Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan has had three collections of poetry published, the most recent being A Tight Circle, Whitmore Press, in 2008. His next collection of poetry, Travelling Through the Family, will be published by Hunter Publishers in 2012.




The killing work

The Hereford steer from wild country that charged our Valiant as we tried to shift it into a fresh paddock. Herd leader, cantankerous, fearless; a beast we couldn’t trust. Dents in the quarter panels, tongue swipes on the bumper. Pushed deeper into the paddock, we reverse away from the lowered horns, my father swearing, wrenching the steering wheel left, right, wheels skidding over cape weed. My brother and I in the back seat look away from what we know is not quite right. Not a time to speak with a beast on the loose, tearing through a barbed wire fence, flipping over, an apparent heart attack. We stare at the frothing mouth. My father silenced. The Hereford steer from wild country left on the track for the knackery truck.

scrubbed concrete floors
latex gloves, Muslim slaughtermen
rows of carcasses slide towards you

Returning from away, I ask about our pet cow Beefy – a cross-bred black dairy cow. The only cow we could hug, nuzzle, who would amble up to us, raise her head to sniff, rub against us. Not a productive milker, the type of cow who recognizes her own presence, unafraid of dogs, almost personable. You’re eating her, came the reply. Cut down, packed into plastic bags, steaks and ribs piled high in the Deep Freeze. A family has to eat. We ate steaks for breakfast, dinner and tea yet rarely butchered our own. Deaths in the paddock were acceptable, regrettable, something to rise from while talking around the red laminex table, those heifers that need to be ear-tagged.



Jen Crawford

Jen Crawford is a New Zealander living in Singapore. Her poetry collections include Bad Appendix (Titus Books), Napoleon Swings (Soapbox Press) and most recently, Pop Riveter, a set of factory poems available in limited edition from Pania Press. She teaches creative writing at Nanyang Technological University.




clear days giant sacra

this is for. it is not about or to, but I wish it was with. or it is with, about, for, to. it will be with. it will be with. it is not it is with.

with a walking, a donkey alongside. the gravel releases dust and the dust takes up the sun, dumping it across the valley. it is now 22 degrees and 6pm. the decline is fitted with small mauve wildflowers. we can look at them fined in the light and dark, narrow for pleasure. with that I have an excellent headache, from the tightening of the sun’s plates against the hills. while the dog and the donkey chase each other through the discards we stand here cantering our trebuchets, in arms. there’s nowhere to set the baby down. when I had this pain before I didn’t consider my hip considering a weight. when I saw the gravel I didn’t know you would be with me, to hold and cantering.

it will be. a strong lower back and rain or light as circular breathing. it will be with me your cream-covered book. a mouth full of simple exercises in shaded awnings. let no more than a lungful. need it be one after another, in and out, left and right? only without clarinets, and so far these continue, in will be with me. I am still walking. at times it has been said that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that even dictating physicians frequently have difficulty with plurals and that this pushes the burden straight back on the transcriptionist. but this is a curfew from when. in will be with me it will be with me, this alongside and with pains. this in between fingers and around fingers, the gravel light. this donkey I am conscious, and child.



Julie Chevalier

Julie Chevalier’s short-story collection, Permission to Lie, was published by Spineless Wonders in 2011. Two poetry collections are forthcoming from Puncher & Wattmann:  linen tough as history, and Darger: his girls.




haunted girl lines my pocket with headlines

girl sends me off forever but to sing       novena sends me girl      sends me off forever        girl
sends me to hospital girl reveals the clinic           girl sends me spelling              didn’t send the
question       girls sends off clouds from the window      sends me off forever the ward where I
was washing a girl        but washing the floor          wanted girl sends me a blossom on a lunch
tray     girl sends dead bouquet in the rubbish    a pissing patient girl gave      newspapers send
me off girls      forever sang about girl      forever off girls but      moving girls send girls away
forever snow didn’t girl didn’t     sends me axe to shave      stopped        broke the food trolley
coming        girl sends me off



