Archive for April, 2021

Friday, 30 April 2021

In Order To by Kenneth Patchen

Apply for the position (I’ve forgotten now for what) I had
to marry the Second Mayor’s daughter by twelve noon. The
order arrived three minutes of.

I already had a wife; the Second Mayor was childless: but I
did it.

Next they told me to shave off my father’s beard. All right.
No matter that he’d been a eunuch, and had succumbed in
early childhood: I did it, I shaved him.

Then they told me to burn a village; next, a fair-sized town;
then, a city; a bigger city; a small, down-at-heels country;
then one of “the great powers”; then another (another, an-
other)—In fact, they went right on until they’d told me to
burn up every man-made thing on the face of the earth! And
I did it, I burned away every last trace, I left nothing, nothing
of any kind whatever.

Then they told me to blow it all to hell and gone! And I blew
it all to hell and gone (oh, didn’t I). . .

Now, they said, put it back together again; put it all back the
way it was when you started.

Well. . . it was my turn then to tell them something! Shucks,
I didn’t want any job that bad.


Date: 1954

By: Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Work by Simon Hall

Abebot vaccuums dust
runs on fruit

Fredbot is the stampbot
can get cantankerous

Horatiobot stacks piles
dreams of pet monkey

Janbot1 is a polyglot superbot

Janbot2 stressed puffs

Kenbot runs on chips
ran twelve second hundred once

Maxbot’s eyes shrink people

Mrsvandongenbot’s operated for fifty one years

Mrsfergusonbot has replacement ears

Paulinebot had a bad fall
can’t bend

Sambot often loses head
breaks down

Simonbot is new
covered in dust.

From: 31 May 2005 – Cordite Poetry Review: Simon Hall: Work – Trove (

Date: 2005

By: Simon Hall (19??- )

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Work by Debbie Lustig

No words only our breathing — two people
in a garage. Workbenched, love-bolted.
Quiet flits like wood dust. Rough surfaces
catch small sounds. My father and me,
constructing memories. He glues,
mixing resins with medical art. I carve
aluminium, butter-soft, young.
My vice holds a Chinese pictogram
with a promise of luck. I urge my fretsaw
carefully through the maze.
The tools are a language
he will teach me to speak:
unused like spices, twinned
to the wall, shadowing themselves.
I coast on a lull, the air sawdust-spattered.
Soon, I will lose the Chinese pendant
and he will finish building a boat.
He will leave me with a brass fob-watch that
has stopped then
turn his attention to a project with no name

From: Lustig, Debbie, “Work” in Eureka Street, Volume 17, Issue 23, 29 November 2007, p. 36.
(09 Oct 2008 – – Trove)

Date: 2007

By: Debbie Lustig (19??- )

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Saturday at the Shop by Lou Gallo

I liked Saturdays because that’s when the old man,
my grandfather, sharpened chisels on the whetstone.
Dad and I would saw plywood sheets into little squares,
for hours we ripped that wood, and the caustic sawdust
laced with formaldehyde blasted our faces.
It’s a smell we could never wash off. And our eyes
sometimes bled. But when the old man stood behind
that stone, pumping the lever with his foot,
and sparks from metal against rock zigzagged
out in a fiery cloud of silent, ephemeral sparks
so primitive time stopped,
we sometimes relaxed and just watched
the show.
Grandpa might look over at us and smile.
It seemed like anything but work.
And he always left early,
that sly rascal.

From: Lou Gallo, 10/28/2013 – Work Literary Magazine

Date: 2013

By: Lou Gallo (19??- )

Monday, 26 April 2021

A Marriage by Sandra Burr

The stone is gone, unseated by the grit and muck of horses
Twenty years and then unnoticed for a day,
Perhaps for three
Later, the pigeon of the pair became embedded
Like a halter left too long, it dug into the flesh behind my swollen knuckle
that ached and ached from years of scrubbing bins and laying perfect sawdust beds
on cold winter mornings bathed in clouds of horses’ breath
Dismembered, it lies forgotten in the bottom of a drawer
with other useless broken bibs and bobs of memories
that can’t be thrown away
Now that finger wears an unjoined silver band
Two perfect flying hooves galloping in opposite directions.
It’s an easy fit with open ends that sometimes snag a strand of golden mane
To hold me fast again

From: Burr, Sandra, “A Marriage” in Biggs, Michael; Brophy, Kevin; Carroll, Monica; Magee, Paul; and Webb, Jen (eds.), TEXT Special Issue 40: Making it new: Finding contemporary meanings for creativity, April 2017, p. 1.

