Christopher Cyrill

Christopher Cyrill is the author of the novels The Ganges and its Tributaries and Hymns for the Drowning.  He has also published numerous stories, articles and written a number of broadcasted radio plays. For many years he was the fiction editor of HEAT and the fiction editor of Giramondo Publishing. Cyrill has taught at Sydney University and Macquarie University and currently runs his own writing academy mentoring writers.
Index of First Lines

Edited by I.V.A Sumac

Achaean Minotaur, upon the shattered ledge; two men in frame 1
Agamemnon insists, despite your chaplets, the graces of the gods 25
All I have in the Promised Land is a plot for my bones. 47
All life is shipwreck – I dis/agree 94
Archipelagos. Cargoes of lighthouses. 37
Aria is my brother, my sister overboard 93
As for you, you meant evil against my house, my daughters 46
As the astral fuse turns off the light, the gas, the water. 15
Books stacked up like skylines 41
Borges and I/ Achille and Achilles? 3
Boys throwing shadestones in white houses 59
Brass banded rum tubs – God Bless Her 78
Bull leapers, labyrinths, now in the catalogue of Alexander 34
But that is all migration of text- 36
Capstan bar, man down, sing it in the forecastle 82
Careless – careless 23
Codex of fire, lost on the middle passage 19
cold lies, half truths, rope bound confessions, 88
Cornell shadowbox on the rock 4
Daughters exiled from lonely jungles become pop stars 57
Dreams she gave me; river labyrinths 99
Enclosing lightning in her hands 92
Eternal mother, strong to serve. 80
Every passing cup negotiating Iphigenia 86
Fire will still burn the black body 16
Firewalkers, dawn healed, fire breathers douse the wreck. 20
For twenty years I have touched with my eyes their vermilion 7
Girls sweep the ashes for the boys to run to the patriarch 17
God said I will take you there and I will lead you back. 43
Hands held Abhaya 31
Hands throwing three crowns, three anchors 87
He says, Poetry should make the visible a little hard to see 18
He was the third witness, the one I forgot, or never knew. 12
Honey and apples 50
I am combining the exhibits, sharing museums, opening space. 27
I carried him out of the enflamed house 45
I have come for the body of my son, I prayed 96
If you want to understand that dream we need to return to Egypt. 42
In an anthology of abandoned endings, 10
In folksongs they sing of fi 90
In the Catacombe di Priscilla the prophet is cast 38
J provides the main source material, supplemented by E 49
Joni Mitchell was levitating at the forum 58
Lalla does not give ghee all the time 63
Lear’s daughters wear wishbones in silk purses. 48
Let us then offer the first conceit and process from there. 28
Maria Constantinople is gathering the ruins of Mycenae 35
Nelly poisoned my windflowers 51
One entire phalanx fell into the crevasse 60
Painters spill into the garden at dawn, to quarter the mad bear 9
Pangaea and the first wreck, stones singing the ocean out 84
Peisistratus, accused of revealing the mysteries 69
Plunged into the literature of disaster. 39
Quarks bound to the masts, electrons 73
Quaternions of narrative 74
Samedi at the crossroads, calling in ships of rum and dice. 11
Save your liturgies for those who fall back onto the street 13
Say, let’s, the carnival is the book –I-I 29
She will spend her days on Argos 26
-signifyin’, signifyin’ – when the 8
so scuppers sailed to the 99th night 66
Sophrosyne, the world never made 71
Soucouyants, soca, swimp. Douens gathered on the Half Mile 33
Splice the mainbrace against the dark, cruel chaos 79
St. Kitts raised its palms, refused it harbour 22
Stars strung on the frets of night 85
Tack and sheet chanty, ‘aul away St. Joe. 83
The argument of a complex number, first order logic 89
The astronauts refuse re-entry; the sky is too delicious 56
The Atreus façade reveals the crimes; cannibalism, adultery 70
The carnival started on Knossos 32
The deepest holy is her middle finger and thumb 98
The doll nested on Plate 34 5
The escape route takes you to St. Nicholas. 65
The fields, the herds, the sugared cane 77
The main doors opened, Orestes, sword in hand, stood above 68
The potstills of Massacre, barrel to bottle. 81
The saffron dress becomes windbound 72
The schooners sail on in bottles toward Bellesbat 54
The sea is tired of the burden of sailors 55
Their gazes solid as light under water 2
There’s a day for the hunter, a day for the prey 64
Things will all then fall into the centre. 30
Three rivers suicide at the waterfall 95
To the Lady of Nineveh, torch of continents 97
Traveller between looms 75
Traversing Liedland, without ruin. 76
Two fish won’t pull a cart 62
Vinegar and salt 52
Voiceless mother of exiles 91
Watching the panther‘s panther 6
We won’t then need to look there anymore. 31
When I was a child a painting of a shipwreck hung above my bed 21
When Jacob became Israel he offered me this vision 40
When Zeus turned the ill wind to good 67
When the Marys bring wine and myrrh, fresh linen; lacunae 14
Wolves chase the tiring prey across Capricorn 53
Yahweh is now active in the narrative. 44


He says, Poetry should make the visible a little hard to see This is a paraphrase of Line 21 of “The Creations of Sound” by Wallace Stevens, page 310. The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, Faber and Faber, London, 1954.

Tack and sheet chanty, ‘aul away St. Joe. – This is a partial quote from “Haul Away, St. Joe” a traditional sea shanty/chanty/forecastle song. Sourced from:

There’s a day for the hunter, a day for the prey This is a quote from “A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey” by Leyla McCalla Track taken from “A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey” – Leyla McCalla : May 27th 2016 on JazzVillage Music video directed by Claire Bangser