& dribbled catsup on his clean shirt       april 12, 1972

as soon as mr darger left for mass          yeah, four times a day           i sneaked into his room & grabbed the clothes off
his chair        really hot water & extra scoops of lux         out of the bendix & pegged to the line       david suggested the
goofy old coot take a bath       no siree      we brazillians don’t like to bathe in winter       april 12, hardly        of course
he’s not brazillian              i ironed the clothes dry while he was in the tub           the old man grimaced when we yelled
surprise happy birthday       just us lodgers & the landlords       in the yard          he bent down to pick up a rusty bottle
cap & could hardly stand up again        leaned on a chair & stared at the clouds           he fed hot dog sandwiches to the
landlord’s dog         the only thing he said was the good lord always claps thunder on my birthday           i wouldn’t say
grateful for the angel cake, no       three pieces       my seven minute icing      the new tube pan didn’t stick        the dog
followed him halfway up the stairs to his room



Bella Li

 Bella Li is a Melbourne poet and editor. Her poems have appeared in journals such as MeanjinCordite and Otoliths.





Sullen days. The corsair moves mechanically on its hinges. Beneath our proscenium arch, wily ports ply their trade; measuring out the hours in skeletons and lampshades. The hold littered with props. Flat clouds drifting idly along the cardboard coast. (In the dawn they emerge, pale with grief.) I cannot remember biding time in the shallows with the air so steep. And the space behind the sun growing and growing, the stalls silent and empty on quiet nights. There were months when great shadows fell across the waves. And we moved, so it seemed, through lost oceans; past sunken islands from which the sounds of mourning stole. It is true that the flight was exhausting; my eyes reeked of distance. But when the blackness lifted, the horizon—beyond the dim circle of lights—remained featureless, unaltered. Now the shapes of our desires do not change but mimic, with each curtain fall, the appearance of a predictable set of stars. When evening transpires (at the appointed time, in the appointed place), the tide reverses; our loyal machines rise, assemble themselves across the deck. Wolf-like, sand-like. Waiting for that same, slow mirage: the familiar moon, hung from its lamprey sky. Swinging guilt.


E 44 10 N 33 15

In the year of the Hegira 622, driven from the city and exiled, I arrived at the mountains of the                . The journey was arduous. But I was “armed with the terrors of the sword”. And the movement of the heavenly bodies (the western side of the city entirely round) filled the sky. The city was entirely round; the inhabitants remarkable for their treachery. Concerning the treacherous mountains. Concerning the origin of the name  “                     ” (in the palace, there was a small                     ). Here the young prince—concealing his deformity with a veil—saw in the heavens the terrible                 rising. And “the phantom drew back his veil”. Massacred, according to custom, the vast number of the inhabitants. There followed “a grievous famine”. (In the eastern sky I saw the sun.) One morning, according to the vast number of oriental historians, the sun “a little after rising, completely lost its light”. To the great astonishment of the astronomers, this darkness (in the eastern palace persisting). Persisted until noon.



Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell has previously published prose poems in a raiders guide (Giramondo 2008). He coedited (with Jill Jones) Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets (Puncher and Wattmann 2009). His latest publication is thempark (Book Thug 2010). Contact:





