Catherine Basilicata

Catherine Basilicata, Australia

No more Goodbyes

What if I never kissed your lips again
Or feel the touch of your warm embrace
How would I go on
Without you my heart has no place to belong.

Someday I’m hoping love’s going to draw you away from the sea.
Until then my heart remains empty,
So, I’ll just have to believe
Somewhere out there you’re thinking of me.

The day you let me go and your next hello,
It’s not goodbye.
I’m hoping to see you again,
I’ll be remembering our times, and if time is on our side –
There will be no more fears or cries.
Deep in the ocean, there’s one thing you can’t deny:

You think I’d be strong enough to make it through,
And rise above when you emerge from the sea,
It’s so hard when you’re missing someone so long.
Please no more goodbyes.


Catherine Basilicata lives in Wollongong, Australia

Ian C. Smith

Ian C. Smith

Three Poems


He photographs her on the Cobb at Lyme Regis,
a shadowy shot to be published in a journal
unimagined then like other scenarios
destiny stores between expectation and realisation.

They had read The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
Wave-smash sprays her op-shop cape
as if a film is being enacted in a surf-hiss of grief,
a heartsore woman staring seaward from the revetment.

Absorbed, they learn of a town, its yeomanry, transformed,
chaos caused by the adaptation of a romance.
Karel Reisz repeatedly directed a scene set in 1867,
sheep driven over muddied cobbles past this teashop.

They lean in, picturing soldiers in scarlet tunics,
the cinema dormant in destiny’s plot development.
His staged photograph forms part of memory’s mirage,
a film location he would revisit if possible.

For many seasons he travels only in his thoughts,
acknowledges novels are devices, artificial,
as John Fowles didactically reminded readers,
so too, films with towns disguised as the past.

Another book, about tramping England’s eroding coast
below Lyme’s fossilized cliffs, carries him sweetly back.
He recalls her cape, touch, dark green velvet,
wonders what became of it, of the characters they were.

Mme. Blanchard hits the roof

Summer, 1819, Napoleon grounded, but not human spirit.
Those basket cases, balloonists, hang in clouds.

Paris by night, a sight to die for.
To reach for the sky is the French tradition,
so, too, looking down on people.
She looks good in that Regency style,
diminutive, décolletage cinched above a high waist,
dressed to kill, you could say, or to be killed.
She is the queen of fireworks, pity about hydrogen.

In the Tivoli Gardens the bandstand rocks,
warm air above lit by her Bengal lights.
A magical rain showers the sky silver and gold
from parachute bombs she lights with a long taper,
thrills revellers whose murmur drifts up to her
floating inadvertently close to a sparkling heaven,
a suitable distance from her terror of crowds.

Riding her gondola, a skimpy thing like herself,
she sees her balloon ablaze, begins her descent,
feathered hat lost, a rushed farewell performance.
The house roof’s pitch steep, her rigging tangled,
fire almost out, burned, broken, she can’t hang on,
she who once remained aloft all night over Rome.
It’s me. Help! Sophie gasps, then the cobbles.

Not VCs, VD

They huddle sorry-arsed on the platform sharing Turf cigarettes,
faces above khaki greatcoats, demeanour, of older men,
any ideals of medals not what they imagined,
inventing tales, their ultimate destination vague,
a vanishing point joked about but yearned for.
They watched back yards passing by, recalled games,
kitbags in the rack, windows streaked, their gaze opaque,
no risk now of being blown up, yet their world askew.

Crown land, an exclusion zone, rude architecture,
kangaroos and copperheads patrolling the bluish bush,
army doctors’ blunt indifference unmitigated by nurses,
women soon to be only memories of mixed emotions;
porridge and penicillin, a muddle of menial tasks,
a caste quarantined from locals who believe propaganda;
troop movement, training exercises, returning heroes,
who remain ignorant of anything to do with this lot.

Look, there I am long after the war was over, a boy searching
for his lost dog he will never see again, walking
away from the murmur of his family’s regret, almost
stepping on a coiled snake under the cover of trees,
calling, whistling for things to be as they were.
He reaches the old army reserve where a breeze stirs,
nudges his cigarette smoke, a flap of cardboard on a shed,
sunlight on a soiled window as if trapped there long before.


Ian C Smith, P.O.Box 9262, Sale, 3950, Australia

Coral Hull

The Straight Road Inland


i.   A Crocodile’s Daydream
ii.  Entry Into Thoughts of Freshwater Crocodile Via Two Rivers
iii. Signs of Motherhood In Human and Crocodile
iv. To Touch A Baby Water Buffalo
v.  Egg Theft At Crocydylus in Darwin
vi. A Crocodile Appears At East Point




The smooth pale hand of lightning shuddered through the clouds. Was it trying to give me some signal from itself or merely pleading;


I am lightning, oh god,

I am the shuddering trembling sheets of lightning: ‘It’s okay to be what you are,’ I said.

The electrical current came jolting through the brain of the sky, the sheet white light darkening the green open hand of sand palm, lighting its blackness up;

[ a giddy spider / dazed ].

Such lightning all the way from the Equatorial hot belt of the planet couldn’t help but be itself.

Throughout the day it had backed-up sweltering above the mangroves, stickying the atmosphere from here to the Annaburroo Billabong, where the pale lotus lilies rolled around their droplets.

The sky shuddered the way my heart did, when I saw you looking at me.

At first my eyes were serious with hard acting, but too quickly fell into romantic love’s sugary depth.

[This would never happen out along a beach in a landscape].

I was here to relearn love’s first lesson. You asked, ‘that look you just gave me, do you really mean it?’

I guess I did in spite of myself, although you didn’t deserve it,

but what the heck.

I’m making no apologies for my ability at tenderness, or even the absence of it,

or even the disappointing lack of rain, or the fact that lust joins hands with death and including but not ending with,

the dreadful almost maddening weakness of the shuddering lightning.


All night it tries to tuck us in but perpetually withdraws the sheet.


I turned to him, ‘you can love me if you want to, it’s really up to you.’ My thoughts turned rocky like the beach.

I was heading out of the Darwin harbour,

a lapwing intent upon its dreaming.

In the end he didn’t love anything,

…and I flew away to be with the crowd of flying foxes, common little ferals just back from Jabiluka,

gripping to palms with clean moist claws and stinking up the place with their swabbing brown eyes and bandy brown-winged legs.

