wait.



Stephen Oliver is the author of 17 volumes of poetry. Travelled extensively. Signed on with the radio ship The Voice of Peace broadcasting in the Mediterranean out of Jaffa, Israel. Free-lanced in Australia/New Zealand as production voice, newsreader, radio producer, columnist, copy and feature writer, etc. After 20 years in Australia, currently in NZ. His latest volume, Intercolonial, a book length narrative poem, published by Puriri Press, Auckland, NZ (2013). A transtasman narrative. Creative non-fiction in Antipodes, June 2014, and poetry in Plumwood Mountain, August, 2014.

Click here to view one of Stephen’s latest poem-videos, The Great Rogatus: