Peter Ramm is a poet and teacher who writes on the Gundungurra lands of the NSW Southern Highlands. His debut poetry collection Waterlines is out now with Vagabond Press. In 2022 he won the prestigious Manchester Poetry Prize. His poems have also won the Harri Jones Memorial Award, The South Coast Writers Centre Poetry Award, The Red Room Poetry Object, and have been shortlisted in the Bridport, ACU, Blake, and the Newcastle Poetry Prizes. His work has appeared in Westerly, Cordite, Plumwood Mountain, The Rialto, Eureka Street, and more.
The Sedulity of Soldier Crabs
Red, red is the sun,
Heartlessly indifferent to time,
The wind knows, however,
The promise of early chill.
It’s Boxing Day and the sun climbs a lattice work of cirrus clouds, dripping like treacle in the early afternoon. The sandflats are rinsed with the voices of a hundred children and the air teems with the smell of last week’s storm washing through the estuary after its journey down the Woodstock and Stoney Creeks. The inlet runs emerald green and blue in the deep places and three channel markers meander their way towards the point like a set of mis-thrown darts.
Whiting like razors
In the water; each one cuts
A new memory.
This is Yuin country, and it remembers a time before its wealth was burnt in the lime pit at Dolphin Point and hauled by the Burrill Lake Timber company to Sydney; its cedar, iron bark and mahogany forests floated out to sea. A plaque on the Princess Highway recounts how the rock shelter on the lake’s edge makes children of the pyramids and the language the king used to claim the geology of the place—the basalt and siltstone forty million years in the making.
Take wing; time written cursive
In pages of sea grass.
Now, my son’s fingers are little clumps of sand in mine and we run ankle deep across the bar—legs lurching like the loose brush strokes of an infant artist. The pools and pockets of water gleam like the scaled side of a great bream for hundreds of yards before us. He says I’m a sea monster; a shark, an octopus, a crab or whatever he wants me to play. All he knows is the next footfall, and more often, the fall of laughter and salt and the cast net of his father’s arms.
Onshore, paddle boards
Consume the car park, staking
Out their own claim.
I grasp at his arm before he lands on the blue back of a lone soldier crab—an ancient of days, his bone-striped legs the first to walk this water. Sitting. Still. Sifting the sand against the budding toes of my boy. There’s music in the dactyls of his claws, in the iambs of his movement, in the breath of my toddler. Together, they share the notes of time, a semibreve on the boy’s lips—a pause, a new sonata strung in his mind. But he wants to squish it
—Feel the crush of bone
And shell in the webs of feet.
There’s so much to learn.
The wind winds us up, it blows purple on our skin and black on the faces of a pair of pied oystercatchers, who pry the sand for the living, weighing the hour like Anubis, with beak and feather. Still, the crab remains. Long after we’ve passed. Out there—a relic of the tides, the small cadences of the cosmos marked in the milky way of its shell. We finish by skimming on the board, the boy riding it like a comet over the water, and I, collapsing Phaethon, at the reins.
Coolness in the shade
Of the wind. Always, the end
Begs quiet and time.
Stuart Barnes is the author of Like to the Lark (Upswell Publishing, 2023) and Glasshouses (UQP, 2016), which won the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was commended for the 2016 Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the 2017 Mary Gilmore Award. His work has been widely anthologised and published, including in Admissions: Voices within Mental Health, The Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry, Best of Australian Poems 2022, The Moth and POETRY (Chicago). Recently he guest co-edited, with Claire Gaskin, Australian Poetry Journal 11.1 ‘local, attention’. His ’Sestina after B. Carlisle’ won the 2021/22 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize. @StuartABarnes
(Eremophila ‘Blue Horizon’)
I have always adored the desert,
its transformative blues and solitude.
I transform the bluesy solitude
of winter—I polish small gold trumpets—
gold-tinted blue-tongues polish off my trumpets—
I raise my hands, lanceolate and blue.
Lancelot was raised by hands of blue;
I improvise—I play blue notes. Roll low
my soul cries. Playing blue notes, rolling low,
I weave the earth and the atmospheres.
I grieve earth’s people, flatten their fears,
weather the emu, the stormy blues.