A lone fox flew amongst the palms. ‘Go and find the others,’ I said.

‘If this night wont wrap its arms around you, find safety in numbers, regenerate, be fruitful.’


Christmas beetles shudder metallic gold and flee the branches.

Mosquitoes roaring upon the night, singing blood before the sun has set.

The lightning chains are connecting the hands of the big clouds.

It’s jagged string around their flat white palms and billowing knuckles.


…All the sleazy month I’ve been out in my car, cruising for the vicious chains, but it turns out to be another false alarm…


Instead flat white sheets with the flicker of an orgasm.


The old beach casuarinas and pandanus begin to shake and

sway on the edge of the dunes,

go on, go on, go on.


The black cockatoos long cries into the building thunderheads south of the equator, tell of a strange land.

The clouds spend all afternoon building up into opaline structures.

I’m flapping my arms under their breeze, the cockatoos cries have given


me wings.


The sheets are lifting, parting the clouds like flickering hands.


Go on, go on, go on, bring you energy to the waiting land,

that is still now in anticipation of the big wet rain.

The monsoon is solid curtains of water, blanketing the rapid creek.

Crocodiles moving into the tide to feed are still and relaxed,

a sea snake spirals to great depths.

The whole town is torrential. Before rain the land has gone as far into the earth as it can get, into its flat dry hope, more receptive up north in the month of October. It is so needy that it aches with its lips parched dry. It has no shame in its need to be fulfilled.


Go on, go on.


Movement occurs in the big leaves with the first few drops.


The spiders slip through and enter houses for the night. The mangroves oily heads open and begin to seed along the beach where the tide comes in, thunder washes up its back. The ocean further out is jamming with light and sound. Tonight I walk my dogs in the big storm.

Frogs are shouting the wet wet, the wet wet, the wet wet. It’s opaline.




i. A Crocodile’s Daydream

The Top End is long dry/long wet – ‘the land of two summers,’

Crocodiles have seen them [both] through eyes unblinking,

they have seen the rains bringing

the spectacular lightning displays and threat of cyclones,

I have asked myself the question, why write at all? Crocodiles don’t write. In between eating and breeding they daydream in mud.

[Why not just do that?]

They may dream the place because I think the whole place is a dream.

The mud is also a dream with only the mangroves to hold it together. That’s the closest I can come to this so far. I think that by living like this, the crocodile slows down time.

Crocodiles are one of the hardest animals for me (a warm blooded mammal) to interpret. Even the Merten’s Water Monitor is easier. They swim along the banks of the rivers all through Litchfield


and further,

propelling their green black bodies through the streams by their tails.

When I was there they fought over territory and food. They did human things. I was amazed at how they read my simple signs. I need to think more about crocodiles, but doubt if I’ll ever know what they think about. Hence a some writing about assumptions:



ii. Entry Into Thoughts of Freshwater Crocodile Via Two Rivers

The rockface that hangs high in its own humidity has dislodged itself into a yellow eye, sliding into the water with a parallel splash, the great thorny cliff face snout, freshwater teeth as cut and crooked as a river’s edge, the warm brown river looks so inviting, the smooth murky water,

where we stand is solid land.

Our entry into rivers further south is at best always awkward, my white feet cut and bruised on surfacing rocks, the sticks on my ankles, the warm gooey feeling of muddy water entering the crevices between my toes, my dirty fingernails, things probably yabbies or shrimp that nibble the legs and buttocks and then depart within the flash of a cool current,

so far north,

you are almost in crocodile dreamtime;

the great food of your body has arrived, you are the submerged organism and the river remains simply to feed and surround and feed, and the uneven places beneath the water, apparently hungry, present suddenly, begging for stumbling and a clumsy lack of river knowledge.

Meanwhile I have other ideas,

I scramble and want no one to observe my entry, soon I will be safely in the rivers centre, born into this area which is Morphett Creek,

its riverline sky building walls of electricity, clapped on by thunder,

its uneven rapid cool and warm currents, its oily black gum leaves.



iii. Signs of Motherhood In Human and Crocodile

I looked into her far eyes for the signs of a mammal to draw out.

I found spider, swamp, cycad.

Within minutes it was ancient and she had departed,

without movement to that land.

Her nostrils like figs that draw and expel moisture her

yellow eye slashed by yellow water of the wet season in Kakadu.



iv. To Touch A Baby Water Buffalo

You saw a baby water buffalo, you thought

[ how close do I get without touching it? ]

without it minding to be touched. You came very close.

Its four hairy hoofs in the edge of the river, it stood face down as you approached it from behind, as if it were drinking there, cool

and wet and solitary in the shade.

Then you were so close you could touch it:

[ …I can’t believe I’m touching it… ]


then it fell down.

It had no head.


This is crocodile territory at the edge of the water.

Retreat and take nothing for granted. Baby water buffalo, my sister.

She is with [crocodile] now…

is a long way from the nest of your warm-blooded home,

the shape of your language.

Her feet and belly, she is families, and generations of cycads and geologies of granite away from your knowledge.

You almost need a telescope to probe her mystery.

Instead, we go for skin because it’s simpler, pretty.

We decorate ourselves with the agony of the infinite place, too frightened, too hopeless to explore.

And acknowledge her human qualities, her great mysterious equality.



v. Egg Theft At Crocodylus in Darwin

She came at them again, and the broom came down with a crack to her snout, and then the steal bar, and then look out

she’s coming again/ up through the water, where the other young crocodiles only cringed in the sticky density.

It sounded like a broom whacking concrete.

The men’s legs crossed and uncrossed like sweating sticks. LOOK OUT she’s threatened, nasty.

Shes just given birth, she’s young and very stressed out.


She has failed as a mother, and failed at her life as a crocodile.


All the captive crocodiles at the Crocodylus Farm Research Facility have failed to be what they were born to be. They are skin belts and wallets…

…and the glazed crocodile claw back scratchers with the nails painted red, have failed to be crocodiles too.


[What am I to do surrounded by all his crocodile failure and all those other animals who fail to remain alive by the millions? WHAT AM I TO DO in a world so full of animal failure? There is no place for me here].

