The day I scratch the mark that marks two years

a bird arrives to tug a weed that spreads

between my bars, for nesting. Lest it disappears

I offer it some tattered blanket threads.

Now threadbare, worn to nothing, five years hence

that blanket offers no warmth in the chill

but warmth comes daily when my bird descends

now to my bunk, our trust so that it will

exchange for strands such gifts as please me best.

It brings me shiny things. Some buttons bright,

some coins the guards are happy to accept,

some bottle tops that glisten in the light,

some nails, which I sharpen to a point,

some bullets from a lazy copper’s joint.

At first light

I wake you in the morning

when your sheets in swales lie

and in fens and glens of cotton

gathered, places long forgotten,

and your length the range untrodden

upon which, in rose red sky,

clings a cloud, the red sky warning

formed of curtain-filtered light,

as I wake you in the morning,

as you wake me in the night.



In the moments of our distant

star revealing, bright in its constellation,

a world forms, humanity within it,

anxious to outrun its destiny, then,

in the last frantic millimetres of

starlight rushing, you and I collide.




Three migrations



The herd gathers here, where the

river running broad, shallow and slow

allows the strongest to cross. Others,

the luckiest, are carried by the

surge. But the weakest flounder and

become easy pickings for hungry carnivores.




There is the place most recently

abandoned. Here where we have landed.

Between, only emptiness on the wing

and storms. We nest, raise chicks,

regather our strength to return, when

there will be here. Here there.




What good exists in warm currents

running counter, always pushing against and

away? Better perhaps to be carried.

I wonder about turning. Being whisked

north to luxuriant tropics. But my

destination is set by stronger imperatives.


I haven’t published much verse on this site. The following piece emerged somewhat unexpectedly today. Melbourne readers will recognise the context.




Not yet the hour

for downing sorrows,

nor time elapsed enough

for sweet regret.

The morning’s noisy magpies

haven’t settled,

the whistling postie’s whistle’s

not yet wet.

The sun is inching

timidly from slumber

as if it doesn’t really

have the will,

and on the bay

the sheets, all slack,

not clacking,

tell passing joggers

the air is breathless still.



something stirring minutely

on the river,

disturbs the fall,

of the first leaves

onto the waiting grass.


One hundred voices

in one hundred places



One thousand half-read Heralds

slowly shut

and all turns quiet.

And at that moment

spreading out like suburbs

the thoughts begin

to ripple

‘I never knew him but…’