The emu untethers glorious blues.
I have always adored the desert.
Originally from a sunny island in Southeast Asia, Sher Ting is a Singaporean-Chinese currently residing in Australia. She is a 2021 Writeability Fellow with Writers Victoria and a Pushcart and Best of The Net nominee with work published/forthcoming in Pleiades, Colorado Review, OSU The Journal, The Pinch, Salamander, Chestnut Review, Rust+Moth and elsewhere. Her debut chapbook, Bodies of Separation, is forthcoming with Cathexis Northwest Press, and her second chapbook, The Long-Lasting Grief of Foxes, is forthcoming with CLASH! Books in 2023. She tweets at @sherttt and writes at sherting.carrd.co
Bak Kut Teh
肉: You peel the chilli, layer by layer, unearthing a clot of
seeds from its copper pith. The soup simmers on the stove,
frothing sunset gold over the blue-gas flames, drowned out by
radio talk of the day’s weather.
How’s your day at school?
The meat melts off the bones in the pressure cooker, pork fat
dripping from softened limbs like snow from black root on a
You sift the remaining bone-stock with a colander, flushed
with thyme and aniseed. You tell me to scrape the flesh off the
bones with a knife and laugh when my fingers slip, wrangling
silver against each cord-like sinew.
Honey, there’s more than one way
to get to the heart of things,
You whisper as you pull out a larger knife and, taking the pig
trotter from my hands, whistle each hardened tendon – splitting
the ropes – off of the skeleton flower.
骨: Some nights, snow swathes the streets in silent, sleet-wet
pavements. You call me on the phone while you’re peeling an
orange, and like muscle memory, I say I’m busy, distracted.
Okay then listen to me.
You tell me about the lady who stops by the store every day,
never buys anything, just stares at the row of wooden horses.
You tell me how you walked the extra mile to get your
favourite diner coffee, chortling eggs and beans while watching
the busker ignite one-half of a weary skyline. This way, you
can tell your friends we still talk.
There’s more than one way
to get to the heart of things
茶: You tell me about driftwood, sangria, cherry blossoms and
tea, while splitting an orange down the middle, spooning the
seeds off its insides. I fall asleep, cord entwined around my
finger, having heard all about your day. You listen to the rise
and fall of my breath, dip a slice of orange into your cup of tea,
Long over-steeped, almost bitter to taste, still waiting to hear
Dean Mokrozhaevy moved to Australia in 2008 and grew up reading and writing in various suburbs of Sydney. They use their writing to work through their emotions and make something meaningful out of distress. Outside of their writing endeavours they also enjoy bushwalking, watching moon jellyfish in the Sydney harbour and sewing with their assistant Concrete the cat.
Everything’s fixed up.
Everything but the pink stain in the kitchen grout.
I told you I wanted to keep it.
I don’t know what you were preparing for
But I think you’re done now.
I can’t tell what you’re feeling anymore.
Not from your face.
Your hands are still gentle
You still hold the back of my head when we sleep
You still let me sink into your body and cover us with the
You say that the paint is peeling
But I like it
You say that you’re scared
But I’m here
You say that you love me and that you’ll always love me and that I’m the best thing that’s
ever happened to you
And I tell you that we still have decades to love
You give a chuckle and change the subject
When I wake up
You aren’t there.
The sunrise paints gold on the sheets
Not on your face.
I get out of the gold.
It’s not mine.
The shower’s off.
The living room is empty.
There’s no one in the kitchen.
There’s a note on our shoe cabinet.
Your keys are the paperweight.
I love you.
Craig Santos Perez is an indigenous Pacific Islander poet from Guåhan (Guam). He is the author of five books of poetry and the co-editor of five anthologies. He teaches at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.
Rings of Fire Sonnet During the Pandemic
We celebrate our daughter’s third birthday
during the hottest September in history.
My parents Facetime from California,
where fire is harvesting four million acres
of ash. “I visited grandma today,”
my mom says. “The orange sky scared her.”
Flames flood brazil’s wetlands
as europe’s largest refugee camp smolders,
granting the charred asylum.
“We might have to evacuate tomorrow,”
my mom says, but tonight we open gifts, sing
& blow out the candles together.