Date: 2017 (published)

By: Sandra Burr (19??-2014)

Sunday, 25 April 2021

The Letters of the Dead by Edward George Dyson

A letter came from Dick to-day;
A greeting glad he sends to me.
He tells of one more bloody fray–
Of how with bomb and rifle they
Have put their mark for all to see
Across rock-ribbed Gallipoli.

“How are you doing? Hope all’s well,
I in great nick, and like the work.
Though there may be a brimstone smell,
And other pungent hints of Hell,
Not Satan’s self can make us shirk
Our task of hitting up the Turk.

“You bet old Slacks is not half bad
He knows his business in a scrim.
He gets cold steel, or we are glad
To stop him with a bullet, lad.
Or sling a bomb his hair to trim;
But, straight, we throw no mud at him.

“He fights and falls, and comes again,
And knocks our charging lines about.
He’s game at heart, and tough in grain,
And canters through the leaded rain,
Chock full of mettle–not a doubt
‘T will do us proud to put him out.

“But that’s our job; to see it through
We’ve made our minds up, come what may,
This noon we had our work to do.
The shells were dropping two by two;
We fairly felt their bullets play
Among our hair for half a day.

“One clipped my ear, a red-hot kiss,
Another beggar chipped my shin.
They pass you with a vicious hiss
That makes you duck; but, hit or miss,
It isn’t in the Sultan’s skin
To shift Australia’s cheerful grin.

“My oath, old man, though we were prone
We didn’t take it lying down.
I got a dozen on my own–
All dread of killing now is flown;
It is the game, and, hard and brown,
We’re wading in for freedom’s crown.

“Big guns are booming as I write,
A lad is singing ‘Dolly Grey,’
The shells are skipping in the night,
And, square and all, I feeling right
For, whisper, Ned, the fellows say
I did a ripping thing to-day.

“Soon homeward tramping with the band,
All notched a bit, and with the prize
Of glory for our native land,
I’ll see my little sweetheart stand
And smile, her smile, so sweet and wise–
With proud tears shining in her eyes.

“Geewhiz! What price your humble when
Triumphant from the last attack,
We face a Melbourne crowd again,
Tough, happy, battle-proven men,
And while the cheer-stormed heavens crack
I bring the tattered colors back!”

*   *   *

A mist is o’er the written line
Whence martial ardor seems to flow;
A dull ache holds this heart of mine–
Poor boy, he had a vision fine;
But grave dust clouds the royal glow;
He died in action weeks ago!

He was my friend–I may not weep.
My soul goes out to Him who bled;
I pray for Christ’s compassion deep
On mothers, lovers–all who keep
The woeful vigil, having read
The joyous letters of the dead.

From: Dyson, Edward, ‘Hello, Soldier!’: Khaki Verse, 2005, Project Gutenberg: San Francisco, p.[unnumbered].

Date: 1915

By: Edward George Dyson (1865-1931)

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Anzac Morning in Orange by Warrick William Wynne

I thought I was up early,
almost alone
in the wide old streets
that run straight and long,
country-style, through this town,
and the trees already turning.
Until the inevitable park & statues,
one to Mafeking and one;
laden with flowers
bright and new as morning,
to Anzacs.
The park already empty
and the sound of bagpipes
somewhere in the distance.

From: Wynne, Warrick, “Anzac Morning in Orange” in Westerly, No. 4, December 1983, p. 54.