Red wine is certifiably itchy trying to get Linda to splash Sally  .  When Sally walks in wearing Brad  ’s   shirt  –  the one with the heather on it  .  What isn  ’  t a contretemps with those people  ?  It wasn  ’  t my fault I buried the drugs  ,  Sally said  , wilting the lettuce with hot oil  ,  Appalachian style  .  Glenda managed to join the tennis club  ,  only to find that Tony had left  ,  and had taken up croquet  –  or crochet  –  or Pinochet  –  or Pinocchio  –  or pinochle  –  or pineapple mastication for his health  .  Linda blamed everyone  .  Did you see Hal collapse at the piano  ,  with one of those pussy willow rib  –  ticklers on  ?  How much irony did you put in that drink  ?  he gasped  .  I am going to get me a slice of Brad  ’  s heather shirt  —  you see if I don  ’  t  !  A dog is here  ,  with a message for the cows  .  .  .  ‘  Drop dead  ’  ,  I think he said  ,  and when Angelo turned up shirtless on his motorbike  .  .  .  People started doing a bit of algebra in their front mashed potato  (  it was Halloween  ,  after all  )  .  (  Teenagers panting under the eaves and all that  .  )  They’ve got Supertramp playing on the green this year  ;  I don  ’  t know what respectable folkies see in  ‘ \ ’  ‘ / ’  them myself  .  They  ’  re no Yoko Onos are they  ?  Angelo turned the heat up by taking a hacksaw to the last baguette  –  as if there aren  ’  t kids to foster in his own village  –  or whatever they have up in those rainbows he lives in  .  The bridge fell on Hal  ’  s house last night  ,  but no one believed him so his grandmother was stuck there half the night  ,   with a girder holding her scalp in place  :  you could say  .  But how the bridge got there is anyone  ’  s business  .



Kirby Wright

Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Ann Fields Poetry Prizethe Academy of American Poets AwardThe Browning Society Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The NovelBEFORE THE CITY, his first book of poetry, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA’I NUI AHINA, both set in Hawaii. He was a Visiting Writer at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii and lectured with poet Gary Snyder. He was a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and also the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic.



Song for the Joy Luck Club Waitress of Kowloon Tong

Sihk faahn,” you giggled, serving shrimp dim sum with congee porridge.  In the restaurant you read my fortune: “Yat geuk dap leung syun,” then scrawled name and email on a paper napkin.

You live off Festival Walk on the 60th floor with your parents. “Lang do pow kang,” boasted your mother. We sit on a bench beside the light rail track. Smog unfurls over the mountain like a bone-white flag as your shiny black hair rivers through me. \ Lips taste of peanuts from dragon beard candy. I summon the boy in me hidden for decades. “Ngoh oi nei,” I stammer. Your eyes say you don’t believe.

I search for our future as my train passes.



sihk faahn:  bon appetit

yat geuk dap leung syun:  1 foot on 2 boats (beware of cheating in a relationship)

lang do pow kang:  so pretty the mirror breaks

ngoh oi neih:  I love you

Sound Effects in Vista
Boom-ah-boom-ah-boom-boom. The walls and tables quiver. The F-18s are at it again, practice bombing the Whiskey and Zulu regions of neighboring Camp Pendleton.  They carpet bomb while I’m stretched out on the carpet. Fluffy the cat folds her ears, scrambles for cover. They bomb through Letterman’s monologue—I pretend the jerk next door is banging his drums. The windows rattle like hippie tambourines.  Newborn hawks in the Torrey Pine scream at the planets and stars.



Jill Jones

Jill Jones has published six full-length books of poetry, including Dark Bright Doors, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Kenneth Slessor Prize. She co-edited, with Michael Farrell,Out Of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets. She is a member of the J. M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide.




Not Far

Is he gauging the distance between the station and the rain, or is it just another exchange? Like the packets these clouds will drop, but not here. I’m just as distant when he goes off smoking. Is there nothing left? Some of us manage to talk but not touch, speaking to air in all the common folly and gist inside us while a cop car circles the block. Whoever believes they’ll find what they’re looking for and how little it matters? Just as someone moves the hands of the clock and wishes maps were bigger. He’s back again, stabbing the phone, edgy keys in pocket. Each time gets more icy. I don’t imagine what he’s saying, please believe me, where’s the money, can’t come.

My excuses are extracted from this body by invisible operations of time that’s been bent, lungs and knapsacks, shallow breathing, all that dumb effort, just to go home again, and too much fun. I haven’t noticed the stones for days and leaves have got dirtier. Still, I never throw anything on the tracks or have crossed. I’m more careful than a tree even in winter, in places I can’t go outside of a time I only imagine but often recall. As so much exists to imagine. And so much gone, only a quarter forgotten. But we speak into the havens, lines of communiqué, blocks with holes. As we express little grunts, packages from the breast, gulping like winners but also spent, as we imagined it, bright and clear, but not far, not that far.


