Earl Livings

Earl Livings has published poetry around Australia and also in Britain, Canada, the USA, and Germany. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing and coordinates the Professional Writing & Editing course at Box Hill Institute, Victoria. He is also the editor of Divan(www.bhtafe.edu.au/divan), Australia’s first all-Australian online poetry journal. Earl lives in Melbourne with his wife and is currently working on a novel and his next poetry collection.



Naming Instinct
Sligo, Ireland, August 2009

Not knowing its name, my being
On a far-flung island, its creatures
Known only by reputation, 

I have no choice but to listen:
High-pitched chioo, chioo, chioo, or
Queeka, queeka, queeka, almost the sound 

Of worn brakes jabbed to slow down,
Or a thin bronze staff tapped against oak
To call ancestors to dark clearings. 

Not knowing what it looks like—
Midnight, the bird bounding
From one branch to the next, 

Behind a maze of branches, calling
To mate, to mark territory, to state
Its own being-bliss—I imagine it 

Brindled, slim-bodied, tawny-flecked neck,
Oil-gloss eyes that scan always,
Its red beak open, with each note 

Chiming leaves and balmy air, all ears,
Etymologies of breath behind its eyes.
It knows nothing of thresholds. 

Not knowing what to do next, I stop
Wondering, stop straining to charm the bird
And its rustling, moon-riddled tree, 

Open gaze and hearing to whatever waits
Beyond the imprints and echoes of words,
The swing of breath and song, the poise.