Smoke trembles, as if we all exhaled
the same combustible wish.
Echolocation Sonnet During the Pandemic
for the orca, J35, and her child, J57
Today, you birthed another calf. I imagine
you both swimming a thousand nautical miles
until every wave becomes an ode, until the sea
is a wet nursery. How do you translate
“congratulations” in your dialect of whistles?
What is joy but our shared echolocation?
My second daughter was born three years ago,
premature, but now chubby & strong.
I cook salmon for our dinner and pray
that your pod has enough to eat.
We haven’t been to the beach in months
due to quarantine, but you remind us:
hope is our most buoyant
Chris Armstrong’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, most recently The Suburban Review, K’in and Backstory as well as Griffith Review and regularly in Cordite. Armstrong was runner up in the Judith Wright Overland Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Writers in 2015 and received an ASA Emerging Writers Mentorship for her poetry manuscript The Watershed, which was published as a chapbook in 2017. Armstrong is currently involved as poet for The White Bluff Project (https://www.thewhitebluffproject.co/) a collaborative art, science and community project exploring ‘place’ with particular reference to the effects of climate and urbanisation on a coastal ecosystem. Armstrong was raised on the invaded lands of the Gumbaynggir people on the east coast of Australia but currently resides in lutriwita (Tasmania).
maana ngawaa muniimbugany muniim nyamigundi maarlala
ngawaa muniimbugany words live beyond our needy tongues to
affirm what is you call me to come see the classic smooth and
creamy shapes of stone wash’d in dreamy waves beneath the
white bluff where language too is a sedimentary thing lithified
into the first song within and where after and before daalgiya
ngaanyaw nguuralami giduurr wiigurr nyan muniim nyamigundi
maarlala ngawaabugany muniim maana muniimbugany ngawa
weigh it feel it roll it on that needy tongue feed it to your
children waagay fire yamaarr fish gaagal ocean language that
made me unmade you first manggaarla remaking what was you
juna junaa gayi wear lexis like necklaces of sophora tomentosa
ngayinggi yarrang listen niirum maanyung carrying the sound of
two whales breathing as they rise arc dive into the dark sea
ngayinggi yarrang beneath hooped pines beside cuttlefish
flotsam streaked with copper based blood jarlarrla gagalngay
how is the wind not called a living thing and a breath not thought
Manggaarla is ‘first’ in Gumbaynggir language. Thank you to Gumbaynggir artist Tori Ann Donnelly, with assistance from Kal Morris, for the translations to Gumbaynggir in the poem Manggarla. The poem is part of a collaborative artwork with artists Tori Donnelly and Sarah Mufford for The White Bluff Project at Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery from 31 October 2021 to 15 January 2022. See https://www.thewhitebluffproject.co/. It is also available as an image of the final artwork. The poem also acknowledges influences from Gwen Harwood’s poem ‘The Littoral’.
Dave Drayton was an amateur banjo player, founding member of the Atterton Academy, and the author of E, UIO, A: a feghoot (Container), A pet per ably-faced kid (Stale Objects dePress), P(oe)Ms (Rabbit), Haiturograms (Stale Objects dePress) and Poetic Pentagons (Spacecraft Press).
centocartography, Campsie: that wild society
Adam Lindsay Gordon, ‘Hippodromania; or, whiffs from the pipe’; Adam Lindsay Gordon, ‘Ye Wearie Wayfarer, hys Ballad In Eight Fyttes’; Adam Lindsay Gordon, ‘Delilah’; Lord Byron ‘Don Juan, canto the fourteenth’; Lord Alfred Tennyson ‘Come Down, O Maid’; Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Mighty Eagle’; William Cowper, ‘The Task: Book V – The Winter Morning Walk’; Thomas Moore, ‘Memorabilia of last week’; Robert Burns, ‘Song – Composed in Spring’; John Dryden, ‘Calm was the even and clear was the sky’; Robert Browning, ‘The House Of Clouds’; William Shakespeare, ‘Bridal Song’
Ranjit Hoskote is a poet, essayist and curator based in Bombay. His seven collections of poetry include Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems (Penguin, 2006), Central Time (Penguin/ Viking, 2014), Jonahwhale (Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2018; published by Arc in the UK as The Atlas of Lost Beliefs, 2020, which received a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Summer 2020) and, most recently, Hunchprose (Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2021). His translation of a celebrated 14th-century Kashmiri woman saint’s poetry has appeared as I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded (Penguin Classics, 2011). He is the editor of Dom Moraes: Selected Poems (Penguin Modern Classics, 2012). Hoskote has been a Fellow of the International Writing Program (IWP), University of Iowa; writer-in-residence at Villa Waldberta, Munich, Theater der Welt, Essen-Mülheim, and the Polish Institute, Berlin; and researcher-in-residence at BAK/ basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht. His poems have been translated into German, Hindi, Bangla, Irish, Marathi, Swedish, Spanish, and Arabic. Hoskote curated India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011) and was co-curator, with Okwui Enwezor and Hyunjin Kim, of the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008).