If she had given birth in an estuary and then they beat her and stole her eggs, there is the stupidity. But the fact that she gave birth in a concrete pit surrounded by all the others in the farm,


is the great sobbing voice in my heart.


All the oval eggs soft on the concrete, crushed by her own claws still connected by the membrane.

She has as much hope as the cows, who try to hide their calves in the straw on dairy farms.


It was the pathetic site of this mother and her first birth…


When the men slammed shut the cage door, victorious again, she was the only croc out on the concrete.

Shocked and,

stressed, defiant, not a thing budged

that I could recognise in her ancient

reptilian face.

Her smile stayed as crocodile, her stare transfixed, only her breathing with hard leathery panting: her sides in and out slowed right down

until she only drew the breath of the rotten planet

into her body every so often.

There seemed nothing left here for any of us to bother breathing in. Yet sometimes the only thing left to do is breathe.

[Where will she go and where will her babies go?]

I can tell you that they are farmed like pigs and then shot in the backs of their heads. I can tell you that the tourists and the rich and the working class on holidays, have grown tired of crocodile products, jerky, claw back-scratcher and belts and now the latest purse made from stingray skin. It’s all the fashion, my gentle angel of the sea.

She was beaten [not defeated] with an iron bar, her snout jammed down on her bloody tongue, her teeth cracked down hard on the smooth concrete.


C’mon babe, that’s the way.

The manager and his assistant [well] out of the public eye.


She wanted their skinny bony hairy legs and last night’s beer in their guts. I wanted her to have that too, in exchange for her precious eggs.


My claw was reaching for the gate when the assistant’s broom was thrown down, awakening us all. I think she saw it too, [although I cannot be sure].

She with her reptilian eyes on her stolen eggs, as they were passed through in a red plastic crate lined with straw. Her smile that stayed the same like

a dinosaur a cat,

grinned like a billabong.

The long slow tide of her powerful tail, her bleeding face and nostril,

[it was her first birth]. The woman in me felt her ferocious mother instinct. I looked for a woman, she replied with a broom handle set into her expression. I’m sorry my sister, so sorry.



vi. A Crocodile Appears At East Point in Darwin

A cloud the shape of a crocodile passed beneath the full moon at East Point. Never smile at a crocodile cause he might fall in love with you.

Rebecca pointed it out [she sees things like that] and places them in our minds, our landscapes.

I cannot forget, that whatever I am doing in Darwin

that down Macmillian’s road

across from the Berrimah police station

at the Crocodylus Facility, the beautiful pearly emerald skinned crocs

are living their life in concrete pits,

with computer implants growing as fast as the moon,

their tails thrashing stagnant ponds

and potted palms, sweeping whatever they can aside, like the tide drags driftwood and destroys it.

I call upon the blankness of my mind, the numbness of my emotions

to pull all thoughts of pained reptiles away from my thoughts.


[Never smile at a crocodile because you might never stop crying].


Even the giant captive cassowary, the dumb caged mouth harking water


placid, docile cassowary,


that dreaded darkness closes inside, as dark as the daintree


invaded by their planetary blue, red comb, wooden head, claw. We drink captive at the pool, as graceful as prayer. Please, I finally ask the giant spirit bird, who is the icon of zoo wasted life, don’t take me there.




The casuarina rain has come to the second summer

along the northern beach at Nightcliff.

The beach is exposed to the wind,

the equatorial sun and white cockatoo, who’s beak cracks the casuarina cones, ancient acrobat,

the lookout’s claws dangling on the edge of the rain cones,

rain comes,


rain cones,


the shower of needles brings in coast


the green mist

from the box jelly fish surf,


the mango seeds are rotting in the driftwood,

they couldn’t take hold on Rapid Creek,

crocodile landscape,

above this


the rain of needles mystifies the green is breeze,

they rain in the wind,

they sound out the gentle showers in the humid season,


they are rain needles when it is dry

and now the sea eagle is totem,


he comes gliding and soaring through the raining needles


of the casuarina tree, he comes, his distant ocean eyes

and wave cap head and pine cone breast, he is a bird of coasts,

of the tops of the monsoon vine forests

and their heavy pungent energies,


he is on the edge of the world

of the fruitbat before dusk,

knowing of the gould’s goanna,

gecko, dragon lizard and fish.



He is fish bird.


When I was standing beneath the light green rain of a coastal casuarina

the soaring sea eagle came,

his focused glide above the dry hanging cones and raining needles.


The needles have given the ground is cool brown carpet. The rot and warmth to the casuarina cones, warmth and growth to them.


All warmth and growth to them!


All the casuarina forests along the north beach. May they grow and shower the needles. The wind in them, the dry rain.




The tropical garden is in conversation. I walked down my driveway and was dive-bombed by a big caramel grasshopper the size of my forearm.

My hand reached down to grab the wrought iron gate.


There was a bearded dragon lying across it. The bearded dragon lizard looked at me. I looked at the bearded dragon. Excuse me,


I’d like to shut the gate now.


Tasks take longer to complete in the tropics. [Apparently, more neighbours than down south to contend with].

I was just about to slip on my shoe

when a speckled gecko chased a fly out of it.


Then a big six legged huntsman hopped like crazy through the louvers in the loungeroom. It almost fell in my soup!


Fucken Hell, Look Out!

I dropped the phone.


The huntsman was obviously in a hurry, having lost one leg per day for the past two days to the gecko community on the front verandah.

It must be hard being a spider with eight legs, let alone six.

The geckos were merciless hunters.



The rain is slashing through the leaves, chopping them to shreds.

Those big leafy plants think that they can just grow all over the place in the humid air and sun and shade, proliferate like crazy, held together by their shallow roots,


orchids, epiphytes vines fungi

and remain here.



The wet season has her thoughts on this.

So you think you can stay in Darwin and get away with it?



The equator speaks its instability and awesome energy from the waistline of the planet.

Then when that big monsoon storm comes

the trees get dressed up in their fragile gowns of leaves.

They toss their shoulders around, wave their slender hands and dance like crazy all over the goddam garden,


more wind than plant.



I say make up your mind you crazy forest. Are you going or staying?


I’m afraid if they go then I might as well go too.

The table was blown away leaving a trembling rodent beneath

before the eyes of the cat.

That’s the most unstable sky I’ve seen all season,

purple clouds

in misty ribbons

spinning like firecrackers.