Date: 1983

By: Warrick William Wynne (1956- )

Friday, 23 April 2021

Anzac Day March: The Mateship and All by Andrew Burke

Again our son marches for Skin,
his great grandfather on
his mother’s side, in the Anzac Day parade.
I don’t want to tell him about
the kitchen commando, the drunk waster.
He marches for an ideal and
an innate sense of Aussie mateship. They’re
true enough. His mother and I
watch the parade, have a coffee
during the speeches. Our son is
a born leader, doing the right thing
since he was tiny. We have marched
to a different drummer …
After the march we drive home,
my wife enthusiastically recalling
old codgers on parade. Young Aussie males
cop her scorn more often than not …
It’s definitely on her mother’s side, only
infant males and old men get the nod …
We arrive home and turn footy on TV.
I see the son of a park drunk playing
for the opposition, wearing a black armband.
His dad was unwell last time I saw him —
I held him up to shower in a detox centre,
then shaved his cratered face. He was
losing a battle in ‘Nam. The next day
we watched footy on TV. He leant forward,
‘That’s my boy, in the pocket.’
‘Yeh?’ I was impressed, ‘Ya want me
to find ‘im, tell ‘im you’re here?”Nah,
we’re worlds apart, he wouldn’t wanna know.’

These gladiators are heroes of peacetime.
The unarmed combats are in the bars
and kitchens where the umpires look
the other way and nobody wins.
‘Did ya see that?!’ my son yells, amazed.
I’ve got to say I didn’t see anything,
wrapped up in my own tales of mortality,
a park drunk’s son kicking two goals in
the first quarter, the commentators
proclaiming ‘a new lease of life’.
Skin never met the boy who marches for him,
never saw him ruck in Sunday footy, or
open the bowling against the breeze. Skin
was a real bastard when it suited him,
an Ocker of the old school, but
who’s to judge … Let he who is
without sin, I say, and leave it at that.

From: Burke, Andrew, “Anzac Day March: The Mateship and All” in Westerly, No. 2, Winter 1995, pp. 25-26.

Date: 1995

By: Andrew Burke (1944- )

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Aubie: Kokoda: 1988 by Elanna Lowes Herbert

after the ambulance
the final rush from home
swept up by your past
your breath your war
the coma begins. short.
sharp. rattles of phlegm
covet the vastness your
unchosen experience your
retelling untold
crinkle sheets hospital sterile
wrap the remains of memory
around a wasted body. coma
inductions strong as birthing
surface pull terror up clutching
clots of humid night thoughts your
war distils over a horizon
seeps into whiteness a
Canberra Hospital room cold
beyond the July freeze. we wait
slowly. occasionally fidgeting. drawn
into fear your life’s end echoes
battle foetid Kokoda
Ioribawa Oivi
Gona strange murmurings
mates’ cries your reply
their unheard calls our
witness. your chosen
breath shouts. sharp.
short. useless as pain at lungs
drowning lungs
dying is never that
moment. you prepare.

From: Herbert, Elanna, “Aubie: Kokoda: 1988” in Meniscus, Volume 6, Issue 2, 2018, p. 11.

Date: 2018

By: Elanna Lowes Herbert (19??- )

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Laundry by Gayelene Carbis

My father has laundry to do on Sunday.
Therefore he can come to Carnegie.
Therefore he can see me.

My father lives three suburbs
five kilometres
five minutes
away from Carnegie.

I see him when he can get away.
I don’t go there because that is their home.
He wouldn’t mind but his wife would.

It’s convenient to kill two birds with one stone.
I am a bird, he is a stone.
Sometimes I could kill my father.

We will go to the laundry and finish coffee in time
for the clothes to finish the wash cycle.
This is called catching up with my father.

He would say you don’t do this—
you just don’t do that—
talk about your dirty laundry in public.

Yet he takes my poetry and plays,
my stories, pretty well.
I apologise after poems, after plays.

But he says, well, why not?
It’s the truth.
He can take it—
in the films he sees, the books he reads.

But catching up for coffee
is conversation light and frothy as foam.
If you bring up anything difficult.

Anything he finds depressing. He looks like
you’ve dragged him down, or you’ve
put him through the wringer.

And who wants to have that effect
on their father? Over coffee, he keeps
looking at his watch.

He keeps track of the time, so he’s not late
for the laundry. We finish when he’s finished
and head back for the dryers.

I spend the rest of the day
trying not to cry, trying
to write this poem.


Date: 2021

By: Gayelene Carbis (19??- )