Lou Smith

Lou Smith’s poetry has been published in Wasafiri, Overland, Kunapipi, Undergrowth, Mod_Piece and various other journals and anthologies. She is currently re-tracing her maternal Grandmother’s life story – her migration from Jamaica to England to Newcastle, Australia, through narrative poetry. Lou also loves making handmade books.



Over fig-roots from Moreton Bay
cracks in roadways
and cicada shells dropped
crunching under soles
with a shock  
lubb-dupp lubb-dupp
of the heart

the tips of summer grass singe brown

and the cattle in Abermain grow thin to rib

curtains closed halfway
from glare off pane of glass
we squint at the world outside
our island,
red-tiled roofs, and Jacaranda trees
that have lost their leaves

the bush has burnt black, ash
falls like feathers
and green sprouts from crevices
in trunks of Banksia

after dinner we dust fritters with fine castor sugar

yellow-combed cockatoos feed on berries

you bite into pawpaw flesh
the seeds spilling
your neck
like strings of black pearls


Setting Sail

Sports on deck
quoits and rounders,
to prepare you for English life,
holidays at Brighton
on pebbled beaches.

and there
next to you
smoking his pipe,
his boater shading the
familiar sun,
stood Grandad
leading you
to your new home.

Columbus sailed this sea,
thinking he was in Japan,
thinking he was in Cathay,
thinking he was anywhere
but here.

And in the sea
you saw the sky,
intense, endless blue
ripples of cloud
skimming the water’s surface,
the sea, where in 1494, mermaids sang
and led sailors astray.

Staff Sergeant Butcher
posted back to London
left Jamaica with you that day,
the year 1930,
the year you married
at the Scots Church in Kingston,
the year before my mother was born
in London, England
and your mother was already in her grave.


The Sadness

It’s in the currawong’s song
dropped bark, groundfall
moist rocky clay soil.
It’s caught in corner
of the eye
cilia of leaf
and cicada wing.

And here it is seamed
raised white
wounds carved in
and bloody

in my palm.
I hold a river stone,
my fingertip rests
in the cool hollow
of remembered  
grooves and ridges.