When the first drop hit my arm I brushed it away like an insect.

The sky is rushing along above the land and when it stops big buckets of straight down rain.

Rain like wet hair furiously combed out and the head of a thick old mop dipped in dishwater just pounding the earth.


The temperature has dropped by half.

The ground sings, fuck you this is all for me.


The plants hold onto their roots, their leafy braids. Dance like ferals at a groovy nightspot.

The green ants who bite potential intruders all day arses up and vicious are very quiet in their boxed leaves.

They could drown in a tenth of a droplet.



A black cockatoo talks to thunder.


When the thunder replied its shuts up its hard little beak.



It appears that rain like this is a very exciting thing.

A frog that seems to remain in exactly the same position in my garden since I arrived here four weeks ago, starts to scream out.


[Are you all right?] I ask.


Darwin is clinging to the coast like a saturated fruitbat.

‘Yeah, I guess so.’ A town so friendly that it replies.

The big wind positions my voice then slams it into the driveway once,

and finally throws it out to sea…


The mighty cyclones are conspiring there.





This is secret bird country, after rain.

The feathery tree by the painted rock told me of it.

The marble sky [blue succulent] grew simply bigger,

began to store moisture.

The low green trees were pretty, all spikes and feather.

They protect the leaf and flower territory,

half petals inside the spikes or grown feathery,


in the heat extreme, as if they are giving up,

like a dehydrated crow the land gaps with its beak hanging open.

Its charred black and red out there, I feel sympathy for it.


It waits for my tears as it waits to drink, to receive,

It’s still and resistant,

yet when the lightning comes, it pants with the pressure,

with the terrible thirst it had forgotten about.

Suddenly it opens its fists, uncrossed it legs,

to receive

and scatters its protective centre like seeds and no longer resists.


The sun directly overhead.


The circular shadow surrounds the plant.


The intensity is always midday. It’s midday country in mid summer.


The plant the sundial, the midday clock,


it’s so hot.


Fucking birds, bastards, I can’t see them. The mouth of the land is a gaping skull.


The borewater ground sings in the nostrils like gas, the pink red clay edged with salt.


This dust cries out silence.


It edges the salt lakes, pink and orange with scent.

Rich, it is so rich…koori words…the birds sing it, they sing it in, territories,

glad small birds in the distance, south australia zebra finches

…tee tee tee tee… the rain, the obviously friendly galah, pink in the gums, the rain is luke warm,

these plants, these birds may have never had the cold touch them,

the cold is a theory like the fifth dimension,




…tee tee tee tee…


The glad small birds in the distance, through the dead wood and the pretty green scrub, the blues and greys, lightening marble – aqua blue and succulent, on the moist red dirt,

this quiet arid land has received rain, the birds are squawking territories, galahs in the higher trees,

when listening,

the birds are deep mauve


more distance is required from the listener, here a repetitive call, there a low-flyer, camouflaged,


The red dirt has tricked us all, it is after rain,


…after light rain the Dresley Creek has flooded its banks and its receding with swallows dipping into it, the rain has ran its rich course and smells like roots, enter my breathing passages like pollen, the ants are back, slowly and more relaxed, the moisture trap, the land swelters guards its moisture and utilises it, the streams run away to the west leads



into the terrible waste,

into the land too harsh to receive,


in the sudden downpour the water is wasted, the secret birds cannot be seen, the trees are whistling, as the land would have sizzled and whistled at its first drops,


first gigantic drops,




and low down like a dogs belly, along the floorboards,

a hot tail at the Glendambo roadhouse, followed by lightning,

a quick light flash like a twig of electricity,

the thunder is upon the caravan roof, hot lighting reaching out,

the hot dry wind blows in the ions,

and land ‘out there’ from eastern outback South Australia,

along the sheep’s back and the back of the fox,

the thunder is upon the caravan roof, the fox burrow,

And the wing of that pretty desert parrot,…which we cannot name.


The breeze…


jitters the feathers of mulga trees,

makes them tremble and shriek for rain,

shakes through the spikes, passes the dead grey wood,

blankets the bird call for seconds,


the wind has picked up,


has plucked that birdcall from the air and taken it elsewhere,

Chestnut – Rumped Thornbill – [look up its colour in Simpson and Day].


Then another bird, quiet trumpet, trilling.


The land is talking upwards through their breasts and beaks, their tiny eyes all the long day, the road trains pass,

Tourism: the nearly deads the newly weds, my eh holden, pass by the quiet country after rain


and its secret birds,

will never come by this way again,


say goodbye to the shifting dune, the name of ant you never knew, the sting of the scorpion never felt, and the land that sings upwards, shrubby and deep after rain, deep with repetition and bird-song,

four notes: ta ta ta ta….ta ta ta ta…ta ta ta ta….weemmmm, trill.

the breeze grows warm, the salt lakes further south west have sent it here, warm breeze with the moist baked clay in its language, the breeze is the language of baked clay,

of kangaroo carcass entering the car windows and entering the cabin to hang around in there,

the contours of the bright hot shrubs, dotted by trees broken up by dull sky, many rocks stained clay red, the place goes about its quiet foraging,


its territories,

its aridness,


peace and business by the road, the cars come and go, leave the secret bird country to its cycle, its quiet tirelessness,

the secret bird societies, or are they trees,

shrieking and trilling at the rainy weather from the north,

from the cyclone country, or

are they trees speaking, speaking birds, speaking holy,

birds simply growing from the ground up, their tiny rooted legs, hoy hoy hoy hoy hoy hoy…the direction, the green parrot flying north points that way, my life is alive, it takes that route north and northwest,

that’s what that koori guy from Port Augusta called the Stuart highway he said, ‘sister, that magic carpet will take your car all the way to Darwin, good luck’, his name was Keith:


it points that way,


towards the straight road, the cyclone country, nudging the red ochre coast of Arnhemland,


‘that one girl has come here to touch the land,’ the birds said,


down at the caravan park Keith told us, ‘take the rocks from burnt creek and they will lose vibrance’, will shine less brightly,


[why’s that?],


do they depend on the surrounding energy?, and why is the clay deep, so deep and red at sunset, in sunset country?,

Dresley Creek: shone from light rain, here the zebra finches: 3 pairs checked us out from a tree, the small birds cranky and distressed, chasing off crows, bright and black and striped in the branches, eyeing off the dry creek turned into rain receptive focus and rivulets,




Every day,

the 6.30pm light climbs up through the red granite from the back hills and touches down into the sandy river beds


Every day the helmeted Friarbird,

pokes her prehistoric head through the pungent scarlet gum and the flowering rock grevillea is tasting the light like a lizard.