Another Mystery

It’s dawn and you still can’t get across. There’s a rowboat on the lake under moonlight. Behind you is a house full of suspects. Fate and the hangman are making arrangements. It’s good to have company and childish desires. The rain harbours feelings in the nervy night. I’m watching the incriminating clock. Who’s capable of love while we’re looking for motives? I’m guilty telling the truth, it’s what I know.

What’s this coldness?  What are these shawls? There are too many men in hats, while we’re blaming ourselves, seeing what we’re not supposed to know, or swallowing pills. Animals are without cash flows or alibis. Birds rise into the light, while you play with money you don’t have, floating another prospectus from the wharf. All the little girls are grown-ups. What has been overlooked? A strange kind of parsimony, “Set your children free!”



Ivy Ireland

Ivy Ireland is a part-time cabaret performer, creative writing tutor, harpist, magician’s assistant, and PhD candidate. Ivy was awarded the 2007 Australian Young Poet Fellowship, and has had her poems published in various literary magazines and anthologies.  Ivy’s first solo poetry publication came out in 2007 and is entitled Incidental Complications.




L’escale Restaurant, Greenwich, CT

and it’s not like you have some other place to be.  tea, open fire place, open fire on some other space for avoidance.  it’s not like you are this ashes urn, portable picnic for later holocausts. or this charred log. you aren’t even the small burning before the final ash out.  most other people come here to support themselves in whatever horror seems most appropriate in whichever day dream. of theirs. this day. why not you.  this time. possibly they realise you won’t tip well even though lord knows desmond tutu ate here just last week. exclusivity should equal your absence.  it’s not as though anyone can shape this differently to how they were born to shape it.  there are no other tools, no contrasting fashions, no further instructions.  what does equality really signify in any case.  an afternoon of missing your morning of the subsequent day means little here.  sunlight so new and distant, almost reaching the sand inlet before these clouds join forces to obfuscate it out.


The Gaps

The text has holes in it, little keyholes for the sake of myth-making, and only the one star-gazing out can (im)possibly slip into them.  There is a crucial adjustment when “how can I exist?” turns into “how can I be alive in this?” Suddenly those roundabout machines we built to keep ourselves way out of critical theory converge in the centre, provoking and awakening an idea of onwards-and-upwards. This sensation is momentary.

Even if I say to you “you are this if this is life” it won’t matter and we will continue into cake at 3pm, our bodies refusing forever.  Even if I sew in to my own skin the text: I do not require anything to continue this remaining, the stitches will only remain until they don’t anymore.  And we’ll need them to stay there forever.

To perform becomes the central verb.  Like the encroaching of the sea, we now perform this abeyance as though this temporary pause to consider could be stitched into skin, as though that very same skin could push its way through all the gaps the text could (im)possibly hold.  As though, at the end, that same stinking vellum could be stretched over contingency like a disappearance-blanket.  As though we could then hide away under it, remain in this word: love.



Suneeta Peres da Costa

Suneeta Peres da Costa is an award-winning writer whose work includes the bestselling novel Homework (Bloomsbury), stories, essays, and poems in local and international journals and anthologies, as well as numerous productions for ABC Radio. The pieces that appear here are taken from a collection of short, experimental fiction. She currently lives in Sydney.




The Changed Woman

Had she changed, she wondered? For though there were some visible signs of her transformation what was difficult was that the more significant changes had happened inside her and therefore could not really be seen at all. Often she tried to remember and make the gestures of her old self, and while this might have reassured the others, she herself knew this old self was merely a sheath, an elaborate and outmoded disguise. When she discarded it, however, it seemed these people, much beloved by her, could not recognise her and spoke disapprovingly of her new ways. Despite her efforts to win them over, they were unwilling, or else incapable, of understanding her. They went about their lives, faithful to their old habits, while she grew restive and weary of it all, dreaming of circuses and caravans and distant lands. Eventually she devised an escape plan. The heartbreaking thing was she could not say goodbye for if she so much as looked into the eyes of these familiar people, now virtual strangers, she was sure her resolve to leave would itself break forever. So on the appointed day, she rose at dawn, placed a few possessions—heirlooms and relics as she already considered them—in a bag and made her way to the end of the valley and up through the mountain pass. The sky changed, the vegetation changed, but somehow, despite the heavy cloak she wore for protection from the elements, she felt a sure-footed lightheartedness.


