Joanne Burns


joanne burns is a writer of poetry, including prose poems; short fictions; and monologues. Over a dozen collections of her work have been published. Her most recent poetry collection an illustrated history of dairies Giramondo Publishing 2007 was shortlisted for the 2008 NSW Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize. kept busy, a cd recording of joanne burns reading a selection of her work, was produced by River Road Press, also in 2007. A new collection of her work ‘amphora’ will be published by Giramondo Publishing in 2010. She lives in Sydney.


answer                for Tatjana Lukic 


a fine gold corridor

you float down on an

early sunday morning –                           

your big day out – then lift

to somewhere like a butterfly

that’s shed her latinations,

into the hums, the whirrings,

sussurations, drifts of astral



         you will appear and reappear

         i hear the rhythms of your

         words as you disappear into

         the here and there and every

         where, new breaths streaming

         with the shimmer of your colours,

         no ‘little silly things’, you wear

         the big things now [with flair]

         thought waves its love in every



                                                                             August 13th 2008

note: ‘little silly things’ was Tatjana’s description of artworks she was making, mentioned in an email on July 30th 2008




                                 could this be a poem

                                 of four hands like ganesha

                                 the hindu god who has that

                                 many [or even fourteen]

                                 ganesh ganapati elephant

                                 god of good fortune wisdom

                                 removal of obstacles sweet god of

                                 writers, a kind of spiritual teddy

                                 bear though never close enough for

                                 a hug; he has his hands full with serious

                                 things eyes black pools of a potent mind,

                                 an elephant buddha not snuggleup bear


                                 remover of obstacles desire & pain, one hand

                                 holds an axe the next a whip; one hand for a blessing,

                                 that lotus in the other realising itself: he’s a handy man

                                 no nails required, a bundle of gifts with a generous belly         

                                 that absorbs protects, a mini-phleroma a gnostic ganesh


                                 riding his mouse, this tiny mooshikam, what does it 

                                 mean: smart rodent assistant sniffing cryptic gems,   

                                 a too proud egomind needing gee’s stewardship – 

                                 a pantry of meaning, in the mythopoeisis nook;

                                 from all accounts gee likes a ladoo or four, something

                                 sweet to suck on as he listens for clues with those

                                 capacious ears, vivekananda [before there were two]


                                 i like ganesh best when he stands, one foot raised

                                 above the ground, a fuller measure of his grace; my

                                 unopened ganesh jigsaw puzzle gave me no obstacles

                                 when it sat for two years below three brass figures of   

                                 his dancing self, the pieces slipped together quicker

                                 than the washing up; he reclines on the table lit

                                 by the shine of five ghee lamps; if you used his image

                                 as a coaster or a placemat would he stop you eating or       

                                 drinking too much, would he take you to task –                 


                                 what a task he completed with his missing tusk,

                                 as scribe of vyasa’s vast mahabharata, in his rush

                                 to get started snapping a tusk off to use as a pen, he 

                                 never paused for a break – a true ur god

                                 no seventh day of rest