This is the early morning light settling down on the back of a baby dragon lizard,

this is the trees wake-up light,


the new time of scant woodland that clings to the edges of the cold sandstone gullies, these roots searching the air for soil,


this is the light that the roots of the native fig never come by,


their mornings in the dark Cutta Cutta, where ghost and bent-winged bats shoot up from sub terrain spa caves to the entrance each night at 35 miles per hour,

this is the cave Cutta Cutta,

where a man went own to test his manhood with the serpent asleep in all her rainbows wrapped around her on dry cave floor,

this is the light he saw there,


he saw calcite like stars like the cave had its own lustre, there was a universe of pythons and bats,

Cutta Cutta out on the limestone country where the ocean has back tracked,


we follow the roots to the new cave roof that is being formed,

to the wake-up light of the sandstone buffs,

this is the light


of the honeyeaters dipping down into nectar with their needle beaks, the nectar of the scarlet gum, orange and yellow flowers,


this light has covered the stone and coloured it,


it has captivated and activated lizards and birds and

has sang the long necked turtled and catfish to sleep,


this light will only pass through the valley once, in all eternity,


it will never be the same light tomorrow or a second from now,


the valley changes before the lizard has blinked on the rock,


you cannot hope to capture much of it,

be bewildered,


you are the only small animal on this section of rock who thinks of all the light you have never experienced in this place, before you can understand,

the flash floods

of the wet season

surging and scouring


through the gorge,


here the uncurling of pandanus and turkey bush in bloom,

here the restless rubbery eggs of long necked turtle,

the skeleton of the friarbird diminishing at the base of the tree.

Catherine Basilicata



Why do I wander when I’m living in reality?
I have enclosed my soul inside their raven vault.
If I were to sever the hands of the past then
I may free the clutches of despair.

The choices I made before bear the weight
of the present.
There are no thieves in my bed, only a liar in my mind
while my eyes remain open behind my hair.

If there is anyone listening, please remove the voices
in my head, so I may not break the glass.
A crystal shouldn’t feel the sharp pains that I have seen.
bathe me in acid and sink my demons that dare.

Having said the above, where do I go now?
Under your knife, for the seeds of the past are inborn.
I rather leave than see my dove tear and purge
while all watch and stare.


A cold chill runs through my body when I look
I almost felt sorry for him, he had a lonely and
rough upbringing.

We were friends from the start, although he
changed with time and wanted more.
To go no further wasn’t in my mind, especially
when the calls were made while crumbling.

Ending the friendship became a must when he
aimed to spray venom.
The situation placed me in a paranoid state, fear
cascaded down my cheek in the event he was coming.

He claimed it was my fault on the day he was taken
away, far from reality he remains.
Lack of love from his youth guided him to obsession,
till today I hear him starving.


I watched them create an interlude and my eyes raised
when the blood they shared spilled.
He was born earlier while she was the same frame as me,
he saw then beckoned me in.

As a child they made me feel similar to a shell,
that needed to develop.
He displaced my inner being while she watched
the breach in sin.

When I grew into an adult any touch would send ice
through my system.
I concealed the memory far deep where I couldn’t even reach,
to resist the din.

My body placed itself into shock then the wasps settled
to ask me the question and answer.
My soul served no shame due to clarity and a violated past.
Now I soothe myself not punish my Yin.


Sitting on a bench, sounds of black birds ringing
and the crowd in the backdrop, listening.
We begin to walk down a pebbled path,
covered in blue pearls, reflecting in the sun.

I look into your dark eyes, watching me as I caress
your skin while speaking in tongue.
When I repeat eternity, you whisper in time
to the beat of a heart that is done.

Breathing in the sensation of a crystal surrenders
no doubts, it’s clarity embraces life.
The chase for death slowly unleashes the abyss
for fun.

In the book of the past, it shall remain, for all I feel is
the present and future whilst in your arms.
Blinded behind its title, sanguinity lies a state
of where I have arrived, minus none.


A child raped of her innocence began to
hide behind closed doors.
As a woman she stored the absence, and was
branded a lost soul.

The tangles inside emerged in her paintings,
while keeping the energy cloistered.
He caught her emotions and felt a rhythm like
no other, he became whole.

Storm broke the silence every time she was
with him, her former self wouldn’t allow fruition.
Evidence of blood was found in the corner,
she restored the cover that kept her sole.

She enticed the pair that freed his demon,
which left him open after watching her anguish.
Her mind ascended to fin an idea of no
value, letting go made her voices enter his shoal.

Billy Marshall-Stoneking

Ventriloquist and Other Poems


Stoneking gnashing his teeth

I remember that summer
when she’d pull out Charlie –
which was what she affectionately
called my prick –
& being an artist,
she’d draw a face on it.
Then, without moving her lips,
she’d go to work:
„Hello, how’re you?
My name’s Charlie.“

The first time, I laughed.
It was like meeting a stranger.
We stared at each other.
„What do you do?
What’s your name?“
I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

After a while,
Charlie started taking over.
He was the center of attention,
the life of the party.
He’d stay up all night.
Next morning, she’d ring me:
„How’s Charlie?“
„Are you looking after him?“
Sure… sure, I’d say,
giving him a reassuring pat.
He was the picture of confidence.
He gave me a helluva time.

One day, inexplicably,
she added eyelashes, a beauty spot
& bright-red lipstick.
The transformation was remarkable.
Charlie had changed into a woman.
It called me „big boy“ in a squeaky voice;
it pouted & pulled faces.
I blushed.
The rest of me was speechless.

Then it became political.
Overnight I became a total shit;
a chauvinist pig.
It wanted to know
what kind of relationship is this, anyway?
It chastised me for not being able
to see beyond the end of my dick.

Later, the ventriloquist split,
taking her paints, her pens,
her mandolin & clothes.
„You never talk to me anymore,“
she said.
„So long.“

She left Charlie behind.
He slept all day;
the old eloquence was gone.
I couldn’t put words in his mouth.
Then his face disappeared
It was a shock at first, but
I survived.