The Mirror Man  

Was shy, retiring, but his problem was he shone and gave a bad impression despite his every effort to go unremarked. He would try to be still, so as not to upset the careful geometry of others’ existences, but if he was knocked by the smallest force—a gust of wind, say, or a loud noise—he shimmered and glowed and peopled shouted and raised their fists at him. He would have liked to disappear, and yet he was everywhere, or so it seemed, reverberating and reflecting. At other times he would have liked to speak, to recite a poem, whistle, or even sing, but he was alas imprisoned by an intractable muteness. On certain moonlit evenings, if he became tangentially aware of what it might be to know another, to identify, it nevertheless remained a kind of abstract knowledge, unable to be put to good use. The birds would descend from the trees, catching the coquettish reflections of their bright wings in his silvery glass and then fly up to the sky away from him. No one actually touched him, though beautiful women spoke through him, as though to an ancient oracle, of such things as their longings and dreams. Occasionally, overhearing the cries of neighbourhood children, he was so lonely, so envious of their games and easy camaraderie, the Mirror Man would hope that their ball might crash though and even shatter him—as often happened to a local window.



Brenda Saunders

Brenda Saunders is a Sydney writer and artist of Aboriginal and British descent. She has had work published on the web and in literary journals in Australia and overseas. Her poetry readings have been broadcast on Awaye and Poetica ABCRN. Brenda won the Banjo Patterson Poetry Prize in 2010 and was recently short-listed for the David Unaipon Prize in the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards.




Fashion statement

I’m a One-off. A Pin-up at the high end of haute. My elan gathers the adventuous, adjusts the unpredictable: that je ne sais quoi! I’m quality svelte, hot off the press. Shaped and swathed, I thread my way with seamless artistry, purring down the catwalk of history. Of course I’m biased! If cut on the cross, I’m bound to unravel. At times I’m taken down a size, let down, stitched up. Still I hold it all together. When pinched and tucked I suffer pins and needles. End up a caste-off on the cutting room floor. Destined for the rack, I’d rather be hung with Armani (He says in five languages how froufrou is my frisson, how chic my couture) than pegged as synthetic Esprit. It’s not that I’ve got tickets on myself, but Label is everything. I could be sized up for Ready to Wear. Phased out in Ping Pong After 8. Still, better a Country Road in beige, than one-size-fits-all in the bargain basement.


Uneasy virtues



I find them here at the door, scraping like the cat wanting to get out at night: coming in wild-eyed with a new smell. I can usually brush them aside with those cobwebs in the hall. Leave them under the dusty mat. At the hairdressers regret is everywhere. Before the mirror I sit captive to loss. And they creep up unannounced at someone’s funeral: hit you front on so you’re out of breath. But what can you do? Peggy Lee drowned them in ‘Coffee and cigarettes‛ but that never does it for me. Indecision is a maze leading nowhere; second thoughts are a dead end. Do nothing and regret takes hold. Who needs yesterday’s burden to slow you down? Look ahead. After all the grass is always greener… so they say. Possibilities are said to be limitless.



Patience is said to be a virtue. But is it always necessary or beneficial?  I have neighbours who must have endless patience. They wait until I come home to play their heavy metal collection. In this case impatience can be a positive for change. Just look at queues. People will get in line for anything. In the city they block streets, hold up pedestrians, waiting for a Ready-Teller: sit in cars for hours as the traffic crawls along. (Now who’s ‘moving in the fast lane?) In the 21st century we live in the moment. The ‘imp’ of impatience is like a Fury on speed. Still, if I’m out of range I know there’s no need to react. The touch of a key will send my on-line thoughts flying around the world.