Elizabeth Allen


Elizabeth Allen is a Sydney poet and the events manager at Gleebooks. She is also the Associate Publisher at Vagabond Press. Her poetry has been published widely in Australian journals. She is the author of Forgetful Hands (Vagabond Press, 2005) and Body Language (Vagabond Press, 2012), which won the Anne Elder Award.




Winter Lilyfield

The mint and the rosemary
endure in the concrete backyard.
The star jasmine is taking over the
shed and the end of the clothesline
which is bare. A single sock lies
in the dead dried leaves and
a pair of lacy black underpants hang
off one of the succulent’s long spikes.

I can guess which flatmate they belong to.

The leaves are gathering in the corner
of our concrete backyard.

Lacy knickers
token of the summer dalliance
we wish we had.


Neighbourhood watch

Early one Saturday morning you watch
her as she shuts the door to her three
bedroom terrace & crosses the road,
highlighted for a moment in the sunshine.

She is wearing a red & white made590 skirt,
a black Witchery top with a blue plastic bird
brooch, Salt Water Sandals on her feet
& a hat made from a patchwork of recycled
vintage fabrics. She has a Monsterthreads
jumper over one arm & a tote bag with an owl
on it over the other & a KeepCup in her hand
(in your mind you can smell the coffee).

Some days she walks to the GoGet parked at the end
of the street. But today she appears to be walking
in the direction of the local organic produce markets
where she will no doubt buy carbon neutral food.

Sometimes you wonder what she is doing inside
her house: eating ash-coated goats cheese
on sourdough bread while listening to FBi radio,
or flicking through a magazine of new emerging
writers, or rewatching Mad Men? You think,

not for the first time, about how she would
be such a good character for a play: the wealthy
girl from the North Shore who makes her way
to the hipster wilds of the inner west & goes
no further, apart from occasional trips into
Marrickville for Pho or to Parramatta to visit
the one friend she has who lives out there;

how she would be so easy to write,
how it would be so easy to mock her

so much harder to take her seriously.