Now, taking a piss, sometimes,
I actually smile, remembering
those days & nights of indelible lust
when love was neither deaf nor dumb
nor altogether blind.

Stoneking gnashing his teeths by Christina Conrad
Acrylic with gel, impasto and paper mache on unstretched canvas, 18″ x 12″

(for Scott)

There is no desire suffering is not heir to.
Every trap the heart makes catches itself in mid-flight.
We fall into each other’s cages so easily;
wingless birds in a gullible principality:
a constituency that understands bread crumbs
but cannot sing.

The arms, the legs, the wizened heads,
the wisps of feather hair gone grey,
flap over collars on a windy day.

The tide goes out,
the tide comes in;
the older we start;
the younger we end.

Pushed from the nest, we learn to fly
then fall to earth.
Memory is no salvation.
Every death begins at birth.
Scavengers with hollow bones
migrate the unmappable.
The vast excursions of summer
must be put to rest
before the humours of winter
are allowed to burn.

Prescription for Long Life

Fat is not
a four-letter word.
Stop terrorising yourself.
Power walking is not the answer
to everything.
If you want to live longer,
don’t want.
Habits are carcinogenic.
Take a leaf out of Walt:
„go freely with uneducated persons…
& with the mothers of families“
Use salt sparingly.
Get up with the sun.
Do the unexpected.
Trees are good. Music helps.
Love mystery.
Be kind to animals.
Talk to the earth.
Be mindful of the dead.
Avoid people who speak
endlessly of God,
oh yeah,
go to the dentist


It is what we do
We cannot stop
There is nothing else
We will not be contradicted
We have the right
Our faith is unshakeable
When things don’t fit
We are afraid
We seek our box
Crouching in darkness
Holding up small pieces
Of ourselves
Against the light
We have committed
To memory
So nothing will be lost
So nothing can be found.

The Old Lies
(For Dee)

The Old Lies aren’t going anywhere.
The Old Lies have always lived here.
The Old Lies will not be ignored.
They take everything in their stride
and will never disappear.
The Old Lies we grew up with…
The Old Lies are just like us.
They thrive on affection,
and will not be hurried.
You’d have to be crazy to think
they meant you any harm.
They are visited by their children,
& grandchildren
& great-grandchildren
Yea! Unto the last generation!
They are a force to be reckoned with.
The Old Lies go on forever.
Don’t pretend you don’t know them.
The Old Lies have always worked here.

Titus Müller

The Stallion

Jeoffrey McSadough was riding his mare through a shadowy wood. The eyes, with which he studied every detail of the trees next to the small path, were the eyes of an owner reviewing his property. Although it was three years ago that the black outlined letter had reached him and made him the new master of this little county way up in the north, he still felt a tickling sensation of pride when giving in to the thought that every tree, every animal in this region belonged to him.
Fabby, his mare, already started to nervously blow air through her nostrils. She seemed to know perfectly what the light meant that lightened their path a few hundred meters before them. There, the wood ended and gave way to a large, sun-flooded meadow. When McSadough first discovered it, he had ridden on it for hours, drawing large circles into the lush grass. Now he never missed to visit it whenever his patrol rides led him into this secluded region, and he could not remember a single time he had crossed it slowly.
As soon as his mare set her first foot onto the sun-lightened area, McSadough powerfully rammed his heels into her sides, leaned forward in his seat and eagerly shouted „Go! Go!“ into the animal’s ears. He felt strong muscles tense and loosen under the saddle, heard the deep sound of hoofs hitting the ground and felt the wind part on his face harder and harder. Fabby had stretched out her head and opened her nostrils wide. The horse’s mane fluttered wildly and its feet stamped a fierce rhythm on the ground. There was a big smile on McSadough’s face. If he would not have been busy so much holding on to the saddle, he would have thrown his arms into the air and shouted for joy.
But suddenly his expression changed. Misbelief showed in his eyes. A deep, deep drum had been added to the rhythm of his mare’s hoofs. Could his senses play such a trick on him? He realised the sound coming from behind, and the grip of his hands got so hard one could see the white bones through his skin. He noticed the deep rhythm becoming louder, and his knees pressed tightly against the warm body of his mare. He heard a snorting noise very close behind him, and his eyes opened with fear. Then he saw him.
The stallion had the colour of the moon in a clear summer night. There was no sweat on his coat, and still his gallop was of such a high speed that he overtook Fabby easily. His feet did not touch the ground, it seemed. As if the meadow had a secret alliance with him, it threw his hoofs up in the air every time they touched the ground, so that there was the impression the horse was floating. Enormous force hid in its legs. Captivating beauty wrapped its movement.
Every person in Jeoffrey McSadough’s place would have admired this enthralling sight. Yet he did not. Instead, his eyes got a dangerous glimmer that would make a warrior startle. „Go, Fabby!“, he shouted. „Faster!“ Distorted to a grim look, McSadough’s face showed small drops of sweat as he realised that the stallion was still winning ground. His heels forcefully hit the sides of the mare again and again. It seemed impossible to win this uneven race. The man clenched his right hand to a fist and started to punch Fabby. He had no eyes for the critical state of his horse. While the mare gave all she could to keep up the speed, her breath had started to rattle dangerously. White flakes of sweat showed everywhere on her coat.
When the stallion had almost completely overtaken them, Fabby suddenly seemed to catch up. Instantly McSadough realised the change. Every centimetre they worked themselves onward let the grin on his face become wider. Finally the stallion’s head was next to him, so near that he could almost touch it. The horse’s eyes showed a confusing calmness. A little chuckle worked its way up Jeoffrey McSadough’s throat, and finally he started to laugh out loud. It was the laughter of a winner, somebody who had known all the time he could not lose. ‚I have always been the winner-type‘, it occurred to him.
McSadough did not notice the dark wall of trees ahead. While the stallion fell into an easy trot and steered away in a small curve, he entered the wood at full gallop. Not until after he heard the sound of Fabby crashing into the undergrowth the man woke up. His mouth formed a silent cry as the deep branch of an oak tree hit his forehead and knocked him to the ground. Very, very quiet it became in the wood after his mare had come to a stop.