for Ravi Agarwal
What if the white mare dragged down by a flabby bridegroom
and underfed by her hungry syce
had the same name as the child ferrying bricks in her head pan
at the kiln?
What if the bat practising a dive behind the shuttered windows
of the Natural History section
could ask the elephant grazing in the parched scrubland
which would not be one of the brightly painted names of the god
tucking his trunk in as his fans see him off at high tide
a departure viewed from the Towers of Silence by a tribe
of scrawny vultures contemplating their journey’s end?
What if you tried to prise a password out of the stuffed orangutan
the taxidermists have enthroned as a totem at the zoo?
In all these names you’d recognise the lost and forgotten seeds
that a sleepy child dropped on the mossy ghats
as the pilgrims from the stars newly arrived swept past
one full-moon night in vermilion and brocade
Who could have told them they would meet us again
stripped of our gaudy masks our carrying voices muted
as skeletons on display
in a distant planet’s Museum of Cautionary Tales?
Author of four books of poetry, Two Full Moons (Bombaykala Books), Words Not Spoken (Brown Critique), The Longest Pleasure (Finishing Line Press) and The Silk Of Hunger (AuthorsPress), Vinita is an award winning poet, editor, translator and curator. Joint recipient of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2018 and winner of the Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award for Literary Excellence USA 2015. She is Poetry Editor with Usawa Literary Review. Her work has been widely published and anthologised. Her poem won a prize for the Moon Anthology on the Moon by TallGrass Writers Guild, Chicago 2017. More recently her poem won a special mention in the Hawker Prize for best South Asian poetry. She has contributed a monthly column on Asian Poets on the literary blog of the Hamline University, Saint Paul USA in 2016-17. In September 2020, she edited an anthology on climate change titled Open Your Eyes (pub. Hawakal). Most recently she co-edited the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English 2020-21 (Hawakal). She judged the RLFPA poetry contest (International Prize) in 2016 and co judged the Asian Cha’s poetry contest on The Other Side in 2015. She was featured in a documentary on twenty women poets from Asia, produced in Taiwan. She has read at the FILEY Book Fair, Merida, Mexico, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival among others. She is on the Advisory Board of the Tagore Literary Prize. She has curated literary events for PEN Mumbai. Read more about her at www.vinitawords.com
Splendid Poison Frog
Was it a cold December Wednesday
when you left?
A frosty, flinty, pin-point moment
that seals most pull-outs.
Silent like a hushed Mayday signal
reverberating in the ripples of a pond.
What time exactly
did you hop over
to where nowhere exists?
Did the sun flicker
at your vanishing act?
The way yellow convulses on a color palette
when mixed with green
before turning blue.
Was it the hour of dusk,
your favorite hour,
when you looked your dashing, heart-throb best
skin, brilliant coral, eyes, kohl black.
A fungus with a long name
colonized your body.
A local phenomena, some said.
Like a cloud breaking-up
a balmy summer’s evening.
Did the next morning feel
like a fine after-showers morning?