Ian Kennedy Williams

Life is Sweet

Four blocks from the Lever house, Neil Purly was sitting at a long kitchen table, eating cereal. He was reading an article on the front page of the Kentucky Post under the headline Tuck River amongst top five most polluted rivers in state. The cistern flushed in the bathroom at the end of the hall. George was talking to Clive on the radio.
‚ – I’ve got nothing against them personally, Clive, don’t get me wrong. I think they’re wonderful people. My wife and I have been to Phuket five times, and they’re absolutely wonderful people. They can’t do enough for you.‘
‚ – Phuket. That’s in Thailand…‘
‚ – That’s right. Extraordinary country, Clive.‘
‚ – It was the Vietnamese our caller was concerned about.‘
‚ – They’re all Asian, aren’t they.‘
‚ – Well, no one’s going to argue with that.‘
‚ – Just an observation, Clive.‘
‚ – Well, thanks for your call, George. It was interesting talking to you.‘
‚ – Thank you, Clive. Thank you for having me on your show – ‚
Dee came into the kitchen. She turned the frequency band on the radio until she found a station playing country music.
‚I was listening to that.‘
‚You were reading the paper.‘
Neil folded the paper and pushed it aside. He wasn’t actually doing either, not with any particular interest.
Dee put the jug on for coffee. She stood at the sink with her back to him, not speaking. She was still in her nightie, one of those shorty jobs that made Neil think of the baby doll dresses he’d seen his mother wearing in photos taken in the sixties.
‚Want some cereal?‘
Neil poured rice puffs into his bowl and slid it across the table. Dee waited for the jug to boil.
‚Do you love me, Neil?‘
‚Sure, I do.‘
Dee stared at the jug, waiting for it to cut out. The water was boiling frantically. She took a mug down from the shelf, the mug with the happy face design over the words sunny days, and spooned coffee into it. Neil saw that her hand was shaking.
‚Jesus…‘ A fine dusting of coffee powder had settled around the mug. Dee cupped it with both hands and brought it to the table.
‚I feel like shit.‘
Neil looked at her. Her eyes were rheumy as if she’d been crying, and there was a spot on her chin. A trickle of snot touched her upper lip.
‚You look okay.‘
‚Lying bastard. Pass the tissues.‘
Neil reached behind him for the box. ‚What are you going to do today?‘
‚Die. Suffer a bit more and then I’ll just curl up somewhere and die.‘
‚Do something that takes your mind off it.‘
‚Nothing takes my mind off it.‘
‚We did something last night that took your mind off it.‘
‚Neil, I sleep for eight hours a day. If you could screw me solid for the other sixteen I’d be in heaven.‘
Again the sound of the cistern flushing down the hall. Roy Orbison was crooning It’s Over on the radio. Neil wondered what sort of day it was going to be. Outside the window the street light was still burning. Along the coast, hanging low over the river towns to the west, stretching across the lower slopes, filling the deep silent gullies to the edges of the high plateaux, the sky was the colour of ash.
‚If you loved me,‘ Dee said, ‚you’d go down the street and buy me a packet of smokes.‘
Neil made a small sucking noise with his mouth.
‚I don’t think so.‘
He was moved by her distress. He just didn’t know what to say to her any more, whether it was okay to touch her or if he should just leave her alone. She was so flaky she could do anything – lash out, swear or just drop her head on the table and bawl like a kid. She’d done all of those in the last week. He’d tried the jokes, the ‚first three years are the worst‘ type. Or dropping his pants when Jody wasn’t around, and saying, ‚What you need, hon, is something harmless to suck on.‘ It was getting to the point where he was thinking of moving out, going back home until she’d got her head straight. He didn’t care particularly whether she smoked or not. She wasn’t spending his money. What bothered him was the way he was starting to see her differently. It was as if all of a sudden she was more like eighteen years older than him, not just eight. It was like she was his mother’s age, fretting about losing her looks, getting thick around the waist. She’d be checking her cholesterol next, poking into her shit, looking for blood. This was what was waiting for him around the corner, and he didn’t much like the look of it.
‚Neil, please!‘
‚D’you think I’m dumb? I get you smokes and the next minute I’m the bad guy for getting you back on the shit.‘
‚You don’t know what it’s like.‘
She was close to tears again. It was that whine in her voice he couldn’t stand, and her ugly screwed up face as if she had this pain inside her that she couldn’t control.
‚Jesus, Dee,‘ he said, ‚get a grip on yourself, will you? D’you want Jody to see you like this?‘
‚I need a smoke!‘ she said, shouting so close to his face it made his ears ring. ‚I just need a fucking smoke!‘
‚Well get some clothes on and piss off down the store.‘
He readied himself for the punch he was expecting, but she picked up the bowl of cereal he’d left her and hurled it across the kitchen. Neil laughed.
‚Feel Better?‘
He lifted his chin. ‚Go on, have a go. That’ll make you feel better.‘
‚Get fucked.‘
She calmed a little. She wasn’t looking at Neil. She was staring at the mess in the corner of the kitchen where the bowl had smashed. There was a gash in the wall like a wound.
‚D’you want me to clean that up?‘
‚Jody can do it.‘
Neil shrugged. The radio was giving him bluegrass. He didn’t mind bluegrass music. It was kind of folksy and made you want to hoot and stamp your feet.
Dee brushed past him and yelled down the hall.
‚Jody! Jody!‘
She took her purse out of the drawer next to the sink.
‚Three weeks and five days,‘ Neil said. He felt oddly deflated as if the failure were his.
‚Just shut your rotten lousy mouth.‘
After the bluegrass there was an ad for Coulters Hardware across the street. Neil wondered why the Hair Today salon under Dee’s flat didn’t advertise. The Hair Today premises used to be the Kentucky branch of the National Bank which had packed up and left town. Before he moved in with Dee he’d gone out with one of the girls from the salon. She still worked there, but she always ignored him if she saw him, even when they passed in the yard at the back of the building. It pissed Neil off no end.
Jody slipped silently into the kitchen. She was no longer a kid, but she still had a kid’s face, despite the painted lips and her hair she’d fixed to show off her new ear studs. She looks like a little tart, Neil thought. She was as tall as he was, but as thin as a stick, her small pubescent breasts just starting to show.
‚Hey,‘ Neil said.
Jody saw the mess in the corner but didn’t comment. She would have heard her mother shouting at him. Dee thrust ten dollars into her hand.
‚Sweetheart, run down the store and get your mother some smokes.‘
‚I thought you’d given up.‘
‚I’m going crazy.‘
Jody’s back was to Neil so he could only guess at the expression on her face. She stuffed the note into the pocket of her jeans and strode out of the kitchen, not looking at him. They waited for the door downstairs to slam.
‚She thinks I’m pathetic,‘ Dee said.
Neil checked the time on the microwave. ‚What does she know?‘ He held out his hand. Dee kissed the top of his head, brushing her lips across the small patch where his hair had begun to thin. He hated it when she did that.
‚Stay with me, Neil.‘
‚It’s only for tonight.‘ He reached under her nightie for her breast.
‚I mean – don’t leave me, not just yet.‘
Marie. That was the girl’s name, Marie Gunn. He’d been thinking about her quite a bit lately, partly because she made such a point of ignoring him. He remembered why they’d split. It was over some stupid remark of his about her old man. Marie’s father worked at the mill where the Purly brothers worked.
Dee’s nipple was as hard as a walnut under his thumb.
‚D’you still want a smoke?‘
She pulled herself away and looked at him gravely. He thought – something deep’s coming.
‚Do you have a philosophy on life, Neil?‘
‚Yeah. Life is sweet.‘
‚Is that all?‘
‚Sweet as candy. Kiss my arse and I’ll be dandy.‘
She laughed but he was waiting for the waterworks to start up again. She poured her coffee down the sink. ‚I can’t drink coffee without a cigarette.‘
‚Jody’ll be back soon,‘ he said.
‚I shouldn’t,‘ she said. ‚I really shouldn’t.‘ She was gripping the edge of the sink as if her brown skinny legs were about to give out. ‚I puked up this morning.‘
He remembered his father reciting the verse in the pub one night. Life is sweet, as sweet as candy… His father was in a playful mood. ‚What d’you reckon, Neil?‘ he said. ‚Ain’t that the truth?‘ ‚Sure,‘ Neil said. He never argued with his father. It wasn’t worth the grief.
He stared hard at Dee’s screwed up face. The guy on the radio had injected a little blues into his programme. It was John Lee Hooker, letting go of his high priced woman.
My father, Neil thought, is as thick as pig shit.

From: Whistling the Pig, a work in progress

Ben Hall

Ochre Country


My paintings are concerned with patterns and symbols relating to the Australian bush – particularly aerial landscapes in conjunction with objects and artifacts associated with the landscape. My aim is to refine and clarify symbols and patterns to evoke the moods and quality of the landscape with greater force.

Meine Bilder befassen sich mit Mustern und Symbolen aus dem australischen Busch – besonders mit Luftaufnahmen in Verbindung mit zur Landschaft assoziierten Objekten und Kunstgegenständen. Mein Ziel ist, Symbole und Muster zu verfeinern und zu verstärken, um die Stimmungen und Qualitäten dieser Landschaft hervorzurufen. (Translation G. G.)

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

1935 Born Dubbo, NSW; 1954-59 Studied Architecture, Sydney University. Studied Art under Roland Waklin and Lloyd Rees; 1961-63 Study Tour of Europe. Sculpture Course, Central School of Art, London; 1963 Taught Design, Faculty of Architecture, Sydney University. Made Baroque Musical Instruments, Played Throughout the World, Included in the Powerhouse Museum Collection and in Collections of Most Australian Conservatoriums. Represented by Access Contemporary Art Gallery, Sydney.

Richard Allen

Epitaph for the Western Intelligentsia

what we come round to
in the end
is that all our thinking
has brought us nowhere

that the trail-blazing journey
has ended where it began
that thought is at best
a protection against further thought

that the heathens we sought to save
the masses to educate
need neither our salvation
nor our education

that we therefore
serve no particular purpose
perform no particular function
have no particular place to go

& we roll to the ground
& we cry out like children
& we bark like dogs
& we learn to wag our tails

Grabinschrift auf die westliche Intelligenz

was sich herausstellt
am Schluß
unser ganzes Denken
hat uns nirgendwo hingeführt

die wegbahnende Reise
war zu Ende wo sie begann
Denken ist bestenfalls
ein Schutz gegen weiteres Denken

die Heiden die wir zu retten versuchten
die Massen die wir erziehen wollten
brauchen weder unser Heil
noch unsere Erziehung

dienen wir keinem besonderen Zweck
führen wir keine besondere Funktion aus
haben wir kein besonderes Ziel

& wir wälzen uns am Boden
& wir schreien wie die Kinder
& wir bellen wie die Hunde
& wir lernen mit unserem Schweif zu wedeln

Deutsch von Rudi Krausmann

Don Maynard

New & Selected Poems

(for Ted Godwin)

organic accident
of a painter

to fit words
pieces of
of a guitar

dead ends
burnt out
to this point
of a city

Athol Appel/Tom Silcock/Randal Till

(odd names
for aussie

in the gully


on the front lawn

(what happens
to child

a young

for sthafrica

a public

(while i
was writing

Moving poem

at my age
in my age
wanting to write
the wanderer poem
on this page

planning to write
the wanderer poem
on every second

setting sun
over the bay
over the homes

summer night
none oclock
a blank letter
to be posted
the muggy air
heavy laden
with death

sleeping sickness
in the suburbs
the muggy air
with death
of the not-great
City of Melbourne

live with death
live with
direct telecasts

When vienna Was

a Kapital of Kultur
young girls
Were Won With
a smile
in the Kaiser Walzer
young men
Were naturally
often together
in fear & Kourage
Komradeship &

just then vienna Was
(spelt With
(a Kapital (of the World

Kago bilong pasindia*

australia consuls
amerika dreams
sepik symmetries
washed walls
ashes &

countess of westmorland
is delighted

juice freaks
out of suburbia
brisbane novels
for eternity

lost zoco-chicos
of bowles or

any port
in a storm
the salvia
of 1,000
tireless hands

at the hostel
of homeless

for sale:
& fold-up

a dorotheum
of ecstasies

*literally „passenger cargo“; but „passenger“ with double meaning of „parasite“ or „bludger“ (Tok Pisin)