Estimated Extinction date: 2020
Cause: Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)
Tim Loveday is a poet, a writer, and an editor. As the recipient of a 2020 Next Chapter Wheeler Centre Fellowship and a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship, his work aims to challenge toxic masculinity in Australia. His poetry/prose has appeared in Meanjin, Cordite, The Big Issue, Babyteeth, Meniscus, Text Journal, and The Big Smoke, among others. A Neurodivergent dog parent, he is the verse editor for XR’s Creative Hub. Tim currently resides in North Melbourne, the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people.
at the end of the rail
in the morning when the sun peels
back like a paper cut and the blue
metal is thunder under our feet
i see shadow-diamonds spread
across the train yard and i feel
as small as a bird and as wide
as a sail
last night i listened to your two way radio
i pulled the blanket up to my ears and shaped
myself into a satellite its static jargon a dialogue
with god or grease or grit i heard the miracle of
boom boom boom
we were the
new age of romans with a thousand outposts
we were cowboys riding iron centipedes
before dawn i threw off my blankets
like old ghosts sprang from my bed
like new smoke heard your voice
in the walls as you swept
me up in your wings
took me to your shoulders
atlas or he-man or rambo
on the rails duke on the frontier
you smelt of oil aftershave radio waves
you whispered to me in the language
of future and the earth
i had barely seen the blue streets
how the stars grew hazy in the steam
how horizon bled the false border of morning
we lived before the aftermath
i am a fault-line across your chest
liquid gold sprung from your veins
i fill the cavity where your heart should be
i am young country
boom boom boom
at the station the rails rattle
in the flyscreen and the man with
the corkboard halo is chequered
like a topographic map
when he grins he shucks open
a territory calls you by
our last name
a town or a street or a mountain
or the origin of a valley
in the office you say
wives and work as if they
tighten bolts avenge crimes
on your holsters there are radios the size
of guns you are blue men with
un-dreams as big as china
under your eyes
everyone is envious
go ahead the man says into his radio
laying the rail with his words
at the terminal box you teach
me to splice the rails my body
a limp flag made of flesh
i hang from the lever
asking for islands to swell
on my biceps
birds turn into reverse silhouettes
it’s excalibur you exclaim
stick your foot down like
sinking a spade
boom boom boom
when we walk the rails we tell history
this parallel never met by our shadow
i swim onto your shoulders as day
i am the new
collar ironed by my mother
and the space above your
head is a frontier
from here the world is flat
borders white lines in the dirt
you can feel a train coming
in the shake of the earth
we are going to be giants you say
gripping my shins
i roll up my
sleeves and flex my arms
giving you horns
at the door meccano in full-scale
you swing me into the carriage
the child who is flightless
climbs on the back of the
wind held up a hurt bird
in the cabin men breathe planets
onto perspex they hark like myna birds
rooted bitou bush hunched like cane toads
they claim to live at
these gears they’ve got
tickets to show it
they’ve crossed this country
ten times over sleepless
they’ve seen land where water
is foreign where open cuts
i sit back and watch you
walk ahead on the rails
trees white-paper in the train’s blared
whiteness shape themselves into
memories call themselves footprints
they’re roped to fence posts
this is morning not mourning
my breath leaves my mouth
like a greenhouse
boom boom boom
up ahead on the rail you dance
with your arms of red light
and i wonder what it means
to write history with your
your blood let
disfiguring the open
cut of morning
whatcha think of your dad one of the men
asks his cadence forty packs of imported
cigarettes in his fist is a gear that i know
lights up streets turns show houses into
he’s a hero i say but
the word feels tiny when i’ve seen maps
that lay across this country like a bandage
you’re the beginning
and the end of
of the world
you’re the answer
way off the plant blinks like
a child-killer a christmas in morse code
spaghetti pipes spewing
ethanol bruising the sky purple
the horizon quivers the drivers pull the horn
birds rush to their nests in the clouds
fall through invisible floor boards
burn up on re-entry
sometimes i wonder
if you ever stopped in those
towns where you once said
the waters ran like blood
did you own a skeleton key
did you ever peel back
excalibur feel the weight
of the blade in your hands
alter the course of this
in my ears our heart
boom boom boom
my eyes mirror
the blood-shot sky
the thrum of the engine
rattles through my bones
all my ancestors are ghosts
all my ancestors cling
to the atmosphere
as you walk the rails
fade into morning settle into history
men talk talk talk
we have learnt distance
in this country
we have learnt to never